Album review: Heaven & Earth by YES (2014)

YES has a new album called Heaven & Earth. First off, let’s discuss the elephant in the room. Jon Anderson is not on this record (as in the previous effort, Fly From Here). This fact will immediately send many life-long YES fans into a whirling dervish of fists and elbows to tear it down. (“It’s not YES without Jon Anderson!”) And while it’s sad that he is not involved, it must be noted that Mr. Anderson had previous quit the band TWICE (1980 and 1989). So, let’s believe that Jon is truly happier as a solo artist and the band is best served moving forward with their new lead singer (also named Jon!) Jon Davison.

Oh look… another elephant in the room: YES cannot make another record on the level of The Yes Album, Fragile or Close to the Edge. It is impossible. So there will be no comparisons to that glorious tri-fecta that occurred in the magical years of 1971-1972. If one is to compare this record to anything, it should be to other bands with members in their mid-to-late-60’s, say Asia.

Heaven & Earth (named for the Roger Dean artwork of the same title) contains 8 songs. Seven are written or co-written by Jon Davison, who captures Jon Anderson’s “unique” sound so accurately, it’s a little strange. (How can they both have an identical and unique singing voice???) Although sometimes in the lower register, he sounds a bit like the lead singer in 1980, Trevor Horn. In fact, on the 1980 album “Drama” we find the only line-up difference is in the lead singer role (again, as in Fly From Here).

The opener, “Believe Again,” is an 8 minute mid-tempo song that incorporates a dark  Steve Howe solo in the middle before returning to its predominantly uplifting mood, singing about believing in love. During one’s first listening, you’ll be wondering, “is this the strongest, most energetic offering?”  If so, we might be in for a long haul or a good nap (which this writer did indeed have while listening.)

But we’re going to look at the album as a whole and this writer has listened in its entirety 3 times (awake).

“The Game” is a bit peppier and clocks in at nearly 7 minutes. There’s an undeniable light-weight-ness to the track. Again, we cannot compare it to the early cannon material; so, on its own it is pleasant enough.

I consider the third track “Step Beyond” as the weakest on the album. The tune, written by Davison and Howe, does benefit from the minor chord change in the pre-chorus, but I found it a bit too 80′s pop (and not in the 90125 Rock kind of way).

“To Ascend” has a rare co-writing credit to drummer Alan White. A ballad in 3/4-time with a driving 6/8 swing in the chorus. The song is well written and could receive decent airplay on AOR stations. The best song at this point.

The Davison/Chris Squire song “In a World of Our Own” is a very enjoyable track. It contains a feel never associated with YES; a mid-tempo shuffle similar to “Now She Knows She’s Wrong” by Jellyfish or The Beatles’ “Penny Lane.” The bridge section contains some tricky rhythmic playing. Might be the first true Prog-rock section of the album. At this point, the record seems to be getting better all the time (Beatles reference intentional.)

“Light of the Ages” is the first YES song written solely by Jon Davison. It begins with the what-must-by-patented-by-now Steve Howe guitar sound and some marching snare drum fills by White. Another good song adorned with Geoff Downes piano playing and more tricky rhythms. At the 4 minute mark, the tune shifts to an uplifting 3/4 swing. The song is also a slower tempo one that has clearly defined the album as a whole. But it’s a strong 7 & 1/2-minutes. I’d imagine if this was performed live while pushing the tempo a little, it could come across quite well.

The 7th song, “It Was All We Knew” was written by Steve Howe. The tempo has been picked-up to mid-tempo. It’s alright and helps to lighten the feel.

The final and longest song of the album is also its strongest. “Subway Walls” is co-written by keyboardist Geoff Downes and Jon Davison. It’s got lyrics like the word “existential” – so, it’s gotta be considered Prog-rock, right? Strong bass lines and lots of Chris Squire harmonies make this probably the truest-YES-like. There’s a funky li’l bass solo in the exact middle of the song. The instrumental break is an odd time signature that builds adding just the drums, then solos on keys and guitar; somewhat reminiscent of “Safe (Canon Song)” on Chris Squire’s solo album Fish Out of Water. It builds and breaks open into the final climax. The last 4.5 minutes are the finest on the whole record and leaves you wishing it was a couple minutes longer.

It accomplishes its goal leaving the listener with a feeling that this incarnation of YES is good on its own merit.

It’s hard to say who will enjoy this record, but it is recommended that one plays Fly From Here alongside Heaven & Earth to give the listener proper context for this current evolution of YES. Keep an open-mind, let the past-be-the-past, listen a few times, and one will find it is a fine record top-to-bottom.

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Led Zeppelin remasters on vinyl… VINALLY!

 

lz-2014

 

After endless speculation fueled by former guitarist Jimmy Page, Led Zeppelin and Atlantic/Swan Song today announced the first wave in a new reissue campaign from one of the world’s most acclaimed rock bands.

Starting on June 3, with the first three Led Zeppelin albums from 1969-1970 – all self-titled, with Roman numerals appended to each “sequel” – Page has overseen remastered and expanded versions of each of the band’s albums, all featuring a disc’s worth of unreleased vault content, including studio outtakes, alternate mixes, live cuts and a few entirely unheard songs. In a statement, Page called these bonus discs “a portal to the time of the recording of Led Zeppelin.”

Each album will be available in multiple formats:

  • 1CD remaster in gatefold card wallet
  • 2CD Deluxe Edition
  • 1LP remaster on 180-gram vinyl with packaging “that replicates the LP’s first pressing in exacting detail (For example, III will feature the original wheel and die cut holes.)”
  • 2LP Deluxe Edition (3LP for the first album) featuring the same contents of the 2CD Deluxe Editions
  • Super Deluxe Box Sets featuring the Deluxe Edition contents on CD and LP, a 96kHz/24-bit audio download card (the live tracks on the first album will be in 48kHz/24-bit audio), 70+ hardback book with liner notes and photos, a high-quality print of the original album cover (the first 30,000 of each album will be numbered) and, in the Led Zeppelin box, a replica of the band’s original press kit
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Led Zeppelin: Deluxe Edition (Atlantic/Swan Song, 2014)

 

Disc 1: Original album (released as Atlantic 588171 (U.K.)/SD-8216 (U.S.), 1969)

  1. Good Times Bad Times
  2. Babe I’m Gonna Leave You
  3. You Shook Me
  4. Dazed and Confused
  5. Your Time is Gonna Come
  6. Black Mountain Side
  7. Communication Breakdown
  8. I Can’t Quit You Baby
  9. How Many More Times

Disc 2: Live @ The Olympia, Paris – 10/10/1969 (previously unreleased)

  1. Good Times Bad Times/Communication Breakdown
  2. I Can’t Quit You Baby
  3. Heartbreaker
  4. Dazed and Confused
  5. White Summer/Black Mountain Side
  6. You Shook Me
  7. Moby Dick
  8. How Many More Times
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Led Zeppelin II: Deluxe Edition (Atlantic/Swan Song, 2014)

Disc 1: Original album (released as Atlantic 588198 (U.K.)/SD-8236, 1969)

  1. Whole Lotta Love
  2. What Is and What Should Never Be
  3. The Lemon Song
  4. Thank You
  5. Heartbreaker
  6. Living Loving Maid (She’s Just a Woman)
  7. Ramble On
  8. Moby Dick

Disc 2: Companion audio disc (previously unreleased)

  1. Whole Lotta Love (Alternate Mix)
  2. What Is and What Should Never Be (Alternate Mix)
  3. Thank You (Backing Track)
  4. Heartbreaker (Alternate Mix)
  5. Living Loving Maid (She’s Just a Woman) (Backing Track)
  6. Ramble On (Alternate Mix)
  7. Moby Dick (Alternate Mix)
  8. La La (previously unreleased song)
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Led Zeppelin III: Deluxe Edition (Atlantic/Swan Song, 2014)

Disc 1: Original album (released as Atlantic 2401002 (U.K.)/SD-7201 (U.S.), 1970)

  1. Immigrant Song
  2. Friends
  3. Celebration Day
  4. Since I’ve Been Loving You
  5. Out on the Tiles
  6. Gallows Pole
  7. Tangerine
  8. That’s the Way
  9. Bron-Y-Aur Stomp
  10. Hats Off to (Roy) Harper

Disc 2: Companion audio disc (previously unreleased)

  1. Immigrant Song (Outtake)
  2. Friends (Outtake)
  3. Celebration Day (Outtake)
  4. Since I’ve Been Loving You (Outtake)
  5. Bathroom Sound (Instrumental Version of “Out on the Tiles”)
  6. Gallows Pole (Outtake)
  7. That’s the Way (Outtake)
  8. Jennings Farm Blues (Instrumental Version of “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp”)
  9. Keys to the Highway/Trouble in Mind

 

WHO’S EXCITED??
1 LP versions:
   
2 or 3 LP versions:
   

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Hey Vinyl fans! I realize it’s been awhile since I posted…

… but I have been uploading some things to my YouTube channels:

THE DAILY VINYL and
THE DAILY VINYL LIVE!

for instance, I interviewed the drummer for the fabulous The Wood Brothers and we listened to their masterpiece “Atlas” from the recent live double-album. Check out the brief interview and enjoy the song:

 

But I guess most of my activity this year has been on the Live page. I finally completed editing and uploading the super-sexy & talented Kimbra from New Zealand (you may know her from the Grammy Award winning hit “Somebody That I Used to Know” with Gotye.)

Here’s the 1/2-hour I filmed from her Ypsilanti concert at Michigan State University:

 

For the Classic Rock lover (that’s ME!) I also filmed The Who in Nashville. I captured the whole show from the 5th row, but so far I’ve only uploaded the “Quadrophenia” section (over an hour & a half!):

 

Another fun show I caught this year was The Psychedelic Furs and Spacehog:

 

To see the list of all the concerts I’ve ever attended, check out Setlist.fm. I love that site. It’s so cool to track all the shows you’ve been to. If you setup an account and post a link, I will totally be thrilled & check it out!!

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Here’s what I want!

Um… so many cool things out there. I want this:

and this:

and this:

while I’m dreaming… this too:

I do have this one on vinyl but not this box set!

Ok, day dream over. Time for bed.

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Record Store Day 2013, Nashville, Third Man Records, Grimey’s, The Groove

Here’s what I did on Record Store Day, 2013.

I interviewed people standing waiting to get it. Some camped out over night. I caught a few artists performing and even visited the place where the vinyl is pressed into a record!

ENJOY installment #3 of “The Daily Vinyl Presents: Off The Record with The Daily Vinyl”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAJ2c5G8D2w&list=UUdJ5tO6YufXwUr-8O9MIl0Q&index=1

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Ringo at the Ryman

I was honored to get to sit in the production truck while this was being filmed! At least for a couple songs. Saw Ringo sing “Boys” and “Yellow Submarine” from the multi-cam monitor. Totally awesome. And now HERE IT IS!

Are you going to buy this?

Also, in case you didn’t my earlier post, this just happened to be on my & his birthday! Earlier that day, (July 7, 2012). Ringo was at the Hard Rock in downtown Nashville to celebrate his birthday and do his annual “Peace & Love” wish for the world. I filmed the whole event and edited it down to this 4:32 video. It includes a spontaneous rendition of “Give Peace A Chance”. Also, I was holding up a sign that said “It’s My Birthday Too, YEAH!” He pointed to it and read the sign aloud… and wished ME a “Happy Birthday, Brother!”!

YEAH! I got wished a “happy birthday” by a Beatle!!

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Vinyl Hunting: Finding Rare and Imported Releases

Vinyl Hunting: Finding Rare and Imported Releases
by guest blogger Jason Kane

Many audiophiles devote a lot of time to searching for imported releases. It’s a popular pastime, and some rare musical treats will only be found on records from other countries. While there’s a decent market for foreign rock groups and the like, British bands are usually the most familiar to North American music fans. There are numerous American and Canadian groups that received record releases in Europe and Asia. Fans of reggae are certainly going to want to check out the world of Jamaican releases. Some fans even like to see the special releases that came out on French language labels in Quebec.

European Vinyl

Believe it or not, many European albums featuring American and Canadian recording artists will have sleeves in English. Only the record label and some other myriad details will have changed. That being said, that doesn’t mean that these records aren’t worth anything. They can often fetch a good price at auction or in antique stores. Of course, that also means that buyers might have to spend some time shopping around to find the right price.

Once in a while, it’s possible to find a rare track on one of these that might not have had a stateside release. Entire volumes have been written on the differences between Beatles albums in the USA and the UK. There’s an entire period where Britain experienced a revival of the blues not seen in America. Skiffle, which is closely related to the country and western style, might be interesting for some collectors too.

Asian and Australian Record Collecting

While most westerners know JVC for their recording equipment, the company started a revolution in Japan. Japan Victor Company was actually a record label at one point, and interested parties can find many releases that parallel those of their parent American firm, the Victor Talking Machine Company. That being said, the Victor Entertainment brand is more associated with record releases there today. Once again, numerous records from the Far East and Australia may interest collectors. Soundtracks are usually particularly popular, but no one should miss a chance to nab a rare foreign pop album.

Spotting Bootlegs

Unfortunately, it’s so easy to get fooled by a good bootleg recording. No one really wants one of these, though some people feel that they might be collector’s items in their own right. Nevertheless, it’s best to avoid them. Pay attention for any labels that look dull or have rampant misspellings on them. Unofficial record companies seldom invest in good equipment, and they often employ people who aren’t native English speakers.

About the author:
Jason Kane writes about vinyl albums and audio equipment. In his spare time Jason likes going to car shows and listening to his Beatles vinyl collection.

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Ringo Starr 72nd birthday, Nashville TN 07-07-12, Give Peace a Chance, Peace and Love

July 7, 2012. Ringo Starr was in Nashville to celebrate his birthday and do his annual “Peace & Love” wish for the world. I filmed the whole event and edited it down to this 4:32 video. ENJOY!

It includes a spontaneous rendition of “Give Peace A Chance”. Also, I was holding up a sign that said “It’s My Birthday Too, YEAH!” and he read the sign and wished ME a “Happy Birthday, Brother!”

And it’s all on video!!!!

Update: He performed at the legendary Ryman Auditorium later that day. That show is being released on DVD

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Who doesn’t like Free music

On the Amazon site, you can download FREE Mp3s. (I know, I know, not as cool as Vinyl… I’m with ya. But FREE is pretty darn cool too!)

Free Rock MP3 and Top 100

This list is filtered in the “rock” category, but — obviously — feel free to peruse around.

Oh, and if you happen to buy anything on Amazon through this link, one day I might get enough to download one of those sweet 89 cent MP3s. (still waiting for that glorious day! Glad I’m not holding my breath.)

Free MP3s and the current Top 100 ROCK downloads

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Flight of the Conchords shirt

I love this….


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Acoustica programs rule

I get asked a lot about the programs I use. For my video editing, I use Adobe Premiere. (I’ve used Elements for the past 2 years, but I just picked up CS3 and have been using that for the LIVE videos I’m about to launch.)

But for the past 10 years, I have LOVED using Acoustica programs for audio editing. I really encourage you to check these out. (And if you use these links, they’ll send me a finders fee, which is nice. Every buck I get is goin’ straight to my local record shop!)

Spin It Again:

The software is dedicated to the task of recording LPs and cassettes. It digitally cleans and restores them. This allows the user to focus on the job of recording their records and tapes, instead of learning how to use a complex recording application. I haven’t used it too much, but it seems really cool.

Now, Mixcraft is a GREAT program. I use this all the time for editing and recording audio:
Yer gonna want Mixcraft 5

I think this link goes to a trial version
Download

——

Need a great labeling program? I use this one for all my CDs:
Buy Acoustica CD/DVD Label Maker

and here’s the trial version link:
Download

——

Here’s another program I use weekly. This is a GREAT audio file converter:
Buy Audio Converter Pro

Trial version:
Download

Well, hope their stuff helps you as much as they’ve helped me! Let me know if you download it and what you think about them.

The Dude
~ June 2011

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eMusic-ing again

So I just signed-up for eMusic again. (This is my 4th time).

Of course, I love vinyl (and you probably do too), but at my core… I am a music fan. I am afflicted with the curse of being a completist. So, sometimes you gotta find the best deal to get music (as well as support the artist).

eMusic has come a long way since i first signed up. But its how I acquired my Bjork and Aimee Mann collections. It’s also been instrumental in finding some of those rare/random songs by my favorite artists on soundtracks.

They’ve changed the billing structure to have a $ value associated with an album or a song. But they’ve got a pretty sweet deal. $5 for trying it out. Find some songs or an album, and the cancel if you want. I’m going to keep mine going and keep filling in the gaps of my collection.


Get a $5 Music Credit with Your 7 Day FREE Trial

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The ABCs of Rock

I have seen a preview of this book… and it is FREAKIN’ AWESOME!!!! It was created by a wonderful person and a very dear friend of mine that sadly — and unfarily — left this earth before she could see the final product. Melissa and I spent many afternoons talking about what bands and artists could be featured in an ABC book. LOL! What a great concept!!! I’m amazed it all came together.

Trying to think of what to give that rock’n’roller for Christmas? Here ya go!!!!

You’re welcome!

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