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Archive for the ‘Neil Peart’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: NEIL PEART-September 12, 1952-January 7, 2020.

When I was in high school, Rush was my favorite band, hands down.  I listened to them all the time.  I made tapes of all of their songs in alphabetical order and would listen to them straight through.

I still loved them in college, but a little less so as my tastes broadened.  But every new release was something special.

It’s frankly astonishing that I didn’t seem them live until 1990.  There were shows somewhat nearby when I was in college, but I never wanted to travel too far on a school night (nerd!).

For a band I loved so much, it’s also odd that I’ve only seen them live 5 times.  However, their live shows are pretty consistent.  They play the same set every night of a tour (as I found out when I saw them two nights apart), and there wasn’t much that set each show apart–although They did start making their shows more and more fun as the years went on, though).

One constant was always Neil Peart’s drum solo. It too was similar every night.  Although I suspect that there was a lot more going on than I was a ware of.  It was also easy to forget just how incredible these solos were.  Sure it was fun when he started adding synth pads and playing music instead of just drums, but even before that his drumming was, of course, amazing.

It was easy to lose sight of that because I had always taken it for granted.

I am happy to have seen Rush on their final tour.  I am sad to hear of Neil’s passing.  I would have been devastated had it happened twenty years ago, but now I am more devastated for his family.

So here’s two (of dozens) memorials.  The first one is from the CBC.  They included a mashup of some of Neil’s best drum solos:

But what better way to remember the drum master than with a supercut of his drum solos? From a 2004 performance of “Der Trommler” in Frankfurt, Germany, to a 2011 performance on The Late Show With David Letterman, to his first-ever recorded drum solo (in 1974 in Cleveland, Ohio), dive into nearly five minutes of Peart’s epic drum solos, below.

The best Neil Peart drum solos of all time.

I was only going to include this link, because it was a good summary, then I saw that Pitchfork ranked five of Neil’s best drum solos (an impossible task, really).  But it is nice to have them all in one place.

You can find that link here.

Starting in the 1980s Neil’s solos were given a name (which shows that they were pretty much the same every night).  Although as I understand it, the framework was the same but the actual hits were improvised each night.

Even after all of these years and hearing these drum solos hundreds of times, watching them still blows my mind.

  • “The Rhythm Method”
  • “O Baterista”
  • “Der Trommler”
  • “De Slagwerker,”
  • “Moto Perpetuo”
  • “Here It Is!”, “Drumbastica,” “The Percussor – (I) Binary Love Theme / (II) Steambanger’s Ball”

[READ: January 2020] Canada 1867-2017

In this book, Paul Taillefer looks at the most historically significant event from each tear of Canadian history.  And he tries to convey that event in about a page.  Can you imagine learning the history of your country and trying to condense every year into three paragraphs?

And then do it again in French?  For this book is also bilingual.

I can’t read French, but i can tell that the French is not a direct translation of the English (or vice versa).

For instance in 1869, the final sentence is:

This, in turn, signaled the start of the Red River Rebellion which would not end until the Battle of Batoche in 1885.

Neither Batoche nor 1885 appears in the entire French write up.  So that’s interesting, I suppose.  I wonder if the content is very different for French-reading audiences. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: DANKO JONES-Garage Rock! A Collection of Lost Songs From 1996-1998 (2014).

Danko Jones has released nine albums an a bunch of EPs.  Back in 2014 he released this collection of songs that he wrote and recorded before his first proper single (1998).

This is a collection of raw songs, but the essential elements of Danko are in place. Mostly fast guitars, simple, catchy riffs and Danko’s gruff voice, filled with braggadocio.  With a cover by Peter Bagge!

He describes it:

Back in the 90’s,the Garage Rock scene, as I knew it, was a warts-and-all approach that favoured low-fi recordings and rudimentary playing over any modicum of musical prowess in order to glean some Rock N’ Roll essence. However, once a band got better at their instruments, songwriting and stage performance, the inevitable crossroads would eventually appear. Deliberately continuing to play against their growing skill would only evolve into a pose. There were a lot of bands who did exactly this in order to sustain scenester favour. We did the opposite.

What you hold in your hands is a document of what we were and where we came from. We didn’t know how to write songs and could barely play but we wanted to be near to the music we loved so badly. We ate, slept and drank this music. We still do. That’s why we have never had to reunite because we’ve never broken up. After 18 years, we’ve stayed the course, got tough when the going did and, above all else, we have never stopped. This album is the proof.

The first two songs are the best quality, with the rest slowly deteriorating with more tape hiss.

1. “Who Got It?” a big fat bass sound with lots of mentioning of Danko Jones in the lyrics. [2 minutes]
2. “Make You Mine” is 90 seconds long.  With big loud chords and rumbling bass Danko says “one day I’m going to write a book and let everybody know how to do it.  Seems to me there a lot of people around who want to see if I can prove it.  I been a rock prodigy since the age of 20 and my proof… my proof is right now.”
3. “I’m Your Man” is a bit longer.  The quality isn’t as good but the raw bass sound is great.
4. “She’s Got A Bomb” is good early Danko strutting music.
5. “Rock And Roll Is Black And Blue.”  He would name an album this many years later.  This song is fast and raw and only 90 seconds long.
6. “Dirty Mind Too” This is a fast stomping one-two-three song that rocks for less than a minute.
7. I’m Drinking Alcohol? This is funny because later he says he doesn’t drink.  I don’t know what the words are but the music is great–rumbling bass and feedbacky guitars with lots of screaming.
8. “Love Travel Demo” and 9. “Bounce Demo” are decent demo recordings.  “Bounce” has what might be his first guitar solo.
10. Sexual Interlude” “ladies it’s time to take a chance on a real man.  I’m sick and tired of seeing you women selling yourselves short, going out with a lesser man.
11. “I Stand Accused” Unexpectedly he stands accused of “loving you to much.  If that’s a crime, then I’m guilty.”
12. “Best Good Looking Girl In Town” a fast chugging riff, “oh mama you sure look fine.”
13. “Payback” This one sounds really rough but it totally rocks.
14. “Lowdown” Danko gives the lowdown: “You want a bit of romance?  I got you an bouquet of Flowers and a box of chocolates.  Why you crying for?  That ain’t enough?  Me and the fellas wrote this song just for you.”
15. “One Night Stand” garage swinging sound: Danko is a one woman man and you’re just his type.
16. “Instrumental” is great.
17. “Move On” is a long, slow long bluesy track about love.

It’s not a great introduction to Danko, but if you like him, you won;t be disappointed by this early baby-Danko period.

[READ: August 10, 2019] I’ve Got Something to Say

In the introduction (after the foreword by Duff McKagan), Jones introduces himself not as a writer but as a hack.  He also acknowledges that having something to say doesn’t mean much.  He has too many opinions on music and needed to get them out or his insides would explode.  He acknowledges that obsessing over the minutiae of bands is a waste of time, “but goddammit, it’s a ton of fun.”

So this collection collects some of Danko’s writing over the last dozen or so years. He’s written for many publications, some regularly.  Most of these pieces are a couple of pages.  And pretty much all of them will have you laughing (if you enjoy opinionated music writers).

“Vibing for Thin Lizzy” [Rock Hard magazine, March 2015]
Danko says he was lured into rock music by the theatrics of KISS, Crue and WASP.  But then he really got into the music while his friends seemed to move on.  Thin Lizzy bridged the gap by providing substance without losing its sheen or bite.  And Phil Lynott was a mixed race bassist and singer who didn’t look like the quintessential rock star.  What more could Danko ask for? (more…)

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[ATTENDED: June 25, 2015] Rush

2015-06-25 21.28.51I was a huge Rush fan back in the day.  In fact, to last night’s show Sarah wore my Rush shirt that I bought in, oh, 1983 or so.  Despite my huge love of Rush I actually hadn’t seen them many times live. I missed several opportunities in college (stupid work ethic) but finally got to see them on the Presto tour.  Whether it was April 20 or April 25, it was definitely 1990 and most likely at the Brendan Byrne Arena (R.I.P.).

I feel like I may have seen them on one more tour before seeing them again (possibly three times, I have 3 stubs) in 2002.  The problem with seeing them a lot in one tour is that they tend to keep the set list the same in every show (there’s some variation below).  And I remember thinking i didn’t need to see them again after that.

Of course, after seeing them last night and today listening to the Clockwork Angels tour CD I am really kicking myself for not going to that tour because there is some really interesting stuff (and a string section) which would have been pretty cool to see.  But that’s okay because the show last night was so good that it satisfied all my Rush needs–a great send off (presumably) to a great band.

Sarah had never seen Rush before (and in fact once actively disliked them, and may still).  But she was won over by the show.

I haven’t been to a big arena show (except for Kiss) in a long time, so I kind of forgot what we’d be getting.  And wow did we get a lot–flash pots, fire, lasers, explosions, video screen (even a possible marriage proposal in front of us).  And, at any Rush show… lots of air drumming (including from myself).

I had been deliberately avoiding any spoilers from the set list.  I didn’t want to have any expectations.  And I have to say, if I had made an ideal set lit, (which I thought about doing), they would have hit quite a number of them.  (Thanks Rush fans for not spoiling things for me).  And thus, below is a whole bunch of spoilers [consider yourself warned].  But one spoiler you must read–do not leave during the encore, there’s more to the show when the music is done. (more…)

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bidiniSOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Bathurst Street Theatre, Toronto, ON (April 4 & 5 1997).

215px-Bathurst_St_Theatre The Rheos played two nights at the Bathurst Theatre and as I was looking at the setlists I was really impressed that in the two nights the band played 44 songs.  Of those 44 only 9 were played both nights.  So they played 26 different songs between the two nights.  That’s cool especially compared to some bands, like Rush, who play literally the same set list every night.  Of course it’s possibly more fair for a fan who can only go to one show, but for fans who will go to both, what a treat.  The first night was a bit more “hit” heavy with “Claire” and “Horses” and “All the Same Eyes.”  Whereas the second night had some other great songs like “Christopher” and “Soul Glue” and a great version of “Shaved Head.”

I have already written about these shows, but in going over them I found that I was very harsh about the April 4th show.  Unfairly so.  I complained about the quality of the sound (which is actually not that bad).  And I complained about the lack of violin in King of the Past which, come on Paul, lighten up, how are they going to play that?  I also accused Dave of being early on the  “King of the Past” first chorus, but it was actually Martin.  Oh well.

In the April 4th show they tell the audience that they are recording a live album  And they engage with a guy in the front row who I wearing a Mr Bean shirt and tell him to take it off.  They say he has an “umber 31” shirt under it I think—no idea what that is.

This is the first mention I’ve heard of Harmelodia, the kids album.  And “Easy to Be with You”‘s lyrics are not settled yet—with California being in place of Harmelodia.  “Dope Fiends” has a drum solo but sadly it is cut off.

I mentioned in the original post that the April 5 show has a lot of tracks that made it to Double Live.  Like “Good Canadian,” the improv piece—man the band was big into smoking, eh?  They also mention the demise of the CBC Radio show Nightlines (which they’d record an album for soon).

They play “Public Square” from their debut album, which sadly gets cut off.  And a fun acoustic version of “Legal Age Life.”

The band is having fun and are so nice–they seem genuinely pleased that people came from a long way to hear them.

Between the two nights, 11 songs made it onto Double Live (there are 29 on the album in total).  They sound pretty different here (mixing and all) so it’s worth checking these out too.

[READ: February 24, 2014] For Those About to Rock

In addition to his hockey books, Dave Bidini has written a number of books about being in a band.  On a Cold Road was his memoir of touring with the Rheostatics and The Tragically Hip.  Since he likes to write and since he’s a musician, it seemed to make sense to have him write a guide for beginning rockers.  This book explicitly states in the first few pages that if you are as old as Bidini, the book is not for you.  I am not quite that old, but I got the point.  But what’s more rock n roll than not listening to the man?  So I pressed on.

The book contains some real-world practical experiences for those who may be just starting out in a band.  He says there was no book like this when he was a kid, so he hopes it’s useful.  And the book ranges roughly between being a fun guide to rocking out and being a cautionary tale about how tedious and unfun being in a band can be (and how many people may try to take advantage of you).  This book is also very specific about being in a touring Canadian band.  He talks about slogging it through cold winters across the Trans Canada Highway, something that young bands from Florida certainly don’t have to deal with.  But his specifics really help to shape the overall completeness of the book, so take his examples and make them your own.

So I play guitar, have never been in a band and while I always thought it would be fun to rock with others, never had any real desire to “tour.”  Is this book still for me?  Why yes, it is.  Because Bidini has been playing music since the early 80s and he has some wonderful stories. (more…)

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resetSOUNDTRACK: RUSH “Garden Road” and “Fancy Dancer” (from Fifth Order of the Angels) (1974).

I mentioned this bootleg a few years ago, but it has recently been updated to include the missing songs.  (Huzzah!).

So this set from 1974 is pretty great–rocking, noisy, screaming solos–a very heavy show (and the crowd is quite appreciative).

These two songs never made it on any Rush albums.  They were written before Neil joined the band and, when asked, he said they never made it on an album because they were written before he joined the band (bitchy!).  But evidently the songs were quite popular when they toured.

“Fancy Dancer” opens with a staccato riff and lyrics about a woman who leaves him.  The second verse allows Alex to noodle while Geddy is singing (which is why I never really notice the lyrics).  The chorus has some big chords and reminds me in some ways of “Making Memories.”  But mostly this seems like a chance for Alex to solo and solo and solo (and for Neil to play…only a bass drum!  (for a few measures)).  The song is 3:43 and the solo is over a minute and a half.  Although the end has some cool fast short chords that the band would use very effectively on 2112.

“Garden Road” has a faster riff (very bluesy), which is interspersed with some chugga chugga guitars during the vocals.  The chorus is completely unintelligible to me.  “This Garden Road is Whoa!.”

A few other things about this bootleg which I neglected to mention.  The solo in Working Man incorporates some sections of what would become “By-Tor and the Snow Dog.”  And it’s really funny hearing Geddy say, “We’d like to do something from our album.”  It’s pretty amazing how far the band progressed from these rocking beginnings.

Download the whole thing here.

[READ: July 5, 2013] Reset

I recognized Bagge’s name, although I haven’t read his previous books.  I’m sure I’ve seen his work anthologized as his style is very familiar.  His drawings are dark (some might say ugly) and his characters always seem a little pained.

So it’s unsurprising that this book’s protagonist is Guy Krause, a former actor.  (His famous line is hilarious and I love that it is revealed very late in the story and then as a running joke).  He has recently come close to hitting bottom–his upcoming shows have been cancelled and his last resort is a reality show.  And when we first meet him, he is in a drunk driving class.

And that’s where Angela Minor comes in.  She offers Guy a chance to relive his life.  He’s obviously skeptical until she explains that it is a virtual experience.  They hook him up to a machine and he gets to try to change the virtual past.  This is all an experiment in seeing how people react to being able to change things that they fixate on.  It turns out the scientists have all kinds of information on him (because he is a celebrity) so it’s not a coincidence that they found him.

Guy balks.  Until she tells him how much they’ll pay him to do it.  Then he’s in. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RUSH-“Headlong Flight” (2012).

A new single from Rush came out on Thursday.  And it’s seven minutes long!  Yeeha!  It’s also really heavy.

It opens with a cool bass riff and then thundering guitars.  This song continues in the heavier, grungier sound from Vapor Trails.  The middle section sounds distinctly Rush (late 80s style), and Geddy’s voice hits some pretty high notes.

There’s a brief extra section with a spoken word part–I’ve not been able to make out what it says, but the instruments (especially the great guitar sound) is fantastic behind it.  That’s followed by a great solo from Alex (that hearkens back to his wild solos from the 70s).  Geddy throws some cool bass fills–although he’s not showing off as much as he might).  And, of course, Neil is doing some cool drum things through the song–little fills and whatnot–and he sounds like he’s pounding the hell out of the drums.

Here’s the video

[READ: April 14, 2012] Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk

As I mentioned yesterday, I bought a book to have David Sedaris sign it, but decided the wait wasn’t worth it.  This is the book I bought.  It very excitedly claims to “with one new story” which I thought was funny both in itself and also because I hadn’t read any of the other ones (I gather they are from This American Life, although they’re mostly too vulgar to have read on the radio).  It also has illustrations from Ian Falconer, who is the guy behind Olivia, the children’s book series.

Anyone who has read David Sedaris essays knows what to expect–funny, presumably exaggerated stories about his family and loved ones.  Indeed, the stories that he read from during the show were just that–dark and funny and about his loved ones.  So imagine my surprise to find that these were all short fictional stories about animals!  No Sedaris’ are harmed in this book.

All of the animals are behaving like people, so Sedaris’ caustic wit and attacks on hypocrisy are all in play.  However, because they are animals, Sedaris can go much much further with them.  Matt Groening said that he could get away with a lot more social criticism because The Simpsons were cartoons; the same applies here.  Indeed, these are some of the darkest stories that I have ever read from Sedaris.

Some of them are kinda funny, but most of them left me mildly bemused at best.  Because while they seem to be a kind of laugh-at-the-recognition-of-our-foolish-behavior (as done by animals), really they are preachy and seem generally disappointed in us.   And who wants to read that?  It basically seemed like an opportunity for Sedaris to make fun of things that he doesn’t like about people.  But he knew it would be obnoxious to makes stories about people acting that way, so he made them animals instead.  And perhaps he thought that would make it funnier.  At times this was true, but not very often. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKRUSH-“La Villa Strangiato” (from Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage) (2010).

In the bonus features of the DVD for Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage, we see (in addition to some awesome live footage of Rush in 1974 with original drummer John Rutsey) a fantastic live clip of Rush playing “La Villa Strangiato,” one of the best instrumentals around.

The camera angle focuses mainly on Alex Lifeson.  And man does he rock!

It’s common knowledge, even among Rush haters, that Geddy Lee and Neil Peart are (or at least were) always at the top of the list of “Best” bassist and drummer respectively.  And yup, they are pretty amazing.  But this has always left Alex in the shadows.

Admittedly, there are thousands of great, amazing, ear melting guitarists.  And, typically, the bassist and drummer are kind of dull, so it makes sense that Alex’s playing is in the shadows of the other two.  But I fear that he is often labelled as just not very good.

This video should totally prove that suggestion incorrect.  He plays quickly and with amazing accuracy, in a multitude of styles.

And speaking of the movie, I always wondered if their families minded that Alex and Geddy changed their names for the band (it’s never addressed in the film). It seems like a weird thing to have done circa 1974 in Canada, although Kiss did the same thing at the time in New York (removing the Jewishness of their names).  I just love the name Živojinović, and it’s a shame it’s not better known.  (Huh, although Wikipedia tells me that Lifeson is a sort of literal translation of Živojinović.  Who knew?)

[READ: July 29, 2010] “Grokking Rush”

Since Rush has been everywhere lately, I figured I’d mention this recent article in The Believer.  There’s nothing terribly new in the article.  In fact, it seems like something of an introduction to the uninitiated, giving a basic history of the band and their lyrical themes.

The only thing I didn’t know, which is teased out in the subtitle, was that so many academic papers have been written about the band. Dissertation titles include “Permanent Changes: Rush, Musicians’ Rock, and the Progressive Post-Counter-Culture” and “Grand Designs: A Musical, Social and Ethnographic Study of Rush.”  They have also been written about in The Journal of American and Comparative Cultures and Popular Music and Society.  And, they are the only band ever to be cited in the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. (more…)

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