Tuesday, October 30, 2007

New releases ... who cares

I check Billboard.com compulsively every Tuesday just to see what's being released or at least remastered. And I can't remember the last time this many big name artists released this many albums on the same day ... or when I could have possibly cared less.

Fresh off the presses today:
Britney Spears (maybe now she'll have a reason to be photographed half-nekked ... it's called performing)

Carrie Underwood (the second-best thing to happen to American Idol since Kelly Clarkson)

The Eagles (what with the Reunion Tour that only members of the band could afford to by tickets for it's at least a kind act of mercy that their first new CD in 235 years is available strictly at Wal-Mart.

Backstreet Boys (make Britney Spears still seem relevant) And yet I find myself rooting for these guys ... I don't want to listen to 'em mind you, but rooting for them just the same.

And as a side not Rick Springfield (yep ... THAT guy) just reissued his entire catalogue with bonus tracks. No punchline needed. It's actually happened. You too can own "Living in OZ."

Monday, October 29, 2007

Silent Night no more

And who wouldn't want to hear Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer sung by Dokken? Or Frosty the Snowman by Twisted Sister?

Well that's just what Monster Ballads Xmas promises. All your favorite Christmas carols sung by Hair Metal royalty such as Winger, Night Ranger and Warrant.

Read it hear http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21519474/

Friday, October 26, 2007

Voodoo Fest Live Stream

Click here to stream and to see the schedule.


Friday, Oct. 26
Time (CST)

(2:35 - 3:55)
Jason Isbell
(3:55 - 4:55)
(4:55 - 5:55)
Porcupine Tree
(5:55 - 6:55)
(6:55 - 8:05)
(8:05 - 9:10)
(9:10 - 11:25)
Toots & the Maytals
(11:25 - 1:00)

The jury's in on Springsteen

For the record, I'm not a big fan of CD reviews.

Mainly because most "critics" are on deadline to get the review out before the general public can buy it. So they listen to it a few times and go with first impressions. But the truth is, it's the rare album that sounds great instantly. Most need some time to stew, to be heard, to find their place.

Such is the case with Magic - the latest offering by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

Springsteen, like Bob Dylan, has reached an envious level in his career where, at least in the eyes of the critics, he can do no wrong. Merely putting out an original record means at least a four-star review. We should be thankful they're not endlessly issuing and reissuing Greatest Hits/Live/remastered collections of the back catalogue.

So there's little objectivity. And, again for the record, I just didn't like "Modern Times."

With "Magic," the reviews were in before the record had even hit stores. Rolling Stone gave it 5 stars - "Classic." I wasn't so sure. I'm a huge, huge Springsteen fan. But the man's made some bad records (Not as many as Dylan, but that's another column) - Tunnel of Love and the Peete Seeger Sessions come to mind.

But "Magic" is as good as advertised. This is vintage Springsteen. Straight up, working class rock. The opening track "Radio Nowhere" is easily the best single since Born in the USA. And the album succeeds not solely on Springsteen's lyrical gifts. The E Street Band are the real heroes on the record. Handcuffed by the genre-jumping on "The Rising," the band, especially Max Weinberg and Little Steven.

there are a few stumbling blocks (Girls in their Summer Clothes falls flat). But tracks like "Magic," "Long Walk Home," "Livin' in the Future" shine with the romantic sentiments, desperation and hope that will all this album to fit comfortably right alongside "The River" and "Born To Run" as Springsteen's best.

It's a masterpiece ... and I've taken the time to actually listen.

The brilliant oddity that is Tom Waits

Had a fascinating conversation with a coworker the other day ... and in said chat found a fell enlightened soul.

"You mean you like Tom Waits!" Love the mad genius in fact. But most music fans fall into one of three categories when it comes to the "poet at the crack of dawn." Either they've never heard of him, hate him or are obsessed with him.

I fall into the latter category - most days. Got to be in a mood for the gravely voiced singer who uses his own abrasive voice as an instrument. Waits has two essential phases - broken-hearted, whiskey-soaked balladeer and just-plain-weird, must-be-heard-to-be-believed.

But no matter the phase, Waits is arguably one of the best songwriters out there.

So without further ado ... Here's a brief beginner's guide to Tom Waits tracks:

Hope I don't fall in love with you
Ol' 55
Jersey Girl
Waltzing Matilda (Tom Traubert's Blues)
On the Road to Peace
I Don't Want to Grow Up
Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis
Innocent when you dream
House where nobody lives
Earth Died Screaming
What's he building in there
Picking up after you

More Pink than you can shake a cigar at

Though they haven't put out a new disc in decades, Pink Floyd continue to make a killing on their back catalogue including a monster repacked box set of their entire recording history (most of which should be ignored), though a revisiting of the sad genius of Syd Barrett is a must for even the casual Floyd fan

Get the whole story here http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003663687

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Acoustic music

I managed to get a good sampling of acoustic music across the spectrum. Note to purists: You may find some electric elements in some of these songs ... please don't hold it against me.

Must be all the tequila

Red rocker, and former Van Halen lead singer, celebrated his 60th birthday. And, despite owning his own tequilla distillary, still manages to look better that fret-master (and former bandmate) Eddie Van Halen.

Read all about Mr. I Can't Drive 55's birthday bash and unabashed plans for the future. http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003663435

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Unknown Hinson in B'ham

... Sometimes being scared can be fun

Psychobilly badboy Unknown Hinson will bring his unique view of the world to Zydeco in Birmingham on Oct. 26.

I first came across Unknown by watching the animated series "Squidbillies" where he is the voice of Early Cuyler, the patriarch of the redneck family of squids. Aside from the show being funny, Unknown brings the same irreverance to his music.

The 2004 album, The Future Is Unknown, had me in stitches and the music is very well played. Don't be mislead by his self-described Country/Western Troubadour persona, the band can flat out rock as well.

According to zydecobirmingham.com the show will also have a "Big Costume Party/Contest." They will be giving away door prizes and tickets for Hank Williams III & Keller Williams, as well as Squidbillies swag and drink specials all night.

$10 ticket and a freaky good time!

Did I mention he's purported to be a 400-year-old vampire?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Guitars for beginners

A reader has emailed and wants to know what kind of guitar to buy her 10-year-old boy. He wants to learn to play guitar, but she's clueless. (No comments there, please.)

Ergo, the question: What kind of guitar would be good enough to give a good start, but not so good that it would be a waste of money if the boy decides he ISN'T destined to be the next Randy Rhoads?

The only musical instrument I've ever had custody of was a loaner alto sax in band and a loaner French horn. We have a guitar or two in our house, but ....

Vegoose Music Festival Web cast this weekend

Click here to go to AT&T's Blue Room that will be streaming video of various artists on October 27 and 28.

This has been a great festival the past several years and this year's looks like a winner as well.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

LeAnn Rimes -- remember her, Anniston? -- apparently has a hit record

When LeAnn Rimes played the Knox Concert series recently, little did we know her next record -- her 14th studio work -- would be so good. Well, little did I know.

Anyway, it's getting rave reviews. Read one here.

Clapton's book

Has anyone read Eric Clapton's autobiography yet?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Pick your Zep song

Our OTR poll for this week is up. It's right there on the right ... So vote — now!

This week's poll results

OK, you've spoken.

The Knox Concert Series needs more ROCK!

Last week's Anniston Off The Record poll sought your input about the Knox Series' lineup -- what did it need, if anything? How could it be improved? Did it need improving?

Six respondents said the series needs more rock shows. One voter said the Knox is fine the way it is. And no one voted for adding more country acts to the lineup. Sorry, LeAnn Rimes fans.

welcome to the ... bestseller list?

For those of you desperate for the dish on the once fabled miscreants of Guns 'n' Roses, The Top-Hatted One, best known as Slash, has penned a new autobiography.

Though it couldn't possibly be a better read than Motley Crue's, "The Dirt," or even Nikki Sixx's harrowing, "The Heroin Diaries," I'd just be fascinated to learn that Slash could string sentences together.

I love listening to G'n'R, but not so sure I wanna read about G'n'R.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Echo Project video

This site requires membership, but it's free and quick to sign up.

There's archived live music videos as well.

Friday, October 12, 2007

New Widespread Panic song

Widespread Panic released the new single off their upcoming album today.

Click here to listen or click here to download.

The song is "Up All Night." It originated from John Herman (keys), and then received further band input. Background vocals are sung by the same three-person group that backed Al Green on all of his great soul hits, and a horn section (part of which played on the Wilson Pickett classics) honks throughout.

— Terry Manning, Music Producer/Engineer

I personally like the song and it seems Panic took a different direction with this one. I had heard the song played by John Hermann solo before hearing this one. You can tell it has been added upon significantly and polished since it was first played. It has a Motown feel to it. Panic has been down that road before and it doesn't seem that they will shy away from that type sound anytime soon. I'm eager to hear the entire album. This may be the only song on there that has seen the light of day. It is supposed to be all new material, not road tested. The album should be in stores some time in November.

John Bell, vocals/guitar/and apparently the jug/, in the studio working on the new album.

Holy heavy metal

Christmas came early for Metal fans around the world with the recent release by Rhino Records. The Heavy Metal Box Set (original name) features all the excellent stuff one would come to expect from Rhino, including unique packaging - this time in the form of a classic Marshall Amp - and tons (literally) of cool photos, stories and liner notes.

But what truly makes this box special is the all-encompassing set list. From metal's early days of Steppenwolf and Uriah Heep to the speed metal of Megadeth and even a little hair metal tossed in for good measure.

Though overdosed with the predictable tracks, what's interesting are the less-than-famous songs by such metal masters as Iron Maiden, "Phantom of the Opera"; Angel Witch, "White Witch"; Mercyful Fate's "Black Funeral" and cool tracks by Loudness, Raven, Helloween and Sepultura.

And while it essentially ends around the early 90s with no mention of Nu-Metal Masters like Korn, System of a Down, Rage Against the Machine or Limp Bizkit (thank god for small favors), this is still a pretty nasty set.

And all that metal ... only $60.

See it for yourself ... http://www.rhino.com/store/ProductDetail.lasso?Number=187388

Love music and hate nuclear power?

Then this link might be for you:


Quite the list of famous musicians.

The video on the site was seemed pretty slow so here's a link to it on youtube.

Joni Mitchell is back

Click here to watch an audio/video slideshow about her new album, art exhibit and ballet.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Acid Jazz

Acid jazz is one of the many genres of jazz and one of the hardest to define. Click here to learn more. Enjoy the tunes!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Essential Music and Audio Web sites

Click here for a list of Web-based Internet radio, music discovery tools, music search engines, music-related social networks, music sharing applications and widgets, online jamming, remixing, music charts, artist and lyrics databases and audio conversion tools. Basically this Web page has it all when it comes to online music. Have fun!

Enough already

I'm all for these dinosaur acts making every single buck possible, but some take the concept just a bit too far. I mean, how many different versions of "Free Bird" does one man need.

I'm a sucker for the "reissued with bonus tracks" approach to classic records. Heck, Elvis Costello has practically reinvented the wheel using this very same idea. He's expanded every single record into a double album thanks to all the outtakes and B-side additions. Some of which are worthy ... most are best left in the scrap heap.

But at least that's relatively "new" material, or at worst it's "unheard" material. What's truly annoying are these classic rock outfits endless putting out "Best Of ..." compilations, especially when they haven't put out a new album in a decade.

So here's an Off-the-top-of-my-head list of bands with the most Greatest Hits Records:
Queen -
Eric Clapton
Lynyrd Skynyrd
Great White

Feel free to add some of your own.

Straight outta ... retirement

Hard to believe, but that seminal Gangsta rap record, NWA's "Straight outta Compton" is about to turn 20. I remeber talking my Dad into buying this tape for me ... back when records with those parental warning stickers were held under glass and ID was required for purchase.

It scared the crap out of me. In a good way. And it, along with mayby "Appetite for Destruction" sounds just as angry and alienated as it did the day it "dropped."

That and it reminds me of the days before Ice Cube sold out to make family movies and people were embarrassed to wear Raiders gear.

So in honor of this anniversary, yet another reissue is coming, this time it'll be - Straight outta Wal-Mart

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Bravery at its best?

Jennifer Lopez's new CD is out. It's titled "Brave," but does that mean you have to be brave to listen to it?

Review here.

And here.

And here.

Worst songwriter ever

Blender magazine has released its list of worst lyricist in the world. Who's at the top fo the list.


Yep, he's slapped around for words of “mountainous pomposity (and) cloying spirituality."

The list continues with: Rush drummer Neil Peart at No. 2, Creed front man Scott Stapp at No. 3, Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher at No. 4, and soft-rocker Dan Fogelberg at No. 5.

Well, heck, they don't even scratch the surface. How about Ronnie James Dio, who never met a dragon or rainbow or witch or medieval piece of imagery that he couldn't cram into a song lyric?

Or Lionel Richie. "I had a dream, an awesome dream, people playing in the park, after dark" ... "building an ark, making their mark, looking for quarks"? I still believe that his song "Truly" is a joke; he wrote it in an attempt to stuff as many sad, tired, cliched lyrics about love that he could come up with.

Or AC/DC? I want a "Mistress for Christmas"? They may get a lifetime pass, though. for penning one of the great all-time lyrics on "You Shook Me (All Night Long)" -- "She told me to come but I was already there." Genius.

Monday, October 8, 2007

I'm not alone

Like an AA meeting where everyone is greeted with "Hello, Your Name Here," this little story allowed me to shed my shame, realzing that I'm not alone - others have also discovered the guilty pleasure that is Rock of Love.

Granted I grew up on Poison, this pretty much just reinforced the notion that Bret Michaels ain't all that bright. And while this season was fun, what it really needs to make us tune-in again is Rock of Love - the C.C. Deville Show ... or maybe Ronnie James Dio (Love among midgets). Or better yet, Lemmy from Motorhead (My mole's bigger than yours.), or Danzig (Will you be my spawn of Satan).

Still ... five million? That's like 4,999,750 more people than bought Poison's last album.

Read 'em and weep. http://www.sleazeroxx.com/news07/1002mic.shtml

This is too surreal for words

When we think of great minds aspiring to bring peace to the Middle East such names as Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandel and maybe even Maya Angelou.

But how 'bout Brian "Cuts Like a knife" Adams. Everybody's favorite Canadian rocker appears poised to through he hat into the ring. Strange but true. Get the full story here http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003655258

Old blog, new poll

It's time to vote.

The schemers here at Off The Record have added a new weekly feature -- the official AnnistonOTR poll. It's there to the right of this post, easy to find even for people not yet caffeniated enough for a Monday morning.

So vote. And comment.

We want to know what you think.

(Oh, and suggest poll questions, too.)

Gettin' my groove to AOL

AOL is old school for lots of people, and I understand why. It's pricey, and its features aren't must-haves. I've often thought about dropping it and getting plain, old Internet access somewhere else for half the price.

But I'm loyal to AOL.

And I'm glad I am. I really dig the Radio@AOL feature that allows you to stream music into your speakers while you're online. It's really good for me because I'm so old-school I still have turtle-slow, dial-up service that can't stream anything without locking up the ol' Dell.

So while I'm surfing around, I can listen to a bunch of XM stations, stations themed by musical genre, talk radio of news (NPR) or sports (Sporting News) or almost anything else. Got hooked this morning on the international stations, which I'd never messed with before.

There are cheaper, and possibly better, service providers out there. But my ears are glad I'm still stuck on AOL.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Hey, George, how 'bout something down this way?

While we're speaking about tour dates, country megastar George Strait's announced some of his shows for early 2008. No word yet about Atlanta or B'ham. (Or Ohatchee, either, but there's still hope.)

Read about it here.

Rev up the R. Kelly tour bus

R. Kelly's hitting the road, and it looks like we'll have two chances to see him this fall.

Check out his tour dates here.


Umm-bop, or however it goes ...

One of the Hanson brothers -- drats, I have no idea which one -- had emergency surgery somewhere for some ailment that I don't recall.

Story here.

Another one here.

Give blood, talk music

Some lively conversation today at The Star's blood drive. A song playing over the loudspeaker ended, and two of us mistakenly said, "We were liking that Prince song."

Immediately, we were corrected by Charles, a blood collections specialist, that "Oh, Shelia" was sung by Ready for the World -- not Prince.

(I'm now informed that Ready for the World's best song is "Let Me Love You Down." Never heard it, but there it is.)

(Back to the bloodmobile): The discussion moved from Prince to his albums. Best: Purple Rain, hands down. Finally, we morphed into general music trivia such as:

Bands named for cities: Bay City Rollers, Chicago, Atlanta Rhythm Section, etc.,

Bands named for states: Kansas, et al.

So, completing our Prince tie-in, what are bands fronted by incredibly short, spunky people?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

A song I've never understood

I listen to a classic -- or 'oldies' depending on your point of view -- station from Birmingham that hits the '70s, '80s era, or roughly thereabouts. They've in love with a Gary Glitter song, Rock n Roll Anthem Part 2.

What the heck is up with that song, and why would any station put it on a playlist that remotely holds itself as "classic" rock? It's annoying, drones endlessly, and wasn't he arrested in Asia for propositioning a minor? Shouldn't those three elements -- ignoring the fact that it's a shoddy representation of an instrumental -- eliminate this song from anyone's music library?

And what was that guy's real name? Was there a part 1?

Area musicians

Here's a playlist of area musicians ... at least ones with mp3s I could find online. I use the term "area" a tad loosely since the band The Strange is out of Rome, Ga.

If you're an area musician/band send us an mp3 and I'll gladly add it to the playlist.

As for our readers, if there is a local band that has mp3s online please send me a link.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

LeAnn Rimes -- LIVE!

A few images, courtesy of photographer Kevin Qualls, from Tuesday's LeAnn Rimes show at Anniston High School. If you went to the show, tell us what you think.

Help us review the LeAnn Rimes concert

LeAnn Rimes kicked off this year's Knox Concert Series with a show Tuesday night in Anniston. That's big news for these parts. Having The Star tell you about the show can be routine and run-of-the-mill. But having Knox attendees review the show certainly is better.

So add your comments to this post. Tell us about Rimes' performance, the crowd, and if you thought it appropriate for a country singer to be included in the Knox lineup. We'd love to know what you think. I bet fellow readers would want to know, too.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Radiohead for free?

Radiohead, very vocal about how they hate the music industry, has decided to release its new record, In Rainbows, on Oct. 10. But you can only get it on the band's Web site. No record labels involved. And the kicker? Pay whatever you want for it, according to the band.

Yeah, that'll work. This is a generation that doesn't want to pay for anything. In fact, most folks who go on the Web are looking for freebies. Remember when Stephen King released "Riding the Bullet" on the Web for $10? It was on the honor system, click the button, agree to pay later, get the book. Well, about half the people who got the book never paid.

Then again, only bands that sell more than 1 million copies of their records actually make any money off record sales (the labels gobble up all the profits first, saying they've "loaned" the band money to make the record, film the video, etc. etc.). Most bands earn their living through touring and merchandise sales. So Radiohead stands to actually make money from its own record. What a concept.

This time, K-Fed wins

Surely you've heard by now.

Britney's in trouble. She's lost her kids. Judge says so.

It's the train-wreck story that won't end.

Monday, October 1, 2007

The Echo Project

When it comes to music festivals, The Echo Project is setting a great example that other festivals should follow. All the proceeds go to cleaning up the Chattahoochee River in Georgia, and all of the flyers were printed on recycled paper with soy ink.

The festival runs from Oct. 12-14 just outside of Atlanta and will feature The Killers, Phil Lesh and Friends and The Flaming Lips with around 25 bands per day. The full line-up can be found on The Echo Project's Web site.

Scorpions got depth

The new Scopions record -Humanity Hour 1 is remarkable. And while the record itself is tremendous and has all those classic elements rock fans have come to know and love the German stalwarts - Klaus Mein's screeching vocals and the dualing guitar virtuosity of Matthias Jabs and Rudolf Shenker.

But what's truly remarkable is the lyrical and emotional depth of the album, a "loose" concept based on humanity on the brink of disaster. Though dark and melacholy, "Humanity" also exudes a certain hope.

Seems that the band that famously brought us such albums as "Love at First Sting," "Taken by Force" and "Virgin Killer" seem to have grown up a bit.

If this album's any indication, it's been well worth the wait.

'welcom to ... oblivion

We've had an Axl Rose sighting ... sonically speaking.

The corn-rowed singer and leader of some strange malformation of the formerly great Guns 'n' Roses has taken a respite from recording the 10-plus-years-in-the-making, Dear-Jesus-could someone-please-release-album-already project (better known as Chinese Democracy") to lend guest vocals to Sebastian Bach's upcoming solo record ...

In other news, perhaps even more unlikely news, this will Bach's third effort. Yep, THIRD.

It seems as though Rose was paying Bach back as the former Skid Row frontman, who's now More Youth Gone ... middle age, played guest vocalist on Chinese Democracy - assuming that record actually exists.

For the whole story check out http://www.sleazeroxx.com/news07/0930axl.shtml

Callin' Charlie Parker

Went to Kansas City last week, learned a few things that will help me do my job better, ate substandard chow and flew in planes piloted by Southwest's flying cowboys. (Good thing I had a seat belt on.)

Anyway, spent a few hours at the American Jazz Museum in K.C., which was really cool. Worth the price of admission. Charlie Parker and the whole gang's there.

Here's something to look at.

And something else.

And something else.

And something else.

That's all.

A Top 50 that you can argue with

Pollstar, the Web site dedicated to music tour info -- rap, rock, country, everything but the folks who play in Anniston, sadly -- has a pretty cool Top 50 list of tours. It's updated each Friday.

Bruce would like it.

Which Bruce? Oh, come on...

Got any tickets?

Guess there's some peeved fans without tickets to what's apparently the hottest tour of the fall.

Van Halen?


Kenny Chesney?


The Police?



Southern Shelter

Southern Shelter

I just stumbled across this blog. Appears to consist of mp3s from performances and bands in Athens, Ga. As most of you know, Athens has been a hotbed of great music from Widespread Panic, R.E.M., Vic Chesnutt, B-52s, The Indigo Girls and countless others.

Click here for more information about the Athens, Ga., music scene.

I heard ya missed us ...

Seems as though the reunited, re-Rothed and rather revamped Van Halen are up to the task of living up to their stellar legacy. Though Van-Hagar sold more records, the world waited for the return of Diamond Dave.

"I hear ya missed us ... we're back," Dave shouted to the packed house in Charlotte, N.C. where Van Halen circa 2007, with Wolfgang Van Halen replacing Michael Anthony on bass, opened for their renuion tour. According to this review http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21071453/ The boys are still able to hit their marks, and YouTube video seems evidence enough.

Van Halen's the one show I never got to see. But unless they intend to come down this way after the extensive Canda shows, it seems I'll still have to wait because "additional tour dates" did not include Atlanta or Bham.

Guess I'll have to wait for the DVD. Thank God for surround sound.