Monday, February 20, 2006

The Return of the Philosopher Kings

Last night, went to an awesome show at the Starlite Room with the triumphant return to the stage of the Philosopher Kings after about 7 or 8 years -- almost 10 years since their last studio album. But man, I forgot what a rockin' show they put on. Last time I saw them at the newly built Winspear Centre (which was sweet), but now they're back in a small club venue (which is sweeter).

Unfortunately due to an overlong dinner, we came in just as the Jon Levine Band was ending their opening set. Jon is the insanely talented keyboard player for the PKs doing his solo act. I wonder how many keyboards he goes through because he just destroys the keys when he hammers 'em. I didn't realize this until tonight, but he writes or co-writes the majority of the PK's material. His solo band features a lot more of his piano wizardry (lucky for me!) and I immediately bought one of his CDs despite missing nearly all of his set. It does not disappoint. He's got some MP3 downloads on his site, though I have no idea where you could get his CD outside of the shows. Check out "Happy" or all of them, for that matter.

After the Jon Levine Band, James Bryan came on to perform about 3 songs. James Bryan (AKA James McCollum) the equally insanely talented guitarist for the Kings and is probably better known as the muscle-bound Milo, half of the cartoon band Prozzak (pre-Gorillaz). It's amazing to watch his blazing guitar work and his solo act allows him to showcase this more than on the PK's albums. I also picked up his solo album, which is actually quite different from the live act. The album is more fused with some electronica beats and guest vocals, while his live show was performed raw with the PK's drummer and bassist. Still pretty sweet though, and even features a cover (joy!) of Bizarre Love Triangle.

James Bryan - Jelly Walk
James Bryan - Bizarre Love Triangle (vocals: Alessa) [originally by New Order]

The real treat was, of course, the long awaited reunion of the Philosopher Kings. And they have not missed a beat. I haven't listened to their new album Castles yet (released on Valentine's Day) and I was a little worried it was going to be all about the love ballads. But they unleashed an eclectic mix of soul, funk, blues, pop, and rock that can only be described as Philosopher Kings. The best part was when they introduced the new bassist and had him initiated to the PK experience by having him strut his bass skills on a solo. Then James Bryan performed his own solo, and the two had a back-and-forth guitar/bass duel trying to one-up each other. During the encore Hurts To Love You, they do Gerald Eaton's (AKA Jarvis Church) "favourite part of the show", where he invites one of the screaming girls on stage to personally sing to them some Marvin Gaye. Their live show is great-- catch 'em if you can!

From their One Night Stand live album from 1999:
The Philosopher Kings - Hurts to Love You medley
(featuring "I've Been Loving you Too Long (To Stop Now)", "At Last", and "Let's Get it On")

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Go Lalo Go

Today I just wanted to feature a couple classic themes composed by Lalo Schifrin. First off is the incomparable theme to Mission: Impossible. I remember when I was in elementary school staying up late to watch the old reruns of the 60s series... Man, Martin Landau was the coolest cat. Why is this the only show NOT on DVD yet? Perhaps another "Crazy Tom Cruise" scientology conspiracy? Who knows. I made fun of the M:I:III double colon action in an earlier post, though I guess it must have seemed sexy to the marketing whizzes because they're using it: "Hey, we can use TWO colons!"

The Plot

Mission: Impossible Main Titles

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - The Plot/Main Theme from Mission: Impossible
An extended melody of the first two tracks.

Adam Clayton & Larry Mullen - Mission: Impossible Theme (Mission Accomplished)
While Bono and The Edge were off writing the theme to Goldeneye, the other half of U2 had big budget spy franchise plans of their own... They did two renditions of the theme for the 1996 De Palma update; this less bombastic version (not featured in the movie) is off the sountrack, which was one of my first CDs ever.

The 2nd greatest Lalo Schifrin theme ever is to the quintessential Bruce Lee film, Enter the Dragon. Dr. No and Dr. Claw rolled into one? Showdown in the hall of mirrors? BOLO!? This movie rocked (unless my childhood memory betrays me). One thing that definitely endures is the chop-socky 70s funk theme. Here's the original and a couple o' covers

Enter the Dragon

Dennis Coffey - Enter the Dragon
...Obviously not funky enough for Dennis Coffey.

Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra - Enter the Dragon

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Red Shag Carpet

Just a quick plug for Red Shag Carpet, some local Edmonton rockers. My friend's brother is the singer/guitarist (all four of them do vocals). They just had a rockin' CD release party on Saturday for their 2nd album Lift & Drop. Check 'em out on their website: and listen to three tracks off the new CD. They're hitting the highway this week for a cross-Canada tour from Vancouver Island to Nova Scotia. Good luck, guys!