Saturday, October 31, 2009

Bob Dylan's 30th Anniversary Concert Revisited

On October 16, 1992 at Madison Square Garden, Sony Music put on a pay per view all star concert to celebrate Bob Dylan's 30th Anniversary on Columbia Records. Dubbed "Bobfest" by Neil Young from the stage, the four hour show featured a wide variety of artists performing Dylan songs. It was too bloated, but there were many highlights. Here are some videos (with some mp3s) of the best performances.

Eddie Vedder was joined by Pearl Jam bandmate Mike McCready and Saturday Night Live bandleader G.E. Smith for this seering version of "Masters of War."

Eddie Vedder - Masters of War

The night allowed for a variety of musical styles, usually to great effect. The best example of this was the O'Jay's reprising their classic cover of "Emotionally Yours."

The O'Jays - Emotionally Yours

There were also some fun collaborations. Here are Mary Chapin Carpenter, Shawn Colvin, and Rosanne Cash taking turns on "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere."

Booker T & the MG's backed up most of the artists on this night. Here they really got to show their stuff with Neil Young on a fantastic "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues."

Neil Young - Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues

Another great moment was when George Harrison played what I believe is his only live performance of a song he covered early on in his solo career, "If Not For You."

The highlight of the show was when Neil and George joined Roger McGuinn, Tom Petty, Eric Clapton, and the guest of honor, Bob Dylan, among others on "My Back Pages."

Of course, no all star concert would be complete without an even more gigantic singalong, this time on "Knocking on Heaven's Door."

After all of that, Bob came back to the stage alone for one last encore, singing "Girl from the North Country," before exiting to a huge standing ovation.

Hopefully, this concert will be available on DVD at some point, but in the meantime, you can order the live album below. Thanks for checking this out.

Buy Bob Dylan: The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration from

Monday, October 12, 2009

Neil Finn's First "7 Worlds Collide" Project in 2001

Neil Finn is the legendary singer/songwriter who has made a lot of great music with Split Enz, fronting Crowded House, and on his own excellent solo albums. This past winter, he again brought together a large group of musicians, including members of Radiohead and Wilco, to play a series of shows in his native New Zealand. This time, the group took the band name of 7 Worlds Collide and recorded a double album of new songs, Sun Came Out. There will be a post on this blog next week about this album, (I have to listen to it first!) but in the meantime, you can order it here.

Before that, I thought it would be a good idea to look back at Neil Finn's first "7 Worlds Collide" project in 2001. Neil put together a great group of musicians, including:

Tim Finn, his brother and collaborator in Split Enz, Crowded House, and Finn Brothers
Johnny Marr, guitarist and songwriter for The Smiths
Eddie Vedder, lead singer of Pearl Jam
Lisa Germano, a solo artist & former violinist for John Mellencamp
Ed Obrien, guitarist in Radiohead
Phil Selway, drummer in Radiohead
Sebastian Steinberg, bassist in Soul Coughing

The musicians rehearsed for a few weeks before playing a week's worth of shows in New Zealand. The final concert in Aukland was recorded for the DVD and CD release Neil Finn and Friends - 7 Worlds Collide: Live at St. James.

In this first video, Neil explains the process of putting everything together before the band opens the final show with the Crowded House classic "Fall at Your Feet."

Along with Neil's own songs, the band played music from each other's careers. One of the highlights was Neil singing lead on the Smiths' song "There is a Light That Never Goes Out." This video is followed by the mp3 from the live album.

Neil Finn & Friends - There is a Light That Never Goes Out (Smiths cover)

Eddie Vedder was an important part of the shows, usually taking lead on some of his favorite Split Enz tunes. The first two videos here are followed by mp3s.

Neil Finn & Friends (w/ Eddie Vedder) - Take a Walk (Split Enz cover)

Neil Finn ft Eddie Vedder - Stuff and nonsense

Mauro|MySpace Videos

Neil Finn & Friends (w/ Eddie Vedder) - Stuff & Nonsense (Split Enz cover)

The coolest part of the DVD was when when Eddie joined Neil's son Liam's band Betchadupa (where Liam played drums) midset to cover a few Split Enz songs. What makes this especially cool in retrospect is that since then, Liam had made a great solo album, I'll Be Lightning, and has been the opening act on many of Eddie's solo shows these past few years. Here's their first time working together:

Liam's uncle Tim joined in on this wild performance of "I See Red."

The project also showcases Neil's phenomenal second solo album, One All. Here they perform one of the most beautiful songs you'll ever hear, "Last to Know."

Last To Know - Neil Finn

Neil Finn|MySpace Music Videos

Another great moment in the concert film came when everyone got together near the end for "Weather With You," another classic song from Crowded House.

To check out an older post about Neil and Tim Finn's first band Split Enz, (w/ some covers by Pearl Jam), go here.

Thanks for checking this out. Look for a post on the new 7 World Collide project next week.

Buy the CD and DVD Neil Finn & Friends - 7 Worlds Collide: Live at St. James on

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Lindsay Buckingham's "Holiday Road"

In 1983, the movie National Lampoon's Vacation was released. This hilarious comedy followed Clark Griswold and his family as they traveled across the country to visit Wally World. The movie was a huge hit that spawned three great sequels and it is a classic that people watch again and again on DVD. If you've never seen it, you probably live in a cave and/or are severly deprived.

After taking the lead in creating the incredibly ambitous and adventurous album Tusk with Fleetood Mac, Lindsay Buckingham went on to release an excellent debut solo album Law & Order in 1981. The following year he returned in a much more limited songwriting role with Fleetwood Mac, and the result was the popular but artistically mediocre record Mirage in 1982. He then contributed a song to the Vacation soundtrack, "Holiday Road," that recalled the brilliance of Tusk. It was an infectious pop masterpiece that became something of a cult classic, due to the popularity of the movie and the song only being commercially available on the out of print film soundtrack.

Here's the song featured prominently in the trailer for National Lampoon's Vacation:

The popularity of the movie and the song led to the creation of this bizarre, but really cool video, which is followed by an mp3 of the original version.

Lindsay Buckingham - "Holiday Road"

In between his last two stellar solo albums, Buckingham released the concert cd/dvd Live at Bass PerformanceHall in 2008. It contained a rare live rendition of the song.

Lindsay Buckingham - Holiday Road (from Live at Bass Performance Hall

Look for plenty more on Lindsay Buckingham and Fleetwood Mac in the future. Thanks for checking this out.

Buy Lindsay Buckingham's Live at Bass Performance Hall on

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The John Train Band (featuring Mike "Slo-Mo" Brenner)

For many years now, one of the best bands in Philadelphia has been John Train. On stage and on record, lead vocalist and songwriter Jon Houlon does a deft job of mixing his great own songs with some well chosen covers pretty seamlessly. At his side since the beginning, playing amazingly on all kinds of guitars has been Mike Brenner, known for his excellent work with Marah and with his own band Slo-Mo. They've both been backed up by a talented group of musicians. The current lineup includes Steve Demarest (bass), Bill Fergusson (mandolin), Mark Tucker (guitar), and Mark Schreiber (percussion, drums).

Their most recent record, Mesopotamia Blues, was produced by Brenner and focuses on the war in Iraq. The songs look at the war and the region from a variety of perspectives. What really makes the record is the production and guitar work from Brenner, who helps to add some intresting Middle Eastern sounds, especially here.

John Train - Equipment Failure

At the center of the record are two songs that combine to tell an interesting story. The first of which is a cover of the late John Stewart's song "Draft Age," about a young man named Clarence Mulloy being sent off to Vietnam.

John Train - Draft Age (John Stewart cover)

This cover is followed by the song "Mulloy 2006" where Houlon writes of a middle aged Clarence Mulloy now faced with his son heading off to Iraq. This video and mp3 are from the band's performance at the Sellersville Theater on November 21, 2007.

John Train - Mulloy 2006 (Sellersville, PA - 11/21/07)

A typical John Train show features a lot of great covers. Here's a video and mp3 of one of my favorites, also from the same Sellersville show, Butch Walker's "Box Cars."

John Train - Boxcars (Butch Walker cover - 11/21/07)

Two more live covers of old folk traditionals recorded in Fairmount Park in July of 2007.

John Train - "I Know You Rider"

John Train - The Wind and the Rain

We'll close this one out with one last cover, Hank Williams' "You're Gonna Change or I'm Gonna Leave" from Johny Brendas in Philadelphia on September 21, 2007.

John Train is currently in the midst of their annual fall residency, playing every Friday night at 6 at Fergie's in Philadelphia, PA. It is always a great time so come check them out if you are in the area.

Download John Train's Mesopotamia Blues at