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Mike Mettler Posted: Jan 11, 2016 0 comments
Also see “RIP: David Bowie”

Performance
Sound
“Five years—that’s all we’ve got.” That ominous prognostication, put forth by David Bowie ostensibly about an Earth heading toward imminent destruction in the opening track to 1972’s incendiary game-changer The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars, also serves as a fitting epigraph for both the core title and scope of this massive box set, the first in what will likely prove to be a series that will go well beyond merely making the grade.
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Mike Mettler Posted: Jan 06, 2016 4 comments
"We're the young generation, and we've got something to say." With that provocative, catchy invocation in the perpetually shimmery hit "(Theme From) The Monkees," four lads who were also "too busy singing to put anybody else down" captured the minds and hearts of millions of viewers and listeners when The Monkees TV show debuted in September 1966. And the synergistic connection between TV and music hasn't been the same since.

As an early golden anniversary celebration of sorts, the show and the band will be major topics during the kickoff of the "Peter Noone in Conversation With Micky Dolenz" series that commences with a three-appearance block beginning tomorrow, January 7, at The Space at Westbury in Westbury, New York. Before heading east to sit down to jaw with Noone, Dolenz, 70, and I got on the phone to discuss The Monkees' ongoing impact, what he listens to at home, and the song he wrote whose name could not be said in England.

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Mike Mettler Posted: Dec 23, 2015 0 comments
Restless creativity, thy name is Todd Rundgren. The always adventurous singer/songwriter/guitarist/producer found time in 2015 to not only release two albums of new music — the electro-melodic Global (Esoteric Antenna) and the even-more EDM-driven Runddans (Smalltown Supersound) — as well as embark on a few legs of a solo tour, but he also managed to write some material for and play on Ringo Starr's Postcards From Paradise (UMe) and be a part of the current touring incarnation of Ringo's All-Starr Band to boot. During a tour break, I called Rundgren, 67, at his Hawaiian homestead to discuss the differences between audience and artist expectations, the merits and demerits of vinyl, and his Beatles listening preferences. He saw the light, alright.
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Mike Mettler Posted: Dec 09, 2015 0 comments
The songwriter’s songwriter is one who adheres to an unwavering standard of excellence. His work is honed, sculpted, shaped, and then reshaped until it feels right to share with the world. These are just a few of the guiding principles Steve Forbert followed while composing the 11 original songs that appear on his new album, Compromised (Rock Ridge). “The art of making a recording a finished product is extremely sophisticated,” he observes. Forbert, 60, and I got on the phone recently to discuss the art of songwriting, how you know when a song sounds as good as it can sound, and how to keep challenging yourself creatively.
Mike Mettler Posted: Dec 02, 2015 0 comments
Performance
Sound
“Be cool or be cast out.” So goes one of the pivotal lines in “Subdivisions,” the indelible lead track from Rush’s transitional 1982 album Signals, and it’s also a statement that aptly describes the band’s own fortunes as it navigated a hard-won ascendance from perennial cult favorite to mass acceptance over the course

of its five-decades-and-counting career. The band recently completed a triumphant 40th anniversary tour dubbed R40, celebrating its genuine Rock & Roll Hall of Fame legacy by performing a 23-song set in reverse chronology. (Actually, “Reverse Chronology” sounds like a lost track from the band’s mid-’80s synth-centric period.) I saw Rush’s late-June stop at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, and marveled at the ever-present breadth of the band’s sound and how bassist/keyboardist/vocalist Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson, and drummer Neil Peart were able to modernize decades-old material like “Jacob’s Ladder” and “Lakeside Park” without compromising each track’s initial, individual compositional integrity and charm.

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Mike Mettler Posted: Nov 27, 2015 0 comments
When it came to the final edit of D.A. Pennebaker's groundbreaking 1967 documentary Bob Dylan: Dont Look Back, everything was destined to fit exactly how it fit. "It wanted to happen," says Pennebaker. "When you think about films, some of them want to happen, and some of them aren’t too sure." Dont Look Back is as sure as it gets, as the 90-year-old director and I discussed in Part I of our extensive interview. Here in Part II, Pennebaker shares his thoughts on surround sound when it comes to film soundtracks, that missing apostrophe, and the origin of the film’s legendary opening cue-card sequence.
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Mike Mettler Posted: Nov 25, 2015 0 comments
As iconic as it remains a full half-century later, when Bob Dylan: Dont Look Back (apostrophe very deliberately missing) was being shot by director D.A. Pennebaker during the Bard’s whirlwind tour of England in May 1965, there were literally no rules to follow. “It’s the idea of the home movie, the kind of movie that was always made by one person,” says Pennebaker, still as sharp as ever at age 90. “I had gotten the notion in my head not to make a pure music film. I decided to make it about him, right at the time he was he was trying to figure out who he was.” Here in Part I of our exclusive interview, D.A. and I discuss how he gained Dylan’s trust, the way he predicted the selfie culture, and why he had to get on his back to shoot certain live performances.
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Mike Mettler Posted: Nov 11, 2015 0 comments
Creative sparks don't always fly when veteran musicians get together to collaborate. But that's exactly what happened when two progressive titans, vocalist Jon Anderson and violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, came together to form the Anderson Ponty Band, a.k.a. APB. Their oh-so-apropos debut, Better Late Than Never (Liaison Music), mixes fine, edgy originals with rearranged and revamped covers of classic material like Yes's "Roundabout" and Ponty's "Mirage" — renamed here as "Infinite Mirage," as it now features Anderson singing new lyrics he wrote just for the song. “We work together like family,” marvels Ponty, 73. Agrees Anderson, “We’re musical brothers, you know?” I called Anderson, 71, during an APB tour stop to discuss working with Jean-Luc, our ongoing mutual love of surround sound, and the ever-escalating legacy of Yes.
Mike Mettler Posted: Oct 30, 2015 1 comments
And as we wind on down the road, we have now officially arrived at the home stretch of Led Zeppelin mastermind Jimmy Page’s master plan of reissuing all nine of the mighty Zep’s studio offerings in Super Deluxe Edition box set form. Not only has the studio wizard’s magic remastering wand gifted us with a plethora of bonus tracks—mainly consisting of fascinating works-in-progress outtakes and alternate mixes, as opposed to troves of unreleased songs—but Page has been adamant about going the full-on 96-kHz/24-bit route in order to “future-proof” the catalog for whatever audiophiliac upgrades are yet to come. (Knowing how audio formats tend to go, however, that song may not remain the same as time marches onward.)
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Mike Mettler Posted: Oct 28, 2015 2 comments
Standards: Somebody has to set them. And when it came to creating the 20th-century template for how to properly sing popular music, one need look no further than Johnny Mathis, the romantic, soulful tenor whose range and control remain just as vibrant today as when he began taking lessons in the San Francisco area in the 1950s from opera singer and vocal teacher Connie Cox. And now, seven decades (!) into such a storied career, it only seems fitting that a four-disc collection called The Singles (Columbia/Legacy) brings together 87 of his best-loved songs, including such timeless, indelible classics like “Chances Are,” “It’s Not for Me to Say,” and “The Twelfth of Never” alongside rare but chart-busting gems like “Wonderful! Wonderful!” And it’s certainly no accident that the following phrase appears in the upper-right-hand corner of the cover, right underneath the gleaming old-school/vintage Columbia logo: “Guaranteed High-Fidelity.” Mathis, still quite spry at 80, called me from his residence in Los Angeles to discuss harnessing his influences to create his original vocal style, his singular microphone techniques, and the songs he still loves to sing. Chances are, you already know many of them by heart.

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