Saturday, December 29, 2007

2007: The Year in Acoustic Rock

It turned out to be a pretty good year for acoustic rock, with legendary artists releasing new studio efforts and music from the archives. Here are a few of the albums released in 2007 that we've been playing on The Acoustic Storm (listed in chronological order):

Neil Young - Live at Massey Hall 1971
3/13/07 (Reprise)

Practically a hometown performance in Toronto, this concert captures Neil solo, live and acoustic. Among the set's highlights are the premiere of "Old Man" more than a year before it would appear on the "Harvest" album, and a powerful, stripped-down treatment of "Ohio" just months after the CSNY studio release. It's worth paying a bit more to get the entire CD-DVD package that includes the concert video.

Paul McCartney - Memory Almost Full
6/5/07 (Hear Music)

Sir Paul reflects on his rich musical past and even slips in a medley as if to reference "Abbey Road." The acoustic album-opener "Dance Tonight is a simple tune that might get stuck in your head, if your "memory" isn't already full. A deluxe edition was issued late in the year with extra live tracks recorded at the Electric Ballroom in London. Speaking of live McCartney, A&E recently televised a 2007 Macca concert at the Olympia in Paris. Paul played acoustic versions of "Blackbird", "Michelle," "Dance Tonight" and "Calico Skies."

Jon Anderson - Live from La La Land
6/25/07 (Opio Media)

The lead vocalist for Yes recorded this show at the Roxy in Los Angeles and released it on his own label as an import. Still in fine voice, Anderson accompanies himself on acoustic guitar and performs Yes classics like "Roundabout," "Owner of a Lonely Heart and "Yours is No Disgrace."

Stephen Stills - Just Roll Tape
7/10/07 (Rhino)

In late April, 1968, Stills had just finished producing some sessions in New York for then-girlfriend Judy Collins when he decided to lay down some all-acoustic tracks of his own. The demos include the first-ever recordings of the CSN standards "Suite Judy Blue Eyes" (dedicated to Collins), "Wooden Ships," and "Helplessly Hoping," as well as Stills' solo material like "Change Partners" and "So Begins the Task."

Mark Knopfler - Kill to Get Crimson
9/18/07 (Warner Bros)

Dire Straits' main-man Knopfler has been releasing quality solo albums for several years now. In typical fashion, the latest album features his distinctive, elegant guitar style and rich, baritone vocals. The opening track, "True Love Will Never Fade" is a nice acoustic number.

Joni Mitchell - Shine
9/25/07 (Hear Music)
Joni came out of retirement to put together this fine collection of tunes. Several songs underscore her strong feelings about what has happened to the environment. Some of the instrumentation reminds me of the "Court and Spark" album. Check out Joni's re-recorded version of "Big Yellow Taxi."

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band - Magic
10/2/07 (Columbia)

His first release with the E Street Band since 2002's "The Rising" finds Springsteen at the top of his game. Some tracks echo Bruce's love of '60s rock and roll, but the production is very much 2007. The acoustic-based songs are the title track and the CD's hidden track, "Terry's Song," Springsteen's memorial to his long-time assistant and friend, Terry Magovern.

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss - Raising Sand
10/23/07 (Rounder)

What a year for Robert Plant...the Led Zeppelin reunion concert in London and this unique collaboration with bluegrass star Alison Krauss. The duo's vocals blend together well and the track selection is varied as Plant & Krauss cover the Everly Brothers, Tom Waits, Gene Clark and Townes Van Zandt. One of the tracks, "Please Read the Letter," also appears on "Walking into Clarksdale" which Plant released in 1995 with his Zeppelin bandmate Jimmy Page.

Eagles - Long Road Out of Eden
10/30/07 (Eagles Recording Company
The 28-year hiatus between studio albums was worth the long wait for Eagles' fans. The band went from 1979's "The Long Run" to 2007's "Long Road Out of Eden" with just 1994's live release "Hell Freezes Over" in between. Acoustic stand-outs include "Waiting in the Weeds", "Center of the Universe" and "No More Walks in the Wood."

James Taylor - One Man Band
11/13/07 (Hear Music)
Sweet Baby James sounds as good as ever on this acoustic effort, recorded at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, not too far from Taylor's home in the Berkshires. The usual suspects are all here, including "Fire and Rain," "You've Got a Friend," "Carolina in My Mind" and "Country Road." It's also nice to hear "Something in the Way She Moves" which dates back to his first album.

Here's looking forward to a great '08 for acoustic rock!

Check out Acoustic Storm listener posts from the past on The Acoustic Storm Web site.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Remembering Dan Fogelberg

Although I knew Dan Fogelberg had been battling prostate cancer since 2004, I was hoping he would beat it, so it was very sad to hear about his passing last Sunday.

Fogelberg was one of the finest singer-songwriters to emerge in the early '70s. His musical output was impressive, with albums like "Home Free," "Souvenirs," "Netherlands," "Twin Sons of Different Mothers" (with flutist Tim Weisberg) , "Phoenix" and "The Innocent Age."

I saw Fogelberg perform live at Gammage Auditorium in Tempe, Arizona in his prime and I was impressed with his versatility. Everyone knows how fine a balladeer Dan was, but he also knew how to rock and was an excellent guitarist. And what vocals...Jackson Browne recently said DF had the voice of an "angel."

I've been reading some of the condolences on the Dan Fogelberg Web site. Before he passed, Dan posted a sobering message about the importance of men getting prostate exams before it's too late.

You may have also heard that Stephen Stills was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer. It was detected early and signs are hopeful. He'll be undergoing surgery January 4th, so here's wishing Stephen a speedy recovery.

By the way, we'll pay tribute to Dan Fogelberg the weekend of 12/29-12/30 by featuring him in the Eye of The Storm.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

An Acoustic Storm Christmas

The past week or so, I've been busy putting together the annual holiday special, "An Acoustic Storm Christmas."

The show will air on our radio affiliates the weekend of 12/22-12/23. Check the Acoustic Storm Stations page of the Web site for the broadcast schedule in your area. Keep in mind that many Storm stations now stream the show, so even if you're not within range of a Storm radio signal, you can still tune in on-line.

By the way, several non-affiliates will be running the three-hour version of the show as part of their holiday programming on Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day.

Most of An Acoustic Storm Christmas will consist of holiday acoustic rock classics like John Lennon's "Happy Xmas/War is Over" and ELP's "I Believe in Father Christmas," but you'll also hear some tunes that weren't necessarily written for December 25th, but still fit the spirit of the season like The Beatles' "All You Need is Love" and "Give a Little Bit" from Roger Hodgson of Supertramp, live and acoustic in Montreal.

Speaking of The Beatles, it was a lot of fun finding those Christmas messages and music the Fab Four recorded for their fan club in the early '60s. The records are a little scratchy, but that only adds to the nostalgia factor. Be listening for those hard-to-find audio treats as well on An Acoustic Storm Christmas.

Thanks to dan and caleb for the comments on my last post. Dan, I will be playing a rare, live-acoustic version of Jackson Browne's "The Rebel Jesus" in the first hour of An Acoustic Storm Christmas.

Caleb, your suggestion for linking selections from the weekly Acoustic Storm playlist to a place to purchase music is an idea we've kicked around the last couple of years. Hopefully, sometime in the new year we can put that together to make it easier for Storm listeners to find much of the music they hear on the show.

For an archive of listener comments on acoustic rock and the radio show itself, here's a link to The Acoustic Storm Forum.

I hope you'll take time out of your busy holiday season to unplug and unwind with The Acoustic Storm!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

December Already

It's hard to believe another year is flying past. Here in the Phoenix area, it feels like winter with two straight days of heavy rain and some strong winds. It seems like within a week and a half, we went from very warm 5pm afternoons to chilly, blustery it's getting dark so early-in-the-afternoon kind of weather. I guess the storm changed all that.

Okay, so it's a bit of an obvious segue into talking about The Acoustic Storm, but there's plenty to look forward to this month on the radio show.

This weekend, we'll warm things up with some good 'ol Southern acoustic-rock as the Allman Brothers go into the Eye of The Storm, including a couple of live unplugged performances from Gregg Allman, a beautiful acoustic instrumental from the late, great Duane Allman and the timeless tune, "Melissa" from the "Eat a Peach" album.

Next weekend (12/8-12/9), Stevie Nicks makes her featured debut in the Eye of The Storm, with not only her solo material and acoustic demos with Fleetwood Mac, but a track from the hard-to-find "Buckingham-Nicks" album that got them discovered by Mick Fleetwood.

The Rolling Stones make their way into The Eye the weekend of 12/15-12/16, and then comes one of the most popular Acoustic Storms of the year.

The weekend of 12/22-12/23, we'll celebrate the holidays with "An Acoustic Storm Christmas." You'll hear the usual suspects like "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" from Springsteen and "Christmas Song" by Jethro Tull, but we'll also feature some rarely-heard acoustic and unplugged versions of Christmas rock classics. There'll be a double-bill in the Eye of The Storm as Jon Anderson of Yes and Greg Lake of ELP share their Christmas memories. Plus, you'll hear vintage Beatles' Christmas greetings and music from their fan club records.

By the way, if you're looking for The Acoustic Storm Forum , it's still available...only now it's an archive, so you can continue to enjoy reading some great posts and replies from the past.

Feel free to leave a comment on this blog, it's always great to hear from you...