Thursday, August 27, 2009

Awesome Skynyrd Cover Album

I picked up the album Under The Influence: A Jam Band Tribute to Lynyrd Skynyrd on a whim last month. It's been in my CD changer ever since. New purchases have entered the changer and left and Under the Influence remains.

D Vlad Hippy's negative review on stunned me. I agree that Les Claypool's "They Call Me The Breeze" sounds less than stellar. It's the only track on the album I dislike. Vlad's correct that JJ Cale wrote the song. In defense of the album, though, most would associate it with Skynyrd, which justifies it's existence on a Skynyrd tribute album.

Galactic's "Saturday Night Special" has a great groove. Of course, Gov't Mule's "Simple Man" really jams. How could it not. Hiatt's "The Ballad of Curtis Loewe" and Drive By Trucker's "Every Mother's Son", rival or outdo Skynyrd themselves. "The Ballad of Curtis Lowe" has become my newest favorite Hiatt song.

I also dig the North Mississippi Allstars rendition of "Whiskey Rock a Roller" and the Yonder Mountain String Band's "Four Walls of Raiford". I find myself skipping through to listen to "Every Mother's Son," "Simple Man" and "Four Walls of Raiford".

In total contrast to Vlad, I find the Blues Traveler's version of "Freebird" to be a perfect sounding Blues Traveler song. When I hear it I forget that it's not even their song. Popper kicks ass on the mouth harp. There's no way to deny that greatness.

I could do without Big Head Todd's "Sweet Home Alabama". On the other hand, The Disco Biscuits bring a fresh, original funkiness to "Gimme Three Steps". Likewise, Particle jams out keeps a true Skynyrd feel with a fresh sound for their rendition of "Workin for MCA".

Buy the album. Heck, buy 2. Give one to a friend.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Fillmore

I had the good fortune to see Tracy Chapman at The Fillmore in San Francisco last night. Tracy and her three band mates delivered a soulful, nostalgic show that had the audience screaming and dancing with pleasure. Her funkified ending to "Give Me One Reason" brought the house down, as did her punk paced cover of "Proud Mary." Her cover of Peter Gabriel's "Solsbury Hill" inspired awe. She delivered a barrel-full helping of her greatest hits like "Change" and "Talkin About a Revolution."

I have to say that no other venue compares to The Fillmore. Here are 10 reasons why
  1. Free apples.
  2. Artists want to be there. Chapman mentioned several times how relieved she was to be back in San Francisco and how comforting it was to be back home, playing at such a historic venue.
  3. So many great live albums have been recorded there. From my collection, Ozomatli and Lucinda Williams come to mind first. The Grateful Dead's Live-Dead compilation of 4 nights at The Fillmore in 1969 goes down as one of the greatest live rock albums of all time. Artists feel inspired there by the souls of Jerry Garcia, Bill Graham, John Lee Hooker and Janis Joplin still living there.
  4. It's so easy to get there from the South Bay. Just get on the 101 , turn left on Geary, and park when you get to Fillmore.
  5. There's always parking on Geary. On the street. For free.
  6. It's across the street from John Lee Hooker's Boom Boom Room.
  7. There's tons of delictable food on Fillmore and the food in the Fillmore bar is great and affordable. Plus you get to eat under all those historic, priceless psychedelic concert posters. Last night we stumbled into Kati's Kitchen around the corner. I highly recommend it. Sure it's theme is that trite word--fusion--that I hear way too much in SF, but, hey, generalities are true in general for a reason, right?
  8. Everyone dances all the time at The Fillmore because there's no seats. And this makes the artists play better because they look out and see an audience digging their music.
  9. Free concert posters handed out after selected sold out shows.
  10. And the guy who says, "Welcome to The Fillmore," when you walk in always makes me smile. Especially right before I grab a free apple.