Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Album recommendations.. The Little Willies.. Corinne Bailey Rae

I have discovered two new albums over the last two days. And both of them happen to be among those rare albums that you fall in love with instantly, at first listen.

The Little Willies' self-titled album is a tip o' the hat to old-time American music - honky tonk, bar band, country, call it what you may. So you have honey-dripped vocals, bouncing basslines, slinky guitarwork, brush drums, swinging beats and all that jazz. I guarantee you that you will not regret buying this. Seriously, you would have to have some weird notion of music to hate this.

And oh, I forgot to mention the band.. The lead vocalist just happens to be Norah Jones.. And the other Willies are her regular backing band :)

You can listen to some samples here..

Corinne Bailey Rae’s brand of old-time R&B has evoked comparisons with singers like Billie Holiday. And the first few notes of the first song reminded me of another singer I like, Nelly Furtado.

But to be fair enough to this 27-year-old British songstress, I think we should keep all comparisons aside. Not only is she a brilliant singer, she is a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist too. Most of the tracks are slow or mid-tempo. So it's the perfect music when you want to chill. Yet, it will have you tapping your foot gently. One complaint though - the programmed drums in some of the tracks could have been avoided.

You can read more about her and listen to some samples here..

Monday, March 27, 2006

Bryan Adams concert review...

A review of a recent (March 14, 2006) Bryan Adams concert, I did for for my newspaper.

Even as Bryan Adams getting into the opening notes of Everything I Do, I Do It For You, Mark Higman was calling up his girlfriend in England to tell her that he was missing her. And to have her listen to the song, being sung by Adams himself. “This has been a special song for us, it’s been ‘our’ song. So I wanted her to listen to this”, said Higman. And Higman certainly was not the only one making calls to their loved ones and holding the phones up for them to listen to Bryan Adams, at his concert at the Dubai Aviation Club, last evening.

The crowd numbering about 6000, was an amalgamation of the young and old, men and women. And considering Adams has been delivering hits for close to 25 years, it was hardly surprising that one saw a lot of fans in their thirties singing along to those very hits.

Adams made sure too, that he gave them all just what they wanted, and then some more. The set list was predictable, spanning all his hits – Cuts Like A Knife, Run To You, Everything I Do…, Summer Of ’69, Heaven et al – with the crowd giving a whole-hearted accompaniment on all of them. Except during the few songs from his latest album, that is.

Admittedly, there was nothing very spectacular about the concert. But then Bryan Adams has never been known for his showmanship. Most of his stage banter seemed contrived and rehearsed. And as a little bit of research shows, his stage routines were in fact not too different from his other concerts – from calling up an audience member to sing with him on Baby, When You’re Gone, to introducing his ‘mean, nasty guitar’, to jumping up on the barricade and clicking photographs. But when you have the advantage of almost every song on your set list being a hit, you can afford to give the showmanship part a miss. What truly matters is that his fans finally filed out of the stadium, happy in having been on this ride that took them back to “the best days of their lives”.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

More glimpses from the rock fest..

Dave Mustaine...

Okay, why dedicate a separate post and so many photographs to this one guy, do I hear you ask? Well, because he deserves it. Here's a guy who almost singlehandedly brought Megadeth to the very top. Even if you are a Metallica lover and Megadeth hater, you will have to admit that the latter was huge. And you will have to admit that they (which is actually Mustaine) kept at producing their kind of music without 'selling out'. I mean, I was looking at and more importantly listening to albums by Megadeth and Metallica. After a point in time, Metallica went off on another trip altogether. Now, one might argue that as a band, it's their prerogative to write and perform the kind of songs they like. Fair enough. But they definitely lost a fan in me. (And I know I am not the only one.) Whereas with Megadeth, even if their newest stuff might not be as good as the older Countdown To Extinction or Rust In Peace or Youthanasia, I would still prefer to listen to The World Needs A Hero and The System Has Failed instead of Metallica's Reload or St. Anger. And since this is a purely subjective matter and more importantly, since this happens to be my personal blog, arguments might not be taken to very kindly. But you could try ;) Jokes aside, this is always open to discussion :)

Also, I had the opportunity to speak to Mustaine, during the press conference and right after it, one-on-one. And trust me, he definitely does not come across as the jerk that he is projected to be. I know that I cannot let 10 minutes of conversation decide that. But then I would prefer to trust my first-hand experience now rather than what people 'think'. Again, entirely my opinion and open to debate :) What I do know is that post the concert, I am a bigger fan of Mustaine than I was earlier.

Monday, March 20, 2006


Yes. The very same Megadeth of Symphony Of Destruction fame. Well, okay, not exactly. The line-up has changed. Only Dave Mustaine remains from the original lineup and the classic lineup. But this concert made me realise just how central he is to this monster band called Megadeth. Headlining act at the Dubai Desert Rock Festival, they played for about one and a half hours and at no point did you feel let down. Tight performances from everyone, including the bassist who was incidentally playing his first Megadeth concert. And the show they put on was unlike any other concert I have ever been to.

Dave Mustaine. Head honcho. Lead vocalist and guitarist. Plays what looks like some technically complex stuff AND sings at the same time. But must mention that there was one song (I forget which one) during which he was losing his voice. He could not reach the higher octave. That was perhaps the only 'flaw' in this mindblowingly brilliant gig.

James LoMenzo. Bassist and newest member of the group. But his playing certainly didn't betray that.

Shawn Drover. Drummer.

Glen Drover. Lead guitarist.

The set list:
1. Blackmail The Universe
2. Skin O' My Teeth
3. The Scorpion
4. Wake Up Dead
5. In My Darkest Hour
6. Die Dead Enough
7. She-Wolf
8. Reckoning Day
9. A Tout Le Monde
10. Angry Again
11. Trust
12. Hangar 18
13. Sweating Bullets
14. Tornado Of Souls
15. Kick The Chair
16. Symphony Of Destruction
17. Peace Sells
--- Encore ---
18. Holy Wars

Alex Skolnick...

And some more pictures of Alex Skolnick. If you have not heard him, you should. And not just the stuff with Testament, but his solo projects too. They are, as I have mentioned earlier, a far cry from thrash metal. The Alex Skolnick Trio (I have two of their albums by the way), are an acoustic jazz group you must listen to. And oh, Alex Skolnick once learnt the guitar from that other mad axeman, Joe Satriani! :)

Saturday, March 18, 2006


Testament was the first big band to play at Dubai Desert Rock Festival 2006. Though personally, I would have preferred them to be the penultimate band in the line-up. And this was their original line-up, except for the drummer. For the benefit of those who have not heard Testament, they are a heavy, very heavy band, that plays a particular sub genre of metal, called thrash. And boy, do they really thrash it out! Despite their brilliant musicianship, unfortunately they never made it to the top spot in the thrash metal sweepstakes. But, as many would say, Testament were perhaps the closest contenders to Metallica's throne.

Alex Skolnick. Guitarist. One mean guitarist. Left Testament to join Savatage. Went on to pursue less heavier forms of music, in jazz fusion. Now back with Testament.

Greg Christian. Bassist.

Chuck Billy. Vocalist. Scary looking bugger.

Eric Peterson. Guitarist.

3 Doors Down...

3 Doors Down in action. To be honest, I have never really listened to too much of this band. In fact, the only track I recognised was Kryptonite, probably their biggest hit. (Ya, so I listen to only hits. Sue me.) But I quite enjoyed their set. Some very tight performances and the vocalist Brad Arnold has a great voice. I met up with these guys during the press conference the day before and they came across as a nice bunch of people too.

Reel Big Fish

This is one of the bands from Desert Rock - Reel Big Fish. They call their music ska-punk or something. Now don't ask me to define it, because I would not be able to. The best I can say is that it involves a lot of horns and trombones and it's very funky. Another more famous ska band was No Doubt. Get it? Reel Big Fish is funny, whacky, quirky and all of that too. Their act included a lot of Frank Zappa-esque stage banter and a really funky cover of A-Ha's Take On Me.

Sans drama..

This is Megadeth for you.. In less dramatic circumstances. (You will know what I mean, when I post the concert pictures.) These were taken at the press conference a day before the concert. What concert you ask? The Dubai Desert Rock Festival. Featuring 4 biggie bands :) For more about that, look out for my next few posts ;)

Dave Mustaine. Ex-Metallica member. (Psst, he hates them now.) Megadeth founder. Lead vocalist. Guitarist. Only remaining from the original line-up.

Mustaine again, with a half-smile breaking on his lips. Yes, he does smile. Sometimes.

Shawn Drover. Drummer. Sometimes backing vocalist.

James LoMenzo. Bassist. Alumnus of Black Label Society, David Lee Roth, Slash’s Snakepit, Pride & Glory, Ozzy Osbourne, Ace Frehley, White Lion. This, incidentally was his first concert with Megadeth.

Glen Drover. Lead guitars. Brother to Shawn. Alumnus of King Diamond.