Friday, June 28, 2019

Friday's Playlist - Sounds of Summer

Sunset on the San Francisco Bay
Right now we're in the middle of a heatwave here in France, and hopefully the weather where you are is a little more amenable. Also hopefully, you are able to enjoy your summer and indulging in some well-deserved time off from your daily grind. This playlist is here to accompany your vacation. Enjoy it with a cocktail or five, preferably somewhere warm (but not too warm), with your feet in the sand and your head in the clouds.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Monday's Playlist: Jeff Beck - Sessions & Contributions

In honour of the great Jeff Beck's birthday, we've scrambled our routine and moved our weekly playlist from Friday to Monday. We've concocted this little playlist of some of the master guitarist's best sessions and contributions to other people's music. From his legendary solo on Tina Turner's Private Dancer (produced by Mark Knopfler!) to more obscure interventions like the one on Malcolm McLaren's House of the Blue Danube (featuring Bootsy!), this is a small sample of the man's talents. Jazz-rock fusion, Blues-rock, proto-Metal, not only can the man do it all, he's probably invented most of it! Now in his mid-seventies, he still has the best touch, the best phrasing, the best tone and he keeps moving forward and discovering new avenues for his music and his playing. Happy Birthday Jeff Beck, and many returns of the day!

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Gary Clark, Jr. @ la Cigale, Paris - June 22nd, 2019

The last time I saw Gary Lark, Jr., he was still being touted as the up and coming hotshot guitarist destined to become the next big thing in the world of blues. He had already appeared in the Rolling Stones 50 and Counting pay-per-view special but he had yet to make good on the promises contained in his fantastic breakthrough album, Blak and Blu.

Friday, June 21, 2019

ZZ Top @ La Seine Musicale, Boulogne - June 21st, 2019

Today is Fête de la Musique here in France, and there is music everywhere. Musicians playing in the street, in cafés, in churches and museums... DJs blasting beats from their windows like in La Haine... All of it is free and fun.

Richie Kotzen @ Seine Musicale, Boulogne - June 21st, 2019

Opening for ZZ TOP last night was Richie Kotzen,  a name I hadn't heard in a long time. He is perhaps more famous nowadays for having replaced CC Deville in Poison in the early nineties when the band was trying to shed their glam-metal party boys image. He also replaced Paul Gilbert in Mr. Big for a few years, and he's been fronting The Winery Dogs with two other monster virtuosos, Billy Sheehan and Mike Portnoy. So while I was always aware of him, I never really dug into his catalogue: my assumption was that he was just another shredder from the Mike Varney stable and I was never big into that scene. But last night's set showed me what I'd been missing: fronting a power trio of equally amazing musicians, Richie was simply fantastic.

Album Review: Hollywood Vampires - Rise

Hollywood Vampires is a supergroup comprised of Alice Cooper, Joe Perry and Johnny Depp. They used to be the world's most expensive cover band, and everyone thought the joke would wear thin after a couple of years. They released an album a few years ago but this is their first set of mostly original material and it's much better than it has any right to be coming from such seasoned veterans. Alice Cooper and Joe Perry haven't sounded this inspired in years, and the whole record just exudes dark, sick, mischievous fun.

Friday's Playlist: Fête de la Musique 2019

It's Fête de la Musique here in France. Today is the day where no matter where you walk, all around France, you are likely to hear a bunch of fourteen year-olds slaughtering Hey Joe in front of a café. But it's not just beginners and buskers: big events with major artists are being organised everywhere. I remember seeing INXS on Place de la République about 25 years ago and Joe Cocker the following year. I know James Brown played there too, although I didn't make it to that one.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Rob Zombie @ Bataclan, Paris - June 19th, 2019

It's one of the hottest days of the year and the 1500 gore hounds amassed in the Bataclan have turned the tragic venue into a fiery furnace. The freaks are out tonight and they have braved the heavy weather to pay homage to the leader of their cult: Rob Zombie is bringing his demented carnival to Paris.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Folsom @ Novotel Les Halles, Paris - June 14th, 2019

Well, that's embarrassing... I was supposed to shoot Eli "Paperboy" Reed last night. I was approved three days in advance, which never happens. I had a party in the late afternoon before, then I had a fifteen minute ride to get to the New Morning, plenty of time.

Album Review: Keb' Mo' - Oklahoma

Perhaps because he started his solo career in his forties, contemporary bluesman Keb' Mo' was never a hot shot guitarist. His approached was much more nuanced. In fact, his fantastic first record was mostly an acoustic affair and for several years his concerts were solo performances. So instead of guitar pyrotechnics he concentrates on songwriting, which is maybe why a of lot his songs eschew the traditional blues formula. His influences run the gamut from soul and Rn'B to country and folk music and this record again reflects the breadth of his inspiration.

Album Review: Bruce Springsteen - Western Stars

In between a successful solo Broadway run and a new tour with his full band, Bruce Springsteen somehow found the time to record a new record. While this is not the bombastic, heroic soul/rock revue  he peddles with the E Street Band, this is not exactly an austere, stripped down affair like The Ghost of Tom Joad either.

Friday's Playlist: Songs of Debauchery

It's Friday and the week is over. After midnight, we're gonna let it all down. We work hard, we play hard. Casual, irresponsible, hateful sex. Drug-fueled shenanigans. Copious amounts of alcohol. And if we get in a fight, even better. Here is the soundtrack to that night. When you wake up in jail, or in a ditch, or in a pool of your own blood and vomit, you can listen to it to try and remember how you got there.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

The Sheepdogs @ Point Éphémère, Paris - June 12th, 2019

If you're my age then you've missed the golden age of classic rock by at least forty years. Being old has its advantages, one of them being that you could have seen Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Allman Brothers, Bad Company, the Outlaws, Humble Pie or Creedence Clearwater Revival in their heyday. The good news is that the Sheepdogs are the next best thing to actually having lived through one of the best eras for rock music.

Creatures @ Point Éphémère, Paris - June 12th, 2019

Having never heard of the Creatures before, I was expecting some Nuggets-style Garage-Psych band for some reason. When they turned up in their pageant cowboy outfits (complete with pink trousers and bolo ties) I was immediately ready to hate them. I am getting increasingly fed up with irony in music, and it seems at first that they were almost a parody band or something from an overly precious Wes Anderson film. But it took only a few bars for them to win me over with their surreal country-pop, their knack for melody, their musicianship and their whole aesthetic.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

R.I.P. André Matos

Fucking hell, that was unexpected. André Matos, the vocalist best known for fronting Brazilian band Angra in the nineties, has passed away at the age of 47.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Friday's Playlist: Songs of War

A few days ago marked the 75th year of D-Day which was the pivotal event that eventually led to the victory of the Allied Forces in World War II. This Friday's Playlist is all about war. War in general, but also specific wars. World War II, Vietnam, Middle East... Some are about the aftermath, some take you right to the battlefield. Some are harrowing, some are funny. And of course, one raises the question: war, what is it good for? We know the answer.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

R.I.P. Mac Rebennack, a.k.a. Dr. John, the Night Tripper

The good Doctor has moved on at the age of 77... He had recently cancelled some performances and rumour was that he was quite ill, but the official statement says he was felled by a heart attack. Whatever the cause, his death brings us closer to the end of the authentic New Orleans heritage. The remaining Neville Brothers are now our last link to the original spirit of the city's musical and cultural importance, now that Allen Toussaint and Fats Domino have also passed on.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Gov't Mule @ la Cigale, Paris - June 4th, 2019

It's been two years almost to the day since Gregg Allman went to jam with his brother, and perhaps that is why Warren Haynes, one of the Allman Brothers Band most famous alumnus, chose to open with Soulshine, the beautiful Gospel ballad he wrote for the band. Gov't Mule was formed when he was still playing with the venerable Southern Rock outfit but it quickly grew into something of its own. Fusing Hard Rock, Blues, Jazz, Soul, Funk, Progressive Rock and Country, they have been one of the best bands associated with the jam band scene for over two decades.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Album Review: Duff McKagan - Tenderness


For several decades Duff McKagan was the punk-rock alibi of 80's hard rock. Back when Guns N'Roses was making videos with dolphins, he was the guy who kept it down to earth by releasing a solo record that adhered to the core principles of punk. Even after the classic line-up of the band imploded, he carried on with Loaded, a band punk that made up what it lacked in originality with pure punk energy.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Album Review: Pinky Pinky - Turkey Dinner

Pinky Pinky hails from California and that informs everything on their debut LP, from the vibes of the compositions to the sunny production by Jonny Bell and Hanni El Khatib. They are three young women and because of that fact it would be tempting to compare them to Haim, and while that's a valid equivalence Pinky Pinky sounds a lot zanier. In fact, their songs are very reminiscent of another Angelino musician who happens to have a similar sounding name: Ariel PinkThey possess the same melodic instinct and their arrangements also sometimes verge on psychedelia.