Headphones I’m Using Now, Music I’m Listening to Now

Headphones are another addiction of mine – an addiction that I have (mostly) conquered. I used to buy several sets a year. (Most of them have long since been sold off.) I bought so many that the guys in one of the headphone shops in the top floor of the Wanchai Computer Centre knew me well.

I wouldn’t say I’m an audiophile. Some of my ability to hear high frequencies is gone with age and I have tinnitus (probably a result of doing rock concert security back in my college years).

On the other hand, I have a good idea of what music should sound like, or at least how I want it to sound. I listen to a broad variety of genres. And thanks to the increased storage capacity of the iPhone 7+, I’ve now been filling up that storage capacity with Apple Lossless files rather than MP3’s, more than 3,000 songs so far.

Continue reading “Headphones I’m Using Now, Music I’m Listening to Now”

Bands I’ve Seen Live

Pointless time killer … or a way to distract myself from everything else going on that I prefer not to think about …

There was this thing going on over at Facebook where people were posting “here’s a list of 11 bands, 10 I’ve seen live, 1 I haven’t, guess which one.” And I did not participate, but it did get me thinking about all of the bands I’ve seen live over the years. I suppose some psychiatrist or sociologist could tell me why the shows I saw 45 years ago are often more vivid in my memory than something I saw just a year or two ago.

So with that in mind, here’s a list of the bands and musicians that I can remember seeing live – I’m sure I’ve forgotten dozens of opening acts, as well as dozens of bar bands, cover bands, and the local indie bands in Hong Kong (Sleeves, Bastards, Hazden, Killer Soap, Icebox, Dr. Eggs are a few that come to mind immediately). And there’s some performers, I look at the name and think to myself, I must have seen them live, but I can’t put a time or a place to it so I’ve left them off the list. There’s even some where I’ve come across pictures that I took and yet I have no memory of actually seeing them.

I’ve tossed in a few random-ish photos, all taken by me – some day I’ll have the time to get my archives organized better.

A * means I’ve seen them live more than once.

ABBA, ABC, Aerosmith*, Ian Anderson, Aztec Camera

Bangles, Jeff Beck*, Berlin, Leonard Bernstein* (as a kid, I used to go to tapings of the PBS series “Young Peoples Concerts” (or something like that) for many years), Chuck Berry, Blondie, David Blue, Blues Brothers, Blues Project, David Bowie* (Ziggy Stardust at the Rainbow, Diamond Dogs & Heroes tours), David Bromberg, Jackson Browne*, Roy Buchanan, Tim Buckley, Sam Butera, David Byrne

The Cars, Cheap Trick, Harry Chapin*, The Church, Eric Clapton*, The Clash, Joe Cocker, Coldplay, Lloyd Cole, Albert Collins, Commander Cody, Julian Cope, Chick Corea & John McLaughlin* (as “Five Peace Band” and otherwise), Elvis Costello*, Jim Croce, Crosby Stills & Nash, The Cure

Miles Davis*, Deep Purple, Delaney & Bonnie & Friends with Eric Clapton, Sandy Denny*, Dr. John, Doobie Brothers*, Bob Dylan (with The Band, on the Rolling Thunder Review, several stops along the years on the Never Ending Tour)*

Eagles, Echo & the Bunnymen, Jonathan Edwards, Electric Flag

Marianne Faithfull, Flaming Lips, Fleetwood Mac, Flo & Eddie, Focus, Fools, Steve Forbert, Robben Ford, Franken and Davis (yes, comedy, but with music – who opened for them? It was the SNL band, I think led at the time by G.E. Smith? I ended up sitting next to Pete Townshend and was too petrified to open my mouth)

Peter Gabriel, Rory Gallagher, J. Geils Band, Genesis*, Philip Glass (well, the opera Satyagraha), Steve Goodman, Gorillaz, Grateful Dead*, Grin, Stefan Grossman, Buddy Guy & Junior Wells

Hampton Grease Band, George Harrison,  Wilbert Harrison, Donny Hathaway, Helen Humes, Hello People, John Hiatt, Dan Hicks

Insect Trust

Bob James, Jefferson Airplane, Billy Joel, David Johansen, Journey

Albert King, B.B. King*, King Crimson*, Kinks, Kiss, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Al Kooper*, Kraftwerk

Adam Lambert, Lindesfarne, Little Feat, Lene Lovich, Nick Lowe

Madness, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Mansun, Marshall Tucker Band, Carolyne Mas, Dave Mason, Imelda May, John Mayall, Roger McGuinn,  James Montgomery Blues Band, Monty Python (it sort of counts, right?), Van Morrison, Mott the Hoople, Mountain, Mungo Jerry

New Riders of the Purple Sage, New York Dolls, New York Rock & Roll Ensemble, Willie Nile

Phil Ochs, Orleans

Eugene Pao, Tom Petty, Pink Floyd* (Dark Side of the Moon and Animals tours), Plasmatics, Pogues, Pretenders*, Prince

Queen

Bonnie Raitt*, Raveonettes, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lou Reed, Steve Reich, Terry Reid, R.E.M., Renaissance, Rihanna, Rockpile, Rolling Stones*, Linda Ronstadt, Roxy Music*, Todd Rundgren, Leon Russell

Santana*, Boz Scaggs, Seals & Crofts, Seatrain, Patti Smith*, Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes*, Bruce Springsteen* (you’ve probably guessed – I’ve seen Bruce live more times than anyone else, probably 30 or 40 times starting in January 1974 up until 2009), Steeleye Span, Steely Dan, Steppenwolf, Al Stewart, Stone Roses, Stories, Strawbs, Style Council, Supertramp

Taj Mahal, Koko Taylor, Livingston Taylor, Temptations, Thompson Twins, Robin Trower, Tubes*

U2*

Wendy Waldman, Jerry Jeff Walker, War, Weather Report, The Who*, Edgar Winter, Gary Wright

Yes*, Neil Young*

Frank Zappa (original Mothers, Flo & Eddie edition, w/ Captain Beefheart, maybe more)*, Warren Zevon

 

Artists that I really regret never seeing live – Velvet Underground, Led Zeppelin, Muddy Waters, Bonzo Dog Band (they opened for the Kinks at Fillmore East and to this day I still don’t understand why I didn’t go), Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Bob Marley, John Coltrane and probably dozens more.

Riot at Rio

Riot being the name of the band playing at the Rio Club in Wanchai, Hong Kong. Here’s some shots of them in action – getting used to shooting with my Fujifilm X-T2, taken with the Fuji 23mm and 56mm lenses.

(This is one of those places where the stage lighting changes color every second, washing out photos with deep reds, greens, blues, purples, oranges. I wonder if one day they’d let me shoot the band with just “normal” lights in the club.)

Subculture Live at B-Side

My buddies in the band Subculture played a Sepultura tribute show at B-Side and I tagged along, quite happy that I would finally have a chance to shoot a band with my Fujifilm X-T2. When I arrived there, I saw the bands were setting up to play in an area that had zero lighting – just the ambient lighting from the surrounding bars and the almost-full moon above. But I was there, I had the camera with me, I bit my lip and got on with it. Everything was shot with the Fujifilm XF 23mm F2.0 lens, most shots were at ISO 10,000.

Continue reading “Subculture Live at B-Side”

New Photo Gallery – Jeff Beck in Hong Kong 2010

I’ve added a photo gallery of my pictures of Jeff Beck, who appeared in Hong Kong at Asiaworld on March 22, 2010. The shot above is my current favorite from the batch.

As I mentioned earlier, as I’m allowing Spike’s Photos to wind down, I’m going to be adding photo galleries here. Rather than just copying over the photos from seven years ago, I’ve gone back into Lightroom and “remastered” them. Lightroom is a much better program and I’m much better with it than seven years ago.

The band included the great Narada Michael Walden on drums, Rhonda Smith on bass and Jason Rebello on keyboards.

While I’ve seen Beck live many times, stretching back to 1974 or 1975, this was his first time playing a concert in Hong Kong. And it was my first time having a “3 songs, no flash” pass for a major concert in Hong Kong. I’m really thrilled with how well these shots turned out (although when I go back to them now and see the settings I used, I’m amazed that they came out as well as they did).

I did get a little bit punch drunk while re-processing the photos, pushing things a bit to see just what I could do with them. They’re not in the gallery but I’ll show a few of them to you here.

 

I’m undecided about the results – they’re either artistic and unique or they’re goofy as fuck. You tell me.

Manila – OPM Against Drugs Festival Photo – Photo Gallery

I’m now going to be adding Photo Galleries here (rather than on Spike’s Photos). You can see there’s now a Photo Galleries item on the top menu. I might add in some of the older galleries soon.

I’m kicking this off with a gallery of what I think are my best shots from the OPM Against Drugs Festival held in Manila on January 14, 2017.  Here’s a few sample shots:

Click here to see the full gallery!

 

 

Manila – OPM Against Drugs Festival Photos Part 1

January 14, 2017 – 100 bands, 5 stages for the OPM (Original Pilipino Music) Against Drugs Festival produced by Rakrakan. The 5 themed stages were Move, Indie, Groove, Mosh and Slam. (I won’t comment on the “Against Drugs” bit.)

My friends Tribo Subculture were one of the bands appearing on the Slam stage and they arranged an all-access pass for me.  The festival kicked off around noon but I didn’t get there until around 10 PM or so, which gave me time to shoot some of the bands, wander around the crowd a bit, get some food, gaze at the “merch”, and of course enjoy the music that I heard.

I’m told that last year they had 24,000 people there and this year it was up to 35,000. Well, advance ticket prices were just P500 (that’s around US$10) and draft Red Horse Beer was just P50, so why wouldn’t you go if you could? The crowd was remarkably peaceful and friendly and I thought it was a great event.

I’m still working my way through the photos I shot but here are some of my favorites so far:

Continue reading “Manila – OPM Against Drugs Festival Photos Part 1”

Albums You Loved as a Teenager

A few people are posting variations on this new meme on Facebook – list the ten albums you loved most as a teenager.

For me, there are many examples of albums that were released when I was a teenager that I didn’t love at the time, and this includes albums that perennially feature in other top ten lists I attempt to do. Albums like The Allman Brothers Band at Fillmore East, Derek and the Dominos’ Layla and the entire output from the Velvet Underground.

I chose to select albums that I remember loving as a teenager, even if I don’t especially love them now or play them that often any more. But these albums were huge to me between the ages of 13 and 19 (for me that was 1967 to 1973) and very influential in my development, for better or worse. Most but not all of them have stood the test of time for me and I still play them almost 50 (gulp!) years later.

Here they are, in random order:

  1. The Beatles – The Beatles (aka The White Album) – what I remember is that this is the first time I was reading about an album before it came out (I had just started reading Rolling Stone Magazine), anticipated like crazy, and then it lived up to all of my expectations. These days I’d probably choose Revolver or Abbey Road as my favorite Beatles album but I still love this one too.
  2. The Mothers of Invention – Freak Out (or Uncle Meat) – I found Freak Out in the New York Public Library, (Fordham Road branch in The Bronx) which had a record section, and even a rock record section. They had this! The music was so strange and really drew me in. The list of names on the rear cover (most of which I’d never heard of) intrigued me. There was no Wikipedia to research them on, but they stayed with me. I think Uncle Meat, which came out when I was around 15, was an even bigger influence on me, but Freak Out was the first.  Yeah, I know you can’t read the names on the cover in the image below, so click here to find out more.
  3. Cream – Wheels of Fire – This is the first album I can remember listening to and thinking to my young self, “Is it possible The Beatles are no longer my favorite band?” I consider this album my real introduction to the blues. Listening to this, reading interviews with them, directly led me to Robert Johnson and all of the great Chess artists.
  4. The Rolling Stones – Their Satanic Majesties Request – Yeah, this one. Maybe it’s their worst album (up until almost everything from the 80’s onwards) but it was the first Stones album I bought. It had the 3D cover (I still have it). I had no idea what was going on with the music here but I still think the songs themselves were pretty damned good.
  5. Big Brother and the Holding Company – Cheap Thrills – My introduction to Janis Joplin, her best album even though Big Brother was a pretty sub-standard backing band. I played this over and over and over. My dad asked me, “Why is that white girl trying to sound black?” Which completely stumped me. I had no idea how to answer that other than, “No, she’s not, she’s sounding like herself.” It was also my introduction to the art of R. Crumb! 
  6. Pink Floyd – Meddle – Of course it’s tempting to go for Dark Side. But this was the first Pink Floyd album I got. I lost track of how many times I got stoned and laughed hysterically at “One of These Days” or how many times I turned out the lights, put on the headphones, and really concentrated on “Echoes.”
  7. Grateful Dead – Live/Dead – I really wore this album out. I never played Side 4 but I couldn’t play the other 3 sides enough. Everyone else I knew hated the Dead back then and I probably drove them crazy playing this over and over and over again.
  8. Al Kooper – I Stand Alone – Most of you don’t know who Al Kooper is, which is a shame. Blues Project, Blood Sweat and Tears, Super Session; session work and producing Dylan, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Stones and many others. A huge personal favorite. There was a magazine called Eye. It came with a flexi-disc. The disc had one track from the upcoming Blood Sweat and Tears album (the first after Kooper left and was replaced by David Clayton-Thomas) and a weird collage of sounds from Kooper’s first solo album. I bought the Al Kooper album. I did not buy the BS&T album. (I also saw him live for the first time around this time, the “Al Kooper Big Band,” which included Bernard “Pretty” Purdie on drums.) 
  9. Lenny Bruce – The Berkeley Concert – I had no idea who Lenny Bruce was before I bought this. After this I became obsessed with him. This was released on Frank Zappa’s Bizarre label and I bought anything Zappa put out. This 2 LP set was a complete and unedited show from the last years of Bruce’s life. Not so much a collection of stand-up routines as much as it was him talking about his legal cases, free speech, religion, basic human rights. It’s possible that this album is more responsible for how I think and what I believe than anything else.
  10. Delaney & Bonnie – On Tour w/ Eric Clapton – I saw them at the Fillmore East. I still consider it one of the best live shows I ever attended.
  11. Jefferson Airplane – Volunteers – I don’t know why I loved this album so much back in the day. I recall playing the hell out of it. I don’t think it has aged well.
  12. The Who – Tommy – Because I saw them play it live at the Fillmore East twice. But I haven’t been able to listen to this in decades because it was everywhere and I just got sick of it. Maybe some day I can go back to it and appreciate it again. But not yet.
  13. Tim Buckley – Blue Afternoon – Again, I bought this because it was on Zappa’s Straight label. I had no idea who he was at the time but I became an instant fan. This was one of his more mainstream efforts (as opposed to the extreme weirdness of “Lorca” and “Starsailor”). His voice of course was unique and I still play his albums a lot, I can’t say that about Jeff Buckley.
  14. Bonzo Dog Band – Tadpoles. OMG, I almost omitted this from the list. I played this constantly. Probably these days I’d pick their second album (The Doughnut in Grannie’s Greenhouse, which in the U.S. was called Urban Spaceman) as my favorite of theirs, but at the time, this was huge for me. 

Yeah, that’s 14, not 10, because once I get started I can’t stop, and I could have kept going, believe me.

But what about you? What were some of your favorite albums when you were a teenager? Are they still your favorites now?