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Tuesday, Mar 2, 2010
With their rhythm guitarist and last founding member departing the band, what can fans expect from one of the Gothenburg scene's innovators on their next album?

Jesper Strömblad, guitarist of In Flames


It’s been almost two weeks since this story first broke, but for those who haven’t heard yet, Jesper Strömblad has officially quit In Flames. Strömblad, the last founding member of the band’s lineup, announced that he was leaving the band on February 12th, to “defeat his demons once and for all.”


This news comes as a shock to maybe four people in the metal community. For those keeping track, Strömblad missed over half of the band’s touring cycle last year to spend time in rehab for alcohol abuse. His problems with addiction have plagued the band on and off for over three years now, and fans have gotten more used to seeing Niclas Engelin, Strömblad’s replacement on several tours, than seeing Strömblad himself.


Nevertheless, it is a shame to see Strömblad leave the band. He was a huge part of the band’s creative force throughout their career, and he was one of the musicians that helped pioneer the Gothenburg sound before it became popular worldwide. In Flames weathered the difficulties of their early career because of his desire to succeed with their music. Jesper Strömblad will be missed in the metal scene, and I hope he is able to conquer his addictions and return to a normal life in time.


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Monday, Mar 1, 2010
Artist/producer PC Muñoz mines for gems and grills the greats.

An earlier version of this V-C-V first appeared on pcmunoz.com on March 28, 2006.


“Satisfaction (I Can’t Get Me No)” - Devo
Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards
From Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo (Warner Bros., 1978)


“Woman Coming” - James Blood Ulmer
Written by James Blood Ulmer
From Tales of Captain Black (Artists House, 1979)


I’ve got two names for you: Alan Myers and Denardo Coleman. These are the names of the drummers on these two songs, and to me, they are the undeniable connection between song one, a Stones cover by art-pop freakboys Devo, and song two, a surreal chunk of progressive jazz-funk by blues-futurist James Blood Ulmer.


Devo’s cover of “Satisfaction” (produced by Brian Eno) is still distinctive and fresh, 31 years later. In my opinion, Jagger’s always been an underrated lyricist. Critics often dismiss his words because of his relative lack of street cred (the London School of Economics and all that), and many listeners are likely not looking for depth from his over-the-top, strutting persona. A closer look reveals that the lyric captures an existential restlessness in the face of mass-media messages, something which is just as applicable in today’s information-saturated world as it was back in the heady ‘60s. As a reminder, dig these excerpts from the verses, which most of us know by heart, anyway:


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Sunday, Feb 28, 2010

Green Day has a knack for kicking off records in a riveting fashion, but the band often has a problem wrapping them up as strongly.  For album closers, the trio typically opts for an unremarkable rocker (“Walking Contradiction”, “Prosthetic Head”) or a decent understated number that lacks the punch and passion of preceding tracks (“Macy’s Day Parade”, “Whatshername”).  And the less said about the ghastly AOR sheen of “See the Light” from last year’s 21st Century Breakdown, the better.  Consequently, “F.O.D.”—the final listed track on Dookie—stands as the band’s best official album closer by virtue of the process of elimination more than for being a great tune.


Green Day aims to conclude its third full-length record in climactic fashion, building from understated verses and choruses (featuring only Billie Joe Armstrong’s voice and an acoustic guitar) to an anthemic crash of amplifiers and drum rolls as Armstrong profanely explains the meaning behind the song’s acronym title.  It doesn’t quite work, though.  The main reason is because the acoustic preamble is meant to set listeners up for the sudden sucker punch of the full band onslaught, but it’s severely undermined by the fact that Armstrong plays his acoustic guitar exactly as he would an electric—strumming power chords aggressively with a precise rhythmic thrust (it must be noted though that this does provide listeners with a glimpse of Armstrong’s rhythm guitar prowess shorn of amplifier distortion).  Really, the only major difference in tone between the two parts of the song is that one half is noisier than the other.



Tagged as: green day
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Friday, Feb 26, 2010
Some artists are more than merely great. There are some artists that for a period of years, a period that is finite, consistently produced music that, it can be argued, far exceeded the work of their peers. For that brief period of time they were definitely Masters of the Form.

In 1976, Parliament, led by the incomparable George Clinton, released chapters one and two of a trilogy that changed the landscape of contemporary music. Mothership Connection and The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein proved that Parliament were Masters of the Form by pushing the boundaries of what funk music could be.  1977 found Clinton and his funk mob touring the country in perhaps the most elaborate stage show ever produced by a black musician.  The tour reinforced the storylines of the two albums, and when the Mothership landed onstage each night, the band was lifted into the musical stratosphere. 


Mothership Connection had recast Clinton and his musical peers, Bootsy Collins, Fred Wesley, Maceo Parker, and Bernie Worrell amongst many others, as otherworldly freethinkers descending from space onto a planet in desperate need of the free thought that funk music symbolized. The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein introduced their leader and his clones, who had come to help their listeners fight for this freedom.  In 1977, Parliament didn’t release an album at all; they released a war, a final stand, the third part of the trilogy and an absolute musical masterpiece called Funkentelechy Vs. the Placebo Syndrome.  It was the third album in a funk-tinged science fiction comic book trilogy that focused all of Parliament’s power, humor, and politics into 44 minutes of courageous musical climax.


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Thursday, Feb 25, 2010

Way back in 1997, the Verve released a single that launched them into the commercial stratosphere. The band were already well known in their native Britain by this time, having released two dynamic albums that mixed their innate gift for sonic exploration with a knack for composing anthemic songs in the rock medium.


“Bitter Sweet Symphony” was the band’s first salvo since reuniting after a two-year hiatus, and it was a good one. But while it was good enough to earn the band a worldwide chart smash (including #2 in the UK, and #12 in the US), the song as released was built upon a sample of a tune by the Rolling Stones, both of which can be heard at the “Bitter Sweet Symphony” Wikipedia page.


Actually, while the song in question was written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, the sample itself was taken from the Andrew Oldham Orchestra version of “The Last Time”, recorded in 1966. The Verve licensed a sample of the song in advance, but had apparently bitten off more than they were allowed to chew. When “Bitter Sweet Symphony” became a hit, the Stones’ lawyers came calling.


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