Monday, December 26, 2011

Phish vs the Dead: New Years Eve Edition (Airborne Vessels)

For this installment, we will compare the two bands on the objects that were used to fly over the crowd during New Year's Eve shows.

Criteria: Airborne Vessels

The Dead: On December 31, 1978, at the stroke of midnight, the Grateful Dead's longtime promoter and friend Bill Graham climbed into a 12-foot joint and flew over the crowd. (Click on the pic below to watch the video at the official website for Bill Graham)

Phish: On December 31, 1994, at the stroke of midnight, the members of Phish climbed into a 15-foot hot dog and flew over the crowd. (Click on the pic below to watch the video)

Analysis: Yes, having the band fly over the crowd is inarguably cooler than having the long-time promoter, but a joint is way, way cooler than a hot dog. (And the fact that Phish made their hot dog slightly longer is in poor taste).

This round: The Dead

Tally so far: Dead 2, Phish 1

Monday, December 19, 2011

The 3 Worst Classic Rock Moments of 2011

Last week I brought you what I thought were the 3 best classic rock moments of 2011. This week I feel I must visit the nasty underbelly of classic rock in 2011:

#3 Creem Magazine's Failure to Relaunch
I could hardly contain myself over the summer when I learned that the magazine once edited by Lester Bangs was preparing to relaunch. Then only a couple short weeks later I was left in inconsolable shock when I learned that it was not to be.

#2 Roger Daltry's Tommy Tour
I went. Believe me. It was terrible.

#1 Robert Plant Continuing to Punk Out on the Subject of a Zep Reunion
In this recent article in GQ, Plant reiterated his steadfast refusal to bring happiness to millions of people around the world. It begs one question - if Plant is so keen to avoid "the abyss" then why is the setlist for his Band of Joy concerts 50% or more Zeppelin tunes?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Girl With the Zoso Tattoo

The American-filmed version of The Girl With Golden Tattoo opens next week. Who knows if the movie will suck or not -- it's always a wildcard when Christopher Plummer appears in a film (are you going to get A Beautiful Mind or Dracula 2000?) -- but the cover-version of Immigrant Song in this trailer sure gets IV out of IV stars (well, I guess technically it should get III out of III):

Monday, December 12, 2011

The 3 Best Classic Rock Moments of 2011

Another year is drawing to a close, and what better way to evaluate it then by reflecting on the top 3 moments related to classic rock that occurred in it?

Here are my top 3 for 2011:
#3 - Black Sabbath Announcing That It Will Tour in 2012
Sometimes the best events in any given year are the ones that give you hope for the future.

#2 - Black Dog Mashup
The mash-up genius Kutiman graced us with proof that Zeppelin's Black Dog continues to be the riff heard round the world (my vote for best participant: “talent show 2008”):

#1 - David Gilmour Joining Roger Waters for Comfortably Numb During the London Performance of The Wall.
These guys may hate each other, but they still can muster a transcendent moment or two when they play on the same stage. As one youtube commenter put it, "Imagine that... You're already beyond-excited about seeing Roger Waters' The Wall, and out pops David Gilmour...I would LITERALLY cry."

Friday, December 9, 2011


In an ongoing series about sandwiches, a column which addresses the sandwiches' place in rock mythology:

Monday, December 5, 2011

Simulating Immersion for Christmas

As Christmas time approaches, dear fellow rock nerd, you may find yourself hoping against all hope that you will receive the Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon "Immersion Set" from someone special as the gift on the big day. Given the state of my wife and I's household finances, I hold no such illusions.

In lieu of actually receiving it, I trolled around online to give myself the best possible approximation. I'm happy to report that the following review from provides such a thorough description of what's actually in the set to allow yourself to almost feel like your holding it in your hands (including a mention of the layer of foam egg crate when you first pry open the box):

And even better, following the article is a comment so long and rambling that it actually simulates the experience of excitedly telling a friend over a beer that you just got the Immersion Set, and in return being subjected to a digressive monologue about Pink Floyd in general, including his own experience of actually meeting Roger Waters. It even includes my favorite drunken conversational gambit of all time: saying "I'm not going to even mention" something followed by actually mentioning it (please note, this is only a small portion of the entire comment):
...I finally got to see Dark Side of the Moon Live… The Roger Waters Tour… and there is no question… that show was extremely faithful to the original album… Every note was there, exactly as you remember hearing in that aforememtioned part of the brain that has it permanently archived… there was just one little thing that could have made it better… and that can be summed up in eight words… the voices of David Gilmour and Richard Wright. I have no doubt that Roger recorded and probably even filmed some shows during his Dark Side of the Moon tours… sure would like to hear/see them… maybe he’s waiting until his retirement years… ;>) (I’m not going to mention how I got a bootleg version off of ebay from Argentina) As my date and I were leaving that night, we were talking about how the only way we could have enjoyed the concert more, would be if we could have met Roger Waters… At exactly that moment, a white HumVee Limo drove past us… from a rear passenger window, Roger Waters sticks his head out and says, “Hey Kids…” I… we… were stunned!!!... Here was the person responsible for thousands of hours of enjoyment in my life… and as they were driving away, I said the only thing I could think of to say in that moment… and so I shouted… “Thank you!... Thank You!!!... THANK YOU!!!!!” and as silly as it may be to say that someone saying two words to me out of the window of a car as they drove past has become one of the treasured memories of my life… it is those moments that one looks back on in life and remembers with a smile for the rest of one’s life. Ok… I did it again… I’ll try to stay focused on the subject… The 1974 live version of Dark Side Of The Moon included in the Immersion set is without doubt, the best of the live versions I’ve seen…

Mentioned in both the review and in the comment above is the DVD included in the Immersion Set of the actual concert screen film from gigs in ’74. As the reviewer says:
That’s right – never mind trying to sync up The Wizard Of Oz with a playing of Dark Side, kids: simply tune into one of these puppies and absorb the graphics the band themselves offered up on the big screens behind them back in the day.

If you're anything like me, that's just something you must, MUST, see before your ride on planet earth is up. Well, thankfully, there's youtube. And some blessed soul took the monetary hit for the rest of us and then was generous enough to post this particular piece of glory:

After viewing and thoroughly enjoying the entire movie,  I felt like I had perhaps overdone it a little, but I still couldn't help myself from having just one more (just like how it always goes for me on Christmas)... and so I clicked on one of the youtube videos recommended to me for viewing next: an official "trailer" for the Immersion Set itself. And when it started I was taken aback: the song Money is featured first, accompanied by the word MONEY in large caps, and visuals of coins cascading everywhere, including over the album itself, and I couldn't help but wonder if it was supposed to be ironic, a wink to the viewer, an admission of guilt on the band's part, as if they’re saying that they admit they’re doing these Immersion Sets for the money, and also just like on Christmas, even though the whole thing is really fun, that nagging feeling crept into the back of my mind that it's all just being shoved down our throats so people who are already rich can make more money:

Friday, December 2, 2011


To my total amazement, Grateful Dead lyricist John Perry Barlow showed up on Page 6 of the New York Post (the gossip page) this week. What's next? Robert Hunter guest-hosting Fashion Police?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

RS Magazine's 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time

Rolling Stone magazine recently published their list of The Top 100 Guitarists of All Time. A couple of comments:

1. In the blurb about Clapton (ranked at #2, behind Hendrix), Eddie Van Halen is quoted as saying, “Eric Clapton is basically the only guitar player who influenced me – even though I don't sound like him.”

Obviously, this is total bullshit. Eddie himself admitted in the very same magazine a couple years ago that his signature guitar technique (two-handed tapping) was inspired by watching Jimmy Page: Your biggest innovation was two-handed tapping — using both hands to fret notes simultaneously. Where did you get the idea?

Eddie Van Halen: "I was watching Jimmy Page going [sings hammering guitar lick], like that, with one hand, in 'Heartbreaker'. I thought, 'I can play like that, and you wouldn't know if I was using this finger [points to left hand] or this one' [points to right hand]. But you just kind of move it around, and it's like, 'You got one big hand there, buddy. That's a hell of a spread!'"

2. Jerry Garcia was placed at #46. That’s ridiculous. This is the man who could entrance fans with 30-minute guitar solos, who spawned an entire subgenre of music (the jam band), who at his peak was capable of executing the perfect “slick lick with the up-twist at the end, that merry snake twining through the woodpile, flickering in and out of the loosely stacked chords” (as Ken Kesey put it). I think he deserves to be ranked higher than Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top (don’t get me wrong, I love Billy Gibbons, but isn’t “Dark Star” simply a better work of art than “Legs”?).

3. The best blurb of all was written by Brent Hinds of Mastodon about Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath (ranked at #25):
I remember the first time I heard Black Sabbath. My older brother got their album Master of Reality from a kid who lived next door, and we'd been passing it around like it was crack. We were playing it with the lights down and a candle burning, when my dad burst into the room. He was like, "What is this shit?" Then he broke the record right in front of us.