Pete’s Top 10 in Music – 2013

One of my new year’s resolutions for 2014 will be to spend more time banging out some thoughts on this blog (which will turn 10 in December). It mystifies me how fast time flies between my posts here (and time in general).  I want to come here more often and blurt out my reactions to all the good tunes swirling around out there. So what holds me back? It’s things like growing older, deepening responsibilities, two children growing up, work, stress, obligations, laziness, Netflix, bourbon…

Still, it’s important for me to continue to have this outlet. Although attention spans on the internet are fleeting and fragmented, and not many eyes gaze upon this site anymore, I still like having my own little virtual nook. So continue on I shall, and hopefully more frequently.

So what of my musical interests in 2013? As usual, not so much time was spent jumping voraciously into newly released material (although there are a few that rattled my core). I still love jumping back in time (often with the help of Rdio and Spotify) to discover and re-discover the myriad tunes I’ve missed and/or neglected all these years.  It’s overwhelming, but it sure is exciting to know that so much music exists with the potential to have that profound impact that makes it so special.

So here’s my top 10 in music this year. These are the albums, songs, shows and moments that moved me in 2013…

10. [Album] Billie Joe + Norah – ‘Foreverly


This album came out in November and absolutely floored me. I had no expectations, and frankly wasn’t even aware of it until the week it came out. I took a listen, and I was hooked a minute into the album opener, “Roving Gambler.” The voices of Billie Joe Armstrong (of Green Day fame) and Norah Jones mesh perfectly in this sublime song for song cover of the Everly Brothers’ 1958 album Songs Our Daddy Taught Us. The whole album soothes my laid back, old folkie soul.

9. [Song] Kings of Leon – “Temple

Saturday Night Live still has some great moments. Besides the regular appearances of my favorite cast members Cecily Strong, Kate McKinnon, and Taran Killam, the music guests can deliver and surprise. I enjoyed Haim this year, and I really enjoyed the Kings of Leon appearance, particularly “Temple,” the best straight ahead rock tune I’ve heard all year.
Here is KoL’s performance of the song from Live on Letterman:

8. [Song] Alice Smith – “Loyalty

Deep. Stunning. What a flawless voice. This slow burning, soulful track from Alice’s album, She, was an early year highlight. I saw her open for Citizen Cope several years back, and here’s hoping she makes it back to AZ soon, ’cause Alice, I Want You Just For Me.

7. [Song] Guy Clark – “My Favorite Picture Of You

Photo credit:
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Want your heart ripped right out of your chest, tossed around like a hot potato, and shoved back in? In a good way? Then this tune is for you. This is Guy’s tribute to his late wife, Susanna, who passed away in 2012. Here’s an intimate intro and performance from Guy’s home:

6. [Show] Steve Earle & the Dukes – Scottsdale Center of the Performing Arts – October 14th


It had been 10 plus years since I last saw Steve perform with his band the Dukes. This year’s incarnation included long time members Kelly Looney on bass and Will Rigby on drums, and husband and wife-duo the Mastersons (Chris Masterson and Eleanor Whitmore) on guitars, violin and background vocals. Seeing them in the hoity-toity confines of Scottsdale among the older set (okay, blue hairs) was entertaining in and of itself, but the main event was clear as could be: the bad-ass Steve Earle front and center, ripping through songs new and old, including his great new record The Low Highway. Highlights for me came from my favorite Steve album, I Feel Alright, with rip-roaring performances of “Hard Core Troubadour” and “Billy & Bonnie.”

5. [Album] John Grant – ‘Pale Green Ghosts


Thanks to Later with Jools Holland, a British music show which started airing stateside this year on the Palladia HD channel, I was introduced to the talented John Grant. ‘Pale Green Ghosts’ is electronic, melodic, grandiose, and beautiful. One of its best songs, “GMF,” will have you singing along loud & proud: “I am the greatest motherfuckerrr that you’re ever gonna meet / from the top of my head down to the tips of the toes on my feeet.” I’m telling you.

4. [Show] Prince & 3rd Eye Girl – Marquee Theater, Tempe, AZ – May 1st

It was a really long drought for me between Prince shows. I hadn’t seen him since his One Night Alone tour in 2002, when he was touring behind The Rainbow Children album. This time, it was Prince (full on ‘fro in effect) and his new all-female backing trio 3rd Eye Girl, in the intimate setting of the 1000-capacity Marquee Theater in Tempe. I wasn’t further than 50 feet from him, and as you could guess, the experience was unforgettable. There were the impressive new cuts like “Screwdriver” and “Fixurlifeup,” but the true magic for me came with tunes like “Forever In My Life” (with P on bass), “Joy In Repetition” (with Larry Graham on bass), and “Purple Rain” performed at the piano. Ain’t no party like a purple party.

3. [Album] Phosphorescent – ‘Muchacho


Matthew Houck released a hell of an album this year with ‘Muchacho.’ Its lead single, “Song for Zula” was a gorgeous introduction, an honest look at love and the frailty of the human condition. The album is rich with poignant, beautiful moments. Take for instance one of my favorites, “Down to Go”:

You say, Oh, you’ll spin your heartache into gold
And I suppose but it rips my heart out don’t you know
But if I’m waking each morning babe
All aching and ornery babe
All vacant and thorny, hey I’m down to go

Seeing Matthew and his band sing these songs live back in October at their Crescent Ballroom show – magnified the beauty and brilliance of this album, and showed how great music lives and breathes.

2. [Show] The Who – Arena, Glendale, AZ – February 6th


This may go down as the best last minute decision I’ve ever made. I had just wrapped up Pete Townshend’s great autobiography Who I Am early in the year, and was fully immersed in The Who and Pete’s solo work. It turned out that The Who were stopping through Phoenix in February, performing Quadrophenia in its entirety, followed by a greatest hits set. They are definitely  a Bucket List-caliber band to me, so I recruited a friend and got a couple of tickets. I’m so glad I made that decision. Watching Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey live (yes, even in 2013) is a must for any fan of rock & roll. Seeing them blast through hits like “Baba O’Riley,” “Who Are You,” “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” and the full epic performance of Pete’s rock opera, Quadrophenia, was a once in a lifetime thrill. I soaked it all in, and walked out with a Who-induced buzz that lasted weeks. Fantastic show.

1. [Artist] Neil Young

neil young2501

I’ll finish with Neil.

Once again, a book was the catalyst in inspiring me to jump into a catalog of work. I found Neil’s bio, Waging Heavy Peace,  a very entertaining read. It jumps from past to present and back, and you just never know what topic he’ll cover from chapter to chapter – whether it’s his Buffalo Springfield days in the 60’s, his adventures in Topanga Canyon in the 70’s, his passions in this century of developing a superior quality audio file or his alternate-fueled LincVolt car project… he’s all over the place (sort of how my brain behaves most of the time), and that appealed to me in the book.  So to accompany the book, I jumped head first into Neil’s catalog later this year – his vast collection of solo albums (wow, still a long way to go), the Springfield stuff, his Crazy Horse records, etc. Now, I’ve always loved Neil’s stuff – the stuff I’ve been familiar with over the years, that is. Albums like Harvest, Harvest Moon, and Rust Never Sleeps.  But for some reason, I hadn’t tracked down other gems – the biggest miss being his second album, 1969’s Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. Yes, I know “Cinnamon Girl” and “Down By The River,” but damned if I didn’t discover that I had never – not once – listened to this 44 year old record in my entire 43 years on this planet! Over the past couple months, as I’ve listened repeatedly to masterpieces like “The Losing End (When You’re On)” and “Cowgirl in the Sand” – and I realize that this record would have been right up there with some of my landmark “life” albums (like ‘Sticky Fingers,’ ‘Hard Promises,’ and ‘Purple Rain’)… well, I feel like a dope.

But such is life. Better late than never. And speaking of Bucket Lists – Neil Young, you are right up there near the top. Cheers to a legend.

I wish you all a very Happy New Year.

The Friday Five: July 15, 2011

Friday Five

Friday Five : ‘frī-(,)dā,-dē ‘fīv : On the sixth day of every week, I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes, then share the first five tracks and thought for each track. Sometimes there is a playlist involved, occasionally we’ll have a guest, but most of the time it’s just me. The rest is up to you, our friends and readers! Fire up your media player of choice and share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments.

The Five:

“Behind the Wheel (Vince Clark remix)” by Depeche Mode (from Remixes 2: 81-11, 2011)

Both Vince Clarke and Alan Wilder make appearances on this second remix collection from Depeche Mode.

“Kept” by Matt Nathanson (from Modern Love, 2011)

I first discovered Matt Nathanson through his appearance on Live From Daryl’s House; and no sooner completely forgot about him. Save for his big hit “Come on Get Higher,” I’d be hard pressed to name another song. His new record, however, is quite good.

“Baba O’Riley” by Pearl Jam (from Live at the Gorge 05/06, 2007)

This is probably my favorite Pearl Jam cover. I remember buying a bootleg import back in the early ’90s that closed with an insanely raw version of the tune.

“Colonized Mind” by Prince (from Lotus Flow3r, 2009)

ZZzz …

“Michelle (1965 stereo mix)” by The Beatles (from Rubber Soul, 2009)

Let me take this space to express my extreme jealousy of those of you getting to see Macca at Yankee Stadium this weekend.

What’s on your shuffle today?

Super Bowl Sunday 2010 – Geaux Saints, Who Are You, hey it’s the theme song from CSI!

Happy Super Bowl Sunday everyone! I’ve donned my Cafe du Monde t-shirt and am ready to cheer on the New Orleans Saints later this afternoon. I’ll be thrilled if they win, but something tells me Peyton and the his Colts are going to come out on top. I hope I’m wrong.

Of course, I’ll be paying close attention to the halftime entertainment, which this year comes in the form of The Who. Original members Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey are joined by drummer (and Ringo’s son) Zak Starkey and bass player Pino Palladino. The spectacle and scale of Super Bowl Halftime is always interesting – and having some of my musical heroes involved the past few years – Bruce, Prince, Petty – has made it even more surreal. This year, a generation of younger people will collectively say: “Dude! These guys are doing the song from CSI!!”

You won’t be hearing “Eminence Front” today, but I have to say – it’s my favorite Who song. Enjoy yourselves today, don’t drink too much, yada yada yada…

Go Saints!

The Friday Five: October 2, 2009

Friday Five : ˈfrī-(ˌ)dā,-dē ˈfīv : On the sixth day of every week I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes and share my five and drop a little knowledge and insight for each track. Sometimes there is a playlist involved, sometimes there isn’t. Sometimes we have guest, but most of the time it’s just me. The rest is up to you, our friends and readers! Fire up your media player of choice and share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments.

The Five:

The Who – “You Better You Bet” (mp3) (from Then and Now (1964-2004), 2007)

While I accept that saying that “You Better You Bet” – originally from The Who’s 1981 album, Face Dances – is my favorite song in the legendary band’s catalog is probably some form of blasphemy, I’m going to say it anyhow. It could be due to the fact that it was an FM radio staple during my formative years. I could be its infectious sing-along quality. Whatever it is, for me, it’s the tops.

Dead Can Dance – “The Carnival Is Over” (from Into the Labyrinth, 1993)

The ethnic fusion of duo of Brendan Perry and vocalist Lisa Gerrard has appeared on the Friday Five a few times over the past (nearly) two years. This track is quite possibly the best representation of the group. Soft beds of strings with contrasting medieval counter-melodies contrast against Perry’s powerful baritone.

Paramore – “Playing God” (from brand new eyes, 2009)

ANGST! The latest from the emo-pop power group Paramore serves up more pent up teenage rage than a sale at Hot Topic and contains some signs of growth and decent songs. Though it is a little difficult to take it seriously when it includes lyrics the like of which are to be had here:

You don’t have to believe me
But the way I, way I see it
Next time you point a finger
I might have to bend it back
Or break it, break it off
Next time you point a finger… I’ll point you to the mirror


John Coltrane – “Cousin Mary” (from Giant Steps, 1959)

A master class in improvisation, the entirety of Coltrane’s seminal Giant Steps should be required listening for everyone.

Ambrosia – “You’re The Only Woman” (mp3) (from Anthology, 1997)

Here’s something to consider “You’re The Only Woman” is Ambrosia’s least successful single. Make no mistake, you know this song and it’s quite likely that you like it. For those of us with an unhealthy addiction to the Mellow Gold this is a worthy addition to your collection (but more than likely you have it already.)

Now that’s a fine five, what’s yours look like?

The Who at Kilburn DVD – A Giveaway

Psst… I’m looking to unload a sweet 2-DVD SET: ‘The Who at Kilburn 1977′. Some nice folks sent it to me a few months ago, and if they don’t see a giveaway soon, the goons are gonna show up at my door and shove toothpicks under my fingernails or waterboard me in my kitchen sink.

To be eligible to win, you gotta live here in the U.S.A, and you have to leave either of the following in the Comments….

A Limerick:

There once was a blogger named Ick
Who fancied a good limerick
So please pause yer drinking
And do get to thinking
The one with wit should do the trick.



Townshend and Daltrey
Went to a local bath house
And ate shepherd’s pie

You see? It doesn’t have to make sense. Multiple entries allowed too. F it.
I’ll pick a winner from the entries in about a week.

I call that a bargain, the best you ever had, don’t you? The trailer and more details about the DVD after the jump…

Check it out on Amazon here.