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Kicking The Darkness

Peter Jackson and the Beatles

I have to admit I was of the opinion lately that I was all Beatled out.  I've been a huge fan for my entire life but I find myself getting irritated whenever Paul or Ringo show up somewhere to talk about how great they were over half a century ago.   Perhaps the relentless negativity of the last 10 months has finally caught up to me?


And then I came across the latest project from director Peter Jackson who shows the band in a whole different light.  Unlike the original version of the movie Let It Be which was dark and depressing, Jackson chronicles a group that is having the time of their lives as they laugh, joke, and generally have a great time together.  I can't recall ever seeing the Beatles smiling as much as they do in the video below.  


And that made me feel much better than I did before watching the video.  Maybe that's what the whole world needs about now.  More smiling and positivity to get us through this miserable pandemic.  I hope you all enjoy the Sneek Peek as much as I did.

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When I was in my early teens in the mid-70s, one of the highlights of my life was watching an American television show called The Midnight Special.  It's inconceivable today to imagine that almost every top musical act of the day appeared on the program at one time or another. 


The most remarkable thing about the show was the fact that all the acts actually played live, and didn't lip-synch as they typically did on most other music programs.


To anyone who is interested in authentic musical history during one of the most prolific eras ever, The Midnight Special will not disappoint.


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Great Songs of My Lifetime

At the risk of sounding like an unabashed patriot, there is a certain minimalistic niche that Canadian performers populate that is truly awesome.  When I think back to the classic period when Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young were putting this country on the entertainment map it is amazing to consider the early 70s classics that fell into this category.  Beautiful.  Old Man. Woodstock.


But the biggest difference between K.D. Lang and that earlier generation of Canadian artists is that she is defined by her voice.  So much so that you would have to look south of the 49th parallel to find anyone who comes close to having the ability to evoke a vocal perfection that is so phenomenal.


Roberta Flack's angelic performance of The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face rivals K.D. Lang's version of the Leonard Cohen song Hallelujah  The more I listen to both these songs, I'm amazed at how similar their vocal styles are in their effortless ability to be both powerful and gentle, and beautifully passionate.  


And while one song celebrates the birth of a relationship, the other has become symbolic with the end of life.  And the irony is that there is an obvious joy and sadness in both songs.  It can never be denied that each song is exceptionally beautiful because of the outstanding vocal performance of each artist.  Well done ladies!

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One of my favourite songs of the 80s was a catchy one-hit-wonder by an English group known as The Outfield.  The song propelled the band to international acclaim and it continues to be one of the most popular songs of the 1980s.


I initially thought it could have been a Paul McCartney tune, and after seeing the video it was obvious the singer Tony Lewis had a similar physical appearance to the former Beatle.


Like McCartney, he also had the envious ability to play a number of different instruments at an impressive level.  There is no better proof of that than listening to his solo debut album Out of the Darkness which was released in 2018 and was a literal one-man show as he wrote, produced, sang, and played all instruments on the release.


I was saddened to hear that Mr. Lewis "suddenly and unexpectedly" passed away on October 19, 2020.  

tonylewismusic.com

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The Glorious Sons have recently become one of my favourite active bands.  They constantly get compared to or mentioned alongside the Tragically Hip because they both come from the Kingston area.  But what I noticed almost immediately is that they possess a musical versatility that can surprise even dedicated fans. 

 

I was fortunate enough to attend the concert that this video was filmed at and based upon the audience size and hometown reaction...these guys just might reach TTH levels of success.


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On October 6th 2020 the music world witnessed the passing of a couple of greats.  The news of Eddie Van Halen's passing made world headlines.  But a number of media sources also noted the passing of another entertainment giant, Johnny Nash.


I first heard the song I Can See Clearly Now during the summer of 1972 when I was ten-years-old and the song climbed to the top of the Canadian music charts.  And like a lot of great songs of that era, the lyrics were just as amazing as the music itself.  There were many times during my adult life when I was dealing with adversity that I would play that classic tune to pick up my spirits and remind myself that even the darkest storms are followed by sunshine. 


Johnny Nash was a successful singer and actor while still in his teens, and went on to form a music publishing business in the 1960s that signed Bob & Rita Marley, Peter Tosh, and Bunny Wailer to an exclusive publishing contract.  He was a talented and influential artist who will always be remembered for providing the world with an eternal ray of sunshine that is I Can See Clearly Now.

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Great Albums of My Lifetime



Eddie Van Halen


I was annoyed the first time I heard Van Halen way back in the late 1970s. Some fool put their first album on the turntable at the party I attended and then had the gall to make an utterly ridiculous statement. “This new guy is gonna take over the world man! He’s the best guitarist in history!”


My immediate response included a few expletives that I won’t repeat because I couldn’t believe anyone in their right mind would insult the likes of Hendrix, Page, Townshend, and Clapton by making such a bold statement about an unproven commodity.

And while the other attendees were blown away by the “brilliance” of Eruption...I thought it was all gimmick and flash. It wasn’t long after that when I saw images of the band on T.V. and it only confirmed my suspicions that they were all hair and no substance.


But in 1982 I happened to hear an instrumental song called Cathedral on the radio one night driving home from work, and I had goosebumps all over my body. And that song led into another song called Secrets that was just as melodic and beautiful. I went out the next day and bought my first Van Halen album Diver Down and played it every day for months.


When their album 1984 came out two years later, I was able to admit I was wrong about Eddie. By this time he had proven himself both as a multi-instrumentalist and accomplished songwriter and certainly wasn’t a flash in the pan. Eddie was the real deal.


So tonight I am raising a glass to Eddie Van Halen as I listen to about thirty years of his substantial contributions to songwriting and guitaring which added to the soundtrack of my life. And without hesitation, I salute him as one of the greatest rock guitarists of all time. 


Well done Eddie. Rest in peace friend.