Tuesday, August 18, 2009

One Video Ahead: A Les Paul Tribute

I'm not a guitarist. I've never been. Even when I used to be a musician, I found the keyboards perfectly suited to my linear way of thinking while the guitar bewildered me. Maybe this is a good thing, for if I had ever seriously attempted to play the guitar, at some point I would have gotten hip to Les Paul. And I would have tried to play like him. And I would have failed miserably and given up the axe in shame.

Before giving up the instrument, I might've read how he built one of the first solid-body electric guitars and that the Gibson Les Paul became a favorite model of such rock giants as Keith Richards, Pete Townshend, and Jimmy Page. And I might've tried to invent my own innovative model, which of course would have led to nothing.

But wait! There's more! Multi-tracking is a recording technique that's long been near and dear to my heart. As a 14-year-old, I was fascinated and inspired that Gene Pitney transcended the limitations of early-1960s recording technology to multi-track himself into a full band. Little did I realize that Les Paul had pioneered that very technique more than a decade earlier!

See, I knew the name. I knew he was a big deal. But I didn't realize how big a deal he was until after he died last week at the age of 94. Let everyone else deliver the umpteenth story about that other great musical talent who passed away this summer; One Note Ahead will now present three Les Paul videos for your viewing and listening pleasure. Remember that the volume varies on these and that they might not be available forever.

Les Paul and his then-wife and partner Mary Ford demonstrate multi-tracking on "Omnibus" with Alistair Cooke, October 23, 1953. The techniques and Paul's playing are way ahead of their time.

I don't know the date on this one, but this is another demonstration: the Les Pulverizer!

Les Paul at 90, still going strong. From the documentary Les Paul: Chasing Sound!

Text copyright © 2009 S.J. Dibai. All rights reserved.
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Monday, August 10, 2009

Spotlight On: Panic Years

Let's not even try to come up with a label to pin on Panic Years; any label we could place on them wouldn't do them justice. And let's not begin with a list of their influences, for even when they are obviously influenced by another act, they still sound like Panic Years. Let's just say that if you're into recent or contemporary rock music, keep reading.

Panic Years began in Virginia Beach with singer Ed Everett and guitarist/keyboardist Amy Miller. With the assistance of Mark Padgett and Rob Sweitzer, the pair recorded the excellent Panic Years EP. Intricately-crafted melodies and complex drumming patterns provide a surprisingly sophisticated setting for the band's raw, angry lyrics -- and Ed's equally raw, angry vocals. Amy's fluid guitar work adds a bit of sheen to the proceedings while still providing the driving rhythms that keep the songs anchored. The music is aggressive, but it's also undeniably beautiful, transcending the narrow appeal of rock's subgenres to create something more universal.

Amy and Ed moved to Philadelphia last year, seeing the specialness in my fair city that so many Philly artists don't even see. They've since fleshed out Panic Years with new members to become a much beloved local act. I've yet to experience them in person, but the EP is one of the more engaging releases I've reviewed, and I recommend grabbing a copy online if you can't make it to the band's shows. If you can and do attend a show soon, maybe you'll see me there.

For music and more information: http://www.myspace.com/panicyears

Copyright © 2009 S.J. Dibai. All rights reserved.
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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

One Video Ahead: Bob Gaudio

I know I've got some fans of Frankie Valli and The 4 Seasons among my readers! Well, I became a fan of theirs during that awkward time period between their hit streak and their post-Jersey Boys resurgence. In other words, I became a fan when it wasn't cool. While it's great that Jersey Boys has renewed interest in the guys, I must admit I haven't even seen it yet. Maybe if it gets made into a movie, I'll rent it when the DVD comes out. I've seen various casts of Jersey Boys on TV and let's face it: good as the actors may be, nothing compares to the real thing. For me, the classic era of 1962-1970 does the trick. There were three constant members of The 4 Seasons, thus there was a sound and there were identifiable faces. While some of the later efforts were stellar, the band became more like a franchise owned by Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio. Who? Well, if you're a devoted fan, you know who Bob Gaudio is. If you're a casual fan, you should learn about him. Either way, you'll get a whole lot out of this interview with Jian Ghomeshi on Canada's arts and culture series QTV.

Text copyright © 2009 S.J. Dibai. All rights reserved.
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