Saturday, May 14, 2005
I wrote a little extra to the Dave Matthews Band, Stand Up review (scroll down for that) but I left it out because I thought that my rant would take away from the music. So I saved that rant for today. First of all, I'd like to point out that the title was lifted from A Tribe Called Quest song and I found no bigger example than when I got the DMB CD. So when I got my copy in the mail, the first thing I noticed when I opened the package was a sticker on the CD stating
This CD is protected against unauthorized duplication. It is designed to play on standard playback devices and an appropriately configured computer (see system requirements on back), If you have questions or concerns visit www.sunncomm.com/support/bmg.
And when you flip the CD case over, I literally had to grab a magnifying glass to read the extremely small type. Great, thank for sharing that information with me before I actually bought it.
Eventually I pop the CD into my computer, because I do have the system requirement stated on the back, because I want to put some of the songs on my iPod. First the BMG Digital Content End User License Agreement comes up (and this comes up EVERY time you put the CD into your computer). It tells me "This CD contains digital music files and related content (Digital Content) as a bonus for you, the End User (End User or you)." And after the usual "We will sue you and all known (and some unknown) relatives if you let anyone else even listen to this CD" I clicked the "I accept the terms of this agreement" button. This only led to a caution that read, "Your computer may have problems reading this CD. Please eject and re-insert the CD." After trying this about ten times. Then finally my valuable license was transferred from my CD to my computer (and this happens EVERY time). So now after about of a half an hour, I can finally copy the songs I want. Then I go to transfer the songs into iTunes but it told me that it doesn't read Windows Media Files, do you want to convert them to mp3. Well, duh. Aww, but you can't convert WMF's that are protected.
So it's time to check out to the pre-for mentioned web address that I'm supposed to go to for questions or concerns. And low and behold the page features this:
Can I transfer MediaMax digital audio files to my iPod?
Apple's proprietary technology doesn't support secure music formats other than their own, and therefore the secure music file formats on this disc can't be directly imported into iTunes or iPods. While these discs aren't currently compatible with iTunes or iPod, we are actively working on an acceptable solution, and have reached out to Apple in hopes of addressing this issue. To help speed this effort, we ask that you use the following link to contact Apple and ask them to provide a solution that would easily allow you to move content from protected CDs into iTunes or onto your iPod: http://www.apple.com/feedback/ipod.html
Wait why should I have to write Apple to change their stuff? You should have remedied the problem BEFORE you released any of the CD's with this embedded into it. But they go on:
Even though there is no direct support on the disc for iTunes or iPod, SONY BMG has worked out a way for consumers to move content into these environments, despite the challenges noted above. If you'd like more information on how to move content to iTunes please CLICK HERE.
So I clicked there and sent a question about how I can get the album onto my iPod. But since I didn't get a response within 30 seconds, I thought I'd do a little research. So I took a look into my favorite former illegal music-transferring program. And wouldn’t you guess, you can easily download the whole album with little fuss. So thanks a lot BMG, you royally pissed off all of your music buying customers to keep people from stealing the music, but you failed miserably. I also have a feeling that it is not a coincidence that this new technology coincides with the first time a Dave Matthews Band album was availably on iTunes. So they want you to buy the album twice, the CD and digitally.
So in closing I'd like to say screw you BMG, I will no longer buy any more of your CD's.
Friday, May 13, 2005
It's the last day of Dave Matthews Week here on the 9th Green and today is what inspired the whole specialty week, the review of the latest Dave Matthews Band Album. So here it is.
At the start of the new Dave Matthews Band album, Stand Up, we are treated to a pseudo-choir intro followed by the fluff love song, Dreamgirl which is reminiscent to the giddy in love songs that were more prevalent in the early years. In the song, it sound like if Dave is repenting for the creepy stacker guy from Crash into Me. "I was feeling like a creep as I watched you asleep, Face down in the grass in the middle of a hot afternoon. Your top was united and I thought how nice it would be to follow the sweat down your spine."
American Baby, the first single, sounds like something left over from the Everyday sessions. It is a hopeful song about some one trying to hold onto love in the mist of chaos. "Nobody's laughing now, God's grace lost and the devil is proud. But I've been walking for a thousand miles just one last time, I could see you smile."
The album as a whole has a more soulful feel to it than the previous album and the reason most likely is due to the new producer, Mark Baston, who is Dr. Dre's long time bassist and contributor and has worked with all of Dre's protégés. Baston's influence in most prevalent than on the song Smooth Rider. Every time I hear the opening organ to the song, which Baston plays, I can't help but to think of the Dr. Dre produced B Please. It also might be at Baston's behalf that more piano playing has crept into this album, which was split between Matthews, Baston, and longtime DMB touring pianist, Butch Taylor.
The highlight of the album is surprisingly sparse Out of my Hands. The song features Dave on the piano and not much else. The song starts out with a solitary note played over and over again. Then as more notes are added to the solitary note, Dave begins to sing, "On the window ledge I don't feel safe, stay looking down you. It's out of my hands for now." The creepy song sounds like a soundtrack to a suspenseful movie where we, the audience, are let in on the big reveal in slow-motion. I'm not sure why this was not saved for another solo album as Boyd and LeRoi are nowhere to be found, but I'm glad that it's found its way on to an album.
Speaking of soundtracks, Louisiana Bayou sounds as if it's hoping for a Waterboy sequel so it can be the centerpiece of that film. Another song deeply rooted in the south is Stolen Away on 55th & 3rd. A soothing song about regretting to approach a women, "Saw you there dancing and I was afraid, I might get in the way." Any guy who has pined for a girl at a high school dance or a club, and that is certainly me, can relate to this song.
At first listen to Stand Up, I knew there was something wrong with it. Like How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb before, the problem is that their is not that song (or more) that I instantly latch on and think "that is the song I be listening to obsessively for months." Granted there are songs on the U2 album that has since grown on me and that may happen for Stand Up. The other problem I noticed with the album is, that like Everyday, Boyd and LeRoi seem to be pushed to the background with them missing completely from one song. But like Everyday, I hope them get to shine more once they start performing the songs live.
Stand Up gets a on my Terror Alert Scale.
Since I bought Stand Up through the official DMB store, I received a limited edition CD with my purchase, along with a Stand Up sticker. On it, it has two previously unreleased studio tracks, Joyride and Trouble with You. Also, it has live versions of Recently, Crash into Me, and Hello Again. The CD is worth it for Joy Ride which includes the lines, "If you're lost, I got a bobblehead Jesus. And all it cost you, get on your knees," and, later in the song he also offers you a bobblehead Buddha for good measure.
Thursday, May 12, 2005
We are already on day four of Dave Matthews Band Week and today I will be counting down the top five live albums that are available for sale. Just to clear things up, Live at Luther College has been excluded from this list because it did not include the whole band. With that said, on to the list.
5. DMB Live Trax vol. 2 (Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA 9/12/2004) - This the second concert that was offered exclusively threw the bands official music store. On the three disc set include The Best of What's Around, The Stone, Jimi Thing (with parts of For What it's Worth thrown in for good measure), Stay (Wasting Time), and #41. This concert also featured Carlos Santana on two songs, a new one called Sugar Hill and All Along the Watchtower. Other new songs include Joy Ride and Hello Again.
4. Live in Chicago (The United Center, Chicago, IL, 12/19/98) - This concert featured longtime DMB contributor, Tim Reynolds throughout the whole concert on the electric guitar, his best work coming on All Along the Watchtower (including the intro) . No DMB concert in December is complete without Christmas Song which is included. Other highlights on the two disc are Don't Drink the Water, #40, and the obscure over song, The Maker, originally done by Daniel Lanois.
3. Live at Folsom Field (Folsom Field, Boulder, CO, 7/11/01) - Even though there are a few songs off the Everyday album here, many of them transfer well live. The two disc concert also features Butch Taylor on keyboards as well as some background singers added to Stay (Wasting Time) which only sounds good with background singers. Other highlights are When the World Ends, Warehouse (I believe this is the first time I heard the "woo's" added to the opening), Bartender and Ants Marching.
2. The Central Park Concert (Central Park, New York City, NY 9/24/03) - Butch Taylor once again shows up at this concert along with special guest Warren Haynes, of The Allman Brothers Band or Gov't Mule fame, who plays on the Neil Young classic Cortez, the Spider and Jimi Thing. Some other highlights on this three disc set include Don't Drink the Water, Granny, Warehouse, Dancing Nancies, and When the World Ends among others.
1. Listener Supported (Continental Airlines Arena, East Rutherford, NJ 9/11/99) - If you only buy one live album, this is the one to get Rapunzel, The Stone, #41, Warehouse, #40, and Don't Drink the Water are all on this two CD set. The pinnacle of this concert is the inclusion of the old Johnny Cash song, Long Black Veil. Dave and the boys turn the country song in a slow gospel type song punctuated by Butch Taylor on the keyboards and background singers adding some extra layers to the song. The background singers also show up on Stay (Wasting Time) which always sound better with them. This is also the first time I heard Dave add the Dixie Chicken line to Crash into Me.
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
On day three of Dave Matthews Week, I will be chronicling my top ten favorite songs that have ever been on one of their albums. I'm sure this list can change from week to week, but here are my current favorites.
10. Crash into Me (Crash) - I know I have poked fun at the female's pension to make this stacker's ode "Their Song" but it is easy to see how many people can construe it as being romantic, nursery rhyme ending and all.
9. Don't Drink the Water (Before These Crowded Streets) - DMB's rare political-themed song. As a history/political buff, I love any venture into this realm. The best part of the song is the ending, "I live with my justice..."
8. # 41 (Crash) - Say Goodbye should get a mention too as the transition between the two songs is what help put the song into the top ten. #41 by itself is a great jam to the point that I'm still not entirely sure what the song's about, and I don't really care.
7. Recently (Remember Two Thing/Recently) - Love the lyrics to this song, especially the opening, "Recently I've been all of content and dreaming I have been."
6. Jimi Thing (Under the Table and Dreaming) - A light jam that is good for any occasion.
5. Best of What's Around (Under the Table and Dreaming) - Again, the lyrics do it for me on this one. I've used this some too many times (along with Say Goodbye) on my female friends. "See, you and me have a better time than most can dream, have it better than the best."
4. The Stone (Before These Crowded Streets) - The song starts off with a soaring strings section then transitions to Boyd alone on his violin. The song peaks with the line, "I was just wondering if you come along", a "You had me at hello" moment for me. The song goes off into a state after Dave's done singing only to be interrupted by a ferocious ending.
3. You Never Know (Busted Stuff) - The high placing of this song is in part due to the line, "Everyday should be a good day to die." This isn't macabre to me, instead it means that if you live you life to the fullest, if you die today, it will have been a good life, because you never know when it's your time to go. I like listing to this song when I'm feeling uninspired or unmotivated.
2. Warehouse (Recently/Under the Table and Dreaming) - The opening to this song is perfect and only gets better when it is being played live. Again I not exactly sure what the song is about, but as long as I can go "Woo" when they play it live, I'm fine with it.
1. Grace is Gone (The Lillywhite Sessions/Busted Stuff) - As I have state earlier in the week, I prefer the Lillywhite Sessions version of this song. My major problem with the version on Busted Stuff is that it was turned into a country song. Grace is Gone is a pitifully sad song that plays like the soundtrack of closing time for me, and most every bar patron. "Neon sign threw smoky eyes again, it's three A.M. and I'm drunk again. It ways heavy on my mind."
Bonus. Granny - This song has never been released on a studio album but can be found on a couple live albums or threw the internet. A must have for a true fan.
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
It's day two of Dave Matthews Band Week here on the 9th Green. If you missed day one, just scroll down for my ranking of their albums. Today I will be giving the history of Dave Matthews Band through my eyes, so sit back and enjoy.
Like many outside the southern east coast, my first experience with the Dave Matthews Band was when I first saw the video for What Would You Say. And I can't say it was a good first impression. It was just a bunch of weird dudes repeating lines such as "Mom, it's my birthday, would you say." And I said I don't get it. It's because of that I gave little notice to the follow up single, Ants Marching. It wasn't until the release of Satellite, with the dude from Roseanne in the video that I started taking notice. It was a great song with a soothing melody and a great interplay between the violin and sax. Then during a conversation with a high school buddy, I made a fleeting comment that I don't own their CD, and then low and behold, I received Under the Table and Dreaming for my birthday weeks later. One listen and I was hooked playing the album obsessively.
Within weeks, the next album, Crash came out and I snapped it up the first day. Not as good as the first one but still spent plenty of time in the CD player. Crash also served as a good Barry White substitute for a while with great in the mood songs like Crash into Me and Say Goodbye.
From there, it was time to hunt down the independent releases. First there was Remember Two Things, with a cover that features one of those posters that were big in the mid-90's (I can't believe they weren't featured on either I Love the 90's programs) that you were supposed to stare at to see the image. I, to this day, have not been able to see anything. But I digress. Next came Recently with a killer version of All Along the Watchtower that sounds nothing like the Dylan or Hendrix versions. The album also featured the great Halloween that could legitimately be considered a heavy metal song. I also started picking up the live albums that come out between studio albums. They seem to put out more in-between album more frequently lately.
Their next album, Before These Crowded Streets, put the DMB in the rare Lifetime First Day Club, where from each album there after, I will buy the new album the first day it is available. Currently only U2, Eric Clapton, and the Beastie Boys are the only members.
I also saw my first like DMB concert around this time. I got to see the show just a few rows back from the stage on the right side. The luck chick I was with even got to meet Dave before the show. There is no better way to start a concert than with Don't Drink the Water. This first show ranks as the second best live show I have ever been to (Clapton is #1). I also pick out a shirt at that concert that just had the initials DMB on it that would later be referred to as my DuMB shirt as one of my friends thought it said.
After the relatively dark Before These Crowded Street, the boys went back into the studio to start on a new album with longtime producer, Steve Lillywhite. Near the completion of the album, somebody (Dave? The record company?) decided the album was too dark and put it on the self and the band instead started writing songs with Glen Ballard. And we all know how that turned out. Luckily some how the Lillywhite Sessions, as it has commonly become to be called, surfaced on the internet before Everyday was released. When Everyday was finally released, everyone was left wondering why did they scrap the Lillywhite Sessions for this? Luckily, the most of the songs were later dusted off and made up most of the album, Busted Stuff. Granted Grace is Gone and Bartender sounded better on the Lillywhite Sessions.
And that leads us to today, the release of the new album, Stand Up. I'm still giving it a thorough listen and will have a review for it by the end of the week. Hopefully you picked up a copy for yourself today. Also take a look at the iTunes offer of the week below for a link to the album, the first time a DMB album has been available for download.
Monday, May 09, 2005
It's the start of Dave Matthews Band Week here on the 9th Green in celebration of tomorrow's release of the new album, Stand Up. I've already taken a listen to it thanks to VH1 and my preliminary assessment is a good one. The full review will cap off the end of DMB Week. In today's installment, I'll be counting down the all of the studio albums, so no live albums (that will be coming later in the week). Also no Remember Two Things, Recently, or Lillywhite Sessions as most of those songs show up on the major label releases.
5. Which one of these is not like the others? Three minute pop songs, little violin and saxes, Glen Ballard; all this adds up to not your typical DMB album. It's safe to say that this album scrapes the bottom of every DMB fan's list. It almost plays like like a Dave Matthews solo album, except Dave's real solo album is better than this. But there are some good songs here, When the World Ends grew on me after it originally pissed me off that it ended abruptly. I at first thought my CD was defective. It wasn't until I heard the song live that I realized "When the world ends, and the world ended before the song ends." Everyday also spawned the best DMB video for the title track with the creepy fat dude (currently seen in Project Greenlight - reminder, the season finale is this Thursday) who went around hugging everyone.
4. The first half of Crash is as good as the best of them, but I feel the second falls flat. Crash, of course has the big song, Crash Into Me. A song that every girl of my generation is obsessed with and wants it to be Their Song at her wedding yet doesn't realize the song was written through the eyes of a stacker. "Oh I watch you there through the window and I stare at you. You wear nothing, but you wear it so well." The album closer, Proudest Monkey, ranks as my least favorite DMB song of all time. On the other side, #41 transitioning into Say Goodbye is one of my all time favorite DMB moments which I'll go into greater detail during my greatest songs countdown later this week.
3. The reason why the Lillywhite Sessions was excluded from this list is because, for all intents and purposes, they are essentially the same album. And since most songs were salvaged from the pre-Everyday Littlywhite Sessions (check back later this week for a DMB history for an explanation), Busted Stuff makes a good title. One of the few truly new songs from the album, You Never Know has one of my favorite lines from a DMB song, "Everyday should be a good day to die." The two best songs on the album, Grace is Gone, the saddest song Dave ever wrote, and Bartender do actually sound better on the Lillywhite Session, but a good listen on either album nonetheless.
2. Surprising that my deep hatred for Alanis Morissette, who appears on two songs, didn't put Before These Crowded Streets at a disadvantage on this list. The album seems darker than the previous one with moody songs as apparent by the first single, Don't Drink the Water, which had a video that featured the head of Dave missing its body. The album didn't get much cheerier from there with The Last Stop, The Stone, and the darkest of them all, Halloween (which was dusted off from the earlier Recently album). One of the few upbeat songs is Stay (Wasting Time), which is highlighted with a group of background singers, the song just doesn't sound as good live with out them. Also to add to the ambiance of the album is a few short instrumental songs that take place in between songs. That is something I wish the band would bring back.
1. The album that started it all, at least for us who live outside of the southern east coast. It took me a while to be sold on DMB and once I got this CD as a gift, it was hard to bet out of my CD player, and still gets heavy rotation even today. Definitely more upbeat than Before These Crowded Streets, Under the Table and Dreaming has a positive feel to it as heard in the opener The Best of What's Around, as well as the singles Satellite and Ants Marching. There is not a song that I even have the notion to skip over on hear. When I countdown my Top 10 songs, UTTAD will have the most entries in it. The songs themselves are getting better with age too as songs like Warehouse and Jimi Thing take on new lives at concerts these days. The album caps off with #34, also the 34th track so make sure you stick around, an instrumental that is so light, it almost serves as a lullaby, a great ending to their best album.
Be sure to stop back tomorrow for day two of Dave Matthews Band Week. Also tomorrow is the release date for Stand Up, so make sure you pick it up and if you can't wait, stop over at VH1 to stream the album in it entirety. Also feel free to leave a comment listing how you would rank the albums.
Sunday, May 08, 2005
You may not recognize the name John Legend, but there is a good chance that you have heard his voice or heard him play piano on songs by Lauryn Hill, Alicia Keys, and Kanye West. West has since signed Legend to be the flagship to his record label and produced his solo debut, Get Lifted. One thing that has ruined R&B in recent years is the major rap influence (are you taking note Mariah?). And even though West's influence can be heard throughout the album, Get Lifted isn't bogged down in an exaggerated bass line or drum loops and Legend's piano take center stage on most songs much like Alicia Keys, the only other R&B singer today that worth listening to today. Even raps by West and Snoop Dogg don't overshadow Legend.
The running theme on Get Lifted is relationships to the point where it almost a concept album. Within those relationships, cheating comes up allot. The theme starts off with the kiss-off, Used to Love U, a song where Legend dumps a materialistic girlfriend. The song spawns the greatest lyric from the album, "Maybe I should rob somebody so we could live like Whitney and Bobby." Alright is where Legend tries to get on the relationship horse again. And it's alright is the girl already has a boyfriend. He continues to pursue the girl with She Don't Have to Know again trying to a girl to cheat, explaining that he's doing the some thing to his current significant other.
The next four songs Number One featuring Kanye West, I Can Change featuring Snoop Dogg, Ordinary People, and Stay with You, Legend try to repent for his past transgressions. Number One starts off, "Now you can't say I don't love you just because I cheat on you." Now if only I can find a woman that will buy that kind of line. The interesting part of I Can Change is how believable Legend is but you almost have to chuckle when Snoop tries to convince his girl. This is highlighted by the lines, "You make me want to lay down my pimpin' and step my love game up. I can make your zoom zoom go boom boom." There is nothing more romantic than quoting old Wreckx-N-Effect songs. Things get slowed down with Ordinary People where Legend does his best Donnie Hathaway impression. This song is also the highlight of the album where it's just Legend and his piano on the song.
The last part the album seems to be more influenced by his family. It Don't Have to Change featuring the Stephens Family (Legend's original last name is Stephens) seems like a more soulful version of Kanye West's Family Business. Overall, Get Lifted is a solid debut and a must have for any true fan of soul music.
Get Lifted gets a on my Terror Alert Scale.