Thursday, August 21, 2008

Rod Stewart at PNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel, NJ 8-20-08

So, as a favor for my future mother-in-law, my fiancee and I tagged along with her and her boyfriend to Rod Stewart's concert at PNC last night.

First, a couple of things I never knew about Rod Stewart:

1. I never knew he was Scottish. I thought he was a full-blooded Englishman. But while he was born in North London, he was reared by a Scottish father and an English mother, making him something of a half-breed, his concerts seem to cater to his Scottish half, indicative of the bagpipers who came out before he took the stage and the Celtic Football Club head on his drummer's kick.

2. I had no idea that Rod Stewart had such a huge lesbian following. Walking in alongside a veritable army of mullet-headed, fanny-pack rockin', Dress Barn-jeans-hiked-up-to-their-tits-wearing ladies who served as quite a contrast to the oversexed middle-aged MILFs who made up about 85% of the crowd that night.

In any regard, I knew going into this concert that I'd have an ice cube's chance in hell that he would do any Faces or Jeff Beck Group material, so there were no surprises there. But at least he didn't dish out that Great American Songbook stuff, choosing to do a lean 1:45 of his best-known hits. So we got "Tonight's The Night". We got "Hot Legs". We got "Forever Young". We got "This Old Heart of Mine". We got his version of Tom Waits' "Downtown Train". We got "You Wear It Well" and "Maggie May". We got "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy", which, depending on if you are a fan of Rod's disco era, was actually pretty fuckin' kick-ass live. We got "The First Cut Is The Deepest". He even threw in a couple of noteworthy covers, including The Drifters' "On Broadway" (which didn't even come close to Neil Young's version off Freedom), CCR's "Have You Ever Seen The Rain" and a thoughtful rendition of Cat Stevens' "Father and Son", flanked by a slideshow of old photos of Stewart and his dad along with Stewart's three sons.

It was also interesting to see the amount of women Rod has in his band. He had a chick on the lap steel guitar, a girl on violin and mandolin who Michele thought was one of the Corrs and three lovely back-up singers.

I'm glad to say that I had the chance to see Rod Stewart live, although I swore to myself I'd only go see him if he reunited with Jeff Beck and did strictly stuff off Beck-Ola and Truth, which will never happen, apparently.

And in an effort to detox myself from the whole scene beyond the music, which saw what had to have been the strangest array of people I ever saw at a concert in my entire life (if you ever wanted to know where lunch ladies and teacher aides go to let loose, they wait for Rod to hit the road!), I am providing you with a classic Faces performance I copped off You Tube of them doing "Stay With Me". Enjoy. -Ed.

Monday, August 18, 2008

PAUL NEWMAN "Plastic Jesus"

The IRT offers its prayers for the family of Paul Newman, who has just been brought home for the hospice stage of his valiant battle with lung cancer. Please enjoy this classic scene from Cool Hand Luke and remember the man who has given us some of the greatest performances we have had the honor to witness onscreen. -Ed.


WLIB AM: King of the WigflipFall marks the end of an era.
“As Dirty Harry said, ‘a man has to realize his limitations’” is how Barely Breaking Even (BBE) co-founder and current label head Peter Adarkwah explains the successful Beat Generation series coming to a close. “Evolution is [the] key to all survival.”
And few artists represent such evolution like Madlib The Beat Konducta. The Oxnard, California native has become what writer Amiri Baraka (nee Leroi Jones) once referred to jazz immortal John Coltrane as – “a more fixed traveler…a peace idiom, and time, placement of himself.”
Madlib is a fitting piece in the Beat Generation puzzle, which has run the spectrum of top-flight producers with legends (Marley Marl, Pete Rock, Jazzy Jeff), young lions (DJ Spinna, King Britt, Will.I.Am), and the incomparable Jay Dee aka J Dilla, whose Welcome to Detroit was the first artist album to be commissioned by BBE. But Dilla was not the first artist to be considered by the label for its inaugural Beat Generation release. That distinction would initially go to Kenny Dope of Masters At Work, then to Jazzy Jeff, yet both were hesitant at the time.
“It was very different, for the first time in your life, someone giving you the opportunity to basically say who you are as a producer,” Jeff told Wax Poetics magazine in 2006. “Because a lot of us are under the hypnotism of the industry, I had no idea what to do. He [Adarkwah] gave me complete freedom, and as much as I begged for that, I got scared because it’s kind of, like, ‘What do you do when somebody gives you complete freedom?’”
Short answer: You become Madlib – maverick, prolific, and tirelessly uninhibited. WLIB AM: King of the Wigflip plays like the days when AM radio ruled the airwaves, transmitting a crackling, low-fi mélange of endless sample fodder, vocal snippets, and sonic intuition, turning singles into stars and flipping wigs with each twist of the dial. Starting with the ominous, tribal overtones of “The New Resident,” its spiritual spank followed by the customarily aggressive Guilty Simpson on the brassy, stabbing “Blow the Horns On ‘Em,” WLIB AM: King of the Wigflip finds Madlib venturing away from the deconstruction of world rhythms on recent projects and returning to his Western hemisphere roots in hip-hop and R&B. And in getting back to basics, lyricism is in full effect, courtesy of Cali cohorts such as Defari on the driving, speed-limit bass funk of “Gamble On Ya Boy,” MED and Poke’s ode to home stance with the fury of “The Ox (805),” and Murs doing what Murs do in addressing the “can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em” state of male-female relations over the electro-pulse minimalism of “Ratrace.” Beat Konducta The Younger, Oh No, teams up with big brother Madlib as The Professionals on “I Want It Back,” while the maestro himself steps away from his helm at the beat machine and drops into the vocal booth on the audacious “Heat.” World Famous Beat Junkie J.Rocc heralds the return of the DJ with cuts on “Blindfold Test #10 (He Don’t Play),” before the proceedings venturing eastward with Detroit’s party hearty Frank N’ Dank riding the humming, percussive “Drinks Up!” like Motor City madmen. Another Motown-born MC, former Common and Kanye West sideman, Karriem Riggins, provides a glimpse into the Madlib-Riggins Supreme Team pairing on the melancholy “Life,” while veteran Prince Po provides a standout cameo with the vibrant buoyancy of “The Thang-Thang.” Talib Kweli, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Roc C, and the songbird styling of Frezna (“Yo-Yo Affair, parts 1 & 2) and Stacy Epps round out WLIB AM: King of the Wigflip, which is woven together by dusted interludes and instrumentals like few but The Beat Konducta can.
“Madlib was not consciously meant to be last in the series,” says BBE’s Adarkwah, but when considering the producer to which he is most often associated – the late J Dilla – it is without question the proper closure. “Blacktronica should be the future,” Adarkwah declares, and he should know best, for it is Blacktronica that has already helped define his storied label’s past and present.
1. The New Resident - The Beat Konducta
2. Blow The Horns On 'Em - Guilty Simpson
3. The Plan Pt. 1 - Georgia Anne Muldrow
4. Tension - The Beat Konducta
5. Gamble On Ya Boy - Defari
6. The Ox (805) - MED feat. Poke
7. All Virtue - The Beat Konducta
8. Blinfold Test #10 (He Don't Play) - J-Rocc
9. The Thang-Thang - Prince Po
10. Heat - Madlib
11. Smoke Break - The Beat Konducta
12. The Plan (Reprise) - The Beat Konducta
13. Life - Karriem Riggins
14. Parklight - The Beat Konducta
15. Yo Yo Affair Pt. 1 & 2 - Frezna
16. I Want It Back - The Professionals (Oh No & Madlib)
17. Disco Dance - The Beat Konducta
18. What It Do – Liberation (Talib Kweli & Madlib)
19. Take That Money - Roc C feat. Oh No
20. Drinks Up! - Frank N Dank
21. The Way That I Live - Stacy Epps
22. Ratrace - Murs
23. Go! - Guilty Simpson
24. Stop - The Beat Konducta
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The IRT pays respect to one of the greatest record men of all time.

R.I.P. Jerry Wexler: Producer, Mogul, Legend

Legendary record man Jerry Wexler, who helped shape the sound of R&B, guided the careers of titans such as Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, and Led Zeppelin, and helped launch Atlantic Records into a powerhouse, has died at his home in Florida, according to Rolling Stone. He was 91.

Wexler began his career in the late 1940s as a journalist, writing for Billboard magazine. He invented the phrase "Rhythm and Blues" for the publication for use on what was then known as their "Race Music" chart. In 1953, Wexler joined Ahmet Ertegun as co-head of Atlantic Records, a post he would hold until 1975. The two were instrumental in bringing the R&B music they loved to a wider audience, further incorporating it into the burgeoning sounds of rock'n'roll.

As both a record mogul and producer, Wexler was a tireless promoter of his wares, and in constant pursuit of exciting new sounds in modern music. Of his many successes with Atlantic, a mid-1960s distribution deal with legendary soul imprint Stax was one of his greatest. The arrangement brought Otis Redding, Booker T. and the MGs, and countless others into the fold, introducing the world to the gloriously loose Muscle Shoals sound that characterized the Stax catalog.

In 1966, Wexler signed a young singer by the name of Aretha Franklin, encouraging her to sing in a more natural, less measured style. Her subsequent work with Atlantic-- in particular, the recordings she completed in Muscle Shoals-- remain some of the finest albums of any era.

The late 60s brought a string of British rockers seeking to bump elbows with the soul musicians they'd been ripping off, and Led Zeppelin, Cream, and the like linked up with Atlantic, thanks to Wexler. In 1968, Wexler brought British chanteuse Dusty Springfield to Tennessee to record the legendary Dusty in Memphis, which Wexler himself produced. Also in 1968, Wexler and Ertegun agreed to sell Atlantic to Warner Seven Arts (later Warner Brothers), a deal that lost Atlantic a sizeable amount of money. He told Rolling Stone, "What a mistake. Worst thing we ever did."

Ertegun left Atlantic in 1975, eventually picking up some A&R work for Warner Brothers that netted the label new-wave pioneers like the B-52s and Gang of Four. He struck out on his own later in the decade, producing records for Bob Dylan, the Staple Singers, Linda Ronstadt, George Michael, and many others. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, becoming one of the very first non-performers to achieve the honor. It's not difficult to see why.

Wexler retired to Florida in the late 90s, where he largely cut himself off from the business elements of the music industry. He is survived by two children, and his wife, writer Jean Arnold.