C.A.T: All Things Must Pass

George Harrison – All Things Must Pass (1970)

It’s a shame that Phil Spector appears to be a murderer but that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate his years of work as a talented music producer. I’m not trying to make some lame joke here or glamorize a man convicted of second degree murder but he was a talented producer and this whole thing recently got me to thinking about my favorite Spector produced album All Things Must Pass.

The first album George Harrison recorded after The Beatles breakup George along with a little help from his friends recorded the highly ambitious rock masterpiece that is All Things Must Pass, released as a triple album in 1970. Amassing a large compilation of songs from as far back as 1966, the breakup of the fab four had finally given George an opportunity to let it all out which would prove to be an enormous success.

he arrangements here are both powerful and beautiful with some top notch musicianship. Horns, strings, and not to mention an all out arsenal of guitars are only heightened by Spector’s trademark ‘Wall of Sound.” For instance, the personnel for one of my favorite Harrison tunes “What is Life” has at least five guitars on it and I’ll bet at least a few if not all of those are doubled up.

Aside from George providing lush guitar work and vocals you got a whole all-star ensemble of musicians; Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Alan White, Billy Preston, Klaus Voorman, Badfinger, Bobby Whitlock, Dave Mason, Peter Frampton, Carl Radle, Jim Gordon, Ginger Baker and even a 19 year old Phil Collins. Leave it to an ex-Beatle to assemble that kind of team of musicians.

But all in all I think it’s George’s compositions that make this album so special. Aside from the smash hit “My Sweet Lord” you have some great wah infused rock on songs like “Wah-Wah” and “Art of Dying” some more mellow pieces such as “Beware of Darkness” and “Isn’t it A Pity” and even some interesting song-writing collaborations with Bob Dylan on “I’d Have You Anytime” and “If Not For You”.

It’s definitely tough to pick favorites with this impressive batch but that’s always a good sign. It might take you awhile to make your way through this massive 105 minutes of Rock but there’s rarely a dull moment and a little bit of everything for everyone.

Favorite Tracks: “Art of Dying”, “My Sweet Lord”, “What is Life”


I guess I didn’t post about this here, so there’s a chance you guys haven’t heard the news yet. Well, you know Rock Band? That game that we all really like? They are making a new one. You know that. But I’m not talking about the Beatles game or the PSP one, either. No, tonight I’m talking about the game they announced last week.

Lego Rock Band.

Let that sink in for a little while. The hugely popular Lego franchise of games are merging with Rock Band to create a new title. This game is poised to become the family-friendly band game, with kinder, gentler songs than we get in the big boy versions of the game. It even has a new mode that is supposed to be easier than easy. What are those songs? They’ve announced:

“The Final Countdown” by Europe
“Girls and Boys” by Good Charlotte
“Kung Fu Fighting” by Carl Douglas
“So What” by Pink
“Song 2” by Blur

I know: what? They’re gonna make by a fucking Lego game so I can finally play “Kung Fu Fighting” and “Song 2”? God damnit! Who knows, maybe this game will work with all the other DLC, and they will make RB2 exportable… making this the new disc through which all Rock Banding is done.

If that is the case, take heart knowing that the game might have some silly charm to it. Instead of earning money, you earn Lego blocks when you complete songs. You use those blocks to customize your character, your staff, your “rock den” and to build vehicles. That’s right, instead of unlocking, say, the van, you just build it. Then, when you have enough blocks, you build an airplane. OK, that’s kind of neat. Also, there will be Lego-style challenges, like blowing up buildings with the power of rock.

Fine, you win Harmonix and Traveller’s Tales. I’ll keep an open mind about this strange new game. But I still wish you would just release all these songs as DLC.

Dreamcast No More

This has been a big week for Dreamcast gamers, as two of my favorite DC games are making the leap over to XBLA and PSN.

First we have Virtual On: Oratorio Tangram, the classic mech fighting game. I know I spent a lot of time playing the console version of this, but remember the controls weren’t as fulfilling without the twin sticks from the arcade version. Maybe this new version will remedy that. Regardless it adds online multiplayer and some graphical enhancements. It will be $15 and its just on XBLA.

Then there was the announcement everyone’s been waiting for, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is coming this summer. This is absolutely huge, since this game is often heralded as one of the all time great fighting games. With its huge roster and insane gameplay, it was probably my favorite Dreamcast game.

Today, it’s a real bitch to find a copy of the game. I’ve seen the PS2 version a couple times, but it is always marked up to like $80, and you know I’d never drop $80 on a single game.

Which is why this is so exciting. We don’t have a release date yet, but based on the history of XBLA and PSN, we can assume it will only cost $15, $20 max. That’s more than acceptable. Plus, Capcom has already confirmed it is adding online multiplayer. Based on the videos that I’ve seen, it doesn’t look like this game has been given the HD remix, but it still looks pretty good.

Very exciting.

Breaking Balls

MLB 09: The Show

I’ll be honest, I haven’t really played a baseball game in years. That’s been due to a series of depressing Mariners seasons and the fact that the good games have been PlayStation exclusives, and I had a 360. Well, now that that’s changed, I made sure that my first PS3 game was this gem, and I was not disappointed.

Something that bothers me about the MLB: The Show series is where they put the year in the title. Since every year it is still “The Show,” who isn’t this game called MLB: The Show 09? I know, it’s a weird thing to complain about, but this is exactly the kind of nitpicking a game like this requires, because it is so damn good.

You have every game mode you could possibly ask for. There’s your standard quick play and exhibition modes, which are single and multiplayer. Then there’s the franchise mode, where you take a team through through several years of dynasty-building. This is the mode for people who really care about everything that there is to baseball, considering factors such as salary arbitration, waiver transactions, September call-ups, and the 40-man roster. Then there’s the mode that I like a little more, Road to the Show. RttS is like a baseball RPG, where you create your player and then take control in every play he factors into.

My player is the plucky first baseman Sean Lemme, or “Sean. Lemmon,” as the announcers call him. What’s cool is that not only do you customize how your player looks, but you can load music off your hard drive for when he comes to the plate and other situations (like setting it to play “Kernkraft 400” when your reliever comes in). Also, if you have a microphone, you can record custom taunts and chants for the audience to yell while you play. That’s just so cool.

Oh, and if you do get this game, I would not recommend making a first baseman. “Hey, run to first base and stand there” gets pretty old pretty quickly. Be a pitcher.

Online offers everything you could want. You can play a single game, or participate in an online league. Apparently lag is a problem in this game, but I’m not too interested in online play to begin with, since my PSN friendslist is empty right now (you don’t have the game, do you, Peter?). Aside from gameplay, you can go online to download rosters, both the official one and ones designed by players.

I really like the way the game controlls. When you’re pitching, you pick your pitch, aim, and then use a meter to determine your strength and control. It’s simple and effective. You don’t have to mess with aiming or any other gimmicks when you bat. You simply press a button to swing at the right time. That certainly doesn’t mean batting is easy, just not needlessly difficult. I can really get behind it.

The graphics here are just great. Realism is always the goal for sports titles, with the best ones looking just like a broadcast game. MLB 09 gets pretty close, with characters looking so great you can actually recognize familiar faces. The animation is mostly smooth, but there’s little hit detection, so you will slide into home right through the catcher and that sort of thing.

So I got myself a very warm welcome back into baseball games. Speaking of that, I better get back to Sean Lemme’s career, I’ve got to work on that batting average.

Preppy Pop

Chester French – Love the Future

Just though I’d post this real quick. The family has been going through a tough couple of days, I’ll elaborate sometime soon on my own blog.

This album has been a long time coming since I first read about Chester French in an issue of Rolling Stone I bought in March 2008. The article was about the rise of all these current indie bands from Ivy league schools including; Vampire Weekend, MGMT, some crappy one and the pop/rock duo in question who attended where else but Harvard University. I’d liked at least two of the other groups, so I checked out C.F’s myspace. and instantly found a liking towards their 60s pop inspired tunes. The only problem was the release date of album was continually being pushed back. So it’s been tough waiting to see if this album would live up to my expectations and surprisingly it does, completely.

Signed to Pharrell’s Star Trak label, I was a little hesitant about the way this band could be promoted or influenced. They’d already guested on songs by the likes of rapper Common and Asher Roth so I wasn’t sure if this album as a whole would end up being my kind of thing. Though the day came and I was glad to see, it was just the kind of Preppy Pop/Rock that I was hoping to hear.

Obviously inspired by vintage Pop/Rock artists, this duo made up of vocalist D.A. Wallach and Guitarist/Dummer/Everything else Max Drummey conjure up some excellent melodies and fully satisfying arrangements. Self produced, there’s a grand fix of synths, strings, inventive percussion and more to fill the need of any Pop/Rock junkie possibly disappointed ever since Rooney totally sold out (Rooney would of course go on to tour in support of both Fergie and the Jonas Brothers.)

“The Jimmy Choos” had a good run as my Myspace profile song last summer and is still a definite highlight for me. I could do without some of this album’s occasional interludes (There’s a string and a country flavored interlude) but aside from that I love most of the poppy gems on “Love the Future”. Most of the reviews have just been mildly positive, but I think this album is bomb.com and it was definitely worth the wait.

Favorite Tracks: “C’mon (On My Own)”, “The Jimmy Choos”, “She Loves Everybody”

C.A.T.: Court And Spark

Joni Mitchell – Court And Spark (1974)

I’ve always loved Joni Mitchell’s Blue, one of the great albums to come out of the early seventies, but it wasn’t until recently that I’d really gotten into Court and Spark, an album that’s pretty much just as enjoyable in my opinion.

Up to this point, Joni’s output had mainly been acoustic-oriented and pretty sparingly produced, but Court and Spark finds her exploring a much more eclectic sound.  Songs like “People’s Parties” and “Just Like This Train” feature Joni’s signature acoustic guitar work, but the arrangements are much less sparse than her previous work thanks to instrumental contributions from a wide variety of musicians.  And this more polished sound certainly works to the album’s advantage, considering it features two of Joni Mitchell’s most recognizable hits, “Help Me” and “Free Man In Paris”, as well as being among the most successful albums of her career.
Of course one of Court And Spark‘s most notable attributes is that it marked the first time Joni would explore a sound that is heavily influenced by jazz.  It’s really pretty remarkable the way the songs are filled with very jazzy arrangements as well as giving off the same folk-rock characteristics that Joni has always displayed.  And even with this fusion of these seemingly different genres, the album is probably the most accesible and pop-oriented album of Joni Mitchell’s career.
Joni would continue to pursue a more jazz-oriented sound with the rest of her ’70s output, rather than the more folk-oriented sound that has made her one of rock’s most influential female singer-songwriters.  However, Court and Spark shows her melding those two different sensibilities brilliantly, and also contains some of the most enduring songs of her career.
Favorite Tracks: “Free Man In Paris”, “Car On A Hill”, “Raised On Robbery”

From Tap to Trek

I don’t mean to intrude on Classic Album Tuesday but I thought I’d do a quick update and bulk up our post count. First order of business is what’s on the table this week. I’ll probably be doing an album review very soon and I’ll also be going to see The Killers tomorrow, so you can expect a post regarding my thoughts on that. I’m excited that The Soloist is finally coming out this Friday and assume someone will review that depending on who all goes to see it. There’s Bob Dylan’s new album out next week but after that there’s a definite dry spell (at least for me) regarding album release until June.

In other news, mock rockers Spinal Tap have released new information on their upcoming album to commemorate the 25th anniversary of This is Spinal Tap. It’s been announced that the album now titled Back From the Dead will be due out this summer and will be a double album. One disc being a reworked version of Tap’s first album and the second being entirely new material. They have a free download available on their site, but it’s just some one minute long joke, brass song called “Saucy Jack” it’s purposefully stupid and I don’t recommend downloading it.

In preparation of the new Star Trek movie I’ve been submerging myself deep into the original series. I’d always liked the show but never really felt motivated to watch more episodes. So now that I have a reason I’ve checked out some of the most acclaimed episodes and I really love it. I’ve started with Entertainment Weekly’s picks for the best episodes (They list them on Trek’s wikipedia page) so I hope to see enough to do some kind of favorite episodes list on either the week of the new Trek’s release, or the week after. Though I’m not positive I’ll go through with that, I think Sean is playing with the idea of doing a Trek movie list, so we’ll all see how that week plays out soon.

One list I do plan on doing in probably a week or two is “My Top 10 Baseball Movies”. I’ve been renting a few and finally watched Pride of the Yankees though it was pretty weak in my opinion. You practically never see any actual baseball and they basically gloss over his entire major league career. It was really more of an overly sappy love-fest, probably initially acclaimed due to the fact that it came out just a year after Gehrig’s death. I mean if I hadn’t already known before hand, I couldn’t even tell you what position Lou Gehrig played. Oh well, I still got some interesting flicks to check out.

In more personal news, the new family ferret “Steve” or as I occasionally call him; “Young Steven”, “Steve II.” or “Steve Reloaded” is fitting into the family quite well. I probably already like him better then any of the other current ferrets, so he’s definitely an adequate successor to the name of “Steve”. AJ and I should be finishing our music video this weekend and I’ve already got other stuff in the works. Well that’s all for today I got to go study, Otteni out.