Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Art of Andy Warhol

Campbell's Soup And Acrylic Pop Art by Karl Sultana

Campbell’s Soup Cans, 1962, Andy Warhol, American 1928-1987), Acrylic on canvas, series of 32 paintings, each canvas 20”x 16" (50.8cm x 40.6cm). Currently in the collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).

Warhol first exhibited his series of Campbell's soup can paintings in 1962, with the 32 canvases hung so the bottom of each painting rested on a shelf in a parody of soup cans on a supermarket shelf. The 32 acrylic paintings in the series were a very literal representation of the number of varieties of soup sold at the time by Campbell's, with each label noting a different flavor.

Adding to the irony, the Acrylic paintings were presented in chronological order starting (at the upper left) with the date that Campbell introduced the various soup flavors (tomato in 1897, etc.) It is believed that the MoMA curator made this decision, not Warhol. Warhol claimed that he himself ate Campbell’s soup for lunch every day for more than twenty years.

Like other Pop artists of his time, Warhol used images of proven mass appeal such as comic strips, photos of rock idols and movie stars, advertisements, and tabloid news shots. In his endless repetition of banal images, he parodies the complacency, overabundance, and rampant consumerism of US society in the fifties and sixties.

His use of advertising-style graphics, silk screen and acrylic paints to portray over and over the same images was seen as subverting the idea of painting as a medium of invention and originality. He was attacked throughout his career, but struck a chord both in the art world and with the public. Cheeky, irreverent, but undeniably talented, Andy Warhol became a popular cult idol himself in the American art world of the sixties.

What Andy Did for Acrylic Painting

In the long history of art materials, acrylic paints are the newest by far. Acrylics were first developed as a solvent-based art medium only in the early part of the twentieth century. The first water-borne acrylic - the kind artists use today - was developed and launched in 1955 as Liquitex® (or “liquid texture”).

In the 1940s acrylic paint was commonly used as house paint, popular because of easy cleanup with soap and water. The wide range of colors and its fast-drying properties caught the attention of artists who took to using acrylics for large background areas in oil paintings.

Acrylics became widely used in printing and graphics, and since Andy Warhol was a graphic artist it was a natural medium for him to use. Historically, a new medium such as acrylic paint would take generations of exposure and refinement to gain artistic acceptance. When Andy Warhol’s acrylic painting gained critical and financial success, acrylics gained respectability and a permanent place in the artists’ toolbox of materials.

Turn a favorite family photograph into an acrylic portrait as a way of displaying it and preserving it forever. An inexpensive way to acquire an acrylic painting or acrylic portrait of any black and white or color photograph is to commission one from acrylic painting website.

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BOOK REVIEW: Cover Versions: The Album Art of Steve Hardstaff


Cover Versions: The Album Art of Steve Hardstaff by Steve Hardstaff

Steve Hardstaff has worked with some of the most creative artists and groups in popular culture and music including Sir Pete Blake, Led Zeppelin, BoDiddley, Jamie Reid, Half Man Half Biscuit and Lee 'Sctratch' Perry.

Includes comments and quotes from musicians and artists who have worked with Hardstaff - Jimmy Carl Black (Mothers of Invention), Lee 'Scratch' Perry, Suggs (Madness), Ian McNabb (Icicle Works).

Examines the work of a highly influential designer (designed the first triplegate fold sleeve - The Strawbs Grave New World). Hardstaff's work spans the height of The Beatles' creativity to the present day i-pod generation.

'Time will certainly reveal the relevance and importance of what Steve Hardstaff has delivered over the years, with black singing ink, good old cut and paste and those ever present crackling discs that possess his soul and fire his imagination.' Mike Badger (founder The La's, Co-owner Viper Label).

'Steve Hardstaff's visual trademark are musical collages packed with exciting, stimulating images and above all humour.' Jimmy Carl Black (The Mothers Of Invention, The Magic Band, The Muffin Men).

Steve Hardstaff's work has always been about Liverpool: from ferrying images around for Peter Blake and Jan Haworth for the cover of Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band to producing the award-winning sleeve for Half Man Half Biscuit's This Leaden Pall. Hardstaff's artwork, often signed under his nom-de-guerre 'Jacuzzi,' has been used by every record label to have graced the city in the last 40 years: posters for 'The Magical Mystery Tour', artist in residence at the legendary Eric's club, commissions from contemporary labels. Hardstaff established in Liverpool the first music-industry-focused design studio outside London and decades later his work continues to attract local, national and international interest.

This volume pulls together for the first time a unique collection of work from one of the pioneers of modern graphic design: from the world's first triple gatefold sleeve (The Strawbs Grave New World) to work for Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac and Liverpool favourites Deaf School, The Icicle Works, Half Man Half Biscuit, Dead or Alive, China Crisis and others, from work that provoked cries of 'treason' from the tabloid press during the Falklands war to collaborations with infamous Sex Pistols designer Jamie Reid. Complementing a striking collection of images are comments and quotes from musicians and artists who have worked with Hardstaff - including Jimmy Carl Black (Mothers of Invention), Lee 'Scratch' Perry, Suggs (Madness), Ian McNabb (Icicle Works) and others - elucidating the creative processes that have positioned him as one of the great innovators of the graphic arts and a leading figure in music industry design. For further information or to order this book please click here:

LUP books are distributed in North America by University of Chicago Press. For further information or to order this book please click here:

BOOK REVIEW: Shroom: A Cultural History of the Magic Mushroom by Andy Lechter - reviewed by Lux

Reviewed: "Shroom: A Cultural History of the Magic Mushroom" by Andy Letcher - reviewed by Lux

In "Shroom: A Cultural History of the Magic Mushroom", Andy Letcher has given us a thorough and rigorous study of mushroom culture. Among books on psychoactive mushrooms, Shroom is unprecedented in the degree to which the author demands that arguments be supported by evidence.

Anyone familiar with the voluminous literature on this topic will immediately recognize this as a revolutionary step; the genre is crowded with speculation ranging from cautious ("The Road to Eleusis": to extravagant: "Food of the Gods": A scholar boasting PhDs in both ecology and religious studies, Lechter is also no stranger to the psychedelic underground.

In this book he painstakingly reconstructs mushroom theories ranging from Eleusis to Santa Claus. Letcher is highly critical of most of these theories, which he sometimes characterizes in sardonic terms that border on contemptuous. Although his tone can be caustic, he pays mushroom enthusiasts the compliment of taking their arguments seriously and analyzing them as such. "Shroom" opens with a serviceable overview of the biology and chemistry of psychoactive mushrooms. The book then moves into the cultural history of mushrooms, including a valuable review of pre-1950s reports of mushroom use.

Letcher documents and analyzes nearly every major argument written about psychoactive mushrooms in the last century. He chronicles the channels by which a cloudy mix of science and speculation has flowed into the collective reservoir of the psychedelic underground. The basic argument that Letcher critiques looks something like this: For thousands of years, humans have had an important relationship with psychoactive mushrooms. After stumbling upon them unawares, our ancestors grasped the powerof the psychedelic experience they provide. It may be that the spiritual insights which inspired the major world religions were based on entheogenic mushroom sacraments. The druids of pre-Roman Europe, the ancient Greeks of Eleusis, and perhaps even our early ancestors on the African savanna knew that one could contact the spirit world or commune with the gods under the influence of psychoactive fungi. This wisdom was tragically lost when conservative elements within the world's religious institutions began to attack entheogens, driving their use underground.

In some cases, the use of mushroom entheogens was secretly transmitted by various codes. Hidden references to mushroom use abound in scriptures and religious art, such as the "Soma" of the Hindu "Rig Veda", which may refer to "Amanita muscaria". The urge to suppress entheogens comes from what Riane Eisler called a "dominator culture" - a patriarchal, hierarchical culture based on power and authority. Such a culture imposes itself on others by force. People living in dominator cultures are alienated from the natural and spiritual worlds, while members of communal egalitarian societies are deeply rooted in the cycles of nature and have an uncontrived, experience-based religious life. Some of these sharing cultures made open and uninhibited use of entheogens, until they were suppressed by dominator cultures, especially the Judeo-Christian culture of Europe.

Sound familiar?

"Shroom" documents the arguments by which this received wisdom took shape, tracing its origins to the works of figures such as Robert Graves and R. Gordon Wasson. Over time the story was elaborated and extended by Jonathan Ott, John Allegro, Terence McKenna, Clark Heinrich, and many others. Letcher effectively dismantles nearly every aspect of this mushroom history. In some cases, as in the implausible theories of McKenna, little more is needed than asking "What is the basis for this claim?" In the words of curmudgeon Christopher Hitchens, "A claim that is put forth without evidence may be dismissed without evidence."

Letcher maintains that the conventional wisdom of mushroom history is rooted in the beliefs and attitudes of members of an industrial society who themselves feel alienated from the spiritual world and from the cycles of nature. Such persons are liable to project an idealized portrait of their own longings onto cultures that are remote in time or in space, such as the Paleolithic hunter-gatherers of Africa or the shamans of Siberia. It is easy to project beliefs onto a druidic culture about which one knows nothing. Letcher demonstrates that the closer one looks at the druids of Europe and the"curanderos" of Mexico, the less plausible idealized stories become.

Quoting from a considerable number of pre-twentieth century accounts of accidental ingestion of psychedelic mushrooms and finding that the experience was invariably regarded as poisoning or illness, not as spiritual epiphany or gratuitous grace, Letcher contends that there is nothing intrinsic to the experience of eating psychoactive mushrooms such that people in other cultures would necessarily interpret it as valuable. Stories about the antiquity of psychoactive mushroom sacraments probably owe more to R. Gordon Wasson than any other figure. By Wasson's own account, he successfully rediscovered secret mushroom cults in central Mexico which had survived the Spanish Inquisition.

Wasson argues throughout several books that these mushroom cults are analogous to ancient mushroom cults that inspired the great spiritual traditions of the East (Vedic Hinduism in India) and the West (the Minervic mystery rites in Greece). Letcher cogently argues that the character of mushroom use in Mexico was distorted by R. Gordon Wasson's amateurish and biased ethnographies. Wasson arrived in Mexico already convinced that the use of psychoactive mushrooms was related to the origin of the world's religions, and he was eager to find evidence to support his theory. According to "Shroom", Wasson turned down opportunities to participate in mushroom rituals with "curanderos" who did not fit the profile of the sacred mushroom shaman he was looking for.

He was overjoyed to find Maria Sabina, whom he could depict as a shaman who used mushrooms in sacred ceremonies. In Sabina's own account, however, she used mushrooms to heal, not for spiritual enlightenment. A devout Catholic, Sabina found her spiritual needs amply met every Sunday in church. Letcher builds a strong case that Wasson extruded his observations through the filter of his convictions.

The structure of Wasson's mistakes is common to most of the stories that depict ancient or remote cultures as sacred mushroom eaters. These stories typically begin with a zealous hypothesis, cherry-pick for supporting evidence, and disregard counter-evidence. Letcher makes an important moral argument that inaccurate and fantastical depictions of other cultures, such as those that abound in mushroom literature, are not merely inaccurate - they constitute a form of intellectual colonialism. Edward Said gave us the term "Orientalism" to describe the process by which remote peoples are exoticized and made into symbols by inaccurate ethnography and fanciful storytelling. Orientalist anthropologies deprive the people they study of their right to their actual history. In Letcher's reading, Orientalism runs riot through psychedelic mushroom culture, and his sharply-honed arguments are fueled by abundant evidence drawn from anthropology, history, and religious studies.

This review focuses on the broad outlines of Letcher's argument because the overarching theory warrants analysis. No brief review can do justice to the rich detail and close analysis that Letcher offers. This is an essential book on the subject of psychoactive mushrooms, and an important step forward in the evolution of how we talk about the history of entheogens.

Reference: The Erowid Review:

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Story of Jimi Hendrix

A Short Biography of Jimi Hendrix by Andre Sanchez

Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain: 25 years apart and from the same part of the world. Different deaths, but related nonetheless. There must be something about the North East of the USA, but at least it gave us two brilliant performers, although there is no doubt in most people's mind who was the true genius of the two.

However, this is about the greater of the two, and Cobain's name was mentioned only to express wonder about how this part of the USA should produce two great personalities that died before their time, and perhaps while their horizons were, in their own eyes only, on the wane.

Johnny Allen Hendrix, was born in Seattle on 27th November, 1942, and had his name changed by his father on returning from the war to James Marshall Hendrix after James's uncle Leon Marshall Hendrix. His childhood was an unstable and deprived one, and he both suffered neglect and lived in welfare care for a while. Jimi practiced guitar on an unstringed broomstick and a one stringed ukulele, and although he paid $5 for his first acoustic guitar his first real guitar was a white Supro Ozark that his father bought him when he realized his son was serious about learning guitar.

He had no amp, but that did not deter him. He learned by watching others and listening to records, and was initially influenced by his father's Muddy Waters and BB King records so unsurprisingly stared his guitar playing life with the blues. He was a totally extrovert player, and his showing off with electrifying guitar playing actually upset a lot of people, and got him fired from his first band.

From there on he went from band to band, and after serving as a paratrooper in the army, he worked as a session guitarist backing such rock legends as Little Richard, the Isley Brothers and Sam Cooke. It was after he allowed Chas Chandler, formerly of the Animals, to be his manager that his career kicked off big style. Keith Richards (Rolling Stones) girl friend, Linda Keith, had told Chas about Jimi's electrifying playing, and he was persuaded to go to London UK. That was when Chas Chandler changed s name to Jimi, and formed the band the Jimi Hendrix Experience with Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding.

London was the ideal place at time for an up and coming pop star of Jimi's type, and the band blasted the charts with its first single 'Hey Joe'. After following The Who at that fabulous pop festival at Monterey (were you there?) in 1967 and sent the crowd wild by trashing his guitar with fire on stage the band released their first album "Are You Experienced" and Jimi was a star.

The Experience's most successful album. 'Electric Ladyland' was released in 1968 after Chas Chandler left as manager, and his leaving was the beginning of the end. Drugs and hangers-on crowding the studios led eventually to the end of the band and Jimi formed another band he Gypsies, Sun and Rainbows for a short time: their only gig was Woodstock, 1969, where his version of 'The Star Spangled Banner' was electrifying, but also his last great public performance.

Drugs were catching up, and his last album was "Cry of Love" also featured Billy Cox of gypsies, and Mitch Mitchell who had been with Jimi since the Experience days. On 17th September 1970, he took some sleeping pills belonging to his girlfriend, Monica Denneman. He had an apparent allergic reaction to them, and threw up sometime during the night and drowned on his vomit. He was taken to hospital but was pronounced dead. An inauspicious end to a great musician at the age of 27.

Jimi Hendrix was known for his electrifying solos work, and his use of his teeth and playing behind his back. These have been described as gimmicks, and perhaps they were, but they were gimmicks that nobody else had thought of using live and on TV. He has yet to be emulated and everybody knows of Jimi Hendrix.

His use of designed feedback was pioneering and his branded trademark. Nobody sounded like him, and nobody has done since. You know it's Jimi playing from the that first unique note.

Those of us fortunate enough to see him play live will never forget his dynamic personality and superb guitar skills, and his name and work will live forever. On that day in September 1970 a true genius was lost and the music world was the worse for it.

Jimi Hendrix may not have been the best pure guitarist, even in his own time, but no one has yet approached him in his personality, dynamism and on-stage presence and it is doubtful now if anybody ever will.

If reading his story has inspired you to learn to play the guitar, I highly recommend you try, their online video lessons are excellent.

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The Hard Life of Keith Moon

Keith Moon and His Tragic Fall by Virgil Vince

The story of Keith Moon is one of the more tragic and cautionary tales of the classic rock era. Moon was an extremely influential and talented drummer who hailed from the northern part of London. From an early age he displayed the wild streak that would dominate his entire life.

Bounced out of school, he was far more interested in two of his life's greatest loves: partying and playing the drums. He found early musical release playing in London cover bands, but the encounter that would ultimately change the course of rock and roll history and sadly seal his fate came in 1964, when at the tender age of 17 Moon joined The Who. After convincing them after a show that he would be a far better drummer than their current one, they gave him an audition in which he beat the drums so hard they were easily persuaded that he was the perfect backbone for their raucous sound.

Moon was an innovative drummer who was never afraid to try new things behind the kit. Early on in The Who he began assembling a drum kit that would better compliment his habit of using the kick drum to pace his rhythms, and he eventually ended up combining several different kits in order to give him the breadth of sound he needed. He played with abandon, but also great skill, a very difficult trick for a professional musician to pull off. Every performance was barn burner, and Moon left it all on the stage at the end of each show. His influence on the drummers who came after him has been profound, and he is often cited with John Bonham as being one of the key originators in rock and roll.

Keith Moon was a prankster who loved to punctuate his performances by blowing up his equipment or ransacking the stage. He also carried this behavior over into post-concert shenanigans, destroying hotel rooms and causing chaos whenever possible. Sadly, this excess also applied to his alcohol consumption, and he became notorious in the music scene for his prodigious appetites.

Being a member of The Who since the age of 17 meant that Keith Moon had always been exposed to life at 100 miles per hour, 24 hours a day. He was unable to develop any mechanism that would let him downshift to a pace that was survivable, and he died of an overdose of a treatment that had been designed to help him deal with his alcoholism. His death shattered The Who and shocked the rock world at the end of the 70's, forcing many to reflect on their role in this young man's out of control spin. is the mystical rehearsal studio for rockers DEMON TWEAK. Listen as they prepare for battle with the evil trickster Loki by playing home brewed classic rock direct from Ragnarok. Also read articles on your favorite classic rock band written by resident historian VIRGIL THE STORYTELLER

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

A Tribute to Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney's Experimental Side by Johnny Moon

Experimental Beatle McCartney

I often feel that Paul McCartney gets a bum rap with John Lennon receiving most of the credit as the "experimental Beatle." This just isn't the case. It was actually McCartney who was the one pushing the envelope with much of The Beatles more experimental music.

While Lennon is well known for his avante garde "Revolution #9." Paul McCartney was actually the first Beatle to tackle avante-garde music with 1967's "Carnival of Light." Of course "Carnival of Light" has still never been released (many thought it would come out during the Anthology series but it did not.)

McCartney was also the brains behind a lot of The Beatles more "far out" ideas such as the whole Sgt. Pepper concept and the Magical Mystery Tour film and album. It was also the person who had the idea of using tape loops for John Lennon's breakthrough recording "Tomorrow Never Knows."

Another important aspect of what Paul McCartney brought to the Beatles was the idea of trying totally different types of musical styles. It was actually Lennon who was often against this. McCartney liked doing songs like "Your Mother Should Know" which were in a completely different style than one would expect from a rock band.

If you look at a modern experimental psychedelic band like Ween I think you'll see that they are actually far more influenced by the Paul McCartney side of The Beatles than the John Lennon side. McCartney liked doing things that were totally off the wall and weird like "Maxwell's Silver Hammer." I think Lennon actually missed the point of this type of music when he called it "granny music." It's not "granny music." It's weird music. And it's really tripped out if you can dig on it.

McCartney was very adventerous as a musician. Along with The Beatles producer George Martin, McCartney was the guy behind a lot of The Beatles more adventerous arrangements and he was behind the reknowned "suite" on side two of Abbey Road. Again Lennon didn't like that idea.

Modern Experimental McCartney

Too few people know about McCartney's experimental music in the 1990s and in the 2000s. If you've never heard his work as "The Fireman" then I think you are in for a treat (if you like psychedelic ambient music that is.) In particular I recommend 1998's Rushes. I also just found out that he's planning on releasing a new album as The Fireman this year.

2000's Liverpool Sound Collage is another great example of how experimental McCartney's music can get. Like with The Fireman projects, McCartney worked with Youth (of The Super Furry animals) on it.

Pure Pitch Method Ear Training Develop Golden Ears Like Sir Paul McCartney's.

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ALBUM REVIEW - The Beatles: Revolver

The Beatles' Revolver - A Revolution in 1966 by Johnny Moon

The Context

It was August of 1966. Only 2 and a half years since The Beatles first broke onto the scene in the United States with "I Want To Hold Your Hand" and the accompanying hysteria ("Beatlemania.") Since then The Beatles music had quickly been evolving from their earlier pop rock into a more sophisticated art rock.

Rubber Soul

Their most recent album was Rubber Soul which had been released in December of '65. While these days just 8 months between album releases is a short time, in those days it was considered a reasonably long time to wait for the biggest band in the world to release their next album. Rubber Soul was itself a major step forward from the album before that (Help!) It included the first use of the Indian instrument the sitar on a pop record ("Norwegian Wood') and it also featured more introspective lyrics (such as on "Nowhere Man" & "In My Life") than were generally heard on their earlier albums.


While Rubber Soul was a big step forward, Revolver was a leap forward sonically. The most forward looking track was of course the album closer, "Tomorrow Never Knows" which still sounds like the future 42 years later. I'll look at that track more in depth at the end of this article.

While Rubber Soul had "Norwegian Wood" which had some sitar on it, Revolver's "Love You To" was something else entirely. This George Harrison song based entirely on Indian instruments that sounded totally unlike anything pop music listeners of the time had ever heard before. In fact I bet it sounds totally unlike anything most pop music listeners of today have ever heard too (unless of course they've listened to Revolver or Sgt Pepper.) "Love You To" definitely expanded the horizons for what a pop record could sound like. But it was far from alone in that regard on this album.

"Eleanor Rigby" featured a string quartet and Paul McCartney's voice. With it's poetic lyrics and unique arrangement, it still stands as a classic in popular music today.

"Yellow Submarine" is a childlike song written by Paul McCartney and sung by Ringo Starr that went on to inspire the cartoon feature of the same name released in 1968. It's really quite a weird song, isn't it? This was a great example of The Beatles just completely ignoring any rules for what kind of songs should be on a popular music album.

"I'm Only Sleeping" features George Harrison's backwards guitar. I'm not sure if this is the first pop song to include backwards guitar, but it is probably one of the first. Harrison learned to play the desired melody backwards so that when reversed it would fit in properly with the song. Just another example of The Beatles pushing the envelope in the studio with their arrangements.

"Tomorrow Never Knows"

While there are many amazing breakthroughs on this album, it's been said that every song on the album inspired a new sub genre of rock music, it's "Tomorrow Never Knows" that really stands out as a ground breaking song. Amazingly enough this was the first song recorded for the album (in April of 1966, John Lennon wrote it in January of '66.)

Everything about this song from it's lyrics to it's song writing to it's arrangement to it's production was very experimental. The vocals were put through a Leslie speaker to obtain a vibrato effect. This was the first time such an effect was used. The lyrics were based on The Psychedelic Experience by Timothy Leary (and that book was based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead.) The song featured very inventive use of tape loops, reverse drums, reverse guitar, and many more sonic explorations. Another unusual fact about the song is that the song is almost entirely played on just one chord. This was probably greatly influenced by Indian music which is often played in such a way.

CLICK HERE: The Beatles

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Bridge Over Troubled Water: A Unique Opinion

Gospel Flavour of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Steve Wickham

There is a song that makes me feel small, but in a very good way. It commences gently but assertively with a trickling piano then booms at the end in an eerily cool and comforting sort of way. The crescendo of the third verse is what brings goose pimples to the skin as I'm taken to the inner sanctum of God's court; his Presence. In this way it has 'oaks' of the 23rd Psalm. It is the safety of the Shepherd whom fills us with the feeling 'we shall not want.'

At his 92nd birthday celebration a son fulfils his elderly father's wish -- the reading of the 23rd Psalm. It's an amazing cogent dirge of faithful assurance, read slowly and strongly; so much like the song...

Of course the song I'm referring to is the 1970 classic, Bridge Over Troubled Water by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. Many an artist (including more than one Christian artist) has recorded their own rendition of this universal favourite that lived atop the billboard top 100 for a couple of months. It was Simon and Garfunkel's swansong.

The song is colossal. There is an eternal shrill to it. It builds upon the images of the overwhelmed. Whether we're 'feeling small,' 'friends can't be found,' or we're simply 'down and out' he is a bridge over that troubled water -- he's on our side. Who is this person? Have you 'met' him yet? He comforts and dries the tears. He'll surround us with safety and answers when 'pain is all around.'

The first and second verses are melodies for the melancholy -- an elixir for desperates. Then the divine ballad shifts up in gear and suddenly lifts us... first musically, then spiritually. The theme of loneliness and sorrow ends suddenly and a new era of victorious hope emerges; again the overtones of the 23rd Psalm.

'Silver girl's time has come.' She is about to live her dream; there is a sure pillion of hope as he shows her how she's to shine. He will 'ease her mind.'

Sail on silver girl
Sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way
See how they shine
Oh when you need a friend
I'm sailing right behind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind

Imagine in your pain and desolation, the bridge that carries you safely over the dark and treacherous torrent below, and through that dark period, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, psychologically.

Bridge Over Troubled Water is a wonderfully inspirational yet expansive song for the downcast complete with music and feeling of epic proportions. It's a creative touch of God for humankind; a miracle of creation and modern day art. In the spiritual sense, it's a 'saving' work that must have saved thousands upon thousands of lives. Praise God.

Copyright © 2008, Steven J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

Steve Wickham is a safety and health professional (BSc) and a qualified lay Christian minister (GradDipDiv). His key passion is work / life balance and re-creating value for living, and an exploration of the person within us.

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A Tribute to Jimmy Page

Jimmy Page - Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin, The Firm by Virgil Vince

These are some of the names that come to mind when one thinks of the best guitarists and super groups of the past 40 years of rock and roll history. Jimmy Page was one of the original riff rockers, putting together snarling, attacking guitar lines that are some of the most memorable in the classic rock canon. Not only was he a master of fuzzed out blues metal, but he was also capable of crafting intricate, haunting melodies that seemed to freeze musical moments in time, holding them close to the ear to be savored and enjoyed.

Not everyone is familiar with the origins of Jimmy Page's music career, as the first successful band he was in was somewhat overshadowed by its other, equally famous guitar-slinging members. Eric Clapton was one of the original members of the group, but he left when he could no longer stomach the band's move from blues to pop. He was replaced by Jeff Beck, a guitar hero's guitar hero, and Clapton recommended that Jimmy Page also be considered. A couple of years later Page was helping Beck front the group, and their twin guitar attack would score several hits before Beck decided to move on to a solo career.

After the Yardbirds split up, Page attempted to ride the momentum of the group with a band he called 'The New Yardbirds', but they ended up renaming themselves Led Zeppelin instead and went on to become the most influential hard rock band of all time. Jimmy Page's creativity really got a chance to shine in the group, and Zeppelin was able to better channel his artistic vision. Of course, it helped that his fellow band mates were all virtuosos themselves.

The Firm were a group that Page became involved in during the mid-80's. Together with label mate Paul Rogers, formerly of the band Bad Company, The Firm were an attempt for both to move on from their oppressively famous back catalog and chart new musical waters. While they did manage to release 2 albums and go on a number of successful tours, the group never gathered the same level of commercial appeal that their previous bands had done.

For Jimmy Page, Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin ,The Firm all represent specific chapters in his varied and amazingly prolific life. To have had the chance to collaborate with so many gifted musicians means that Page's recorded musical legacy will live on long after he has stopped performing. is the mystical rehearsal studio for rockers DEMON TWEAK. Listen as they prepare for battle with the evil trickster Loki by playing home brewed classic rock direct from Ragnarok. Also read articles on your favorite classic rock band written by resident historian VIRGIL THE STORYTELLER

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Learning Lessons from Keith Richards

Learn to Play Guitar Like Keith Richards by Steve Krenz

Rolling Stones' lead guitarist Keith Richards was famous for being a rebel and bad boy during his heyday in the 60's and 70's. The fact remains, however, that he was and is a talented musician who contributed greatly to the rock and roll sound. If you are a fan of Keith or of the Rolling Stones, you may have a dream of learning to play guitar like him. He was creative, innovative, and part of one of the most influential groups in the history of popular music. The story of Keith Richards has a lot to teach an aspiring musician who wishes to follow in his footsteps. Here are some things you should do if you want to learn to play like Keith.

Do not limit yourself to only one style of music. As a boy, Keith Richards listened to a variety of musical works. His mother was a music lover and the daughter of a big-band musician. She exposed young Keith to the jazz sounds of Billie Holliday and Louis Armstrong, among others. She also acquired a place for him as a singer in a famous British children's' choir. The group sang at such sophisticated venues as Westminster Abbey and performed works that showed no hint of jazz, blues or rock influences. But Keith loved all kinds of music. Later in his career, he used some of the musical lessons he had learned from other genres to create some of his most memorable guitar solos and riffs. So, try to keep an open mind when it comes to appreciating styles of music that you are not completely familiar with. Maybe a phrase, interval or rhythm pattern that you hear will be the spark you need to create a terrific new lick of your own.

Become a proficient acoustic player. Keith Richards has always maintained that anyone who wants to become a great electric guitarist must also develop skill on an acoustic. Richards, himself, plays hours each day on his acoustic and credits the simpler, unplugged instrument for helping him to maintain his "touch" for the guitar. Famous Rolling Stones songs like "Brown Sugar" feature Keith and his acoustic instrument, and his skills helped to build the popularity of his group. So, if your desire is to play like Keith Richards, don't neglect the acoustic guitar.

Don't be afraid to take professional risks. Keith Richards was a member of the Rolling Stones for decades, but he was not afraid to branch out and work on some other projects, as well. He participated on albums with stars like Norah Jones and Aretha Franklin, and stretched and grew as a musician as a result. He also made the daring move of acting in a feature film in 2007. At a time when he could have been resting on his laurels, he was willing to answer the call of his friend Johnny Depp, and play the role of Jack Sparrow's father in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. It was a gutsy move for Richards, and could have led to criticism and ridicule, but he was willing to take the chance. Most accounts have praised his work in the film, and Keith's attitude has likely opened up more career opportunities for him in the future. The lesson for you as a Richards fan is to think beyond the ordinary and do what feels right even if it will take you into uncharted waters.

Stop wasting money on 1-on-1 guitar lessons! Check out Steve Krenz's Learn and Master Guitar, it beats the pants off anything out there. It's the most comprehensive and thorough instructional guitar course available today.

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Learning Lessons from Robert Johnson

Learn to Play Guitar Like Robert Johnson by Steve Krenz

Robert Johnson was one of the greatest blues guitar players of the 1930's, and as such he is considered one of the "grandfathers" of rock and roll. He traveled around the Mississippi delta area playing and singing, and recorded 29 songs in 1936 and 1937. Despite the fact that his career seems quite limited when compared to contemporary artists who tour the world and release a new album every year, Johnson's impact on popular music cannot be denied. Eric Clapton, Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, the Allman Brothers, and Jimmy Page all mention Robert Johnson when they are asked to name their musical influences. Johnson had an undeniable talent, and his life and career have some valuable lessons to teach anyone who has dreams of following in his footsteps. If you want to play guitar like Robert Johnson, here are a few dos and don'ts.

Do use any resources you have to learn music. Robert Johnson loved music from the time he was very young, but as the son of a sharecropper he did not have access to music schools, fancy instruments, or private teachers. He did make the most of the musical equipment he had, though, and found a friend who could teach him how to play the harmonica and Jew's harp when he was still a young boy. He and his friend began using these simple instruments to accompany one another while they would sing new verses to popular songs that they made up as they went along. They never failed to draw a crowd when they sang on the street corners, and it was a great way for Robert to learn what things would please an audience and develop a stage presence. As he grew older, he went to other musicians that he knew and asked them to help him learn to play the guitar. He never received any formal musical training, but his inquiring spirit and his ability to learn from observation helped him to understand the structure of chords and harmony that he needed to replicate the sounds that he heard. If you are fortunate enough to be able to pay for music classes, take advantage of them and use your knowledge to make yourself a better player.

Don't be discouraged if you aren't successful right away. Robert used every opportunity he had to listen to guitarists that played at roadhouses and taverns in his area. When he gained some confidence, he brought his own guitar to the gigs with him and hung around, just hoping for a chance to join in on a jam session with the pros. For years, they discouraged him. It seemed like every time they let him play Robert would break a guitar string or commit some blunder that would not go over well with the audience. Instead of giving up, Robert moved to another community where his reputation as a bungler would not follow him and kept practicing. He would work in the cotton fields just enough so that he could support himself and spend hours and hours every day playing his guitar in the woods until his blues solos sounded the way he thought they should. He then began to travel from town to town and played for the tips that people would throw him as he stood on the street corner or in the town square. People were appreciating him more and more and the early criticism he had heard mattered less and less.

Don't be afraid to be different. The more Robert traveled, the more his confidence grew. He was soon adding tricky rhythm patterns to his guitar solos and using his feet and legs to stomp out accompanying percussion sounds. He created an entirely new sound that was admired by people in all parts of the south. Little did he know that guitar players would still look up to him 70 and 80 years after he was gone. If you learn some lessons from Robert Johnson's life and work, they will surely help to make you a better musician.

Stop wasting money on 1-on-1 guitar lessons! Check out Steve Krenz's Learn and Master Guitar, it beats the pants off anything out there. It's the most comprehensive and thorough instructional guitar course available today.

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Book Review of 'John', by Cynthia Lennon

Book Review For "John" by Steph Burkhart

Cynthia Lennon starts her autobiographical tale reflecting on the death of her famous ex-husband, John Lennon and within the first chapter reveals two insights into John's personality that haven't really been discussed before in books about the Beatles. It's a catchy start to a heartwarming, sweet, yet tragic tale.

As the book starts, Cynthia is a teenager beginning art college. Shortly thereafter she encounters John Lennon. The two make an unlikely couple. She was raised in a nice neighborhood to be a "good" girl and John Lennon is a teenager rebel with only one cause - rock and roll.

Cynthia points out they had several things in common in the book - they were both short sighted and bonded over losing their parents when they were seventeen. (Cynthia lost her father when she was seventeen and John lost his mother.) Soon, Cynthia and John embark on a relationship. Her love is what John needs. She's a steady constant in his life which is filled with uncertainty.

Cynthia is there before John and the Beatles make it famous. She talks of their humble beginnings and John's family. We learn John's Aunt Mimi, the woman who raised him, is a very totalitarian matriarch who very rarely showed John small, simple, loving gestures. John also has two younger sisters who adore him, Jacqui and Julia. There are so many sides to John. He's in love, yet has a ferocious jealous side to him. He can be kind and tender, yet John dislikes confrontation. An example of this is how Pete Best is told to leave the band. Brian Epstein breaks the news to Pete and John never sees him again.

Cynthia and John had been with each other four years before their son Julian is conceived. John marries her right before the Beatles begin to take off. As the Beatles ride the wave of fame, Cynthia is by John's side. It isn't easy for the couple, but their love gets them through.

The book shifts when Cynthia begins to talk of John's drug use. It's his use of drugs that drives a wedge between them. John's decline and destruction is sad to read about in such a personal way. The way he cuts Cynthia and Julian out of his life is quick, deliberate, precise, and very hurtful. Cynthia must find her own way with little financial support from John.

It's hard to put this book down. The beginning draws you in and the reader barely has a chance to catch their breath. Happiness quickly turns to misery, pain, and despair much in the same manner as the Beatles overwhelming success turns sour at the end of the sixties.

Cynthia offers fresh insights on a musical history that has been practically hashed to death by the number of books written by the Beatles. Her thoughts and impression on Yoko are not put out there in a mean-spirited way - instead Cynthia presents the facts as is and lets the reader come to their conclusions. This is a wonderful read for those who are true fans of the Beatles and John Lennon.

Written by: Cynthia Lennon
Hodder & Stoughton
ISBN: 0-340-89511-X
404 Pages
20 pounds
5 Stars

StephB is an author who can be found at In her spare time she likes to read many books and a variety of different genres. Steph B is an author at http://www.Writing.Com/ which is a site for Creative Writing.

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Friday, August 8, 2008

Classic Rock Bands of the 60s and 70s

Classic Rock and Roll Groups From the 1960's and 1970's by David Slone

What we now refer to as classic rock from the 1960's and 1970's was very influential back in the day. Many of the songs have been able to stand the test of time, even with new genres of music taking over. There are musicians from these periods of time that have become larger than life. Even though their music is decades old they are still recognized for their contributions to the world of music.

Without a doubt one of the biggest bands of the 1960's was the invasion of the Beatles. They brought a craze to the world of rock and roll that hadn't quite been embraced yet. With all of the television productions at that time too they were all over the news and on dance shows. It seemed as if everyone had what was referred to as Beatle Mania going strong.

The Beatles came from Britain, and their style of music had a significant impact on the future of rock music in the United States. Such bands as the Rolling Stones were able to capitalize on the success of the Beatles and make a name for themselves as well. Rock stars became a legend in their own right during the 1960's with flocks of fans following their every move.

Keith Emerson brought plenty of great music to the world in the 1970's. He also added something that left the crowds awestruck - the use of pyrotechnics in his live shows. He also helped to pave the way for what became known as progressive rock in the 1970's. These were bands that heavily relied upon the keyboard sounds in their music.

In the late 1960's and early 1970's the use of electronics were heavily introduced to the world of rock music. Bands including Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Deep Purple use them successfully to develop a very unique sound that has immediately a hit. They incorporated synthesizers, foot pedals for drum sets, and even echoes in the background of their lyrics.

Some of the classic rock bands in the 1970's are still out there today. Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, and Kiss are just a few of them. They brought to the stage their elaborate costumes, big hard, platform shoes for men, and of course make up. It was definitely a new style for the world of rock music. In fact, it was to lay the foundation for what would be referred to as the Hair Bands of the 1980's.

If you still love the classic rock music from the 1960's and 1970's there are quite a few radio stations that play it. Some of them will be local channels while others are on satellite radio. There are also CD compilations of the top artists from these two decades. Take a stroll down memory lane while listening to many of those timeless tunes any time you feel like it.

Visit for information about the best classic rock music of the 1960s and 1970s with detailed articles and groovy pictures on bands like Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Steppenwolf, and many more.

Copyright 2008 Permission is given for the republication of this article on your website or blog provided that links and copyright information be left intact.

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BOOK REVIEW: Iluminating the Lives of Joni Mitchell, Carole King and Carly Simon - Written by Sheila Weller

Illuminating the Lives of Joni Mitchell, Carole King and Carly Simon by Jon O'Bergh

Sheila Weller has written a fascinating book about Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon and the journey of a generation. The book is filled with insights about what influenced their artistic temperaments and helped establish them as three of the most successful and respected female songwriters of the 1960s and 70s.

Weller makes the case that they collectively represent in their lives and songs a large portion of American girls who came of age in the late 1960s. They were of a generation that struggled to recast their lives to create a new sense of womanhood. Weller has an eye for detail and little nuggets, and she is adept at finding ways to keep the three parallel biographies connected so they continually resonate with each other.

I'm particularly grateful for how Weller describes the arc of each woman's trajectory from scratching out a living to fame and renown, so you actually understand the incremental steps to success (something that most interviews annoyingly gloss over). Describing Joni Mitchell's career in 1967, she writes how Mitchell acquired a passionately devoted manager in the fall of 1967, Elliot Roberts.

Elliot took the tape he'd made of Joni's Michigan performances and made the rounds of the record labels, then almost all still based in New York. He had every confidence he would prevail... But the A&R men viewed Joni as a singer in the passé folk genre (an art song singer might have been a more apt label); they declined to offer her a contract.

The music industry is filled with such tales of short-sighted people in power overlooking talent, and we relish knowing that they'll get their come-uppance. Soon after, Mitchell met David Crosby, who had achieved some success with the folk-rock band The Byrds. He almost overlooks her at first, dismissing her as "just another blond chick singer." But the blues singer Estrella Berosini, whom Crosby had wanted to produce, rebutted him, urging him to listen to her words. Crosby becomes enamored and shifts his attentions from Berosini to Mitchell.

The book understandably concentrates on their formative years and when they are at the apogee of their influence. Changing musical tastes in the 1980s and beyond would move them off center stage, but they would not be forgotten. In 1975, a 17-year old Prince would be in the front row at a Minneapolis concert, in rapt attention listening to Joni Mitchell. One day he would record Mitchell's 1967 masterpiece written in tribute to her brief love affair with Leonard Cohen, "A Case of You." These are the kinds of connections that keep us in wonder and that make reading this book so rewarding.

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George Harrison's Beatles Songs

George Harrison's Beatles Songs by Johnny Moon

Beatles Songs Written & Sung By George Harrison

What follows are all of the originally released Beatles songs written and sung by the "quiet Beatle" George Harrison. They are listed alphabetically. Note that I am not counting as Beatles songs - those which were originally released on his solo albums and then were included in the Anthology series (such as "All Things Must Pass" - evenough I love the Anthology 3 version.)

"Blue Jay Way" - Magical Mystery Tour (1967)

This was one of the Beatles most overtly psychedelic songs. This was when they were really throwing the "kitchen sink" into their recordings in the studio. While this is, admittedly, not one of The Beatles greatest tunes - I do enjoy it. Mostly because of the studio experimentation I am referring to.

"Don't Bother Me" - With The Beatles (1963)

Harrison's very first song on a Beatles album. Not particularly memorable, but not bad.

"For You Blue" - Let It Be (1970)

A nice little song, although not one of my favorites.

"Here Comes The Sun" - Abbey Road (1969)

One of The Beatles all time classics. During the late '60s Harrison was at his peak as a songwriter. The evidence is there in songs like this one and in his great solo debut, 1970's All Things Must Pass.

"I Me Mine" - Let It Be (1970)

Not one of my favorites, although it has some interesting aspects to it.

"I Need You" - Help! (1965)

I've always liked this song. In fact I'm a big fan of all of Harrison's songs in this era (Help!, Rubber Soul, & Revolver)

"I Want to Tell You" - Revolver (1966)

Another Harrison song I've always liked. It's got this cool off kilter sound that makes it quite unique.

"If I Needed Someone" - Rubber Soul (1965)

The Beatles doing The Byrds.

"It's All Too Much" - Yellow Submarine (1968)

The best reason to buy the Yellow Submarine soundtrack (or even better the much improved "songtrack" released in 1999.) This is one of the great lesser known Beatles songs. Truly psychedelic. The production is awesome. There's no song that sounds quite like this one.

"Long, Long, Long" - The White Album (1968)

The perfect followup to "Helter Skelter." The Beatles go from impossibly loud to impossibly quiet, just like that. A beautiful song.

"Love You To" - Revolver (1966)

A lot of people are down on Harrison's Indian music experimentation. Not me. I dig it.

"Old Brown Shoe" - B-Side to "Ballad of John & Yoko" (1969)

You can hear this on the Past Masters Vol. 2 album or the "Blue" Greatest Hits. I recommend the Past Masters collections so you aren't getting a lot of the songs twice. The Past Masters (volumes 1 and 2) collect all of The Beatles songs that were singles/EPs only and are not available on the official UK Beatles albums.

"Only a Northern Song" - Yellow Submarine (1968)

Of the 4 new songs on the Yellow Submarine soundtrack, 2 of them were George's. This one (which is OK) and "It's All Too Much" (which is awesome.)

"Piggies" - The White Album (1968)

Wonderfully weird, just like most of the rest of The White Album which is, in my opinion, The Beatles greatest album.

"Savoy Truffle" - The White Album (1968)

It actually took me a long time to get into this song, but now I think it's pretty great. It's a grower.

"Something" - Abbey Road (1969)

Frank Sinatra's favorite "Lennon/McCartney" song. Yes he really said that. To this day I don't know if that was a dig at Lennon/McCartney or if he really didn't know they didn't write it.

"The Inner Light" - B-Side to "Lady Madonna" (1968)

Can be heard on the Past Masters, Volume Two. All instrumentation was by Indian musicians on Indian instruements. The instrumental track was actually recorded in Bombay, India.

"Taxman" - Revolver (1966)

Paul McCartney actually plays the lead guitar part on this. McCartney's fast noisy guitar solos were inspired by Jimi Hendrix who was still mostly unknown at the time.

"Think for Yourself" - Rubber Soul (1965)

Always seemed to me to be a bit of a brother to Lennon's "The Word" from the same album.

"While My Guitar Gently Weeps" - The White Album (1968)

Features Eric Clapton on lead guitar. One of Harrison's best.

"Within You Without You" - Sgt Pepper (1967)

The Beatles most fully realized song in this genre. To me it's an essential part of the Sgt. Pepper album. This was Harrison's only songwriting/lead singing contribution to that legendary album.

"You Like Me Too Much" - Help! (1965)

Reasonably catchy song - I like some of the vocal parts, but the lyrics are pretty bad. Not a Harrison highlight.

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

A Tribute to Steely Dan

Steely Dan - Great Chops, Great Music by Dan Kudo

As I think about the current Steely Dan tour, I find myself reflecting back to the 1970's when I first became aware of this creative group.

Although the rock-influenced early songs such as "Ricky Don't Lose That Number", and "Do It Again" created an early surge of popularity on the Top One-Hundred Charts, it was the Aja album that stopped me in my tracks. I couldn't put my finger on it at the time, but what captivated me was their creative integration of jazz and rock.

Those who have come to love Steely Dan as I have know that the group is really a duo, composed of guitarist, Walter Becker, and pianist / lead singer, Donald Fagan. Steely Dan achieved its real fame as a studio band that utilized some of the best session musicians of that era, including likes of Larry Carlton, Chuck Rainey, Wayne Shorter, Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, and Michael McDonald. They often used different performers for specific songs on an album to get a desired "feel" or effect. They knew exactly what they wanted and zeroed in on it as soon as they heard it.

Each cut of their Aja album is truly a gem, and one of my favorites is "Home At Last" because of the unique beat. I learned from the DVD, "The Making of Aja", that the riveting drum rhythm was created by Bernard "Pretty" Purie and was actually called the "Purdie Shuffle". The songs were well outside the typical rock and roll or blues formulas of the time. The title song, "Aja" definitely carried you outside of the rock paradigm by using jazz-influenced chords and a long bridge. The end of the song featured a wonderful percussion solo interspersed with a beautiful arrangement of guitars, and horns. Another favorite of mine is "Third World Man" from the Gaucho album. In particular is the deceptively simple but haunting guitar solo as well as the background vocal harmonies. Katie Lied was an earlier album and had a number of very well arranged songs including "Dr. Wu", which had interesting chord changes and vocal harmonies. "Hatian Divorce", from the Royal Scam album was very clever in that it uses a Reggae backbeat, powerful bass holding down the rhythm, and an interesting use of the "wah wah" guitar so popular in the 1970's.

Finally, the Donald Fagen solo album, Nightfly is an all-time favorite of mine from the tight harmonies of "Maxine" to rhythms of "New Frontier" to the rich arrangement of "Nightfly". It clearly establishes Donald Fagen as the central creative and vocal component of the group.

While each concert will always have new material, the fun that I derive from going to a "Dan" concert is hearing the songs from the earlier albums performed by Donald, Walter and their hand-picked group of top-level musicians that they have assembled, which adhere to the same exacting standards used to created albums like Aja and Gaucho.

In the final analysis, it really doesn't matter whether Steely Dan is or is not your favorite group or whether you like the new songs or the old. What matters is that we should all be passionate about something and seek it out, whatever it is. I look forward to seeing these talented artists and savoring everything they dish out.

Dan Kudo has been a music enthusiast since the 1950s and plays guitar and keyboards in his spare time. He is also an instructor in the martial art of Aikido. Dan provides music and martial arts information in the form of articles, and web pages for everyone to enjoy. Check out this page for more information on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and martial arts.

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A Day in the Life - of The Beatles

A Day in the Life - Beatles Most Ambitious Song Ever Recorded by Virgil Vince

When people discuss A Day In The Life Beatles producer George Martin is often the centerpiece of the conversation. Referred to as 'the fifth Beatle', Martin was instrumental in helping the Beatles achieve the ever-more complex soundscapes that filled their heads towards the end of their time together as a band.

The culmination of their fascination with pushing the recording studio to the very limits of the possible was the 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' album, which presented the Beatles in full-blown psychedelic regalia. The record employed everything from harpsichords to backward-masked lyrical tracks, and it is regarded as one of pop music's greatest masterpieces of all time.

For the final track on the album, A Day In The Life Beatles members Paul McCartney and John Lennon pulled out all of the stops. Together with Martin, they constructed what can only be described as a song in 2 distinct movements linked by noisy, urgent crescendos. The two Beatles had written a few short verses independently of each other, and as neither of them had found a way to create a full song out of what they had recorded, they decided that the best thing to do would be to incorporate the two into a single track.

The transition between the two different parts of 'A Day In The Life' proved to be an early sticking point while recording. As can be heard on the Beatles Anthology, a simple piano bridge was initially inserted, along with the voice of a recording technician counting out the bars that the projected interlude would last. George Martin, at the request of McCartney, wrote a hasty orchestral score and presented it to a 40 piece group to record the 24 bars necessary to make the song whole. In order to make the orchestra sound larger than it actually was, their part was recorded and overdubbed 4 times, creating a cacophony of sound that to this day is enough to disturb the peace. The raucous final crescendo was capped off by a single piano chord, reverberating into silence. The song is followed by what was originally the run-out track on the record, a mish-mash of Beatle-talk that was cut up and re-arranged by Martin into complete nonsense. Compact disc and cassette releases of 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' tacked this track onto the end of 'A Day In The Life', and faded it out into eventual silence. is the mystical rehearsal studio for rockers DEMON TWEAK. Listen as they prepare for battle with the evil trickster Loki by playing home brewed classic rock direct from Ragnarok. Also read articles on your favorite classic rock band written by resident historian VIRGIL THE STORYTELLER.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Abbey Road - The Beatles

The Beatles - Abbey Road by Johnny Moon

What Is The Beatles Final Album?

The answer is Abbey Road. This issue has been somewhat confused by the fact that Let It Be was actually released after Abbey Road. But that's only because The Beatles were unhappy with the recordings made for Let It Be (or as it was called at the time, Get Back) and they had them "shelved" until they were dug out and remixed by music producing legend Phil Specter and released after the band had broken up in 1970.

Abbey Road - The Best Final Album Ever?

How often does a band go out on this kind of peak? I can think of a few situations where a band only released a few albums and they "went out" on a high note (I'm thinking of Neutral Milk Hotel, The Olivia Tremor Control, & My Bloody Valentine in particular... although they may all eventually get to releasing another album) but that's a different situation from a band who released as many albums as The Beatles did.

While Abbey Road is not my favorite Beatles album I think in some ways it is the best. It is the most "modern" sounding album they recorded, that's probably because it's the only album they recorded on what was then a state of the art 8 track recording machine (their other albums were recorded on a 4 track machine.) The album, of course, includes the amazing side two "suite" which to me is the highlight of the album. It also features George Harrision in full bloom as a songwriter. While he only contributed two songs "Here Comes The Sun" & "Something" they were both absolute classics.

Abbey Road - A Good Starting Point?

I actually think Abbey Road may be a pretty good starting point for someone new to The Beatles. Like I said, I don't think it's their best album. I prefer The White Album, Revolver, & Sgt Pepper - but I do think it may be an easier initial listen than any of those albums. And I personally like the idea of starting off someone with an album rather than a greatest hits collection. Although Past Masters, Volume 2 is another nice choice to get started with. I like that choice because there's none of the "overlap" that you get with the greatest hits CDs.

I know about that because I actually started off with the "Blue Album" & "Red Album" greatest hits CDs and while they are definitely a good way to get someone hooked on the Beatles as the songs are incredibly good. They also have the effect of somewhat damaging the way the albums sound when you first get them. For example I think there's 7 songs from Rubber Soul on the Red album, it's hard to then listen to those songs with "fresh ears" and hear them in context of the album once you've already heard them so many times on Rubber Soul.

Anyway, my point is that the Past Masters Vol. 2 doesn't have any of that overlap, because it only includes singles that were not included on any albums. In fact, because of that, I consider it a must buy for any Beatles fan.

Standout Tracks On Abbey Road?

The easy answer is the whole thing, but then that'd be somewhat of a lie as Octopus's Garden isn't a great song (sorry Ringo.) Some standout tracks for me (that you may not have heard before if you've only heard their "hits) are "Oh Darling," "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" & "You Never Give Me Your Money." And of course the whole "Mean Mr. Mustard," "Polythene Pam," through "The End" suite. Oh and "Sun King" is awesome. And so is "Her Majesty" even though it's only 23 seconds long. And "Because" is incredibly beautiful. And of course the more well known (the songs that almost everyone has heard before) songs like "Come Together," "Something," & "Here Comes The Sun" are great too.

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Saturday, August 2, 2008

Opinion: The Assassination of JFK

The Death of Dorothy Hunt - Probing the Assassination of JFK, Part 1 by Sherman De Brosse

A useful way of approaching the assassination of John F. Kennedy is to examine two men named Hunt, Howard, a career CIA man and oil billionaire H.L. Establishing who exactly killed Kennedy is nearly impossible. But the stories of these two men will shed light on the forces at work in 1963.

On December 8, 1972, a United Airlines Flight carrying the wife of E. Howard Hunt crashed near Chicago’s Midway Airport . She bought an extra first class seat for her luggage. It is not known what happened to it. Did it contain the $1, 900,000 in negotiables ands $10,000 in untraceable cash that CREEP paid to buy the silence of the Hunts ? Some calculate that there was less, perhaps between $100,000 and $250,000. There is strong evidence, that CREEP was also buying silence about what Hunt could say about the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

E. Howard Hunt ( 1918-2007), G. Gordon Liddy, and James McCord had masterminded the famous Watergate break-in. Hunt was a member of the insiders’ circle of old boys, close to former director Allen Dulles; and Hunt’s protégé was David Atlee Phillips. He was Chief of Cuban Operations and Covert Action at the Mexico City station at the time of the Kennedy assassination and had been involved in an effort to falsely sell the idea that Lee Oswald worked for the Soviets. Hunt was probably also involved, having been assigned to Mexico City in August and September, 1963. In 1963, Hunt was Chief of Covert Operations for the Domestic Operations Division. There are controversial allegations that Hunt was in Dallas on November 22, 1963 and a 1966 memo initialed by Richard Helms and James Angleton stating it was important to conceal Hunt’s presence in Dallas that day. Helms was another member of the charmed circle of CIA insiders. Helms and Dulles worked together to prevent the Warren Commission from knowing about plots, in league with the Mafia, to kill Castro.

Hunt officially left the agency in 1970 and became part of a secret White House Investigative Unit that carried our a few burglaries. Dorothy Hunt was also a CIA agent and met her husband when they were working in China in the late 1940s. She was unhappy about flying around the country paying off Watergate figures and the way the payoffs were handled. Hunt demanded money in return for silence about who ordered the Watergate break-in, and Dorothy Hunt , also a CIA agent, also participated in the negotiations with White House aid Charles Colson. James McCord claimed that Dorothy told him and her husband’s attorney that they had evidence that would "blow the White House out of the water. ".John Wesley Dean told Nixon on the famous tapes that Mrs. Hunt was “the savviest woman alive.” She had put the whole picture together. A month after her death, Hunt pleaded guilty to conspiracy and burglary and spent 33 months in prison.

Michele Clark of CBS News was also on the plane. She was doing a story on Watergate and may have had inside information, as her boyfriend was a CIA agent. CBS insisted that her body be cremated; although, her family opposed this. The mortician who did the job was later killed in an apparent burglary. Chicago Representative George Collins was also with Ms. Clark and Mrs. Hunt. There were 45 dead, including Collins and 42 other passengers.

The author is a retired history professor.

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Friday, August 1, 2008

A Tribute to the Led Zeppelin Song - "Kashmir"

By Going to Kashmir, Led Zeppelin Gave the World a Masterpiece by Virgil Vince

Kashmir is a region of the East that contains the Indian state of Kashmir as well as parts of China. Historically, Kashmir has been an important center of that geographical area, and it has recently known political and social turmoil due to the intersecting cultures found there.

It is no surprise that such a culturally rich part of the world found itself the title subject of a song by the world's most popular hard rock band. In the song Kashmir Led Zeppelin paints a vivid picture of a traveler moving across the great dry sea of one of the world's deserts, moving inexorably towards his destination even as reality crumbles around him and he implores the gods to give him safe deliverance. Included on the album 'Physical Graffiti', the song opens with the lyrics 'Oh let the sun beat down upon my face, stars to fill my dream / I am a traveler of both time and space, to be where I have been'. This opening stanza indicates the state of mind of Robert Plant when he composed it while driving through the vast expanse of the Sahara Desert in Morocco. Plant found himself filled with wonder at the natural surroundings, and many have speculated that in the emptiness between the sand and the stars he felt a spiritual communion that made its way into the final recording of the song.

It is not surprising that Kashmir has remained one of the most enduring songs in Led Zeppelin's catalog. It is a personal favorite of both Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, both of whom feel that their performances on that record fully tapped their respective abilities as songwriters. Bassist and keyboardist John Paul Jones agrees, and he has repeatedly stated that in Kashmir Led Zeppelin incorporated melodic elements that had previously eluded their studio recordings. The band played the track at every single live performance post-release, and it is also one of the songs that the surviving members usually choose to play at their rare reunion shows. For their 1994 album 'No Quarter', Page and Plant performed a stunning live version of Kashmir backed by a full string and Moroccan rhythm section onstage, using it as the album and show closer.

Kashmir remains a masterpiece of Led Zeppelin's legacy, and it has achieved a level of cultural status that has seen it covered and sampled by groups from genres as diverse as instrumental progressive rock and hip hop. is the mystical rehearsal studio for rockers DEMON TWEAK. Listen as they prepare for battle with the evil trickster Loki by playing home brewed classic rock direct from Ragnarok. Also read articles on your favorite classic rock band written by resident historian VIRGIL THE STORYTELLER.

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A Tribute to Jimmy Page

A Man With a Storied Biography - Jimmy Page Inspired Thousands to Pick Up The Guitar by Virgil Vince

When writing a Led Zeppelin biography Jimmy Page is often at its center. This legendary guitarist began plying his trade as a session man in London, playing on the albums of several important British bands including The Who and The Kinks, as well as pop stars Joe Cocker and Marianne Faithful.

Page managed to parlay this success into a comfortable career as a professional musician, although he was itching to do original work of his own. When Eric Clapton left the Yardbirds in 1964, it took a bit of convincing but Page finally agreed to abandon the safe money of session work and take a risk on rock and roll. He formed a great musical partnership with lead guitarist Jeff Beck, and when Beck left the group Page was given the keys and told to reform things as he saw fit. The result was Led Zeppelin.

Page was the primary musical driver in the band, and he not only did his best to channel and focus each member's musical contributions, he also produced a large body of the group's work. His guitar sound was raw and inventive, and he was not afraid to take chances with the instrument and try new things. Page was never a technically outstanding guitarist, but he overcame that through the originality of his arrangements. He carried over that same attitude when it came to experimentation in the studio, and he was known for employing effects in new ways and trying out different methods of using microphones and amplification.

In one of the more interesting chapters of his biography Jimmy Page was also known to be quite fascinated with the occult. He published occult materials and owned the prior home of famed master of the black arts Aleister Crowley. He was obsessed with Crowley, and some of the more superstitious fans of the band have claimed that Page's dabbling with forces he may not have completely understood led to some of the bad luck that befell certain band members towards the end of the group's career.

Not affected by these wild accusations, Page continued to record in the 1980's and 1990's, forming the group The Firm and collaborating with several artists in different genres. He recorded two albums with former Zeppelin lead singer Robert Plant in the 90's, 'Walking Into to Clarksdale' and 'No Quarter'. His most recent recorded work was on a live album with the band The Black Crowes in 2000. is the mystical rehearsal studio for rockers DEMON TWEAK. Listen as they prepare for battle with the evil trickster Loki by playing home brewed classic rock direct from Ragnarok. Also read articles on your favorite classic rock band written by resident historian VIRGIL THE STORYTELLER.

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ALBUM REVIEW: The Who - Tommy: The Rock Opera

A Landmark For "The Who" - Tommy Set the Stage For 1970's Rock by Virgil Vince

The late 60's were a transitional moment for rock and roll. Many bands were attempting to stretch their wings and experiment with the kinds of material that they could release to the public. Some bands turned to composing with orchestras in mind, while others focused on spreading a social or political message.

Some groups however felt that they needed to add a more spiritual dimension to their music and construct a narrative that would allow them to discuss the concepts that filled their heads. For The Who Tommy was their first sustained attempt to expand on the promise of the mini-rock vignettes they had released on previous records.

'Tommy' is the story of a deaf, blind and mute child who is born normally but has his senses stolen from him after witnessing the murder of his mother's new lover at the hands of his suddenly returning father. The tale deals with the attempts by Tommy's family to return him to 'normalcy', as well as the inner psychological journey undergone by the title character. Once cured, Tommy sets up a cult-like organization with himself at its head, and he attains great power only to have it taken away. The end result is his own spiritual enlightenment.

In today's entertainment culture this plot may not sound all that risqué, but when it was released in 1969 there were many who felt that the entire scenario was far too relentlessly dark. The themes of child abuse, religious manipulation and spirituality were new territory for rock music. Some of these criticisms were made quite vocally, but they were countered by an equal number of people who celebrated this new form of artistic expression, dubbing it 'rock opera'. In terms of records sales for The Who Tommy was a smash, and remained on the charts for 126 weeks.

'Tommy' gave Townshend a release for the spiritual topics related to his tutelage under Meher Baba that felt he needed to write music about. The entire production was scored for the orchestra, and then later brought to the silver screen in 1975 as a film starring the lead singer of the group, Roger Daltrey. The movie was a critical and commercial success, and Daltrey was also instrumental in bringing 'Tommy' to Broadway in the early 90's. This rock opera continues to be regarded as an important part of rock and roll's maturation process and a harbinger of the concept albums which would flood record stores in the 1970's. is the mystical rehearsal studio for rockers DEMON TWEAK. Listen as they prepare for battle with the evil trickster Loki by playing home brewed classic rock direct from Ragnarok. Also read articles on your favorite classic rock band written by resident historian VIRGIL THE STORYTELLER.

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ALBUM REVIEW: The Who - Who Are You?

A Final Chapter For The "Who Are You" Sends Them Out on Top by Virgil Vince

For The Who, Who Are You was a huge success at a time when their place in the music industry may not have been as secure as it had once been. Pete Townshend decided that he would try to embrace new forms of music that he had previously never composed in, and he struggled to make The Who relevant in a world where the music scene was fast being taken over by the brief but brightly burning lights of disco and punk.

The stress of constant touring and Keith Moon's rapidly deteriorating physical condition would rear their heads during the recording sessions for the album, and original producer Glyn Johns would quit the project after being head-butted by an irate Roger Daltrey.

Physical conflicts aside, the title track 'Who Are You' was a blindingly energetic song that combined the pop sensibilities of The Who's melodies with biting lyrics born from Townshend's frustration with the business side of the music industry. As with other tracks on the album that complained about the state of modern radio and commercial music, 'Who Are You' dealt with losing one's identity in the face of crass consumerism. Just prior to writing the song, Townshend had undergone a grueling multi-hour negotiation session with record executive Allan Keith. Feeling drained and dejected, he ran into two members of the Sex Pistols who took him out carousing and did their best to provide him with a shoulder to lean on. Their subsequent adventures lead to the line about waking up outside a bar with a policeman letting the go if they could identify themselves.

More than just an album for The Who, Who Are You also coincided with a return to the 'Lifehouse' concept that had been shelved many years earlier. The band attempted to create a sort of a sequel to the never-produced rock opera with the songs on 'Who Are You', setting the events 200 years into the future of the fictional world Townshend had created and again centering around a concert designed to free that world's inhabitants from their chains. Townshend re-wrote his screenplay to reflect the changes, but the project fell apart after conflicts with the attached director brought the film to a halt.

'Who Are You' would be the final album by The Who with Keith Moon on the drums. He died of a drug overdose mere weeks after it was released. The loss of Moon took the creative fire out of the band, and the multi-platinum status of the album did nothing to soothe their broken hearts. is the mystical rehearsal studio for rockers DEMON TWEAK. Listen as they prepare for battle with the evil trickster Loki by playing home brewed classic rock direct from Ragnarok. Also read articles on your favorite classic rock band written by resident historian VIRGIL THE STORYTELLER.

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Opinion: The Beatles Best Three Albums

The Beatles Best Three Albums by Johnny Moon

All Of The Beatles Albums Have Their Charms

I'm a huge Beatles fan and in my mind every single one of their albums is worth owning. Although some of their earlier albums are certainly not quite as great as the albums I'm going to be talking about in this article, they still have their charms and they are still interesting both historically and musically speaking.

Only Three

As a challenge I wanted to select just the three greatest Beatles albums. This is a challenge because so many of their albums are fantastic and I will be leaving out some truly excellent albums in this listing.

#1 The White Album (1968)

Some people think The White Album is a sprawling mess. I greatly disagree obviously. While I can understand the feeling that it's not as "consistant" as say, Abbey Road. Or that it's classic song ratio isn't as high as say, Rubber Soul. To me those things are irrelevant. The White Album is an awesome musical journey that is endlessly rewarding to me as a listener. I have probably heard it over 1000 times in my life yet I still find new things every time I listen to it.

To me the songs that some people skip or think are the reason the album isn't that great ("Revolution #9" is the best example) are actually a big part of why I think the album is so awesome. I get bored by hearing the same type of music over and over again. The Beatles never bore me. They were great musical visionaries and they were always trying something new. To me "Revolution #9" is a highlight of the album, not something to be dismissed.

The album showcases so much great music in so many different styles. You've got Paul McCartney's beautiful ballads like "Blackbird" & "I Will" along with his thundering proto Heavy Metal jam "Helter Skelter." You've got George Harrison heavy "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and also his so soft it almost floats away "Long Long Long." You've got John Lennon's uniquely arranged masterpiece "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" along with rockers like "Everybody's Got Something To Hide (Except For Me And My Monkey.)"

#2 Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

No. It's not overrated. If you think it's overrated you are probably one of those hipster kids who gets their opinions from some website that pretends to be about music but is actually about haircuts or skinny jeans.

It's an incredible musical journey. Every song different from the last. I see it as sort of the opposite end of the spectrum from The White Album in some ways (in that it's much more seamless and it feels very much like a cohesive whole rather than a sprawling "mess.") But in other ways it's very similar (in that it showcases songs of such a wide variety of styles.)

It ends with what is the greatest song ever written & recorded: "A Day In The Life." How can an album that ends with the greatest song of all time be overrated? It can't. It isn't. If anything it's underrated at this point with so many people trying to say it's overrated. Listen closely to songs like "Fixing A Hole," "It's Getting Better," & "Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite" to really get what this album is all about.

#3 Revolver

It's become very hip to say Revolver is The Beatles greatest album. Obviously I agree that's a great album or it wouldn't be placed over Abbey Road, Magical Mystery Tour, Rubber Soul, etc. But I also obviously disagree with it being The Beates very best album. It's great. But it doesn't quite match the level of adventure that I hear on Sgt. Pepper. It's not nearly as much of a cohesive statement. Obviously from my love of The White Album you can see that cohesiveness is not a requirement for me but I do feel that with the Revolver/Sgt Pepper comparison (and for me it comes down to those to fighting it out for #2 as The White Album is on a different plane for me) that the cohesivesness of Pepper helps it win out.

Beatles MP3 Downloads.

Watch Yellow Submarine Online. You can stream the entire Yellow Submarine movie here.

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