Saturday, January 29, 2005

Traffic drummer Jim Capaldi dies of cancer at 60

I just heard today that Jim Capaldi, the former drummer of Traffic, died yesterday from stomach cancer at age 60. Here is the ABC News story:

http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/wireStory?id=450557

According to this article, Steve Winwood was hoping to work with Capaldi again. The two of them had enduring chemistry. As I pointed out on my Steve Winwood page at http://rarebird9.net/winwood.html , Capaldi occasionally worked on Winwood's solo albums. In the cases of Steve Winwood (1977) and Refugees Of The Heart (1990), their collaborations were the albums' high points. In 1994, the two of them reunited for an official Traffic reunion. The resulting album Far From Home actually sounded more like a Winwood solo album than one by Traffic. Still, it was good to hear the two of them work together. Alas, it can never happen again. May God rest Jim Capaldi's soul.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Grand Theft Parsons

I recently rented the DVD Grand Theft Parsons, a movie based very loosely on the true story of the theft of Gram Parsons' body by his road manager Philip Kaufman, who said he wanted to fulfill the legendary country-rock pioneer's wish by cremating him in the desert. Obviously, a story like this cries out for black comedy treatment, and that's what this movie aims for. Kaufman is played by Johnny Knoxville, famous for his antics on MTV's Jackass. Christina Applegate plays a presumably fictional character: a greedy ex-girlfriend of Parsons who tries to stop Kaufman.

Fans of Parsons will probably squirm at the movie's historical inaccuracies. Two examples: Robert Forster apparently portrays Gram's biological father, who actually died when Gram was a child. Also, Kaufman's partner in crime was actually a friend of his, but in this movie he hires a stoned-out hippie to unwittingly aid and abet his caper. Grand Theft Parsons is as inaccurate as an Oliver Stone movie, without the art.

But if you are not a Gram-worshipper, and if you are a fan of Knoxville and/or offbeat low-budget comedies, you might enjoy it. It's no great cinematic achievement, but it's good for a few laughs. A few of Gram's songs did make it onto the soundtrack, as did a remake of his Flying Burrito Brothers song "Hot Burrito #2", done by the Britpop band Starsailor.

By the way, the real Philip Kaufman briefly appears in the very last scene.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Splinter's self-titled 1980 album

About three years ago, I created a Splinter review page, where I reviewed the three albums that the duo released in the U.S. in the 1970's. This duo was best known for being the first artist signed to George Harrison's Dark Horse label in 1974. I just recently learned that there was another Splinter album in 1980 that was only released in England and Japan. I've added the review to my Splinter page: http://rarebird9.net/splinter.html . As it turns out, the world didn't miss much by not hearing this album. It mostly consisted of dull adult-contemporary mush, 1980-style (think Christopher Cross, Air Supply, Benny Mardones -- you get the idea). But, as always, I'm glad I've heard the album myself.

Splinter also released an album called Streets At Night in 1979, but only in Japan (on Columbia Records, no less). That album is also reviewed on the Splinter page.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Petition for The Beatles At the Hollywood Bowl on Official CD Format

John Whelan from The Ottawa Beatles Site has started a petition for an official CD release of The Beatles At The Hollywood Bowl, to be forwarded to Capitol and Apple Records. The petition is here:

(link outdated)

I think that a CD release for this album is long overdue. It is a great live set consisting of performances from 1964 and 1965 at the L.A. venue. The sound can probably be made even better with modern remixing and remastering technology. My review of the album is here (the second paragraph down) http://rarebird9.net/beatles.html . I don't know who or how many people are required to approve such a reissue, but if enough people sign the petition, it should send them a message.

The Beatles - The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl


7/24/16 Update: More than a decade later, I am happy to finally report that the album is being released on CD and digitally on September 9th, 2016, as Live at the Hollywood Bowl. It has been newly remixed and remastered, and contains four previously unreleased bonus tracks.

9/12/16 Update: The reissue does not disappoint. The remixing made a major improvement, making the sound much clearer, and bringing the music further to the front of the mix while pushing the audience's screaming into the background. The four previously unreleased tracks are: "You Can't Do That" and "I Want To Hold Your Hand" from the 1964 show, and "Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby" and "Baby's In Black" from the 1965 show.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Google Groups beta: not bad after all

I take back what I said earlier about the new Google Groups format. I've played around with it a bit, and I've grown to like it. I've also learned how to make it work more or less the way it used to. It does give you that choice in most cases. Just like most other computer-based things, you just have to play around with it to learn how to use it properly. I still have a problem with the order in which the search results come up; I guess I'll just keep using the "advanced groups search" option for the time being.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Krieger-Densmore Reggae Bonanza

I recently came across a 12-inch single released by Robby Krieger and John Densmore of the Doors, under the name The Krieger-Densmore Reggae Bonanza. (Well, it's a better name than the Butts Band). It contains a decent cover of the Bob Marley song "Kinky Reggae", performed by most of the Butts Band's 1975 lineup. The B-side contains the same version of Marley's "Get Up Stand Up" that opened the Butts Band's 1975 album Hear & Now!. The copyright date is 1975, but this issue by Rhino was released in 1983, two years after Marley's death. The back cover contains a written essay by Densmore, describing his memories of Bob Marley and two visits to Jamaica by him and Krieger in 1969 and '73. It's an interesting Doors collectible. Too bad the song "Kinky Reggae" didn't make it onto the Butts Band's Complete Recordings CD.

Rarebird's Doors Reviews

Friday, January 07, 2005

Keane

The last line of the article referenced in the last post pointed out that the Britpop trio Keane scored the second best-selling album of the year in the U.K. I'm glad the band is doing well, at least in their homeland. I was given their debut CD Hopes And Fears as a Christmas present, and I have been enjoying it. The press has been comparing the guitar-less trio to Coldplay, but I think Keane are better than their supposed soundalikes. Several songs on Keane's CD (especially the lead-off track "Somewhere Only We Know") have a vintage pop sound that few contemporary bands can pull off so well. Time will be kind to Keane, as long as success doesn't spoil them.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

US sees growth in CD sales market

Good news from the BBC website, flying in the face of current pessimism:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/4150747.stm

Monday, January 03, 2005

Cheap Trick At Budokan (1979)

Last night I was listening to Off The Record with Joe Benson on the radio. Benson was doing a year-end show in which he played clips from interviews he'd done over the past year. At show's end, he played a clip of Cheap Trick's Rick Nielsen explaining that CT's 1979 live album At Budokan was originally only released in Japan, because that is where the band had been most successful at that point. But the album became a best-selling import in the U.S., and someone at Epic Records felt they could make money from the album as well. So it was released domestically, and it turned out to be the band's breakthrough album in the U.S. Is there a moral here?

It may not happen very often, but if you purchase an import album (which is now easier to do than it was in 1979), you could well be voting for the album to be released domestically.

I actually think that if At Budokan had not been released domestically in the U.S., my life would be a bit different. I first heard that album when I was a child. A friend of mine played it for me in between the Kiss albums we were listening to, and it's been a favorite album of mine ever since. It led me to listen to their other albums over the years, and their 1977 debut is another of my all-time favorites. I have so many good Cheap Trick memories, and they may have never happened without a domestic release of At Budokan. Hooray for American capitalism!

Tsunami relief donations - what to do?

I am shocked by the death toll caused by the tsunami. The media is crediting bloggers with spearheading relief efforts. I think that's great, but you have to be careful to send donations to charities that are legitimate and trustworthy. I wouldn't be surprised if some anonymous bloggers tried to exploit this horrible tragedy for their own personal gain. One suggestion is donating to the Red Cross through the Amazon.com home page. Some people I've spoken to are skeptical about this idea; they feel that sending money to organizations like these is like sending soft money to political groups, and that much of the money may not actually be used for relief efforts. That's a good point. There is always a possibility that money can be mismanaged, especially when there are millions of dollars involved. But as far as I know, the Red Cross has a good reputation. And in this case, the world will be watching them. So sending donations to the Red Cross through Amazon is not a bad idea. But my personal suggestion is to donate through your local church. That's what I'm doing.