Think you’ve heard it all from the world’s most revolutionary axeman? You’re not totally experienced yet. On March 5, a previously-unreleased collection of Jimi Hendrix songs will finally see the light more than 40 years after they were initially put to tape. The album, People, Hell and Angels, will contain songs originally intended for First Rays of the New Rising Sun, the unfinished double album that Hendrix was working on just before his death in 1970. Supposedly, the lost tracks will feature Hendrix dabbling in horns, percussion, and keyboards, expanding his already adventurous style into new sonic territory. In the meantime, fans can check out limited-time screenings of the guitarist’s legendary set at Woodstock in celebration of the 70th anniversary of his birth.
More like this:
This summer OurStage, Guitar Player magazine, and Ernie Ball teamed up to offer aspiring guitarists a chance to win the ultimate Grand Prize with the Guitar Player “Take The Lead” Competition. The judges are deliberating on a winner as we speak! The winner be featured in an upcoming edition of Guitar Player. While you wait for the big news, here’s some exclusive editorial content fresh from guitarplayer.com”enjoy.
“When I was a little kid, I was just consumed by the fact that Tommy Bolin was all over the map,” says producer Greg Hampton, who recently partnered with Warren Haynes to release the labor of love, Tommy Bolin and Friends: Great Gypsy Soul [Samson/429 Records]. “He was incredibly diverse musically, and that’s what attracted me to him. He became a huge influence on me.”
Published by Michael Molenda, Guitar Player magazine
Within the upper echelon of heartland rock, at this late date, it all boils down to a crucial question: Springsteen or Petty? The third member of the Holy Trinity, Bob Seger, more or less took himself out of the game over the last couple of decades, while John Mellencamp‘s never really been much more than a dim reflection of the others to begin with, so at this juncture”with all the aforementioned Americana rockers having reached sexagenarian status”it’s basically about Bruce and Tom.
Even the members of roots-rock royalty are only ever as good as their bands, be they E Street, Silver Bullet, or Heartbreakers, and there’s no better measure of a great band’s prowess than the mark they make in concert. So the ultimate proving ground in the recording realm becomes not the studio album but the live anthology. But we’re not talking about your standard-issue live album here”both Petty and Springsteen have released those. No, a grand-scale summary of the concert repertoire is what’s really required to take the artistic temperature of an act in this arena (pun only partially intended).
In this context, one might suggest that Springsteen made a crucial mistake by playing his hand too soon, releasing the three-disc box set Live/1975-85 in 1986, even though he couldn’t have known how many subsequent years of concert triumphs he’d be excluding from the collection. But to call a spade a spade, Bruce’s biggest blunder in our little imaginary competition was in valuing strength over subtlety. They don’t call him The Boss for nothing”Springsteen’s sound has always been about larger-than-life statements delivered with an almost Wagnerian grandeur. As he’s the master of the mode, it’s often thrilling, but it also precludes the possibilities inherent in a lower-key lean, especially live, and that’s where The Heartbreakers come into the picture.
Where the inspirations for the E Street approach come from Phil Spector‘s Wall of Sound productions and Roy Orbison‘s pathos-ridden rock operettas, the comparatively laconic Petty and his Gainesville gang were modeled more after the supple, sinuous feel of the famed Southern soul sessionmen of Muscle Shoals, AL, the minimalist R&B grooves of Booker T. & The M.G.’s, and the laid-back country funk of J.J. Cale. Those are the roots The Heartbreakers bring to bear while breathing life into Petty’s tunes, but while there’s nary an ounce of flash or bombast to be found anywhere near a Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers concert, there’s no shortage of soulful fire and pure rock & roll energy either. With characteristic caginess, Tom waited another quarter-century after Bruce to bring out his big live box set, simply dubbed The Live Anthology, released at the tail end of 2009. In its deluxe version, it took five CDs, two DVDs, a Blu-Ray disc, and a wealth of graphic-oriented extras to tell its tale of a band with three decades-plus of tasteful-but-torrid road-rocking behind them.
The holiday season is supposed to appeal to all of our finer instincts as sentient earthlings ”at least that’s the idea that’s been inculcated in us practically since birth. So why is its annual arrival commonly greeted with the kind of dull-eyed existential dread otherwise reserved for tax audits, traffic court and other such frivolities? Maybe it’s because of the stress that comes along with finding just the right gifts for all the loved ones on our lists. After all, some folks are a snap”another Xbox game, Scotch bottle or sweater, and they’re set”but everyone’s holiday shopping list always contains at least one or two of the type we’ll term “The Difficult Ones.” Their tastes are micro-specific, and they usually seem to want nothing, already have everything or both. With that in mind, in the interest of sucking some of the stress out of the season, here are a few humble holiday gift suggestions for “The Difficult Ones” in your own life, conveniently organized by personality type.
The Classic Rockers
Jimi Hendrix – Winterland
Do you have a dude in your life”and in this context, “dude” couldn’t be a more appropriate designation”whose idea of extreme sports is playing air guitar to Bachman-Turner Overdrive while pedaling his exercise bike? Someone whose TV remote has somehow been programmed to never depart from the VH1 Classic channel? He may already have every classic-rock reissue, remaster and repackaging you could conceive of, but he hasn’t gotten around to this one yet”five live discs featuring Jimi Hendrix in his prime at the legendary Winterland Ballroom. Iit’ll send any card-carrying Classic Rocker into a state of six-string ecstasy.
It was thirty years ago that Moving Pictures bumped Rush up from successful journeymen with a respectable following to full-fledged rock stars. While its predecessor (Permanent Waves) was the Canadian power trio’s first commercial breakthrough in the US, Moving Pictures was the album that found Rush moving from the prog-rock extravaganzas of the past to a more concise approach, and reaching out in new directions” incorporating everything from New Wave to reggae in their stylistic mix. Since then, the alienation anthem Limelight and the video-game synthesizer riffs and octopus-on-speed drum fills of Tom Sawyer have soundtracked the teen travails of a few different generations, with countless air guitars raised aloft in tribute to the staying power of this crowning moment in Rush’s career.
Earlier this year, Geddy Lee, Neil Peart and Alex Lifeson decided to throw Moving Pictures a moving birthday party, taking the album in its entirety to stages all over the world, and Time Machine 2011: Live in Cleveland documents the occasion on both CD and DVD. Examining the motivations behind this kind of full-album tour, singer/bass player Lee says, I think it’s born out of two things: you’ve got an older fanbase that love those particular albums, and love the idea of hearing them in their entirety, and there is a younger fanbase¦they’ve been handed down those songs without ever having the experience of seeing them played live. So when a band like ourselves plays something like that in its entirety it draws from both those areas.
Remember all those bands you used to hear play at college? The ones people always said would make it someday? Sure, most didn’t hit it big, but here’s one that did. The members of Eli Young Band met at the University of North Texas in Denton, where all of them were students. After building a strong local fan base, they began to tour regionally and haven’t slowed down since. “Crazy Girl,” the first single from their new album Life At Best has been climbing the Billboard and iTunes Country Singles charts, and the band has performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Despite the group’s busy schedule, drummer Chris Thompson sat down with us to talk about the band members’ diverse influences, their favorite cover tunes and the one venue in Denton that’s been a permanent fixture in the band’s history.
OS: Your style incorporates a few different rock genres; some tracks on the new album have a ˜70s rock feel, and some even sound a bit like grunge. Who are your biggest rock influences?
CT: We were in high school during grunge time and we were playing in bands then, so of course Pearl Jam and those kinds of groups. And then all that classic rock stuff, too. Bands like Aerosmith, and Kiss and Lynyrd Skynyrd. That’s all in there. [laughs]
OS: It’s cool how those different styles emerge at certain points in your songs.
CT: Well, when we started the band we all came from pretty different musical backgrounds. The rock stuff was one common denominator, but Mike especially was was more into country and didn’t know that much about rock. James was a little more into country too. When we started playing together, we would play each other our music and expose each other to different things, and that’s really how we started making our sound.
OS: How would you describe the difference between the Denton, Texas college scene where the band began, and the Nashville music scene where you’ve written and recorded for several years?
CT: That’s a good question. Obviously with college everything is a lot more word of mouth and underground. College is a time for exploration and trying to understand and find new things. I think people go through that with music in college too. They try to seek out new types of music and they’re a little more open to new sounds. The college audience member typically wants to have a good time [laughs] and wants to get something new, whereas on the Nashville scene it seems like people get comfortable with what they’re familiar with. They like hearing things that remind them of other things. It’s a little less explorative.
It seems there’s a worrying trend these days wherein more and more veteran rockers seem to be turning to bluegrass. We’re using the term turning to bluegrass here in the interest of fairness, since the more popular going bluegrass bears too much pejorative potential, what with its evocations of going ballistic, going rogue or even going postal. At least for the moment, we’re trying our hardest to keep an open mind about this phenomenon, so bear with us on this.
The rock-to-bluegrass move isn’t a new idea”in terms of high-profile artists, you can trace it back at least as far as David Lee I’ll try anything once Roth, who may have had mandolin-shaped dollar signs dancing before his eyes ever since the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack made the mainstream start paying attention. Diamond Dave sang on a back-porch version of Jump for the Van Halen bluegrass tribute album Strummin’ With the Devil back in 2006. With the ice thus broken, others began following in Diamond Dave’s footsteps, even though it’s unlikely they were emboldened by the aforementioned VH reinvention itself. The following year, not only did patron saint of punk and last surviving (original) Ramones member Tommy Erdelyi unleash the self-titled debut album of his bluegrass duo Uncle Monk, the original shirtless wonder of stadium rock, Robert Plant himself, delivered Raising Sand in collaboration with Alison Krauss. Of course, in Plant’s case, the aesthetic and commercial rewards for this venture turned out to be enormous, and that probably proved to be the real turning point for this whole thing.
Suddenly, it seems as though we’re inundated with warhorses from the rocking side of the fence willing to dip a toe” if not an entire foot”into the Appalachian stream ofbluegrass music. To wit: some guy named Paul McCartney takes a vocal turn on Steve Martin‘s new bluegrass outing (bluegrass-bound actors are a topic for a whole other column) Rare Bird Alert, singing on the Martin-penned Best Love. Guitar man Brian Setzer‘s latest release, Setzer Goes Instru-MENTAL!, finds the former Stray Cat picking up a storm on the old Earl Scruggs tune Earl’s Breakdown. Elvis Costello‘s recent acoustic, country-tinged National Ransom was cut in Nashville with a raft of hotshot bluegrass cats. Even the ultimate urbanite, Paul Simon, has collaborated with one of the biggest acts in contemporary bluegrass, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, on the former’s upcoming So Beautiful Or So What.
Okay, so most of these are relatively minor dalliances in the high-lonesome hinterlands”guest-spots, one-offs and the like. Perhaps in and of themselves, each one of these examples shouldn’t be enough to inspire concern in those who feel that rock/bluegrass mergers may not be the best thing for artists on either side of the fence in the long run. Like we said at the outset, we’re still attempting to keep an open mind, despite any initial misgivings. But then along comes the clincher, the one that makes all these other examples seem less like isolated incidents and more like a snowball slowly gathering steam as it rolls down a white, wintry hill.
It turns out that Tommy Shaw, longtime frontman for classic-rock kingpins Styx, has just released a full-on, Nashville-recorded bluegrass album, Great Divide, featuring contributions from Alison Krauss as well as legendary pickers Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas and others. Now, even allowing for the relatively generous assumption that you accept such Shaw-penned Styx hits as Renegade, Blue Collar Man and Too Much Time On My Hands as the arena-rock classics they are, does that mean you have any good reason to approach this project with great expectations? Again, we’re just posing the question here, not handing down any overt judgments about the bluegrass potential of Ted Nugent‘s former Damn Yankees bandmate. We’ll simply say that the most convincing bit of mountain music we’ve heard thus far from Shaw has been a ˜grassed-up take on Renegade, which does not appear on the all-original Great Divide. Regardless, Shaw’s going whole-hog on this thing”hell, the guy’s playing the freakin’ Opry in a couple of days! One can only wonder which of Shaw’s fellow stadium-rockers will be the next one up on the hay bale. Say¦has anybody been keeping an eye on Steve Perry lately?!
Is it possible for an indie rock band to outsell major label pop stars? If you’re Canadian rockers Floor Thirteen ”who outsold Miley Cyrus, Coldplay and Kid Rock in their hometown of Winnipeg when they released their debut album, Mmmm!, in June of 2008” the answer is “Hell, yes.”
With the aid of Grammy-nominated producer Brandon Friesen, Mmmm! spawned the hit “Blame It On Me,” which has since been featured in the video games Need for Speed:Undercover and The Sims 3 and on The Strombo Show. These opportunities has exposed “Blame It On Me” to millions of people in over 30 countries.
Mixing the sounds of Jet and Led Zeppelin, Floor Thirteen include both retro and contemporary influences in their music. There is certainly a classic rock feel to “Blame It On Me,” but the gang vocal-heavy anthem “Shut ‘Em Out” sounds more like an Aerosmith B-side from the ’80s. This versatility works to the band’s advantage, as their album contains something for rock fans of several genres.
In addition to having impressive placement deals, Floor Thirteen has also proven their ability as a live band, opening for the likes of Our Lady Peace, Buckcherry and 3 Doors Down. They’ve also played at MUSEXPO Europe in London and have been a featured artist on the internationally syndicated radio show Passport Approved.
As you eagerly anticipate the next installment from Floor Thirteen, check out their music in the player below!