Pet Sematary

Tidbits III

The above issue of Guitar World featuring Eric Clapton is from late ’89 and was one of the first I appeared as a writer of ROCK, so I’ve always kept it. There’s some decently cool photography with a retrospective-type interview (no, I did not conduct the interview). It’s also interesting that Tales of Brave Ulysses and Let it Rain are the songs transcribed and not one of EC’s hot 80s songs. I would imagine that the 60s-70s stuff remains the most popular guitar stuff even now.

Speaking of Let it Rain, I wrote a review for the album that it appears on; Clapton’s self-titled debut and you can read it here. This is an underrated album in my opinion and if you have never heard it, check it out if you’re a person who finds that early 70s bluesy roots sound even remotely interesting. Also, I have been on a mission to organize and update my reviews and I’ve moved all of my reviews that appeared as posts to the appropriate review sections.

Speaking of the bluesy, blues guitarist Otis Rush passed away last month at the age of 84. Otis had been unable to perform for years due to post-stroke health problems, but prior to that was (along with Buddy Guy) one of the last great bluesmen of the classic 50s era. Known as the architect of the famed Chicago West Side Blues sound, he found some success in the mid-50s and in the late 90s, when he won a Grammy for his Any Place I’m Going disc. He was an influence on many a rock guitarist and Led Zeppelin covered his song, I Can’t Quit You on their first album. His other well-known songs included Double Trouble, which inspired the name of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s band and All Your Love.

I have written about Barney Kessel and Grant Green before and reviewed Barney’s Yesterday album here and his Blues album here. I’m planning some reviews of the Grant Green discs that I have, but in the meantime, the clip above is Grant and Barney playing with the equally amazing Kenny Burrell in France in 1969. I said last year that footage of Grant Green is very rare and then… this appeared! So start referring to me as The Summoner! And watch this clip! Three great guitarists at the top of their respective game who enjoy playing with each other. Doesn’t get any better. I’ve certainly seen a ton of Barney and Kenny tearing it up, but it’s great to see Grant on these tunes, especially the ballad, I Wish You Love! I love this tune anyway, but to hear Grant’s bluesy, post bop take on it is a departure from how it is normally played. Also, on most of his records he laid out when he wasn’t soloing, but he comps a lot on this video just in case anyone thinks he couldn’t. The format for this show has all of the players on the first and last blues tunes and they each get a ballad totally to themselves. That’s interesting and not something that’s seen very often, but I like it! They have their own very signature styles and to hear a tune completely like that without someone else trying to play on it makes for a complete experience…almost like a cut from an album. Plus they can take their time to develop the ideas. Barney’s spin on I’m Glad There Is You is glorious, and Kenny Burell’s Imagination is also killin’. He is such a smooth boss with some great quick pickin’ lines. I’m grateful for this upload and hope there is more in the future! It would be amazing if there is any footage of Grant playing classic Grant tracks.

Finally, former drummer for AC/DC and Dio, Simon Wright says Ronnie James Dio’s reworked hologram looks almost real! LOL! That’s just super-duper because whatever is going on in the video above doesn’t look real at all! Even if I squint! Dio’s wife and manager Wendy recently said a bunch of creepy stuff that echoes my Pet Sematary comparisons from the last post on this subject:

“I think that Ronnie was an innovator of heavy metal music, so why not be an innovator of technology?” she said. “And I think technology is coming a long way with holograms — a lot of people are doing it now. And I think the reason is because we are losing all of our innovators; everybody is getting older. And we need to keep them alive and keep their memory and their music alive. I think it’s a new way. It’s like when people first came out with a CD or a cassette: ‘Ooh, we don’t want that.’ But then it was the way of technology.”

Riiiiight! The world is losing innovators, so hologram! Totally. That sentence had me laughing for like 10 minutes. The Dio hologram will hit the road again in 2019 and a new version of PET SEMATARY is being released next year! Coincidence? The previews look scary! Tractor Trailers! Dark woods! Weird Lord of the Flies Children! An old John Lithgow! That all sounds terrifying to me! The movie tagline: Sometimes Dead is better! Are these people reading my blog? Stay tuned!

Back to the Future!

It’s time to check in on the hologram industry. If you’ve missed this technological advance in musical performance, I wrote about it last year and predicted that it would lead to: a possible revival of the over-the-hill Rock genre, save the electric guitar, or maybe even launch an all out Skynet-style nuclear attack. Of course, I’m not the only person with an opinion; writers, critics, players and fans are weighing in on this controversial topic…and others are just showing up to watch it.

I had reported in my original post that late metal rocker, Ronnie James Dio’s hologram had rocked the Pollstar Awards, and by all accounts, it was…something. Tour plans were and are in the works, but first “He” had to go back on the drawing board. Kewl! Other stars like Tupac Shakur, who appeared at Coachella in 2012, have already had their moment in post-life stardom…or Stardom from Beyond the Grave! Sounds like a horror movie…and it is! This past spring the late Roy Orbison toured England, at least his hologram did, with an orchestra to boot! Amazing! (No the orchestra was not a hologram) Given Roy’s lack of emotion and movement when performing, he was a good choice for a hologram because most people were not be able to discern they were actually watching technology instead of the real thing. Have a look-see below and judge for yourself! I can’t believe it’s not Roy!

But FEAR NOT!…er other music lovers. This technology is taking the world by storm and no musical genre will escape the tendency and temptation to take what was once a great thing and reduce it to…wackiness and approximation. In January of this year Maria Callas, who died in 1977, returned to Lincoln Center to bellow out the arias from Carmen and Macbeth. Writing in the New York Times, Anthony Tommasini related:

“It was amazing, yet also absurd; strangely captivating, yet also campy and ridiculous. And in a way, it made the most sense of any of the musical holograms produced so far. More than rock or hip-hop fans — and even more, you could say, than fans of instrumental classical music — opera lovers dwell in the past. We are known for our obsessive devotion to dead divas and old recordings; it can sometimes seem like an element of necrophilia, even, drives the most fanatical buffs.”

So I guess that means that by 2025 Washington DC or New York City will be home to the Necrophiliacal Center for the Performing Arts because this new industry has nowhere to go but UP! The Bizarre World of Frank Zappa will tour by the end of the year and will feature big stars like Steve Vai and Warren Cuccurullo. This gives whole new meaning to the phrase ROCK IS DEAD, doesn’t it? Well, yes and no. After all, this is a conglomeration of a whole bunch of advanced technology making this happen and we love technology, don’t we kids? Even regular old music (that stuff hardly anyone plays anymore) needs a whole bunch of technology to function in today’s market…. ’cause that’s just how it’s done. The world has embraced this new way of doing things; it has pulled technology to its collective bosom and said, “Yes! (eargasm) this is for me!”

There are some people who just aren’t onboard though. While some of these people may be [Haters] or trolls, there are others who have well-reasoned arguments and legitimate concerns. One such argument (from the inside no less) is that this whole thing is just a cash-grab by people who are no longer capable of really earning it the old-fashioned way, by playing music. (Pfft! Who does that anymore? Anyone?) Another, similar type of argument is that it may be disrespectful, and that could also true. After all, nobody knows what Ronnie, Roy, and Tupac would’ve wanted….well they say they do, but CaChing! My well-reasoned argument against is that there are generations of people out there who aren’t Baby Boomers and these people are really tired of Baby Boomers and their old people smell and personal concerns. I have no idea why people still turn out to see REAL, LIVE (sort of) bands that average 60-70 years of age. I mean seriously, you don’t have anything else to do tonight? Look at this! (It’s really terrible!) I sense a lot of anticipation for the official last Baby Boomer to bite the dust, but if this technology takes off, they’ll be around forever! Not just forever, but FOREVER. Reminding you, yes you, you stupid Millennial and Generation Z, that you don’t know what hard work is, your music sucks and you’ll never be as great as Generation Woodstock/Punk Rock.

So the deeper ramifications of this whole thing become clear. The tech industry is putting this hologram rock together and even though the technology is gimmicky, it’s still early days. Think what the internet was like early 90s. Or before. Imagine where this can go and then it’s not about what’s possible any longer, it’s all about what people will accept. Would everyone go along with creating a digital Pet Sematary? Where anyone can come back and be recreated? If they can do it with Jimi Hendrix or Prince, why not Grandma? Or your true love who was killed in an exploding blender accident at the tender age of 25? As Leonid Bershidsky writes in the NY Post:

“Also, I’m not sure there’s such a thing as an artificially recreated emotional connection. I’d rather remember real conversations with a deceased friend than try to have new ones with a bot trained on his words. And I suspect watching an undead rock hero would be less satisfying than seeing old footage of his or her performance….Perhaps people living today should be asked to put a check mark on a form, next to the one for organ donations, to specify whether they’re OK with being revived as bots and holograms. I’m sure a lot of musicians would do it, and then their fans would know.

The future holds many awesome and terrifying possibilities and holograms are just one avenue. Think of some of the bad things that could come back. Hitler? My God! The Adolf Hitler 2022 World Tour! Live at The Necrophiliacal Center for the Performing Arts Why not? Have you ever read Pet Sematary? Or watched the movie? Yea, okay, so the movie wasn’t very good even though Herman Munster was in it. But hooo! Scary! It’s a scary idea! Stay tuned!