Archive for January, 2012

The Freedom of Music: Neil Christian and the Crusaders

January 29th, 2012
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One likes to believe in the freedom of music.
Rush – Spirit of Radio.

London in the early 1960’s was like a guitarist factory. These young blokes would 1) hang around the Crawdaddy club 2) go to art school and 3) become virtuosos guitar players, seemingly in that order. If you did 1 & 2 on the above list, 3 seemed certain to follow. Take for example The Yardbirds.sidebar-6

Yea, yea, yea, The Yardbirds: Clapton, the pure bluesman, who left when they performed the “commercial,” For Your Love. Beck, hired on the recommendation of his childhood pal, Jimmy Page, wild and untamed he took the Yardbirds to it’s greatest commercial success. Then Page himself joined and for a while they were a dual lead band, Page and Beck powering audiences. Then the Page era, the Yardbirds more burned out than turned on, in full psychedelic force.

So yea, The Yardbirds. But here’s another list of guitar players to ponder:

Jimmy Page
Albert Lee
Ritchie Blackmore
Mick Abrahams

According to Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page was a known quality in London as early as 1962:

… Even in 1962 I can remember people saying ‘You’ve got to go and listen to Neil Christian and the Crusaders – they’ve got this unbelievable young guitarist.’ I’d heard of Pagey before I’d heard of Clapton or Beck…

By 1963 future Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page was road weary and sick with glandular fever – a form of mono. He quit Neil Christian and the Crusaders to go to art school and hang around the Crawdaddy club and then, ultimately, to studio work. Eventually he would leave studio work for the Yardbirds, and then Led Zeppelin.

Neil Christian and the Crusaders? They replaced Page with future lead guitarist for The Strawbs, Paul Brett and from Brett to “Mr. Telecaster” Albert Lee.

Lee, writer of the Ricky Scaggs hit, Country Boy, is a five time consecutive winner of Guitar Player Magazine’s “Best Country Guitarist,” honor (GP retires players after 5 wins in a category) and has been cited by no less than Eric Clapton as “the greatest guitarist in the world.”

Currently, on top of his own work, Lee plays with Bill Wymann’s Rhythm Kings, a band that contains Gary Brooker, Andy Fairweather-Low and Gary U.S. Bonds as well as being regularly joined by a host of the most famous musicians in rockdom.

Albert Lee was replaced in Neil Christian and the Crusaders by a guitarist who would go on to even greater fame and accolades, Ritchie Blackmore.

Around the same time that The Yardbirds were falling apart around Jimmy Page, Ritchie Blackmore joined Deep Purple. While with Deep Purple, Blackmore co-wrote/played on songs such as Kentucky Woman, Lazy, Woman from Tokyo, Highway Star and Smoke on the Water, and established himself as one of the top guitarists in rock music.

After he left Deep Purple he formed one of the greatest hard rock acts of the 70’s, Rainbow (also known as Blackmore’s Rainbow), a band featuring Ronnie James Dio on vocals.

He did return to the Deep Purple fold, but now plays finger style guitar in a group called Blackmore’s Night, and has released at collection of original classical guitar music. He was named 50th in Rolling Stones top guitarist list, and in 2004, placed 16th in Guitar World’s “100 greatest metal guitarists of all time,” list.

Blackmore was followed in Neil Christian and the Crusaders by Mick Abrahams. Abraham’s was a founding member of Jethro Tull, leaving due to “creative differences,” with Tull frontman Ian Anderson.

That’s the way it went in London in the swinging 60’s: some unknown band with no records produced 5 guitarists of varying style, three of whom became acknowledged greats and two who had long solid careers, products of the greatest guitarist factory ever known.

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Saturday Fluffernutter: The Silence is a Golden Statuette Edition

January 28th, 2012
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All the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities

fluffincolor-150x150The 2011 Oscar nominations are out and the consensus is starting to build that The Artist will win best picture. In case you are unfamiliar, The Artist is a black and white silent film. Yes, 82 years after the invention of the talkies, a silent movie that almost nobody has seen is considered a favourite for the best movie Oscar.

Here’s a quiz for your dinner party guests this weekend: has anybody seen The Artist? Bet the answer is unanimously no. So, seen any movies recently? black-and-white-fluffWell yes, Sherlock Holmes says someone, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo says another. If you invite me, someone at the table will have seen both. But The Artist? It hasn’t even played is town near me, never mind me managing to talk the wife into going to see a black and white silent movie. But that’s the way it’ll be with a lot of couples: one partner wants to go, the other says no thanks, but there is that movie with Tom Hanks and the child. It may not be reviewing well, and it may not be nominated for any Oscars, but by God, there’s speaking, and the producers splurged on color film.

It’s a fair enough point really, and one that illustrates what’s either, depending on your point of view, right or wrong with the Oscar

At $12-million in box office, The Artist took in about 20% of the that Blockbuster hit, Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. Yet The Artist took in the second most Oscar nominations behind Hugo, the Martin Scorsese movie with a $56-million box-office.

Which leads to the question: if nobody sees a movie, can it be considered great? It’s an age old question and every music critic ever to write about music has their own great, relatively unknown band that proves, at least to them, that commercial success does not mean quality art. Movie critics are the same, and The Artist is the new cinéma-art de jour. By nominating The Artist for 10 awards, the members of the academy have announced where they come down on the commercial success vs. art argument: their opinion, not yours, counts.

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The Freedom of Music: Rolling With the Stones One Last Time

January 22nd, 2012
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One likes to believe in the freedom of music.
Rush – Spirit of Radio.

The rumor is the Stones will return to the road this year to celebrate 50 years together as a band. If, as is the common belief, Mick Jagger likes the money more than he dislikes his guitar player, Kieth Richards, then the Stones circus is coming to town.sidebar-7

Here’s the rub. A groups of Stones fans – or Renegade Stones Fans, as it’s being reported – have begun a petition demanding some changes to he way the Stones Roll. Here’s their list of demands:

– smaller venues, arenas, not stadiums.
– no huge stage with wings, &tc.
– no onstage props: no inflatable falluses, honky tonk women &tc.
– lower ticket prices
– set list overhaul
– elimination of horn section and back up singers
– no opening acts

While I have some issues with the demands, for example if you lower ticket prices and play smaller venues, the same fans will be complaining they can’t get tickets. And while I agree with the horn section and back up singer clause, I would add no musicians onstage who are not listed as Rolling Stones. Bring back Bill Wyman and Mick Taylor, plus a keyboard player, and have a seven piece Rolling Stones on stage, playing all the parts.

Recently the Rolling Stones released a live recording, liberated from the world of bootlegs, on their website. It could be had on MP3 or lossless FLAC formats for $7.00 and $9.00 respectively. The Brussels Affair was a 1973 Stones concert in Belgium consider to be among the Stones greatest concerts.

Even a cursory listen to “the worlds greatest rock and roll band” at their peak, as they were in 1973, reveals an astounding live act, capable of playing great rock and roll without a lot of fanfare. They were sloppy and careless, song tempos sometimes far too fast, such that Jagger had a hard time keeping up. Jagger himself was prone to the missed note and odd stage banter, while the band at times seemed to wander all over the song.

Yet it’s great. It has all the fun, all the energy, all the feeling that great rock and roll should have.

Compare that to the post- Steel Wheels Rolling Stones from about 1989 onward. The stage is crowded with support musicians and back-up singers. The spotlight may stay on the four main guys, but they are certainly not doing the bulk of the playing. If Kieth Richards wants to run from his place on the main stage to one of the ramps out over the crowd, all the better to preen and pose my dears, then he stops playing and runs up the ramp. Somehow, even when the main guy is not playing, there is no noticeable difference in the sound. Kieth Richards, in other words, is relevant to the Rolling Stones only as a visual.

The American Idol Equation is in full force at a modern day Stones show: everything is slick and perfect, gathering no moss as it rolls. Music is note perfect, stage movements almost choreographed, inspiration and spontaneity banished to a different time, a different place: Brussels 1973 say, or Oshawa in 1979. Certainly not now, never now.

And so Rolling Stones fans, hearing the whispers of a 50th anniversary tour, have hopes, hopes for a meaner, leaner Rolling Stones offering fans something more like The greatest rock and roll band in the world and less like the greatest show on earth.

here’s hoping they get it.

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Saturday Fluffernutter: The Madonna is a Narcissist? Edition

January 21st, 2012
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All the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities

fluffincolorReports that Beyonce and her husband Jay-Z booked a floor at New York’s, Lenox Hill Hospital so Beyonce could have a cesarian delivery last weekend, are greatly exaggerated, says the hospital.

Apparently the singer and her rapper husband booked the entire fourth floor and their security prevented other parents of the hospital seeing their newborn, and sometimes sick, children. The hospital, however, doth protest:

The suggestion that the couple paid $1.3 million to rent an entire an entire maternity floor is sim ply not true. The family is housed in an executive suite at the hospital and is being billed the standard rate for those accommodations.

The family does have it’s own security detail on site. However, the hospital has been and continues to be in control of managing all security at the facility.

Is it just me, or did the hospital just get itself named in any lawsuits from disgruntled parents?

The new addition to the Z family is called Blue Ivy Carter, after the title of two of the stars albums.

fluffincolorRemember when Britney Spears was an underage singer from the bible belt and swore that she would remain a virgin until marriage? Next thing you know, she’s stepping out with Paris Hilton in a short dress and no underwear.

Now it’s 17 year old Justin Bieber’s turn to swear that adulthood won’t change the child. He tells V magazine:

I’m not going to try to conform to what people want me to be or go out there and start partying, have people see me with alcohol… I’m never goings to make myself so the parents and kids don’t respect me…

Look out Paris, looks like you have a new drinking buddy.

fluffincolorNews in the rock world that Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi has been diagnosed with lymphoma.

The guitarist was working on a new album with his former band mates – including Ozzy Osbourne – and a reunion tour of the original Black Sabbath was planned for 2012.

The band has moved it’s recording and rehearsing from LA to England, and Iommi has been both writing and recording since his diagnosis. HIs illness has, in fact, given the band “a kick up the rump- it’s great to hear him churning out those riffs again.”

The band plans to honour their summer European dates, but no word on any further concerts at this stage.

Here’s wishing Tony Iommi well.

fluffincolorReview in brief – Girl With The Dragon Tattoo: Silence of the Lambs, but dark and edgy.

fluffincolorThe Golden Globes were held last Sunday, and all the stars dressed up, drank up and prepared to listen to Ricky Gervais mock them, which he really didn’t.

Unlike the Oscars, the Golden Globes breaks down the movies into categories, but some prognostication of the Oscars can be made based on the Golden Globes. The Golden Globe winners to watch for at the Oscars are: George Clooney, best actor for The Descendants (beating hsi pal, and other oscar favourite, Brad Pitt in Moneyball; Meryl Streep as best actress in The Iron Lady; The Artist for best movie.

fluffincolorThe Golden Globe for most honest reaction goes to Elton John’s husband David Furnish. Of news that Elton lost to Madonna for best song, Furnish turned on his twitter app and wrote:

Madonna. Best song???? F**k off!!!…
Madonna winning Best Original Song truly shows how these awards have nothing to do with merit. Her acceptance speech was embarrassing in it’s narcissism. And her critisism ofGaga shows how desperate she really is. (sic)

He later clarified things telling the New York Post:

I think it was a fluke. When this happens you have to question the integrity of the awards. Did Madonna get the Golden Globe because she attended the awards and agreed to be a presenter?

Can you sing Madonna’s song? Can you hum it? It’s a song nobody has heard from a film few have seen. The award should have gone to Mary J. Blige or Elton.

Nice back-peddling David.

For the record, if I had a vote, I’d pick Madonna’s song. And yes, it pains me deeply to write that.

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Why Did the Loyalist Cross the Floor?

January 11th, 2012
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Why would a ten year NDP loyalist, who ran in the last federal election with no expectations of winning, suddenly discover she’s a Liberal ten months after actually winning? That’s the question that everyone is asking after Lise St-Denis, MP for St-Maurice-Champlain Quebec crossed the floor to the liberals this

Sadly almost the entire Canadian media are too willing to accept her incongruous explanation that St-Denis offered for her crossing:

The Liberal Party has a great deal of experience in decision-making,” she said. The party has a “more open, comprehensive, global view” than the New Democrats. As far as Quebec goes, she concluded, the Liberals “can do a better job defending Quebec’s place in Confederation than other parties.”

So, after ten years as a loyal NDP member, she suddenly realized she’s actually a Liberal? This is, in fact, Kelly McParland’s take on it (linked above), that “once she got that seat in the Commons and saw how things worked, a new reality dawned. The NDP, she saw, wasn’t ready for prime time.” Maybe.

However, there’s another, more cynical explanation that none of the media seems to see. St-Denis’ riding of St-Maurice Champlain is not just some riding she worked hard to get the nomination in, fighting the good fight. It is former Prime Minister Jean Cretien’s old riding, a Liberal stronghold. St-Denis, by her own admission, “never believed (she) would be elected.”

If you are going to be an opposition back-bencher in a minority Parliament, it matters little whether you sit with the second place party or the third – you get the same crappy office in the same crappy wing of Parliament Hill, you get no driver and the same pay. Liberal or NDP, it makes no matter.

But, if you are a first time MP, and you figure that you got elected because Quebec voters “voted for Jack Layton. Jack Layton is dead,” then you have to figure your chances of being re-elected are slim.

That should be fine. After all Lise St-Denis was never intending to be an MP and have a political career, she was just a loyal NDPer running so the NDP could claim her riding when filing out Elections Canada forms. So why cross the floor again?

Well maybe, now that St-Denis is ten months in, she has figured out that she needs to win just one more election, get her six years in, and she has herself one of those gold-plated MP pensions. And maybe she figures she has a markedly better chance of winning as an incumbent Liberal than as an incumbent NDPer.

Lise St-Denis is perhaps a canary in the coal mine for the NDP, a warning that things are not as rosy as the numbers make them appear. But not because the Liberal’s suddenly has up winnable policy, but because when her own self-interest was on the line, she chose the Liberals. It’s a warning for Canadian’s as well.

They may be working for you in principle, but not in fact.

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Saturday Fluffernutter: the Three Weddings and a Kiss Edition

January 8th, 2012
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All the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities

fluffincolorLast time we checked in, Sinead O’Connor had married her longtime boyfriend Barry Herridge, assuming by long time you mean “met online 3 months ago.” Wonder how that’s going?brighams-fluffernutter-761079

Oh, so sorry I asked. O’Connor has left Herridge after only 18 days. They were, it seems, less compatible than you would expect after knowing and loving someone’s avatar for three months.

Trouble first appeared on the wedding night when O’Connor went on a frantic search for some marijuana, which I explains so much really.

While the meeting, wooing and marriage lasted almost four months, the separation promises to be a little longer, as according to Irish law the couple must remain legally separated for four years before filing for divorce.

fluffincolorWho’d you kiss as the Tiffany Ball dropped on 2011? If you are a certain New York City cop, Jenny McCarthy is the answer.

Hosting Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Years Eve, the “actress” grabbed an on-duty police officer for a lingering kiss. Later on twitter, she said “… the cop was a G rated kiss (except for my hand on his butt). Happy New Year!”

Sure hope there’s a vaccine for that.

fluffincolorElton John and his partner David Furnish are working on a musical biopic of John, using John’s music as the soundtrack to help tell his life story.

Elton’s first choice to play Elton in “Elton the Musical”? Justin Timberlake.

Riddle me this: how many Elton John fans are going to go to a Justin Timberlake movie? And conversely, how many Timberlake fans care about an Elton John biopic?

fluffincolorRomCom queen Drew Barrymore looks set to walk down the aisle one more time. The actresses’ boyfriend, Will Kopelman proposed to the twice married Barrymore over the holidays.

According to sources, “He’s madly in love and knows she’s the one.”

The reports are unconfirmed at this time, but according to the ever reliable “inside sources,” Barrymore has accepted the proposal.

fluffincolorSome days humanity surprises you and gives you hope for the future of the planet. Such an occasion happened last week.

Kris Humphries, of the Kim and Kris wedding fiasco, was booed and jeered continuously on his first road game of the NBA season on Dec 27th. Which just goes to show, even basketball fans have standards.

Although, somebody had to have watched the wedding.

fluffincolorThat first item today, the Sinead O’Connor story… never mind.

O’Connor announced on twitter on Tuesday that her and husbandno wait… ex-husband er… husband Barry Herridge had a “mad love-making affair… last night.” this caused a fan to ask wether this meant she wasn’t getting divorced, she replied: “Yup that’s wot it means. (sic)”

Which leads to the question, Sinead O’Connor has a fan?

Here at Fluffernutter world headquarters, we think O’Connor should probably stay off the internet.

fluffincolorMariah Carey tweeted a picture from the hospital showing her nursing husband Nick Cannon, who was admitted with “mild kidney failure.”

Mild kidney failure? Is that like less serious forms of death?

More importantly, what 31 year olds have kidney failure? Even if the kidney failure is mild, surely that indicates a serious underlying condition.

fluffincolorActress and true natural beauty Halle Berry looks like she may be planning to tie the knot herself for the third time.

Berry was seen sporting an emerald ring on her ring finger on New Years Day. Berry has been dating French actor Olivier Martinez since last year after meeting him on the set of the upcoming film Dark Tide.