Monday, October 23, 2017

Rock 'n' Roll Reads Celebrate Music-Making Masters

With the end of 2017 rapidly approaching, it is time for a roundup of some of the year's most essential books celebrating rock 'n' roll masters.


Title: Led Zeppelin: All the Albums, All the Songs (Voyageur Press)
Author: Martin Popoff
Edition: Hardcover, 256 pages
Tell me more: Because so much has been written about Led Zeppelin since the band's formation nearly 50 years ago, it is almost overwhelming for new fans of the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers to know where to start in terms of deciphering the secrets behind the British quartet's nine studio albums. Look no further than the recently-released Led Zeppelin: All the Albums, All the Songs penned by well-known music journalist Martin Popoff. This beautifully-illustrated book provides insights into the creation of the 81 enduring rock tracks blending folk, blues, Celtic and rock that comprised Led Zep's original catalog spanning from their eponymous 1969 disc to the late 1978 recordings featured on "In Through The Out Door" (the rarities-minded 1982 release "Coda" is also assessed in depth). Yours truly has always been perplexed at the how rock fans and critics often argue about the merits of Led Zeppelin's recordings and songs, but Popoff makes a compelling case for the band's singular and groundbreaking rock brew that continues to inspire and influence new generations of musicians long after the band's demise. Information: martinpopoff.com.


Title: HENDRIX: The Illustrated History (Voyageur Press)
Author: Gillian G. Gaar
Edition: Hardcover, 224 pages
Tell me more: Widely-regarded as the greatest and most influential rock guitarist of all time, Jimi Hendrix carved out his amazing legacy from the middle of 1966 until his death at age 27 in September 1970. Author Gillian G. Gaar's wonderful HENDRIX: The Illustrated History is worthy of its talented subject — the newly-published hardcover book has images spanning from Hendrix's childhood to those taken shortly before his death; along with the wealth of photographs, album artwork and posters are well-written details about the singer-guitarist's life and career. Hendrix aficionados will love details on the gear that the guitar great used, as well as the selected live appearances list highlighting many of his most notable concert appearances and "selected discography" featured in the book. HENDRIX: The Illustrated History is truly a must-have for fans of Hendrix and those whose life-long quest is to master the art of playing guitar. Information: amazon.com.



Title: Rush: Album By Album (Voyageur Press)
Author: Martin Popoff
Edition: Hardcover, 192 pages
Tell me more: When Canadian rock trio Rush was finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013, it provided acknowledgement that bassist-keyboardist-vocalist Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer-lyricist Neil Peart are one of rock's most powerful, talented and unique voices. In addition, as of 2017, Rush has reportedly sold more than 65 million albums worldwide since the early 1970s. Now author Martin Popoff  widely considered an expert on Rush  explores the 50-year history of the band in his outstanding Rush: Album By Album." Spanning from Rush's self-titled 1974 debut to 2012's excellent Clockwork Angels, every Rush album is covered via a comprehensive look reflecting not only Popoff's views but those he collects in conversations featuring the likes of Kirk Hammett (lead guitarist of Metallica), Paul Gilbert (guitarist in Mr. Big), Mike Portnoy (the drummer of Dream Theater) and other notable names who provide additional depth into the work of Rush. As is fitting of the ambition of Rush, the conversations and narrative in Rush: Album By Album covers not only the music (including well-known solos) and lyrics, but related live performances and album artwork. Information: martinpopoff.com.



Title: A Grammy Salute to Music Legends
Author: Edited by David Konjoyan; foreword by Jimmy Jam
Edition: Hardcover, 208 pages
Tell me more: While most music fans recognize that The Recording Academy presents its GRAMMYs to honor award-winning music that has had an impact in a specific year, the majority of those who catch the televised ceremony might not know about the Special Merit Awards section of the GRAMMY program book where deserving persons are honored through the Lifetime Achievement Award, Trustees Award and Technical GRAMMY Award. These special awards honor individuals who have distinguished themselves over the course of many years and come from a wide range of musical genres. Now A Grammy Salute to Music Legends shines a bright light on these notables who have earned Special Merit Awards, with the seminal music pioneers typically celebrated by artists they have influenced. For example, Tom Petty's tribute to George Harrison's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015 and Kris Kristofferson's tribute to Leonard Cohen for the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010 are among the many highlights in the insightful anthology. Information: halleonardbooks.com.



Title: Rockin' the City of Angels (Diego Spade Productions)
Author: Douglas Harr
Edition: Hardcover, 396 pages
Tell me more: Rockin' the City of Angels celebrates the 1970s. Big time. The coffee-table book closely mirrors the size of an LP vinyl album cover, spans 396 pages and includes more than 600 images. Written by Douglas Harr and designed by Tilman ReitzleRockin' the City of Angels brings together the work of a number of photographers to capture the parade of stellar concerts staged in Los Angeles during the 1970s. Indeed, images of The Who, the Rolling Stones, Elton John, Yes, AC/DC, Queen, David Bowie, Paul McCartney & Wings, and others are showcased here. Photographers whose images are featured in the volume include Richard E. Aaron, Jørgen Angel, Fin Costello, Ian Dickson, Armando Gallo, Stacey Katsis, Terry O’Neill, Neal Preston, Michael Putland, Jim Summaria, Lisa Tanner, Brian Weiner and Neil Zlowzower. Information: https://www.facebook.com/rockinthecityofangels/. You can also purchase the book from Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/Amazon-RTCOA.


Robert Kinsler

Friday, October 20, 2017

RUSH celebrates the 40th Anniversary of 'A Farewell To Kings' with expanded edition

SAY HELLO AGAIN TO RUSH’S ‘A FAREWELL TO KINGS’

Canadian rock legends celebrate classic album's 40th anniversary with lavish expanded reissues on December 1, 2017


On December 1, UMe/Anthem/ole label group continues its Rush 40thanniversary album celebrations with a lavish new expanded edition of the band's landmark album A Farewell to Kings.

A Farewell to Kings, Rush's fifth studio album, was originally released in 1977, and played a major role in establishing Rush as an internationally popular and respected band.  A Farewell to Kings also introduced the trio's first successful radio hit "Closer To The Heart," album tracks “A Farewell To Kings,” “Madrigal,” “Cinderella Man,” as well as enduring fan favorites with "Xanadu” and "Cygnus X-1."

A Farewell to Kings—40th Anniversary will be available to fans in four distinct configurations including (1) Super Deluxe Edition, (2) three-CD Deluxe Edition, (3) four-LP Deluxe Edition, and (4) the Deluxe Digital Edition. 

The Super Deluxe Edition includes three CDs, one Blu-ray Audio disc and four high-quality 180-gram vinyl LPs.  The set encompasses the Abbey Road Mastering Studios 2015 remastered edition of the album for the first time on CD; a complete Rush concert recorded in February 1978 at London's Hammersmith Odeon, newly mixed by longtime Rush engineer and original A Farewell to Kings producer Terry Brown from the multi-track live tapes; four newly-recorded cover versions of songs from the original album by Dream Theater, Big Wreck, The Trews and Alain Johannes; and an instrumental studio outtake of the spacey sound effects the band has creatively titled “Cygnus X-2 Eh.”  The Hammersmith show features, for the first-time ever, over 34 minutes of unreleased performances including a complete “2112” suite, “Lakeside Park,” a drum solo and “Closer To The Heart.” The Super Deluxe Edition's audio content on its CDs is duplicated on its vinyl discs.  Meanwhile, the Blu-ray Audio disc contains a brand new 5.1 surround mix of the album by four-time Grammy® nominated surround sound producer Steven Wilson, along with three original 1977 promo videos from a newly found 2-inch quad video master significantly improving the video quality for “Closer To The Heart.”  The Super Deluxe package also includes an elaborate new 40th anniversary cover treatment by longtime Rush creative director Hugh Syme, who has also created a new piece of artwork for each of the album's six songs, and an extensive 12,000-word liner notes by Grammy®-winning rock historian Rob Bowman.  

The Super Deluxe Edition of A Farewell to Kings—40th Anniversary will also include several exclusive items, including a unique King's Ring, with custom velvet pouch and neck chain; two lithographs with original artwork by Hugh Syme; a special 12-inch turntable mat featuring distinctive artwork by Hugh Syme; and a reproduction of Rush's original 1978 A Farewell To Kings tour program.

A Farewell to Kings—40th Anniversary second configuration will be released in a three-CD Deluxe Edition, with the newly reasserted A Farewell to Kings album, the Hammersmith Odeon show, the four new cover songs, “Cygnus X-2 Eh” outtake, Hugh Syme's song-specific artwork and Rob Bowman's liner notes. The third configuration will be offered as an audiophile 180-gram four-LP Deluxe Edition featuring the same audio content as the three-CD edition with double-gatefold packaging, 32-page vinyl-size booklet, the special 12-inch turntable mat, along with Syme's artwork and Bowman's liner notes.  The fourth configuration, the Deluxe Digital Edition, will feature the original album as disc 1, the complete Hammersmith concert unedited as disc 2, and the four covers songs plus the “Cygnus X-2 Eh” outtake as disc 3.

Additionally, on November 24, UMe will release a 7" vinyl single for Record Store Day's annual Black Friday event, featuring the beloved A Farewell to Kings hit "Closer to the Heart," with a custom large-hole adapter and new artwork by Hugh Syme.

In his liner notes, Bowman describes A Farewell to Kings as "the beginning of Chapter Two" for Rush.  "No longer was the majority of the record dominated by the sound of a power trio.  A more mature Rush now embraced a wider sound palette using synthesizers, Taurus bass pedals, classical guitar, tubular bells, temple blocks and orchestral bells to create greater contrast and color within their compositions. Yet, when desired, Rush continued to deploy the intensity, ferocity and power that they were justifiably known for."

Rush—bassist/keyboardist/vocalist Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer/lyricist Neil Peart—has won a large and passionate worldwide fan base for its unique, adventurous approach, which combines sterling musicianship, complex compositions and distinctive lyrical flights drawing upon science-fiction motifs and esoteric philosophical concepts. The band has sold more 25 million albums in the U.S. alone, with worldwide sales estimated at 45 million, and has been awarded 24 Gold, 14 Platinum, and three multi-platinum albums.  Rush has received seven Grammy nominations and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013.

TRACKLISTING:

3-CD
DISC 1
Original Album - Produced by Rush and Terry Brown
1.   A FAREWELL TO KINGS 
2.   XANADU
3.   CLOSER TO THE HEART 
4.   CINDERELLA MAN
5.   MADRIGAL
6.   CYGNUS X-1 

DISC 2
Live at Hammersmith Odeon – February 20, 1978
1.   BASTILLE DAY
2.   LAKESIDE PARK*
3.   BY-TOR & THE SNOWDOG
4.   XANADU
5.   A FAREWELL TO KINGS
6.   SOMETHING FOR NOTHING
7.   CYGNUS X-1

DISC 3
Live at Hammersmith Odeon – February 20, 1978
1.   ANTHEM
2.   CLOSER TO THE HEART*
3.   2112*
4.   WORKING MAN
5.   FLY BY NIGHT
6.   IN THE MOOD
7.   DRUM SOLO*
8.   CINDERELLA MAN

9.   XANADU – Dream Theater*
10.  CLOSER TO THE HEART – Big Wreck*
11.  CINDERELLA MAN – The Trews*
12.  MADRIGAL – Alain Johannes*
13.  CYGNUS X-2 EH*

BLU-RAY AUDIO – DISC 4
96kHz 24-bit 5.1 Surround Mix by Steven Wilson
96kHz 24-bit Original Stereo Analog 2015 Remaster
1.   A FAREWELL TO KINGS 
2.   XANADU
3.   CLOSER TO THE HEART 
4.   CINDERELLA MAN
5.   MADRIGAL
6.   CYGNUS X-1 

1977 Promo Videos:
1.   A FAREWELL TO KINGS
2.   XANADU
3.   CLOSER TO THE HEART

4-LP VINYL
LP 1 – SIDE A
Original Album - Produced by Rush and Terry Brown
1.   A FAREWELL TO KINGS 
2.   XANADU

LP 1 – SIDE B
1.   CLOSER TO THE HEART
2.   CINDERELLA MAN
3.   MADRIGAL
4.   CYGNUS X-1

LP 2 – SIDE C
Live at Hammersmith Odeon – February 20, 1978
1.   BASTILLE DAY
2.   LAKESIDE PARK*
3.   BY-TOR & THE SNOWDOG

LP 2 – SIDE D
Live at Hammersmith Odeon – February 20, 1978
1.   XANADU
2.   A FAREWELL TO KINGS
3.   SOMETHING FOR NOTHING

LP 3 – SIDE E
Live at Hammersmith Odeon – February 20, 1978
1.   CYGNUS X-1
2.   ANTHEM
3.   CLOSER TO THE HEART*

LP 3 – SIDE F
Live at Hammersmith Odeon – February 20, 1978
1.   2112*

LP 4 – SIDE G
Live at Hammersmith Odeon – February 20, 1978
1.   WORKING MAN
2.   FLY BY NIGHT
3.   IN THE MOOD
4.   DRUM SOLO*
5.   CINDERELLA MAN

LP 4 – SIDE H
1.   XANADU – Dream Theater*
2.   CLOSER TO THE HEART – Big Wreck*
3.   CINDERELLA MAN – The Trews*
4.   MADRIGAL – Alain Johannes*
5.   CYGNUS X-2 EH*

DELUXE DIGITAL EDITION
DISC 1
Original Album - Produced by Rush and Terry Brown
1.     A FAREWELL TO KINGS 
2.     XANADU
3.     CLOSER TO THE HEART 
4.     CINDERELLA MAN
5.     MADRIGAL
6.     CYGNUS X-1 

DISC 2
Live at Hammersmith Odeon – February 20, 1978
1.     BASTILLE DAY
2.     LAKESIDE PARK*
3.     BY-TOR & THE SNOWDOG
4.     XANADU
5.     A FAREWELL TO KINGS
6.     SOMETHING FOR NOTHING
7.     CYGNUS X-1
8.     ANTHEM
9.     CLOSER TO THE HEART*
10.  2112*
11.  WORKING MAN
12.  FLY BY NIGHT
13.  IN THE MOOD
14.  DRUM SOLO*
15.  CINDERELLA MAN

DISC 3
1.     XANADU – Dream Theater*
2.     CLOSER TO THE HEART – Big Wreck*
3.     CINDERELLA MAN – The Trews*
4.     MADRIGAL – Alain Johannes*
5.     CYGNUS X-2 EH*

* Previously unreleased


Thursday, October 19, 2017

"Wow"! Beck thrills capacity crowd at Ford Theatres

Performing at Ford Theatres is, from left, a new member of
Beck's touring band, Beck, and keyboardist Roger Manning Jr.
Photo: Kim Kinsler 
Beck
Where: John Anson Ford Theatres, Hollywood, CA
When: Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017
Next: Beck will perform as part of the iHeartRadio ALTer Ego concert on Jan. 19, 2018 at the Forum in Inglewood. Also on that bill are Mumford & Sons, Spoon, Cage the Elephant and the National


Beck performed his first hometown performance since releasing his new album Colors at the John Anson Ford Theatres last night, delivering an entertaining and wide-ranging concert confirming the singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist remains one of the most talented artists making music anywhere on the planet.

Since its release on October 13, Colors has been universally praised and for good reason. The album is a mostly-upbeat and intoxicating '80s-flavored masterwork filled with songs that inspire dance moves even as they dazzle with creative and compelling arrangements. Announced just last week, the Ford Theatres concert drew an enthusiastic crowd of 1,200 who packed into the beautiful outdoor amphitheater to catch up on Beck in the wake of the release of his first new studio album since 2014's Americana-minded Morning Phase (that brilliant album earned Album of the Year honors at the Grammy Awards on February 8, 2015).

Beck and his band performing on October 18, 2017.
Photo: Robert Kinsler
Over the course of 105 minutes on Wednesday night, the genre-hopping artist focused on material from throughout his 25-year career including a four-song set of new material from Colors in celebration of the release of that disc that was performed near the end of the show. The title track from the new disc was one of the genuine delights of the night. This marked only the second time Beck and company had ever played "Colors" in concert; that song proved to be a sonically-rich offering with its nuanced layers coming fully to life via the musicians' performance. "Up All Night," another infectious cut, received its third-ever concert performance and had everyone on their feet and moving to the song's dance discipline.

In fact, from the opening selections of his performance (the grooving "Devil's Haircut" and equally dynamic "Black Tambourine") to the super cool '80s synth pop "I Think I'm In Love" / ""I Feel Love" (the latter a hit for Donna Summer) and funky "The New Pollution," Beck seemed inspired to keep the crowd on their feet and having a great time.

"I'm very thankful for this beautiful night," Beck said, clearly delighted with the spirit of this special gig attended by many of the artist's family members and friends.

Jason Falkner performing at Ford Theatres.
Photo: Kim Kinsler
Other alt rock and dance-styled Beck classics followed, including "Mixed Bizness," "Qué Onda Güero," thrilling '70s retro vibe of "Go It Alone" and the heavy-guitar anchored "Soul of a Man" (featuring the fretwork of lead guitarist Jason Falkner) before Beck's Laurel Canyon-minded influences shone via the folk stylings of "Paper Tiger" and "Lost Cause."

The fact that Beck performed dance material, alternative rock, folk ("fingerpicking songs"), blues and more was impressive to be sure. While the performance of his hit "Loser" was obviously a favorite and had everyone moving and singing, an extended "Where It's At" that served as a point to provide introductions to his band members was also extremely moving and fun. In the gives-me-chills column was a potent tribute to the late Tom Petty via guitarist Falkner leading the band through "American Girl"; moments later, the audience  was surprised (and impressed) via keyboardist Roger Manning Jr. delivering up a fantastic imitation of Michael McDonald's "Takin' It To The Streets."

The encore also featured Beck performing the decidedly bluesy "One Foot in the Grave" where his rapid-fire vocals and impressive blues harmonica work were played over the sparse accompaniment of a bass drum. A soulful "Debra" with sweet falsetto vocals and joyful refrain of "Where It's At" (often recognized by the title "Two Turntables and a Microphone") closed things out of a high-impact and memorable close.

Review by Robert Kinsler

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

“Mystery Science Theater 3000: Vol. XXXIX” available on DVD November 21, 2017 from Shout! Factory

Big news for all of us MST3K fans; Shout! Factory has just announced that the upcoming release of 'Mystery Science Theater 3000: Vol. XXXIX will almost certainly (okay, probably definitely, maybe unquestionably) be the final collection of never-before-released episodes from the initial run of the groundbreaking series. Read on...


Mystery Science Theater 3000:Vol. XXXIX
Four DVD Box Set Features Previously Unreleased Episodes
                                      Girls Town, The Amazing Transparent Man, and Diabolik,  
              and a disc of unreleased host segments, Satellite Dishes

            Available on Tuesday, November 21, 2017 from Shout! Factory


And in the end, the laughs you take are equal to the jokes they make. On November 21, 2017, Shout! Factory will release the almost certainly, probably definitely, maybe unquestionably final collection of never-before-released classic episodes of our favorite cowtown puppet show, Mystery Science Theater 3000.

The slings and arrows of outrageous licenses have resulted in only three episodes, so Vol. XXXIX also includes Satellite Dishes, a disc featuring the host segments of all the remaining unreleased episodes. The collection also includes a bevy of bonus features, including Chuck Love and the Anatomy of a Theme, Beyond Transparency, a new featurette about The Amazing Transparent Man, Showdown In Eden Prairie: Their Final Experiment, The Last Dance, a documentary special that  chronicles the final days shooting the last episode of the original run ofMST3KDiabolikBehind the Scream: Daniel Griffith on Ballyhoo, mini posters from artist Steve Vance, and theatrical trailers. But final has a way of not being final, and one need only turn to Netflix to appreciate that. So take one plausibly last ride of the classic series with our heroes on the Satellite of Love, and keep circulating the tapes!

Fans can pre-order their copies now by visiting ShoutFactory.com. The first 1,500 fans who order directly from Shout! Factory will also receive the exclusive bonus disc The Complete Poopie, a collection of MST3K bloopers and outtakes.

MGM’s 1959 film Girls Town is not a feminist follow up to MGM’s 1938 Boys Town, though to be fair, both are set in towns.  B-movie siren Mamie Van Doren stars as a juvenile delinquent trying to survive in the eponymous nun-run reform school after she is wrongly accused of murder. It’s a feast of drag races, catfights, sexy dresses and Mel Tormé, who turns in a Blue Velvet Fog performance as the blackmailing troublemaker. The oddly child-of-star studded cast includes the offspring of Charlie Chaplin, Robert Mitchum and Harold Lloyd. Paul Anka makes his feature debut, and this may be one of his regrets that does bear mentioning. Fortunately for us, those very juvenile delinquents aboard the SoL upgrade a B movie into A+ television and reform us all. 

In The Amazing Transparent Man, an ex-military sociopath plans to raise an army of invisible soldiers, but first he needs to perfect his captive scientist’s invisibilizing device by stealing necessary nuclear materials from a government vault. He engineers the prison break of a notorious thief, leveraging his wanted status to force him to do the heist. This amazing transparent tax shelter provides no dearth of fodder for Mike, Tom and Crow, who see right through the film to the riffs that ultimately make it a joy to behold.  

The celebrated Italian filmmaker Mario Bava must have needed his bathroom redone. In the 1968 spy spoof Diabolik, he takes John Philip Law into his own hands and delivers an exploitation schlock-fest replete with super-criminals, underground lairs, and gadgets that would have Q scratching his head. It’s supposed to be a comedy, but it only turns into one after Mike and the bots riff it good. This film was, of course, the last one Mike and the bots were forced to endure. We thank them for their service!

Satellite Dishes
The best laid plans of mice and licensees often go astray. Despite best efforts to include the remaining unreleased episodes, the hard truth is that they may never see the legitimate light of day. So here is the next best thing: all their host segments. What these delectable dishes from the Satellite of Love lack in riffs, they make up for in irreverent, silly and delightfully nerdy sketch comedy. It's the best we can do, so we are doing it!

Includes:
Ep #201 Rocketship X-M
Ep #213 Godzilla Vs. The Sea Monster
Ep #309 The Amazing Colossal Man
Ep #311 It Conquered the World
Ep #416 Fire Maidens from Outer Space
Ep #418 The Eye Creatures
Ep #807 Terror from the Year 5000
Ep #809 I Was A Teenage Werewolf
Ep #905 The Deadly Bees
Ep #906 The Space Children
Ep #913 Quest of the Delta Knights

MST3K: Volume XXXIX Bonus Features
·         Chuck Love and the Anatomy of a Theme
·         Beyond Transparency--new featurette about The Amazing Transparent Man
·         Showdown In Eden Prairie: Their Final Experiment
·         The Last Dance-- a documentary special that  chronicles the final days shooting the last episode of the original run of MST3KDiabolik.
·         Behind the Scream: Daniel Griffith on Ballyhoo
·         Theatrical Trailers
·         Four Exclusive Mini-Posters by artist Steve Vance


About Shout! Factory
Shout! Factory, LLC is a diversified multi-platform media company devoted to producing, uncovering, preserving and revitalizing the very best of pop culture. Founders Richard Foos, Bob Emmer and Garson Foos have spent their entire careers sharing their music, television and film favorites with discerning consumers the world over. Shout! Factory’s entertainment offerings serve up feature films, classic and contemporary TV series, animation, live music and comedy specials. In addition, Shout! Factory maintains a vast entertainment distribution network which delivers culturally relevant programming, movie and audio content to all the leading digital service providers in North America and across multiple platforms. Shout! Factory owns and operates Shout! Factory Productions, Scream Factory, Shout! Factory Kids, Shout! Factory Films, Mystery Science Theater 3000, Timeless Media Group and Shout! Factory TV. These riches are the result of a creative acquisition mandate that has established the company as a hotbed of cultural preservation and commercial reinvention. Shout! Factory is based in Los Angeles, California. For more on Shout! Factory, visit shoutfactory.com.