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The Rockologist - by Glen Boyd

Music DVD Review: The Rolling Stones – ‘From The Vault – L.A. Forum (Live In 1975)’



The Rolling Stones new From The Vault collaborative concert series with Eagle Rock is off to a fine start with this show filmed in Los Angeles, during their tumultuous 1975 "Tour of the Americas." A similar document from the Stones 1981 Tattoo You tour is also out this month as part of this series.


L.A. Forum (Live In 1975) captures the Stones during a period of transition on several levels, but mostly firing on all cylinders, and living up to their self-proclaimed title of "Greatest Rock & Roll Band in the World."

New guitarist Ronnie Wood, though still officially on loan from the Faces at the time (Mick Jagger even acknowledges this during the band introductions on this DVD), all but nails the audition to become Mick Taylor's permanent replacement here. His musical chemistry with Keith Richards is undeniable, as the duo trade off sizzling solos on several Stones classics. This new combination proves to be particularly potent on lengthier than usual versions of "Midnight Rambler" and "You Can't Always Get What You Want." The latter also features a fabulous sax solo from Trevor Lawrence.

What is most notable about this show though, is how far the Rolling Stones - along with an extended lineup that includes Lawrence, percussionist Ollie E. Brown, and keyboardist Billy Preston - take the music down a deeper, much funkier, R&B infused path than on anything they had done up until this point.




On "Fingerprint File," the band lays down a thicker than pea soup funk, anchored by Bill Wyman's popping, surprisingly prominent bass lines and the crackling precision of percussionists Brown and Charlie Watts. Mick Jagger also straps on a guitar for this one, and doesn't sound half bad in the role of second rhythm guitarist to Richards. This song, as well as others like "Heartbreaker" and Preston's "Outta Space" from this show, provide a tantalizing peak into where the Stones would be headed next on the albums Black & Blue, Some Girls and Emotional Rescue.

The 1975 "Tour Of The Americas" also represents that curious period where Mick Jagger briefly flirted with an androgynous image influenced largely by the glam-rock of the day. With his thick makeup consisting of both black mascara and deep blue eye shadow, it's sometimes hard to figure out whether Jagger wants to be more like Alice Cooper, David Bowie or both. The glam theatrics add just enough dramatic menace to "Midnight Rambler" to make effective work of the lyrics though, and are also fun (if slightly ridiculous), as Jagger wrestles with a gigantic, inflatable phallus during "Star, Star."



With a setlist that mixes funkier fare like "Aint' Too Proud To Beg" and "Fingerprint File," with well worn favorites like "Honky Tonk Women," "Brown Sugar" and "Jumpin' Jack Flash," L.A. Forum (Live In 1975) makes for a nice compliment to other live concert films like Ladies And Gentlemen The Rolling Stones.

As Stones shows go, this one is a gas, gas, gas.

*Article first published at Blogcritics.
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Music Review: Neil Young – Storytone



Leave it to Neil Young to throw us yet another curve ball this late in his career. By now, most Neil Young fans have long since become accustomed to those occasionally odd artistic whims Young has been known to chase from time to time, in his ever-stubborn pursuit of the muse.

But even judged against such legendarily off-kilter recordings as Trans and This Note’s For You, Neil Young’s new album Storytone comes across as one of the stranger, more unexpected bumps along that twisted road. Much like those infamous genre experiments, the problem here isn’t so much with the songs, but rather with the arrangements – at least on the symphonic versions which take up one of the two discs here.



Although it has the most memorable musical hook of these ten new songs, the environmental call-to-arms “Who’s Gonna’ Stand Up” is weighted down by an overuse of syrupy sounding strings that overwhelm what is otherwise one of Neil’s catchiest chorus lines this side of “Rockin’ In The Free World.”

Despite some heavy-handed – and occasionally clunky – lyrical wordplay (“End fracking now, save the water, and build a life for our sons and daughters”), the stripped down version which appears on the solo disc works far better.



But the blistering, curiously unreleased Crazy Horse take that tore down the house nightly in Europe earlier this year, is far superior to either.

The bluesier outings “I Want To Drive My Car” and “Say Hello To Chicago” – besides feeling oddly out of place on this album – likewise fall somewhat flat, and here again, it’s largely due to the arrangements.

In the case of the latter, the best point of reference would be the sort of horn driven, big band bluster you’d expect to find in a dance routine from a Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers musical.

“I Want To Drive My Car” works slightly better, with a feel that recalls the Blue Notes. But the most curious thing about these two songs – other than the fact that they stand out like a sore thumb on this album – is the use of Waddy Wachtel on lead guitar. Wachtel is of course a fine guitarist in his own right, but a little shredding from Neil could’ve taken these songs to another level.

What saves Storytone however, are the two songs which close the record.

“When I Watch You Sleeping” is one of those beautiful, pastoral sounding love songs that Neil Young seems to literally pull out of thin air every now and then. It is also one of the few places on the symphonic side of this album, where the string arrangement simply augments the song with touches of color, rather than threatens to swallow it outright. “All Those Dreams” likewise lays off the classical gas, closing the album with a song reminiscent of the warmest sounding jewels from Harvest Moon and Prairie Wind.



There is some discomfort in getting to these two gems though, and if you read between the lines, perhaps a bit too much information regarding the present status of Neil Young’s love life. If I were Pegi Young, I certainly wouldn’t want to be reminded of “the glimmer of everything I once saw in you” that Neil is apparently viewing from his rear view mirror these days, and as a fan I probably didn’t need to know that his current squeeze is nicknamed “Tumbleweed.”

But Neil continues to do as Neil does, and God bless him for it. We don’t always have to like it, but more often than not, we seem to eventually come around. For the record, solo Storytone tops symphonic Storytone by a hair.

But the latter does have its moments.
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Music DVD Review: Eric Clapton – ‘Planes, Trains And Eric’



Over the course of his legendary career, Eric Clapton has produced so many live albums – between the likes of Cream, Derek and the Dominoes, and of course his many concert documents as a solo artist – that it’s easy to lose track of them all. Some of these have been pretty great, while others perhaps not so much.

Among these too numerous to count live recordings, one that has always stood out among the best, is the now barely remembered 1970 live album Delaney & Bonnie & Friends On Tour With Eric Clapton. Clapton wasn’t even the star attraction here (his name was probably added to the title in order to ship a few more units).

But performing somewhat out of the spotlight, as a sideman in Delaney & Bonnie Bramlett’s high-octane, southern R&B revue, brought out some of the best live performances of his career up to that point. Clapton particularly seemed to jell with the rhythm section of bassist Carl Radle and drummer Jim Gordon, as well as with keyboardist Bobby Whitlock. The chemistry there was apparently so good, he stole them away to form Derek and the Dominoes and record the classic album Layla.

On the new concert DVD Planes, Trains And Eric, Clapton taps into that same energy nearly 45 years later, and captures magic in a bottle once again. Not surprisingly, the band seems to have everything to do with it. While this DVD presents itself as more of a documentary style film chronicling Clapton’s 2014 tour of the Mid and Far East (including his 200th concert in Japan), it is the 13 full-length live performances featured here, rather than the interviews and backstage footage, that make this one a real keeper.



The recording quality is so pristine, that it literally puts you front row center, and this particularly compliments the rhythm section. Nathan East’s bass rumbles like thunder, and you hear every cymbal crash and snare crack of Steve Gadd’s drums clear as a bell. The two studio veterans lay down a thick, funky groove throughout, serving as the foundation for several soaring Clapton solos.

The usual Eric Clapton standards – “Layla,” “I Shot The Sheriff,” “Wonderful Tonight” and the rest – are all here, and hearing them yet again is perhaps a bit redundant.



But what sets Planes Trains And Eric apart from other live Clapton recordings, and makes this DVD a must-have, is how this particular band seems to have lit a fire under him. His solos on songs like “Pretending” and Robert Johnson’s “Little Queen Of Spades” bring to mind the Clapton of old, and the one that quite frankly, we haven’t heard enough from recently. The latter also features a fabulous keyboard exchange between former Joe Cocker bandmate Chris Stainton and Paul Carrack (best known as the voice behind Squeeze’s “Tempted” and one-hit wonder Ace’s “How Long”).

Speaking of Joe Cocker, the band also summons the spirit of his Mad Dogs And Englishmen period with Leon Russell, performing a ferocious cover of “High Time We Went,” highlighted by Carrack’s spot-on vocal. Unfortunately, all you get is the audio performance (no video). However, it sounds so good that it’s worth sticking around for the credits roll.



Eric Clapton’s Planes, Trains And Eric, from Eagle Rock Entertainment, will be out on DVD and Blu-ray on November 4.

*Article first published on Blogcritics.
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Queen Rocked Once. Yes, "That" Queen

September 7th 2014 07:43
Music DVD Review: Queen - 'Live At The Rainbow '74'


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Music Review: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - 'CSNY 1974'


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Music DVD Review: 'Super Duper Alice Cooper'


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Music Preview: Nils Lofgren - 'Face The Music' (Box Set)


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Music Review: Neil Young - A Letter Home


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The Who's Tommy Re-examined On DVD

March 16th 2014 03:02
Music DVD Review: The Who – ‘Sensation – The Story of Tommy’


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The Doors Video R-Evolution

January 19th 2014 04:31
Music DVD Review: The Doors - 'R-Evolution'


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