The UK's Royal Mail is issuing a series of 13 stamps honoring the band Queen. This issue follows prior rock stamps celebrating The Beatles and Pink Floyd. From Spin:
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“It’s hard to put into words what I feel when looking at these beautiful stamps,” Queen guitarist Brian May said in a release. “Since we four precocious boys started out on our quest 50 years ago, our lives have been devoted to making our impossible dream come true. Sometimes it’s strange to wake up and realize the position in which we are now held – we have become a national institution! And nothing brings this home more than this incredible tribute from Royal Mail. It’s particularly poignant to look at this collection of images now – now that we are all in a world dominated by a coronavirus, in which none of this could have happened. I just know that I [have] an overwhelming desire to own one of these sets! Somehow it will be a way of persuading myself that it really DID all happen!”
The album-cover stamps include Queen II, Sheer Heart Attack, A Night at the Opera, News of the World, The Game, Greatest Hits, The Works, and Innuendo. The live shots include Freddie Mercury from London’s Wembley Stadium in 1986; drummer Roger Taylor from London’s Hyde Park, 1976; bassist John Deacon at London’s Hammersmith Odeon in 1975; and May in Budapest in 1986. And the iconic centerpiece of the set comes from the group’s first-ever studio photoshoot at a Primrose Hill studio, which shot by Johnny Dewe Mathews.
Since the pandemic began, Bob Dylan has released his first two songs in almost a decade, "Murder Most Foul" (above), a beautiful ballad about the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and the stunning "I Contain Multitudes" (below). In a very rare interview in today's New York Times, Dylan talks to Douglas Brinkley about his new music, the curious references to both Indiana Jones and Anne Frank in his latest song, and, of course, sheltering-in-place. From the New York Times:
Why didn’t more people pay attention to Little Richard’s gospel music?
Probably because gospel music is the music of good news and in these days there just isn’t any. Good news in today’s world is like a fugitive, treated like a hoodlum and put on the run. Castigated. All we see is good-for-nothing news. And we have to thank the media industry for that. It stirs people up. Gossip and dirty laundry. Dark news that depresses and horrifies you[....]
Does having the Pacific Ocean in your backyard help you process the Covid-19 pandemic in a spiritual way? There is a theory called “blue mind” which believes that living near water is a health curative.
Yeah, I can believe that. “Cool Water,” “Many Rivers to Cross,” “How Deep Is the Ocean.” I hear any of those songs and it’s like some kind of cure. I don’t know what for, but a cure for something that I don’t even know I have. A fix of some kind. It’s like a spiritual thing. Read the rest
"Beth" is Kiss's biggest hit ever and, interestingly, was co-written and sung by the band's drummer Peter Criss. It's arguably one of the most iconic power ballads of the 1970s. (Full song below.) But what was the song really about? Director Brian Billow shows that there's always two sides to every story. And if there isn't, you can just make one up. "Beth" the film stars Lilli Birdsell as Beth and Steven Olson as Peter.
(via Dangerous Minds)
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Currently on heavy rotation at Chez Branwyn: Fiona Apple's cover of The Waterboys' brilliant "The Whole of the Moon." She covered the 1985 classic for the season finale of the Showtime series, The Affair.
Apple had written the show's theme song five years earlier and came back to close out the series. The trademark "big music" sweep of the track and Apple's intense performance are perfect for a curtain-closing ending.
And the lyrics to this song are among my all-time favorites:
I pictured a rainbow
You held it in your hands
I had flashes
But you saw the plan
I wandered out in the world for years
While you just stayed in your room
I saw the crescent
You saw the whole of the moon
The whole of the moon
Here's The Waterboys doing their original version.
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My old pal Greg Dulli of The Afghan Whigs will release his first proper solo album, Random Desire, on February 21. Above is "Pantomima," the first single/video for the album, and it's a beaut. Directed by and starring Greg's longtime collaborator Philip Harder, this magnificent short film is a take on the "All That Jazz" tale of choreographer/dancer Bob Fosse.
Greg tours Europe and the US starting in March. Black out the windows, it's party time.
Dulli photo by Maciek Jasik
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David Crosby's "If I Could Only Remember My Name" (1971) is one of my favorite records of all time. I'm excited to watch Cameron Crow's documentary about him, "Remember My Name," especially after seeing this delightful clip of Croz recounting the time he was so high while at a jazz club during a John Coltrane gig that he had to hide in the bathroom. And then -- surprise -- Coltrane himself burst into the bathroom playing his horn. In the video above, Crosby beautifully expresses what it sounded like.
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At last night's "I Am The Highway: A Tribute to Chris Cornell" concert in Los Angeles, Miley Cyrus belted out Temple of the Dog's "Say Hello 2 Heaven" backed up by Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam and Josh Freese and Brendan O'Brien. By all accounts, Cyrus's surprisingly fierce performance was a highlight of an incredible and emotional evening.
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Say Hello to Heaven... had a heavenly experience with you tonight, Chris. We felt you and heard you.... your words and spirit filled the room.... there was an overwhelming feeling of so much love... we miss you deeply ... tonight was an honor.... #chriscornelltribute
This is "Woodstock Al #6," a strange and fascinating DIY cassette of covers by an unidentified artist. In 2000, a fellow named Jim Fletcher sent the cassette to legendary WFMU personality and music historian Irwin Chusid. From Mei Clover who posted the audio to YouTube for posterity:
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This is a tape filled with strange, distorded guitar noodling, barely audible vocals, out-of-rhythym drums, and songs just barely recognisable to what they're supposed to be. You've never heard something like this before. The identity of Woodstock Al is unknown, and the tapes Woodstock Al 1-5 are still lost. Because these tracks are just barely recognisable, here is the track list.
1. Communication Breakdown
2. Purple Haze
3. Sunshine Of Your Love
4. Light My Fire
5. Manic Depression
6. Hello, I Love You
8. One Way Out
9. Every Day I Have The Blues
10. I Don't Live Today
11. You Got Me Floatin'
13. Sweet Child 'O Mine
Boy, oh boy, if this Helios console could talk, it would have some serious stories to tell.
Not only did Led Zeppelin use it to record their now-classic hit "Stairway to Heaven," but many other musical artists have recorded on it too. Now, it will be sold to the highest bidder (it's expected to fetch six-figures) at Bonhams upcoming December 11 auction in London.
This mixing desk is particularly unique because it's actually a hybrid of two recording consoles that were combined in 1996 by Elvis Costello and Squeeze's Chris Difford.
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They used part of the Island Records Basing Street Studio 2 Helios Console (1970-1974) and part of Alvin Lee's Helios console from Space Studios (1973-1979).
The two consoles were combined in 1996 after Difford and Costello acquired both from storage in order to set up their own studio HeliosCentric Studios 'which would be for everyone to use - a chapel of music in a quiet spot.' They sought advice from the original creator of Helios, Dick Swettenham, and carefully amalgamated the pair to create what is arguably one of Swettenham's first, last, and largest project.
The newly combined console was installed on a peaceful farm in Rye that became a haven for musical artists and has been in constant use ever since. Artists who have used the console in both their original and amalgamated guises include: Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley & The Wailers, Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, George Harrison, Jeff Beck, Stephen Stills, Jimi Hendrix, Mott The Hoople, Cat Stevens, Free, KT Tunstall, Athlete, Paolo Nutini, Sia, Olly Murrs, Dido, Pet Shop Boys, Scouting For Girls, David Bowie, Paul Weller, Mud, Gary Barlow, Supergrass and Keane.
The Breeders have been out and about this year supporting their first studio album in ten years, and they just released a video for the single Spacewoman. Read the rest
The long-awaited biopic Bohemian Rhapsody tells the story of Freddie Mercury and Queen's incredible story from their formation in 1970 to their outstanding Live Aid performance in 1985 just a few years before Mercury died due to complications from AIDS.
Hitting theaters November 2, the film stars Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury with Ben Hardy, Gwilym Lee, Joseph Mazzello, Allen Leech, and Lucy Boynton. Bryan Singer directed much of the principal photography before he was fired, apparently for repeatedly not showing up to work, and replaced by Dexter Fletcher who completed the movie.
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Please enjoy the premiere of this new Dawes music video "Living in the Future," the first single off the Indie roots rockers's forthcoming album Passwords, out June 22. Grant James directed the clip.
According to the band, Passwords is "for and about the modern age: the relationships that fill it, the politics that divide it, and the small victories and big losses that give it shape."
“We’re living in such a unique moment in history,” says Dawes lead singer Taylor Goldsmith. “Many of these songs are an attempt to come to terms with the modern world, while always trying to consider both sides of the story...
"Songs can be passwords because they're a means of giving access to someone else's perspective, thereby elaborating your own.”
Tour dates here.
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Guns N' Roses is reissuing their iconic Appetite for Destruction (1987) in various editions ranging from double LP and CD sets (all with unreleased music) to the fully-blown "Locked N' Loaded" massive box set. For $999, you get "four CDs, one Blu-ray (containing hi-def 5.1 surround audio of Appetite, bonus tracks and music videos), seven 12-inch LPs, seven seven-inch singles, a hardbound book and a variety of collectibles. The selection of ephemera includes five skull face rings, a replica of the band's stage banner from their early club days, several posters, replicas of old fliers and ticket stubs and even two temporary tattoo sheets featuring life-size recreations of the band members' actual ink. The entire collection will be housed in a solid wood box wrapped in faux-leather and stamped with a 3D cross on its front doors," according to Rolling Stone.
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Pu o Hiro is a roadside rock in the Easter Islands, but at one time its value was so great that factions fought over its possession. The rock's natural holes allowed it to be played like an instrument. Rare Earth uses it as a starting point for discussing consensus value. Read the rest
The fine folks at Waterjet Channel found an enhydro agate, a type of metamorphic rock that formed with a pocket of liquid water inside. Naturally, they broke it open to get to the water and drank it. Read the rest
Jared Dines demonstrates several weird drum setups that not only sound good, but look pretty cool, too. Read the rest
Fleetwood Mac's California cocaine trilogy of Fleetwood Mac, Rumours, and Tusk are some of my absolute favorite rock albums of the 1970s. In the above video, Nerdwriter deconstructs the production of "Dreams." And below, a live performance of the track from 1977.
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