Mike Bloomfield – From His Head To His Hands To His Heart

Michael-Bloomfield

Been waiting a good long time for this one.  Here’s Vintage Guitar magazine on the tendency Bloomfield’s playing had to change people’s lives.

Mike Bloomfield had that effect on people.  For a Jewish kid playing the blues in the mid ’60s, that’s no mean feat. But regardless of who his influences were and how proficient he became at various styles that preceded him, there was guitar playing before Bloomfield and guitar playing after Bloomfield. It’s as simple as that.

The compilation comes out next month.

One Voice. One Guitar. One Take.

From Rolling Stone:

I just wanted to go up there and see if a solo show would work…Obviously going up and doing ‘Big Love’ or ‘Never Going Back Again’ or some of these other songs that I’ve done before was something I was comfortable doing. Putting a whole show together by myself and having an arc that goes somewhere that holds people’s interest was really the challenge.

 

Lindsey Buckingham: One Man Show apparently will be digitally released on November 13, 2012.

If you love ‘classic’ Genesis, then this track-by-track commentary by Steve Hackett will give you chills

‘Genesis Revisited 2′ is Hackett’s second album reinterpreting the music of his youth.  It comes out in late October and boasts a slew of special guests.

Here’s what Steve has to say about ‘Fly on a Windshield’ from The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway:

Influences in this powerful piece range from Ravel to Hendrix, with the ramming speed of Ben Hur along with echoes of the Egyptian pyramids, all brought to life under the watchful towers of New York. A wall of sound meets the wall of death. In this new version the guitar sometimes screams like slaves under the whip.

 

And on ‘Dancing With The Moonlit Knight’:

This is possibly my favourite Genesis song, with influences ranging from Scottish plainsong to fusion… Elgar meets Brave new World. It epitomises the character and magic of early Genesis. It features tapping, nylon and twelve strings. Jeremy Stacey’s drums give this version even more precision. The “Disney” section at the end has an English pastoral hypnotic feel – a thread to the world of Spencer’s Fairy Queen – a small corner of England remaining while the rest is sold off as a job lot plunging headlong into an alienated future. In this version I started this piece with the beginning of Greensleeves to give a sense of the old English thread and the poignancy of the song, which Francis Dunnery’s sensitive vocal also expresses.

Read the rest of Steve’s commentary at his website.

Squarepusher on whether he’s “going back to his roots”

There are numerous ways in which I’m concerned with this music that a listener just wouldn’t be. So I think that kind of assessment is really public domain. I don’t know what I can offer in that respect. I can certainly say the idea of trying to replicate something I’ve done in the past is quite offensive to me. Trying to recapture something I was doing 15 years ago, that’s certainly a long way from my intentions.

Read the entire Spin Magazine Q&A.

Squarepusher ups the ante with Ufabulum.

So far, I am very pleased with the new Squarepusher record.  I’m also enjoying how some critics can’t get a handle on it.  That means he’s doing his job properly.  As the artist predicted, it is both melodic and aggressive.  The grooves devolve to an almost unrecognizable digital mash, but are buoyed by the composer’s sense of melodic narrative.  The destructive decoration is the point, but it is anchored to very human sounding notes.

Here is the artist’s own track by track discussion.

Thrilled to present @jimmybing’s review of the new Dream Theater release – A Dramatic Turn of Events

Dream Theater is iconic, even outside the Progressive rock world.  Now they attempt to carry on without their founding member, drummer extraordinaire Mike Portnoy.

It’s an honor to present James Bingham‘s review of the new record, aptly titled ‘A Dramatic Turn of Events’, which comes out tomorrow.  Once you read the review, you’ll understand why I’m so pleased to be presenting Mr. Bingham’s considerable insight and wit.  Whether you are a long time fan of DT who remains skeptical about the new release, or you are simply someone who appreciates great music, or even if you just like a good story, I urge you to read on.     And, without further ado:

Dream Theater has got something to prove. They – and a million other bands – will swear up and down that everything they do they do for the fans. And while that’s true to an extent, “A Dramatic Turn of Events” (and how dramatic they’ve been) has got to be about more. With the departure of Mike Portnoy – who’s arguably been running the band for some time now – Dream Theater has got to prove that it can hang tough, that it’s not going disappear into the ether along with Betamax, the new Coke and other obscurities people only reference in reviews like this.

So the gauntlet’s been laid down. Actually, it was laid down a year ago when Portnoy first announced he was leaving the band. Well, the album is finally upon us and now it’s time for some straight talk. Dream Theater delivered the goods. And not only that, they’ve delivered their strongest album since “Scenes from a Memory,” more than a decade ago. And the haters – true to their name – are going to hate that. “The band’s lost its soul! Portnoy was a founding member!” they scream, conveniently ignoring the fact that John Petrucci and John Myung are also founding members, and that James LaBrie’s been in the band for so long he might as well be grouped with the rest of them. Portnoy may have been the most active with the fans, but that doesn’t mean he was single-handedly writing the music.

But after only a single listen of this new album, it’s obvious he was pushing it very hard in a certain direction. And now that he’s gone, the band has returned to a fuller, warmer sound. It’s something that’s been missing for quite a while, and it’s not until you hear it again that you realize how much you missed it. There’s a lot to look out for, so I’d like to hit the highlights, what stuck out most to me in my first few listens.

The album opens with the new single “On the Backs of Angels,” which any fan worth their salt has listened to already, so we’ll skip ahead to the next track, “Build Me Up, Break Me Down.” If any track could be said to bridge the gap between the old Dream Theater and the new, this is it. With its electronic drumbeat intro and screaming chorus, this may be the album’s most “mainstream” track, although the sound is very distinctly Dream Theater. There’s a really great orchestral backup that builds to an eerie outro and the sound of galloping horses.

This is the beginning of “Lost Not Forgotten,” and the first time the band really comes together and shines. It kind of took me by surprise, because when I listened to the minute-long clip that was released a few weeks back, it sounded more like “Black Clouds & Silver Linings” than anything else; something a lot like “A Nightmare to Remember,” which is to say same old same old. And while the chorus is very driving, it picks you up and carries you along with it. The only word I can think of to describe it would be “soaring.” The song’s also got a very proggy breakdown in the middle – think the very best bits of “Octavarium” and “Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence” – before picking up that chorus again and taking us out.

Things slow down a bit with “This is the Life.” This song, “Far From Heaven” and “Beneath the Surface” I felt were all very much of a piece. Actually, you can separate the entire album between its down- and up-tempo tracks. And it seems like there’s just the right number of each. I think these slower songs will appeal to those who haven’t been too impressed with the band’s work in that arena these past few albums.

“Bridges in the Sky” goes slightly Tool in the beginning with a weird shaman-who-swallowed-a- didgeridoo-chanting intro. Dream Theater’s been writing music for close to 30 years that stylistically has all been very similar, so I won’t begrudge them going off the reservation a bit and doing something so weird. This song is kind of a microcosm for the entire album, in that it strikes just the right balance between hard and soft. We’ve got the driving double bass and hard guitar rhythms, which seamlessly move into these beautiful choruses.

“Outcry” is definitely ADTOE’s beat-you-over-the-head technical masterpiece, a song that’s really got it all. Syncopated rhythms. Crazy solos. You notice this with the lyrical sections throughout the entire album, but I think it’s especially true here: LaBrie’s solo projects have definitely rubbed off. There’s a very strong Leonardo vibe here, although this album possesses a warmth that album didn’t (which isn’t to say I didn’t dig it). As for the music, there’s so much crazy switching off between Petrucci, Rudess and Mangini that I can’t wait to see them pull this one off live.

For my money, “Breaking All Illusions” is the winner; this album’s “Learning to Live.” It’s also the first song John Myung has written lyrics to since “Fatal Tragedy” on “Scenes.” While “Lost Not Forgotten” and “Outcry” showcase some darker flavors, “Breaking All Illusions” hits the lighter side. There’s some great back and forth between the guitars and keyboards. The entire song has got a very strong YES and Marillion vibe, but it never feels like it’s wearing these inspirations on its sleeve. The whole things ends in typical DT fashion, very epic, lots of pounding drums. This particular song feels more like the end of a soundtrack than a rock album. But there’s still more to come.

The band has done something here they haven’t done since “Awake.” They reel things in and end the album with the much lighter “Beneath the Surface.” This one is like a ballad plus some with Jordan’s Moogy solo in the middle, a reminder that these guys take different musical styles and make them their own. It was kind of the perfect note to go out on, and displayed a quiet confidence that we really haven’t seen in a while.

So they did it. If we’re looking at the band post-“Scenes,” I loved “Octavarium,” but I LOVED this album. It’s bigger, it’s fuller, it takes the band in a new direction while paying homage to the old school Dream Theater we’ve all been eulogizing these past few years. And none of that is a knock against Mike Portnoy. He’s a great drummer, and with DT he accomplished great things. They made great music together and we’ll always have that. But I think it had just gotten to a point where he was holding them back. And if “A Dramatic Turn of Events” is the album they put out after he leaves, I wish he had left after “Octavarium.” It’s something I never thought I’d hear myself say, but as the saying goes the proof is in the pudding. Dream Theater’s epic, proggy pudding. We’ve heard them say for years that they thought the band’s best years were ahead of them, but we never really believed it. But after this, I have a feeling they may be right.

James blogs at metalbuzz.net, and you can follow him at twitter.com/jimmybing.

With a song title like “John Lee Hooker For President”, I’m thinking I may like the new Ry Cooder album

My take on Ry Cooder has always been that he’s an amazing guitarist who does not want to be a guitar hero and he does everything possible to distract from his considerable instrumental prowess.  I pretty much lost patience with this routine when Cooder hit the big time with the Buena Vista Social Club.  I had high hopes for his recently completed California Trilogy, but the music and lyrics just didn’t do it for me.  This next record, and the rootsy mandolin on the first track, make me think I should, once again, approach this master’s work with an open mind.

Record is released on August 31.