Friday, April 30, 2010

Plenty of Sports Coming Up

This is a great time of year for sports fans, particularly this weekend with baseball; the NBA and NHL playoffs; Floyd Mayweather versus Shane Mosley; and "the most exciting two minutes in sports," the Kentucky Derby.

Incidentally, a lot of people are still talking up Sidney's Candy in the Derby.

As far as boxing, I definitely think that Mosley is going to have a tough time against Mayweather. I don't think "Sugar" lasts more than five rounds. So boxing, after Mayweather destroys Mosley can we please, please make the one match that everyone wants to see? Of course, that being Mayweather against Manny Pacquiao. In a perfect world, Pacman against "Pretty Boy" Floyd would be the fight headlining the June card at Yankee Stadium, not Miguel Cotto against Yuri Foreman.

Is Jim Ross Done?

The contract Jim Ross has with the W.W.E. expires today. Ross has been very open about his situation. He has discussed on his blog his expiring contract, his disappointment in not working Wrestlemania 26 and a meeting he had with T.N.A. officials. Ross also wrote about the tension that exists between some of the current broadcasters on W.W.E. television, which was very evident this past Monday night on Raw.

Apparently Jerry Lawler has no use for Matt Striker and that definitely came across on television, and no it was not part of the script. I read an opinion that Ross is exactly what T.N.A. needs and I strongly disagree, Ross is exactly what the W.W.E. needs. I can’t imagine any sport allowing its best broadcaster to sit home. I don’t know what the W.W.E. has against the Oklahoman, but hopefully some kind of sanity will prevail and Ross will be back behind a W.W.E. microphone sooner rather than later.

The Who - Dogs

Since we are on the eve of the Kentucky Derby, here is a song called "Dogs" which is a 1968 single by The Who about greyhound racing (not horse racing, but whatever). The song mentions the greyhound, Yellow Printer, who according to this article is considered one of the fastest greyhounds ever. I'm surprised "Dogs" was not on The Who Sell Out album as it kind of fits the mode of that record. The lyrics are comedic and of course, the guitar, bass and drums are brilliant. I wish I had the capability of isolating John Entwistle's bass playing because when you turn this song up, you can really hear how different 'Wistle's playing is from any other bass guitarist.

Led Zeppelin - Tea For One

"Tea for One" is a rarely-if-ever played Led Zeppelin song off of their Presence album and the band's second boxed set. It's a good, soulful, bluesy song about homesickness. I thought about "Tea for One" the other day after I heard Q104.3's Carol Miller play "Baby Come on Home," which wasn't even released until Boxed Set 2 in 1993. Both are great songs!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

N.H.L. 2nd Round Picks

I had a rough time with my picks in the first round. All of the top three seeds in the Eastern Conference are on the golf course and Jacques Lemaire is now heading into retirement. But who would have expected that Washington would be out of the playoffs after one round? There are too many guys on that team that are not willing to pay the price in the playoffs and a power play that was putrid. Mike Green and Alex Semin did not register a point in the series when the Caps had the man advantage. I'll be interested to see if Washington makes any major changes this summer. Picks are below with the seeds in parentheses.

Western Conference
San Jose (1) over Detroit (5) in six games.
Chicago (2) beats Vancouver (3) in seven.

Eastern Conference
Pitt (4) over Montreal (8) in six.
Philly (7) beats Boston (6) in seven games.

Below are my first round picks with the actual results in parentheses.

Eastern Conference
(4) Pittsburgh over (5) Ottawa in six games. (Pitt in 6)
(3) Buffalo sweeps (6) Boston. (Boston in 6)
(2) New Jersey defeats (7) Philly in five games. (Philly in 5)
(1) Washington beats (8) Montreal in five. (Montreal in 7)

Western Conference
(3) Vancouver over (6) L.A. in five games. (Vancouver in 6)
(2) Chicago defeats (7) Nashville in four. (Chicago in 6)
(5) Detroit beats (4) Phoenix in six games. (Detroit in 7)
(8) Colorado wins against (1) San Jose in seven games. (San Jose in 6)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Who - Underture

Continuing on the subject of “Sparks/Underture” from my previous posts here and here, the above is a YouTube video with the studio version of “Underture” being played and accompanied by some pictures of The Who throughout their years together.

Although "Underture" is on the Tommy album, the music actually first showed up on the latter portion of “Rael 1,” which is off of The Who Sell Out; an incredibly sophisticated album which deserves multiple listens. Pete Townshend's art school background is on full display on Sell Out, so for some people that only know The Who through Who's Next, they may not initially "get" Sell Out.

When you listen to “Underture” it is quite clear that there’s a lot going on. I think it is definitely one of Pete's best and most complex compositions, however, it's probably also a song that people foolishly skip over when they listen to Tommy. I also think that it is one of those rare songs that every time I listen to it, I hear something new that I hadn't heard before.

The first part I love is around the one minute mark, which is where the heavy bass moves into some frenetically tight drumming – an oxymoron in most cases, but not when your drummer is Keith Moon. Basically, it sounds as though a machine gun is being fired, but there is not a hint of sloppiness to Moon's drumming, just ferocity. I can envision Moon going around and around on his massive drum kit and making sure he doesn’t leave one component of the kit untouched. His drumming is equally as fierce at the 2:33 and 7:33 marks.

The song slows down around 6:38 and seems to bide its time for about 30 seconds or so before hitting the climax and then fading.

I found a demo of "Underture" on YouTube (of course), which was released on Pete's demo collection, The Genuine Scoop. Here is a link to it; an amazingly rich sound; which, for me, only Pete Townshend could and can achieve. Not even an orchestra can match the genius that is Pete Townshend.

"Yes, the Who can help you find God. But then so can surviving a terrible plane crash." –Pete Townshend

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Thoughts on W.W.E. Extreme Rules, Raw, Draft

Extreme Rules
I thought the W.W.E. put on a very good pay-per-view this past Sunday night with Extreme Rules. I was happy with most of the results. I would have liked to have seen Batista beat John Cena, but apparently Batista is leaving, or is he? Last night on Raw, Batista won a triple threat match to become the number one contender to John Cena’s W.W.E. Championship. However, it was reported yesterday that Dave Batista was leaving W.W.E. to pursue acting. I can understand why Batista would leave considering the amount of injuries he has sustained the last few years, but right now his heel character is the strongest it has ever been.

The W.W.E. Draft/Raw
Monday Night Raw certainly got the upper hand last night. Edge, Chris Jericho, John Morrison and R-Truth are all headed to Raw and Edge quickly made his presence felt by spearing Randy Orton at the end of the triple threat match and essentially helping Batista win. Edge is going to bring a lot of energy to the show, which has been lacking since Shawn Michaels retired.

Finally the Hart Dynasty is getting their due. I’m interested to see if W.W.E. gives these guys a long reign as champs. It was around a year ago that E.C.W. had its strongest roster with Jack Swagger, the Harts and Evan Bourne. So now that we have Swagger and the Harts getting pushed, perhaps Bourne will get drafted to Smackdown during the supplemental draft today. A move to the blue brand would definitely help his career.

The Who - Sparks (1980)

I stumbled across this version of “Sparks” on YouTube which is from a show The Who did in Kansas City in 1980. That means that Kenney Jones was on the drums.

This version displays a bit more of the rawness that is a hallmark of the song, as opposed to "Sparks" in Buffalo which I discussed in my previous posting.

Just to set the record straight, “Sparks” is really an amalgam of “Underture” and “Sparks;” both off of the Tommy album. The build and climax of this song which is capped off by Pete’s "birdman" is right out of "Underture" and isn't in the studio version of "Sparks." But since these live versions always grow out of the end of "Amazing Journey," I suppose it is more user friendly to call them "Sparks." The track listings of any live album The Who ever did always lists the song as such.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Who - Sparks

One of the best parts of a Who concert is when the band plays a combination of "Underture/Sparks" from their Tommy album. I've listened to many different live versions of the song and I would rank them all good to great. Even a version from the 1989 tour in Glens Falls is really good, although some fans don't like it because it lacks a bit of the song's usual latent aggression.

The Who Live in Boston 2002 DVD finishes really strong with "Amazing Journey/Underture/ Sparks/See Me Feel Me" and then "Listening to You." That DVD's "Sparks" has become known as the "Iwo Jima Version" where Pete Townshend goes into a thing about Captain Walker hanging out with General MacArthur in Iwo Jima. In Tommy, Walker is reported missing and presumed dead. Eventually he shows up later on in the story.

Back to "Sparks." Some of the other performances of the song that I like are The Who at Georgetown in 1969 which is incredible and of course I can't discount the versions of "Sparks" at Woodstock (1969), Isle of Wight (1970) or Leeds (1970) which are all out of this world.

Recently, though, I came across the above video. Pete does something different from 2:23 to 2:30. He seems to be playing something that sounds very similar to the opening riff of U2's "Where The Streets Have No Name." By the way, that U2 song didn't come out until 1987.

Pete Townshend - Join The Air Force

Pete Townshend touts the positives for joining the air force in the above P.S.A.

Inside The Squared Circle: W.W.E. Fires Seven, Chris Jericho News, Jim Ross & Paul Heyman to T.N.A.?, Draft

The W.W.E. did their annual spring cleaning yesterday by firing seven wrestlers. Mickie James and Shelton Benjamin are the most notable, however, not all that surprising. The others wished well in their future endeavors are Mike Knox, Katie Lea Burchill, Jimmy Wang Yang, Slam Master J and Kung Fu Naki.

I always like Benjamin but he never really seemed to live up to his potential. Benjamin was a standout wrestler at the University of Minnesota and after college he chose pro wrestling instead of trying out for the Olympics. I have no doubt we will see him in T.N.A. where he will most likely reunite with Kurt Angle.

Mickie James is a big loss. She was one of the few women that had any athletic ability and she was enormously popular. But the way James' character has been scripted on t.v. the last few months, the end seemed inevitable.

At this point, the W.W.E. really should consider scrapping their women's division. They have only a couple of wrestlers capable of putting on a good match and for whatever reason they never give them a decent amount of time on t.v. James has a country CD coming out soon, so maybe she'll focus on making music for a while.

Chris Jericho is co-hosting the Revolver Music Awards Show which will air on May 22. Click here to see a pretty cool promotional poster. He also will be performing in New York City at B.B. Kings with his band Fozzy on Wednesday.

Reportedly, Jim Ross will be free of the W.W.E. on May 1. So will we see him join T.N.A.? The W.W.E. has told Ross he won't be broadcasting for them, but he could do some backstage stuff if he signs a new deal with the company. Ross is one of the best broadcasters ever in wrestling and is also very good at football, having done the Atlanta Falcons, some Oklahoma games and yes he did work for the X.F.L. Ross absolutely should be behind a mic somewhere. If T.N.A. signed Ross, I'd pay attention.

The one man that can make T.N.A. look eyeball to eyeball with W.W.E. is Paul Heyman. He created E.C.W., which operated out of a bingo hall in Philly, and made it into one of the best and most influential promotions in the history of wrestling. Unfortunately, it never had the shekels to really survive. But with the Carters financial backing, Heyman could do wonders for T.N.A. and then we would really have a Monday Night Wars II.

The W.W.E. Draft takes place this Monday night. I'm expecting some big names to switch brands such as Punk to Raw, Randy Orton to Smackdown and maybe The Undertaker to Raw.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

NHL Playoff Predictions

The NHL playoffs kick off tonight. Here are the matchups with seeding in parentheses and how I see the first round going:

Eastern Conference
(4) Pittsburgh over (5) Ottawa in six games.
(3) Buffalo sweeps (6) Boston.
(2) New Jersey defeats (7) Philly in five games.
(1) Washington beats (8) Montreal in five.

Western Conference
(3) Vancouver over (6) L.A. in five games
(2) Chicago defeats (7) Nashville in four.
(5) Detroit beats (4) Phoenix in six games.
(8) Colorado wins against (1) San Jose in seven games.

The Who - My Wife

Continuing off of my last post....

Pete Townshend wrote the overwhelming majority of Who songs. In fact, he not only wrote the lyrics, but he wrote drums for Keith Moon, guitar for himself and bass for John Entwistle. Pete would make a demo of a song and then bring it to the band. The Who would either give it a thumbs up or a thumbs down. This is much different than what The Who's contemporaries would do. Most bands generally featured at least two principal songwriters; i.e. Lennon/McCartney or Jagger/Richards. John Entwistle, though, did contribute some very good songs for The Who. One of which is "My Wife." I found this video on YouTube of the song being performed by the band in Cleveland in 1975 with "The Ox" on lead vocals. Funny enough, none of the songs John wrote are sung by any of the other band members. Also, here is a sample of some of the classic lyrics from "My Wife" below.

My life's in jeopardy
Murdered in cold blood is what I'm gonna be
I ain't been home since Friday night
And now my wife is coming after me

Give me police protection
Gonna buy a gun so
I can look after number one
Give me a bodyguard
A black belt Judo expert with a machine gun

Pete Townshend - Begin The Beguine

The range of what Pete Townshend can sing and make his own has never surprised me. From Another Scoop he sings "Begin the Beguine," which had previously been reserved for the likes of Frank Sinatra and Fred Astaire. Pete is a great singer and has many weapons in his arsenal; he can sing melodically as he does here and also does on "Sunrise" or he can go for the more somber, reflective style as he does with "However Much I Booze." Townshend, though, didn't sing lead very often in The Who as he had his kind-of-sort-of buddy Roger Daltrey doing the honors.

Pete Townshend - Behind Blue Eyes

Pete Townshend discussed "Behind Blue Eyes" in the above video and what the song is about and how it's meaning has evolved for him over time. When the band recorded the song originally in 1971 for Who's Next, Roger Daltrey said his dog had died that morning so for him the song took on a very distinct meaning.

Odds & Sods

For me, when a head of state dies so tragically it's a pretty big deal. Yet, the death of Lech Kaczynski in the plane crash which killed the Polish President and 95 others, as well as the entire crew, doesn't seem to be getting as much attention as say a certain lowlife golfer.

Nice priorities.

The Rangers are finished. Talk has naturally turned to people wanting head coach John Tortorella to take the fall. For me, that’s too easy. Unless the Blueshirts get rid of GM Glen Sather, nothing will change.

Looks like Donald Fehr is the lead horse to become head of the NHL Players Association. Can you say work stoppage?

It was recently revealed that former junior hockey coach, Graham James, was secretly pardoned in Canada in 2007. James fled to Europe after being released from a three and a half year prison sentence for molesting kids while he was a coach. Shockingly he is now coaching youth hockey in Europe. Sheldon Kennedy is pretty upset about the pardon, as is Theo Fleury, both former NHL players that were abused by James. Kennedy and Fleury have had well-documented battles with drugs, alcohol and depression.

The Knicks season ends tonight in Toronto and now all the talk will be about July 1 and can New York land free agent LeBron James. But get ready for some serious damage control if the Knicks can’t land James. Right or wrong, for many fans the summer of 2010 is LeBron or bust.

HBO is back with another edition of 24/7 and this time it is about Floyd Mayweather and “Sugar” Shane Mosley as they gear up for their May 1 fight in Las Vegas. In all due respect to Mosley, I think he is going to get smoked like a sausage.

Brock Lesnar will make his return to the cage to fight Shane Carwin; that is a definite. The 'when' is the real question. In all likelihood it will take place this July.

Former pro wrestler Chris Kanyon died at the beginning of this month. It is suspected that Kanyon, 40, took his own life. Phil Mushnick wrote on Sunday that Kanyon successfully sued the W.W.E. for depriving them of health care and other workers’ benefits. I vaguely remembered this case and so I did a Google search. One of the first hits was “Wrestling Lawsuit Dismissed.” I emailed Phil and told him that the case was dismissed and provided a link to the story. I never heard back from him, but I just checked the article and it has been changed to ‘Kanyon once unsuccessfully….’

Catch my buddy Doug DeBeech in "The Perfect Game" which opens this Friday in theaters.

Hitting the Road
Roger Daltrey has some more solo shows coming up as does Eric Clapton; Paul McCartney is touring; Heart will hit the road this summer; Rush will be performing this fall; and Roger Waters is going to be touring The Wall in celebration of its 30th anniversary.

From YouTube
Someone brilliantly mixed Jimi Hendrix singing "All Along the Watchtower" and Jay-Z's "99 Problems." The link is here.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Shout - Pete Townshend

Many Who fans have been asking what is next for The Two after last month's performance of Quadrophenia at the Albert Hall. Roger Daltrey has some solo dates coming up and Pete is hard at work on a musical. Still, nothing has been said about a future tour. For me, although I would love to see them again live, I also wish Pete would release some more stuff from his archives. For example, the great 1975 concert in Houston which is on YouTube.

That may be a pipe dream so I will gladly accept another Scoop-style album, which were a series of albums that Townshend put out which were made up of demos that for one reason or another did not make it onto Who albums. “The Shout” is from Another Scoop and is one of those highly emotive songs that is a Townshend trademark. I think it would have fit in pretty well on The Who's By Numbers album or Townshend's solo album, Empty Glass.

Jeff Hardy Burned

Jeff Hardy took a huge fireball to the face from Beer Money's Jame Storm last night. T.N.A. censored the footage because it was too graphic for t.v. but the above video shows it all. Jeff's girlfriend wrote on her Twitter that Hardy was burned badly and that he was singed near his eye, forehead and lips. Is this all part of the story? Who knows. The video looks pretty bad, though. Hopefully, Hardy is OK.

Inside The Squared Circle

There’s plenty going on these days…

Jack Swagger is the new World Champion and has been booked in a very strange way. Swagger has not come off as being a strong champ, in many ways it reminds me of how CM Punk’s first run as champion went. I’m interested to see if they really build Swagger up over time or if he drops the title pretty quickly. Swagger has enormous natural talent and is a favorite of mine. I would hate to see W.W.E. waste his potential.

Smackdown will be moving to Sy-Fy this October and it is rumored that at that time, NXT will become a part of history.

Carlito stated last night on Raw that if he is not drafted to Smackdown he will quit. Carlito has always been rumored to be a malcontent, but it would be a shame if he left unless if he went someplace worthwhile and I don’t consider T.N.A. to be that place. If he does leave he’ll probably go wrestle in Puerto Rico. I thought the W.W.E. made a mistake by breaking up Carlito and Primo as neither has really done much since then.

Ezekiel Jackson will be out for 3-6 months with a torn quadricep (thigh) muscle.

Brock Lesnar recently said in an interview with ESPN that he would be open to guest hosting Monday Night Raw. Lesnar is the type of guy that W.W.E. should be targeting for that role; former stars that have a clue about the business and can speak on the microphone. There's a big difference between reciting lines in a movie or a t.v. show and doing it in the forum of pro wrestling and that's why so many guys have failed at being the guest host.

For me, however, I would be very happy if they scrapped the whole thing altogether.

Night School - Pete Townshend

Recently I came across White City on YouTube. White City: A Novel was a solo concept album released by Pete Townshend in 1985 and is somewhat autobiographical. The basic premise of the story is about someone that becomes successful and returns back to the city they grew up in and found it to be run-down and filled with racial tension. I vividly remember buying this CD, however, I never got to see the one-hour film until just recently. The album featured David Gilmour, Pino Palladino, Simon Phillips, Mark Brzezicki, John "Rabbit" Bundrick and the man, myth and legend, Chucho Merchan. Pete’s daughter Emma also provided backing vocals for “Night School.” The above video is a much different version than what appeared on the album.

Sons of Albion

Thanks to NY DJ Carol Miller – still getting the Led out after all of these years – I was introduced to Sons of Albion, fronted by Robert Plant’s son, Logan. “Just Like You” is pretty good and made me want to hear more, which can be found on YouTube, naturally. Logan has a lot of his father in him and also some Eddie Vedder.

Getting Ready for Halftime

This is a pretty cool video of the crew setting up for The Who's Super Bowl halftime show. Approximately 600 people set everything up and then broke it all down. Amazing how they are able to put this type of stuff together and got it all done without any sort of serious panic.