Hot on the heels of Rock Turtleneck's tardy review of Radiohead's All Points West show comes this dynamite cover of Neil Young's "Tell Me Why" from the band's recent show at the Hollywood Bowl.
Anyone who dismisses Radiohead as a bunch of Vulcan-like prog-rockers should take heed of this quiet, note-perfect performance by Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood, for it shows that the boys have their fundamentals down and a true appreciation for the classics. It's that sound base which has allowed them to venture off to such stunning, uncharted musical territories.
Radiohead, "Tell Me Why" Hollywood Bowl, August 25, 2008
"Tell Me Why" is not the first time Yorke has ventured into Neil Youngville. In 2002, he did a memorable version of "After the Gold Rush" (which follows "Tell Me Why" on the After the Gold Rush album) on Neil's piano. Take it boys.
Thom Yorke, "After the Gold Rush" 2002 Bridge School Benefit, 10/26/02
And if Yorke & Co are wondering which After the Gold Rush track to tackle next, here's Rock Turtleneck's suggestion.
Neil Young, "Don't Let it Bring You Down" BBC TV Studios, 2/23/71
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Thursday, August 28, 2008
The scenery was jaw-dropping, the food was macrobiotic, the tea was billed as "brewed and iced on site" and the port-o-johns were practically nonexistent. Yes, I’m talking about the All Points West Festival, which I attended on 8.08.08 in Jersey City, in the shadow of downtown NYC and a stone’s throw from Lady Liberty’s copper green derierre.
Like just about everyone else, I was there to see Radiohead. But I was glad I caught the second-stage set by CSS, a Brazillian group with a Japanese pop sound. With their outrageous costumes, party like atmosphere and infectious tunes, they seemed like a Brazilllian hybrid of the B-52’s and Dee-Lite, whose “Groove is in the Heart” rocked white dance clubs almost 20 years ago.
CSS, "Let's Make Love and Listen to Death from Above"
Radiohead reached heights of operatic grandeur and majesty that simply cannot be found elsewhere. Such is their musical brilliance and command that I felt like I could have been seeing the Beatles performing Revolver. I was reminded of Michael Stipe’s quote about the band: “Radiohead are so good they scare me.”
The show had many highlights: a hard-rocking “Jigsaw Falling Into Place,” a haunting “House of Cards” and “Pyramid Song” with a lit-up NYC Financial District as backdrop. My first Radiohead show was in the same spot, and on the ferry back to NYC, my friends and I marveled at the electric majesty of the Twin Towers. Less than a month later, they were gone. “Pyramid Song” has since become my 9/11 anthem. (Not that I was looking for one.)
Radiohead closed All Points West with “Everything In Its Right Place.” Somewhere along the way, this opener from Kid A has metamorphosized from a dark, Bitches Brew-like studio meditation to a handclapping soccer stadium style anthem. Any band that can have 30,000 fans screaming “yesterday I woke up sucking on a lemon” must be doing something right.
The YouTube clips and BBC Radio concert below are fine snapshots of live Radiohead circa 2008. But as with all great bands, or pretty much anything worth doing, you really have to be there to appreciate it.
Radiohead, “Everything in its Right Place” (live in Paris)
Radiohead, "Pyramid Song" (live)
Radiohead: Live at the BBC Theatre
4.1.08 (click a track to download)
03 All I Need
07 The Tourist
08 House of Cards
09 Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
11 Everything In Its Right Place
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Sixty years ago this past Wednesday, a stork delivered a baby across the pond from America to England.
On his majestic flight, the stork and infant passed over Clarksdale, Mississippi, Memphis, Route 66, the Riot House in LA, the Scottish Highlands and Middle Earth before touching down in West Bromwich England and delivering his cargo: a golden-locked baby with a penchant for tight trousers named Robert Anthony "Percy" Plant.
Rock Turtleneck wishes a happy 60th birthday to Robert Plant, who has carved out one of the more interesting, prolific and dignified solo careers of any classic rocker. Herewith a sampling of Plant highlights from the past three score. Cheers, Percy.
Led Zeppelin, "We're Gonna Groove" live, 1969
Robert Plant, "In the Mood" The Principle of Moments, 1983
(feel free to breakdance along)
Jimmy Page & Robert Plant, "Thank You" Unledded, 1994
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, "Please Read the Letter" Raising Sand, 2007
Monday, August 18, 2008
The Rock Turtleneck staff has been on a well-deserved summer hiatus and now we find ourselves behind the proverbial 8-blogball. So in the coming days there will be some catch-up blogging as we try to make sense of the many RT-worthy events of recent weeks.
First and foremost is the 31st anniversary of the alleged death of one Elvis A(a)ron Presley on August 16.
Last year, Rock Turtleneck marked the 30th anniversary with an historic week-long celebration.
This year, time did not allow us the tribute the King deserves, so let us now enjoy a reprise of Elvis's farewell to the stage and his fans: his poignant solo performance of "Unchained Melody" from only six weeks before his death. For sheer pathos, it's hard to beat a fallen, bloated living god propped up at the piano summoning his voice from a higher power. TCB, EP.
Elvis Presley, "Unchained Melody" 1977 TV Concert Special
Rather than leave on such a sorrowful note, let us take a moment to remember the King in all his glory, with one of his most dynamic clips from the '68 Comeback Special. Turn it up.
Elvis Presley, "Baby What Do You Want Me to Do" '68 Comeback Special
Wait - did I say we were done with the King? Here's one more, a little ditty from Jailhouse Rock that Led Zeppelin was fond of playing live.
Elvis Presley, "You're So Square (Baby I Don't Care)" Jailhouse Rock
Monday, August 11, 2008
Let us pause to celebrate the Hot Buttered Soul that was Issac Hayes, who passed away on Sunday at the age of 65. The Stax Records in-house arranger, songwriter, producer and hitmaker. A compicated man, a man who exploited Blaxsploitation to give us the Oscar-winning, blackalicious theme from "Shaft." And we can dig it.
Issac Hayes, "Theme from Shaft" Wattstax, 1972
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Last night I had the good fortune to catch a PBS broadcast of Johnny Cash: The Man, His World, His Music, a 1969 documentary that gives a fascinating look at the Man in Black when he was probably the most popular recording artist on earth.
The film opens with a remarkable sequence of Cash hunting quail and accidentally clipping a crow on the wing. Walking back to his house with the crow in hand, he pledges to rehabilitate the crow, and on the spot, makes up a classic, haunting Cash tune along the lines of “If I could fly like a crow, then woman, I’d have to go.” Or something like that.
Elsewhere, we see JC on the road and on stage with his lovely wife June Carter Cash, visiting his hometown, jamming in the studio with new bud Bob Dylan, playing San Quentin, touring Wounded Knee with Native Americans and lending a hand to struggling songwriters.
Of course, we also hear many great Cash tunes: "Flesh and Blood," "Ring of Fire," "Folsom Prison Blues," "Orange Blossom Special," "Jackson," "Five Feet High and Rising." Songs as giant, mighty and sturdy as a redwood.
Watching the show, it occurred to me that The Man, His World, His Music was also source material for much of Cash’s 2001 video for “Hurt.” One of the only music videos that could be truly be called a work of art, the Mark Romanek-directed clip contrasted the force of nature that was Cash in his prime with the ravaged soul he became during his Rick Rubin-orchestrated comeback.
PBS tends to run things over and over again, so please consult your local listings. And understand your man.
Johnny Cash, “Hurt” American IV: The Man Comes Around
Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan, “One Too Many Mornings” The Ma His Music
Johnny Cash, "Orange Blossom Special" The Man, His World, His Music
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Very happy and slightly belated birthday wishes to erstwhile R.E.M. drummer Bill Berry, who turned 50 on July 31st.
If you have followed R.E.M. since the “college rock” days of Chronic Town (as I have), when they barnstormed the bars and honky-tonks of the US as the epitome of the fresh voice of youth, it is staggering that the band now has a strong foothold in the “Viva Viagra” demographic. (Peter Buck is 52, Mike Mills turns 50 this year and Michael Stipe is 48.)
In spite of R.E.M.’s relative triumph with Accelerate, Bill’s many contributions to the band – not only drumming, but bass, piano, backing vocals, songwriting and sense of humour – are still sorely missed more than a decade after he left the band to become a full-time hay farmer in Georgia.
To give a sense of the craftsmanship and lack of pretension that Berry brought to the band, let us enjoy “My Bible is the Latest TV Guide” a hilarious country parody released as a 45 by Berry under the name 13-1-11 (stare at the name long enough and you’ll see what it means).
Recorded while R.E.M. was on hiatus between Green and Out of Time, Berry backed up “My Bible is the Latest TV Guide” with a delightful cover version of “Things I’d Like to Say,” an obscure 1968 song by a band called New Colony Six. This one sounds like an Out of Time demo, with pedal steel guitar and the puppy-love bubblegum style of the late 60s as exemplified by the Troggs, Monkees, Archies and Banana Splits.
The unibrowed Mr. Berry is also a surprisingly versatile singer, going from a Burl Ives growl to a Michael Stipe-ish pop voice with dignity and aplomb.
Thanks to the excellent music blog Timedoor for these songs.
And as Michael Stipe surely said to Bill via text message: umm, happy bday BB. 50? OMG. Belong. Patti sez hi.
Herewith for your listening and downloading pleasure, the 1989 Bill Berry/13111 45:
13-1-11, “My Bible is the Latest TV Guide”
13-1-11, “Things I’d Like to Say”
Sunday, August 03, 2008
In perhaps the most intriguing musical duet since Ben Folds and William Shatner, Jack White and Alicia Keys are teaming up to record "Another Way to Die" the theme song for the forthcoming, ill-titled James Bond film Quantum of Solace.
Not having heard the song, I'm going to guess that White, a high-acheiving student of music history, has written a sexy, intrigue-filled torch ballad in the vein of Shirley Bassey's legendary theme from Goldfinger. I'm also going to guess that there will be mariachi style horns and an octave-jumping blues-based guitar solo.
It's a mutually beneficial pairing. Keys will guarantee mainstream airplay for White and a dollop of genuine R&B sass. White, who produced the song as well and played drums, surely conjured a fiery perfomance from the talented Ms. Keys, which should give her some cred in rock-geek circles.
The Quantum of Solace soundtrack arrives in October and the film in November. Until then, let us enjoy some fine pre-duet performances.
First is a surprisingly ballsy version of "Gimme Shelter" by Keys and Keith Urban from the otherwise ridiculous Live Earth concert. Next is her stunning solo performance of the Donny Hathaway song "Someday We'll All Be Free" from the 9/11 benefit telecast America: A Tribute to Heroes.
In the Jack White category, a jingle he wrote and performed for a European Coca-Cola commerical in 2006. Then a performance with his band the Raconteurs of the great song "Old Enough" in which he is more than happy to cede the spotlight to partner Brendan Benson.
Alicia Keys & Keith Urban, "Gimme Shelter" Live Earth 2007
Alicia Keys, "Someday We'll All Be Free" America: A Tribute to Heroes" 9/11 Benefit Telecast, 2001
Jack White, "What Goes Around Comes Around" Coca-Cola Advertisement, 2006
The Raconteurs, "Old Enough" Later with Jools Holland