Saturday, June 30, 2007

White Stripes Secret Show in Edmonton

Hmmm, do you think I'm in White Stripes heaven right now? Here are some pics I took at the secret show they did a couple hours ago at an inner city youth sports centre.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Busy Busy

No post until probably next week. I've got White Stripes on the brain with their show on Saturday. Plus, it's Canada Day long weekend. WAAAAAAAAY too much going on 'round here to update the blog. I'll keep you posted. :)

Here's a cool story on The White Stripes in Iqaluit, Nunavut jamming with the elders.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

See You on the Dark Side of the Moon!

So tonight, me and some buds are going to see Roger Waters perform Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety and then some. As I understand it, the first set is a mix of Pink Floyd classics and Roger's solo stuff. Then a break before launching into a straight run-through of Dark Side of the Moon. Should be brilliant. At least I hope so since this is the single most expensive concert ticket I've ever been crazy enough to buy.

I've been a casual Pink Floyd listener since high school when I used to listen to classic rock a lot. But it wasn't until last summer when I was visiting Bath Spa, UK with a couple friends that I had sort of a Pink Floyd epiphany of sorts. My friend's aunt who lived there was driving us to through the English countryside to visit Cheddar Gorge (the nearby village of Cheddar is the source of REAL cheddar cheese) and the Wookey Hole caves (tourist trap). Of course, we needed get some tunes going so his aunt pops in the Pink Floyd album Wish You Were Here. So four us us were in a wee little car zooming down narrow roads with Shine On You Crazy Diamond just cranked. Up until this point, I liked several Pink Floyd songs but generally I found them a little cold and a bit self-indulgent. But somehow that experience changed my opinion. Every time the chorus shouted out SHINE ON YOU CRAZY DIAMOND, I was just swept up in a wave of joy. I don't know why, but from that point on I've just enjoyed listening to Pink Floyd that much more.

Rodrigo y Gabriela - Wish You Were Here (live at Glastonbury 2007)
What a coincidence! Rodrigo y Gabriela, who I'm a huge fan of, played this Pink Floyd cover just last night. After the guitar intro, Rodrigo motioned to the crowd who sang the lyrics en masse (quite stunning really).

Lulu Hughes - Time
I posted this before and I'll post it again. From a tribute album called Pink Floyd Redux featuring female Canadian singers, Lulu Hughes takes Time and just wails (in a good way) to some electro beats.

Bim Skala Bim - Brain Damage
Up until last year I'm embarrassed to say I thought this song was called Dark Side of the Moon, which is really sad seeing how it's one of my favourite Pink Floyd songs. Then I looked at the back of the CD and realized there was no such song. Thinking it was similar to Led Zeppelin's Houses of the Holy (title song on a different album)Remnants of Napster's ill effect on music lives on...

Pascale Picard - Shine On You Crazy Diamond
Also from that Pink Floyd Redux album, which is a lot better than one might think.

Les Claypool's Frog Brigade - Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Jack Irons version)
Former Primus singer/bassist has a couple live albums with his Fearless Flying Frog Brigade called Live Frogs Set 1 and Set 2, both are from the same show (I think). This epic 12-minute cover is from the first set. The 2nd set is a cover of the entire Pink Floyd album Animals.

Dean Wareham - Hey You
This is from the soundtrack to the Noah Baumbach film The Squid and the Whale. An amusing part of the film has a character sing Hey You at his school's talent show claiming it as his own. When disqualified for plagiarism and later questioned by a school counselour (or psychiatrist?) he says, "I felt I could have written it so the fact that it was already written was kind of a technicality."

Forgive any typos or broken links... I'm literally running out the door RIGHT NOW to grab some eats and go to the show. Then I'm out of town for the next few days.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Just Dropped In (Again)

A couple more versions for you. Here's where the definition of a cover song gets muddled... Originally written by Mickey Newbury. First recorded by Jerry Lee Lewis. Made famous by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition. My instinct is Mickey Newbury. Composer or first recording? There are convincing arguments for both sides, but my head hurts just thinking about it. On to the originals!

Mickey Newbury - Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)
Jerry Lee Lewis - Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)
Kenny Rogers and the First Edition - Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)

and another cover for good measure:
Willie Nelson - Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) [originally by ...?]

After listening to all these versions, I've concluded that this song can do no wrong.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Yeah, Yeah, Oh Yeah

...What Condition My Condition Was In.

Written by singer/songwriter Mickey Newbury and first recorded by Jerry Lee Lewis in 1967, Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) became a top 10 Billboard hit for Kenny Rogers and the First Edition. You may remember this song from a particularly memorable dream sequence from the Coen Brothers' The Big Lebowski. This has been covered a fair number of times, but the interesting thing is that they're all good covers.

Supergrass - Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)
I'm a big fan of Supergrass and looking forward to a new album sometime this year. I Should Coco is practically a greatest hits album and Road to Rouen was a nice comeback. They don't do a lot of covers, but the few they do are choice cuts.

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings - Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)
Here's a great funk/soul rendition. If you're a fan of Mark Ronson's Version album (which I am), the Dap-Kings are responsible for the funky horn sections. You've probably all heard the cover of Radiohead's Just, so you know what I'm talking about. I recently got tickets to the Calgary Folk Festival next month and I'm really excited to see this group take to the mainstage. The real coup for me (and the main reason why I'm shelling out and traveling 3 hours south) is a rare Canadian date of the recently reunited Squirrel Nut Zippers. They're hitting the mainstage on a Friday night just before Hawksley Workman and Neko Case. Even more exciting is the prospect of the weekend "sessions", where the different artists team-up on side stages for unexpected musical collaborations and jamming. I just checked out the Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings album Naturally last week and finding out they'll be at the folk fest too is a major bonus. Sadly, the line-up for the Edmonton Folk Fest is a bit unspectacular IMHO, especially after seeing Rodrigo y Gabriela last year (who incidentally never did return to Edmonton with their supposed Canadian tour).

Nick Cave & Die Haut - Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)

Jeff Walker Und Die Fluffers - Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)
With a metal twist...

Tinsley Ellis - Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)
A bluesy version. This works well... a very versatile song!

Coming up later this week, Pink Floyd covers! ...As I check out Roger Waters performing Dark Side of the Moon this Sunday. Holy crap, then it's the White Stripes the next Friday! And the week after, 4 more White Stripes shows in the Maritimes. VERY EXCITING next few weeks!!!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Listen to some Blair

So my slogan is cover songs, my fav bands, and whatever the hell I feel like. This would fall in the latter category though definitely has the potential of moving into the territory of my fav bands. I was recently sent an EP of a female singer/songwriter named Blair (see adorable photo above). While you might be bracing in your chairs for my latest sell job, I wouldn't be recommending this if I didn't think it was definitely worth a listen. One track in particular, Mona Lisa is simply beautiful. Its folky, gentle twang has got me hooked. She's drawn comparisons to the likes of Jenny Lewis and Cat Power (whom she's incidentally opened for before), though that'd be unfair for me to make that call since I'm haven't really listened to a lot of either of those artists. When I first heard Mona Lisa, the first things that came to mind were Hawksley Workman's When These Mountains Were The Seashore and The Shins' Gone for Good, both great songs. I would say Blair's vocal qualities are not unlike Sarah McLachlan. I think when you come across a new artist, it's inevitable to immediately relate and compare them to familiar artists in order for your brain to process the music. Even her own website describes her music as Dolly Parton meets Radiohead. That's probably why I often latch on to new artists via cover songs and though I'm loathe to admit it, have a hard time listening intently to unfamiliar bands. That's also why you should stop reading my incoherent ramblings and listen to Blair's music for yourself.

Blair - Mona Lisa

The 4-song EP itself is titled Pluto, a reference to the fact that last year Pluto lost its planet status, an irrevocable shift in perspective that serves as a metaphor for the life-altering changes experienced after Hurricane Katrina hit Blair's hometown of New Orleans. This was also the subject of an amusing Threadless shirt design (Pluto, not Katrina) that I got someone as a X-Mas gift last year. But the more I think about it, I'm kinda bummed that there are now only 8 planets in our solar system. A childhood factoid retroactively wiped out. Future generations of children will look at our 80's science textbooks/posters and laugh "I can't believe they used to think Pluto was planet, ha!" just like we used to mock 1950's duck and cover educational films. When I think of Pluto I'm also reminded of one of the great paradoxes in life: Goofy and Pluto, both dogs... think about it. Pluto (the dog) debuted in 1930, the same year they discovered Pluto (the ex-planet), hence his name. Both were named after the Roman God of the Underworld Pluto, who is known in Greek circles as Hades, later Disneyfied and voiced with panache by James Woods in 1997's Hercules. OK, I've digressed a bit here.

Definitely give the Pluto (the EP) a listen on Blair's myspace site. It can also be purchased from CDBaby for $5. An impressive debut EP and I can't wait to hear what the future has in store. In fact, I've made a Blair label for this post in anticipation of a future listening experiences that require posting about.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Canadian Cover Content #4: Barenaked Ladies

The big news earlier this week is that I booked my Ben Folds Cruise for next February. I would never had predicted it, but this Ben Folds cruise is the concert I've been unconsciously waiting the last ten years for. Since his Ben Folds Five days, he's been my favourite artist/band yet I've only had the opportunity to see him perform once, 2 years ago just outside of Seattle while I was living in Vancouver. Other than that, he's never toured anywhere near Edmonton. I figure (probably exaggerating) that this cruise costs about the same as me travelling to one of his regular gigs. In some sort of crazy wish fulfilment in my little world, Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls was also announced as an onboard guest for the festivities. In a word: UNBELIEVABLE.

I try not to do shameless plugs too often, but here's an exception. If anyone out there is also planning to go on this Ben Folds cruise too, please use my Sixthman ID SXM-029727 as a referral when you book. The reason I ask is because if I refer somebody, I would get to go to an exclusive intimate acoustic performance by Ben Folds. Yes, for purely selfish reasons, I make this plea to LET ME REFER YOU! Um, if Eef Barzelay (of Clem Snide) is your thing, he's coming. Corn Mo is aboard too. Not official yet, but Ben said The Streets is coming (and no, that is not grammatically incorrect). And of course, Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls, who is reason enough on her own to attend. More artists to come over the next 8 months including comedians apparently, but in any case it should be an event for the ages to be sure. So if anyone out there decides to take me up on this offer, let me know via e-mail because I can be easily persuaded to send you a stack of some of my cover CD collection (oh dear, I've resorted to bribery). Public sale starts June 11th. End plea.

In anticipation of the pre-sale which started Tuesday, I was reading up on the Barenaked Ladies' Ships & Dips cruise that took place earlier this year and already has a follow-up in place for next year. In fact, Ben's touring this summer with John Mayer who recently announced his own cruise vacation too... now it's just getting out of hand. All of these experiences are organized by a great, great company called Sixthman, who genuinely seem to be working hard to fulfil everybody's music dreams. They supposedly have 16 events in the works for next year... I cannot even imagine.

Anyway, while perusing the Barenaked Ladies forums, I stumbled upon a link to The Bathroom Sessions, a whole series hitherto unbeknownst to me of youtube videos that BNL Ed Robertson (and sometimes Steven Page) recorded in Ed's bathroom. One of my favourite BNL songs The King of Bedside Manor gets the Bathroom treatment with a brilliant acoustic performance by Ed and Steven (even a couple cover snippets sneak in there). Check it out here. Man, that whole performance just cracks me up!

Barenaked Ladies - The King of Bedside Manor
The original from 1992's Gordon.

I feel goofy when I do these "Canadian Cover Content" posts and Barenaked Ladies covers pop up by default, so I thought I'd post a few choice covers and lay off them for while.

Barenaked Ladies - Psycho Killer [originally by Talking Heads]
Years ago I had heard the Moxy Früvous cover of Psycho Killer (one of my favs!) from their Live Noise album that I borrowed from the library. After I got my iPod and was attempting to amass my mp3 collection over again, I tried tracking down that cover but mistakingly thought it was the Barenaked Ladies. See, when I was 9 years old I first heard Moxy Früvous' King of Spain on the radio and had thought it was Barenaked Ladies, so this initial confusion has plagued me since. Interesting trivia I just read (thank you wikipedia!): King of Spain was the second Canadian independent #1 hit in Canadian history, preceded only a few months earlier by BNL's Be My Yoko Ono. Coincidentally (or not?), the Barenaked Ladies DID do a cover of Psycho Killer and this just confused matters further since I knew it wasn't the same version I had heard years earlier. That is, until I re-discovered the Früvous Live Noise album about five years ago. And until that point I didn't even realize this was a cover song (embarrassing but true). Since then I've of course heard the Talking Heads original and fell in love with that too. Great song with lots of covers.

Barenaked Ladies - Careless Whisper (live) [originally by Wham!]
There also seem to be a lot of covers of this song cropping up lately. Ben Folds also semi-regularly covers this live...

Ben Folds & Rufus Wainwright - Careless Whisper (live) [originally by Wham!]
...and there you go. Canadian content provided by Mr. Wainwright.

Barenaked Ladies - When Doves Cry (live) [originally by Prince]

Barenaked Ladies - Do They Know It's Christmas? [originally by Band Aid]

Barenaked Ladies - Legal Age Life at Variety Store (live) [originally by the Rheostatics]
Canadians covering Canadians.

Captain Tractor - Legal Age Life at Variety Store [originally by the Rheostatics]
A little bit of Edmonton cover content too for ya. This was the first time I had heard this song ever.

Brian Wilson - Brian Wilson [originally by Barenaked Ladies]
Possibly the most conceptually surreal cover ever: Brian Wilson performing Brian Wilson. Ack, brain meltdown!MalkovichMalkovichMalkovichMalkovich!

The Bathroom Sessions have even inspired a youtube user by the name of tornadocanemusic to post his own series of Odes to the Bathroom Sessions. And wow, this guy can actually play and sing. Check out his cover of BNL's Brian Wilson here. The best thing is that Ed Robertson leaves this comment on one of his other videos: "Your voice is better than mine... but my bathroom's better."

Monday, June 04, 2007

It's Deee-Liteful

Alright, back to hosting on MediaFire (hopefully fixed) since several links on sendSpace are frequently being deleted for term violations, which is inconvenient for me but pretty hard to dispute...

Today for your listening delight, some Deee-lite:

Herbie Hancock - Bring Down the Birds [Outtake]
You all know Deee-Lite's Groove is in the Heart... but did you know the familiar bass line that permeates the tune is sampled from this Herbie Hancock track? The original is from the soundtrack to the 1966 Antonioni film Blow-Up, a film which was later "covered" by the 1981 Brian De Palma film Blow Out. There's an awesome scene from Blow-Up that you can view here featuring the Yardbirds (with Jimmy Page & Jeff Beck) performing Stroll On, itself a rendition of the standard Train Kept A-Rollin'. Phew, that's a lotta random trivia!

Vernon Burch - Get Up
Around the 3:01 mark of Groove is in the Heart, there's a distinct section that's best described as:
[pop] [snap] [snap] "One! Two! Three! Blublblblblblblblbl..."
That would be from Vernon Burch's Get Up. Slide whistle? Also sampled from this song.

Deee-Lite - You Sexy Thing [originally by Hot Chocolate]
This cover is from the soundtrack to Dumb and Dumber, which like any soundtrack has more than it's fair share of cover songs including takes on XTC, Donovan, and The Temptations.

Towa Tei - Private Eyes [originally by Hall & Oates]
Former Deee-Lite member Towa Tei produced this sweet bossa nova cover on his second solo album, Sound Museum.

Robbie Williams - It's De-Lovely [originally by Cole Porter]
Apparently, Deee-Lite got its name from this song...