Showing posts with label Music Geek. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Music Geek. Show all posts

Saturday, July 02, 2011

The Saddest Book I've Ever Read

What's the saddest book you've ever read? Like other literate people, Umlaut has read hundreds (thousands?) of books since I learned how to read. However, there's one book in particular that makes me sad every time I open it... and it's been sad since the day it was published. That book is Sotheby's catalog for the September 2004 auction of property from the estate of Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash.

(From the Umlaut Archives)

The catalog is literally the print version of Johnny's haunting final video for the song 'Hurt'...

... only the catalog is EVEN MORE profoundly sad. It's 320 pages of photos and text detailing almost 700 items that were put up for auction after the deaths of Johnny and June in 2003 (They passed away within 4 months of each other). In fact, most of the items featured in the video are pictured in the catalog (including the furniture and iconic piano..). Also featured are every day detritus (furniture... dishes... check stubs... clothes... jewelry... rugs...) as well as items that would cause any Music Geek's jaw to hit the floor (musical instruments.. album awards... photos..).

Some of the items that I found most poignant or amazing were:
  • The 1967 Grammy Award presented to Johnny and June for the song 'Jackson' (which of course was their most beloved duet together).
  • The dozens and dozens of handwritten letters to and from Johnny. For the newbies: In the days before e-mail people wrote letters to each other. The letters that Johnny wrote or received from friends like Carl Perkins, Nixon, Muhammed Ali and Jimmy Carter... and love letters from June.
  • An autographed photo from Elvis Presley to June ("To June, I love you. Elvis").
However, it's hard to really focus on individual items because the book represents the life and career of a musician the likes of whom we will never, ever see again. Songwriters of Cash's magnitude and charisma simply aren't possible in this age of mass media where original creativity is something most wouldn't recognize if it hit them in the face; you can quote me on that. Johnny Cash was / is one of Umlaut's Music Geek heroes and I'm thankful I was able to see him and June in concert.

(Ticket Stub and Guitar Pick from the Umlaut Archives)

Anyway, that's the saddest book I've ever read... "We've been talkin' about Jackson ever since the fire went out."

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Tour Book Time Machine

When I was a kid I didn't have a lot of disposable income; when I went to concerts I generally only had enough money for the ticket. Because of this I didn't buy many concert shirts compared to my friends (which is ironic given what I do for a living here in the 21st Century). However, one merchandise item I did try to splurge for was tour books. Since I'm as big of a History Geek as I am a Music Geek, concert programs appeal to me because they are a document of a specific time in a band's history. In most cases, ALOT of the information and images from these old concert programs has disappeared into the ether of time and can't be found anywhere else... even here in the 21st Century with The Internets. Sorry kidz, you can't find everything online.

Umlaut has been wanting to do this post for a long time so I finally took time to crack open the Umlaut Archives and pulled out some of my favorite tour books from the past and the present. For the full Music Geek experience, I've noted the exact show where I bought programs where applicable. Okay? Here we go...


You never forget your first... and these were my first concert programs:
  • Cheap Trick - Dream Police Tour - Oakland Coliseum Arena - December 27, 1979
  • The Who - Who Are You Tour - Oakland Coliseum Arena - April 20, 1980
The Who were an important band for me in my pre-Metal Days, but it's too bad I missed seeing the band with Keith Moon by 19 months. Umlaut is still a huge Cheap Trick fan. Several years ago someone posted a MINT copy of that same Dream Police program on Ebay and I snatched it up. So now I have a "reading" copy AND a pristine copy that no other human will ever touch. "Surrender... but don't give yourself away."


  • Women and Children First Tour - Oakland Coliseum Arena - October 10, 1980.
For a couple of years I was completely fanatical about Van Halen; hearing 'Runnin' With The Devil' for the first time changed my life in my pre-Metal Days. This was one of the most fantastic concerts I saw in my Salad Days and it made a HUGE impression on me. It was David Lee Roth's birthday and they wheeled a huge cake onstage and a stripper jumped out of it. Lock 'N Loll! David Lee Roth also said the show was being recorded for a live album, but nothing was ever released. Where are those tapes now!? I was obsessed with the live photos in the pages of this program...

According to the Umlaut Archives this was the 6th concert I ever attended. Van Halen were completely larger than life onstage and in the weeks after the show I stared at the pages of this program as I listened to my Van Halen albums trying to relive the magic of that night. I also saw Van Halen on their next tour (Diver Down 1981 Tour - Oakland Coliseum Arena - June 12, 1981) but I traded the '81 concert program to a penpal in England a couple of years later. NOW I wish I still had it... Oh well. The Women and Children First album still rules! Listen to 'Romeo Delight' and try to disagree with me, mofo! "I'm takin' whiskey to the party tonight and I'm lookin' for somebody to squeeeze.."


I got some of the Sabbath programs via trades with overseas penpals back in The Day or I bought them at the local Record Factory store when they got in leftover tour merchandise to sell.

Front row:
  • Mob Rules Tour - Cow Palace, San Francisco - April 17, 1982
  • Mob Rules Tour - 1982 U.K. Program
  • Never Say Die Tour - 1978 U.K. Program
  • Born Again Tour - Cow Palace, San Francisco - January 25, 1984
Back row:
Not many bands do tour programs now, but back in The Day it used to be interesting to get a band's programs from different parts of a tour. The Mob Rules programs that I have are from 3 different legs of that tour, with the "1982 U.S. Tour" coming from early in that tour and featuring live photos from the previous 1980 Tour. The program I bought at the Cow Palace features photos of the band from those earlier Mob Rules shows. Interesting, right?! "If you listen to fools... The Mob rules!"


I was a massive Ozzy fanatic when he released his first 2 solo albums, mainly because of Randy Rhoads.

  • Blizzard of Ozz Tour- 1980 U.K. Tour
  • Blizzard of Ozz Tour - Oakland Stadium - July 4, 1981
  • Diary Of A Madman Tour - Cow Palace, San Francisco - December 30, 1981
When Randy Rhoads died I stopped listening to Ozzy and literally haven't owned any of his solo albums since... It's true. I'm thankful I saw Rhoads destroy on guitar in person twice in his brief time on Earth. Randy's 2-page section in the Diary Of A Madman program is a cool photo spread of him live and shredding onstage. "Don't ask me... I don't know.."


  • Point Of Entry Tour - Oakland Auditorium - May 22, 1981
  • Screaming For Vengeance Tour - Cow Palace, San Francisco - November 19, 1982
The Screaming For Vengeance program features a Q&A with each member of Priest. Trivia: Halford's favorite movie in 1982 was... Cheech & Chong's Things Are Tough All Over!? "Electric eye... in the sky.."


Although I bought my first concert programs at shows I attended, I eventually met some like-minded Music Geek penpals in Europe and we traded concert merchandise since bands who toured in Europe didn't have the same merchandise when (or IF) they toured the States and vice versa. For the newbies: This was a million years before The Internets. Having a "penpal" meant doing something called "writing letters" and sending these "letters" via something called a "post office". Communication and trading sometimes took months; it required something called "patience".

  • Ace Of Spades Tour - "Ace Up Your Sleeve" October / November 1980 U.K. Tour
  • 30th Anniversary Tour - 2005 U.K. Tour (Acquired for Umlaut by Tour Manager Doug who attended the London show on the tour... THANKS again TMD!)
  • Iron Fist Tour - 1982 U.K. Tour
The Iron Fist program has photos of the band wearing the War Pig masks from the cover and Lemmy sporting the Iron Fist on his hand. Where are those props now?! "Devil's grip... The Iron Fist!"


  • Reign In Blood Tour - 1987 U.K. Tour
It's trippy seeing Kerry King with hair, isn't it? Trivia: All of the photographs in the program were taken by Glen E. Friedman. "Raining blood... from a lacerated sky.."


No band has done more magnificent tour programs than Iron Maiden. None. Nobody.

Front row:
  • Number Of The Beast Tour - Oakland Coliseum Arena - September 4, 1982
  • Powerslave Tour - Cow Palace, San Francisco - March 21, 1985
  • Killers Tour - 1981 European Tour
Back row:
Iron Maiden's tour programs have always been the benchmark against which I compare other bands' tour programs. The attention to detail and the amount of information that Maiden gave to their fans via their programs is one thing that has kept me a fan all these years. All of the early programs had extensive messages written by band members or their manager Rod Smallwood detailing what the band had been up to since their last tour; to a teenage Metalhead it was like Maiden were communicating directly to ME... and that's the beauty of Maiden. They've ALWAYS done things right by their fans... ALWAYS. Another endearing aspect of Maiden's vintage tour programs is they always featured photos of their road crew along with their names and what they did. Fast forward to the 21st Century and some of those guys are still with Maiden and, because of those old tour programs, I still recognize them at Maiden shows. Crazy, right?! In 2005 Maiden reprinted their vintage 1980-83 tour programs as one volume that they sold on their Summer Tour (which included OzzFest in the States). It's beyond cool... and now I have a "reading" copy of those old programs so I don't have to disturb the originals from their archival slumber.

It was a brilliant move since Maiden were only playing songs from their first 4 albums on that tour! Dude, Maiden were so amazing on that tour and wiped the stage with all of the other OzzFest acts (including the original Black Sabbath). After the 'Ides Of March' intro tape Maiden opened with 'Murders In The Rue Morgue' and the set also included 'Phantom Of The Opera'! My Inner Teenage Metalhead completely lost it during their set. The 2005 program included a reprint of the Iron Maiden Tour program from the 1980 U.K. Tour, which I had never seen before!

A tour program can be a time machine: When Dennis Stratton and Dave Murray shared the stage! MAIDEN... ALWAYS. "Iron Maiden's gonna get you... no matter how far.."


Metallica were profoundly influenced by Iron Maiden during their climb to becoming the most successful band of their generation. This influence affected the way Metallica approached their merchandise... including how they've always done excellent tour programs that mirror Maiden's in many ways.

Front row:
Back row:
  • Black Album Tour - Cow Palace, San Francisco - May 9, 1992
  • Black Album Tour - Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA - October 3, 1992 (same as the previous tour book but with additional tour dates listed)
  • St. Anger Tour - HP Pavilion, San Jose, CA - November 28, 2004
  • Load Tour - Cow Palace, San Francisco - December 30, 1996
Even when Metallica lost me (specifically between 1996-2007), I would still go see their gigs and their tour programs remained top notch. The St. Anger tour program was basically a photo book by legendary photographer Anton Corbijn and that alone made it worth getting. Fast forward to the 2008-10 Death Magnetic tour program and it was cool that the band recreated the vibe and look of their classic 1989-1992 tour programs with it. It was even cooler that Maiden's Steve Harris wrote something for the program and revealed how he first saw Metallica at Lars' invitation in 1983 in Staten Island, NY and thought they were weak! Full circle, man.

Of course, it's the Master Of Puppets program that is my most treasured. As I said at the beginning of this post, tour programs are like time capsules that (when done well) capture a specific moment in a band's history... and the 1986 program does that and MORE. It not only shows the band when they seemed young and invincible, but it also offers a glimpse at what could have been for them.


"They're dirty, obnoxious, noisy, ugly and I hate them... but you can't deny their success." - Dave Roberts, Faces Magazine, March 1986

What could have been: The tour dates listed in the program include the ones that were supposed to happen after that ill-fated night in September 1986. According to the program's itinerary, the Master Of Puppets Tour was scheduled to run until a final show on November 27, 1986 in Sydney, Australia. That means the band and crew would have spent Thanksgiving '86 in The Land Down Under; what could have been, man... As it turned out, Metallica didn't visit Australia for the first time until almost 3 years later. "Needlework the way... never you betray... life of death becoming clearer.."


  • Blackfoot Marauder Tour - 1982 U.K. Tour
  • Scorpions Blackout Tour - 1982 U.K. Tour
  • Thin Lizzy Black Rose Tour - 1979 U.K. Tour
  • Frank Sinatra - Circle Star Theater, San Carlos, CA - April 27, 1991
Click HERE to read about Umlaut's Blackfoot fandom. The penpal in England who I got the Scorpions program from stuck his backstage pass on the cover; pretty cool, right? The Thin Lizzy program includes a Q&A with the band. Trivia: Phil Lynott said his favorite drug in 1979 was "Angel Dust"..... SINATRA! YES I did see Sinatra in concert and it was one of THE best gigs I've ever witnessed! SERIOUSLY! For the newbies: Sinatra was a Rock Star before there were Rock Stars. Even at 75 years old he had so much badass cocky attitude onstage. I'm really thankful I saw The Chairman in person. "Regrets... I've had a few.. but then again.. too few to mention."

Oh, here are a couple of other favorites from the Umlaut Archives:
  • Girlschool Demolition Tour - 1980 U.K. Tour
  • Robert Plant & Alison Krauss Raising Sand Tour - 2008 Tour
I got the Girlschool program from a penpal I had in the U.K. back in The Day and it's autographed by all of the band members. For the newbies: For awhile Girlschool were the greatest all-female band ever. No bullshit. I saw the Robert Plant / Alison Krauss tour twice (in New York City and Berkeley) and this program is a BEAUTIFUL hardcover book; a classy program from a classy tour. It really is quite a stunning publication...


  • The 24th Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony - Cleveland, OH - April 4, 2009
Longtime readers know that Umlaut attended this event as a guest of a certain Bay Area Metal band... If you don't know the story already, click HERE for all the gory details. Anyway, only guests in the VIP Tables were given copies of the ceremony's program... and Umlaut didn't rate to be at a VIP Table on that night. However, thanks to the management of that certain Bay Area Metal band, I was able to get a copy of the souvenir program afterwards.

The program is a really nice book that honors each of 2009's inductees and the Metallica portion is pretty cool. I couldn't help but get misty when I saw the band photo they used as the main image. Scroll back up and read about Metallica's own tour programs and then chew on the historical nature of this one. The Rock Godz work in mysterious ways, man. "Enter night... Exit light.."

... and FINALLY there's this program from the Umlaut Archives:

This show is otherwise known as the LED ZEPPELIN REUNION SHOW. In case you don't remember, there were less than 20,000 tickets available to the general public for this event that were distributed via an online lottery. The lottery reportedly drew 1,000,000 (ONE MILLION) people registering for the chance to see Zeppelin fly again. I don't know what the odds are, but Umlaut knows 5 (FIVE) people who were at this once in a lifetime epic concert. The Rock Godz work in mysterious ways and one of those 5 people scored me this souvenir program from the show (THANKS again John!). I should also note that James Hetfield attempted to "steal" this from me. True story.

This program is another BEAUTIFUL hardcover book and it includes a DVD of the documentary about Ahmet Ertegun and Atlantic Records called Atlantic Records: The House That Ahmet Built. The film has been released commercially on DVD and every Music Geek should watch it to see just how grand and magical the Music Industry used to be. It goes without saying that this program is a prized possession and guarded by dogs and demons within the safe confines of Casa de Umlaut.

ANYWAY... I think you get the gist of it: Umlaut digs concert programs. These aren't all of the programs in the Umlaut Archives, but these are the ones that I cherish the most. The Geeks shall inherit The Earth!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Houses of the Holy

Lovers of Covers: The Album Art of Storm Thorgerson
San Francisco Art Exchange

August 14, 2010

Sometimes my job has its advantages. A colleague is an old friend of the artist Storm Thorgerson, who was a member of the legendary English art design collective Hipgnosis. For the newbies: Hipgnosis designed an insane number of the iconic album covers in the 70's and 80's. The company's influence and portfolio is beyond staggering and includes classic albums by Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, T. Rex, Genesis, Peter Gabriel, Nazareth, Styx, Wings, AC/DC, and Scorpions among MANY OTHERS. Every Music Geek probably has more than a few albums in their collection that features Hipgnosis' cover art... and Storm Thorgerson created some of their most famous works.

Joining me on this excellent Music Geek Saturday adventure were Skychick and Sensory Abuse. Prior to the exhibition's opening we met for a drink at Storm's hotel and were introduced to Storm privately. It was pretty surreal meeting a legend under such casual circumstances; as I introduced Sensory Abuse and Skychick to Storm he said with dry English wit "You brought the whole family, didn't you?" HAHA.

After our meet 'n greet we were able to walk around the gallery privately while the staff did last minute setup and before the invited guests arrived. Seeing so much of his work gathered together had my Music Geek mind reeling from the overload of his contribution to Music / Rock History. In recent years, Storm has created well known album covers for Audioslave, Muse, and the Mars Volta. However, as part of Hipgnosis in the 70's and 80's, Storm was PERSONALLY responsible for creating SO MANY iconic album covers!! Albums such as:

Dark Side of the Moon > Houses of the Holy

In Through The Out Door > Wish You Were Here


Since we had over an hour to kill before the exhibition started, we hiked over The Irish Bank for food, pints, and conversation. Upon returning to the gallery we found the space to be filling up quickly with the 200 or so invited guests. I was so glad we'd had our private time with the collection earlier, because it was harder to appreciate the art in the same way with the space crowded with humans. However, Umlaut was still able to geek out on some of Storm's other iconic works. Albums such as:

Black Sabbath - Technical Ecstacy

Rainbow - Difficult To Cure

During our earlier private viewing of the exhibition, I was very disappointed that none of Storm's iconic art for UFO's albums were included. However, upon our return to the gallery we noticed a dark hallway at the back of the room... and in that dark hallway was hung:

UFO (!!!) - Phenomenon (!!)

We couldn't believe that the legendary UFO art was hung almost as an after thought in the back hallway where the light didn't even work! Shocking...

Storm held court behind a small table in the middle of the gallery and he was given constant attention by guests. Thankfully, Umlaut was able to have some quality one-on-one time with Storm to follow up on some things we'd talked about in our earlier meet 'n greet and also to go off on a Music Geek rant about how his work with UFO and the Scorpions were incredibly iconic with people. He didn't seem to believe me... but when I said I was saying this because I'm mainly a "Hard Rock / Metal" person Storm looked me in the eyes and said "I could tell..." WOAH!

At one point in our conversation we were interrupted by Aubrey Powell, who was one of Storm's creative partners in crime at Hipgnosis. Powell was personally responsible for the design and all the photography for some Led Zeppelin album called..... Physical Graffiti. Maybe you've heard of it?

Umlaut geeking out > Aubrey Powell with Storm Thorgerson

Umlaut is from the generation of Music Geeks that learned about Rock Music via the radio and record albums. In a lot of ways, the cover art of record albums was as important as the music because it was something else that engaged your imagination. Music was an all encompassing escape from reality as you listened to the music (preferably on headphones) while you stared at all of the details of the album art. Here in the 21st Century, simply downloading an audio file is not the same experience.

I was completely overwhelmed by the magnitude of seeing so many iconic album art pieces in one space... and realizing that they all came from the crazy creative mind of one man... and that man was in the same room as me.

Unlike other iconic album cover art from the early days that were taken from paintings (most of which were done in the same size as an album cover), Hipgnosis art was photography-based so "original artwork" doesn't really apply since they used darkroom tricks, multiple exposures, etc. and not paintings; their "original art" would be a film negative and not a drawing or painting. The mindblowing thing is that Hipgnosis did all of this decades before computers and Photoshop; chew on THAT for awhile!

There were some pieces that you could call "original" art but they are closer to being mixed media pieces because they had elements taped onto the photo element. Because of the technique and medium, all of the pieces are big and the pieces on display were made from the original photo negatives. The images were sharper with more depth then you'd ever get from an album cover. Also, seeing some of the images in their original size and layout
(such as Genesis' The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway and Zeppelin's Presence albums) instead of on a 12"x12" album cover was a revelation. I didn't recognize The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway until I read the placard next to it because I was so used to seeing the images individually on the album's gatefold sleeve and not combined together. Amazing stuff.

The only bummer of the night was that Umlaut's favorite Storm album cover wasn't included in the exhibition: The original "bubblegum" art for the Scorpions' Lovedrive album... but it was represented in the exhibition's poster art.

I did talk to Storm about the Lovedrive art and while it's NOT one of his favorites (he made a face when I told him it was probably my favorite cover that he's done) he admitted that he did think "it was funny".


Dude, it was an insanely magical night standing so close to what is left of the original fire that was Rock 'N Roll in its glory days... before imagination and creativity was neutered out of so much of it. To quote Zeppelin:

"Let The Music be your master... Will you heed The Master's call?"

(Photos 1-3 by Skychick and Umlaut. All other photos courtesy of Sensory Abuse.)

Thursday, July 15, 2010


"You cannot make friends with the Rock Stars..."

Most Metalheads are obsessed with Horror movies... or Sci-Fi flicks... but one of Umlaut's favorite movie of all time is... Almost Famous. Long story short: I identify with this movie on many levels because of my teenage experiences writing about Metal bands for various fanzines and even befriending some of them who went on to become famous. Those experiences profoundly influenced me and this space is without a doubt a direct result of those times as well.

Most people my age were first introduced to Cameron Crowe via Fast Times At Ridgemont High... but I was fascinated by Cameron Crowe's story before even that: A teenager who wrote for Rolling Stone!? My teenage mind couldn't comprehend that. The guy was even thanked on a Lynyrd Skynyrd album! From the original liner notes of Skynyrd's One More From The Road:

Long story short, when I learned that Crowe was making a movie about his teenage Lock 'N Loll years I was beyond geeked out. Almost Famous opened in September 2000; I was such a dork for this movie I even kept my ticket stub from the screening I saw:

Not long after the movie's premiere I stumbled upon this item on Ebay:

It's a 100-page promotional book containing 8 of Crowe's vintage Rolling Stone interviews from 1972-79 with Jethro Tull, The Allman Brothers, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, Peter Frampton, Fleetwood Mac, Van Morrison, and Joni Mitchell. The book also features vintage Neal Preston photos of the bands and Crowe backstage or during the interviews. It's a pretty awesome time capsule of Crowe's Rolling Stone years and he wrote an introduction to each interview to give them context and perspective.

The opening pages of Crowe's 1975 Led Zeppelin interview with his modern day introduction and a photo of Crowe with Robert Plant circa U.S. Tour '75:

Another nice touch is the end papers of the book were printed on translucent paper with text from Crowe's original typewritten draft of an interview. Pretty cool, right?

The copyright on the book is credited to Dreamworks Pictures and states that it is meant for "Promotional Use Only"; I can only imagine that these were maybe given out at the film's premiere... but I've never been able to find out the exact story behind this book. I've also never seen it featured or for sale anyplace else since I scored it on Ebay. Around the same time that I found the promo book, I also scored a promo keychain for the movie:

(From the Umlaut Archives)

My Almost Famous obsession came full circle in 2006 when I saw SLAYER at the San Diego Sports Arena, where the movie's early scenes were filmed. On the way back to the car after the Metal show, I snaked around to the back and snapped a picture of the iconic truck ramp:

"We're band aids.."

The Geeks shall inherit The Earth.

I watched the Academy Awards in 2001 only to see if Almost Famous would be awarded from its 4 Oscar nominations. It only won 1 Oscar, but at least it was for Best Screenplay... which is the only one that mattered to complete Crowe's story IMO.

I end up watching my Almost Famous DVD at least once a year; it's become like Star Wars was when I was younger. I don't pretend that it's the best movie ever made but, for whatever reasons, this movie resonates for me personally like no other movie. This has only been magnified in recent years as I've found myself working in an area of the Music Business that arguably ruined Rock 'N Roll and strangled everything we love about it. Be careful what you wish for, man.

Fifty bucks and a case of beer.

Monday, February 15, 2010

This Week In Music Geek

Long story short, I got sidetracked today and ended up at a record store I used to frequent... but I hadn't been there in probably a couple of years. The place always had a hit-or-miss but always entertaining used vinyl section. The Rock Godz work in mysterious ways and today I struck gold for a mere $5: A first pressing of Lynyrd Skynyrd's Street Survivors album.

The first pressing of the album featured the eerily prophetic cover photo of the band engulfed in flames. Only 3 days after Street Survivors was released in October 1977, Lynyrd Skynyrd were forever decimated by their infamous plane crash, with Ronnie Van Zant (3rd from the left) and Steve Gaines (horrifically in flames in the center of the photo) both losing their lives and the other members forever damaged (some physically... all psychologically). The real life darkness surrounding this album was only magnified by the single 'That Smell' and its chorus:

"Oooh, oooh that smell
Can't you smell that smell?
Oooh, oooh that smell
The smell of death surrounds you."

The cover of subsequent pressings of the album, and later CDs, was changed to a different band photo from the same session framed in black. That image remained the album's cover for 30 years until the 30th Anniversary Edition Deluxe CD was released a couple of years ago. Umlaut loves the first vinyl pressing because it's a haunting time capsule from October 1977.

The original gatefold album came with a couple of paper inserts, which was common for albums back then. One insert is a charmingly simple merchandise order form ("Lynyrd Skynyrd - Survival Kit") with which to mail order a t-shirt ($5.98), pendant ($5.00), or a 24-page souvenir photo booklet ($3.00). Postage and handling charges were $1.00 (!). On the flipside of the order form is a charmingly simple marketing survey asking fans what format they listen to Skynyrd on (album, 8-track, or cassette) and a few questions about where the fan lives and their favorite radio station and magazine.

However, it's the other insert that makes my Music Geek head spin. It's printed on red paper and on one side are all of the band and album credits handwritten out. On the other side (also handwritten) are the tour dates for Skynyrd's TOTS ("Tour Of The States") 1977-78... a tour that was never completed. The tour's 45 shows started on October 15, 1977 in Miami and were due to end on February 1, 1978 in Honolulu; Skynyrd's plane went down 2 days after Miami after the tour's second show in St. Petersburg.

The first time I came across a copy of this album some years ago I got chills when I discovered the tour date insert. It's haunting for me to look at the tour dates and think about what could have been for Skynyrd on that tour. It would have included their first headlining appearance at Madison Square Garden on November 10, 1977, a Thanksgiving Day show in Pittsburgh, a New Year's Eve show in Ft. Worth, a San Francisco show (at Winterland) on January 13, 1978, and the tour wrapping up in style with 2 shows in Honolulu on January 31 and February 1, 1978. After TOTS 1977-78 I'm sure the Summer of '78 would have seen Skynyrd headlining stadiums, since they were on the brink of challenging Aerosmith as the biggest American Rock band of the 70's. Sadly, none of that came to pass.

Umlaut listens to alot of Death Metal, Black Metal etc. etc. but few of those bands come close to having the real life violence and darkness that surrounded Skynyrd... and the Southern Boys could easily have kicked Scandinavian ass in a bar fight.

I honestly can't imagine coming across a CD in the near or distant future and having the same kind of historical and emotional reaction to the packaging... and we don't even have to discuss a digital download, right? Part of the mystery that made Rock bands so ingrained in my psyche as a kid was stuff like this. In those pre-Internet days you had to work to find out information about bands, it simply wasn't handed to you by pressing a button.... I've said this in this space before and, yeah, I'm an old fart about it: Because I had to work for that information I valued the bands (and the music) that much more because I had invested something in them. It's harder to invest yourself in bands now since, in this digital age, another band can grab your attention via a single web link e-mail forum post. I know... give me convenience or give me death... but I'll always prefer finding something in a dusty record store bin.

Meanwhile, back in the 21st Century, YES Umlaut already had a copy of this album at home... but I couldn't leave today's copy in the store.... it would have felt like leaving a comrade on the battlefield. So, YES, Umlaut now has 2 mint copies of Street Survivors on vinyl sitting on his shelf. The Geeks shall inherit The Earth.

On a lighter note, how can you not appreciate Artimus Pyle's cutoff jeans and "Vegetarian" t-shirt in the cover photo? The Southern Boys had a sense of humor.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Good Girls Don't

Wow... I know this shows Umlaut's age, but the passing of Doug Fieger of The Knack on Valentines Day is a buzz kill. Yeah, yeah Metal on Metal is the only way.. but Umlaut became a Music Geek before all of that and I have a soft spot for vintage Power Pop. What was that? Well, if you can't deal with that then there are plenty of other dogmatic and opinionated "Metal" blogs out there who can tell you what kind of underwear Meshuggah is wearing or whatever... so move along if you can't deal with Umlaut's record collection.

Anyway, for the newbies: The Knack's 1979 debut album is still one of the best Power Pop albums ever released this side of Cheap Trick. Also, check out their band photos and you'll discover where modern day Hipster bands like The Strokes stole their image.

From the Umlaut Archives

While 'My Sharona' was their signature song, Umlaut's favorite Knack song has always been 'Good Girls Don't' which, as Tour Manager Doug once pointed out, is probably the dirtiest song ever played on AM Radio. Here's the song's video, but with the original "dirty" lyrics dubbed back in to replace the cleaned up words; the censors had changed lines like "sitting on your face" with "putting you in your place", etc.

"... and it hurts." Rest in Peace, Mr. Fieger.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Another One Down

Vintage Old Metal Decal

It was an "interesting" year for Umlaut after 2008's weirdness and chaos. It wasn't necessarily a bad year, but I think when the history book is written, my 2009 will be called my "Lost Year" for reasons that some of you know about... and some of you don't. I felt like I had been vacuum sealed for 365 days and put into a freezer, but it looks like I'm about to be taken out, thawed, and unleashed again. Umlaut will continue to fight the hordes, sing and cry, and we will see what the next 8,760 hours bring. As always, THANKS to Skychick, Fredo, Dixie, Eddie, and Buggers for keeping the plane at cruising altitude despite any turbulence or bullshit that comes our way.

I will now quote that British band: "Let The Music be your Master, will you heed The Master's call?"... and with those words, here's my 2009 scorecard:
  1. 01/20/09 - Willie Nelson - The Fillmore
  2. 01/21/09 - Saturn Returns - Elbo Room
  3. 01/25/09 - Amebix / Annihilation Time - Great American Music Hall
  4. 02/04/09 - Meshuggah / Cynic - Slim's
  5. 02/06/09 - Social Distortion / The Devil Makes Three - The Fox Theater
  6. 02/08/09 - Fucked Up / Mika Miko - The Independent
  7. 02/10/09 - Cradle Of Filth / Satyricon / Septicflesh - The Grand
  8. 02/20/09 - Celine Dion - HP Pavilion
  9. 03/07/09 - Saros - El Rio
  10. 03/23/09 - Destruction / Krisiun - Slim's
  11. 03/26/09 - Carcass / Death Angel / Suicide Silence - The Grand
  12. 04/04/09 - Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony - Public Hall [Cleveland]
  13. 04/07/09 - Green Day - The Independent
  14. 04/09/09 - Green Day - DNA Lounge
  15. 04/12/09 - Anvil - Slim's
  16. 04/14/09 - Green Day - The Fox Theater
  17. 04/15/09 - Leonard Cohen - Paramount Theatre
  18. 04/15/09 - Green Day - Uptown
  19. 04/19/09 - Mastodon / Kylesa - Great American Music Hall
  20. 04/23/09 - Throbbing Gristle - The Grand
  21. 05/03/09 - Anvil - The Bridge Theatre
  22. 05/07/09 - Cheap Trick - May Fairgrounds [Dixon]
  23. 05/07/09 - Coffins / Stormcrow - Annie's Social Club
  24. 05/12/09 - General Surgery / Ghoul - DNA Lounge
  25. 05/19/09 - The Kills / The Horrors / Magic Wands - The Fillmore
  26. 05/21/09 - Gojira - Slim's
  27. 05/22/09 - Jane's Addiction / Nine Inch Nails / Street Sweeper Social Club - Shoreline Amphitheatre
  28. 06/03/09 - Mayhem - DNA Lounge
  29. 06/05/09 - Death Angel - Voodoo Lounge
  30. 06/12/09 - Testament - The Fillmore
  31. 06/13/09 - Acid King / Black Cobra - Bender's
  32. 06/18/09 - Shellac / Arcwelder - Great American Music Hall
  33. 06/19/09 - PJ Harvey - Warfield Theatre
  34. 06/22/09 - Isis - The Blank Club
  35. 06/23/09 - Isis - Great American Music Hall
  36. 06/26/09 - Warped Tour - Pier 30/31
  37. 07/03/09 - Green Day - Key Arena [Seattle]
  38. 07/04/09 - Green Day / The Bravery - GM Place [Vancouver]
  39. 07/10/09 - Mayhem Tour - Sleep Train Amphitheatre [Sacramento]
  40. 07/11/09 - Mayhem Tour - Shoreline Amphitheatre
  41. 07/14/09 - Goatwhore / Daath - Thee Parkside
  42. 07/27/09 - Kill Hannah / Seventh Void / Dommin - Slim's
  43. 07/27/09 - Spinnerette / Mini Mansions - Great American Music Hall
  44. 07/29/09 - Judas Priest / Whitesnake - California Mid-State Fair [Paso Robles]
  45. 07/30/09 - Black Cobra / Grayceon - Thee Parkside
  46. 08/02/09 - Sonic Youth / Awesome Color - The Fox Theater
  47. 08/07/09 - Green Day / Kaiser Chiefs - New Orleans Arena [New Orleans]
  48. 08/08/09 - Green Day / Franz Ferdinand - Toyota Center [Houston]
  49. 08/10/09 - Heaven & Hell / Coheed And Cambria - Warfield Theatre
  50. 08/11/09 - Book Of Black Earth / Landmine Marathon - Thee Parkside
  51. 08/14/09 - Down / Melvins / Weedeater - The Grand
  52. 08/18/09 - Green Day - HP Pavilion
  53. 08/20/09 - Warped Tour - Shoreline Amphitheatre
  54. 08/24/09 - Green Day - Arco Arena
  55. 08/27/09 - Saros - The Eagle Tavern
  56. 08/28/09 - Hammers Of Misfortune / Ludicra / Amber Asylum - Great American Music Hall
  57. 08/29/09 - Outside Lands Festival - Golden Gate Park
  58. 09/10/09 - Obituary / Goatwhore / Krisiun - Slim's
  59. 09/11/09 - Metallica - Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium
  60. 09/21/09 - In Flames / Between The Buried And Me / 3 Inches Of Blood - The Grand
  61. 09/24/09 - OM / Lichens - The Independent
  62. 09/29/09 - Kylesa / Bison b.c. / Landmine Marathon - Chasers [Scottsdale]
  63. 10/02/09 - Dethklok / Mastodon - Roseland [Portland]
  64. 10/03/09 - Motörhead / Reverend Horton Heat / Nashville Pussy - Roseland [Portland]
  65. 10/05/09 - Motörhead / Reverend Horton Heat - Warfield Theatre
  66. 10/09/09 - Motörhead / Reverend Horton Heat - Club Nokia [Los Angeles]
  67. 10/10/09 - Nashville Pussy / Chelsea Girls - House Of Blues [Las Vegas]
  68. 10/21/09 - Alice Cooper / Jetboy - Warfield Theatre
  69. 10/21/09 - Fu Manchu - Bottom Of The Hill
  70. 10/23/09 - Slipknot / Deftones - San Jose State Event Center
  71. 10/24/09 - Ufomammut / Acid King - Varnish Gallery
  72. 10/24/09 - The Mummies - Bottom Of The Hill
  73. 10/27/09 - Pelican / Black Cobra - The Independent
  74. 10/30/09 - Secrets Of The Moon / Divine Heresy - Thee Parkside
  75. 11/03/09 - Rob Zombie / Nekromantix - San Jose State Event Center
  76. 11/04/09 - Puscifer / Uncle Scratch's Gospel Revival - The Fox Theater
  77. 11/06/09 - Jello Biafra / Ludicra / Munly & the Lupercalians - Great American Music Hall
  78. 11/07/09 - Devo - The Grand
  79. 11/12/09 - Anvil Chorus - Slim's
  80. 11/19/09 - Them Crooked Vultures - The Fox Theater
  81. 11/21/09 - Dethklok / Mastodon / Converge - San Jose State Event Center
  82. 11/22/09 - KISS / Buckcherry - Oakland Coliseum
  83. 12/06/09 - Marduk / Nachtmystium - DNA Lounge
  84. 12/08/09 - Metallica / Machine Head - Arco Arena
This year featured the return Stalking Tour Manager Doug that took in 10 shows, 8 cities, and 2 countries and in any other year that would have been the event to overshadow everything else... but, amazingly, Umlaut's year was defined by *THAT* band: Metallica...

I'll never talk shit about Metallica again after my experience with them in Cleveland during their induction into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. People often say a concert was a "once in a lifetime experience", but my experience in Cleveland was easily the most profound once in a lifetime experience imaginable. Yeah, The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is a bullshit elitist, out of touch institution... but The Hall of Fame sought out Metallica and the band used the moment to celebrate their career in the most INCLUSIVE way imaginable: By hosting a once in a lifetime reunion of old friends and associates dating back to when they were unknown pimply-faced teenagers. As I said in my rant in this space about the experience, there has never been so many people gathered in one room who knew Cliff Burton (including me) and 26 years of my life came full circle that weekend. Man, I followed a band from their demo tape to The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame... How many people can say that?! Plus... I stood 5 feet away from JIMMY PAGE at the party!! Sing and cry... Vahalla I am coming... AND I saw Metallica (with both Jason Newsted and Robert Trujillo on bass) perform 'Train Kept A-Rollin' with JIMMY PAGE, Jeff Beck, Joe Perry, Ron Wood, and Flea. ONCE... IN... A... FUCKING... LIFETIME.

To be honest, every other moment of my 2009 pales in comparison to that 5 minutes or so in Cleveland... but for the sake of variety some other highlights of my year were Amebix (If I had to pick ONE best concert in 2009 outside of Cleveland it would be this one!).. Gallows (TWICE!)... Shellac... General Surgery... Coffins.. Cheap Trick.. Secrets Of The Moon... Leonard Cohen ... Judas Priest and Whitesnake at a COUNTY FAIR... Mummies reunion show (!).. Ludicra (TWICE!)... Alice Cooper.. so many great memories... some other specific highlights from my year:
  • Following Motörhead on tour for 4 dates and having quality time with Lemmy.
  • Acid King's first hometown shows in almost 3 YEARS (!) and seeing my brothers Black Cobra 3x as they released their excellent new album.
  • Falling under the wheels of Landmine Marathon and traveling to their desert homeland to see them.
  • Pulling off 5 doubleheader gig nights.
  • Being able to say that I saw both Celine Dion AND Slayer in the same year.
  • Being able to say that the Celine Dion concert was better than Cradle Of Filth.. I'm completely serious.. Cradle Of Filth were awful.
This was also the year that I finally had to admit that I've fallen out of love with PJ Harvey. It was a long relationship that dated back to her debut U.S. Tour in 1992 when I saw her at Slim's. Sadly, her last couple of albums lost me... and her show on this tour made me finally realize that perhaps it's best that we don't see each other anymore. Polly Jean, it's not you.. It's me... Actually, it really is you but I don't wanna be an asshole about this..

Anyway, since I already have the first show of 2010 in the archives, I'm kind of not in the mood to write anymore about last year at this point. It was an inspiring year of seeing bands and having amazing life experiences as I chased volume in venues far and wide. They say a picture is worth a thousand words.. so here are my final 1,000 words about the year that was 2009:

Old Metal Brothers: K.J., Umlaut, James Hetfield, Ian
House Of Blues, Cleveland, Ohio - April 3, 2009

THANKS for all the support, readers and friends... I mainly rant in this space to entertain myself and to keep my mind sharp. The fact that people actually read my crap still surprises me... I will soon celebrate the 6th Anniversary of this space so let's see where The Rock Godz take me next.

See y'all on the other side..

Monday, December 28, 2009

This Week In Music Geek

Last week Umlaut came home after being out of town for 7 days to find this in his mailbox:

It's the BLU-RAY of Metallica live in Nimes, France from this past July! It's the first regionally exclusive DVD / Blu-Ray released by the band, with Nimes (sold only in France) being followed as you read this by a Mexico City DVD / Blu-Ray (filmed in June and sold only in Latin America); other regionally exclusive releases from other cities / countries may be unleashed in the future. It's a brilliant Marketing move that galvanizes the fans in those regions behind the band because it's something exclusive for them and it also creates a buzz in the rest of the band's worldwide fanbase. My Inner Music Geek loves this kind of shit.

From the Nimes DVD / Blu-Ray press release:

Francais Pour Une Nuit

On July 7th of this year we were honored to perform at Arenes de Nimes, the historic Roman amphitheatre in Nimes, France, easily one of the most spectacular venues in the world. We thought it would be a memorable night, so we asked our friends in France to bring along a film crew to document the festivities. The result is "Francais Pour Une Nuit" (translation: "French For One Night"), the DVD of the evening including the full show, interviews with us, and five videos shot by YOU, our buddies in the audience. All this and more will be available starting November 23, 2009!

"Francais Pour Une Nuit" was extra special for us because not only was it filmed in France, but ALL aspects of the project are French as the show was filmed, recorded, and edited with French camera and recording crews, the artwork on the package and special box set were created by a French design team; even the credits are in French. The only non-French parts: the three Americans and one Dane on stage and the photos shot by Englishman Ross Halfin.

The DVD will be available in retail stores in France only, at, or you may order online through the record company at There will be three formats available: Standard DVD in a digipack including a 16 page booklet, Blu-Ray DVD, also in a digipack with the booklet, and the deluxe limited edition box set that includes the DVD, a copy of "Death Magnetic on CD," a Large T-shirt, laminated pass, and five exclusive photos.

Metallica never do things like this half ass and the Blu-Ray's production is fucking stunning... spectacular.. amazing. It's the first release by the band in this format and it vividly captures all of the magic of the band playing in the Arenes de Nimes which was built by the Romans in 70 A.D.. Trivia: Rammstein also filmed live footage at the venue for their Völkerball live DVD.

This looks and sounds even better on a 46" HDTV... believe me:

Come on, even if you're a jaded mofo, you have to admit it's fucking cool watching the band walk down the ancient tunnel of that ancient venue just as Roman gladiators did and emerge to the thunderous roar of 20,000 fanatical French fans. Fucking magic... and something that only happens in Europe or South America, where fans aren't as jaded and ancient historic venues like this exist. The smile on James' face at the 1:13 minute mark says it all; they aren't playing in Fresno.

Yeah... still my favorite band.