Monday, January 19, 2009

Hot! Live! Music! (plus, the new U2 song)

Mister Tim, Kazoo Enter Sandman (Uh, his house? December 2008)

To answer your first question, yes, they're all the same guy. Even though he's only playing a kazoo for part of the song, and thus not totally in the spirit of 'Kazoo Enter Sandman,' my favourite is still by far the percussion in the bottom left-hand corner. He just looks so darn angry.

Talking Heads, Slippery People (Stop Making Sense, 1984)

Reason #84086 why 'Stop Making Sense' is awesome: the show starts just with David Byrne doing a solo version of 'Psycho Killer,' each of the other three Heads come on stage one-by-one with a song to mark each entrance. 'Slippery People' is the fifth song of the night, and by this time the percussionist and backing vocalists have joined the Talking Heads. The other backing musicians join for the sixth song and then things really kick into high gear, but 'Slippery People' is still as funky as hell. Dig that awesome keyboard melody from Jerry Harrison.

Johnny Cash, Sunday Morning Coming Down (New York, 1994)

I had a big paragraph written here about how it was appropriate that I was including this song since I was writing the post on Sunday morning...then I got bored and busy watching football, and now I'm finishing writing and actually posting the damn thing on Monday. And Cash didn't even have the decency to do a cover of Manic Monday at some point in his career so I couldn't just link to a version of that instead. Apparently Cash got into a lot of shit when he sang this song on his variety show since he included the "wishin' I was stoned" lyric. Man, couldn't he have as been as agreeable as the Red Hot Chili Peppers on the Krusty Komeback Special?

The Bangles, Manic Monday (San Francisco, 2003)

Ha! Screw you, Cash! (editor's note: please don't haunt me, undoubtedly-intimidating-ghost-of-Johnny-Cash!) This is probably the best live performance you'll ever see in a bookstore. I'm actually kind of surprised I found this clip, given that Prince is incredibly anal about any of his music (p.s. Prince wrote the song) appearing on YouTube. I guess he cut the Bangles some slack since it's "their" song to do with as they wish.

Bono and the Edge, Van Diemen's Land (Dublin, December 2008)

One of my few criticisms about U2, right between "the How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb album cover is awful" and "seriously, I can't belabor this enough, that Discotheque video was terrible," is that they don't put enough variety into their concert setlists. This trend has changed a bit in recent years, as U2 busted out some real obscure songs from the 'Boy' album during the Vertigo Tour. Bono and Edge's out-of-nowhere revival of Van Diemen's Land for a TV special about the opening of the new O2 Arena in Dublin is a good sign that the band is still in this mode. My dream of hearing a live version of 'The Playboy Mansion' still lives!

U2, Pride/City Of Blinding Lights (Washington D.C., January 18, 2009)

A double-shot of U2 today to mark the release of their new single. In hindsight, it's a good thing I didn't publish this Sunday morning as planned, or else I wouldn't have been able to include this clip. I beg your forgiveness, Angry Cash Ghost! 'Pride' still sounds pretty good after all of these years and 'City Of Blinding Lights' is already a top-five U2 live classic. I'm pretty sure we're going to be seeing this same duo of songs played in combination at, say, every single show on U2's upcoming tour. Not to nitpick, and I get what U2 was doing with the tribute, but is it really a keen idea to sing a song about a famous black leader's assassination at an Obama pre-inauguration rally? Also, Obama's inauguration has U2, Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, and a virtual who's who of contemporary musicians. Bush's inauguration had Ricky Martin. I'm just saying.

By the way, if you haven't heard the new U2 single yet, you can listen to it at U2's official webpage (I'll even provide the link since I'm such a nice guy. My first impression of 'Get On Your Boots,' grammatical nightmare of a title aside, is that it's both very catchy and kind of a fresh sound. Every U2 record contains a track that gives a hint to the musical direction of their next album (i.e. 'God Part II' on Rattle & Hum was the first taste of the Achtung Baby sound), and just from GOYB, it seems as if the hint track from 'Atomic Bomb' was Fast Cars. So cheers to the first song from No Line On The Horizon, jeers to the album cover!

Um, yeah! Seriously? That's it? A giant Equals sign superimposed over a line on the horizon, for an album called No Line On The Horizon? At least the HTDAAB cover (that lazy picture of the four guys sitting on a bench) made sense. If the band wanted to use a Hiroshi Sugimoto photograph, they should've gone with this one.

Now that's more like it. U2 even have a song on the record called White As Snow, so it would've fit. The album could've been called 'The Dharma Initiative.'

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