The [Un]documented Mark Steyn

October 22nd, 2014

There’s a bad novel out there somewhere that starts thus:

Like Houdini, I escaped again. I’m less optimistic than I used to be, and if my prediction of total civilizational collapse doesn’t come to pass, I’d be very happy to be proved wrong.

Mark Steyn, on the other hand, ends his new collection of his writing, The [Un]documented Mark Steyn, with more or less the above. It is much a more effective ending, and a strange book indeed that can be summed up by wishing that predictions of civilizational collapse is wrong.

More relevant perhaps, is this, from his 2008 column, The Limits:

I made the mistake of going to Europe to visit the famous banlieues of Paris and other Continental Muslim neighborhoods. And at that point… I began to see that it’s not really about angry young men in caves in the Hindu Kush; it’s not even about angry young men in the fast growing Muslim populations of the west - although that’s certainly part of the seven-eighths of the iceberg bobbing just below the surface of 9/11. But the bulk of that iceberg is the profound and perhaps fatal weakness of the civilization that built the modern world.

That’s a nice summation of Steyn’s writing since, and of The [Un]documented Mark Steyn.

The [Un]documented Mark Steyn is a comprehensive collection of Steyn articles spanning the last 20 or so years. From 9/11 to Japanese demography; Burkas to Viagra; James Bond to Doris Day, Steyn writes about it all with an eye on the big picture and humour. Total civilizational collapse has never been so much fun.


Brian Gardiner Book Review, Mark Steyn ,

John Bonham at the Speed of Sound

October 21st, 2014

Much like Jimmy Page, Paul McCartney has been re-releaasing the wings catalogue, with upgraded remastering and bonus material. One such bonus item comes from Wings at the Speed of Sound: Beware My Love with John Bonham on the drums.

Bonham played on the session for Beware My Love, but the track that made it to album was one that was done without John Bonham. The Bonham track was not known to exist before this past June, when McCartney announced it would be on the deluxe edition of Speed of Sound.

Yesterday, McCartney pre-released Beware My Love (John Bonham Version) on iTunes. It is, as of yet, not available for download from Amazon, but surely that is coming.

The full Wings At The Speed Of Sound will be available November 4th.


via Ramble On Radio

Brian Gardiner Uncategorized , , ,

Picture of the Day: Feet Off the Ground… Again

October 16th, 2014

The Boy in action

feet-up

inspired to post this by David Bebee


Brian Gardiner Picture of the Day, Pictures, Sports

Review: Bob Seger - Ride Out

October 15th, 2014

A guy knows what he’s going to get when he buys a Bob Seger record: rock and roll played on a straight four beat. Add in a dash of new country guitar pickin’ and you have a Bob Seger album for the new millennium. It used to be such an album was something to look forward to with eager anticipation, as I fondly recall doing for Like a Rock in the mid-80’s. But Seger’s songwriting has diminished over the years, his ability to find a new, unique, interesting way to play an E-chord exhausted, and what’s left is a collection of familiar sounding songs.cap028_bobseger_std_cover_rgbfin-300x300

There’s nothing wrong with Ride Out, Seger’s latest album, released this week. If you liked his last number of albums, you’ll like this one well enough. The collection of decent songs, in fact, improve on multiple listens, and the early released songs, Detroit Made, Hey Gypsy and The Devil’s Right Hand after a few weeks of listening are my favorites on the album. The same can’t be said, however, of You Take Me In, the early release balled which was boring on first listen, and boring now that’s it’s heard in the context of a full album.

Seger has a go at politics with It’s Your World, a song in which he decries the state of the world without offering solutions (it is a bit rich, the multi-millionaire singer complaining about cash is king), and if the depth of Your World amounts to the depth of Seger’s politics, it’s a good thing there’s 50-years between here to The Ballad of the Yellow Beret. His attempt at Americana, Adam and Eve, also fails pretty miserably.

Hey Gypsy, on the other hand, Seger’s tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan, is an album highlight. You’ve never heard a Texas shuffle played so squarely, so tightly on the beat, as this, but it works magnificently and will likely be a strong addition to Seger’s live set in his upcoming tour. The acoustic song, Listen, one of the bonus songs on the Deluxe Edition of Ride Out, is another highlight of the album.

There’s a number of good enough songs on Ride Out, but let’s also be clear, there’s no Hollywood Nights or Rock and Roll Never Forgets, no ballads as good as Mainstreet, no acoustic numbers of the calibre of Night Moves or Against the Wind. If your looking for Seger to find that magic touch he had from the mid-70’s to the mid-80’s you’ll be disappointed. But if your looking for Seger to meet or exceed what he has done the last couple of albums, he has.


Tracklist

Detroit Made
Hey Gypsy
The Devils Right Hand
Ride Out
Adam and Eve
California Stars
It’s Your World
All of the Roads
You Take Me In
Gates of Eden

Listen (Deluxe Edition only)*
The Fireman’s Talkin’ (Deluxe Edition only)*
Let the Rivers Run (Deluxe Edition only)*

*(Note: There is a Target only CD version with 2 extra songs)

Brian Gardiner Album release, Bob Seger, Record Release, Review , , , , , , , , ,

Abba Live at Wembley Arena

October 15th, 2014

Abba were my parents 70’s rock band. It has taken me years to appreciate what they are, the songwriting, the musicality, the entertainment value. So I was looking forward to Live At Wembley Arena, the chronicle of Abba’s Nov 10, 1979 Abba concert, the last of a six night residency at London’s famous Wembley Arena. While it’s a good album, everything that is/was wrong with Abba is in high evidence. The disco beat to too many songs, the horrible stage patter, the bad schtick between the performers onstage. You can almost hear the bell bottoms and sequins at times.

abba-live-at-wembley-arena-limited-edition-digibook

The above aside, however, it is an album loaded with hits and, not always the same thing, good songs. Abba, if nothing else, crafted high quality songs wrapped up in a catchy pop beat. whether it’s mature relationship songs like Knowing Me, Knowing You or The Name of the Game or pop wrapped up in historical allegory like Waterloo, Abba had a number of good songs.

Live At Wembley Arena’s is an excellent album, if you can overlook the sound of the clothes.


Tracklist

Gammal fabodpsalm
Voulez-vous
If it Wasn’t For the Nights
As Good as New
Knowing Me, Knowing You
Rock Me
Chiquitita
Money, Money, Money
I Have a Dream
Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight)
S.O.S.
Fernando
The Name of the Game
Eagle
Thank You For the Music
Why Did it Have to be Me
Intermezzo No. 1
I’m Still Alive
Summer Night City
Take a Chance on Me
Does Your Mother Know
Hole in Your Soul
The Way Old Friends Do
Dancing Queen
Waterloo

Brian Gardiner 1970's, Record Release, Review , , , , ,

Fluffernutter Friday: Bond Girls in the Big Chair

October 10th, 2014

I received the Super Deluxe Edition of Tears for Fears Songs From The Big Chair this week, and listening reminded me that these guys were pretty good.

A favourite story comes from Curt Smith, who s of the Tears for Fears videos, they are “an endless source of amusement for my children: ‘Oh my god, you’ve got braids in your hair!’”

Here’s one without the braids, Everybody Wants to Rule the World - I completely forgot about, and love, the gas pump dancers:

******************************

Meanwhile guys, there’s a new Bond girl in town… meet Lea Seydoux

scriptical-wordpress-lea-seydoux-by-mario-sorrenti-for-photo-may-2012-3

03-lea-seydoux-cover-story_1


Brian Gardiner Fluffernutter, Universal Music Enterprises , , ,

Saturday Fluffernutter: The Stick That in Your Crack Pipe and Beat Your Dentist With it Edition

October 4th, 2014

All the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities

fluffincolorFluffernuttery

Big weekend last if you are Venice. Not the inhabitants of that once proud Principality, but Venice itself: the Palazzo’s, the Grand Canal, the little wooden boats not seen since Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The Clooneys and his wife, formerly Amal Alamuddin, tied the knot at the Aman Hotel on the Grand Canal.6a00e54f0014bd883400e54f8da74b8834-800wi

Clooney was very pretty in black tux, while Alamuddin was tall and ruggedly handsome in red. The guest list was full on A-list, assuming you consider Anna Wintour and Cindy Crawford A-list, two people every media outlet I saw couldn’t help but splash across their pages.

And while George and Alamuddin went for the big show style wedding the real star of the show was the gorgeous city of Venice, which is currently holding for George Clooney’s agent, who is none to pleased with it.

fluffincolorMore trouble for former very cute teen star Amanda Bynes. Now a 28-year old for teen star, trouble has managed to find her. Saturday night, at somewhere in the neighbourhood of 3AM, Bynes was stopped by the CHiPs guys (no not Erik Estrada, the real ones) and arrested for driving under the influence of a controlled subsistence. She was then booked and remained in custody until noon Sunday, when she was released on $15,000 bond.

Question: Where was Frankie Muntz to keep Bynes out of trouble, I always that was his job.

fluffincolorCat Stevens, aka Yusaf Islam, is tired of self imposed obscurity, has booked a concert tour of six cities. The man who once agreed that a Fatwa against Salmon Rushdie for daring to write The Satanic Verses was proper and correct. Now he has the gall to call his little tour the Peace Train Tour, so you can be sure there be lots of hectoring the don’t agree with cold blooded murder types in the audience on their evilness.

Anyway, he has cancelled his New York show because the tickets are paper tickets, not pdf files that people print themselves or something. Remarkably, this doesn’t seem to be an environmental complaint, but something about scalpers being able to resell paper tickets, but not printed PDF tickets, or something.

Look, bottom line here: if you go see this fuck-wad who dislikes free speech and thinks murdering authors whose works disagree with his world view is OK, shame on you.

fluffincolorSad news out of the AC/DC camp. With a new album ready to come down the pipe, and tour plans being made, the band has announced that rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young is suffering from Dementia. Reports are that the 62-year old Young, brother of lead guitarist/perennial school boy Angus, is already in long term care.

fluffincolorOh dear! Charlie Sheen is back in the news, and it ain’t good.

Sheen is being investigated by LAPD for battery against a dental technician and assault with a deadly weapon against his dentist. The story is Sheen went to the dentist for an abscess while high on crack. When the technician put the gas mask on him, he freaked, flailing his arms and hitting the technician. When the dentist finally came in, Sheen allegedly pulled a knife on him.

Nobody was hurt, but it’s reported the LAPD plans to send the case on to the D.A. to decide if charges will be laid.


Brian Gardiner Fluffernutter, Saturday Morning Coffee , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Dennis DeYoung… and the Music of Styx: Live in Los Angeles

October 3rd, 2014

I’ve never quite got why Styx has been a much maligned act through the years. Oh sure they can be a little slick, almost perfect sounding, but really, that’s worse than Neil Young’s guitar being out of tune? According to a number of critics, yes. For some strange reason, Styx always got the too smooth, too good label. Much of the blame must fall of Dennis DeYoung, who has one of those voices that never misses a note and sounds effortless.live-in-los-angeles

With his new album/DVD Dennis Dennis DeYoung And The Music Of Styx Live In Los Angeles (2CD/DVD), DeYoung runs his seven piece band through 17 Styx songs badly in need of re-examination. DeYoung’s voice is, at 67-years old, still almost flawless, still rings out like a bell. Evidence suggests there has been no age related deterioration of DeYoung’s talents.

The songs stand up very well, and the quality of songwriting stands out throughout the CD. It was fun to rediscover songs like Crystal Ball and Suite Madame Blue which are excellent, as is much of the music. Hearing Mr. Roboto after all these years, on the other hand, feels like watching Billy Squire playing Rock Me Tonight, full dance included.

But Mr. Roboto is the exception, and a re-hear of Lady, Too Much Time on My Hands, Rockin’ the Paradise, Foolin’ Yourself and Come Sail Away is well worth the listen. Blue Collar Man particularly stands out.

The CD of Dennis DeYoung And The Music Of Styx Live In Los Angeles (2CD/DVD) really is a good solid collection, and worth the listen.

Due in stores October 17th in Europe and October 21st in North America, and is available on 2CD/DVD, Blu-Ray and digital. As well, the television special, An Evening With Dennis DeYoung And The Music Of STYX concert special airs on AXS-TV, on October 21st, 2014.


Track listing:
Audio:
CD1

  1. The Message (intro)
  2. The Grand Illusion
  3. Lady
  4. Lorelei
  5. Blue Collar Man
  6. Show Me The Way
  7. Mr. Roboto
  8. Crystal Ball
  9. Don’t Let It End
  10. Too Much Time On My Hands

CD2

  1. Rockin’ The Paradise
  2. Desert Moon
  3. Babe
  4. Foolin’ Yourself
  5. Suite Madame Blue
  6. The Best Of Times
  7. Renegade
  8. Come Sail Away.

Video

  1. The Grand Illusion
  2. Lady
  3. Lorelei
  4. Blue Collar Man
  5. Show Me The Way
  6. Mr. Roboto
  7. Crystal Ball
  8. Don’t Let It End
  9. Too Much Time On My Hands
  10. Desert Moon
  11. Babe; Foolin’ Yourself
  12. Suite Madame Blue
  13. The Best Of Times
  14. Renegade
  15. Come Sail Away.

Brian Gardiner Record Release, Review ,

Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page: Photographs and Review

October 2nd, 2014

Jimmy Page’s pictorial autobiography, Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page, gets it’s regular edition release on October 14th, so the pre-release press has begun.

Today we get two articles, one in Variety magazine where Steve Chagollan has a review of the book, and another at The Guardian, which offers a glimpse at a dozen of the 600 photos in the book.

At Variety, Chagollan says of the book:

Anybody interested in what girl Page was seeing or what bad habits he was falling into won’t find them here — for good or bad. But within the sparse entries are true nuggets, such as the fact that the first Led Zeppelin album took all of 30 hours to record “with vision, improvisation, attitude and a bulletproof blueprint.” Page also writes about recording the group’s nameless fourth album at an English country manor in Headley, Hampshire, “to lock in and condense the creative energy.”

Page’s book is, to be sure, different than most autobiographies. Originally released as a collector book on high quality photographic paper and in extremely limited release, it sold for $500-800 (£395- £695). It is strictly pictorial, with text amounting to not much more than a snippet to describe the picture.

The Guardian gallery will give you a taste of what Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page is going to be like, only with 50x more pictures.
Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page can be preordered now, and s in stores October 14th, at a price point much more in line with what the average fan would be willing to pay.

77c17e37-bc1f-4cf3-ae1c-aa19cbf71bf8-2060x1627


Brian Gardiner Books

Picture of the Day: An Elora Afternoon

September 29th, 2014

Billy Joel by Fred Schruers

September 29th, 2014

Many biography’s die in the early chapters. Struggling to bring life to somebody who would become something, but was really still just some schlub, has defeated many biographers. Fred Schruers’ Billy Joel seems to suffer from this in reverse. The first chapter is a must read, and one of the most compelling chapters of any biography I’ve ever read. The last third to quarter of the book however, dwells endlessly on Joel’s career and life since he recorded his last album, 1993’s River of Dreams, over 20-years ago.41q5ygb06l

Opening with Joel’s family history, his Jewish industrialist grandparents leaving Nazi Germany by stealth, and arriving in Long Island via Switzerland and Cuba, the first chapter of Billy Joel is an excellent and fascinating piece of history. Billy’s early years is covered quickly enough and interestingly enough, something that’s not always true, or even often true, in a biography. The minutiae of childhood has bogged down many a biography, that’s simply not a problem here.

Joel’s career years cover the majority of the book, from his early band to River of Dreams, and all the important details seem to be accurate and intact: his first, disastrous album, his move to LA, Piano Man, his rise to prominence and most productive commercial years, his divorce from his first wife (and manager) Elizabeth and discovering his next manager, her brother, had ripped him off leaving him virtually broke.

It’s the later, post River of Dreams years that Billy Joel bogs down. A story that moved along fairly nicely suddenly overwhelms with details. Thus we get far more than we need about his courtship of Christie Brinkley (and not enough on their split), as well as his romance with third wife Katie Lee, minute details of a concert here, a concert there, and far too much from Joel’s day to day activities, that felt at times like bad name dropping (biking with Bruce Springsteen as one example).

Fred Schruers Billy Joel is a good, easy read, and enjoyable look at one of those rather ordinary people who made the absolute most of what they had, often at the expense of his personal life. And edit and a trim of the last quarter of the book and it could be an excellent one.

Billy Joel is available Oct. 28 at all your usual book buying outlets.



<br />

Brian Gardiner Book Review, Books , , , ,

Saturday Fluffernutter: The Oh No, Not Kim Kardashian: My Eyes! MY EYES!!! Edition

September 27th, 2014

All the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities

fluffincolor

More naked celebrity photo’s hacked from someones cloud account have been relleased, and by celebrity I mean Kim Kardashian. fluffposter01sampleActually, that’s not fair. Vanessa Hudgens and Hope Solo also had shots leaked, and I’ve heard of and know Vanessa Hudgens work, and Hope Solo is an Olympic Gold Medalist. Yet all the headlines says “Kim Kardashian, and others” or some such. It must be galling to these women who’ve actually accomplished something to be second fiddle to fat assed, ugly, done nothing meaningful in life, Kim Kardashian.

Oh, they’re probably not happy about their nude pictures hitting the internet either. Bummer weekend all ’round, I would say.

fluffincolorTMZ has been talking to male celebrities, and many are apparently “scared” that they’re next for the hacked nudie pics treatment.

Here at Fluffernutter World Headquarters the weekend was spent in secret meetings working on a contingency plan lest our own pictures become leaked. After a particularly long Saturday night meeting/sleep that ran well into Sunday morning, it was remembered I’ve never actually taken nude pictures of myself, never had anyone else take such pictures and certainly never saved any such thing to an online account.

Maybe TMZ could do a story about which male celebrities are “scared” so we’ll know who was vein enough to take pictures of themselves and dumb enough to save them online. At the Fluffernutter World Headquarters betting pool, this writer is down for “all of them.”

fluffincolorSorry ladies, he’s taken… this weekend Venice is expecting to see the marriage of the last half-year or so as confirmed bachelor George Clooney will wed lawyer Amal Alamuddin.

Details are being kept rather secret, but Clooney is expected to wed Alamuddin either Saturday or Monday (so bet on Sunday or Friday)at the Palazzo Cavalli, a 16th century Venetian palace on the Grand Canal. Police will close off weekends around the Palazzo to prevent crowds forming, because apparently Venetians are now like North Americans and have nothing whatsoever to do with their life.

Congratulations to the happy couple, and sorry to the ladies who had hopes…


Brian Gardiner Fluffernutter, Saturday Morning Coffee , , , , ,

Bob Seger’s Ride Out Looks Ready to Disappoint

September 26th, 2014

cap028_bobseger_std_cover_rgbfin-300x300This morning I woke up to a third downloadable song from the new Bob Seger album, Ride Out. Those who pre-ordered on iTunes got Detroit Made and You Take Me In when they pre-ordered, and this morning got the Steve Earle song The Devils Right Hand. Frankly, I’ll take the Steve Earle version over the Seger by a wide margin (which is convenient as it’s on Copperhead Road, an album everyone and anyone should own).

With the three songs released, it is fair to start making some judgements on Ride Out, and the only one I can come to is it’s another OK Bob Seger album.

Bearing in mind that pre-releases tend to be the best songs, or at least the most commercial, Detroit Made, You Take Me In and The Devils Right Hand have to be seen as a disappointment. The first and last are both good enough rockers, but they’re both covers: has Seger even penned a really good rock song since Lock and Load 20-years ago? You Take Me In, on the other hand, is a ho-hum ballad, no better or worse than Wait For Me which he released as a single 8-years ago. Neither song stands out, neither song is really much of anything, either good or bad.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve bough the album, as I have every Seger album, I’m a fan, a pretty big one. But Seger hasn’t released a truly noteworthy album since Like a Rock, maybe The Fire Inside if your being generous. He has fallen into a sound, a very specific sound since the early 90’s. There is no reason to expect Ride Out to be any different, but disappointedly anyway, it appears it isn’t.


Brian Gardiner Uncategorized

The Plain Spoken John Mellencamp

September 25th, 2014

Lots of artists these days, 30+ years into their career as rock star, are putting out albums that sound like mediocre versions of their last good album - or worse, mediocre versions of the album after their last good album. John Mellencamp, nee Cougar, isn’t one of them.plain_spoken_album_artwork

Mellencamp is, and always has been, a storyteller. His new album, Plain Spoken, released on Tuesday at the usual outlets, is proof of this. The ten songs set is a collection of vignettes told in the classic John Mellencamp style. However, while Mellencamp can hardly help but sound like himself after 22 albums, Plain Spoken does not sound like a rehash of previous efforts.

There’s no A-1 songs on Plain Spoken, no Jack and Dianne or Cherry Bomb, no Key West Intermezzo, not even a Walk Tall. But there’s also no dogs here. It’s an album of those second tier songs that dominate Mellencamp’s albums, good songs, maybe a few that could crack the old top 30 charts, but no big hits, no song to make you stop dead in your tracks. Just good solid songs, written by a master storyteller. Nothing at all wrong with that.

Tracklist

  1. Troubled Man
  2. Sometimes There’s God
  3. The Isolation of Mister
  4. The Company of Cowards
  5. Tears in Vain
  6. The Brass Ring
  7. Freedom of Speech
  8. Blue Charlotte
  9. The Courtesy of Kings
  10. Lawless Times


Brian Gardiner Record Release, Review ,

Joe Bonamassa - Different Shades of Blue

September 23rd, 2014

When Black Country Communion split the different factions went different directions. While Joe Bonamassa returned to “full time solo artist”, Glenn Hughes and Jason Bonham joined forces with guitarist Andrew Watt and created California Breed. The betting at the time was California Breed would be an exciting new band, and Bonamassa would continue to make serviceable, yet sort of boring albums. The betting was wrong. California Breed’s debut album was a dreary 45 minutes of Glenn Hughes screamers, uninteresting and uninspired volume-rock.

Bonamassa, on the other hand, has returned with a fantastic blues album called Different Shades of Blue. The album features Bonamassa playing in various different blues formats and playing guitar better than he ever has. As a player he is, in fact, on fire throughout the album. Vocally, Bonamassa sounds like he learned a few lessons in his time beside Glenn Hughes, and he has a more versatile singing range than he has shown previously.

My hopes were not high for Different Shades of Blue in large part because his last album, Driving Towards the Daylight was so disappointing. Full of mediocre songs that lacked life, my personal expectations were not good that he could re-reach the form of The Ballad of John Henry a few albums back. But things changed when he released the single for the title track a month back. It is a pure guitarists blues song. And Bonamassa is brilliant on it, having a “Since I’ve Been Loving You” performance (guitarists can offer no higher praise). I keep re-listening to it, and I have been trying to figure out, when was the last time an established artist had a song this good? and I can’t come up with the answer. Possibly Springsteen somewhere on The Rising album. Maybe I have to go back as far as 1992 and Delbert McCLinton’s Everytime I Roll The Dice.

But the album doesn’t start and end with Different Shades of Blue. It is the best song, bar none, on an album full of great performances of great songs. Oh Beautiful!, Love Ain’t a Love Song, Heartache Follows Wherever I Go,So, What Would I Do are all excellent. And while some songs do suffer from Bonamassa’s tendency towards feeling soulless, those are few and by no means lousy songs. There is, in fact, not a bad song on the album, and more than a few great ones.

Different Shades of Blue will be released today and can be bought at your usual online sources, but really, run to the store and get it now. It’s simply too good to wait.


Tracklist

Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)
Oh Beautiful!
Love Ain’t a Love Song
Living on the Moon
Heartache Follows Wherever I Go
Never Give All Your Heart
I Gave Up Everything For You
Different Shades of Blue
Get Back my Tomorrow
Trouble Town
So, What Would I Do

Brian Gardiner Guitar Greats, Record Release , , , ,