Archive for Led Zeppelin

News: The Girl With Dragon Tattoo’s Soundtrack Available To Pre-Order

Posted in Movies, Music, News, Soundtrack with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 3, 2011 by Bjorn Grainger

I’ve been listening to The Social Network soundtrack a lot recently. It’s wonderful stuff. So I for one am pleased that Trent Reznor revealed on his Nine Inch Nails website that the The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo soundtrack is now available to pre-order. Continue reading

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MY Reading Festival…

Posted in Gigs, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2006 by Bjorn Grainger

(This blog was originally written on Myspace)

So, yeah, I went to Reading Festival. Only for the day, mind. I didn’t do any of that camping business. I went on the sunday, and if you know your Reading main stage line ups, you’ll know the reason why I (and my friend, Nick) chose to go on that day, but I’ll get to that later. Our planning for the festival had been poor, to say the least. Of the bands that were to play that day, we had heard of hardly any, and those we had heard of didn’t exactly fill us with excitement. But, anyway…

I actually traveled down the day before, to London, to meet up with my pal, Nicholas, who was joining me on my Reading adventure. London was to be our base for the weekend. I got in at half five-ish, and we spent the rest of the day wandering the village, and, in-between, we managed a ride on the London Eye. It went up high and around, which was some what enjoyable. We called it a day at midnight, went back to the flat of Nicholarse’s brother where we were staying, and bedded down for the night ready for the festival frivolities on the morrow.

We arrived at Reading train station on a glorious sunny day, and followed the crowds to the site. We found the entrance, but Nicholas spotted the security confiscating drinks. This bothered him as he had four cans in his bag. So, in a show of his almost legendary tightness, we stood outside while he drunk three of the four cans. He’d decided to try to sneak the fourth by hiding it under the coat in his bag. The security found instantly. Finally, though, we were at the festival.

We got the main stage half way through Taking Back Sunday’s set. They were entirely forgettable, by which I mean I can’t remember a single significant thing aboot them. We stayed the main stage for Less Than Jake, another of these awful kiddie punk bands the youth of today seem to delight in. Their appeal is lost on me, but then what do I know? After that performance, we got up and took a look around. The Nokia Q&A stage had Boy Kill Boy doing an acoustic version of that song they do. I assume they were on stage, I couldn’t see over the people’s heads in front, and could only see them on the big screen. We wandered over to the Carling stage/tent, but nobody was on. They did play a track by Sleater-Kinney (Light Rail Coyote, I think) which was nice. We strolled on, with me thinking how young everybody looked. They were kids! No fooling kids! I felt so old. That said, the sight of all the gorgeous girlies cheered me up. We somehow ended up at the main stage for Bullet For My Valentine. Another band which my mind decided was not worthy of my memory space, save for when i wondered aloud if the lead singer was Welsh. He sounded it.

For the next act, we moved in closer. You had to, really. Yes, it was time for the mighty Slayer! They were big loud fun, and never anything less than entertaining. There were no pretensions, you knew what you were going to get, they came out on stage, played hard, played fast, and played well. And when the lead singer said “This next song is called Post Mortem!” and launched in a roar, I had the biggest smile on my face.

After Slayer, we thought it best to move back from the stage as it was time for My Chemical Romance. I’ve despised this band since the very moment I saw them on MTV2, and seemingly, so did large parts of the crowd who booed them on their arrival on stage and bottled the relentlessly. The lead singer didn’t help matters by claiming they were used to that kind of abuse, being ‘outsiders’ and all. At some point later in the set, he tried to start a chant against the Daily Mail (which is a good idea, in principle) for calling the band a suicide cult. It’s a fair statement, though. I felt suicidal after sitting through their rubbish. When they finished the their set, lead singer guy thanked the audience for being great and said he was glad he won us over(!)

Next up on the main stage was Placebo. They played, like, three songs before they had to leave because of a broken amp or some such. While they were gone, the camera folk trained their electric eyes on the lovely ladies of the crowd, all of whom felt obliged to flash their breasticles. This went on for an age, so Nick and I wandered over to the NME/Radio 1 stage just in time to catch the end of The Kooks performance. The tent was PACKED, and there was a sizeable crowd in front of the big screen we were watching. We took a gander at the comedy tent, but I could see (or hear) who was on. I’d been told earlier in the day that Russell Brand had to cancel because of a case of laryngitis. And once again we arrived back at the main stage to hear Nancy Boy and see Placebo leave the stage.

All that went before, though, was ponce-frippery. This is what I had been waiting all those many, many years for. My friends, it was time for PEARL JAM.

The band came out to rapturous applause, but before they struck up their instruments Eddie asked the crowd to take care of each other, make sure everybody was safe, and if anything were to happen let the security know and the band would stop in an instant. It made me lumpy throated as the Leeds/Reading performances were their first festival performances since Roskilde six years ago, so, obviously, it was big on their minds.

With that said, they launched in to the set, starting with Corduroy. I don’t know if it was the excitement of seeing one of my fave bands, or mindblock or something, for a minute or so I just couldn’t place the song. Stupid brain. I now know why I couldn’t place the track straight away, it was because they started off with Pink Floyd’s Interstellar Overdrive, before leading into Corduroy. I’m not stupid after all! Then we got to rock out to Do The Evolution, with Animal coming after that. World Wide Suicide was next. This was the song the BBC chose to put on the Leeds/Reading highlights, though other songs in the set would have been far better, in my opinion. It was from those highlights that I spotted Stone wearing a Sleater-Kinney t-shirt.

Severed Hand was prolly the weakest song of the night, but was still damn fine. Then there was Dissident and Even Flow. Even Flow was AMAZING. Nicholas leaned over to me and said he couldn’t hear Mike’s guitar. I said he should wait a minute, and McCready went in to fantastic lengthy solo which itself led in to a Matty Cameron drum solo (no, it’s not what you think! It was GOOD) All the guys left the stage, the lights went down leaving it black with just a spotlight trained on Matt. He did his thing, came to the close on his solo and led straight back into the song, simultaneously the lights went up, and with the band back on stage, launched into the chorus. AMAZING.

Eddie introduced the next song with “For anybody who knows our records, this would be one of the Lost Dogs”. It was Sad from the Lost Dog b-side/rarities album, funnily enough. The MOR I Am Mine followed, ending with another ace McCready solo. Then it was Jeremy, which was the only time I saw Nicholas smile all night, as it was one of the few songs of Pearl Jam’s he knew and wanted to hear. Next was Grievance from Binaural. It’s not one of my fave albums, but if they had to play a song from that album, I’d want it to be Grievance, if just for the fantastic line “You don’t give blood and take it back again”.

Magical festival experience time – Boom Gasper on organ and Eddie singing a beautiful Wasted Reprise, which moved seamlessly into Better Man, where the crowd sang the chorus on their own. It made me goosebumpy.

It was full on rock mode from then on, starting with the punky Save You. The kid behind me went absolutely crazy upon hearing it, saying he couldn’t believe they were playing his favourite song. After that was the roar-tastic Blood to which i pogoed like a mofo. Next was Riewviewmirror, which they stretched out with a brilliant improv section in the middle before crashing back in to the song. This is what they finished with, taking leave of the stage. But, of course, all of us in the Jamily knew that wasn’t the end. Far from it…

After a few minutes, Eddie returned to the stage with his ukulele. He played the riff to Black Sabbath’s Iron Man to a massive response. He tried to play the next song, but the cheering had continued. He seemed genuinely taken aback at the response the band had received, appearing teary-eyed on the big screen. He spoke, his voice sounding really torn up, and said something like “You know, our band doesn’t come to England enough to deserve this kind of response, so I’m feeling guilty on behalf of the whole band.” He got another huge cheer and played Soon Forget on the uke. He fucked up the first verse, smiled and laughed, getting yet another pop from the crowd. Ed finished up and the band went straight in to Given To Fly. I must admit that i had grown a lil’ tired of this track popping up on my Pod, but hearing it (and feeling it) live gave it a new leash of life. So powerful and so uplifting. They followed that with Once, prolly my favourite song aboot a serial killer. Or is that Dirty Frank?
Ed introduced the next song by saying “this one pre-dates the band, actually.” It was Crown Of Thorns from the Mother Love Bone days. It got me all lumpy throated, thinking of Jeff, Stone, and Andrew Wood and what may have been.

Comatose is one of my fave choons from the new album, live it’s even better and I was once again leaping around like a rather silly billy. Then came the AWESOME Alive. Wow. The crowd were so into it. During another of Mike’s awe-inspiring solos, Eddie came over to our side of the stage, out on to the rigging/scaffolding surrounding the stage, and gave us a good look and a wave. We all thought he was going to climb up, but no. That was SO fifteen years ago. They finished up, said their goodbyes, gave us their thanks and left the stage.

Nicholas leaned over and said “That’s it. They won’t come out again, will they?” I just shrugged with the biggest smile on my face. The chants of ‘one more song!’ began and the clapping. The lights went up and out came the band AGAIN. They went straight in to Why Go, which was apt. I mean, “why go home”, Pearl Jam? Can’t you please stay and just play all night? The moment Ed started speaking of the British bands that had been an influence on him (The Beatles, The Kinks, Led Zeppelin) I knew what song was coming next. It was The Who’s Baba O’Riley, which he dedicated to all The Who’s family, who i think joined the band at the back of stage. Just how do you describe hearing one of your fave bands play one of your fave tracks by another of your fave bands right in front of you, something you never ever thought you’d see? (Like that, I ‘spose)

It was time for me get all lumpy throated and emotional again. Yes, as soon as i heard the beautiful riff from McCready’s guitar, I knew they were finishing with Yellow Ledbetter. That made me stupidly happy as I love that song so very, very much. As it came to a close, Eddie took out a pair of binoculars and started surveying the crowd, and Mike played the riff from Led Zeppelin’s Nobody’s Fault But Mine in his solo. The guys came to the front of the stage, and gave us a bow. Matt hooked his arm around Ed and almost had to drag him from the stage. It really was time for them to leave.

Okay, so the festival as a whole was kinda wasted on me. I should have done a lot more, seen more bands, and been altogether more adventurous. Next time I will be, and let me assure you, there WILL be a next time.

I have to admit when sitting through the dirge of the earlier sets that I did wonder what all the fuss over fests was aboot (but i think anyone would faced with that line-up, wouldn’t they?) Pearl Jam changed all that, though. There was such warmth and affection for the band. I was worried that they’d have a mixed reception after the response to them being announced as one of the headliners, but the crowd were brilliant and the guys definitely fed off of it on stage. They gave me that special festival experience that people talk of, and I’d like to feel it again.

Pearl Jam were amazing. Not only were they as good as I hoped, they far exceeded my every expectation. After an underwhelming new album, this was the reaffirmation of my Pearl Jam faith that i needed, and not just that, my cup it runneth over. I feel I should go forth and spread the word of Pearl Jam.

Eddie said it best on Jools Holland when he said he saw Pearl Jam as a continuation of those classic seventies rock bands. That’s what I feel. They are the closest our generation has to those legendary live acts like The Who and Zeppelin and I’m just so glad i finally got to see them.

This prolly sounds like the demented rantings of a deluded fanboy, but i don’t care! PEARL JAM ARE THE GREATEST!!!

See you all at Glasto…

PEARL JAM…

Posted in Music, Music Review with tags , , , , on May 3, 2006 by Bjorn Grainger

(This blog was originally written on Myspace)

I’m never going to be able to give an impartial review of these guys, I love them too much. On friday, though, I got my grubby little mitts on their new album and I feel like I should give it my own two cents. I mean, what else is a blog for other than publicising one’s opinions in the vain hope that somebody out there will see them?

Pearl Jam have always had a tough time with the music press, especially in the UK. It’s hard not to get protective when you read a bad review of a band you’ve taken to your heart. That said, I’ve always tried to understand the criticism levelled at them. Pearl Jam are a steadfastly American band, there’s none of that ‘wink wink’ knowing irony you get from British bands. They’re earnest ways are at odds with the ‘cool’ British ambivalence, their song titles appear humourless as they’re usually just the one word (something critics would call pretentious in Pearl Jam, while applauding in some godawful Brit band like Editors), their lyrics full of long words and male angst. Musically, they’re no innovators. 70’s rock is their main influence, chugging riffs and solos their staple. The kind of music that sells out arenas, but costs you credibility with your contemporaries. Which is a pisser if they turn out to be as inventive, influential, and as fucking fantastic as Nirvana (Darn, I’ve gone and done that which all lazy hack critics do when reviewing Pearl Jam – I’ve mentioned the ‘N’ word). But that’s enough of this ‘kill yr idol’ shit…

I didn’t really get into music until I was 16, and then it was just what Radio One had to offer. I wasn’t going out and buying albums and discovering music. But somehow, looking back, I’ve always seemed to have Pearl Jam buried deep in my sub-conscious. My first memory of them was when I was 14/15 catching the Jeremy video on late night MTV, with its ‘the serpent was subtil’ bad spelling, and the long-haired guy sitting on a chair singing with intensity, almost as if his life depended on it. I got to know Alive through infrequent plays on the radio. In 1998, I remember watching Top Of The Pops 2 and catching Todd McFarlane’s AWESOME Do The Evolution video. It was the one and only time I saw it (until recently), and the images were burnt into my psyche. It wasn’t til early 2003 (after catching the Jeremy vid on late night tv again), that i decided to fork out the cash and buy Ten, my first Pearl Jam album. That’s when my love affair truly started. By the end of the year i had every Pearl Jam album, plus the Mother Love Bone and Temple Of The Dog forbears.

Ten is just amazing. From the bombastic Jeremy, the anthemic Alive, Even Flow, and Why Go, the beautiful Oceans and Black, to the brilliance of Porch, it sounds like a band with the world at its feet.

Vs. does away with Ten’s Zeppelin-esque scuzzy riffs, in favour of a raw, spikier, punkier sound. The opening tracks Go and Animal display this perfectly. From there you go into Daughter, one of two tracks in the classic acoustic mould, the other being (the longest title in the Pearl Jam catalogue) Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town. This appears to be the band’s most issue led album, if handled in a slightly clunky manner. Animal deals with gang rape, Daughter – child abuse, Glorified G – gun ownership, W.M.A. – racism, Blood – Drug abuse, Rats – Corporations (?). A low point for me is Leash, a song that could be a precursor to the dumb anti-authority cock rock perpetrated by the likes of Limp Bizkit *shudder* I expect something more from PJ, and it looks like they do as they haven’t played the song live for 12 years. The undisputed highlights of the album are Blood, a funk-tinged balls-to-the-wall rocker where Ed roars, tearing that distinctive voice to pieces. Rearviewmirror, a track that implores you to drop everything and escape, leaving all your worries behind. The haunting Indifference rounds of the album.

By the time of Vitalogy, the band appears desperate to shed a lot of the fan base it had built up on the previous two albums. Not For You could almost be seen as Eddie screaming at those mindless moshers wanting Leash ‘this is not for you, never was for you’. Experimental tracks (well, for Pearl Jam) like Pry to, Bugs, Aye Davanita, and Hey Foxymophandlemama, that’s me, seem like another challenge to the fans, daring them to keep interest and trust where the band is going. Then, as if they felt they’d gone too far with the weird business, the album features Nothingman and Better Man, two songs that will get entire arenas swaying with lighters held aloft at their respective MOR-ness. That coupled with tracks like Spin The Black Circle, Whipping, Corduroy, and Immortality, which are as good a songs as you’ll hear in the Pearl Jam cannon, just goes what a wonderful, confusing experience Vitalogy is. Oh, and the cd book/cover is one of the best things, like, ever.

No Code finds the band in an altogether more relaxed mode, leaving the anger of earlier albums behind and settling into the classic American rock that had been such a big influence. It starts of quietly with Sometimes, before launching into the rocking Hail, Hail. The mantra-esque Who You Are is followed by the fantastic (and hugely U2 influenced) In My Tree, a song that builds into something magnificent in little under four minutes. There’s Habit, a song you get into, well, like a habit. Lukin is a punk one minute wonder. Present Tense uses Zeppelin’s slow build technique superbly, slowly growing into questing brilliance. There’s Mankind, the first song NOT to be sung by Mr Vedder, but guitarist Stone Gossard, and fairly enjoyable it is to. Is No Code as exciting as previous albums? Er, no. It’s still a fine album, which finds the band maturing, and if you give it the time it rewards you greatly.

Ah, Yield. It would have been a fantastic album had i only listened to it the once. The band return to a simple rock formula, and it feels like a bid to win back all the fans they’d alienated with Vitalogy and No Code. By your third or fourth listen you soon realise that Yield is an album of very little substance, there’s not a lot to make you come back for more. The few that stand out are Brain of J., a cool little rocker. Given To Fly, a questing U2/Zepplin hybrid, and Do The Evolution, a rocking stomper of a track.

After trying (and failing) to win back the ‘lost’ fans with Yield, the band produce Binaural, an album that seems designed to rid EVERYONE from their fanbase. It’s just so DULL. That coupled with the overbearing mixing that is binaural, makes this album incredibly difficult to listen to. It feels so lifeless in comparison to previous albums. Breakerfall is the closest the band come to doing a Who number, and Grievance is a fairly enjoyable rock song, but i can’t list a lot more going for it. That said, i have found a new respect for certain songs through the live bootlegs. Life has been forced into them and they sound all the better for it. Check out a live version of Parting Ways if you can.

After the Roskilde tragedy, you wouldn’t have held it against the band had they chose to call it a day, but I’m so glad they didn’t because I LOVE Riot Act. A wonderful album. I’ve never heard Pearl Jam (or any band for that matter) sound so confident in what they’re doing. It takes a few listens, but once it clicks, you never lose it. It sounds like Pearl Jam – The Sessions. The opener Can’t Keep leads straight in to Save You, a punky rocker that’s the most vital sounding music they’d produce since Lukin on No Code. There’s the beautiful Love Boat Captain, written for those at Roskilde ‘lost nine friends we’ll never know, two years ago today’. There’s the lovely MOR I Am Mine, the acoustic Thumbing My Way, the false start to You Are, the spoken word Bushleaguer, and the amazing Arc, powered along by Ed’s voice and his voice alone. This album renewed my faith in the lads.

So, FINALLY, I get to the new album, the self-titled Pearl Jam. Inbetween Riot Act and the new album, the band left long time label Epic, did this give Pearl Jam a new lease of life? Well, going on the first track, Life Wasted, it’s a return to the chugging riff rock of the 70’s that inspired them so greatly. The same could be said for World Wide Suicide, Severed Hand, Marker In The Sand, Big Wave, and Army Reserve. They’re all fairly enjoyable, in an average for Pearl Jam kinda way. There’s Parachutes, which is PJ via the Beatles, that I’m not entirely sure works. Unemployable i also find hard to warm to, with its ‘hail the working class american man!’ lyrics. The two highlights are the punky Comatose, which opens with wonderous Who-esque chords and proves there’s still life in the ol’ dog yet, with Ed tearing up that voice as if it was Vs. all over again. Gone is the other highlight, another ‘leave all my problems behind’ choon that Pearl Jam are so good at (though i prefer the Christmas single, live at Borgata Hall, a stripped down version with just Eddie and his guitar). The album ends with Inside Job, the first song to be written by PJ guitar legend Mike McCready. It’s a bit clunky at times, but has a good Zeppelin slow build feel to it.

Truthfully, I was slightly disappointed with the new album, but then it would have had to have been something special to meet my expectations. My main problem is that the album feels like another Yield. The band are with a new label, desperate to impress. Bands like U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Green Day have all found new success recently, and to me it feels that Pearl Jam want to do the same. They roll out the riffs, get the radio play, but as for having anything substantial, something you’ll be listening to in months/years time, it feels ‘lite’. But, then, i’ve only had the album 5 days at the time of writing, maybe I’ll come back to this blog in a few months and have to revise my opinion. We can hope 😉

Anyway, thanks for sitting through my long-winded opinion on a band few of you care aboot.