Sunday, August 31, 2008

BRUCE QUESTIONS WHAT'S RIGHT NOW

Spent the day dividing my time between working on the master bedroom, preparing a linoleum block for printing and downloading VH music. I was hoping to watch a movie later in the evening so I wanted something short and sweet so I picked another VH studio album, this time For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, also know as the F.U.C.K. album. It was released on June 17, 1991, debuting live on national radio from Eddie's studio on June 13, 1991. Apparently the band wrote enough songs for a double album, but their producer convinced them to finish enough songs for one album and release it. According to Wikipedia:

The album's title came from lead singer Sammy Hagar, who wanted to push the issue of censorship with naming Van Halen's album with a vulgarity, stating, "That's when censorship was a big issue. I wanted to name the album just Fuck." Hagar eventually backed away from the outright vulgarity after he was (mis)informed by his friend, former world lightweight boxing champion Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini, that the word "fuck" was an acronym for the phrase "for unlawful carnal knowledge." Their tour promoting the album was named F.U.C.K. 'n' Live.

The album itself was marketed as the "return" to Van Halen's rock roots, with most songs being guitar driven, and the synth sounds being replaced by pianos, as the synth sound had become very dated by the time of the album's release. This can be prominently heard on "Right Now," the most popular song from the album.
Another great album that reached number 1 on the charts shortly after its release. Although a short 51 or so minutes long, I prolonged the joy by playing my favorite tracks several more time to savor them a bit longer, including Judgement Day, Right Now, 316 and Top Of The World. I love it!!

video

Colossal planet
Red spot swirls through banded clouds
A glint in my eye

Music from the stage
Play to the sea of faces
They've come to party

He leads the rock band
A voice that we do not hear
Six strings sing for him
Tonight's movie was a favorite of mine, 12 Monkeys with Bruce Willis, Brad Pitt and Madeleine Stowe. Excellent science fiction thAT bounces between the present and the future. Wikipedia says: "Twelve Monkeys is an Academy Award-nominated 1995 sience fiction film directed by Terry Gilliam and written by David and Janet Peoples. The film deals with time travel, madness and memory and is inspired by the French short film La Jetee." A must see.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

BACK THEN IS RIGHT NOW

Friday night marks the end of another work week with not much to show for it. Nothing new to report. A buddy of mine who I go telemark skiing with tore his ACL in his knee playing racquetball, requiring surgery in the near future. There goes his ski season!

I went black widow hunting one night this past week. Bunches of them live in the sandstone retaining wall in front of the house. At night they emerge from the cracks and seams in the rock to sit in the center of their web. Squashed with a broom or foot. My philosophy is generally live and let live, but these suckers always find their way into the house, like the one I also killed in the garage right near the entrance to the house.

I've been downloading bunches of boots this past week. It's definitely an obsession that's consuming gobs of times.

The Democratic National Convention was in town this past week. Here's a "news" piece that came out in the Rocky Mountain News early in the week. The author was comparing which celebrities are appearing at the DNC vs. who's showing up at the Republican National Convention next week. Unfortunately Sammy appears to be on the losing end. Looks like he's not so cool anymore. But when I pop in that bootleg CD of the band playing in 1988, 1993 or 1995, he's the man in my eyes! But he still stands in Eddie's shadow. Click to enlarge in order to read.
Last night while watching the news with McCain announcing his choice for VP, I instantly picked up the fact that the music they used to highlight the occasion was Van Halen’s “Right Now”. From the Van Halen News Desk:

John McCain used a Van Halen song during his big speech earlier today and the band wants to make to make one thing clear — they’re not running with McCain. Van Halen management tells us the band had no idea McCain was planning on using “Right Now” during his big entrance in Ohio telling us, “Permission was not sought or granted nor would it have been given.”

For the record, Dubya used the same song during a bunch of his campaign speeches back in 2004, but sources close to the band tell us, “They’re not political, they’re just rock and roll.”

I like the comment that follows, written by “Cabo” :“When McCain introduced Sarah Palin as his running mate they should have used “Running With The Devil” as the entrance song!”

Back to the 2004 reunion tour this Friday night! July 22, 2004 in St. Paul MN at the Xcel Energy Center. Good audience recording and the band put on a good show too. Sammy sounded a little hoarse and its clear he can't hit the same high notes that he could in his youth. Eddie put on a decent show, sticking to the standard set during his guitar solo. Not much chatter with the audience, the usual plugs for St. Paul and being a great audience. This two hours kept me out until well after midnight.
The end of August
Summers wind starts to grow cold
Blows his graying hair

Universe above
Two feet stand firm on the ground
He's lost in his head

Echos in the dark
Crickets heard throughout the night
Sing for one season
Remember this picture of Eddie from an earlier post? Well I found some more joke shots others created and posted on the web. Enjoy.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

NEW JERSEY CHANTS FOR EDDIE

Another week has gone by and so much still to get done. Times are busy both at work and at home. But whats most important is that I ran across several more Van Halen bootleg recordings from the 1990's, some that appear to be very good quality. I feel like I hit the jackpot whenever that happens because I'm really enjoying the Sammy era concerts. If I were to stop looking for bootlegs today, I easily have enough music to last me the remainder of the year, two per weekend.

I met with the new physical therapist last Wednesday. I'm really confident in his ability to diagnose the problem and provide the necessary exercises to make me whole again. I've been following his orders and doing at least two sets of shoulder strengthening and stretching exercises each day. For the first time I have some hope that I can beat this thing without having to go under the knife. What's great about that is it means there is a good possibility I'll have a decent ski season this year. Just got to keep working at it with that in mind.

I prepare this entry Sunday evening. Earlier in the day I picked up the kids from the local water park and we drove home beneath a very dark thundercloud which was beginning to release its heavy load of rain. Climbing a hill on the way back we noticed cars stopped on the side of the road, people looking west, cameras in hand. That meant only one thing - tornado! I confirmed it and we pulled over, the kids and I jumping out to view the scene to the west. Hanging beneath the black edge of the storm cloud was a slender funnel cloud that stretched all the way to the ground, kicking up clouds of dirt. It then seemed to break up and then reform, even darker than before. It broke up and we continued on our way when the kids noticed that it had reformed even bigger and blacker than before. Looking in the opposite direction, we noticed a second tornado hanging from the cloud, with a detached dirty funnel down on the ground. I was expecting one to drop down from directly above because we were on line, beneath the darkest part of the cloud. Eventually the two broke up and we drove the rest of the way home where the rain and hail began and dumped for over an hour. The drainage running across our property turned into a muddy stream with all the water coming down the hill above our home. The news on TV were all talking about the tornado's in the area and the strong line of storm clouds that produced them. The kids were thrilled by the whole event, just as I was.
Friday night was a bust for a Van Halen concert: it was raining and the kids had to be up early for a martial arts tournament. However, I was faced with no such constraints Saturday night so it was a "go" for a concert. I picked Van Halen live at the Garden State Art Center in Holmdel, New Jersey where they played on July 16, 1995. A very good audience recording during which the vocals and instruments were loud and clear. They went through the first 20 minutes without Sammy saying anything between songs, just ripping through the music. During Why Can't This Be Love Sammy handed the mike over to both Eddie and Michael. Way back when Eddie and Alex had formed their band Mammoth Eddie acted as both lead singer and guitarist. Listening to him tonight, it's clear why Eddie gave up singing lead vocals and a year later hired Diamond Dave, allowing Eddie to focus on what he does best, play guitar. Another year later they hired Michael and shortly thereafter changed their name to Van Halen. The rest is history!!
The crowd called for Eddie during the encore. With one exception (calling for Dave shortly after Sammy took over from him in 5150 time), they never call out for anyone else in the band. They know who Van Halen's heart and soul is.

A nice cool evening, the lights of Denver shining bright to the northwest. I drained the whole flask and was reluctant to return home because I was still flying after the music came to an end.

Summer storm fronts pass
Cold hard rain drenches the dry ground
Tall peaks dressed in white

Thunderstorm long gone
From below the horizon
Distant lightning's flash

Cusp breaks the horizon
Reflects the suns distant light
Orange moon rising

One mouse click away
Virtual door is opened
Musical gold mine

Seeks his weekend fix
Seen shaking in nights shadow
The junkie dances

Drawn to the music
Thousands fill the stadium
Band counts the millions

The gates have opened
Greeted by heaven's angel
Eddie Van Halen

Time for an encore
A fired up crowd wants some more
Chanting for Eddie

Sunday, August 17, 2008

BACK TO BASICS

A combination of steady day-long rain and other activities within the house caused me to do my concert thing late in the evening, parking on the prairie sometime after 11 PM. So I was in the mood for a short music set, leaving me no choice but to pick their studio issue "OU812", the eighth album released (May 24, 1988) by Van Halen but only the second with Sammy in the band. OU812 is the license plate on the red Ferrari that Red and Chong drive in Cheech and Chong's Next Movie (released in 1980). I was temporarily confused until I remembered that the track listing on the back cover is arranged in alphabetical order, instead of chronological. Its' a really good album and I can understand why it quickly hit number 1 on the charts. Although I was expecting a short stay in the outdoors, I found myself listening to several tracks over and over again because they are so damn good (and the cigar lasts so long), forced to stop only when the rain resumed and I found myself getting soaked standing outside.

Trees sway in the wind
Trunks blackened by the cold rain
Tapping on the roof

Patchwork of black clouds
Drift across the cold night sky
Moonlit from behind

Blanket of moisture
Passes in the air above
Raindrops on his face

The sky's orange glow
A brightly lit horizon
Vapor lamp's false dawn
Sits in the background
Pounding drums rally the tribe
Alex keeps the beat

Outside the spotlight
Lives beneath Eddie's shadow
Michael's deep bass groove

Stands at the helm
Influence charts new course
Sam leads to new heights
Pounding in his head
Addicted to the loud beat
A love forever

Music feels so good
Grows with the passage of time
Running back for more

Saturday, August 16, 2008

RAIN ACROSS THE PRAIRIE

Another week has flown by, including another birthday. The wife was out of town and therefore I played the role of taxi driver for the kids to ferry them to/from after school activities. Not much got done at home. On one of those evenings waiting for Eric to get out of his martial arts class, I walked around marveling at the beautiful sunset, cauliflower massed thunderheads catching the last rays of the sun.

Curtain of gray rain
Hangs from the tall clouds bottom
Quenches summers heat

Anvil topped pillows
Catch last rays of setting sun
Brilliant yellow light

Clouds that burned orange
Bid a setting sun farewell
Gray against pale blue

A positive development was that I met someone online who has a Van Halen audio collection who appears to be willing to trade bootlegs for donations to charities. He emailed me all of "Random Shot" in exchange for a donation to Breast Cancer UK. I'm hoping this is an opportunity to gain access to unavailable Van Halen shows from the 1990's. We shall see.

A front passed through Colorado earlier in the day, dropping temperatures dramatically and bringing a steady rain. We need every drop that falls considering we are far below the yearly average. The clouds parted long enough to allow me to drive out to remote concert spot sometime after 10 o'clock. It felt like winter standing outside the truck listening to the music. I received the latest copy of Skiing magazine today, all of which is making me think of winter and carving turns. Were it not for the lights of Denver in the distance, I could have imagined myself standing outside Loveland ski area on a mild winter evening.

Middle of August
Night's rain gives way to cold mist
Wears a down jacket

Tonight's show took place at the Oakland Coliseum in California on October 9, 1980 during their Woman and Children First "World Invasion" tour. Dave was especially chatty this evening, rapping with the crowd pretty much between every song. He let the audience know that at midnight it would be his birthday (26), the crowd cheering with approval. I can imagine the party that they had that night after the show! The bootleg recording was a bit rough in spots but overall was a decent audience recording. The band ripped through the song list, Eddie's fingers seeming to move faster than usual, Dave's singing following along.

The Van Halen Encyclopedia reports: "A host of bands filled the opening slot throughout the tour, which had become a very tough gig. The openers were frequently targets for whatever the audience had handy, and were normally heavily booed and otherwise verbally abused by the Van Halen-hungry crowd. Some bands cracked under the pressure while others fared pretty well."

Sunday, August 10, 2008

TEQUILA SENDS ME BLASTIN' !!

Spent the day putzing around the house, polyurathaning trim that I'll be installing in the master bedroom next week. Exciting. Also searched the web for new boots, landing several from Van Halen's 2004 tour.
Loaded up the flask with tequila, grabbed a cigar and off I went to my party spot on the prairie that looks across to the lights of Denver. Since I was starting late, I chose a one CD bootleg for tonight's concert. And since I was in the mood for a Sammy era tour, I picked the boot named "Blastin'". This is a soundboard recording (excellent quality!) of two shows, the first half from Wembley Stadium, London, UK, on June 24th 1995, while the second half came from the Civic Center, Pensacola FL, on March 11th 1995. A+ recording when it comes to the quality of the sound and the bands performance. I was stoked by the time I reached the end of the CD, so I found myself listening to some of my favorite tracks over again. What I noticed is that a more mature Van Halen plays the earlier classics better than they did back in the day. I even feel that Sammy does an equal if not better job on some of the classics than DLR, mostly because he's actually putting effort into singing. Turned out to be a really fun night!

Nineteen ninety five
The crest of a second wave
Just before it breaks

Far over the edge
Tequila and Van Halen
Lovin' each minute

What I've noticed is that the Sammy era songs strike an emotional cord within me that never happens with the earlier tunes. I rock to the pre 1984 music, and roll with the emotional punch of the tone and lyrics of the Sammy era sound. It causes me to think about things that have lately been on my mind, like the fact that so many people I know are suffering from cancer. Makes me appreciate what I have , but my heart goes out to them because they are struggling for their lives.

The time approaches
On eternity's doorstep
Cherish each sunrise

Clock quickly unwinds
Youths invincibility gone
Ticking slows, then stops

Life's celebration
Wild party drawing to a close
They leave, one by one

Another birthday
The years slip through his fingers
Never stops ticking


video

Saturday, August 9, 2008

1984 ALL OVER AGAIN!

I saw the doctor earlier in the week and he convinced me to go along with his recommendation: cortisone injection followed by physical therapy to bust up the scar tissue that's responsible for my "frozen" shoulder. I'm resigned to the fact that I will probably miss much of this coming ski season, the goal being to get well enough such that by next summer I can resume with the house siding project (finish the last face). The one good thing is that the injection has lessened the pain and inflammation, allowing to to sleep more normally, with fewer interruptions. I'm beginning to feel more rested.

Friday night arrives and its time to party. A wicked thunderstorm passed through Denver earlier in the evening, dumping inches of rain, although out were we live we got virtually nothing.

Raindrops splash his face
White bolts light the horizon
Scent of the damp earth

Born in the cloud tops
Down thunderheads dark tower
Cold wind chills the skin

Watches from above
Wrapped in the high clouds white shroud
Bathed in moons pale light

This night's concert took place at Le Colisee de Quebec, Quebec City, Canada on April 21, 1984. Dave was lead vocalist, although on this particular evening there was very little rapping with the audience. They burned through their song list, each pounded out one after the other. Good quality audience bootleg recording. Listening to the music I was struck by how much I now favor the Sammy Hagar era sound over what the band produced during the early years. Its a combination of the vocals, the sound and the lyrics. I just love the sound of Van Halen from the late 80's through the 90's. I just can't get enough of the 90's concerts.

Was back home and in bed by midnight.

Loyalty questioned
Music brings about a shift
Sammy over Dave

Tidal wave of sound
Powered by amp charged brute force
Youths raw energy

Say "See you next year!"
Face a long year of turmoil
Waves crest has broken

Sounds so beautiful
Want it to last forever
Must come to an end

Sunday, August 3, 2008

A CHEAP DRUNK IN DENVER

With great apprehension I once again chose a bootleg from the 2004 reunion tour for my Saturday night concert. Van Halen with Sammy at the helm, held in Denver at the Pepsi Center on Sunday night August 1, 2004, almost exactly four years ago to the day. The Denver Post reported:

"Fans flailed for a band that sounded as tight as ever and performed several of its signature songs. They weren't innovative, but the foursome flexed rock 'n' roll authority. Too bad Van Halen doesn't have much new material to work with."

"Eddie Van Halen's fret shredding rang out in darkness to open the show, followed by Hagar bellowing a gritty, ominous version of The Big Bopper greeting, "Hello, baaaby."Then an explosion of stage lights, and a shirtless and glistening Eddie Van Halen stood front and center with his guitar. His brother sat on a drum riser behind him. Anthony and Hagar stomped around him.Hagar has said in recent interviews that he has embraced the band's early catalog because not performing those songs would be an injustice to the band's longtime fans."

"Although Anthony's voice after an onstage chug from a Jack Daniels bottle sounded weak during "Somebody Get Me a Doctor," he's still one of rock's top bassists."

"Hagar remains atop his game. The man's stage presence is undeniable, and his gravelly delivery is tailor-made for rock 'n' roll. He won bonus points Sunday by accepting gifts and signing autographs from the stage. The crowd also relished his solo performance of "Eagles Fly."

Both the recording and the show were of fairly good quality. Yes, Sammy's voice was a little rough, but not unlike what came out of the 1995 tour. Michael Anthony was largely invisible, except for his few minute "Base Solo" that droned on. Eddies guitar solo was different from years past in that it seemed as though he was innovating the sound as he went along, as confirmed by his statement to radio hosts "I was actually writing on stage, coming up with stuff while I was playing". It showed here in Denver, beginning the solo with the request "Five minutes, let me fuck around".

This apparent "sloppiness" in his performance, when compared to the disciplined playing of yesteryear may also be attributable to the drinking. Sammy said "He was pretty out of it the whole tour. There were nights when I didn't even know what song he was playing. Nobody else did either. We just stayed on the same song while he stumbled around the neck of the guitar." This may simply be Sammy talking smack, because by the end of the tour they were ready duke it out on stage. Long simmering animosity had once again resurfaced.

A young Wolfgang Van Halen joins his Dad for a portion of the guitar solo. Preparing him for the day he will replace Michael on the 2007/2008 tour.

Surprisingly, I enjoyed the show from beginning to end. I'm sure drinking that flask of tequila played a role in this sense of well-being.


Eddie's five minutes
Plays unfamiliar sounds
Let him fuck around

The single spotlight
King of the guitar solo
Hearts chant for Eddie

Looks up to his eyes
Times discipline is passed on
Father to his son

A world of false demands
Placed the shackles on his feet
He sleepwalks through life


That's guitar legend Eddie Van Halen arriving at the Elton John's Academy Awards Viewing Dinner and After-Party in Hollywood in 2006. This photo shows the extent of his decline over the years and spawned many humorous, although sad, comments regarding this rock legend:

"Remember when Eddie was cool? While I'd like to be able to blame his downward spiral on Valerie Bertinelli, it looks like years of drug abuse have been hard on Eddie. He looks like a street-dwelling meth addict, which he may in fact be...

"Look carefully at his right hand (to the left on the picture); doesn't it look like Eddie is holding his dentures?"

The above remark prompted a radio interview reply, equally amusing, which can be listened to here: http://www.2dorks.com/gallery/2006/eddie06/index.shtml

Here are how some people have used this picture for their and our amusement, along with others poking fun at the band.