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Our Boys of Summer: Shawn Mendes and Hall & Oates

Every year near the end of summer I start to dread the imminent arrival of fall and cooler weather. The weather forecast is unacceptable to me unless it’s warm enough to leave for work in the morning without a coat and still warm enough to come home at the end of the day without a coat. The minute the temperature starts to require me to add layers to my clothing, I’m pissed and depressed. Not enough to make me want to move to Florida, but enough to make me wish it could be summer all year long. As the summer of 2019 nears its end, I decided to send it out with a bang.

My 13-year-old daughter recently expressed interest in going to her first concert. She’s currently listening to Shawn Mendes nonstop, so on August 28 I took her to Shawn’s concert at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia for a late birthday present. I’m not a fan of much of today’s pop music, but I’m happy to say that Shawn’s show was full of energy and he really knows how to work the crowd. In a pop music climate filled with electronic loops and Auto-Tune vocals, I was thrilled to see that Shawn doesn’t just use the guitar as a prop, he actually plays it. Vocal effects were used sparingly, as a supplement rather than a necessity. He can sing his ass off, so he doesn’t need the gimmicks. It was also a thrill to watch thousands of young fans singing along to his songs with the same fervor as if they were on stage with him. After fearing for the future of good, catchy pop songs, I am quite relieved to see that at least one member of the next generation of musicians is making sure that catchy hooks won’t go away any time soon. The expression on my daughter’s face during the show was well beyond worth the price of the tickets. I’m pretty sure she’ll remember that night forever.

My daughter’s first concert: Shawn Mendes

Megan at the Shawn Mendes concert August 28, 2019

Now back to the subject of the end of summer depressing me. I decided that I really needed a one-two punch to end the summer on a high note. After taking my daughter to her first concert to see her current musical hero, I decided I would take her to see a concert with two of my all-time greatest musical heroes, Daryl Hall & John Oates. She’s seen the new kid in town, so I thought I would expose her to the greatest musical duo of all time (in my opinion at least). She knows many of their hits by heart simply via osmosis because I listen to them so much. So off we went to Hall & Oates’ August 30 show in Atlantic City at The Hard Rock’s Etess Arena. I’ve seen Hall & Oates many times since I first saw them in the eighties. I’m elated to report that instead of just phoning it in as many veteran acts seem to do, Daryl & John are at the top of their musical game. Sure, it’s still a greatest hits show for the most part (with the exception of the rarely played “Is It A Star,”) because let’s face it, when you have as many hits as these guys do, that’s what most of the crowd wants to hear. It’s been a few years since I’ve been to a Hall & Oates show, but I’m elated to report that their performance is still superb. The hits often featured fresh arrangements while still staying true to the core essence of each song. The fresh arrangements don’t distract the listener, they simply breathe new life into the classic songs. I wanted to show my daughter what the masters of pop music can do, and Daryl & John did not disappoint.

And so our boys of summer cheered us up in only the way that music can. Shawn Mendes showed me why my daughter loves his music, and Hall & Oates showed my daughter why they mean so much to me, and that — in her words said with genuine enthusiasm– “those old guys can really still rock.” I’m pretty sure that’s high praise from a 13-year-old.

Hall & Oates live at the Etess Arena August 30, 2019
At the Hall & Oates concert, August 30, 2019

“Blinded by the Light” Movie Premiere in Asbury Park, NJ August 7, 2019

It was a magical night in Asbury Park, NJ. After scoring tickets with the help of Backstreets.com and 1iota.com, my aunt and I made the trip to Asbury Park for the Blinded By The Light red carpet premiere and party. Thunderstorms were in the forecast, but the rock & roll gods kept the rain away until after the fans waiting outside made their way into Convention Hall.

It was a thrill experiencing the movie in a theatre packed with Springsteen fans who cheered at all the right moments. Watching the film in the same room as Bruce and those who made the film was a once-in-a-lifetime joy that I’ll never forget. The movie isn’t just about a young man who discovers Bruce’s music, it’s about finding a sense of belonging in the world and pushing forward to live your own best life while still trying to hold onto your family and those you love despite all of the obstacles in your way. Most timely of all, it’s about rising above hatred, and how music can bring people together and change the world.

In addition to the film’s director, the author whose book the film is based on, and many of the actors, Bruce himself walked the red carpet with his wife, Patti, and later played four songs with Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes at the after party at Convention Hall. Just like Southside’s song says, at the end of the night I found myself saying “I Don’t Want To Go Home.”

Official Release of Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band Live at The Roxy, Los Angeles, CA, October 18, 1975

Bruce Springsteen’s official series of live concert downloads continues with today’s release of the first of two shows that were performed at The Roxy October 18, 1975 during a four-night stand at the venue. This release documents the entire performance of the first show from night three. Jon Altschiller mixed the show from a restored transfer of the 16-track, 2-inch master reels. The sound quality is fantastic and captures the thrill of experiencing Bruce and The E Street Band in a small, intimate venue. 

You can purchase the download of the show here: http://live.brucespringsteen.net/live-music/0,20734/Bruce-Springsteen—The-E-Street-Band-mp3-flac-download-10-18-1975-The-Roxy-West-Hollywood-CA.html

Prince And The Purple Rain Era Studio Sessions 1983 And 1984 Expanded Edition

Author Duane Tudahl’s updated and expanded edition of his 2017 book Prince And The Purple Rain Era Studio Sessions 1983 And 1984 was released today. An authoritative, exhaustively researched volume about what is arguably one of Prince’s most prolific periods of recording, this new paperback edition adds new interviews with Bobby Z, Wally Safford, Taja Sevelle, “Cubby” Colby, and others. In addition, some of the recording session dates have been updated or confirmed, and there are new sections about previously unknown songs that have never before been discussed. 

You can purchase this new Expanded Edition paperback here: 

For my review of the original hardcover edition, please visit the link below. 

https://chuckearling.wordpress.com/2018/03/24/prince-and-the-purple-rain-era-studio-sessions-1983-and-1984/

Springsteen on Broadway Soundtrack arrives December 14

broadwaycover

Columbia Records will release Springsteen on Broadway, the official soundtrack from his 236-show run at Broadway’s Walter Kerr Theatre, December 14. It will be released as a 2-CD set, a 4-LP vinyl record set, and also available to purchase via digital download. In addition, it will be available via digital streaming services. The album will include all of the audio from the upcoming Springsteen on Broadway Netflix special, which will debut at 12:01 am Eastern Time December 16, just hours after Bruce performs the last show of his historic Broadway run.

The CD track list:

Disc 1
1. Growin’ Up (Introduction)
2. Growin’ Up
3. My Hometown (Introduction)
4. My Hometown
5. My Father’s House (Introduction)
6. My Father’s House
7. The Wish (Introduction)
8. The Wish
9. Thunder Road (Introduction)
10. Thunder Road
11. The Promised Land (Introduction)
12. The Promised Land

Disc 2
1. Born in the U.S.A. (Introduction)
2. Born in the U.S.A.
3. Tenth Avenue Freeze-out (Introduction)
4. Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
5. Tougher Than the Rest (Introduction)
6. Tougher Than the Rest
7. Brilliant Disguise (Introduction)
8. Brilliant Disguise
9. Long Time Comin’ (Introduction)
10. Long Time Comin’
11. The Ghost of Tom Joad (Introduction)
12. The Ghost of Tom Joad
13. The Rising
14. Dancing in the Dark (Introduction)
15. Dancing in the Dark
16. Land of Hope and Dreams
17. Born to Run (Introduction)
18. Born to Run

broadwayCD

Above: The 2-CD Set. Below: The 4-LP set.

 

broadwayVinyl

 

Prince: Before The Rain

Photo Oct 19, 10 01 06 PM

Prince: Before The Rain is a new book of photographs by Allen Beaulieu with a forward by Revolution guitarist Dez Dickerson. Beaulieu captured some of the most iconic images of Prince’s career, shot mostly between 1979 and 1983, including the photos that would become the album covers for Dirty Mind and Controversy, along with the photos that would be used as the inner sleeves of the 1999 album and various singles and EPs issued to promote the 1999 album.

The title Before The Rain perfectly describes this collection of photos, as we’re seeing the visual progression of Prince’s image leading up to the period just before he exploded with his biggest commercial success, Purple Rain.

This stunning collection of photos includes some amazing images that I’ve never seen before including outtakes from the Dirty Mind album cover photo session (including one photo in color), outtakes from the Controversy album cover session, outtakes from the neon bedroom shot that was used as an inner sleeve for the 1999 album, and live concert  shots from 1979-83. There are also plenty of backstage and behind-the-scenes photos along with images that Beaulieu took of The Time, Vanity 6 and Jesse Johnson. There’s even a selection of photos from the October 9, 1981 concert performance in which Prince opened for the Rolling Stones and was booed off the stage. Obviously not a high point, but still part of Prince history, and a motivating fuel for the fire that would push Prince to work even harder to become one of the greatest performers of all time.

Jim Walsh’s written narrative describing Beaulieu’s collaboration with Prince provides fascinating insight into the working relationship between the photographer and the musician. Written contributions from Eloy Lasanta provide context surrounding the albums for which Beaulieu captured the now iconic album cover images.

When an artist like Prince passes away, there will always be critics that say these types of books are just cashing in, but in my opinion, when lovingly curated like this collection, these types of books are treasures. The images help illustrate visual chapters of Prince’s career and capture every dimension of his personality and persona, giving us additional insight into not just the artist, but the human being that he was. Similar pictorials from photographers Steve Parke (Picturing Prince: An Intimate Portrait) and Afshin Shahidi (Prince: A Private View) provide equally fascinating insight. I hope that we’ll see more collections like these, and when all of these pieces of the puzzle are assembled, we will see the most complete picture possible of the fascinating artist and human being that Prince was.

You can order Prince: Before The Rain from Amazon.com here:

https://www.amazon.com/Prince-Before-Rain-Allen-Beaulieu/dp/1681341212/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1540005994&sr=8-1&keywords=allen+beaulieu+prince