Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Ramones 02/19/1978 Houston

Climbing out from under it with a plastic disc in my cold dead hand, I was going to try to spend a couple of hours doing something a little more vital than write a concert video review. Shit out of inspiration, I'm afraid. I have some friends that work at a Vegas show...I went and saw some Vegas show with dozens of people all dancing synchronized with music and lights. The audience sat stupifed and applauded at all the right parts, got up and wandered off in a million different directions and said it was great to whomever asked them what they did that day.

In 1978, who knew what the Ramones were? A secret society, more or less. Like everything that was ever really any good. Your friends let you hear it or it was at that one record store where all the fucked up people hung out. Maybe the radio wasn't Death on Earth at that point, but it was certainly nearly so.

The best quality of rock is the energy and Ramones had it in spades, and the energy is tempered with humor. All the aggressiveness or pretentiousness that kills most rock, for a broader audience, shouldn't stop you from the Ramones. The first four albums had their best CD era presentation on All the stuff vol. 1 and vol. 2 , these days it's all just a click away. Once those recordings have overwhelmed you, the next thing to do is to watch the end of the century which really manages a nice portrayal of these truly unique characters, all totally unsuited for anything else, somehow managing to create a world for themselves out of next to nothing.

As far as what i am describing we have a single camera audience shot 1978 show. Shocking well done given the era. The audio from the camera has a very narrow frequency range and the highs are cut completely, no cymbals whatsoever.
Surprisingly, it's very listenable, especially if you are capable of fussing with your player's EQ: there's no distortion, all the instruments balance real well. The cameraman is on Johnny's side of the stage and does a real good job of keeping track of the action. When he moves the camera, It takes a second or to for the autofocus to kick in...but it adds to the rawness and the feeling of the video. A great show. You watch it and wish that you were there.

show is 56:17 at 1.70 GB, MPEG2, AC3, NTSC, 29.9 fps 720X480... i did this tracklist on fast forward, so it might be a little off:

rockaway beach
i wanna be well
glad to see you go
shock treatment
he's gonna kill that girl
i don't care about this world
here today
surfin bird
warm california sun
i don't wanna walk
wanna dance
texas maxxacre
i wanna be good boy
down to the basement
sniff glue
happy family

I started this blog with no intention of sharing this stuff, but I realize that my clever commentary alone is not going to keep your attention. I clipped out a song of this show with vlc, converted it to a mov file with Super and put it up on youtube, I think I might do this with each post, leaving it up for a limited time and pulling it down with the next blog entry. I doubt the financial fate of those who own the legacy of the Ramones is going to suffer any negative impact. I doubt that this will incur the wrath of internet authority and fuck up all the pages I've posted to blogger...There's a million torrents and whole album blogs out there laying waste to the music industry- this is comparatively pretty harmless.

Watching End of The Century, made me wonder how much footage there is of the Ramones. Probably quite a bit, given the legacy of 2200+ concerts, 22 years and a museum in Berlin. Hopefully there's somebody out there who is meticulously cataloging it all. For me, the early stuff is always nice to see because it really evokes the time and place with its unique atmosphere. This Houston footage is probably one of the first full concerts. I found some guy at who's listed what he has collected:

1975-02-03 NYC-Rehearsal
1977-00-00 Swallow Your Pride, Pinhead (promo)
1977-00-00 Live in CBGB's, New York
1977-00-00 Swallow my pride, Pinhead, studio
1977-07-16 Houston, TX
1977-08-09 Don Kirschner Rock Concert
1977-12-31 Sheena is a punk rocker, Rainbow Theatre, London
1978-02-19 Houston, Texas
1978-09-13 Live in Bremen, Germany (FULL show)
1978-09-19 Old Grey Whistle Test (Don't come close, She's the one, Gone mental)
1978-12-28 San Francisco(with the Tubes)
1979-06-08 San Francisco, California Civic Center (California Sun; Pinhead)

Is there any band out there right now rocking as hard as the Ramones did circa 1978? I keep checking with the In the Red/ Hozac/ Goner set, to see if anybody happens to be carrying the fever, but I feel like the contenders are few. If you've happened upon this blog and are familiar with some under the radar hellraising, feel free to speak up in the comments...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

U2 07-11-2009 Paris


1. Breathe
2. No Line On The Horizon
3. Get On Your Boots
4. Magnificent
5. Beautiful Day / Blackbird (snippet)
6. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For / Movin' On Up (snippet)
7. Desire / Billie Jean (snippet) / Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough (snippet)
8. In A Little While
9. Unknown Caller
10. The Unforgettable Fire
11. City Of Blinding Lights
12. Vertigo
13. Let's Dance (snippet) / I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight
14. Sunday Bloody Sunday
15. Pride (In The Name Of Love)
16. MLK
17. Walk On / You'll Never Walk Alone (snippet)
18. Where The Streets Have No Name / All You Need Is Love (snippet)
19. One

20. Ultra Violet (Light My Way)
21. With Or Without You / Rain (snippet)
22. Moment of Surrender

It's getting a little tiresome thumbing over all these nostalgia films of yesteryear, so I decided to crank up the time machine a little and see what is going on with the dinosaurs of today. It's pretty fascinating, really. What is the bootleg world like for one of the biggest rock and roll acts in the world? Lets take a look. As of September 2009, U2 is in the middle 0f the 360 tour. (U2 360 tour presented by Blackberry, to be exact ) The second leg of this tour is gearing up for North America, and I'm sure many fans are curious what to expect. The 360 part of the name refers to this tremendous round video screen that is situated above the band on a giant tripod. Apparently, it takes a couple of days to set the damn thing up and the neighborhoods of various cities have gotten a little peeved at all the racket. Of course, people are coming and money is being made. You can't have it both ways. U2 set an attendance record at Wembley- upwards of 80K a night two nights running.

So how is it? Thanks to a torrent file I found on the storm cloud laden Pirate Bay, I managed to get a look at some audience taper's Paris show. He's at more than a bit of a distance...but damn does his little Panasonic have a fucking ace 30X zoom on it. The sound is OK, it distorts on the vocals a bit, but it's rarely painful...I'd say it's likely that somebody with a better audio recording (looks like two audio tapers were also in the crowd) will find their work flown into this video before too long. And there seems to be another audience cam version out there as well. Some U2 fan with some extra time on their hands might end up cobbling it together into something that is very watchable. Not to say that that the video I got isn't worth viewing by itself, but it's certainly fan only.

The man with the cam has posted the description of his efforts at a really ace U2 boot site. He says it's his first bootleg, and you know what, buddy? My hats off to you. In my eyes, you're a star. As for U2 boot sites, there are at least a couple of them, and they are the future of popular bands- bands should just step in here and merge these with the official fan clubs and music delivery systems...Is there money to be made this way? Everybody that obsesses over what the best all time live version of "where the streets have no name" is gonna buy every official DVD that the band puts out. Even if it's a DVD of stuff they already have. Witness the Kissology release- package it right, and they will buy... I'm gonna rent that Beastie Boy Dude I Shot This and have a look at it, because bootleggers will evolve to productions like this as time passes. There is already a seven (!) camera mix of a U2 show- made entirely by audience members collected and edited together by an industrious fan. Of course, next time they should chat each other up beforehand and coordinate which band member they are gonna follow with the camera...

That's it for this blog for a while, I'm a little burnt. Ill be back with posts on Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd and whomever else is famous enough to bring this blog some traffic. If you have any advice on how I can draw attention to this crap, please speak up and fill me in. This internet thing is still a little novel to me. I wonder if it's really gonna last?

Elvis 7/21/1977 Rapid City, South Dakota

"In the final analysis, stars are not created by their talent or lack of talent or even by their lack of talent, or even by the film industry or advertising . They are created by the need that we have for them. A pathetic need, arising out of a dismal and anonymous life that would like to enlarge itself to the dimensions of cinematic life. The imaginary life of the screen is the projection of this real need. The star is the projection of this need."

"there's got to be a reason... why I was chosen to be Elvis Presley.'"

I'm pretty damn articulate, but nothing I can say touches this: a television special filmed a few weeks before Elvis' death and televised shortly afterwords as "Elvis in Concert" . The soundtrack was released as a record album. The video, in contrast, has never been released on VHS or DVD and an official release is unlikely...

I found this as a 442MB divx file without too very much effort on some non-registration required torrent site. The sound and image is superb...Whoever was behind the origins of this file was definitely using some close to the source materials.

As far as unofficial live Elvis goes, THIS blog has links to 22 different audio recordings

I had a roommate who would throw this on for hangovers. I enjoy a occasional moment of lucidity every now and then, but there's such a thing as being a fucking nuisance...

I mean, look, in 1956, they called this guy a savage and threatened to arrest him for shaking his ass on stage. And then, much later, he got into the Aztec jumpsuit and walked down the last hallway. Where does the sun rise?...If, today, they were to call you a savage for loosening up---shaking up the whole god damned world a damn sight for the better, what would you be doing- what is there that's analogous to that today? What is there to be done?

Flipper 1/26/1983 San Fransisco

Allow me to try and weigh in with this one. I've been in the bleachers for a few of the groups that everyone knows. Were any of them the greatest gig ever? There's a lot of different meanings of the word "greatest"obviously. Let me paste in a list of the greatest gigs of all official one, more or less, courtesy of the United Kingdom and its BBC.

1. Queen, Live Aid (13th July 1985)
2. Jimi Hendrix, Woodstock (18th August 1969)
3. Sex Pistols, Manchester Lesser Free Trade Hall (4th June 1976)
4. Bob Dylan, Manchester Free Trade Hall (17th May 1966)
5. David Bowie, Hammersmith Apollo (3rd July 1973)
6. Bob Marley, One Love Peace Concert (22nd April 1978)
7. Bruce Springsteen, Roxy (7th July 1978)
8. U2, Red Rocks (5th June 1983)
9. The Rolling Stones, Hyde Park (7th May 1969)
10. Radiohead, Glastonbury (28th June 1997)
11. Clash, Rock Against Racism, Victoria Park (7th May 1977)
12. The Who, The Isle of Wight Festival (29th August 1970)
13. Pink Floyd, Earls Court (17th June 1981)
14. James Brown, The Apollo (24th October 1962)
15. Oasis, Maine Road, Manchester (27th April 1996)
16. The Beastie Boys, Brixton Academy (24th May 1987)
17. Johnny Cash, San Quentin (29th August 1969)
18. Brian Wilson Smile Concert, Royal Festival Hall (20th February 2004)
19. Elton John & John Lennon, Madison Square Gardens, NYC (28th November 1974)
20. Nirvana, Reading (30th August 1992)

The thing about a list like this is, all these groups are gonna sell you out when the time comes. You're gonna see their brand names next to Exxon or Ipod or Walmart and all their supposedly personal voice rock and roll image is just the public relations face of exclusion...of money and control. Once you put yourself in the position of expressing yourself for a living, eventually you're going to have to be a mouthpiece for someone bigger than you, bigger than a genuine, living person. Something that has the money to get your face on the video screen.

"But don't you like ---------insert famous celebrity name here-----?
" that guy? I don't even know him. I never even met him."

No, I never saw Flipper. My familiarity with the band consist almost solely with the Public Flipper Limited live LP ( recently reissued on both CD and vinyl). Those recordings are heavy... too heavy, in fact, most of them go on for far too long. "Hard Cold World" and "If I Can't Be Drunk, I Don't Want to be Alive." trumped Joy Division, Christian Death, and all of the posturing negativity legions with some truly belligerent rawness. There is a sense of provocation going on where the band is really going after the audiences. For me, personally, you get a good band playing in a room of 50 people- there are occasionally these moments of interaction where everybody is paying attention to everybody else. It doesn't necessarily have to be a hostile vibe- I've caught all styles of music where the whole room full of people itself seemed to be the show. Size is much closer to the key. More often than not, it's the smaller club sized shows that really make it.

Reviewing this Flipper cable access show was just an excuse to talk about Flipper. Because it's not even a live show, really- it's a TV studio performance with films projected on the band, primitive state of the art video effects, and some interview segments where the band attempts to evade answering every single question. The music itself is actually good. I've sat through it a number of times.

MVD has reissued a target video live show which supposedly captures Flipper going all out to make a real impression. Speaking of Target Video and the Greatest Gigs ever, how do you not have the Cramps at Napa on that list? The list is bullshit, my friends. One of the only performances that really made it...that really made it all the way...missing from the official top 20 ! A good thing that you and I were on camera for that one!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Van Halen 1-21-1983 Sao Paulo

There's not a lot in the way of Roth era Van Halen concert videos out there. It seems like there are about seven full shows being traded. The best quality footage is probably from the US festival. However, it's widely agreed that this is not one of the band's best performances. Someone has uploaded it in full here, so you can decide for yourself:

If you enjoy the 6 Roth albums, you are no doubt curious to hear some live material from that time. There are two sites that give you an carefully researched overview of what people have amassed over the years. HERE and HERE. You could, of course, see the band now. Obviously, however, twenty five years is a lot of time, and I expect that the shows are pretty different. This Brazil show demonstrates how much energy the band expended on stage, constantly running back and forth, sliding across the floor, jumping from things, Roth's trademark scissors kick. I wouldn't say that Rock and Roll is necessarily something that can only be accomplished by people under 30. For the majority of bands, though, dance moves and sex idol posturing are a big part of the on stage performance.

As far as VH boots go, It's interesting enough to hear the records with Van Halen playing guitar in some studio, but it's even more impressive when you are confronted with the fact that this guy would rip solid versions of these songs with all their inventive sounds and techniques...that he would do them on stage one song after the next. Its amazing, actually. After you have heard the albums enough so that you know all the songs, it's great to have live versions of them, where the players are in different balance with one other and there are different nuances to how they are played.

Of course, if that's what you are trying to appreciate, I'd recommend some soundboard audio boots over this video. Because the low end is non-existent and there is a moderate amount of tape hiss. It doesn't sound bad. Its just not all there... As far as which audio bootlegs out there are the best...I'm in the process of going over what I've heard. Check back and I might amend this post with some suggestions.

The image on this boot is also mediocre. It's pro shot, but there's a lot of generation loss. It's also one of those shows where they haven't taken the cameras into account as far as setting up the lighting for the show. It probably looked good from the bleachers, but the image is way dark on the video...somebody could tweak the hue and give it some reds and it would look a lot better. There is a two disc upgrade of this show. I haven't seen it and I don't know how it has improved

Absurdly enough, (given that I've spent some hours putting this blog together) I don't really get a lot of mileage out of concert videos. It's kind of a problem with the genre. Sure, it's involving to watch musicians make music right in front of you with thousands of people around you all having a good time, but it's something else to watch recordings of it on TV. It's not for everyone. Even when you have the best quality footage of a band performing really well, only seriously devoted fans and people who are particularly interested in stage performances are going to sit through these things multiple times. As opposed to purely sound recordings, which people will put on time and time again while they are doing other things. I'd risk supposing that concert goers are generally only a small fraction of the audience for music, Many times in life I've heard people tell me: "I don't like concerts; it's too crowded. When I want to listen to them, I can just as well do it in my living room."

This didn't prove to be the case for Van Halen in 2008, the pent up demand for people to see the Roth version of Van Halen grossed 93 million dollars for the band. Becoming one of the quintessential arena rock bands involved the continuous climb of making and selling 80 million records. It seems pretty safe to say that no band starting today can expect to sell 80 million records. Entertainment dollars are headed in different directions. People expect sound recordings for free. That being the case, will there be rock bands in 25 years that can fill an arena? Is being able to fill an arena the definition of rock music? I suspect that it's all over. If there are guitar players out there trying to top Eddie Van Halen, they're not gonna do it with respect to fame and fortune. Safe to say, Van Halen fans are content with the old songs that they have always loved. For them, 1983 will live forever.