Sunday, March 31, 2013


A couple of years ago I participated in the A To Z challenge and posted an album review every day, where the artist's name began with the letter of the alphabet corresponding to the day in April.
Last year I sat out-working seven days a week and ten plus hours each of those days simply took too much of a toll....enough of a toll that I left my employer of 23 years, leaving a bunch of "stay-on" bonus money behind, thinking that the money would do me little good if I had a heart attack trying to collect it.
And so, I find myself with the time this year to once again participate in the madness!
Since music reviews are the point of this blog, I’m going to do the same thing this year, with a little twist.
My original plan was to do a review on a progressive rock release from 2012 that most people who listen to whatever passes for mainstream radio (I never listen to radio, so I really don’t know whether it’s FM, satellite, or internet that people listen to) would not have been aware of.
I got close. 
I had to get a little er….  creative with a couple of letters (Q, X, Z) and a couple of the other titles were actually late 2011 releases, but I think I’ve got a month’s worth of music that any progressive rock fan will find interesting, and many others among you will enjoy exploring.
Who knows? Maybe some of you may actually purchase the title for your collections! If so, tell your local independent store (when you visit them on Record Store Day, April 20) that DiscConnected sent you!.
For the uninitiated, progressive rock (also known as prog rock, or simply prog) is a rock music subgenre that had its heyday in the 1970’s featuring bands as diverse as Genesis, Yes, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Emerson Lake & Palmer and The Moody Blues.
Intending to give greater artistic weight and credibility to rock music, progressive rock attempted to break the boundaries of traditional rock music by bringing in a greater and more eclectic range of influences, including free-form and experimental compositional methods, as well as new technological innovations.
Although the genre started to fade in popularity by the latter part of the decade due to rawer and more minimalistic rock gaining popularity, prog bands have continued to release music for the last three decades, with bands like Rush, Queensryche, Dream Theater and Muse findng significant commercial success.
Interested in knowing more? By all means, follow this blog (and comment, comment, comment) for the month of April.
You may also want to check out two magazines devoted to progressive rock, Progression and Classic Rock Presents: Prog. 
Both offer feature articles about prog bands old and new, as well as a plethora of reviews of new prog music each month.
And don't your local record store!

Saturday, March 30, 2013


Record Store Day is April 20th!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


From Noise Creep-read full article by clicking  HERE

Todd Rundgren on His Frustration With the Music Industry: 'I'm Not a One-Hit Wonder As Some Suggest'

Todd Rundgren has long defied any easy sort of characterization. A renowned songwriter, producer, guitar God, technophile and one of the most soulful and interesting singers of his generation, it is fair to say that Rundgren has mined more musical ground than anyone else Noisecreep can think of.
From heart-wrenching ballads to metallic epics to soaring prog-rock (and everything in between), for decades he has staunchly produced the music that he wants, when he wants it.

On April 9, Rundgren's 24th studio album, a provocative, groove-heavy collection entitled State, will be released in the US. Noisecreep had the distinct pleasure of speaking with the wizard, the true star - the one and only Todd Rundgren.
He talks about what inspired him this time out, the upcoming tour, and how he manages to survive in an industry that doesn't usually take kindly to someone that refuses to play by its rules.

Todd, certain solo albums of yours have distinct overall themes. Did you create State with a them in mind?

Unlike a lot of my records, which have some sort of central theme, this record isn't really like that. What it is, is a series of somewhat contemporary cautionary tales. In other words, the songs come off as being about something specific or they set a certain mood but in reality, they are really about something different – that is to say the actual realities are perhaps different than what they seem to be about. For instance a song like 'Something From Nothing' - a lot of people's first impression is that I'm saying that faith is a good thing to have. And I'm not saying that. What I'm saying is that faith is possibly a necessary thing to have but that faith is a very limited thing and is not an adequate substitute for actually knowing something or doing something. So just sitting around thinking that faith can make things turn out okay is really just a waste of time [laughs]. So in that sense a lot of people are going to have a mistaken impression, thinking I'm coming from one direction when I'm really coming at it from a different angle.

It's not like you have not been misunderstood before.
[Laughs] Yes. And a lot of it is purposeful. I figure if I keep it vague it lets a greater number of people find an opportunity to let it fit impressions that they have – let them adapt it in their own way. You can get a sense of that from the title of the record. State can be a word that is a noun or a verb or an adverb - it's kind of why I chose that title. It's not to confound the audience but to keep me from painting myself into a cul-de-sac in the early stages of making a record by having too high concept or having some really strict set of rules I have to adhere to. That kind of record I intended to make was to be more open to new influences and so it was a matter of me feeling my around the contemporary music scene. That was sort of the general premise.

What did you discover about contemporary music and how did you interpret it?

I do a lot of research before I start a record depending on what kind of record I'm making. It may be more of an archival exercise, perhaps trying to recapture the aura of something earlier, an older style of making records – then again, with a record like this, like I said I'm trying to catch the contemporary flame. So I spent a lot of time on YouTube and it turned out to be a great asset for this kind of exploration because of things like that sidebar next to whatever you're watching which, after just a few clicks can take you through some really different realms. I would start out somewhere and then wander through all sorts of music videos, following certain listener trends by clicking on things associated with whatever I was watching.

Every once in a while I would find something that was really interesting and then automatically I would stop listening to that because if I continued to listen to it I would literalize it – do the sort of thing you expect from someone who would do an exact literal translation of 'Good Vibrations [laughs].' If I listen to anything too much I'd start aping it and imitate it and I didn't want to do that. How did that get done? How did they accomplish that? And I didn't want to do that. I just wanted to grab the essence of certain directions and incorporate whatever the imperfections of my memory allowed me to. Believe it or not, there's hints of Bon Iver on the record and I only listened to Bon Iver once and then I had to stop listening or I might have started to imitate what I heard.

Your voice seems exceptionally strong these day, in concert and especially on State.

I've had some great opportunities as of late to focus primarily on my voice as opposed to other aspects of my performance. In particular, for my appearances with the Metropole Orchestra in Amsterdam, I focused completely on singing. At the same time I'm not just in front of a quartet but I'm front of a whole freaking orchestra so the level of my performance had better be commensurately improved for that [laughs]. There's that aspect – the fact that I've been pretty liberal in terms of what the setting is when I perform. So I sang before orchestras, and then I've got what I call my 'Performing Arts Center' show that features a lot of my most accessible material. Then I have the 'Unpredictable' show, which is me and a band doing a more or less improvised show, where we even learn songs during sound check. So I think that gamut of experiences has helped strengthen my voice.
The video clips with the Metropole, in particular, are very impressive.

Thank you. The amazing thing about the clips you see on YouTube is that was all done by one incredible one fan from over there who solicited camera phone footage from everybody who was there. And then he got a hold of the final soundtrack, which had all the sweetening and repairs and everything, and he created what is essentially a 25 or 30 camera shoot. There are two shows put together which are pure fan sweat equity. Creating these incredible documents of events, doing stuff like this could be a thing of the future as long as someone has the talent and energy to do it. If you tried to do it yourself it would be financially and physically impractical.
You've got some major touring plans with State. What can you share about the show?

I'm in the midst of building a system now. One of the things that inspired this record was that I would plan to perform it in a modern context without having to take a large band out. It's just Prairie Prince on drums, Jesse Gress on guitar and me running all the machinery, and there will be lights and effects.
Essentially I want to bring the improvisational element back to what I do. In the early '90s I did the 'No World Order' show where I, as the DJ, would start the show and wouldn't have any idea how long the show would be but I had all the options in front of me. I would perform accordingly and try to react what was happening in the audience.

I've been working with some younger artists and went to see one at a DJ event recently and something clicked. I thought, hey, I've done this before - but when I did it years ago I had to build everything from scratch [laughs]. I had to write all the software and build the hardware and it was a nightmare but today a guy with an iPad and a laptop can use improvisation and have the musical flexibility to do a different show every night so there is a certain troubadour aspect to that. I want to recapture the ability to use a minimal amount of resources and be able to create the maximal amount of music. The shows will be different every night, it will be danceable and there will be lots of pretty lights [laughs].

Sounds like you'd fit right in at the Coachella festival.

Perhaps. Sometimes your name just doesn't come up and then again sometimes it always comes up but it doesn't make a difference, like with the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame [laughs].

Your fans, as they do, are rabidly awaiting this new record. It must make you feel good to have this loyal bunch supporting you.

I lucked out in that regard. Sometimes being a musician has little to do with viability and everything to do with survivability. Many musicians start out great and they wind up out of the business in 10 years. My idols, I have come to realize, are players like Tony Bennett and B.B. King. They still have an audience and they can do it forever and to me that's what being a musician truly is - somebody that does it for their entire life pretty much on their own terms. I have to say that I have no formula, which I calculated to have this career. As a matter fact, I'm often reminded – I mean I am grilled with questions like, 'You had a hit record like Something/Anything? And if you'd continued making records like that you'd be a big hit!'

My rejoinder is, if I did that, it's likely that I would have no real career because of the fact that if you let the audience or the marketplace dictate certain songs or a certain style then your fate is completely in their hands. And so if they decide something is more interesting to them, then they leave you and you have to go away for 20 before coming back as a retro act.
Does it frustrate you to get defined in terms of strictly commercial terms?

Absolutely. And in strictly technical terms, I'm not a one-hit wonder as some suggest. I've had a couple of hits, but still all of my hits were in the '70s. There was pretty much nothing in the '80s, '90s or in the first full decade into the next millennium. I've yet to have anything go to the top 20. But I had the advantage of being a record producer. That liberated me musically. For most artists, their careers are dependent on the success of the next project so they only have to make considerations and accommodations that they think the audience will react to. And I had the great luxury of only having to apply that thinking to the artist I was producing. I could figure out their audience and not worry so much about my own audience [laughs]. I was making so much money from production that I never had to worry about surviving in music. I never had to worry about having a hit. And to my mystification there was still actually an audience for me; an audience that doesn't want to be analyzed beforehand [laughs].


This June, you'll be holding ToddStock II near New Orleans, to celebrate your 65th birthday with lots of diehard fans.

The Toddstock thing is the closest thing I have to say, a Grateful Dead sort of thing where it all lapses over from the formality of a concert into more of a lifestyle thing. Maybe even comparable to Jimmy Buffett [laughs]. Like he's got his parrot heads and even though it's a Jimmy Buffett concert, the music is almost secondary to the general level of debauchery.

When I turned 60, a couple of other events were happening. I just finished building my house on Kauai and I had a new album coming out called Arena so that was rolled all together and we invited everybody who could make it for a week and we had this great free-form gathering. Everyone had a great time and I was going to wait until I turned 70 before doing it again. I think a bunch of the fans started thinking either I or them would not make a 70! So we decided to hold it now, at a beautiful plantation in Louisiana called the Nottoway. We expect that it will be a total weeklong party, that the guests will bring their own expressions and trick out their own camping areas, creating little salons. I'm not doing the entertaining, per say, but everyone will be entertaining everyone else.

State will hit stores on April 9.

Todd Rundgren's "Official State Visit" tour dates:

5th Bearsville Theater, Bearsville NY
6th Bearsville Theater, Bearsville NY
7th 'Late Show With David Letterman'
8th Norfolk CT, Infinity Hall
9th Red Bull Music Academy lecture, New York NY
10th New York NY, Gramercy Theater
11th Philadelphia PA, Trocadero
12th Huntington NY, Paramount Theater
14th Kent OH, Kent Stage
15th Pittsburgh PA, The Rex
16th Columbus OH, Pavilion
18th Cincinnati OH, Bogart's
19th Chicago IL, Park West
20th Minneapolis MN, Varsity Theater
28th Helsinki, Club Tavastia
29th Malmo, Debaser
30th Stockholm, Debaser

1st Oslo, Rockefeller
2nd Verviers, Belgium Sprit of 66
4th Amsterdam, Paradiso
6th Glasgow O2 ABC
7th Edinburgh, Picture House
9th Manchester, The Ritz
11th Gateshead, The Sage-Gateshead
12th Birmingham, O2 Academy
13th Bristol, O2 Academy
15th London, O2 Shepherds Bush Empire
17th - 22nd Toddstock, White Castle, New
Orleans, Louisiana
23rd New Orleans LA, House of Blues
25th Houston TX, House of Blues
26th Austin TX, Belmont
28th Dallas TX, House of Blues
29th New Braunfels TX, Gruene Hall
30th Tulsa OK, Cains Ballroom

2nd Boulder CO, Boulder Theater
3rd Aspen CO, Belly Up
5th Phoenix AZ, Crescent Room
6th Tucson AZ, Rialto Theater
8th San Juan Capistrano, Coach House
9th Hermosa Beach CA, Saint Rocke
11th Agoura Hills CA, Canyon Club
12th San Francisco CA, Fillmore

Sunday, March 24, 2013


Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon is one of the most successful rock albums ever released, having spent more than 591 consecutive weeks on the Billboard Top 200 album charts (and more than 26 years on various Billboard charts all told), and having sold more than 50 million copies (it still moves about 10,000 copies a week).

The album celebrated it's fortieth anniversary on March 24, 2013 (original release date March 24, 1973).

Saturday, March 23, 2013


Al Stewart's name will be forever tied to his breakout hits "Year Of The Cat" and "Time Passages," also the title tracks of his two biggest selling albums.

In many ways, the latest album in Stewart’s catalog more resembled his late sixties efforts than it did the two aforementioned records that, during the summer of 1979, were staples of FM radio.

Produced by Alan Parsons (who was also behind the board for an album called Dark Side Of The Moon that some of you may have heard of), these albums were full of finely crafted songs with full arrangements and lots of historical imagery, all hallmarks of Al's style.

In those days, Al was touring with saxes, synths, singers, and all the accoutrements pop stardom brings.

Last night, at the Musical Instrument Museum (second show tonight!!) in Phoenix, Arizona, Al and musical partner Dave Nachmanoff took a trip through Stewart’s musical back pages, both in terms of the musical catalogue (they did have nearly 20 albums’ worth of songs to pick from), and in terms of performance style.

Al cut his musical teeth in the massively fertile folk scene that was London in the late ’60s, and he numbers among his contemporaries the likes of guitar wizards Bert Jansch and John Renbourn, singer-songwriters Roy (“Hats Off To”) Harper and Richard Thompson, and a former flatmate named Paul Simon, who went on to have some success in America as part of a duo with some Garfunkel chap.

Stewart's latest effort, Uncorked, a life effort featruing Al and sideman Dave Nachmanoff, recorded during an East Coast swing, is the first live acoustic disc Al’s done since 1992’s Rhymes In Rooms, and both he and Nachmanoff made a conscious decision not to replicate any of the tracks from that disc.

What that meant was leaving off such standards as “On the Border” and the two aforementioned Top 40 hits, giving them an opportunity to revisit some of the tunes that, while having received less radio play, were (as Al said to me last night when I called out a request) "more interesting."

The duo does not just play well; Al’s guitar work seems better now than when he had a band behind him, and the acoustic touring configuration brings his musical contributions more to the fore.

Dave is simply amazing-during a couple of songs, he tackles synthesizer or sax solos on an acoustic guitar and does them justice.

Most important, it looks and sounds like they’re having fun.

The title tracks from albums like Last Days of the Century and Bedsitter Images don’t immediately conjure images of major-label milestones, but the acoustic arrangements bring the lyrics to even more prominence in the performance.

All in all, Uncorked is far more than just a concert souvenir, but a revisiting and,  in some cases, a reimagining of some essential songs, many of which were never given the airplay they deserved.

Discover them for the first time, or reacquaint yourself with them. Available at CD Baby, Amazon, or Al's website.    

Now I gotta go-there was one ticket left for tonight's performance, and after writing this piece, I want to go see the show again. Al said last night that "every night is different." Who knows? Maybe tonight he'll play "Apple Cider Re-Constitution"?



The poster below is a collage, done in the style of the Sgt. Pepper album cover, featuring all of the historical figures mentioned in Al's lyrics.

How many can you name?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013



More sad news from the world of music. Bobbie Smith, lead singer for the Detroit soul group the Spinners, died this weekend following complications from flu and pneumonia.

He was 76, and had been diagnosed with lung cancer in November.

Smith joined the group in 1956 when they were known as the Domingoes, a name they soon changed after constant misspellings. 

It was Smith, a life-long car buff, according to The Detroit Free Press, who suggested the "Spinners," a nickname for top-notch hubcaps.

The band scored their first hit in 1961 with "That's What Girls Are Made For," and went on to spend a few years on the Motown label where they achieved only minimal success.

In 1971, the group signed with Atlantic records on the recommendation of Aretha Franklin, and Smith went led the Spinners on hits including "I'll Be Around," "Could It Be I'm Falling in Love" and "Games People Play." 

Over the course of their career the band accumulated numerous gold records and Grammy nominations, while in 2011 they were nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the first time.

"Bobby was a regular, down-to-earth, good-natured person, the kind of guy who'd give you his shirt," Henry Fambrough, the group's one surviving member, told the Free Press. "And ever since I've known him, he was just a natural showman."

Monday, March 18, 2013


I know that this is not a music post, but when I saw the badge for Alex's blog-fest (blog-hop?-not sure what the right term is these days), I thought, why not?

This blog-fest is giving me a strange case of deja-vu…didn’t we do this one already?

As it turns out, we did-a few years ago Alex, the OTHER blogger with the surname Cavanaugh, hosted a blogfest on our top twelve movies.

I did a baker’s dozen back then, so I am now going to have to whittle that list down to ten and hope no new ones need to be there.

Picking my favorite movies is still a challenge as I’ve gotten older as staying awake for an entire movie is a challenge, and remembering movies after I have seen them is a challenge. I simply do not have the time to watch movies multiple times any more. That makes it pretty hard for new ones to get onto the list.

As a result, my list of favorite movies looks pretty similar to the last two iterations (including the time I did a list for Stephen T. McCarthy).  

For those of you with photographic memory….well it reads similar as well (sorry). Like the last time, the movie titles link to a film trailer or scene.

And it will be new to some of you, so away we go!

This excellent film opens with the sounds of romance in the Bronx (“Marie! Get in the f*&king car!”). There are a few violent scenes, but mostly the story is about a boy who is drawn to the local gangster against the wishes of his bus-driver father.

All the important life lessons are in this film: how to pick your spouse (“if she doesn’t unlock your door by the time you get around the car, dump her”), what to do when a quasi-friend stiffs you (“for twenty bucks, he’s out of your life-you got off cheap”).

The names of the mobsters are excellent. Frankie Coffee Cake (named because his face looks like a Drake’s Coffee Cake), Jo Jo The Whale (you didn’t walk with Jo Jo, you walked among him), Leo The Mush (everything he touches turns to mush).

DeNiro shines on screen and behind the camera in his directorial debut.

The original, that spawned four sequels and a television series that ran for six years.

Violent, with sword fights, loud rock music from Queen, and a showdown between immortal enemies Christopher Lambert and Clancy Brown. Oh, and Sean Connery is in it as well.

I’d skip the sequels. The TV series had some good episodes, though.

But in the end, there can be only one.

Come on! I’m from Philadelphia!

It was either this make this list or have one of the movies where Todd Rundgren did the soundtrack on there. I guess I could swap this out for “Dumb And Dumber.”

Besides, it’s a great film. Stallone has spent almost forty years trying to make another great one.

He should have left well enough alone, “A Bullet In The Head” in the can, and quit while he was ahead.

There’s a couple of scenes in this one that I still love after more than thirty years.

One is when Paul Dooley and Dennis Christopher are walking through the college, and Paul Dooley is talking about how after he and his coworkers raised the buildings, they felt like they did not belong.

The other is when Paul Dooley announces that there will be another mouth to feed.
“I didn’t know people your age could-“

“Boy, the next words could be your last”

This was a low budget film that everyone should own a copy of.


In this one, the Rams beat the Steelers in the Super Bowl!

Sadly, they did not in 1979.

This movie had to tide me over until they did win one at the dawn of the new millennium.

It was a great script, great cast and an improvement over the original.

Buck Henry's dry delivery will keep you in stitches!

Even in the silly movies that preceded “The Crow,” you could see that Brandon Lee was going to be something special. His death was very tragic.

“The Crow” was a good film, especially considering it was adapted from a comic book (in the days when that was actually unusual).

It is a dark and violent tale of revenge, but it worked.


There’s a scene in this Bergman film where Death comes for a woodsman who tries to bargain for his life.

“But my contracts?”


A classic film that reminds you your inbox won't be empty when you go to the great beyond.

The film is in Swedish, with subtitles, so it's a little more effort to watch, but the scene at the end where the newly dead dance across the hills is the great payoff.

We've all got it coming.

This life is just a ride. Enjoy it!

Arnold did not need to speak to be menacing in this movie.

It was unanimously panned when it was released, but when the sequel made gazillions, the reviews of this first film were mysteriously all rewritten with a bunch of stars.

When it came to 1980’s action films, Arnold surrounded himself with people who knew what they were doing and put out the best product (IMHO).


Another DeNiro film makes my list, with stellar performances from Ed Harris and Kathy Baker.

There were a plethora of Vietnam-vet films in the late seventies through the eighties.

For my money, this was the best of the bunch.

My favorite scene is where DeNiro tells Kathy Baker about how he found religion.

This film did not make much of a splash, but was quite good. You'll want to check it out...

This was my favorite of the John Hughes’ wave of “wrong side of the tracks” romances, and I can’t tell you why.

Certainly “The Breakfast Club” was a better film, but there was something about this one.

I think it was the father and son scene over the son withdrawing his college savings and blowing it on a pair of earrings.

My dad and I had a similar argument, but I blew the money on mint copies of the out-of-print Nazz lp’s and another rare Todd Rundrgen album (The Ballad Of Todd Rundgren)…I can’t even blame it on a girl!

I miss my dad (he died last year).  If your parents are still alive, treasure each moment-even ones where they're complaining about that crap you listen to. I'd give anything to hear him trash rock music again, let alone still be able to discuss things with him.

But Dad was wrong that time. It WAS my money, and I made it through college anyway (on my own dime), and I still have those albums!  Dad, if you're reading this, look for a turntable up there and give "The Ballad Of Todd Rundgren" a spin...

So now, the credits are rolling, as we have reached the end of my list.

Interestingly enough, scene clips were harder to find this time-I guess the studios made You Tube take them down....I'd have thought them a good promotional tool. Most of what I am linking to up above are trailers.

A lot of other movies were considered.
From the prior list, “Diggstown,”  “The Lord Of The Rings” trilogy, and “The Legend Of 1900” got bumped.
“A Few Good Men,” “The A-Team,” "Sin City" and "Pulp Fiction" were all seriously considered (again).  

I gave thought to “The Bucket List,” as well as “The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao.” (That was a movie I’d forgotten about, until a McCarthy post (maybe even his list last time), and have rewatched a few times since).

Even though it got bumped from the list, I do want to post this link to the piano duel scene in “The Legend Of 1900.” Stephen T. McCarthy turned me on to this film mainly for this scene, and it is CLASSIC!.

The first clip is the final song, which has a dramatic moment at the end that is the big payoff...about four minutes to watch, but the payoff is WORTH IT! This is for you impatient ones....

Here's the whole scene in HD...some of you who watched the short version would still probably enjoy the whole scene, although you already saw the end...