Old Blog Entries

Better Together

with all the rumors of Arnel Pineda running rampant on the ‘net, i guess we can now definitively say goodbye to the Steve Augeri-era of Journey. I actually like the two Journey albums released with Augeri on lead vocals. but with the lackluster sales figures for both albums, it was obvious Journey had to change their game plan. but hiring a singer from a cover band? i don’t see how that’s going to help their record sales any.

I personally would have went with Todd Rundgren. I heard he’s a lead singer for hire nowadays. sure he doesn’t sound anything like Steve Perrybut hell, he doesn’t sound like Ric Ocasek either and Elliot Easton and Greg Hawkes of the Cars hired him anyway!

sorry, i got off track here. i guess i’ll do just about anything to post aboutTodd Rundgren on this blog. heh. anyway, for your listening pleasure, here’s one of my favorite Steve Augeri/Journey songs titled Better Together. It’s off their 2005 albumGenerations .

Journey’s new lead singer

Journey and their management have been unusually quiet after sacking Steve Augeri’s successor, Jeff Scott Soto back in June 2007. fans have been in an uproar for the way Journey handled the firing of Soto. many felt that Soto added a great new element to the Journey sound but apparently Neal Schon didn’t feel the same.

well, now it’s early November and there’s word of a new vocalist from http://www.livejasmin.cc for the band. his name: Arnel Pineda. Pineda is a singer of a COVER band called the Zoo. and get this, it has been reported that Schon “discovered” Pineda through,you guessed it, youtube! I’m sure it’d be an opportunity of a lifetime for any vocalist to front a band like Journey but i don’t think anyone in their right mind would be willing to expose themselves to the backlash that’s going to spew from longtime fans once this becomes official.

Journey is currently scheduled to play in Chile this coming February with Pineda so we should be hearing something official pretty soon. in the meantime, check out Pineda covering Journey’s Faithfully on youtube.

thanks, Mike Damone

“well, hello again. how ya doin’?” a voice appears out of nowhere in the dimly lit parking lot startling a woman in her mid-thirties loading groceries in her minivan.

“ummmm, hi. i’m fine,” she said hoping the man would just go away.

“mmmmm. *fine* is right,” the stranger remarked with a smirk, inching closer to the woman who’s noticeably perturbed about the man being there.

eeewwwww. the woman from tries desperately to transfer the grocery bags from the cart to the van as quickly as humanly possible. luckily a grocery store employee who was in the vicinity rounding up carts saw that the woman was in distress and swung by to wait for her to finish loading her groceries.

seeing that the employee wasn’t going to leave, the creep finally slinks away.

“why do i always attract these creeps every time i go out??” she screams at me after arriving home from the store visibly all frazzled from the incident.

she continues on her rant, “do i have a red target on me? or the kmart special blue light flashing above my head? why do strange men come and try to talk to me when all i want to do is get groceries for my family and get right back home!!!!”

i tried to put a positive spin on it. “obviously it’s because you’re attractive, you have a great profile on http://www.jasminlive.mobi and you can’t help but get men’s attention.”

“then why can’t it be Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp? why is it always quasimodo or some grease monkey from jiffy lube?” she asked as she hands me the milk.

“i don’t know. but shoot. i’d love to get some attention. normally i just get ignored by everyone. i’d have to wave a big red flag wildly in the air to get somebody to look at me,” i said trying to bring the overall volume down.

“that’s why, you’re going to go get the groceries from now on,” she said to me as she places some produce into the refrigerator.

surprised at the new development i stammered back, “h-h-honey, you know i’m terrible at picking out produce!”

“well, you’ll get the hang of it,” she said with finality. crap.

damn those creepy men hanging out at the grocery store. damn you all.…and just think, i’ll be joining all those Mike Damone-types real soon! i better get me some hair gel and a members-only jacket so that i can fit right in.

travel to your gig in style

if you’re in a working band traveling from gig to gig then you’re probably aware how important first impressions are when you’re on stage. you’ve got to have a certain look, the right equipment and of course impressive material. you normally open your set with a strong number in order to get the folks in the club to take notice. those precious few seconds at the start of your first song is all an audience needs to form an opinion about you and your band. well, the same principal applies off stage. if you pull up to the gig in a beat up ol’ van, the promoter or club owner may take one look and decide not to take you seriously. it’s unfortunate but it’s human nature. that beat up ol’ van is the first thing they see when you arrive at the gig. no need to play or sing for them.

the first impression is already made and locked away in their heads. don’t limit your band’s potential by driving around in that ol’ clunker. head on over to Auto Loans Mania today and get yourself approved for anAuto Loan quickly and easily online. once you get the band traveling in style, all those promoters and club owners will take notice. when they see that the band’s got potential, they’ll make sure to book you again for another gig. so be sure to impress them on stage and off. and don’t just do it for me. do it for the band!

David Foster

Time Magazine once proclaimed producer David Foster “the true King of Pop”. and it’s true, Foster is among the most commercially successful producers and composers in popular music. there’s no denying the popularity of Foster-produced hits like Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You”, Earth Wind and Fire’s “After the Love Has Gone”, Chicago’s “Hard to Say I’m Sorry”, Celine Dion’s “Because You Loved Me” and the list goes on and on. but as you can see from his trail of hits, he seems to be fixated on sappy ballads. even Foster’s own solo albums are filled with soft, syrupy ballads. check out Foster’s duet with Olivia Newton-John titled The Best of Me on youtube. wow, now that’s some big 80’s cheeze! and even though he’s got a long list of hit songs and a room full of grammies, that doesn’t necessarily mean Foster’s exempt from flops or from making bad decisions. he’s made a ton of bad choices. come on, his recent stint on reality shows (The Princes of Malibu, Celebrity Duets, Star Tomorrow) weren’t really highlights of his career. and some of the questionable artists he chose to work with in the past include: All-4-One, Color Me Badd, El DeBarge, Night Ranger and oh, remember Voices That Care? i dare you to watch that youtube video without cringing!! …you can’t can you? har, har.

well, here’s another cringe-worthy example. did you know that Foster worked with Paul McCartney in the mid-eighties? yup, they recorded three songs together. one, you may or may not know about, “We Got Married” which appeared on McCartney’s Flowers in the Dirt album after some tweaking/overdubbing by Neil Dorfsman. and sadly, the collaboration really didn’t work. the mid-eighties was a “lost period” for McCartney. he bounced around from producer to producer trying desperately to get his muse back and things really didn’t click for him until 1989 when he released the Flowers in the Dirt album.

the Foster-McCartney sessions took place in the fall of 1984 at McCartney’s newly built home studio on his farm in Sussex, England. Foster played keyboards during the session while McCartney handled the bass, and electric guitar. Dave Mattacks came in for drums overdubs and David Gilmour was on hand to overdub the lead guitar in the song “We Got Married”. listen to the 1984 version of “We Got Married”

the other two songs were titled “Lindiana” and “I Love This House”. the track “I Love This House” sounds VERY dated with Foster’s signature mid-eighties synth-bass sound upfront throughout the track. McCartney’s lyrics are totally inane and unispired. “I Love This House” is just utter crap and they both knew it. the track remained in the vaults until the mid-nineties when it surfaced as a B-side. listen to “I Love This House”

and as for “Lindiana”… well, there’s not much to say. the song has a nice, easy-going melody but McCartney again ruined it with cringe-tastic lyrics. and as producer of the sessions, Foster should have had the balls to tell McCartney that his material sucked and to go back to his room to work on them some more before putting these embarrassing ditties to tape. but apparently, Mr. “Ballad-supreme” Foster wasn’t “man” enough to criticize Mr. “thumbs-aloft” Macca’s crappy songwriting. “Lindiana” remains unreleased. the general music buying public is safe from Lindiana at least for now. if you’re a glutton for punishment, you can listen to “Lindiana” right here: and if your ears start bleeding, you can’t say i didn’t warn you…

unique gifts for the holidays

over the weekend, the wife dragged me out from my comfy chair to do someearly christmas shopping. well, early, at least in my eyes. it’s not even thanksgiving yet for goodness sakes. well the local shopping center was already a-buzz with shoppers a-plenty looking to whittle down their holiday shopping list. while weaving through the maze of hostile shoppers in the narrow aisles, all i kept thinking about were various ways to somehow convince the wife to get the bulk of the shopping done online. there are great websites out now that specialize in cool, unique gifts that would be perfect for the holidays. as a matter of fact, vat19.com recently sent me some samples of what they have available on their site.

One was their Ultimate Video Fireplace DVD which is one of their featured sex chat products. I also received their insta-snow powder which i actually tried out in front of the kids. they had a blast watching the stuff grow before their eyes with just a little bit of water.

the product i really liked were Smencils: Gourmet Scented Pencils. the pencils are a perfect gift for those that are environmentally-conscious and into being “green”. Smencils are pencils made from recycled newspapers. that’s right, no trees were harmed in producing these pencils. and what’s with the name, you ask? each smencil comes with a special scent. there are 10 different fragrances to choose from. the sample i have is watermelon and the smell reminds me of jolly ranchers hard candies.

Vat19.com is chock full of great gift ideas for this holiday season including neat USB gadgets, a cool Flip Top Cocktail Shaker, unique office gear and specialized DVDs. why settle on giving the same-old, same-old from the local department store when you can give a Vat19 gift that you simply can’t find anywhere else.

Tree63 - Sunday

Tree63’s new album Sunday! is a fast moving rocker that will constantly distract you with their references to other rock bands like the Police, XTC, U2 and Delirous. don’t get me wrong, the album is full of melodic pop rock with tuneful guitar riffs and big chorus hooks galore but the majority of your time will be spent saying to yourself, “it’s all been done before”. it’s arena-rock for the christian-set, but indeed it’s all be done before and for the most part, better, by bands like U2 and Coldplay. there are some songs that rise above the din but the by-the-numbers musicianship and copy-cat arrangements weigh down some insightful songwriting.

songs like Foolishness: What wisdom puts the prophet in a desert place, nobody to hear a single word he says? And what wisdom brings reward from suffering, where if I want to win I have to lose everything? has the potential to be *so much more* in the hands of better skilled musicians with more finesse.

and don’t get me started on the way the album sounds. it’s obvious the recordings were done on protools. it’s got all the tell-tale signs. the songs are way too-compressed to the point where all the instruments are *in your face* at a constant rate which will quickly fatigue the listener’s ears. also, John Ellis’ vocals are heavily treated with the much-hated autotune plugin. i really, really dislike the way autotune colors the vocals and i wish producers and engineers would just stop using autotune altogether. it simply makes the vocals sound robotic and sucks the life and natural-ness from the lead singer’s voice. just take one listen to the song Almighty Silence and you’ll see what i mean.

autotune is all over that track. yes, you can find some great tunes on Tree63’s Sunday! but they’re unfortunately marred by both uninspired musicianship and the protools phenomenon (overcompression and heavy handed use of autotune). when all is said and done, I still prefer listening to one of their previous albums likeThe Answer to the Question .

Long Road Out of Eden

Don Henley and Glenn Frey made it pretty clear that they’ve reunited The Eagles for the money. They obviously don’t enjoy each other’s company and all that they’ve done recently seemed to have been motivated by the almighty dollar. From the jacked-up prices of their concert tickets to the exclusive deal with wal-mart, it’s all just to pad their bulging retirement fund. and who suffers from all this greed? the fans at large obviously. we’re the ones that have to listen to their inferior product that they’re trying to pass off as an Eagles album. They should have left their legacy well enough alone. Now all is tarnished by their long-awaited double-album called Long Road Out Of Eden .

I guess it’s sort of fitting that it’s only sold at Wal-mart and Sam’s Club alongside discount televisions, cheap shoes and frozen pizzas. the new album is nothing more than a corporate product. there’s absolutely no creativity to be found here. the album just feels overly-calculated and sterile. this is where you can find the death of popular music. recycled ideas, themes and chord progressions abound in this tired sounding set of songs. They spent the last couple years in the studio to come up with lyrics like:

It’s too late for saving face / Don’t just stand there takin’ up space / Why don’t you do something (the Henley penned “Do Something). yikes. and come on, it just doesn’t seem right for fifty year old men singing lame-ass lines like.

I believe in second chances / I believe in angels too / I believe in new romances / Baby I believe in you (No More Cloudy Days). geez. it’s simply sad to hear these 70’s country/rock legends going through the motions with songs like “Fast Company” (with ol’ man Henley singing in falsetto. ouch!), “What Do I Do With My Heart” (cliche-city) and “I Love to Watch a Woman Dance” (snooze-fest). yeah, these guys will earn millions for their retirement fund but sadly they sold their souls to do it.

Yes Union Tour on DVD

Thanks to some generous Yes-fans, I got a hold of some concert footage from the 1991 Union tour. I was too busy graduating from college when the tour rolled through my town back then so I missed seeing the show in person. I sort of regret not going to see the concert because we will probably never see these eight musicians together on tour ever again. It was a once in a lifetime deal. can you imagine how expensive that tour must have been to put together? I still can’t believe it actually happened. especially since most of them don’t get along with each other in the first place.

because of the rarity of having these mega-talents on one stage, you’d think the powers that be would have released an official DVD of some sort to mark the occasion. but an official release never materialized. probably something to do with disagreements between the musicians and/or their lawyers. so it’s good to know there are a bunch of kind Yes fans out there willing to share rarities like this. the copy I received is an edited pro-shot version of the 1991 Denver performance that leaves off the “solo” portions of the show. apparently the original broadcast of the show had some sound issues and Trevor Rabin ended up going back to remix the audio for this version we have here. the video and sound are both excellent. It’s so interesting to watch these men adding their own signature styles into these classic Yes tunes. Most of the time, eight musicians is a bit overkill but hey Yes-music tends to be a tad over-blown anyway so no biggie.

it’s funny to watch Bill Bruford at times during the show. Bruford is such a huge talent on drums but Alan White does the bulk of the work here which doesn’t leave much for Bruford to do but sit around and collect his paycheck. same goes to Tony Kaye. Rick Wakeman is such a monster on keys, what can Kaye do but stand back and give the master some room. hee-hee! the DVD is highly recommended. you can find it currently being distributed among the Yes fan community. (you can also check the torrents for the video).

Detours by Sheryl Crow

Sheryl Crow recently released her sixth studio album titled Detours and the new material has been touted as her most personal and political. Unfortunately, I find the album very uneven and unremarkable as a whole. The album looks great on paper - you have Bill Bottrell (from Crow’s debut Tuesday Night Music Club) back in the producing chair and Crow writing about her personal turmoil and surviving cancer. But what we end up with is an unfocused batch of songs that meander through various styles with not enough of those all important hooks to hang on to.

Even though Crow wrote on some interesting topics like the war, president Bush and her relationship with Lance Armstrong, she didn’t dig deep enough to make any of the songs meaningful. the song lyrics simply skim the surface with old cliches and catch phrases. here are some of the lame choruses Crow wants us to sing along to:

- Gasoline will be free, will be free, yeah, yeah, yeah

- Let me hear you say peace be upon us, peace be upon us, be upon us all

- Does anybody want you, does anybody need you, the question is..

Even though Crow went through a lot over the last few years, she didn’t share any new revelations in these songs for us listeners to sink our teeth into. Nothing on this CD makes me want to come back for more. the songs sound tired and uninspired. it’s essentially Sheryl Crow on autopilot. Crow and Bottrell even resorted to using “gimmicks” to try to keep the album interesting including the Tuesday Club sound on songs “Love is Free” and “Gasoline” and middle-eastern flavors on “Peace Be Upon Us” featuring Iranian vocalist Mitra Rahbar. It seems to me that if the songs were strong enough to stand on their own, they wouldn’t have needed to be “dressed up” so much. But I do have to mention that Crow does end the album on a strong note. the song “Lullaby for Wyatt” sounds sincere and heartfelt and stands out among the other fluff.