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McCartney and Kanye to Collaborate

Rapper Kanye West seem to have scored the ultimate guest artist for his next album. According to Page Six, West has recruited none other than Sir Paul McCartney to make an appearance on his next album.

The publication report that McCartney might be working on several songs together with West. Macca has previously expressed interest in working with either West or Jay Z, and it now seems as if at least one of those collaborations is set to happen.

McCartney recently had the honor of being the last artist to play San Francisco's famed Candlestick Park before the venue is demolished. Macca was the perfect choice for the event, since the stadium was the place for the Beatles' last concert way back in 1966.

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Ice Bucket Challenge Facilitate Bon Jovi Reunion?

The Ice Bucket Challenge is all the rage these days. Aside from providing amusement from seeing one of your friends or perhaps a celebrity being doused in ice water, the purpose of the stunt is to promote awareness and raise money for ALS research.

Now the challenge might actually produce a welcome side effect - helping to restore the working relationship between two of rock's biggest icons - Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora. Jon recently took the Ice Bucket Challenge, as you can see in the video below. The participant in the challenge is called to nominate three new participants, and Jon decided to challenge Bon Jovi bandmates Tico Torres, David Bryan, and also estranged guitarist Sambora.

Whether Richie will take the Ice Bucket Challenge remains to be seen, but if anything it might be the crucial first step towards repairing Jon and Richie's working relationship, and bring the guitarist back to the band. Sambora left the group abruptly early last year at the start of the band's latest world tour in support of the album What About Now.

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Aerosmith Don’t Wanna Miss A Gig

aerosmith-slash

Aerosmith have resumed their US tour with Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, after drummer Joey Kramer was taken ill last week.

The band cancelled its Let Rock Rule Tour stop at Concord Pavilion in Concord, California so Kramer could undergo a minor medical procedure. Reports had suggested that Kramer had suffered from heart complications but the band released a statement saying that he had no history of a heart condition. “I’m feeling better than ever and I'll be back sitting in the best seat in the house, hitting it harder than ever for our amazing fans,” Kramer said. “My gratitude and thanks for all the love and support showered on me during this time. Feelin’ good feelin’ groovy feelin’ great!!! Nothin’ keeps the Kramedog down.”

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Jack Bruce: “I don’t believe there will be further Cream reunions”

Cream

It’s likely there will be no more Cream reunions, says bassist Jack Bruce. Speaking recently to M Music & Musicians, the rock veteran said, “I’m only in irregular contact with Eric [Clapton], but I know we have mutual respect for each other’s work. I don’t believe there will be further Cream reunions. However, I never thought the first one would happen, so there you go.”

Bruce, whose new album, Silver Rails, marks his first solo record in a decade, also talked about writing the Cream epic “Sunshine of Your Love” “One night I was working with my lyricist and friend Pete Brown, and we just hadn’t come up with anything good,” Bruce said. “Suddenly I picked up my double bass and played the ‘Sunshine of Your Love’ riff. Pete looked out the window at the glow in the sky and wrote, ‘It’s getting near dawn.’ I took the riff, melody and lyrics to a band rehearsal and Eric wrote the turnaround chords and we had a song.”

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Forty-Plus Years of YES: Steve Howe Talks Guitar-Playing

Steve-Howe-by-Rob-Shanahan
 

Ask any guitar aficionado to cite the most important players of the past 50 years, and it’s a near-certainty that Steve Howe’s name will come up before they take their second breath. During his amazing career, Howe has recorded 19 solo albums as well as records with Asia, GTR and others, but his most indelible mark has been made as a primary force in the legendary prog-rock band, YES. A key composer and player on such classic alums as Fragile, Close to the Edge and Going for the One, Howe is to “prog” what B.B. King is to the blues.

YES’s latest album, Heaven & Earth, finds the group furthering art-rock traditions with beautiful arrangements and the vintage “YES” sound. With new singer Jon Davison handling lead vocals, Howe, bassist Chris Squire, drummer Alan White and keyboardist Geoff Downes offer up sweeping melodies and shimmering aural landscapes that rank with the band’s best work. In addition, the group is currently on tour performing Fragile and Close to the Edge in their entirety—along with songs from the new disc and an encore of greatest hits. Recently we spoke with Howe about the new album, the tour and his legendary ES-175—a guitar he’s owned and played for half a century.

How did you approach recording the new album?

We had already done a lot of writing—demos, and so forth. To stimulate the process, Jon visited everybody, spent a week with me and time with everybody else as well. He got a feel for what each of us thought about what was circulated, bits and pieces of music. It wasn’t all about sitting in a room, saying, “Well, shouldn’t we write a song together?” It was more like, “Let’s listen to this bit from this person. What do you think? Do you like that bit? Should we take that out?” There was that sort of fine-tuning, ahead of time. We did a week’s rehearsal—played in a room together—but that was almost pointless. It’s the sort of “old” thing you feel you have to do, and then you tighten it up in the studio. The album is a mixture of collaborations and solo ideas. It’s a fine balance of various things we do.

Did you sense Jon was feeling any pressure, as the new guy?

I suppose he was under some strain, but he didn’t show it. We were quite sure he could handle it. He isn’t one to shy away from things—he’s a very consistent and strong person. It’s true he was tested, not so much by us but by the recording process--the hours you have to put in, and the repetition. He put in an awful lot of time to achieve what’s on the album. But that’s what production is all about. You go in, you sing, and someone might say, “Well, how about singing it more like this?” Everyone has an opinion about vocals, and everyone has an opinion about drums.

Have your thoughts about the role of the guitar in YES—it’s place in the arrangements—remained consistent through the years?

Well, there has to be some consistency with YES, in general. We couldn’t go out and make a hip-hop record, for instance. (laughs) We make albums in a certain style, and they require, generally, five people with different ideas to kind of agree on something. Sometimes that’s difficult, and other times you pleasurably discover that someone else in the band shares your preference for something. A lot of my guitar work is built around the vocals, but I do take the opportunity to do a lot of single line stuff that’s almost built around everybody. There comes a time when you get clarity and you get the payback of the guitar being strong enough to push the music onwards. I like being able to use various dynamics to accomplish that. I use various textures and I have a landscape to move around on. With some of the songs on the new album, I tried different approaches. On one track I did a whole New Age sort of guitar piece, but then I thought, “Well, I could do that, but maybe I should do this other thing.” So I went off and did something entirely different. There wasn’t enough time to do that on every track, but here and there I might have tried out an idea and thought, “Well, that’s fun, but it seems not quite right.”

YES

Can you talk a bit about your history with the ES-175?

I bought the original in ’64. Prior to that I had played various guitars--mostly small solid-bodies—but all along I had the idea I was going to get a 175. Once I did get it, everyone said, “Oh, you’re going to play that guitar?” Everyone thought I was weird because I wasn’t playing a ‘regular’ guitar.” But I liked that sense of identity that it immediately brought me. I thought, “Wow, everyone’s looking at me.” I played the 175 all through the ‘60s, and then on The Yes Album it was all the 175. Then I went forward to the ES-5, the stereo guitar, and eventually back to the Les Paul and other things. I rambled through the ‘70s, trying out various guitars, but the ES-175 never went away. It was always the fundamental Steve Howe guitar sound and approach, and I loved that. Eventually I thought, “What am I buying new guitars for? This one is better than them all.” (laughs) The 175—all the Gibsons I play, for that matter—are just perfect for what I use them for. I’m still mainly a Gibson player.

You’ve talked elsewhere about how you play the ES-175 for about 20 minutes to “warm it up.” Can you elaborate?

That’s from an article I read in Science Today, or New Scientist or something. Apparently some tests were done on guitars in Japan, where they found that until it’s been played for about 20 minutes, it’s not fully resonant and fully responsive. That’s especially true if it’s been sitting in a case, where it hasn’t been played for months. But in a larger sense, if you haven’t played a guitar a lot, then you’re not going to get a lot out of it. You have to put something in to get something out. That’s what I discovered with the 175. After putting five or six years into it I had a fantastic guitar. Whenever I let someone play it--and there were only about three people who were allowed (laughs)--they went, “This is an amazing guitar to play!” Partly it was because of the strings I use, the gauges, but also it was because I had played it so much. I only had it re-fretted after having played it for about 45 years. That’s another amazing aspect.

Chuck Berry was one of those people you allowed to play it. What’s that story?

That was at the Albert Hall in London in the late ‘60s, before I joined YES. I was in a group called Bodast. We had been booked as Berry’s backing band. It was an amazing thing that happened. We went on-stage to rehearse, and Berry walks in, points at me and says, “We don’t need you.” I said, “Okay, alright, I’ll step out then.” So I did, and he went on to play—just him on guitar. Often he had a rhythm guitarist, but he didn’t that night. Either during the interval, or just before the show, I bravely tapped on his dressing room door. He shouts “Yeah!” and I walk in. I said, “It’s Steve, from the band. I just want to show you my guitar.” I played it for a few minutes, and he got this look in his eyes. He says, “That’s amazing, an amazing guitar!” It truly is a great guitar.

Do you take it on the road with you?

I used to take it on the road all the time. Now I don’t, except for when I’m touring the U.K. No matter what the airline rules are, they’ll tell you there’s some other rule that prevents you from keeping it with you. I used to buy a ticket for it. I remember showing up for an Air Canada flight, in London, and I had my guitar with me. They went, “Oh, this isn’t a person.” I said, “So what?” They said, “Well, you can’t have a seat without a person in it. We can’t give it a boarding pass.” I told them to just give it a pass and call it “Mr. Gibson.” (laughs)

On current tour you’re playing Fragile and Close to the Edge in their entirety. Which of those albums presents the bigger challenge?

The one we haven’t played, which is Fragile. Actually it shouldn’t be that difficult. We already know two of the songs—“Heart of the Sunrise” and “Roundabout”--very well, although we’ve generally played them in a slightly different way from the album. For this tour we’ll adapt to playing them closer to the record. It’s going to be all about the album, and our appreciation for the talent we had then, and the talent [producer] Eddy Offord had to pull that sound together. Nobody else really knew how to do that, except Eddy.

How much thought do you give to your legacy? Do you ever reflect on your impact, and all you’ve accomplished?

It would be egotistical to say I do that, but there is a scale there that I’m proud of. I do feel a sense of achievement, but it’s not a question of sitting and thinking, “Wow, look at what I’ve done.” I’m not a critic. I’m a performer and a writer and a guitarist. It’s also true there’s some music of mine that I like more than the music most people associate me with. It’s not as if I always like everything I’ve ever done, but I do have the pleasure of having that repertoire. It’s all very rewarding.

Photos: Rob Shanahan

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McCartney Re-Releasing Wings Albums

Paul McCartney has announced that he will be releasing remastered versions of the Wings albums Venus and Mars and Wings At The Speed of Sound, on September 22 in the UK, and the following day in the US. The albums are part of the Paul McCartney Archive Collection that have previously reissued Band on the Run, McCartney, McCartney II, RAM and Wings over America.

The albums will be available in two formats: A two-disc Standard Edition with the original album, and bonus audio, as well as a three-disc Deluxe Edition that will also contain a DVD with bonus material, and a book with unpublished photographs.

Wings

Venus and Mars tracklisting:

CD 1 – Remastered Album

1. Venus and Mars

2. Rock Show

3. Love In Song

4. You Gave Me The Answer

5. Magneto and Titanium Man

6. Letting Go

7. Venus and Mars – Reprise

8. Spirits Of Ancient Egypt

9. Medicine Jar

10. Call Me Back Again

11. Listen To What The Man Said

12. Treat Her Gently – Lonely Old People

13. Crossroads

Wings


CD 2 – Bonus Audio

1. Junior’s Farm

2. Sally G

3. Walking In The Park With Eloise

4. Bridge On The River Suite

5. My Carnival

6. Going To New Orleans (My Carnival)

7. Hey Diddle [Ernie Winfrey Mix]

8. Let’s Love

9. Soily [from One Hand Clapping]

10. Baby Face [from One Hand Clapping]

11. Lunch Box/Odd Sox

12. 4th Of July

13. Rock Show [Old Version]

14. Letting Go [Single Edit]


DVD – Bonus Film

1. Recording My Carnival

2. Bon Voyageur

3. Wings At Elstree

4. Venus and Mars TV Ad

Wings At The Speed of Sound tracklisting:


CD 1 – Remastered Album

1. Let 'Em In

2. The Note You Never Wrote

3. She’s My Baby

4. Beware My Love

5. Wino Junko

6. Silly Love Songs

7. Cook Of The House

8. Time To Hide

9. Must Do Something About It

10. San Ferry Anne

11. Warm And Beautiful


CD 2 – Bonus Audio

1. Silly Love Songs [Demo]

2. She’s My Baby [Demo]

3. Message To Joe

4. Beware My Love [John Bonham Version]

5. Must Do Something About It [Paul’s Version]

6. Let ‘Em In [Demo]

7. Warm And Beautiful [Instrumental Demo]


DVD – Bonus Film

1. Silly Love Songs Music Video

2. Wings Over Wembley

3. Wings In Venice

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Led Zeppelin to Release Two More “Deluxe Editions”

Led Zeppelin
The Led Zeppelin reissue campaign that began in June will continue this fall with the release of Deluxe Editions of 1971’s Led Zeppelin IV and 1973’s Houses of the Holy. As with the previous reissues, both albums have been newly remastered by Jimmy Page and are accompanied by companion discs comprised of unreleased music associated with the original studio album. Each release will also be available as a single CD, a single 180-gram vinyl LP, a “Deluxe Edition” 180-gram double LP, a digital download and a “Super Deluxe” box set. Led Zeppelin IV—which includes such classics as “Black Dog,” “Rock and Roll” and “Stairway to Heaven”—is widely considered one of the most influential albums in rock history. Its follow-up, Houses of the Holy, broadened the group’s stylistic range with such tracks as the reggae-tinged “D’yer Mak’er” and the funk jam, “The Crunge.” Both reissues will be released in their various formats on October 28. Below are the tracks featured on the companion audio discs:

Led Zeppelin IV Companion Audio Disc

1. "Black Dog" - Basic Track With Guitar Overdubs

2. "Rock And Roll" - Alternate Mix

3. "The Battle Of Evermore" - Mandolin/Guitar Mix From Headley Grange

4. "Stairway To Heaven" - Sunset Sound Mix

5. "Misty Mountain Hop" - Alternate Mix

6. "Four Sticks" - Alternate Mix

7. "Going To California" - Mandolin/Guitar Mix

8. "When The Levee Breaks" - Alternate UK Mix

 

Houses of the Holy Companion Audio Disc

1. "The Song Remains The Same" - Guitar Overdub Reference Mix

2. "The Rain Song" - Mix Minus Piano

3. "Over The Hills And Far Away" - Guitar Mix Backing Track

4. "The Crunge" - Rough Mix - Keys Up

5. "Dancing Days" - Rough Mix With Vocal

6. "No Quarter" - Rough Mix With JPJ Keyboard Overdubs - No Vocal

7. "The Ocean" - Working Mix

For further reading:

Jimmy Page Talks Led Zeppelin Reissues

Led Zeppelin Debut Exclusive Track

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Stevie Nicks on New Retrospective Album

Stevie Nicks

Fleetwood Mac frontwoman Stevie Nicks will be releasing a new solo album, her eighth, on October 7. The album, which will be called 24 Karat Gold - Songs from the Vault, is made up of new recordings of previously unreleased material.

"Most of these songs were written between 1969 and 1987,” said Nicks in a press release. “One was written in 1994 and one in 1995. I included them because they seemed to belong to this special group. Each song is a lifetime. Each song has a soul. Each song has a purpose. Each song is a love story…They represent my life behind the scenes, the secrets, the broken hearts, the broken hearted and the survivors. These songs are the memories - the 24 karat gold rings in the blue box. These songs are for you.”

The album, which Nicks co-produced with Dave Stewart and Waddy Wachtel, will come with Polaroids that the singer has taken during her career. 24 Karat Gold - Songs from the Vault will be released on vinyl on September 29, one week prior to the CD release.

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ZZ Top Releasing Hit-Packed New Live Video

The latest episode in the Live at Montreux concert video series, due out July 22, will feature none other than ZZ Top. The video, Live at Montreux 2013, will offer highlights from a set the Little Ol' Band from Texas performed last July during Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival.

It’s no surprise that the video, which will arrive on both DVD and Blu-ray, features the Texas trio performing some of its most beloved songs, including “Sharp Dressed Man,” “Legs,” “La Grange,” “Gimme All Your Lovin'“ and “Tush.” The performance also offers a cover of the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s “Foxey Lady” and a few songs off the band’s latest full-length, 2012’s La Futura.

zz top logo

In other ZZ Top news, the guys are currently touring Europe and will set off on a new series of North American summer and fall dates later this month. For the full list of upcoming ZZ Top shows, visit the band’s official website.

ZZ Top's Live at Montreux 2013 Video Track Listing:

“Got Me Under Pressure”
“Waitin' for the Bus”
“Jesus Just Left Chicago”
“Gimme All Your Lovin'“
“Pincushion”
“I Gotsta Get Paid”
“Flyin' High”
“Kiko”
“I Loved the Woman”
“Foxey Lady”
“My Head's in Mississippi”
“Chartreuse”
“Sharp Dressed Man”
“Legs”
“Tube Snake Boogie”
“La Grange”
“Tush”

Related: Check out the Billy Gibbons "Pearly Gates" Les Paul Standard

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Peter Frampton Release New Album

Peter Frampton
Talkbox legend Peter Frampton is releasing his new album Hummingbird in a Box, on June 24 via RED Distribution/Sony Music.

The album was inspired by the Cincinnati Ballet. Frampton co-wrote the seven pieces together with Gordon Kennedy. The pair also worked together on the album Fingerprints in 2006.

The music for Hummingbird In A Box debuted live in April last year at Cincinnati’s Aronoff Center for the Arts. Two of the segments were choreographed to existing Frampton songs, while the third was based around the seven new compositions. Frampton and his band was on hand to perform the music live.

"Writing for dance was a wonderfully freeing experience. There were no boundaries. We were able to push the composing envelope,” Frampton said about the project, with Kennedy adding “Songwriters and musicians create music to move people. This was beautiful, graceful, and instantly gratifying!"

If you're itching to see Peter Frampton in concert, there's ample opportunity this summer. The guitarist will be on tour in the US throughout the summer, both on his own and on a co-headlining tour together with The Doobie Brothers. For exact dates see Peter Frampton's official website.

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