Archive for November, 2010

20
Nov
10

And the free Phish just don’t stop….

Yes, I’m on a bit of  Phish tear here at HiFi Central this past week (god, it’s become far too addictive than I realized) and I’ve really spent too many hours catching up with this band and the music they have created. 

I’m not sure what the reason was for my disdian for the band and it’s music, clearly more ignorance rather than solid reasoning.  For years I assumed they were simply a wanna-be-Greatful Dead covery act thing, but after learning (and listening) to a combination of albums and live shows, I’m incredible hooked and impressed.

I informed readers yesterday about a great website called Crunchy Phish Nuggets and the generous collection of shows available for legit download on his site; the response from readers has been very appreciated.  Well, here’s another and one surely not to dissapoint the Phish fan or newbie to the Phish world.  The website is LivePhish.com and it appears to be far more official than Crunchy Phish Nuggets (although, no more impressive, Crunchy Phish Nuggets is well worth the click, trust me!)

It would appear that LivePhish.com offers a larger assortment of live shows and perhaps better quality as well.  There are past shows for sale, including the recent Halloween show; however, there is a nice FREE album download called Phish: Live Bait Vol.2 that is well worth the taking if you do not have it already.  The download was very easy and straight forward; simply create an account in about 3 minutes and viola!

The tracks are from shows in Berkely, CA, Alpine Valley, WI, and Wantaugh, NY, and Noblesville, IN this past August; the sound quality is right on and crystal clear for the most part.

Check out this great website if you do not know about it already and happy downloading.

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19
Nov
10

Crunchy Phish Nuggets – Tasty indeed!

With the recent launch of HiFi Radio we have received several inquiries about the live Phish materials available on the player.  Well, to be quite honest, we are at the mercy of what Playlist.com has available to chose from and so, we really know about as much as you do when and where the shows were recorded.

One of the highlights is the live version of “Gotta Jiboo”; it is one of my personal favorite live versions and I was at a loss of when and where this was recorded.  I did concede to my fellow HiFi reviewer Ericstraus but he provided a moment of clarity by responded “dude, it could be from anywhere!  Do you know how many versions of that song live exist…there are some diehards who may know, but not me that’s for sure”. 

I was bummed and troubled, however, I was determined to find out.  A cool thing about Playlist.com and the music they offer you to build your personal player with also provides a link to where the song was uploaded from; many times it appears to be blogs that once offered the song for free download and then took them off for one reason or another.

Luckily, the version of “Gotta Jiboo” was uploaded by a very cool Phish fan who has a rather cool website where he has made many recordings available, including the live version of “Gotta Jiboo” that we feature on our player…thank god!  The website can be accessed by clicking here and besides Phish, if you are a Phil Lesh fan you are in luck since it appears there is also Lesh material for the taking.  It’s all legit and on the up and up, so I do not think some record label will slap you with a summons to pay $1,000,000 for 3 songs.  These are all live recordings of shows and free for the taking, very, very cool indeed!

Sadly, versions of “Suzi Greenberg” and “Boogie On Reggae Woman” take you to websites where the songs appear to be no longer offered for downloading, pity.  If you know when and where these versions are from please pass the information along.  Of course we would be even more grateful if you could contact us and send us a burned copy to HiFi Central if possible (comment with an email and we will contact you!).

Check out Crunchy Phish Nuggets and I’m sure you will find something new and exciting.  The FAQ page he provides about how to convert MP3 to .wav files is very helpful.

Check out the page and let us  know what you think and if you discovered anything fun and new!

17
Nov
10

HiFi Radio: listening pleasure to excess

Yes, after massive amounts of board meetings and swooning investors we here at HiFi Central have created our own radio station, well, er, kind of did.  In association with Playlist.com HiFi has created a station that you can click on and listen to our hand selected favorites while you toil at work or perhaps waste endless amounts of time looking busy.

We will do our best to refresh the station every  now and again, but we feel that variety of songs will be some you will want to play almost every day.  We’ve found some Zappa, Phish, Supergrass, Reverend Horton Heat and others to mix it up and keep it interesting.  Hey, we even sprinkled a bit of GWAR in there too (yes, here at HiFi Central we feel that Eliot Smith and GWAR live in peaceful coexistence on the same playlist).

I have to admit that the highlights of this playlist are the two live versions of both Suzy Greenberg and Gotta Jiboo by PHISH; simply incredible!

Although the coding between WordPress and Playlist.com do not jive exactly as well as we would like (it would have cost an additional $1,000,000,000 to fix) we feel that the result is fairly acceptable.  In order to launch the player look on the right of your screen and  just click the link for “Popout Player”; you will be presented with a new window and the fantastic and obnoxious Juicy Fruit billboard surrounding our radio station (ain’t nothin’ for free in this world; thank god it’s not a KY or Trojan ad instead). 

If you have any requests that you think we should consider, please let us know and please tune in regularly.

16
Nov
10

Black Crowes – The Southern Harmony and Musicial Companion (1992)

If you have been reading this blog you will notice that we at HiFi do not just review new music, we also enjoy some older albums that we consider true gems in the HiFi Central vaults.  One of my favorites is the Black Crowes album Southern Harmony and Musical Companion which was released in 1992.  The band had made their mark with their debut album Shake Your Money Maker (1990) and the big hit off that album being “Hard to Handle”.  A solid song for sure, but one that has been so overplayed that I usually change the channel.  That debut album went multi-platinum (5 times!) and clearly established The Black Crowes rightful place among reputable rock and roll bands.

The Black Crowes followed up Shake Your Money Maker with The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion (1992) (this album too went platinum); this album provided newly established fans  more  of what the Black Crowes were capable of and continued where Shake Your Money Maker left off.  The band did not dissapoint on Southern Harmony; although the album does drift the band in a new direction and sound it did reflect their ability to continue creativity and emotion in their music.  This album is more cozy and personal in many ways, the sound of the album feels that they settled down in a well worn recording studio, locked the doors, and played what they felt at the time.  The album does not feel like it has numerous layers of tracks, special effects, or over production.  The album just flows and works its way around in a way that one can easily tell that much time, effort, and emotion was put into each song.

The biggest hit off this album was “Remedy” and it’s a very catchysong; Chris Robinson sings his heart out and the back up singers create the true “Southern Harmony” for the namesake of the album. My personal favorites  on this album include “Black Moon Creeping” and “My Morning Song”; both songs  are little known by most and rarely played on commercial radio, however, I hold them as the real highlights on the album.

Gospel, Rock, and a twist of Southern Harmony just make this album one of the all-time keepers in my collection.  If you are familiar with The Black Crowes and don’t have this album, grab it in the used bin at your local music store; you will find out it is a treasure!

Black Crowes Southern Harmony and Musical Companion gets 4.5 out of 5

15
Nov
10

The Allman Brothers “whip” fans wallets

On Veterans Day I had the day off from work, so I decided to grab a cup of coffee, a newspaper, and scratch ticket from my local convenient store.  This is a guilty pleasure I do not have the luxury of having these days with a 3-year old running around the house and the chaotic life of a half-rehabbed house.

As I looked through the paper I came across the event listings for my city and one that struck me right away was that the legendary group The Allman Brothers would be playing next week; cool I thought!  As I read further (with all the anticipation and intent on getting a ticket) I noticed that ticket prices range from $50 – $150!!!!????  Granted The Allman Brothers have not stepped foot in the venue (The Palace) since 1973, I still think these ticket prices are out of control and truly not very realistic for a depressed economy.  Not to mention that the band has not released a top ten hit in years, so at this point they are a novelty band full of greatest hits at best.

The show is being marketed as a “benefit concert”, so at first it made sense why the tickets are priced what they are; as usual a portion of the proceeds will go to the specific cause that the band or performer are supporting.  I’m very cool with benefit concernts and I appreciate how artists can use their fame to support a charity, but this is where things get cheezy and lame with this particular “benefit” concert…the cause is for The Allman Brothers museum!! What? 

Their musuem is called “The Big House”, it is a grand styled tudor mansion in Georgia where the band lived all together during the 1970’s during the real height of their career.  Apparently they all lived together writing songs there and raising their kids, smoking doobies and perhaps the occasional riskier recreational drug use.  According to their website it has become a “Mecca” for The Allman Brothers fan, big deal I say.

Why should I care about supporting their museum via an inflated ticket price? These guys are millionaires (or at least they should be).  However, I’m sure that woman, drugs, and booze gobbled up much of Gregg Allman’s funds.  The poor guy is dealing with recovery for a liver transplant; but I’m sure it was not from a tragic disease, but more a life of excess that is the trademark lifestyle of the Rock and Roll star.  Regardless, I think they are asking fans to help their cause is pretty goofy.  To ask fans to support keeping their old house alive and well while millions of Americans are dealing with foreclosure seems rather ironic.  But, most people facing foreclosure would not be spending $50 to see The Allman Brothers right now either.

I would honestly pay the ticket prices if it was a benefit for perhaps, say,  juvenile diabeties, pediatric AIDS, or even random backwoods animal shelter in Georgia.  But The Allman Brothers museum?  I think not, instead I think I’ll simply hanker down in my house with a cup of coffee and put on my $9.99 Allman Brother Greatest Hits album.

The band plays tonight at The Palace at 7:00; the show is not sold out as of this morning and if you are eager to fork over your hard earned dollars you can click here to get tickets.

04
Nov
10

Waiting for Zeppelin, not Columbus

Phish has always bucked convention – improvising set lists, performing vacuum cleaner solos, an a capella redition of Free Bird (including the guitar solo), and what they’ve become known for on Halloween, covering an album in its entirety (they call it their “musical costume”).  In the past they have covered the White Album, Quadrophenia, the Talking Heads’ Remain in Light, the Velvet Underground’s Loaded, Dark Side of the Moon (performed two days after Halloween in 1998), and last year’s Halloween album, the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street.  When Phish announced they would be playing a Halloween show in Atlantic City this year, speculation began to flood the interwebs and Phish message boards as to what album they would cover.  The most popular guess was Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti.  This began due to Phish covering the song The Rover from that album earlier this year.  Plus P.G. is a double album, which fits Phish’s formula for album covers.  There were a lot of other albums that people were theorizing would be covered, but Zep’s classic was by far the frontrunner.  On October 30th, Phish added fuel to the Physical Graffiti fire by playing the Zep classics Whole Lotta Love, Heartbreaker, Ramble On, Thank You, Stairway to Heaven, and Good Times Bad Times during that night’s 2 sets.  But on the 31st, Phish truly played a trick – and a treat.

Phish decided to cover the album “Waiting for Columbus,” the 1978 live concert release from the band Little Feat.  Most Phish fans know of Little Feat – Phish has covered Time Loves a Hero in the Past, and recently has been covering On Your Way Down (a great song that I saw them do in Albany in 2009).  And Little Feat covered Phish’s Sample in a Jar on the “Sharin’ in the Groove” album, a Phish tribute by many different artists.  But no one could have predicted that Phish would pull this out of their hat on Halloween.

The response from the Phish online community has been mainly positive – most people did not have a clue as to what album Phish was covering, they just knew it was high-energy and awesome.  I’ll admit I wouldn’t have known either, as I am very unfamiliar with Little Feat…but according to Phish, that band has been a tremendous influence on them, and if you listen to the songs, you can hear their influence in Phish’s music. 

I admire Phish for doing what has made them great for so many years – playing what they want to play, not what they think their audience wants to hear.  Had they not covered Remain in Light or Loaded, I probably would have never been exposed to those amazing albums.  Now of course I will go buy Waiting for Columbus, because if it’s good enough for Phish, I know I’m going to love it. 

There were of course some negative-nellies on the message boards, complaining that Phish played an album nobody had heard of, etc.  But those idiots are in the minority – any music fan should #1 be grateful they were even at a Phish Halloween show, and #2 they shouldn’t resist Phish’s attempt to broaden their musical horizons.  Embrace what you have been exposed to – drink it in and be happy.  Because that’s what Phish has always been about.

04
Nov
10

Iron and Wine 2010-11 Tour Dates

 Iron and Wine’s website currently updated its tour page for the remainder of 2010 and beginning of 2011.  Clearly Sam Beam and the band are far more comfortable playing in warmer weather than venturing up Northern East Coast, specifically HiFi’s Centrals home city of Albany (c’mon Iron and Wine, play at The Egg!!!!)

The mid-West and South will have the pleasure of seeing Iron and Wine so get your tickets as quick as you can, often these shows sell out quickly.  I did notice that there is a gap between the end of November for US dates and then February when he begins a European tour; so perhaps there is a chance the band will buy a hat, scarf, and some mittens in the meantime and grace us with their presence.

I’ve never seen Iron and Wine since they rarely tour New England area; at least I don’t know if the band has ever played the Albany area.  Looking at past tour dates since 2008 they have jumped over Albany and played in Buffalo or NYC; clearly the capital city is not worthy enough I guess.

It appears to happen quite frequently that good acts often jump over Albany and I’m not quite sure why that is; clearly not a lack of music lovers or venues.

Thought you might want to know the band is on tour this month and playing “select” cities, let’s hope one is yours!

To see the tour listing for 2010-2011 click here!