Furs – Still Pretty Good After All These Years

I’ve now seen the Psychedelic Furs about half a dozen times over the past 30 years, and it’s amazing how reliable and consistent the shows are.  This time around I was able to catch them at the Velvet Sessions venue at the Hard Rock hotel in Orlando.

This band just doesn’t get enough credit for the breadth and depth of their musical library, and their musicianship remains fantastic. As a nice twist on this tour, the band celebrates the 30th Anniversary of the release of their breakthrough 1981 album Talk, Talk, Talk by playing it straight through in its entirety.

The constants throughout all of the incarnations of the alternative rock stalwarts have been brothers Richard and Tim Butler.  Richard is still a consummate front man, his voice as pure as ever, and his engaging performance still reeking of charisma.  He never stops interacting with the crowd, and seems to still truly enjoy performing.  Tim’s bass coupled with the driving beat of near original drummer Paul Garisto kept the crowd hopping all night. Mars Williams was back with the band and stole the spotlight several times with riveting sax solos.  The talented band was rounded out by Amanda Kremer on keyboards and Rich Good on guitar.

The highlights for me:

  • Richard Butler’s performance – still delivers the vocals with energy and passion
  • Talk, Talk, Talk – a rare chance to hear some tunes they probably haven’t played in 30 years, including the under-rated “Into You Like a Train.”
  • The cohesion of the band. They just sounded great together, and ever musician shined at one point in time or another.

Disappointment:

  • I didn’t time it, but their set seemed short. Although I really enjoyed the focus on Talk, Talk, Talk, I missed hearing a few of their classics.

Setlist:

Dumb Waiters
Pretty in Pink
I Wanna Sleep With You
No Tears
Mr. Jones
Into You Like a Train
It Goes On
So Run Down
All of This and Nothing
She is Mine

Love My Way
Sister of Mine
President Gas
Highwire Days
Heaven
Heartbreak Beat

As for the venue; it was my first trip to Hard Rock’s Velvet Sessions, but I will be back. It’s a temporary set-up in the hotel lobby (across from the Velvet Lounge). Along with the price of admission, you have a 90 minute free bar, and free appetizers. The food and the drinks, as well as the service were excellent, and the sound quality was surprisingly good.

Cretin, June 30, 2011

Check out Rara’s Best Driving songs of all-time.

The Top Driving Songs of All-Time


As I get ready to embark on a 20 hour road trip up the East Coast, I was thinking about the best driving songs of all-time. Back in the day, it was Jolt Cola and No-Doz, now it’ll be Monster and 5 Hour Energy, but it doesn’t matter if you’re stuck listening to Air Supply and those frenetic backwoods preachers who monopolize small town late night radio.  I’ll have my trusty XM radio to get me through the many miles of rock-free radio badlands, but it would be nice to throw a handful of tunes on my iPod to help me through the painful late night hours as my body tries to nod off.

So, the Best Driving Songs of All-Time? That pretty subjective, eh? It sure is – and I’ll admit, my tastes are probably a lot different than yours. I tend to like the songs a little heavier and maybe a bit darker than the norm. No, you will not see Eddie Rabbit’s “I Love the Rainy Nights” on this list, but you’ll know most of these tunes.

My rules – Pretty Simple: I like the song and only one per artist.

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So, here they are in reverse order – one for every hour of the trip:

20. “Stop,” Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, 2003 and  “Head On,” The Jesus and Mary Chain, 1989 – sorry, couldn’t leave either one out with a clear conscience. Two hard charging cuts.
19.  “Hey Tonight,” Creedence Clearwater Revival, 1971 – Great for cruising down a long country road, singing along with your buddies.
18. ” L.S.F.,” Kasabian, 2004 – Good modern driving stuff from these talented Brits.
17. “Running Down a Dream,” Tom Petty, 1989 – Another artist with a bunch to choose from. Not my favorite Petty song, but the best to drive to.
16. “Sleep Alone,” Heart, 1983 – This one from Passion Works is very under-rated, with fantastic guitar work and great soundtrack for the highway.
15. “Highway Star,” Deep Purple, 1972 – Machine Head is just a great driving album with a few worthy candidates, I thought this was a little better than “Space Truckin.”
14. “Life On A Chain” Pete Yorn,  2001 – under-rated song, and a great driving tune, from an under-rated artist.
13. “Lunatic Fringe,” Red Rider, 1981 – featured in half of the movies and TV shows from the 80’s – typically while the protagonist was fleeing down a dark roadway in the dark of night.
12. “Midnite Maniac,” Krokus, 1984 – these hard rockers were the pride of Switzerland, and had some great driving music. This was their best.
11. “Slow Ride,” Foghat, 1975 – another classic rock tune that is just perfect in the car.

SMS Audio STREET by 50

10. “Lucretia My Reflection,” Sisters of Mercy – This 1988 tune has a great driving bass line and haunting lyrics about the destruction of an empire. Cheery stuff to keep your energy going.  Crank it up!

9. “Immigrant Song,” Led Zeppelin – A 1970 song about Iceland, surprisingly from my least favorite Led Zep album. It’s a great driving tune that starts with a wicked scream from Robert Plant and features a furious driving Bonham beat the remainder of the song.

8. “The Passenger,” Iggy Pop – This one was reborn a few years ago, but initially released in 1977.  Written about riding a train in Germany. If it’s good for train travel, that’s close enough for us.

7.  “Take It Easy,” Eagles – It was the Eagles first single way back in 1972. This Jackson Browne penned hit requires the top down, or at least the windows open.

6. “Mr. E’s Beautiful Blues,” The Eels – This was actually an after thought and a bonus track on their 2000 album Daisies of the Galaxy. It later became the theme to Road Trip. Fun, fun stuff; “It’s a beautiful day, uh huh…”

5. “Gonna Raise Hell,” Cheap Trick, 1979.  9 minutes and 20 seconds of perfection.  Bun E. Carlos drives the beat, Robin’s vocals are fantastic, and Rick’s guitar doesn’t exactly suck either.

4. “Sherry Darling,” Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band – Springsteen has more than a few good candidates, but this one from 1980’s The River, is a blast to drive to – again: windows down. “I got some beer, and the highway’s free.”

3. “Ride On,” AC/DC – From the 1976 Dirty Deeds album, this haunting driving song is Bon Scott at his absolute best. So perfectly Bon, that Brian Johnson won’t even touch it. Perfect for late night cruising down a deserted highway.

2. “Back Where I Started,” Box of Frogs – the only hit from this reformed incarnation of the Yardbirds. The 1983 hit features Jeff Beck’s guitar and a killer beat. I picture this one cranking loudly as I drive through the swamps of Louisiana or backwoods of WV trying to avoid the locals from Deliverance.

1. “Radar Love,” Golden Earring – This 1973 hit from the veteran Dutch rockers was an instant driving classic. It stands the test of time and is as great today as it was 30 years ago. It was the first tune I thought of, and nothing I considered knocked it out of my top spot. Crank down the windows, crank up the volume and watch out for the cops…

So, how did I do? If I survive the drive, I look forward to reading your feedback.

-Cretin-

9/19 – Yo Animals – I just set-up a Playlist on Spotify with the great majority of these songs. Check it out next time you hit Route 66, The Highway to Hell, or the Backstreets… RARA’s Farm Top Driving Songs


The Muppets are Coming – and that’s Good News, Rockers

Muhna-Muhna!

Hey, who didn’t love the aforementioned tune, or Rainbow Connection, or the Muppets theme? Now imagine them performed by some of the best bands playing these days. It sounds like we are still a few months away, but here’s the track listing for The Green Album to whet your appetite.

  1. OK Go: “Muppet Show Theme”
  2. Weezer and Paramore’s Hayley Williams: “Rainbow Connection”
  3. The Fray: “Mahna Mahna”
  4. Alkaline Trio: “Moving Right Along”
  5. My Morning Jacket: “Our World”
  6. Amy Lee: “Halfway Down the Stairs”
  7. Sondre Lerche: “Mr. Bassman”
  8. The Airborne Toxic Event: “Wishing Song”
  9. Atreyu’s Brandon Saller and Good Charlotte’s Billy Martin: “Night Life”
  10. Andrew Bird: “Bein’ Green”
  11. Matt Nathanson: “I Hope That Something Better Comes Along”
  12. Rachael Yamagata: “I’m Going to Go Back There Someday”

A few thoughts:

  • Rainbow Connection, with Weezer and Haley Williams – that’s just cool.
  • OK Go playing the theme – nice!
  • The Fray doing Mahna Mahna – I’m thinking that’s going to be a fun one
  • Sondre Lerche – I just love his voice. It will be very interesting hearing him do this cheerful ditty
  • Airborne Toxic Event – Predicting that this will be my favorite.

While you bide your time waiting for the album, I’ll leave you with this wisdom from Kermit: “Time’s fun when you’re having flies.”

 

On the Road Feature

Hey Animals – We’ve started a new feature called On The Road.  You can get there by clicking the link in the very Top left portion of the page, or by clicking here: On the Road.  Our goal is to give a quick one page city guide for our fellow Rock and Roll fans.

On the On The Road page, you’ll also find a quick link to the current tour schedule for each of our 48 featured cities.  It’s a nice feature you can leverage any time you hit the road.

We’ve put together a sample for Orlando if you’d like to check it out.  Our goal is to have this guide built as a collaborative effort between all of you and our editors.  Take a peek at the Orlando page and contact us at Rarasfarm to get the ball rolling. The templates for each city will be similar, but you can contribute even if you only have one tidbit to share.  And, we’ll keep updating them over time as we continue to get new information.

So, take a few minutes to think about your city and send your contributions it into us. We’ll give you credit as you help us improve this community!

Thanks!

There’s Another Big Man in Rock ‘n Roll Heaven

Another sad day for fans of rock music and Jersey boys like myself.  Clarence Clemons passed away in Florida yesterday, a week after suffering a massive stroke.

Bruce Springsteen to me was always Bruce Springsteen AND THE E-STREET BAND.  I’ve seen Springsteen numerous times in my life, but only while he toured with the rest of the band, as Springsteen without the E-Street band just wasn’t “The Boss.”  No one was more integral to the E-Street sound than Clarence Clemons.  The Big Man was a big presence on stage and a big part of the E-Street Band sound.  “Jungleland” and “10th Avenue Freeze Out” highlighted his powerful and beautiful sax solos. Though they were early Springsteen hits, the crowd always clamored for them, mainly to hear the Big Man’s work.

My first Springsteen show was 30 years ago during The River tour.  I loved everything about the nearly 4 hour show, but walked out amazed by the passion and skill of the E-Street band, with the Big Man, Mighty Max and Professor Roy Bittan first and foremost.  They were the power behind the might E-Street Band.

Over the years I’ve seen the band a handful of other times, and watched them change musical direction just as many times.  But, the mighty sax of Clemons was a constant.  I’ll forgive him for the poppy 80’s hit “You’re a Friend of Mine” with Jackson Brown, and his horrendous red leather outfit.  But, even there, that sax was perfect – just beautiful stuff.

The last time I saw the band was aweek after Danny Federici passed a few years ago, when the band started out the show with “Blood Brothers” and a moving video tribute to Danny. It turned out to be a huge celebration of his life and his contributions to the E-Street Band. Clarence sounded great that night, but you could tell the years were catching up. He was, well, showing his age.  I wondered if I’d ever see him on-stage again. I was thinking retirement, not his untimely death.  Somehow if there’s a next E-Street Tour, I’m just not sure they’ll be able to do the same justice for Clemons, absent his fantastic saxophone.

I’ll leave you with this nugget.  This song used to be the bed for my classic rock show back in college, and features the keyboards of Danny Federici and the might saxophone from The Master of Disaster, Emperor of the World, King of the Universe and Mayor of Half of Bayonne – The Big Man himself: Clarence Clemons.

Clarence and Danny

 

Random Musings

The Dodo’s from the Bay Area have a great distinctive sound, that I just can’t get enough of.  For a nice example of this duo’s catchy stuff, check out “Black Night” off of their recently released third album No Color. They’ll be playing around home later this summer, then starting a tour in the South in early September.

The Beastie Boys recently released a new tune featuirng Santigold.  I would never have pictured this pairing, but it works on “Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win.”  Check it out at: Beasties.

I recently added a few cool videos to our YouTube Playlist.  You can search for it at YouTube, under Rara’s Farm – Fun.  Here’s my current favorite, and it is a fun flash from the past featuring Keith Moon.  Here’s Keith hitting some high notes!

Radio Review – Alt Nation

Tractor Tunes are our 30 minute radio station reviews. So, grab a PBR, slide on your headphones, hop on the tractor, and decide if this one is for you…

Sirius XM’s Alt Nation, Channel 36

Ah, the beauty of commercial-free radio. Alt Nation claims to play the latest alternative rock releases.  Not sure they live up to the “latest” but the selection is a pretty damn good mix of Alternative Rock.  Here’s what we heard on a recent Wednesday morning:

  • Radiohead – House of Cards (2009)
  • Naked and Famous – Punching In A Dream (2011)
  • Blink 182 – Feeling This (2003)
  • Last Royals – Crystal Vases (2011)
  • Arcade Fire – Rebellion Lies (2004)
  • Vampire Weekend – White Sky (2010)
  • Metric – Help I’m Alive (2008)
  • The Heavy – How You Like Me Now (2009)

Overall, a nice selection and an excellent way to ease into a work day, or battle through rush hour, or milk the cows.

Regan is the morning-drive DJ, and he’s entertaining; feeding us interesting tidbits about the artists played. As an example, he shared that the Arcade Fire and Vampire Weekend recently played basketball against each other.  The interruptions are minimal and welcome.

Stats:
Date: 6/8/11Music: 97%
Chatter: 3%
Commercials  0%

To quote Sum 41: All Killer, No Filler.

Bonus Tip: Listen Saturday’s at 1PM for the Alt-18 Most Requested Countdown.

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The Plaza Theatre Live – I’ll be Back…

I recently saw my first show at the Plaza Theatre Live in downtown Orlando, and absolutely loved this venue on Bumby Street.

The theater just reeks of character. It’s a converted movie theater from many years past, and has that comfortable nostalgic feel, yet is still a nice modern place to see a show.

On the night we were in attendance, we saw an acoustic solo artist, Jackie Bristow and the rock and roll of John Waite and his band. The sound was not pristine, but was definitely above average.

There’s not a bad seat in the house literally and figuratively. The seats are worn, but they’re large and comfortable, and the sight lines are excellent. There is a balcony, but it was closed on the evening we were in the house, so I can’t provide an opinion from the rafters. It is up there, so if you suffer from frequent nose bleeds beware…

They have a great beer selection. $6 for 16 oz and $9 for 24 oz seems over-priced, yet typical these days – but at least you are not sipping some crap like Bud Light. I had Longboard the night I was there, and the 6 beers on tap were very diverse. A nice bottled beer selection, too. The Plaza also serves wine – I don’t drink wine, so I have no idea if the selection was worth a damn, although I suspect it was, based on the fantastic beer choices.

Miscellaneous Ramblings:

  • The bartenders were friendly and helpful, as was the rest of the staff.
  • Tickets include a $5 service fee, which is always a bummer, but seems to be a bargain compared to other venues these days. And, you don’t have to deal with the evil Ticketmaster empire.
  • Bathrooms were clean.
  • Those of you still too weak to quit smoking have an area outside on the front patio.
  • Parking? There’s plenty of it immediately surrounding the theater, and it is free, free, free…

Bottom line: I love the place, and I’ll be back.

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