Friday, July 31, 2009

Show Review-Jackson Browne at Ravinia

In case you're wondering,The Jackson Browne Show at Ravinia last night was pretty much a snoozefest. I know you must be shocked to hear this. Though the visibly aging troubadour was in fine voice with a solid band and a pair of terrific backing vocalists, the show lagged, with over half of the setlist for the 2.5 hr show comprised of none too subtle political protest songs with truly horrific 7th grade level lyrics. We did get a good dose of classics including Already Gone, Late For the Sky, The Pretender, Running on Empty and of course The Load-Out at the very end. He jipped us out of Somebody's Baby.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

When Worlds Collide...

...great things can happen! Take for example the pre-outdoor-show teen band rehearsal yesterday. Lead singer Jacob was running late and everyone else was ready to play, so the QD stepped up to sing MJ's "I'll Be There". As soon as she started singing, glances with eyebrows raised were exchanged between band members, followed by a "dammmmmnnnnn!" from drummer Kevelyn at song's end. Jacob showed up mid-way through the next take, so the two of them finished up the song as a duet with Heather singing the bridge.

It was a beautiful moment for me.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Boy (Who Looks Like) Sue

This little boy broke the cute filter on my internets.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Disco Processional

This one is everywhere, but in case you haven't seen it yet, here you go. Embed is disabled, but one click will get you there

Friday, July 24, 2009

Frontier Psychiatrist

I don't know how many other people know about The Avalanches (for a long time I was simply unaware of what was happening on the music scene, thanks in part to where I come from) so I may be preaching to the choir here...forgive me if so. I found out about them about 7 years ago on a road trip from Barcelona to the Pyrennes. A friend put on their one and only album (entitled Frontier Psychiatrist released in Australia in 2000) on the drive through the breathtaking mountains and I couldn't get enough of it. Word is, the album is comprised of about 3,500 vinyl samples (not to be confused with anything like Girl Talk). Until today, I didn't know they had also created music videos, so I was psyched to see this extremely literal translation of the song in video format. Enjoy. It's slightly repetetive at first, but it changes up at about 3:05.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Are We Going? (Audio NSFW)

Dude, you're gonna want to turn this off early. Don't miss the quote at 1:18, the intros starting at 2:16, and the mind-blower at 4:53. I'll bet there's more amazing stuff in the remaining 10 minutes (!!!), but I couldn't take it. Try something random - for example, check out what happens at 10:00. Oh my god.

Modern Art

Beck's website is kind of amazing these days. He's got this "record club" project where he and his friends cover classic albums in their entirety - right now it's "Velvet Underground & Nico". He's got interviews with Tom Waits. He's got streaming mixes of whatever he's listening to currently. And my favorite part - he's got acoustic versions of songs from his last record. Here's the video for the stripped down "Gamma Ray", which actually smokes the original.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Eagle has ...

In honor of the 40th anniversary of humans visiting another (fracking) planet, I plan on watching this film very soon, possibly today.

Just look at that cast, will you?

P.s. the nytimes has a really beautiful set of travel photos, here.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Give the themes wheel a mighty spin and see where it lands at Ukers' Wild in just two weeks on August 1 at Silvies! Heavy Boxes will play a full set to close the show.

Monday, July 13, 2009

hmm ...

Tonight (yes, really) in Millennium Park: A tribute to Shel Siverstein ... with special guests:

* "SHELebration: A Tribute to Shel Silverstein": The famous Chicago poet and children's writer gets a tribute from a huge lineup of musicians, including Patrick Hallahan of My Morning Jacket and Will Oldham (aka Bonnie "Prince" Billy), at 6:30 PM in the Pritzker Pavilion.

UPDATE: Never one to disappoint, Will was wearing red crocs. Just so you know.

p.s. i couldn't find my bonnie prince bluetooth pic, otherwise i would have used it again. And again.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


The elusive sneeze and the after effect.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


A 1970s era quasi-celebrity got arrested on suspicion of DUI in Vegas yesterday. Can you recognize him?

Happy Birthday Biche!!

I'm not saying you're NOT 42.
I've been reading a book about Chris Farley and recently watched his "best of" collection. This episode of "The Chris Farley Show" with Macca is priceless.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Monday, July 6, 2009

Bad Day For The Roddicks

Andy's brother gets busted by the cameras.

Friday, July 3, 2009

For Those Of You Who Miss Chicago

I forgot how much I love this song.

The Making of the Hottest Jam

The REAL Story on "Billie Jean"...
Recording and Mixing "Billie Jean"....

The year is 1982. The song is "Billie Jean". The sonic image of Michael Jacksons' "Billie Jean" is a perfect example of what happened, when I sat around dreaming awhile, about combining different recording techniques to produce a unique musical canvas with a tremendous 'sonic personality'.

Of course I was comfortably ensconsed in Westlake Audio’s beautiful new Studio ‘A’ on Beverly Boulevard, with my good friends Quincy Jones, Micheal Jackson and Rod Temperton. We were doing our favorite thing... We were making music!!! We had just started recording Michael Jackson’s album “Thriller”...

We were recording Michael’s song “Billie Jean”.....

I recorded the drums,(played by the fantastic drummer, N'Dugu) with as tight, and powerful a drum sound as I could come up with. Of course I put N'Dugus' drum set on my plywood drum platform. Also at this time, I had a special kick drum cover made that covers the whole front of the kick drum. There's a slot with a zipper in it that the mike fits through. When the kick drum mike is in place, in the slot in my drum cover, I zip the opening tightly shut around the mike.

I brought in my old pal George Massenburgs' spectacular sounding, portable, 12 channel recording console and used it to record the rhythm section. With it I recorded the bass, drums and guitars on my analogue 16 track, with no noise reduction equipment in the way of that fantastic sound!

In my estimation, the the result of the song “Billie Jean”, is a perfect example of what I call “Sonic Personality”. I don’t think there are many recordings, where all you need to hear is the first few drums beats, and you instantly know what song it is.

Great albums always start with great songs....

"Billie Jean" is just such a superb song! Of course, Michael wrote "Billie Jean"..

Quincy says that the lyric that Michael wrote is highly personal. I’m sure that’s true. Michael told us... it was about a girl, that climbed over the wall at Michael’s house, and was lounging out there, by the swimming pool.... she was laying out there, near the pool , lounging... hangin’ out... with shades on, her bathing suit on. One morning she just showed up! Kind of like a stalker, almost. She had accused Michael of being the father of ONE of her twins... Is that possible? I don’t think so....

When it came time for me to mix "Billie Jean", it was business as usual... When I am working with Michael, Quincy, Rod, Jennifer, Sergio and so on..... I am allowed total ceative freedom with the sonics of the music... In other words, I am always left to myself when it is time to mix. My mixes can take hours, days or even weeks.... I firmly believe that a mix is not finished, until it is on a Record for sale at Tower....

So I had been mixing "Billie Jean" for a day or two. I’d do a mix. ..... Say I was up to mix number 2.... (At that time I was mixing onto 1/2” analogue.) I thought it was killer!!!

I called MJ, Quincy and Rod into the control room and played mix 2 for them. They loved it!!! They were all dancing and carrying on like crazy!!! Smiles all around! Then Michael slipped out of the control room, turned around and motioned to me to follow him... Then he whispered to me, “Please Bruce, it’s perfect, but turn the Bass up just a tiny bit, and do one more mix, please....” I said to him...”OK Smelly, no problem”...

(When we were recording “Off The Wall”, Quincy gave Michael the nickname of “Smelly” because when Michael liked a groove, he’d call it “Smelly Jelly.” Also Michael doesn’t curse, and when MJ wants to say a bad word he’ll simply call it “Smelly”... The name has stuck...)

Then I went back into the control room to add Michael’s tiny bit of bass to my mix... Quincy pulled me over into the corner and said “Please Svensk... “(Svensk is Quincy’s nickname for me. It means “Swedish Man” in Swedish... When you have a genuine Quincy Jones nickname like ‘Svensk” - You are truly honored....) Q said to me.... “Add a little garlic salt to the snare and the kick. Just a squirt!!!”) so I went back into the control room and added a little garlic salt to the snare and the kick. Just a squirt!!! Now I was up to mix 20 on "Billie Jean".

Well, this went on for about a week. Soon I was up to mix 91!!! I had a stack of 1/2 inch tapes almost to the ceiling!!! I would do a few mixes, we’d listen... Then do a few more. We had it PERFECT!!! We thought we had a really ‘HOT’ mix on “Billie Jean”. I played Mix 91 for the boys... Everybody smiled... but Quincy had one of his funny looks on his face...

I thought.... Hmmmm.... Oh, Oh....

Quincy said “You know Svensk, just for the fun of it, can we listen to one of your earlier mixes???” My heart jumped because I knew that my earlier mixes were dynamite!!! Then Quincy said, “Let’s hear mix number 2!!!” Oh WOW!!!! Hallelujah!!! I love mix 2!!!!


Well, here’s the deal. When “Thriller” was released to the Whole World by Epic Records, on Tuesday, November 30, 1982, it went to Tower Records with MIX 2 OF "Billie Jean" on it!!! AND, when the single of "Billie Jean" came out it was MIX 2!!!

The REAL Story of "Billie Jean"...

Bruce Swedien

For Alvy's next poker tournament...