Thursday, August 30, 2012

Breaking News: Jack Blades Announces That He's A Republican

I noticed that they used a polite (and probably cleared) instrumental version of “The Boys Are Back In Town” last night as they introduced Paul Ryan, the Republican candidate for Vice President at last night’s Republican National Convention.

I wonder why they didn’t use “(You Can Still) Rock In America” instead.

No seriously. Night Rangerian Jack Blades is a big dumb Republican, and I say “dumb” because any real Republican would not be able to support the ass clowns that they have running the party these days.

"You can still rock in America, but only if you vote for Romney!"
Not to suggest that the dumb Democrats are much better, but have you ever noticed that aside from Ted Nugent, there aren’t that many GOP rockers? 

Let’s count ‘em:

The Nuge (dangerously crazy)

Dave Mustaine (crazy ex cokehead)

Blackie Lawless (irrelevantly crazy)

And now Jack Blades.

I don’t think Jack Blades is dumb, just misinformed. I firmly believe that if you or I were in a band with The Nuge and spent an entire tour with him, we’d come out of it partially brainwashed, or at the very least, fearing for our lives if we ever uttered a dissenting opinion toward Uncle Ted’s views. It is my fear that Jack Blades is merely showing the signs of his exposure to Ted Nugent.

Plus, he's the fucking dude from Night Ranger. Plus Damn Yankees. Plus Rubicon, or whatever the name of that shitty band he was in prior to forming Night Ranger with that bald dude from Montrose. I don't see the guy who composed such classics as "Don't Tell Me You Love Me" as someone I look towards as a political commentator.         

Here’s his silly press release advising everyone that he’s a dumb Republican and he’s going to play a shitty little song for dumb Republicans.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                
AUGUST 27, 2012                                                                  

Jack Blades of Night Ranger/Damn Yankees Takes "Rock N' Roll Ride" to 2012 Republican National Convention

Iconic Entertainer Joins GOP in Tampa to Help Show America is "Back in the Game"

TAMPA, FL -- You can still rock in America -- and with his blend of common-sense conservatism and rock n' roll credentials, Jack Blades is out to prove it.  The songwriter, bassist, lead singer and front man of Night Ranger and Damn Yankees is in Tampa, Florida this week to participate in the 2012 Republican National Convention, where he'll perform "Back in the Game," the lead track from his latest solo effort, Rock 'n Roll Ride, and make appearances in support of Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and other GOP candidates.

"This country was built on the hard work of individual Americans who took a chance and pursued a dream," says Blades, who has sold more than 25 million albums throughout his remarkable career and performed in front of millions of fans worldwide.  "Too often today I see that sort of initiative being discouraged and punished.  We can do better.  That's why I'm honored to have been asked to be involved in the convention."

Blades' music has long had a patriotic flavor, evident in Night Ranger's classic 1983 hit "(You Can Still) Rock in America" and emerging more recently in his solo hit "Back in the Game," the video for which made its debut earlier this year on radio and TV host Sean Hannity's website.  Night Ranger also performed for U.S. troops stationed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2008, an experience Blades found deeply inspiring.

With a career spanning three decades, Blades has recorded with, penned songs and produced albums for some of the music industry's biggest names, including Aerosmith, Cher, Ringo Starr, Alice Cooper, Roger Daltrey, Journey, Vince Neil, Ozzy Osbourne, Styx, Ted Nugent, and Motley Crue.

Blades has brought his common-sense conservatism and passion for America to television, appearing as a guest on Fox News' "Hannity" and "Red Eye" programs.

Blades' music has been featured in films such as Armageddon, Oscar-nominated Boogie Nights, Tommy Boy; television shows such as South Park and American Dad, the wildly successful Rock Band and Guitar Hero video games; and the Rock of Ages hit Broadway musical and feature film.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Mickey Hart Band - Live At The Englert Theater

Mickey Hart Band
Live at the Englert Theater, Iowa City, Iowa
August 22, 2012

I’ve always liked Mickey Hart. Out of the two Grateful Dead drummers, he’s definitely my favorite. It has nothing to do with his talent or his tenacious desire to spread the power of percussion to the world or his love of World Music and his efforts to bring that music to Western consciousness.

No, my love of Mickey is based on my gut feeling that he was the most unstable member of the Grateful Dead.

This instability was briefly addressed in a documentary about the Grateful Dead’s tenure with Warner Brothers. The Dead’s relationship with their record label was strained, to which Hart compared the band to a ship that neither the band nor Warner Bros could steer.

Joe Smith, an executive at Warner, was less tactful in his comments about the group, targeting Phil Lesh with the most pointed of recollections, but saving the most memorable comments for Mickey.

“I thought [Hart] could be institutionalized.” Smith recalled during the film. “I thought he was crazy. He did not seem to be on the same planet most of the time.”

Knowing this factoid of Grateful Dead lore and considering the large quantity of drugs that Hart was undoubtedly consuming during this period, it’s perfectly natural to view Mickey with a bit of trepidation.

This is exactly how I viewed the prospect of attending a live show of the Mickey Hart Band recently when I discovered they were playing a small local theater in Iowa City.

Iowa City, Iowa is a typical, liberal college town with plenty of jam-band supporters as well as their more tenured counterparts who never quite seemed to move beyond the comforts of their lefty oasis, even when they had reached the end of their collegiate experience.

I only bring this up because I expected more of a showing than the half-filled venue. The seats that were taken were occupied by only the most faithful of fans, the vast majority of which were older than me.

Not that there’s anything wrong with a little bit of gray in your fan base; Hart himself is approaching 70 and as someone who started to become folically challenged after hitting 40, I’m looking forward to attending shows where I will be the oldest person in the crowd.

These geezers were rowdy, hollering and yelling when Hart took his own sweet time bringing his band to the stage. They were also high, or at least a few of them were as I caught a whiff of marijuana from my seat in the balcony at the Englert Theater, something that I hadn’t experienced in many years-at least in an indoor venue-thanks to our country’s zero tolerance of anything requiring a Bic lighter at a show. Oh sure, the incandescent glow of a smart phone or the blackout-inducing $7 beer mixed with Lord knows whatever prescribed narcotic the ticketholder consumed earlier is perfectly fine. But when a bros tries to “spark a doobie” in some bullshit Live Nation venue, then just watch the rent-a-cops come with tiny Maglites, ready to 86 your ass for breaking their fine print rules.

Mickey Hart knows all too well about fighting the establishment, but I wondered if he knew about how to put a band together. More importantly, would he be able to get and retain a band, pushing them to their limits without chasing their tails in endless jams and World Beat excursions that fail to recognize what made the Dead such an iconic band: their roots were firmly planted in American music.

Pulsing, pulsing
It’s hard to tell from my shitty camera phone photo taken from the balcony at the Englert Theater, but behind the band was a very amateur looking banner that featured some kind of space motif. It reminded me that Hart’s last project had something to do with sounds emanating from space or something. It’s hard to recall because the idea and the ridiculous album art was enough for me to scoff at and forget that during the Dead’s brief hiatus (and his own departure), Hart actually managed to release a decent solo album.

“I have a feeling that something special is going to happen here tonight.” Hart announced after making his way on stage, from behind his circle of drums and other bits of equipment that kept the festivities filled with atmospheric sounds and loops. I have no idea what half of the instruments/devices did or were called, but there was a guy with a beard and a wool cap that Hart would turn and yell to whenever things went technically astray. He also came in handy by picking up all of the sticks and mallets that Hart would drop, placing them back into their proper holder for future use.

Hart’s choice in Dead material was pretty eclectic, ranging from some stellar performances (“Samson and Delilah”) to the pretty pedestrian (“West L.A. Fade Away”). But all of them were necessary to sedate the Deadheads in attendance, particularly since the show weaved in and out of the guitar-oriented jams with the “pulse and throb” vibe that Hart is trying to accomplish with his original material.

That material is spearheaded by two of the band’s main focal points: vocalist Christie Monee Hall and keyboardist/vocalist Ben Hockenberry. Hall is a tremendous vibe, having saved the show on more than one occasion with her incredible range and radiant personality. She brings an Earthy quality to the band, especially when Hart keeps trying to take them to places that they might not have enough fuel to get to.

This happened more than once; the band would be off on a notable journey only to find band members looking at each other, just waiting for someone to make a move. While not exactly exciting to listen to, it was more painful to watch, particularly when the band’s namesake walked off stage at one point, mid-song, addressing lord knows what off stage. Whatever it was, nearly every band member had their eyes glued to Hart’s whereabouts, which in turn had everyone in the audience looking to see what was taking place.

Hall and Hockenberry would occasionally move to one of their two microphones, one of which was rigged up to some kind of effects unit. As utterly frightening as that may sound, it actually added to some of the material, giving the newer material a trippier vibe than what I expected.

Guitarist Gawain Mathews has some nice chops and may be a force to be reckoned with in a few years in the jam band community. For now, it sounds like he’s trying to figure out his place in the band and in their mix.

Widespread Panic bassist Dave Schools is with this touring edition of the band, and aside from one criminally short solo, was totally underutilized in both presence and sound.

Seriously, initially I worried that I had forgotten my ear protection to the show, but the mix was nowhere near loud. I mentioned something about my concerns on the potential to my neighbors-a couple in their mid 50’s, I’m guessing-at the start of the show. By the start of the second set, they were gone, either a casualty of the workweek (the show was on a Wednesday night, and the second set didn’t get underway until 10) or maybe they just weren’t turned on by Hart’s direction.

And there in-lies the problem: there was little direction present, and I attribute that to Hart’s own leadership skills and his aloofness. Imagine a reasonable facsimile of a Dead show, with the set going from Not Fade Away>Space>Iko Iko>Space>Scarlet Begonias>Space.

The first set clearly showed some potential, but the second set was a shamble, particularly with the aforementioned walk-off noted earlier. The only thing comparable to that in the first set was when Mickey walked out from his drum circle and went around to each band member in front of the stage, banging on a drum and bearing this crazy, wide grin. It was creeping me out, and I was in the safety of the balcony, far from his Manson eyes.

His mood definitely changed during the second set, to which he announced that it may be likened to “strange occurrences in the desert.” There was definitely a “strange occurrences,” but nothing that sounded like any of us were being taken anywhere special.

Hart must have felt it too. With the band-again-looking to their leader for direction, he promptly began blowing kisses to each member, a subtle clue to wrap it up and end the show with “We Bid You Goodnight,” another bit of Dead nostalgia that caused the loyal remaining to scratch their heads when the band failed to return for an encore.

It was a good two-hour show, with the word “good” being the only thing in question, and the second set just barely adding to the total time. There were moments of legitimate levitation, which may make those moments that didn’t achieve orbit so pronounced.

He’s still my favorite Dead drummer; I’d take another Mickey Hart Band show over a Bill Kreutzmann gig any day of the week. And one of the reasons is that unpredictability that Hart brings, that craziness that made Joe Smith so on edge. Besides, it is good to know that not only is Mickey Hart still on his trip, but his still doing his part to make it a strange one. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

New Circle Jerks Documentary Slated For Next Month

This could be cool.

Keith Morris is currently experiencing a resurgence of sorts with his latest band, Off! But back in the day he was one of the founding members of Black Flag and then later the Circle Jerks, two of Southern California's most influential punk rock bands.

Dave Markey, the director responsible for such documentaries as 1991: The Year Punk Broke and Desperate Teenage Lovedolls, brings us the tale of the Circle Jerks in My Career As A Jerk.

Oh, and you get a discount if you buy the DVD along with the Keith Morris throbblehead things.



This is the just the thing for the Circle Jerks fan in your life. It contains the brand new Circle Jerks documentary DVD and a limited edition Keith Morris Throbblehead... You save $5 (plus shipping discount) by ordering these items together HERE. Circle Jerks My Career As A Jerk is a brand new documentary to be released on DVD on September 25. From the beginning, LA punk band the CIRCLE JERKS were rooted in controversy. Formed by ex members of Black Flag and Red Cross (now Redd Kross) in late 1979, the band came to encapsulate the image, sound and energy of California Hardcore Punk. Filmmaker David Markey (1991: The Year Punk Broke, The Slog Movie) mixes in-depth interviews, rare live footage and historical perspective to illustrate the story of one of the most influential bands in the American underground.

 My Career as a Jerk follows the band from their early days and classic debut to navigating the independent label and touring scene of the 80s to the addictions, fights and injuries that forced their break up. Features interviews with members Keith Morris, Greg Hetson, Lucky Leher. Earl Liberty, Zander Schloss as well as J. Mascis (Dinosaur Jr), Henry Rollins (Black Flag), Brian Baker (Minor Threat, Bad Religion), and more. Keith Morris Throbblehead - Keith Morris, legendary frontman of Black Flag, The Circle Jerks and now Off!, has been throbble-ized! This figure capturing Keith in full-on live mode is limited to 1000 numbered units, stands at 7 inches tall, and is made of super strong polyresin. While the figure is labeled a Throbblehead, it's actually Keith's arm that does all the movement, aggressively pointing towards his mind. Displayed in a window box, Keith is accurately sculpted right down to the dreads, Vans, and "fuck you" stare.

 "I was a participant on a very long musical adventure through all the fun and miserable times and thinking about this I don't know if i'd change any of it!" - Keith Morris

Monday, August 20, 2012

Elton John - Don't Shoot Me I'm Only The Piano Player

Here it is, the record that brought my seven-year-old self to his knees, a cute l’il descriptive until I remembered the Elton John mondegreen joke “Don’t let your son go down on me.”

The reality is that I had no perspective of sexuality at the age of seven. All I knew was that Elton was a crazy dresser with hundred thousand dollar eyewear and he had some good tunes that I enjoyed.

What I also didn’t know at that young age was that Don’t Shoot Me…I’m Only The Piano player was a hodgepodge of derivative styles and formulas that find Elton expanding his range while falling flat on more than one occasion.

And let’s be honest, songwriter Bernie Taupin and producer Gus Dudgeon are partially to blame here for not providing John with a safety net to fall back on when he gets a bit long in the tooth with his grandiose arrangements and over-the-top theatrics.

I’m guessing “Elderberry Wine” is an attempt to channel the nostalgic everyman rocket fuel of yesterday, but with lines like “The bottle went ‘round/Like a woman down south/Passed on from hand to hand” you begin to feel resentful that there wasn’t at least one of them to suggest “Try harder.”

Even more troubling is “Texan Love Song” which paints Elton as some kind of Bob Seger road dog, detailing a redneck’s point of view of some longhaired musician. “Ki-yi-yippie-yi-yi/You long hairs are sure gonna die” is the best that Taupin can come up with for a chorus, and Elton conjures up some dumb Texan drawl to the point where the entire thing is an embarrassment that taints up the entire album.

Don’t think that the hit singles-and there are two huge ones on Don’t Shoot Me-are exempt from criticism due to their high chart positions. “Daniel,” which itself is a tremendous lyrical study on the Vietnam war, is turned into a weak M.O.R. schmaltz thanks to Dudgeon’s production that it completely neuters the subject matter.

“Crocodile Rock” turns out to be nothing more than an American Graffiti cash grab that’s as authentic as a “Sit On It” t-shirt and a Bobby Vee show in Las Vegas. It’d be better served as Sha Na Na’s breakthrough hit instead of Elton’s follow up single to “Honky Cat.” Not only is Elton attempting to channel a bit of the 50’s into his repertoire, he’s clearly pointing the entire vehicle in the wrong direction after making some headway with the previous album, Honky Chateau.

Thankfully, it would be the very same year (1973) when Elton rights the ship with Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, so the stumble that is John’s sixth record was short-lived. But any fan who feels the need to dip into Elton’s catalog will find Don’t Shoot Me as reason enough to use the record for target practice. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The The - Mind Bomb

Before you play a note, there’s a good possibility that you’ll hate The The merely on the merits of their ridiculously pretentious name, and even more so if you consider that the The is in fact, one person commanding that moniker.

If all of this points to a possibility that you’ve developed an opinion of Matt Johnson’s The The, then your first listen of his 1989’s Mind Bomb may even add to those that bark “holier than thou” as the record is chocked full of end of days imagery and various samples that beat the notion of religious Armageddon to death. All one has to do is look at the back cover for proof; it features a white dove, bloody and impaled, cruelly suggesting that the quest for world peace is nothing more than folly for the naïve.

Mind Bomb is over twenty-years old now, and what may save Johnson from that cynical notion is how amazingly accurate his clarion call was, particularly in light of our post 9/11 condition. But it would be disingenuous of me not to admit that even then, Mind Bomb sure sounded like a major piece of work
“Islam is rising/The Christians mobilizing” he advises on “Armageddon Days Are Here (Again),” an acidic observation on how messengers of hope and everlasting life have “forgotten the message and worship(s) the creeds.” One need only look at the “God Hates Fags” signs or any act of religious aggression so commonplace in today’s headlines to consider that Johnson may have been clearly on the mark.

On “The Beat(en) Generation” he declares how we’re all “reared on a diet of prejudice and misinformation,” encouraging us to “open your imaginations” and consider the possibility that our religious and  government leaders don’t always work in our best interest after exploiting  the presumption that they’re always…always…supposed to.

With the introduction of Johnny Marr, The The’s sound benefits greatly from the inclusion of the former-Smith’s chord progression and plaintive harmonica while the band’s hosts of session players give Johnson’s creative outlet the proper detail. Mind Bomb’s big themes are given big production values, but they don’t become as cluttered as other similarly themed releases who feel the need for huge orchestrations or layers of pointless instrumentation. And nowhere on Mind Bomb is the attention to far from Johnson’s philosophical musings, his colorful voice is placed firmly in charge and up front in the mix.

The only downfall to Mind Bomb-if there is one-is that the concept is so big, it would be nearly impossible to follow up. The big themes explored on this record came as a surprise to everyone, particularly considering The The’s previous work which featured Matt Johnson’s big mouth in an incredibly sterile and claustrophobic mix.

Mind Bomb opens up the windows, allowing you the opportunity to not only contemplate what’s being said, but to consider what’s really important in life. And if change does indeed start with one person, Matt Johnson can take solace that Mind Bomb remains a fine example of someone willing to take that first step towards enlightenment.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Ben Gibbard Grows Facial Hair In Preparation For Upcoming Solo Tour

"I've packed a change of clothes and it's time to move on."

Perhaps it’s all those years of vegan eating with Zooey Deschanel, but Ben Gibbard looks like he’s supporting about a 28 inch waist and a frame that’s thin enough where he could have auditioned for her stunt double in (500) Days Of Summer.

Thank goodness that Ben is supplanting his emaciated body with facial hair to at least give the appearance that he’s healthy enough to rock your balls off on his recently announced solo tour.

The tour is a mere 13 dates long-as two weeks of shows would surely drain the remaining bodily fluids left in his body to cause dehydration.

In the press release below, Gibbard makes an underhanded attempt at redeeming some of his manhood by professing his love for the Seattle Mariners and penning a theme song for Ichiro Suzuki, who’s now a fucking Yankee.

That bid for additional testosterone points is then cancelled out by Ben who decides to donate all the proceeds from that song about the former-Mariner to a community program sponsored by the Seattle team.

Next up, Ben plans to write a song about the Seattle Supersonics with proceeds going to an old coffee shop Gibbard used to visit that is now in danger of closing.

[Tuesday, August 14, 2012, Seattle, WA] This fall Death Cab for Cutie frontman Benjamin Gibbard will release his first solo record and embark on a 13-date North American tour. The album, Former Lives (Barsuk), is set for an October 16th release and the album art is available now. The tour begins October 14th in Toronto, ON. "Along the way Gibbard will hit Chicago, New York, DC, San Francisco, Los Angeles and more with the tour wrapping up in mid-November with soon to be announced shows in the songwriter’s native Pacific Northwest."  Advance Base and Damien Jurado will be joining him in opening slots. A complete list of tour dates is available below.

Recently the singer has been in the news for penning “Ichiro’s Theme”, a tribute to long-time Seattle Mariners’ outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, who was recently traded to the New York Yankees. “I wrote "Ichiro's Theme" in 2010 while living in LA and missing The Mariners.  I had always loved Ichiro and decided he needed a theme song that didn't suck.  Hopefully, I achieved this goal." “Ichiro’s Theme” is available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon, All sales proceeds will benefit the Seattle Mariners Refuse to Abuse Program.

In addition, Gibbard is the first contributor to a new initiative called “90 Days, 90 Reasons” launched by Dave Eggers and McSweeney’s. This is an effort to remind voters that there’s an election fast approaching and that President Obama deserves another term. Every day on this new website a concrete reason to vote for Obama will be given, with a cultural figure such as Judd Apatow, Win Butler, Roger Ebert, Aimee Mann and others detailing the reason. Reason  #1 by Ben Gibbard: “Obama is the first president in U.S. history to acknowledge the right of gay couples to marry and enjoy the full benefits of marriage in the eyes of the law. “

Pre-sale tickets for this tour are being held exclusively for the Death Cab for Cutie fan club beginning Wednesday, August 15 at 12 noon local venue time.

Please visit for more information on becoming a member of the DCFC Union Local #1138, or to log in to your account and gain access to the pre-sale. By buying tickets through our pre-sale, you will be able to get your tickets before anyone as well as save money on service charges.

Tickets go on sale to the general public beginning Friday, August 3. For further ticketing information, please visit Ben Gibbard's website.

Wed Sep 26 - Big Sur CA @ Henry Miller Library

Sun Oct 14 - Toronto ON @ The Danforth Music Hall

Thu Nov 01 - Minneapolis MN @ Assembly Hall at The Women's Club w/ Advance Base

Fri Nov 02 - Chicago IL @ Athenaeum Theatre w/ Advance Base

Sun Nov 04 - Somerville MA @ Somerville Theater w/ Advance Base

Mon Nov 05 - New York NY @ Town Hall w/ Advance Base

Wed Nov 07 - Glenside PA @ Keswick Theatre w/ Advance Base

Thu Nov 08 - Washington DC @ Sixth & I Historic Synagogue w/ Advance Base

Sat Nov 10 - Saxapahaw NC @ The Haw River Ballroom  w/ Advance Base

Sun Nov 11 - Atlanta GA @ Variety Playhouse w/ Advance Base

Tue Nov 13 - San Francisco CA @ Palace of Fine Arts Theatre  w/ Damien Jurado

Wed Nov 14 - Los Angeles CA @ Wilshire Ebell w/ Damien Jurado 

Friday, August 17, 2012

In Case You Were Wondering, Ben Gibbard Will Be Voting For Obama In 2012

The cocktail politics and obscure details.

Our weeklong coverage of Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard continues with a lengthy announcement at how Ben would like you to consider Barack Obama for re-election this November.

The funny thing is, other than slowly placing Mr. Gibbard into a category of “irritating indie rock hipster,” I don’t think that I gave two shits about the political leanings of the frontman for Death Cab For Cutie. For me, it ranks right up there in the eye-rolling category as Dave Mustaine blaming Obama for the shootings in Aurora, Colorado or Ted Nugent whenever he opens his big fucking mouth.

Ok, maybe he’s not on the same irritant level as the Nuge, but you get the idea.

And to be fair, the idea that we even have Ben Gibbard spouting about the merits of another 4-years of Obama isn’t even his idea, even if he could have easily said no to the contribution.

No, it’s the brainchild of two Chicagoans who looked around and noticed that their peers weren’t impressed with the first four years of the Obama presidency and, as a result, weren’t opening up their pocketbooks as much as they did in ’08. To which I say, “You’re damn right, Cutie!” as the only check that Obama will get from me is the one on the absentee voter ballot that I just ordered last week. And the only reason he’s getting that from me is because there’s the very good possibility that the victor this November will have a say in shaping the direction of the Supreme Court.

But enough about my political bent; you undoubtedly want to hear more about “90 Days, 90 Reasons” and how their first day is devoted to why Ben Gibbard is supporting Barack Obama this election year.

Never mind a simple Tweet from Ben stating, “I’m voting for Barack Obama this year because he supports gay marriage” would be enough.

Ooops! Spoiler alert!

"90 Days, 90 Reasons is an independent initiative unaffiliated with Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. 90 Days, 90 Reasons was conceived by two guys originally from Chicago, Dave Eggers and Jordan Kurland. In late July, they looked around and saw that many of Obama’s voters and donors from 2008 needed to be reminded of all he has accomplished, and all he will do if given another term. They asked a wide range of cultural figures to explain why they’re voting for Obama in 2012, in the hopes that this might re-inspire the grassroots army that got Obama elected in the first place. Every day, a new reason will be posted — in short, Twitter form, with a longer essay available here. Please spread the word."


My sister Megan is married to one of the most wonderful women I have ever met. Her name is Amber. They courted for years before tying the knot here in Seattle 3 years ago. They have two dogs named JoJo and Franco. They will undoubtedly grow very old and very wrinkled together.

When they are very old and very wrinkled they will tell their grandchildren what life was like at the turn of the century. It will be difficult for these kids to comprehend a time before people could view the Internet on the inside of their eyelids. Or that people once used GAS to power their flying cars. Or how when their Grandmas got married, the Government wouldn't recognize them as wife and wife. All of this will sound very strange.

Their grandkids will be too young for the details on how gay marriage was eventually legalized across the country but this is how it unfolded:

In Washington State, a bill to legalize same-sex marriage passed the Legislature and was signed by Governor Christine Gregoire in February 2012. Same-sex marriages were to be performed starting in June 2012 but that was delayed as opponents gathered enough signatures to force a voter referendum on the legislation. This was known as Referendum 74. A number of bigoted organizations tried their best to squash Ref. 74 but the voters of Washington State decided it was time to afford equal rights to all. It passed! Washington became the first state to approve marriage equality by a popular vote after 32 others had tried and failed. The rest of the country saw what Washington had done and decided they wanted to get some of that equality, too. Gay marriage started getting legalized all over the place. It was great. It was the right thing to do.

A lot of credit also had to go to our President, Barack Obama. In May of 2012, he went on national TV and expressed his support for gay marriage. It may be hard to believe but at the time, this was quite a controversial position to some people. He said he had "gone through an evolution" on the matter and felt it was time to share this view with the country (Vice President Biden also kind of forced his hand on the timing of this announcement but hey, who cares now?). He was the first U.S. president to voice support for marriage equality. His support continued through his second term and helped us get to where we are today: Gay couples that choose to get married receive the same rights and recognitions as straight ones.

I am voting for Barack Obama this fall because I want a president who recognizes that gay or straight, the rights of married couples should be equal. Marriage equality is undoubtedly the most important civil rights issue of our generation. We must elect a leader committed to being on the correct side of history. Please vote for Barack Obama this November.

Benjamin Gibbard
 Seattle, Washington

Thursday, August 16, 2012

You Are Two Months Away From A New Ben Gibbard Solo Record

It's official: we're now two months away from the new Ben Gibbard solo record. The details:

Death Cab For Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard is set to release his debut solo record in fall of 2012. Former Lives will be released on October 15th in the UK/Europe (City Slang) and October 16th in North America (Barsuk). The 12 tracks were written over the course of eight years but didn’t find their fully realized form until the songwriter moved from his native Seattle down to Los Angeles. The album was recorded at longtime pal Aaron Espinoza’s (Earlimart) studio, The Ship. Limited touring will follow the release of the album.  

Monday, August 13, 2012

Elton John - Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy

I wanted many records when I was a kid, but even as an only child, I seldom got everything that I wanted.

In 1975, I had no purchasing power whatsoever. Also that year, Elton John was probably at the peak of his career, dishing out hit after hit, even when he and lyricist Bernie Taupin weren’t reaching for commercial success.

Nonetheless, Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy volleyed up to the top of the charts and I took notice, point out the album as a desirable purchase for my Dad, so that he in turn could hand it down to me.

I remember my father acknowledging that the album was considered to be the best record in Elton’s career, a detail that honestly didn’t concern me, and a factoid that I don’t know how he came to, unless he was a secret subscriber to Rolling Stone magazine, reading their record review section.
All I knew is that the cover looked awesome.

It still does, and there’s something true about Captain Fantastic being the crowning document in Elton’s illustrious career. A recent listen to this record also confirmed it for me, and two things certainly secure that distinction for me.

One is the fact that this would be Elton’s last effort with his long-standing band for the rest of the decade. The arrangements are sublime, and for anyone (particularly Elton) to suddenly change the dynamics of this line-up after such a wonderful effort is clearly not working within their full capacities.

Perhaps the decision had something to do with the subject matter itself, as Captain Fantastic is essentially a concept album about John/Taupin’s rise to the enormous success they both found only a half-decade after starting out with little more than the clothes on their back and the continual fear that a career in music was little more than the folly of two like-minded dreamers.

It paid off, as they discovered just a few years after their initial struggles, and Taupin began the task of documenting the time of the days of their early struggles in song form, letting Elton add the musical arrangements to their biographies with a keen sense of the dramatic.

The centerpiece of which, “Someone Saved My Life Tonight,” documents Elton’s failed marriage and his suicidal thoughts over this broken relationship. The “someone” was Long John Baldry, and Taupin’s narrative of the events may be the best thing he turned back in to Elton, graciously acknowledging  “Saved in time…thank God my music’s still alive.”

It was the album the two needed to make, an acknowledgement of their combined genius and the pinnacle of their hard work. They would never be able to reach these heights again, and Captain Fantastic’s brilliance is reflected the generous amount of tolerance we’ve shown for Elton John in the decades since this record’s release.

It’s the record that bests the better known Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and one that does the impossible: it focuses two creative minds on one final attempt on making the album of their career during a time when their commercial peak was so great, even a fair attempt would’ve been met with a wide audience.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Pass The Loot...And The Lima Beans: The Post 9/11 World Of Jim Bakker

I’m a big fan of religious television.


Back in my hometown, they had a low-wattage Christian station with all sorts of weirdoes and bad production. We’ll give them a pass on the limitations of their hand-me-down equipment, but they must take full responsibility for the cast of characters that passed through their television studios.

One segment they had featured a local lady with ties to the right to life movement. She once was put in jail for trespassing after she tried to superglue the locks at the women’s health clinic in Carthage, Illinois because they also performed abortions there. The town was about 15 minutes away from where I lived, but its best known as the town where they murdered Mormon founder Joseph Smith.

She’d do things like stand outside the Planned Parenthood with huge signs of fetuses. The last time I saw her, she was holding a similar sign on Highway 61-the same one of Bob Dylan fame-fighting off the wind turbulence of a passing semi while trying to keep her bloody fetus sign upright.

I have no recorded footage of her unfortunately, but I do have hours of the channel’s footage on an old VHS tape somewhere and it’s remarkable. I even have recordings of old Jerry Falwell programs and the master of sleazy pastoral duties, Robert Tilton.

I don’t know if there’s any local, over-the-air Christian stations around Cedar Rapids, but we have DirecTV, which is probably better thanks to the endless variety of Christian programming available on its channel line up. Sure, the production quality is better, but they have shows for every kind of faith, including old footage of Mother Angelica.

But one late night, I was drawn to an old favorite. JimBakker, the disgraced former host of the PTL Club continues to broadcast shows that are even more surreal than his past heights.

Now in Branson, Missouri with second wife Lori Baker, Jim has developed Morningside Church, another sprawling complex that is currently underway, suspiciously mirroring the Heritage USA theme park, if not in sheer extravagance then at least in kitschy décor.
Jim gives a tour of his new television studio. Paid with beans and rice.

Originally, I mistook Lori’s lisp for ignorance, noting how she would chime in about irrelevant matters while Jim struggled to put together some kind of mock sermon while selling survivalist items.

That’s right, Bakker’s new program features just about as much selling things than actual religious preaching, and the aging Jim Bakker looks like he’s very uncomfortable with the entire setup.

Where do you go after you’ve preached to the end of the world? When Bakker looks for reasons why we should spend money on gasless generators, solar power sources, and huge, industrial bags of rice and beans, he gets frustrated. He stutters like he’s thinking “What part of ‘End of Times’ don’t you understand? Shit’s gonna be annihilated, and you’re gonna need ‘lectricity!”

What once was lifetime members to Heritage USA via their old “Lifetime Member” contributors has turned into which poor sap will spend over a grand on fueless generators, a few hundred on solar powered ovens, and don’t forget the popular water barrel.

He works himself up to a point where an assistant begins to rattle of the feature list of the items of their survivalist “specials,” calming Jim down to a point where he can feign excitement over the news that the new waterwheel is nearing completion.

They bill their relatively new digs as “a place of refuge from the raging storms of a world gone wild – and a sanctuary for the Last Days” all in the remote confines of the Missouri Ozarks.

For a dude that still owes millions of dollars in tax judgments against him, Jim Bakker seems to be producing remarkable results by barely going through the motions. Sure, there are those aforementioned moments when he gets riled up about the “last days,” but it’s only because he needs to fill the RV park up to help pay the bills. And you’re welcomed to stay in the available condos that they have around Morningside, rental properties that Jim has decided to stay clear away from, possibly thanks to his checkered past in the hotel industry.

Throughout it all, wife Lori smiles, occasionally mentioning the 10 year relationship she had with an abusive husband in the 70’s & 80’s, the one that left her as a pot-smoking pill-popper living in a double-wide trailer and securing five abortions during her first time as a housewife.

She’s adopted five children with Jim, perhaps the number signifies the ones she chose not to carry, and she has the ability to turn moments like visiting with Jim’s first son into an uncomfortable encounter after she considers how the first son she aborted would be about the same age as Jim’s boy now.

For Lori’s past sins, you can now donate $1,000 and become a “builder’s club” member of Lori’s House, a place still under constructions in which unwed mothers can come and live, making sure that they carry the baby to full term instead of stopping by an abortion clinic for a quick termination.

It’s atonement for somebody else’s struggles with coming to terms with the bad decisions she’s made in her life previously. In some ways, Lori is the perfect spouse for Jim, carrying enough sin with her in her own past to match Jim’s.

At Morningside, they can quietly build one final monument to Jim, to realize his dream on a much smaller scale so that it doesn’t bring attention to the Missouri Ozarks. There, they can peddle their survivalist gear, thereby funding Jim and Lori Bakker’s own retirement village, one that requires him to record shows three days a week in shorts, polo shirt, and an ever-present hat that covers the missing follicles of a once-mighty head of hair. He rambles through his list of products that he needs to sell, occasionally peppering the discretions with an appropriate bible passage, lecturing to everyone that the horrible news they hear each night should be enough to convince them of the need for their products.

Bakker smartly places banks and lending institutions as the real enemies, occasionally telling a story from his old PTL days about how he experienced first hand at how banks refused to work with him when times got tight. He suggests how they will be the ones that initiate a complete economic collapse, and how certain Christians can overcome it with just a quick call of the toll-free number.

All of it seems to point to how utterly little either one of them have learned from their past indiscretions. With Lori, it suggests that if she just had a refuge, one where people could constantly barrage her with stories of how abortion is wrong, then she wouldn’t have had the five performed on her.

Again, the number of abortions that Lori Bakker had with her first husband is officially five. What’s that saying about fool me once?

For Jim, it appears that the only way he could get out of the six million dollars he still owes the IRS for Heritage USA mismanagement is to create yet another empire out of selling solar panels instead of time-share investments.

I’m not sure if all of this qualifies as rehabilitation, but it makes for some incredible viewing if you’ve made televangical voyeurism a personal hobby like I have.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sugar High: Kids Moshing To Black Flag TV Party

It's about the cutest thing I've seen all week, second only to the little kitty cobra video: a bunch of British kids are forced by their punk rock parents to listen to Black Flag's "TV Party." Not all of them are fans of the song, but you know how kids are. Leave a video camera rolling in front of them and they're bound to do something cute.

Or say something mean about Hank Rollins.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Rush - Clockwork Angels

Prior to the release of Rush’s twentieth album, Clockwork Angels, the band had an opportunity to visit with Pete Townshend after receiving the Governor-General Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Performing Arts.

The formal gathering provided the Canadian trio with some face time with one of their acknowledged heroes after the event, and the conversation eventually led to the “What’s next?” question. When Rush responded that they were putting the finishing touches on a new album, Townshend scoffed, hinting that the format that he helped secure as a legitimate art form with Tommy has evolved into a seemingly extinct outlet.

“Waste of time, making albums these days.” He pointed out rather correctly, and even the band was forced to admit that maybe so, but they had to.

You could look at their response yet another example of a band from a different era failing to acknowledge modern realities. Or you could accept the fact that Rush has operated exclusively in their own reality for four decades now, navigating trends and genres in a silo of loyal fans who appreciate the independent spirit of this band’s history.

A big part of that history happened with their 1974 release, 2112, a record that found them at the end of a record deal after three consecutive commercial failures to their resume. By all means, 2112 should have been the band’s clear bend towards their label’s desire to have a hit record. Instead, it’s a record in which half of it is devoted to a concept corny enough to alienate the placid record buyers it was trying to capture.

As we know now, 2112 became an enormous record for the band, inexplicably connecting them with audience who appreciated their excessive tendencies and geeky excursions. It also became the record that fueled fan’s future expectations, the benchmark for new conceptual meanderings.

With Clockwork Angels, they’ve returned to idea of a concept album once again, even coyly putting the hands of a clock on the album’s cover, that-if you consider the hands in military time-clearly spell out 21:12.

To be honest, I don’t have the patience to figure out what the concept is, exactly, all I know is that I think I heard a few songs reference timepieces and that the performances within the records hour-long running time are probably the best thing they’ve done since Signals.

It’s also the most varied, alternating between complex arrangements and textures that effectively demonstrate a wide pallet of sounds that could only come from a band that’s spent a great deal of their existence continually trying to move forward.

Whether or not you’ve personally been a part of this journey isn’t relevant. For those of us who’ve had a relationship with Rush at some point in their life will find Clockwork Angels to be not only a continuation of the band’s recent upswing, but one of the premier entries in what’s not only been a long, storied career, but a somewhat choppy one at that.

The band wisely chose to work with producer Nick Raskulinecz again after giving the band a flattering mix for Snakes & Arrows. His role is vastly expanded here, giving Clockwork Angels a perfect blend of the band’s progressive background with their more recognizable synthesizer years, all while making sure that the material has a distinctively modern sound, capable of scaring off any younger contenders trying to surpass these elder statesmen.

They do it by not just focusing on the complexities of their craft, but in casting a wide net over its very definitions. Guitarist Alex Lifeson channels his best Robert Fripp at points where atmosphere and texture rule over guitar worship soloing. The acoustic moments are compelling, and when the material calls for a bit of big power chords, Lifeson responds with memorable attacks and distinctive tones.

Geddy Lee’s vocals are more palatable than they’ve ever been, with hints of emotional qualities that were not present when his voice was more of a distraction than an instrument. And speaking of, his bass duties are pushed up high in the mix, suggesting that he’s never stopped building his low-end craft even when his hands left the fretboard for the keyboard.

Drummer and lyricist Neil Peart also deliver some of the best work of his career, with the words providing evidence of added focus and his drumming showing signs of intentional spontaneity. Credit Raskulinecz here too, as the pair purposely avoided unnecessary exposure to the songs so that when the time came for Peart to perform the rhythm tracks, he was only familiar with the song’s outline, approaching it with only a basic notion of how he would address each fill or tempo change.

Clockwork Angels most telling moment may come with its title track, beginning with progressive layer of atmospheres before turning into churning bit of double-timed frenzy. The trick goes back and forth, until it turns into an acoustic Zeppelin shuffle right around the five-minute mark. It’s well thought-out, expertly delivered, and it suggests that not only are Rush still trying to deliver career triumph to us, they may still be able to accomplish it.

“All the journeys of this great adventure” Geddy sings, looking back on the band’s history and noting the struggles of their early years with “It didn’t always feel that way.” As the track progresses, Lee finally admits “I wish that I could live it all again” while the band performs as if the last four decades haven’t slowed them down a bit.

Waste of time? Judging from Townshend’s twilight output, maybe. But for the members of Rush, Clockwork Angels is a late career triumph that sounds like the band’s time was put to excellent use.

This review originally appeared in Glorious Noise.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Rush - Power Windows

Power Windows came out during my initial forays into the local community college. I went to community college for just one year immediately following high school, because I was too stupid to stay in my own State when I was of legal drinking age there.

Allow me to explain.

The State of Illinois had a drinking age of 21 as long as I was in high school. The irony is that there were two really good liquor stores right across the state line in Illinois that would occasionally be a hot spot for selling booze to minors, unlike in Iowa where the drinking age was 19. You could only buy booze at state run outlets, which was a little bit like walking into an East German liquor store, I suppose.

The stores had the same color schemes; their signage the same blue and yellow block lettering that said “Liquor Store.” The staff-all of them employees of the State of Iowa- all wore a blue uniform with a prerequisite name badge.

Beer was 3.2% AHC and could be purchased at gas stations, grocery stores and convenience stores. If we ever wanted to get rip-roaring drunk, we’d drive out buyer down to Missouri to get the sweet nectar of 5% AHC.

It wasn’t until a few years after high school that someone suggested the manner in which Iowa sold hard liquor to its citizens was similar to the way they did things in the Soviet Union.

That was it.

Within short order, the State of Iowa announced that they were breaking up the state-owned monopoly of hard liquor sales, causing its citizens to get excited at how they might be able to purchase Canadian whiskey on a Sunday afternoon. The parents of one of my friends put together enough capital to open up a liquor store in my hometown while even my own grandparents considered doing the same thing in the small town they lived in.

Iowa also began to get consistent with their drinking age by increasing it from 19 to 21. I had already turned 19 prior to the change to the drinking law, so they allowed me to be grandfathered into the law.

After my 19th birthday, I was often assigned the task to purchase booze for my friends who weren’t yet of age. On one particular evening, a friend of mine was having issues with his Illinois girlfriend that needed attending to, so we stopped by a convenience store where I purchased a twelve pack of beer.

After inhaling a few cans, my friend decided it was time to visit his Illinois girlfriend and determine the status of their relationship. We arrived at his girlfriend’s place, he went inside, they broke up, he came back out, got into the car, and we all cracked a fresh can for the drive back over to Iowa.
I was in the back seat, nestled between two three-way speakers where my friend had loaded Rush’s Power Windows into the cassette deck. For some reason, I used to carry drumsticks around, and as everybody knows, Rush is the premier band for any drummer.

I began to play along to the opening track, “The Big Money,” mimicking any fills that I could manage and hitting every cymbal crash.

Directly behind me, the familiar colors of blue and red illuminated that rear window.

They cop claimed that my drumming appeared “suspicious,” which gave him some bullshit probable cause to pull us over. This led to the discovery of the open cans of booze, all possessed by underage drinker, one of them too stupid to wait the 10 minutes or so to cross back over the state where he was legal to crack open the can of his shitty domestic beer.

I blame Power Windows for that incident, but I also blame the drinking for me thinking that the record was good enough to warrant such “suspicious” shenanigans to get me busted.

A recent revisit of the album failed to point out any stellar highlights, aside from the aforementioned “The Big Money” which provides Alex Lifeson with at least a pulse while Geddy slap and tickles that bass to no end.

He also slabs on humungous layers of keyboards and synthesizer, signaling that all of the rumbling going on for Grace Under Pressure was completely justified as Rush was beginning to lose their hard luster after one too many records of the keys taking up valuable real estate.

“The Big Money” is a distraction. It's the one song where everyone involved plays their heart out, trying to convince the listeners that they’re still the progressive juggernauts underneath all that digital soundscape.

But as you progress through Power Windows, you begin to feel that the band is becoming too chummy with this instrument. Never mind that Neil Peart’s delivers some of the worst writing of his entire career, he’s also managed to create an electric drum sound that could pass for a rabid fan making the most ridiculous drum sound with his mouth, trying to imitate one of Neil’s fills. So essentially, there are drum sounds that sounds like a dude making drum sounds. It’s ridiculous.

I remembered liking the song “Manhattan Project” once, but now that I’ve heard it recently, I think I just liked the idea of a song called “Manhattan Project.” Rush have managed to take a subject matter where Peart could run in all different directions with, but instead we get a pained retelling with every clichéd line you could imagine.

It gets worse, and by the time you get to “Mystic Rhythms” you realize that the biggest reason you like it is because it’s at least a melodically decent song in a sea of brittle waves of Rush’s love of synthesizers.

It would mark the point where I dropped off Rush’s radar until a track from Test For Echo hinted that they may have gotten back on course. On Power Windows, Rush appears suspiciously off track, suggesting that they would be fine upstanding Canadians if they paid the “Possession Of Beer By A Minor” fine I ended up getting for making real life drum sounds with my own mouth.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

D.O.A. Ready Album 14: We Come In Peace

Enter at your own risk here, because the last song I heard D.O.A. do was one called "Rebel Kind" and it was one of the worst songs that I'd ever heard that year. But I loved their "Fucked Up Ronnie" back in the day, so we'll give the new one a plug. The spiel:

For the last 35 years, D.O.A. has been churning out albums, touring the world, and promoting activism at whatever the cost. For founder Joe Keithley, it's been an amazing experience...

"Playing in D.O.A. for the past 35 years has been a real privilege, as I have had a great time bringing my music across the world and getting out my real message: Talk - Action = 0. Little did I know back in 1978 when I started mailing out copies of the Disco Sucks 7" EP that would become my passport to a lifetime of fun and social activism."  

SUDDEN DEATH RECORDS is delighted to announce the long awaited release of D.O.A.'S 14th studio album WE COME IN PEACE, which will be released on July 22, 2012.
D.O.A., Canada's punk pioneers, have pulled out all the stops on this new red hot release. Produced by SEAN HOLOWAYCHUK, SHO MURRAY and Canada's godfather of punk JOE KEITHLEY, WE COME IN PEACE has all the firepower, politics and humor that are the cornerstones of any great D.O.A. album, but on this disc you'll see that KEITHLEY'S SONGWRITING has branched out in a most fruitful and adventurous way.

The album takes a determined political stance with songs like: Dirty Bastards, We're Bloodied But Unbowed, He's Got A Gun and a stirring version of the TOXIC REASON'S War Hero

There's also a heavy slice of reggae/dub, with the uber-melodic Walk Through This World. You'll get your head ripped off with crushing anthems like: Who The Hell Do You Think You Are, Bring Out Your Dead and Boneyard, which features HUGH DILLON (HEADSTONES).

There's more great guest vocal appearances that feature JELLO BIAFRA on the anthemic We Occupy
and BEN KOWALEWICZ (BILLY TALENT) on the frantic Do You Wanna

Perhaps the most uplifting moments of the album come later on with one Joe's best new compositions Lost Souls and his CLINT EASTWOOD / SPAGHETTI WESTERN opus The Man With No Name

D.O.A. also rip it up with a strong and steady version of The Beatles classic song RevolutionIn addition, Joe took his old friend JELLO BIAFRA'S advice and recorded an acoustic version of the D.O.A. classic General Strike (CD only) as a sign of the times. 

Joe Keithley is on Twitter! Follow Joe and the D.O.A. gang on twitter: @DOAJoe

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Sugar - Copper Blue

Merge Records is re-releasing Sugar’s debut album, Copper Blue, with a bunch of bonus material and mix that was supposed to correct some Dolby error where Thomas Dolby actually came into the mixing sessions and made the right channel a tad bit louder than the left because Tom was blinded with science.
Regardless of the issue, and regardless of the desire of fans’ need to run out and acquire this re-issue, I do what I normally do in these instances: check out my copy to see if there is any inherent need for me to purchase the same shit twice.

For me, there wasn’t. The left and right channels play just fine for this untrained ear and Copper Blue was exactly as I remembered it. And if there are any novices looking to examine Bob Mould’s first band project outside of Husker Du, I would suggest visiting the local used record store (if you have anything local) because I remember seeing multiple used copies of this, Beaster and File Under Easy Listening in nearly every used record store that I visited during the 90’s.

I like Copper Blue. It brought me back to Mould after his pair of “adult” solo records which did nothing for me except declare Grant Hart the winner of the post-Husker solo record war. Sugar found him back in his element of a band unit, albeit one where he was the sole creative force and one where he could properly take advantage of the grunge era darlings in much the same way they took advantage of the Husker’s formula.

It’s glossy, but it’s filled with wall-to-wall guitars to the point where Mould’s vocals are impeccably places right between the distortion, strangely treated a bit to sound like they’re sung through a humbucker pick up.

Maybe that’s just the Dolby issue talkin.

Side one, to use the parlance of the original release date, is the stronger of the two sides with no evidence of a dud from start to finish. I remember dropping my guitar strings down to “D” and playing along with “The Act We Act” with the line “the confusion that persists/the decisions that you guessed” striking a reactionary chord inside of me for some reason.

But wasn’t this a record for the novices? The latecomers who weren’t around to care or notice every single song of brutal beauty that the Huskers laid forth previously? I say this because there’s nothing on Copper Blue that sways my heart away from “Celebrated Summer” or any number of tunes in the Husker’s cannon that spoke louder and clearer than anything since. While there’s nothing as good as the original thing, Copper Blue does an admirable job of bringing more people to the Bob Mould camp than anything since his time with a certain little power trio from Minneapolis.

And if it points them to the direction of his previous band, then Copper Blue is successful all the way around.