Tag Archives: Eagle Rock

New Album! Procol Harum

Barricades intact

Barricades intact

Many bands extend their bandwidth by trying (or revisiting) different arrangements of songs; Unpluggedhas become a rite of passage for rock acts trying to become (or  stay) relevant. Likewise, several bands will go the orchestral route, swelling their sound with a twenty, thirty, eighty piece orchestra to channel their bombast and maybe even gussy up some of those relatively ordinary chestnuts from their catalogue. But making the effort is one thing – making it worthwhile is something else entirely.

Let’s face it – for some bands, playing with an orchestra is just silly. The Rolling Stones would be neutered, although it would be fun watching Keith Richards trying to conduct the orchestra with head twitches and fey wrist movements. KISS actually recorded an album with the Melbourne Symphony, but all that did was expose the weakness of the material (no great shocker there) and reduce the accompaniment to an eighty piece echo.

But some bands were made to collaborate with such an organism, and Procol Harum is one of them. When your music is that majestic and complex, the backing of large and versatile instrumentation turns it into a 3-D experience. Arrangements color subtleties and enhance delicate movements, pin-drop beats explode into a thundering chorus. Add in the lyrics of a storyteller and an emotional vocalist and it can occasionally be breathtaking.

Procol Harum just released a CD and DVD of their 2006 performance with the Danish National Concert Orchestra and Choir (Eagle Vision) and if I could pick one moment to illustrate the powerful emotions I described, it would be “A Salty Dog”. I’ll wager there were people in the audience moved to tears.

Procol Harum is no stranger to this motif; back in 1972 they released an album recorded with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. Great to see that forty-plus years later, it’s still a perfect fit for them.

Here’s my review of the new album at Blurt Online.

Procol Harum fan page.

Eagle Rock / Eagle Vision

Leave a comment

Filed under Music, Reviews

New Album! Black Crowes

 black crowes warpaint

I’ll put my cards on the table and tell you that I did not slip this DVD in the player with an open mind. Since I thought Warpaint was the best album of 2008, I had high expectations for this show where the band played the album – in sequence – live. Show me, boyos.

But the Black Crowes did not falter, they delivered, and the performance left me pondering where Luther Dickinson belongs on the list of great guitar players. He is amazing.

The 2008/2009 configuration of the band might be the best ever. Chris Robinson is in great voice, and brother Rich doesn’t have to shoulder the pyrotechnics on guitar. The rhythm section is top notch, Sven Pipien and Scott Gorman are formidable and keyboard player Adam MacDougall is a secret weapon. A Black Crowes show is as much about atmosphere as it is about performance, and as they have shown us before, seeing is believing.

This is a rejuvenated band catching a second wind and maximizing the opportunity. I cannot wait to hear the new album that’s dropping today. But until it arrives? Yeah, this puppy will hold me over bigtime. Warpaint Live is a blast.

Read all about it in my review in Blurt.

Read my thoughts about the studio album Warpaint here.

black crowes peace

Leave a comment

Filed under Music, Reviews

Remembering Rory Gallagher

I *Did* Have Religion

I *Did* Have Religion

I know I wasn’t hip enough to be into the Irish rock trio Taste when they first hit the boards; I was still trying to digest “Good Vibrations” and “Have You Seen Your Mother Baby, Standing In The Shadow” and “Psychotic Reaction” and a boxful of magical, mystical singles that spit out of my speakers. And when I went off to college and started a radio show that others may or may not have heard (depending upon whether the elevators in the building were conflicting with the transmitter), I hadn’t heard his self-titled solo debut, or Deuce. But from the moment Live In Europe came out (at the time, simply titled Rory Gallagher Live) I quickly corrected that gap in my musical library and never looked back. One listen convinced me that after several few years of pondering life’s greatest mystery – “Hendrix or Clapton?” – the question itself was incomplete.  Together with bass player Gerry McAvoy and drummer Wilgar Campbell, Gallagher’s dynamic live document raised the bar – no fuss, no stage set, no garish clothing – just an Irish guy in a flannel shirt with a well-worn Stratocaster and the purest soul I had ever heard committed to vinyl.

“Bullfrog Blues”

My friend Kevin O’Connor and I, fine Irishmen both, bonded over many things, but Rory was near the top of that list. We played this record so often you could almost hear side two bleeding through side one. Whether blazing through the rocking “Laundromat”, channeling classic electric blues in “I Could Have had Religion”, solo acoustic magic of “Pistol Slapper Blues”, it didn’t matter – not only was Gallagher a master of every style, but the tone he got from the guitar was otherworldly. Even brandishing a mandolin, as he does on “Going To My Home Town”, he was a magician. Years later, watching the concert documentary Irish Tour 1974, I watched him play that same song in his hometown, in front of an auditorium packed with family, friends and proud countrymen, stomping their feet and clapping their hands as thunderous audience percussion. I was moved to tears.

Rory could dazzle on acoustic or electric, jam with the classic bluesmen and be the envy of his peers (Keith Richards lobbied for him to join the Stones on several occasions). He toured relentlessly and was loved by his fans because along with being an amazing talent he was a humble and approachable guy. Yet he’s so underappreciated by the general public that when Rolling Stone compiled a list of the 100 greatest guitar players of all time, Rory’s name was not on that list. (Of course, this speaks more to how far the once great magazine had fallen than Rory’s legacy. The great guitar players in rock history, from Clapton, Beck and Winter to Brian May and Richard Thompson, praise Gallagher to the skies). Of course, for true fans, Rory’s music is as alive and vital now as it was when he first created it.  I know when I call Kevin later today it will again be a bittersweet conversation.

Rory died in 1995, only47 years old. But Rory Gallagher’s music is timeless. Happy Birthday, mate.

Some good news for US fans, from his brother Donal, who oversees Rory’s recorded legacy: “We have recently got Capo Record’s North American situation finally resolved by the completion of paperwork from Sony Music, which releases us from the existing agreement. For this territory we will now place our catalogue with Eagle Rock (U.S.), who have done positive work on the Montreux and Rockpalast DVD’s in the States. The first release will be Rory’s “Live at the Cork Opera House” DVD (17th March), this title has up until now remained unreleased in N. America. We will also be looking to release a compilation album to refresh and promote Rory in the States and Canada in the autumn.”  Donal is correct – Eagle Rock has done an excellent job with the Live at Montreaux and Live at Rockpalast collections; Montreaux is a stunning collection of appearances. Live at the Cork Opera House has only been available in Region 2 format until now and is a welcome addition to a great catalogue.

Here’s the link to the Rory Gallagher website.

Here’s a link to a page full of edited MP3 samples from albums throughout Rory’s career. You can see why a simple “best of” collection would be so insignificant.

I savor Rory’s entire catalogue, but while his studio albums are good, all of his live albums are spectacular. Live In Europe will always be my favorite, and Irish Tour is his most popular, I have a soft spot in my heart for the balls-to-the-wall rock on Stage Struck. Check out “Shinkicker”

***

I will not make a lame excuse

I did not forget Dr. Seuss

I do not minimize his glory

I just prefer to honor Rory.

A tip of the striped cap from one Doctor to another...

A tip of the striped cap from one Doctor to another...

3 Comments

Filed under Editorials, Music