Ming Tea (The Rolling Stones, ON AIR review)

How does that old song go? The road is long, with many a winding turn, that leads us to who knows where, who knows where. A common theme in rock music, but one that only the worthy get to call their own. Luckily for us, this week’s review zeroes on one of those legends.

 

 

The Rolling Stones – ON AIR

released December 1, 2017
******** 8/10

I’m going to do my best to sum up who The Rolling Stones are without doing them a great injustice… formed in London, England in 1962, the original lineup was Brian Jones on guitar and harmonica, Mick Jagger on lead vocals, Keith Richards as guitar and backup vocals, Bill Wyman bass, drummer Charlie Watts, and Ian Stewart tickling the ivories. Over the years, the lineup changed to accommodate tours, and bandmate lives, but Mick, Keith, and Charlie all stayed true to the group. With thirty albums under their collective belt, these gents have maintained their sound and still managed to be relevant by playing blues-laden rock tracks.

One of the key events of the 1960s was the British Invasion of popular bands into the American lexicon of rock and roll. ON AIR is a compilation album which samples from some of their best work captured at the BBC between 1963-65, though it doesn’t represent their best work by any means, rather a band on the long road to success. And I’m not talking about the albums Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers or Exile on Main St either – this album has been somewhat repurposed from the initial recordings on the radio shows featured in the liner notes.

Saturday Club, Yeah Yeah, Blues in Rhythm, The Joe Loss Pop Show, Top Gear, and Rhythm & Blues all intended to showcase The Rolling Stones raw and unedited. Luckliy for us, someone was on hand recording these performances and capturing the development of a group of talented musicians.

It’s a lot of fun to hear Roll Over Beethoven, (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, and Route 66 without the polish of mixing board and sound engineering crew. But unfortunately, it’s not sequential at all. The most popular songs feature first, and so towards the end of each disc, you may have drifted off without even realizing The Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World are still playing.

And that’s sad, because you’d miss a drawn out version of 2120 South Michigan Avenue and a sweet rendition of what would be become their true sound. I also particularly enjoyed the covers of I Just Wanna Make Love To You and I Wanna Be Your Man because they demonstrate the music heritage the songs are being pulled from, but in a particularly respectful and innovative way.

Pros: Who doesn’t love to go nostalgia diving every once in a while? Putting on the shoes of giants humanizes them, and by releasing this compilation album so closely to their newest “studio album” Blue and Lonesome, we all get a chance to swoon to Hi Heel Sneakers.

Cons: Again, don’t expect major breakthroughs in sound here. There are hints of greatness, but a lot of material covering the past too.

Runtime: 1 hour 23 minutes

Points of Interest: There are eight previously unreleased tracks on this album, but it’ll be difficult to pick them out, given that The Stones haven’t disclosed that information to us. This album features Brian Jones front and centre, before he made the move to dealing with administrative duties.

Few bands have had such a great impact as The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and The Rolling Stones, and only the later still exist to give us new records and tastes from the paste. That an album like ON AIR has been released is great evidence for the wisdom of experience and the power held within discipline. This band would go on to create some of the most fantastic rock and roll tracks, but their love for blues and technical skill is apparent throughout this record.

theories Summarized

I hope it’s obvious by now that you should pick up a copy of this record for yourself. Whether you are a long-time Stones fan or merely a lover of history, ON AIR will both round out your music collection and teach you something about quality musicianship. It’s just a little theory I have.

Tim!

timotheories 30 (Adele, 25 review)

I bought the third studio album by English singer/songwriter Adele at 30 years old. This post is titled as such because it is a reflection of the time of my life and frame of mind I was in when I wrote this post.

The post contains content which features some of my humour and musings, my thoughts on Adele and her record, and the occasional pop culture reference.

So I guess I’ll start of by saying “hello, can you hear me?” No? Can you hear me now?

heres-what-the-can-you-hear-me-now-guy-is-doing-today

 

 

 

Adele – 25
released November 20, 2015
********** 10/10

adele-25-cover

After she released her second studio album 21, Adele took something of a break from music. That break ended up being five years long. This is because while Adele had initially planned on using the hiatus to spend time with her son, when she did get back to work she wasn’t happy with the studio sessions and rescheduled several times before she finally found the material she needed to make something she was proud of. This happened in 2013, so it follows, that as per Adele’s previous two efforts, the album is dubbed 25. The content is thematic.

The album is incredibly focused, which is something we’ve come to expect from the singer at this point. She has become the queen of melancholy, and owns it rather vigorously.

The themes presented in the album can’t be said any better than by Adele herself.

My last record was a breakup record, and if I had to label this one I’d call it a make-up record. I’m making up with myself. Making up for lost time. Making up for everything I ever did and never did. But I haven’t got time to hold on to the crumbs of my past like I used to. What’s done is done. Turning 25 was a turning point for me, slap-bang in the middle of my 20s. Teetering on the edge of being an old adolescent and a fully fledged adult, I made the decision to go into becoming who I’m going to be forever without a removal van full of my old junk.

I read that statement and knew exactly what she meant. Having gone through my mid-twenties already and on the cusp of a new decade of life, not wanting to regret anything, but wise enough, humbled and  imbued with experience from my 20s, her heartache resonates with me on a very personal level.

I read a review on vox.com before sitting down to write this one, and in it, the author said that “By the time I finished listening to 25, Adele’s first new album in almost five years, I’d completely forgotten that I’d been listening to it.” I originally thought she was going to pull the old bait and switch and demonstrate that Adele’s theme is so therapeutic, you forget about it afterwards, which would have been clever.

I disagree and believe that Adele WAS being clever.

The album showcases that she is more mature and aware of the passage of time, with literally every song providing commentary of some sort. If you want a record to inspire you to make art about the concept of time, then this is great source material.

The painful clarity behind a breakup as it happens is powerful in All I Ask, and the somber thoughts of youth characterize Million Years Ago so well. Hello is the first single, and a reminder that just because you’ve ended a bad relationship, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t anguish and guilt that can follow.

I Miss You is a beautifully arranged tune that highlights the ache of being in love and how your heart can be afflicted with fear of separation even while in the same room. Listening to tracks like River Lea and When We Were Young remind me of how complicated emotions are and the challenges associated with perception.

Adele has a powerful and nuanced command of her voice and no matter what your favourite track, you will enjoy this one. I just hope the next record is called 30 and is released within 3 years.

 

 

 

I’m thankful to hear that Adele has joined the ranks of Neil Diamond, The Doors, Louis Armstrong, The Beatles, Oasis, Lionel Ritchie, Simon and Garfunkel and countless others with her take on greeting the world.

I hope you enjoyed today’s review my friends. See you tomorrow with a movie review about family.

Tim!

You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello (Aloha review)

Okay readers, I have a confession to make. I don’t want to like The Beatles.

Like at all.

“The Beatles? How can you not like The Beatles?!?!” That’s probably what you’re thinking.

I don’t know, I generally just do not care for their music. It probably stems from some traumatic experience I had as a child with a beetle. Yes, there a lot of fans out there which kind of weigh heavily against my one little opinion, and their lyrics are pertinent in so many instances, almost perfectly pairing with topics and it seems like everything else and everyone else is constantly referencing them too.

But we can theorize about The Beatles cultural significance some other time.

So I guess timotheories has to find a way to like this band, or at the very least, be inclusive of them. So I can make a point.  Not unlike some certain imaginary characters that I just met for the first time recently.

Come on Tim, what are you getting at now?

Well folks, I’m going to take it to the next level, yet again. Yesterday I talked about introducing reviews into my regimen, and this is another piece of the puzzle. That’s right, timotheories is going to begin its regular review of movies that I am watching as they are released – whether its in the cinema or for the home, and fingers crossed, on a weekly basis.

Conveniently for you, that Beatles reference and the blog post name will now make sense – I’m going to start with the movie Aloha.

I’m still playing around with how to format these reviews but it goes a little something like this.

Aloha (2015)
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Rachel McAdams, Emma Stone, Bill Murray, John Krasinski, Danny McBride, Alec Baldwin
Director: Cameron Crowe
released on blu-ray August 25, 2015
**** 4/10

aloha-poster

Synopsis: A celebrated military contractor returns to the site of his greatest career triumphs and reconnects with a long-ago love while unexpectedly falling for the hard-charging Air Force watch-dog assigned to him.

IMDB: 5.5
Rotten Tomatoes: 19%, Audience Score 31%
The Guardian: **/*****

Cameron Crowe is known for a few really solid movies over the period of a decade. Unfortunately that decade has come and gone – it was between 1989-2000. T

hat doesn’t mean his pass at Hawaii is irrelevant.

With a star filled cast, its hard not to at least enjoy the characters in Aloha. But my biggest challenges with the movie were the connections that were never properly made between characters. It’s equivalent to that old adage of ships passing in the night. Every character has the potential to pull us in, but the interactions are sterile.

The move takes place in Hawaii. After a bit of backstory is built for Brian Gilcrest (Bradley Cooper), in which he describes how he underwent some work challenges after the recession of 2008 and moved from the military into contract work, we are immediately introduced to John ‘Woody’ Woodside (John Krasinski), who is flying Brian in for a gate ceremony on the island of Hawaii. When the plane lands, we learn that Brian’s ex-girlfriend Tracy (Rachel McAdams) is there and central to island funerals. It also turns out that she is Woody’s wife.

Great, the stage seems to be set for a love triangle and some heated words between Brian and Woody!

Then we are introduced to Allison Ng (Emma Stone), a resident of the island who happens to work for the Air Force, is subordinate to Colonel ‘Fingers’ Lacy (Danny McBride) and General Dixon (Alec Baldwin), and tasked with watching Brian.

Even better – conflict from his old job, with hilarious authority figures, and an opposites attract scenario.

Lastly, we learn that the man whom Brian works for is Carson Welch (Bill Murray) and he is giving Brian this opportunity to save himself from previous disaster.

Bill Murray, people. How can you not be excited for this?

Sadly, as I mentioned, none of these relationships really stretch and grow in the ways that I was hoping they would. Granted, there are some funny jokes here and there, but nothing especially lasting or quotable.

My favourite parts are probably the interactions between Cooper and Krasinski. Without giving too much away, I will tell you that Krasinski’s character doesn’t speak much, and with some clever use of subtitles, we get a laugh out of it.

And there are a couple of other great details that shouldn’t be ignored either. For instance, we don’t see a dissolve of the established marriage in the film, as per typical Hollywood demands, which is a very nice change of pace, and a bit of a spoiler (my apologies). Also the reason why Brian has been contracted by Carson Welch isn’t very clear up until the end of the movie, but it raises an interesting point about the future of warfare, sadly without ever REALLY saying anything about it.

I really didn’t care for the lack of direction regarding the Hawaiian lore elements either. It just seemed thrown in there, and it would have been nice had the lore been made more mystical and relevant from the get go. Instead we are treated to factoids and opinion instead of something “happening” to convince us of the supernatural. Also, the Hawaiian indigenous people are a nice touch, but why don’t they play a more prominent role?

Running at 105 minutes, the movie feels too long for what we get, but if it were even 15 minutes longer, with more story, it might be a significantly better experience. I won’t recommend this for the average movie goer, but if you are a cine-file, you might benefit from some of the concepts and themes the film explores, knowing that it will come up short.

And there you have it! My first movie review. I hope you enjoyed my post. I look forward to hearing your feedback. Leave some comments and questions. Next week should be an age old tale… Curious?

Out of theories for now, check back soon!

Tim!