Don't forget to go order your copy of Ken Layne's forthcoming CD "The Analog Bootlegs" while it's still at the super low introductory price of $8. It's a compilation of stuff Ken's recorded over the years all digitally fixed up and it's gonna be great. Ken comes from a strong roots rock background (knew County Dick, appreciates Buck Owens) and these tunes are mostly country folkish with some 4-track freakouts thrown into the mix. Check out his site to hear a few samples in the MP3 format. Ken's a great singer and songwriter who I first met in Prague, where he played a black guitar. We've played a lot over the years and it's always fun (he even sang a bit on my "musical novel.") He's the kind of guy who everyone always wants to hear sing at parties and who's infrequent shows are always much anticipated and well attended. He's threatening to get heavily back into making music, so I think we should all do everything we can to encourage this by ordering plenty of these CDs. Plus he writes real funny.
Ken's latest post is about recording studio legends, so I suppose I should type up mine here: My first recording experience was with The Hoods recording a demo on an 8 track 1/4" machine in the back of Pier Music (home of the famous butt crack Bob) in Hermosa Beach. I'm sure a lot of great punk rock was recorded there back in the day. My second experience was with the Wonderfuls at a killer studio called the Indigo Ranch in the Malibu hills. The legend was that this was a "hunting lodge" house formerly owned by famous actor John Barrymore. Supposedly when Barrymore died, his friends took his corpse to this house and propped it up by the fire so he could participate in one more night of partying. Later the house was bought by the Moody Blues (The Moody Who?) and converted into a studio. Neil Young used to record there, and it's where he cut the awesome "Will to Love" off of American Stars and Bars in one take with the fire crackling in the background. The internet tells me that the ranch (all 58 acres) is for sale for only $4.2 million. Later my friend Paul was living in Seattle and he took a recording class from the legenday Kearny Barton at his Audio Recordings studio which included 8 hours of studio time. He got me and Dan to drive up there to cut some tunes with him. Kearny was famous as the man who recorded The Sonics. He was a mild mannered classical music recordist, and when the Sonics came in with their amps on 11 he didn't tell them to turn it down. The result is classics like "The Witch" and "Psycho" with their raunchy room sound drums, snarling guitar, and insanely overdriven screams. By the mid 90's Kearny was pretty old, and he apparently never threw anything away. The studio was pretty bit, but we had to move things around in order to make room to set up the drums. I remember a grand piano piled high with scores, cases of cassette tapes, dusty records, and other trash. The bathroom was in his house next door, and the whole place was piled about 4 feet high with newspapers and other trash, with just a slender path from the door to the bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen. The recording went pretty well, but when it came time to make some cassette copies to take home, the right channel was out of the ancient machine he was using to make mine, so I only got a left channel recording. And this story.
posted by Greg 3:21 PM
Wednesday, July 23, 2003
Last night we saw Neil Young perform his new "musical novel" Greendale at the Greek Theater. It was one of the very best concerts I've ever seen. Greendale is a 10 song cycle about the fictional Green family and their fictional hometown of Greendale, CA which is performed by Neil and Crazy Horse with a large cast of actors, a jail and front porch set, and a raised video backdrop set. (The DVD is supposed to be coming out in mid-August) The actors lip synch their lines in the songs and Neil narrates a little bit between numbers. It was a cross between musical theater (including the playbill) and a straight concert, but ultimately like nothing I've ever seen before. The story is a loose narrative with songs focused various family members that touches on crime, art, the media, and the environment, among other things. You can read about it on the website. Neil eschews a focused classical story line in order to bring in many big themes and ideas. I liked it because 1) the music was great, classic Neil and Crazy Horse with a blusey edge and plenty of Neil guitar (Frank Sampedro played electric piano instead of guitar for the whole Greendale portion of the show, which made Neil's guitar stand out even more than usual.) I love narrative songs in general (I wrote a "musical novel" myself) and because Neil has never done anything like this at all, it seemed very fresh and you could tell he was excited about it. 2) The visuals were great. They were simple enough to not be too distracting from the music, but definately kept your interest and helped you follow the narrative. Neil has always paid more attention to the visual aspects of his show than most rockers, and this project takes that interest to extremes. Some have criticised it for being too unfocused in it's narrative, simple in it's music, and hokey in it's sentiment. I think they are using the wrong parameters to judge it, trying to compare it to traditional musical theater or looking too hard for a Statement with a capital S. Instead I think Neil's taking us to new territory here. The narrative is more about introducing us to these characters. Things do happen to them even though they may not all tie up nicely together at the end. The statements are the individual character's words, and may or may not reflect what Neil thinks. I got the impression that writing through characters was extremely liberating for Neil. He's done it to degrees in the past, but here it's full bore and the characters have names and faces. Neil and the Horse finished up with two encores of their classics, which were great but rather anti-climactic for me after the tour-de-force of Greendale.
posted by Greg 12:32 PM
The Hulk (2003) - Eh - I was really looking forward to this movie, despite it's middling reviews and toxic word-of-mouth. Alas, I was very disappointed. It suffers from what I call Pearl Harbor Syndrome (PHS), which is defined as a high budget movie which is good in it's action scenes but extremely stiff and unbelievable in it's talking scenes, too long, and too bland because it avoids taking any risks or adding any quirks. The movie starts with an awesome title sequence and buildup, but as soon as we come to the present and are introduced to the characters it becomes extremely lame. It's not only unbelievable but uninteresting. I found myself counting the scenes until he becomes the Hulk. When he does, it's loud and fun, but he doesn't stay Hulkish long enough to redeem the rest of the film. Nick Nolte is great as the lunatic father, but his performance comes off as too much for his character. Oh well.
posted by Greg 10:00 AM
We're back from Stacy and Keith's wedding in Aspen. Above is a picture of Sean with Claire Donnelly, my old friendMax and his wife Kelly's beautiful daughter. They were nice enough to let us stay a night with them in Littleton, CO on Wednesday after we flew in to Denver. It was great to catch up with Max and Kelly, play some guitar, and get to meet Claire and their dog Cassius. Here they are in front of their house saying goodbye:
On our way to Aspen we stopped for lunch in Frisco, CO, where Molli used to live back in her ski bunny days. Then we continued on and stopped high in the Rockies at Independence Pass, 12 thousand feet up: