Sunday 30 September 2012

THE BEACH BOYS: Watching a car crash

Last night I watched Later with Jools Holland on the BBC iPlayer. It featured an appearance by The Beach Boys and following the news that I posted yesterday about the band splitting, I was interested to see what was probably the final TV appearance by all the members of the classic lineup who are still alive.

It was like watching a car crash.

Just look at the two segments I have posted below. Brian seems somewhere else entirely, and heavier than he has appeared in years. The only time in the whole show that he appeared animated was during PiL's set (they were magnificent, by the way), when he was bopping along happily to Deeper Water. But the body language between the members during the interview was so angry and defensive that the whole thing made very uncomfortable viewing.

Brian's lead vocals on Heroes and Villains were excruciating  Something is very badly wrong with that particular group of elderly performers, and I have a sneaking suspicion that yesterday's announcement did not tell anything like the full story. And now I have absolutely no idea who are the heroes and who are the villains.



September 29, 2012 - Danbury, CT - Classic rock legends Wishbone Ash, one of the most influential guitar bands in the history of rock, kicks off the UK leg of their tour on October 4, 2012.

The tour, which began in Europe early this year, celebrates the release of Elegant Stealth, the group’s latest studio album. 

Elegant Stealth represents a benchmark in the evolution of Wishbone Ash. Signature twin-lead melodies and a powerhouse rhythm section frame 11 new tracks that reflect a diverse realm of styles and moods.

Formed in 1969, Wishbone Ash has more than 20 original studio recordings and several live albums to their credit. On Elegant Stealth, the group coalesces around strong songwriting and serious chops. Founding member Andy Powell handles lead vocals and trades licks with Finland’s guitar wizard Muddy Manninen. Bassist Bob Skeat, a 15-year veteran of the band and in-demand studio musician, sets the pace with Joe Crabtree, one of the best of Britain’s new breed of drummers, having played with Pendragon and David Cross of King Crimson.

The band demonstrates its versatility on Elegant Stealth, from the pop/rocker “Reason to Believe” to the gentler vibe of “Give it Up” to tunes like “Warm Tears” and “Big Issues,” where the band gets to stretch out and flex its musical muscles.

Classic Rock Revisited ranked Elegant Stealth No. 8 in its Top 40 New Releases of 2011, and Classic Rock Revisited’s Jeb Wright called it “one of the best albums in Wishbone Ash’s 42 year career.”

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck of said, “This band is like a fine wine that just keeps getting better with age and this is one of their strongest studio releases in years.”

“The songs are catchy, very technical, but there is a soul in what Wishbone Ash is doing!” said Mark Kadzielawa of 69 Faces of Rock.

Citing Wishbone Ash as an influence on their style, Thin Lizzy, Iron Maiden, Southern Rock outfits like Lynyrd Skynyrd and, more recently, heavyweights like Opeth and some of the guitar-based Indie/Alternative bands, have all taken a little something from the legendary twin-guitar approach of Wishbone Ash. Truly, there is no other rock band on the planet that has done more with the twin guitar concept than the Ash.

Wishbone Ash UK Tour dates:

October 04 - The Guildhall - St Ives - St Ives, Cornwall
October 05 - Tivoli Theatre - Wimborne, Dorset
October 06 - Cheese and Grain - Frome, Somerset
October 07 - Exeter Corn Exchange - Exeter
October 08 - Swindon Art Centre - Swindon
October 09 - The Maltings - Farnham
October 11 - Huntingdon Hall - Worcester
October 12 - Pontardawe Arts Centre - Pontardawe
October 14 - Robin 2 - Wolverhampton
October 16 - The Flowerpot - Derby
October 17 - Newcastle O2 Academy - Newcastle-upon-Tyne
October 18 - The Ferry - Glasgow
October 19 - The Jam House - Edinburgh, Midlothian
October 20 - Lochgelly Centre - Lochgelly, Fife
October 21 - Lemon Tree - Aberdeen 
October 23 - Bootleggers Music Bar - Kendal, Cumbria
October 26 - Mick Jagger Centre - Dartford
October 27 - Floral Pavilion Theatre - New Brighton, Wirral
October 28 - The Lowry - Manchester
October 30 - The Stables - Milton Keynes
October 31 - King Edward VII Memorial Hall - Newmarket, Sulfolk
November 02 - Picturedrome - Holmfirth
November 03 - The Winding Wheel (AshCon!) - Chesterfield

Tour dates and more information can be found at .

Press Inquiries: Glass Onyon PR, PH: 828-350-8158,

LINK: Michael Des Barres review

The Michael Des Barre Band

Carnaby Street

Review by G. W. Hill
Michael Des Barre has always been a pop rocker in classic style. This new disc from him shows that to still be true. While there is nothing here that’s going to create some new sound or trend, this is an extremely entertaining album from an artist with plenty of experience entertaining.

Track by Track Review
You're My Pain Killer
Here we have a killer, fairly slow, bluesy number that just plain rocks.
Carnaby Street
More of a straight forward classic rock jam, this is a lot of fun. It’s got energy and a catchy vocal line. It’s another strong tune on a disc that’s full of them.
Forgive Me
More of a bouncy rock and roll number, somehow this reminds me a lot of the Rolling Stones.
There’s almost a Bo Diddley vibe to the chugging rhythmic structure here. It’s got more of a vibe and a smoking hot guitar solo.
Route 69
While this is definitely a different tune than anything else here, it’s in the same classic pop rock sound. It’s got a lot of energy and is a lot of fun. 
Please Stay
This time around we get a slow, gospel like number with a lot of great musical flavors built into the track. There is some smoking hot blues guitar in this piece and some seriously powerful vocals.
Little Latin Lover
This short little rocker almost has a little bit of punk rock in it. It’s a cool tune that both continues and extends the concepts of the disc. 
Hot and Sticky
The Rolling Stones is definitely a valid reference on this smoking hot, bluesy rocker that’s very cool.
From Cloud 9 to Heartache
The vocals on this make me think of Rod Stewart. This is another killer rocker with classic traditions.
My Baby Saved My A**
Combining the Stones with Rod Stewart in a killer jam, this is a great way to end the set in style.

If you have not done so already, check out Michael's Gonzo Artist Page

LINK: Captain Beefheart review

Captain Beefheart

Lost Broadcasts DVD

Review by G. W. Hill

Captain Beefheart fans will certainly love to get their hands on this set. It’s from a 1972 appearance at the Beat Club when touring for his two brand new albums. He appeared at the Beat Club and for the most part these videos have never surfaced before. It includes some minor issues and glitches and the type of rather annoying effects for which the Beat Club was known, but it’s also quite cool. It’s a safe bet that Beefheart fans will be all over this because it truly is a rare release.


Rob Ayling writes: 

"Thom the World poet, is an old mate of mine from way back in my history. Even pre-dating Voiceprint, when I was running "Otter Songs" and Tom's poetry tapes and guest appearences with Daevid Allen, Gilli Smyth, Mother Gong are well known and highly regarded. It just felt right to include a daily poem from Thom on our Gonzo blog and when I approached him to do so, he replied with in seconds!!! Thom is a great talent and just wants to spread poetry, light and positive energy across the globe. If we at Gonzo can help him do that - why not? why not indeed!!" (The wondrous poetpic is by Jack McCabe, who I hope forgives me for scribbling all over it with Photoshop)


Hollywood models for us - luminaries, celebrities
Around us, domestic heroes and heroin
Addicted to Light, moth flames out
When you look UP! the heavens
each singular star beams bright.
Emperors of Star Wars want to gather that atomically
Israel, Iran jealous of Light/ancient as Forever
want to make only one (Death) star.
We would prefer not to be locked in such love -
to let the past beam down each night - and dream
of a world where Light is not an outlaw - more
illumination for the blind.

LINK: Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe review

Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe

Live at the NEC October 24th, 1989

Review by G. W. Hill
I saw Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe on this tour and it was purely magical. The opening section was unusual with solos by each member starting things, but it really worked. It was kind of an interesting way to show that while there were ties to Yes, this wasn’t going to be precisely a Yes show. It’s always seemed a shame that the one live recording that was officially released of this tour featured Jeff Berlin on bass instead of Tony Levin. That’s not to say anything negative about Berlin at all. He is an incredibly talented bass player and did a great job (with very little time to practice the material). It’s just that Levin played on almost all the shows of the tour and wound up in the hospital when the big day arrived for the recording so Berlin had to fill in on bass. So, it’s great that they’ve released this set which features Levin.
The original audio recording seems to have a few audio glitches, but there are small and there aren’t that many of them. In addition, there was something weird done with the track sequence here that seems bizarre. It’s even more bizarre in that the correct sequence (the order played in concert) is shown on the label for the set. Those things, though, can’t take away from the fact that this is an excellent concert and great to have on an official release. In addition, this set is packaged nicely (other than the glitch on the cover) in a DVD styled box and includes two audio discs, a DVD (a short documentary styled black and white film) and replica of the original tour programme. All in all, it’s quite a classy set that only has a few minor flaws.

Track by Track Review
Disc 1
Time and a Word/ Owner of a Lonely Heart / Teakbois
This medley is performed on acoustic guitar and presents a cool interpretation of the music. The only thing is there, are some annoying problems with the audio at points. It’s probably from the original BBC recordings.
Part one of Steve Howe’s guitar solo is this bouncy fun acoustic piece.
Mood For a Day
And, this track continues Howe’s solo. The bulk of this is another familiar piece. However, that’s after an introduction that is not “Mood For a Day.” There’s a bit more of that audio problem on this piece.
Wakeman Solo
Rick Wakeman’s keyboard solo encompasses several musical themes and moods and showcases him on various keyboards. The man is, as always, awesome.
Long Distance Runaround/Drum Solo
Wakeman brings this in with just keyboards sort of as an extension of his solo. Then the song proper is joined and they deliver a great rendition. Bruford’s drum solo comes at the end of this and features a lot of electronic percussion. I’m not a huge fan of drum solos, but I really like Bruford, so I can deal with this one.
One of my favorite tracks from the ABWH disc, this live version is great. It’s a powerful piece of music and works really well. The Wakeman driven instrumental section later in the cut seems even more powerful than it did on the studio album.
And You and I
While this rendition seems a bit slow, I really like the textures they get out of it. Of course, this has always been one of my favorite Yes songs from my favorite Yes album (which just turned forty years old this month).
All Good People
While the music on this rendition is great, for me the vocal arrangement really puts this into the “awesome” range. Yes fanatic that I am, I’ve heard a lot of live recordings of this song. This one is one of my favorites. The Wakeman keyboard dominated section later in the track is one of the coolest parts of this. When Howe screams out a guitar solo from there, it ups the ante even more.
Close to the Edge
Again, one of my Yes favorites, this epic piece really feels more lively and powerful in this live telling. The guitar is amazing here and this thing just plain rocks. I also really like the intensity of the drums here. It adds another layer of sound.s. 
Disc 2
Themes/Bruford-Levin Duet
I really like the live version of the opening song from the ABWH disc. The drums seem a bit more prominent in the mix and I’d say that at times Wakeman does, too. The duet section is awesome, and something that was (obviously) missing from the original live album from this tour.
Brother of Mine
This was the single from the ABWH and the melodic arrangement is really tasty. It’s not been one of my favorites from the disc, but I still like it a lot. This live version doesn’t really add a lot, but it does work quite well. The jam sections, though were always my favorite parts of the tune. Here they just feel a little weird, but I’m not sure why. It’s like the timing is a little off.
The Meeting
Essentially a duet between Anderson and Wakeman, this is quite pretty. I’ve heard several versions of this (including the studio one) over the years and I think this might be my favorite. The only thing is, we get another of those little audio problems near the end, marring the experience just a bit.
Heart of the Sunrise
There’s a bouncy little jam here as Jon Anderson says they will take a request. There’s a little humorous exchange before they launch into the Yes classic. We get quite a strong rendition here, that doesn’t seem to bring a lot of new stuff to the table, except a great sound. That said, there are some bits of vocals later in the piece that seem different and some of the keyboard sounds even further down the musical road seem to have a new sound. Bruford’s drums certainly rise to the fore at times, too.
The cover shows “Order of the Universe” here, and that should be the sequence based on the concert order. But, instead we get “Roundabout.” I have to admit that I’ve heard too many versions of this song and heard it live too many times. It just seems sort of obligatory a lot of the time to me. This version is adequate, but there are some annoying audio issues at times on it.
Starship Trooper
Another classic Yes tune, I really like this version a lot and while a familiar one, it’s not as over-played as “Roundabout.” That means it holds up better. They include a bit of “Soon” in the later parts of the song along with some of Anderson’s talking/singing to the audience a bit. When it powers out from there we get some new textures and feelings to the piece, but all within the standard structure. It works really well. They do turn in a bit of an expanded jam to end the piece.
Order of the Universe
Oddly enough, they tack “Order of the Universe” at the end after some silence. Parts of this feel a bit strange early on, but they pull it together from there in fine style. Bruford gets a cool solo in the middle of the track where he creates melody with his electronic drums.

...and check out the ABWH artist page at Gonzo
What happens when you mix what is - arguably - the world's most interesting record company, with an anarchist manic-depressive rock music historian polymath, and a method of dissemination which means that a daily rock-music magazine can be almost instantaneous?

Most of this blog is related in some way to the music, books and films produced by Gonzo Multimedia, but the editor has a grasshopper mind and so also writes about all sorts of cultural issues which interest him, and which he hopes will interest you as well.