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Steve Stevens: Flamenco Guitar Solo.

April 2, 2020

I’m going to make a brief diversion from my recently begun series on cover tunes.

In my previous post, I wrote a little about Steve Stevens, most well-known as Billy Idol’s guitarist (Stevens also co-wrote some or all of Idol’s songs).

I decided to check out more of Steven’s music, and was surprised to learn that not only is he an excellent rock guitarist, but a rather good flamenco player as well.

Here a live version of his flamenco music (4.5 million views so far!) :

 

 

 

The Covers: IV – “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me.”

April 2, 2020

In the previous two posts were songs by The Who, one original, and one a cover.

For this post, I am featuring Roger Daltrey in a recording he did not make with The Who. Daltrey’s version was the first I heard. It was on an amazing soundtrack from an even more amazing (and intentionally silly, but very stylish) vampire film, called “The Lost Boys.” The movie and soundtrack were released in 1987. I’m not a big fan of horror movies, but damn this film was great.

One reason I liked the movie so much.. it was mostly filmed in the beautiful and rather creepy Northern California coastal city of Santa Cruz, and the Santa Cruz Mountains. During the early to mid ’90’s, I spent a lot of time in that city, and the neighboring, smaller city of Capitola (though very little time in the creepy parts) and lived up in those mountains for four summers.

I don’t know about vampires, but there is a lot of weird stuff that goes on in Santa Cruz County. If you visit, stick to the tourist areas. No joke. And don’t go wandering in the heavily forested mountains either. Friendly locals told me not to do that. “Deliverance”-type people up there and who knows who else.  There’s reasons this film was set in a fictionalized version of Santa Cruz County.

I will put the trailer for “The Lost Boys” at the bottom of this post.

First though, the original recording, by Elton John, from his “Caribou” album, which was released in 1974:

 

Sir Elton released a live version of this song with George Michael in 1991. The two had previously performed the song together in 1985, with Elton playing piano and George singing. This was for the massive Live Aid concert series.

I’m not selecting that one as the cover for this post, even though I like both Elton John and the late George Michael. Besides, with Elton performing on it, it is not a cover.

As with previous and future posts, my goal with this one is to provide a cover version that sounds somewhat different from the original. And sounds at least as good, or in this case, even better, in my opinion, than the original.

Here is Roger Daltrey’s version:

Quite different, indeed! Epic.

A strange thing about this version.. the ending guitar riff sounds very similar to the bridge in Billy Idol’s “Eyes Without A Face,” only slowed down. Did Steve Stevens, Billy idol’s guitarist and co-songwriter, play on the song you just heard? I looked up Stevens on Wikipedia, and did not see a credit for him listed under soundtracks, and also googled around awhile trying unsuccessfully to find a list of performers on Roger Daltrey’s track.. so my guess is no. But the guitar tone and the riff sure sound similar to what I hear in “Eyes Without A Face.”

In the next two posts, I will focus on Dolly Parton songs, one of them an original, and one a cover. I just realized it was a cover a few minutes ago while researching the song. I will be posting the original of that song, Dolly’s cover, and then a radically different cover.

As promised.. here is the trailer for “The Lost Boys.” One of the best horror movies ever.

 

 

The Covers: III – “Summertime Blues.”

March 31, 2020

Alright, for this one, the original, and two covers! Admittedly, the two covers are somewhat similar, but I’m going to post them both anyway.

Last blog post was “Bargain,” a song originally recorded by The Who, and covered by Rez.

This time, one of the covers is by The Who..

But first..

The original.

Before I get to it though, I just want to write that this series I’ve recently embarked on is a learning experience. For example, I have found some songs I thought were originals were actually covers. Also, I’ve been looking up the release dates of the songs, and learning more about recording artists.

Ok then.. I was watching a music documentary a little while ago – wish I could remember which one, but I watch a lot of music content online – and learned that “Summertime Blues” was originally recorded in 1958 by Eddie Cochran..

According to Wikipedia, Cochran was an American-born studio pioneer and multi-instrumentalist. Died less than 24 hours after a being in a single car accident in England, right after playing a gig. Reckless cab driver was at the wheel. Cochran was the only person in the car to die from the accident. He passed away on Easter Sunday, 1960. He was 21.

Here is Cochran’s “Summertime Blues.”

 

This song has been covered A LOT.

I’m picking the other two versions I’ve already heard of this one.

First cover for this post is probably the heaviest of all versions,  (besides the last one in this post) ..  and was featured on the first album by Blue Cheer, a band from San Francisco. Their album had a fake-Latin title called “Vincebus Eruptem,” and was recorded in 1967. The record was released in early 1968.

Here is Blue Cheer:

 

And now for the version I heard first.. this one, by The Who.

Which band first performed “Summertime Blues?” I don’t know! The Who was playing it as early as 1967.. same year Blue Cheer recorded this song..

Here is The Who, from the Monterey Pop Festival in California, 1967. Same concert where Jimi Hendrix set his guitar on fire..  I wonder who first started destroying instruments on stage, Hendrix or The Who?

Anyway… a phenomenal performance.. of course..

 

Those guys sure had fun!

Next post.. Roger Daltrey.. a surprise solo recording that sounds pretty much nothing like The Who..

Bonus video..

Want more of Monterey Pop?

Here ya go!

 

The Covers: II – “Bargain.”

March 31, 2020

Welcome to my second post in a series focusing on cover tunes!

In the future, I will be including covers performed by The White Stripes, Volbeat, Duran Duran, Stone Temple Pilots, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Heart, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and a cover that is not exactly a cover, with guest vocalist Johnny Cash.. After that.. not sure.. I’ve got lots of ideas!

The song I selected for the first post was “Presence of the Lord,” written by Eric Clapton (but not sung by him), performed by a band he was in called Blind Faith, and covered by a band called Rez. I am featuring Rez again in this post. That band did only a few covers, and did them well.

Rez, originally called Resurrection Band, was a Christian hard rock and blues band that was brilliant, and very heavy, sometimes even brutal, even to the point of being difficult to listen to, both sonically and lyrically. Unlike some other Christian rock bands, such as Petra or Stryper, Rez never gained huge following. But they were amazing. Sometimes quite disturbing, but amazing.

The song.. I first heard the version by Rez, then later found out it was a cover, and listened to the version by The Who. The Who is one of my favorite classic rock bands, and I like pretty much all their hits, including this one.

“Bargain” – original recording by The Who, from their 1971 album, “Who’s Next?”

 

And the Rez version, from their album “Innocent Blood,” released in 1989:

 

Both are heavy. The Who sounds a bit more psychedelic. Also, it sounds to me like Pete Townshend sang the bridge.. but I could be wrong.

The Rez version.. heavier and crunchier guitars, more raw feel, raspier vocal style,  no vocalist change.. great cover!

Next post will feature The Who again, only this time playing a cover, and the post after that, Roger Daltrey in a solo recording, performing a cover of an Elton John song, and sounding better than Sir Elton, I think.

I plan on doing several posts each week. Keep checking back!

Thanks!

 

The Covers: I – “Presence of the Lord.”

March 29, 2020

This is the first in a series of posts that will feature some of my favorite covers. I’ve got at least a dozen picked out so far, if I remember correctly. I will be adding some intermittently in the near future, along with my usual random posts about music and.. whatever..

There are LOTS of recorded cover songs out there. I’ve chosen ones that sound a little different (or much different) from the originals, and sound as good, if not better.

I’m starting my covers series with this song because I am learning it on acoustic guitar – just the basic chords. This song is in my head. A lot.

I first heard “Presence of the Lord” without realizing it was a cover. I heard it performed by a powerful and unique Christian hard rock and blues band called Rez – formerly called Resurrection Band (I wish they’d stuck with their original name) – on their 1988 album “Silence Screams.” I was later told this was an Eric Clapton song.

Clapton wrote the song, and Steve Winwood sang it. They were both members of a super-group called Blind Faith. The song was originally released in 1969.

Here’s the original:

 

The Rez version is somewhat different, as you will hear. It is heavier, and the voice of the vocalist, Glenn Kaiser, one of my all-time favorite singers, is very intense.

Alright!

Pretty damn good cover, I think.

Next one in my covers series..

Another Rez cover, this time of a song by The Who.

Thanks for listening!

Synthwave: A Genre I Discovered by Accident.

February 14, 2020

How did I accidentally discover synthwave? Here’s the story..

Even though I stopped practicing Christianity back in the ’90’s, there are some Christian bands and music from the ’80’s and ’90’s that I still like, or, at least, still remember.

One of them is an extremely heavy industrial group called Under Midnight. I never got into this group much, or industrial music in general, except for a couple tracks by Nine Inch Nails and KMFDM, but still decided to look up this band. I wanted to listen to them for a bit because I was thinking of getting back into creating experimental music on my computer, and wanted some inspiration.

Here is a track by Under Midnight. If you want to damage your brain, give it a listen.  This is NOT synthwave.

 

Yeah.. well, I never really did get into that band a whole lot, but anyway..

When I went looking for this band on youtube, I found another called The Midnight. And I had a Eureka moment.

Why?

I really really liked the retro synth music in the second season of “Stranger Things.” I don’t remember who composed and recorded that music, but The Midnight captured a similar sound and mood. I looked up the band on wikipedia, and that was where I came across the term “synthwave.” Sort of an ’80’s new wave revival, but more ethereal than a lot of ’80’s synth pop. It’s really beautiful music, I think. Best for late night listening.

I’m going to include a few bands in this post. I shall start with two by The Midnight. There is a genius of a film editor, called Naani, who makes fan videos of this group’s songs, using clips from various films.

Here is my favorite, with images from “Bladerunner 2049.” I’ve having some trouble with youtube, so you might have to click on the link to see and hear the video. I don’t know what is going here..

Here’s another.. the film clips are not from a sci-fi film, which is too bad, but the song is great, and the video is good enough. Scenes from a comedy called “Career Opportunities,” which was released in 1991. Jennifer Connelly was one of the most attractive women on the planet back then..

This video was made by the same person who made the first one.

 

The singer of The Midnight, Tyler Lyle, has recorded some music as a solo artist. It is not synthwave, but good. This is my favorite of his, so far.. (Audio only).

 

Ok.. back to the synthwave music..

Before I go any further with more videos, I want to point out that synthwave bands tend to use almost the exact same beats as each other, and the same keyboard sounds in a lot of their music. Some synthwave music I have even found to be boring. But there are definitely some gems.. if this is what you are in the mood for.

Next is a band called Gunship..

(Audio only)..

Here’s one more from Gunship:

 

There’s one more band I want to include in this post. It doesn’t have the best name, but that is alright..

Timecop 1983.. This song sounds more ’80’s than any other synthwave  I’ve heard.

One more from Timecop 1983. This one is from a youtube channel I just discovered called NewRetroWave. I will put a link to the channel near the bottom of the post.

And here is the last tune for this post..

That ought to get you started on your journey into synthwave, a genre you might not have known existed.  I hope you enjoyed this introduction. If you want more..

https://www.youtube.com/user/NewRetroWave

I have many more music posts planned. Stop by again sometime…

Beware the iPhone headphone dongle (adapter).

January 18, 2020

So, I wanted to continue using my $20 Sony headphones with my new iPhone 11 Pro. I put this phone on credit, and will spend at least the next several months paying it off. I like my cheap, wired headphones and don’t want to bother with any bluetooth headphones and spend more money.

I’m not the sort of person to buy top shelf anything. There are very few things I’ll pay a premium price for. I buy almost all my clothes at my favorite thrift store, and drive a car that is 17 years old.

But, one thing I will spend extra money on is name-brand underwear. I have sensitive skin, and the boxer shorts at Wal-Mart, Hanes and the like, just will not do.

I bought a cheaper phone, a Google 3a Xl, one of the best-selling phones on Amazon, but after following the online tutorials, could not make or receive a call, and could not find any info online to figure this out.. I became frustrated, so..

Since I’ve been buying Apple products since 1995 – an Apple Performa computer – and since the first smartphone I bought, in 2017.. was an iPhone 5s, a 2013 model, and also since I like taking pictures – almost always nature photography, and want a phone with a really good camera (the 3a and 3a Xl have a much better than average camera for a budget phone, btw) and since I am a colossal worry-wort, and want to make sure I have a phone that has 4 antennas or transmitters or whatever, so that my calls will go through, I bought, well, purchased with a zero-interest credit card, an iPhone Pro. The Pro-Max was just too big. The regular size iphone pro works well, thank you. Comfortable to hold.

But expensive.

There is no headphone jack on this phone. Bummer.

There is an adapter, also known as a dongle. I don’t know where the silly word “dongle” came from, nor do I know when it became common use, but anyway..

I tried the adapter.. the dongle.. it plugs into the lightning port on the iPhone on one end, and on the other receives a 3.5mm (1/8 inch) headphone on the other.

This was fine at first, until I went to the gym.

Then.. not so good.

As you might guess, I move around quite a bit there. Even just walking on the indoor track, the cord of the headphones moved too much.. which moved the dongle plugged into the phone, which made the sound go strange, like when headphones are not plugged in correctly.

Not Good.

I do not want to mess up my lightning port.  I haven’t worn my cheap headphones or used the dongle at the gym since.

So, I suggest to you to skip this headphone adapter, this “dongle,” if you are going to be moving around.

The dongle and headphones work fine at home, when I am cooking, for example, but when working out, no.

The Apple wired ear buds that came with the phone are not exactly comfortable, but the cord is short (though long enough – perfect length, really) and plugs directly into the phone, no dongle needed. I tried the ear buds at the gym this past evening – no problem with movement as far as the lightning port is concerned, just the feeling of the cord moving, and that affecting how the ear buds feel in my ears – just slightly annoying.

I suppose I shall live with this feeling. I do not, at this time especially, given my current level of debt, want to add to the debt by buying a cordless version of the earbuds. The cheaper model costs $149, and the noise-canceling fancier model costs $100 more than that.

No thank you.

So, if you are considering going the cheap route when it comes to headphones, like I am doing, if you are going to be out and about and active, please beware of the headphone dongle. You don’t want to damage your lightning port.