Tuesday, January 1, 2008

earbender's Best of 2007 list

2007 began with saying goodbye to the great James Brown.

While most of the news from the music world has been doom over the past year, there were some bright spots and plenty to look forward to in the future. Pete Townshend's appearance at SXSW was something to be inspired by. He basically said that he is still doing things the old way on tour with the Who, but is also into the immediacy and freedom represented by what has come to be known as "Music 2.0." I am a bit scared of his computer, but I think he has the right idea about music.

The earbender ten has always been a multi-experience list. It's not a buying guide, but a living guide.

earbender's Best of 2007

1. Curb Your Enthusiasm featuring Larry David, especially the episode where Leon recommends that Larry "become another motherfucker." I was very skeptical about this story line at the start of the season, but Larry (and especially the brilliant JB Smoove as Leon) sure taught me a lesson at the end.

2. Spider-Man 3
As part of Film Week, I attended a premiere of the latest installment in the Bronx of all places. In some ways, the movies limit my imagination compared to the comic books, but it is nice to recognize scenes from the strips, which is a nice reason to see a Spider-Man movie where I know the story already for the most part. The Sandman in the sewer was straight out of Spider-Man #36. The movies are great and I'm also very into seeing Spider-Man on billboards and other advertising. I was so blown away by the co-branding on Spider-Man 3, I almost started a special edition of The Rosenfelder Index for its debut hype.

3. Of Montreal at Sundance, in the middle of the street, performing for the kids and execs. I was very into their album "Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?", so to see them chop it up on "Happy" and a few originals during soundcheck was great. Here's a bit of them doing "We Were Born the Mutants Again with Leafling." It starts out distorted but gets awesome about a minute in.

4. Kanye West "Graduation" album

5. Chanteuses: Rilo Kiley - Under the Blacklight for a few weeks at least, same w/new Suzanne Vega "Frank and Ava." Also from my back pages: PJ Harvey - White Chalk. Hats off to a nice result for Amy Winehouse. How often does the Winner of SXSW end up in the Top 40, let alone the cover of the NY Post, Rolling Stone, etc. Not to mention, she's English! Unfortunately it's more for her behavior than her music but at least the public and the media care about a rock star acting like a rock star.

6. Movie, Soundtrack and Concert: I'm Not There
After years of effort, Randall Poster and Jim Dunbar, along with Todd Haynes and Jeff Rosen, breathe new life into Dylan's catalog and his long and winding life story as an artist with a broad range of great artists. The concert at the Beacon Theatre and the after-party was a Hollywood night in NYC, as well. The quality and depth of the album and movie will be dissected for years to come, just like Bob himself.

7. Missed Classic Rock Reunions: The Police, Genesis, Van Halen, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, The Eagles, Led Zeppelin. I didn't see any of these shows but I did happen to catch The Musical Box do an amazing recreation of the 1973 Genesis tour, complete w/costumes, between-song patter and a great set list. What an incredible show, in front of one of the trekkie-est audiences imaginable. Go see them if you dare!

8. Pete Townshend was inspirational at SXSW, however. His dual career direction (the conventional reunion tour with the Who and his web activities/club gigs) is a sensible approach for us old record guys too. Mark Knopfler's album "Kill to Get Crimson" is excellent, has most of his old sound and is a good example of what made him huge. The same can't be said for most of the others in #7.

9. The Robot Guitar by Gibson is a fascinating instrument, and the biggest jump in guitar technology since the Roland GR-1 synthesizer in the 1980s. It will be interesting to see how the video game generation of guitar fans will approach the real thing. I was having a blast playing Guitar Hero with Jason Hradil and Eric Molk from Sony one night and just as I thought about getting my own, I realized that I can play a real guitar. I wonder if this will create more interest in guitar and rock music over the next 5 years or so. Considering we can see Lewis Hamilton's growth documented from a remote controlled car to a go-kart to a Formula One racer in 15 years, wouldn't it be great if a generation of Jimmy Pages and Keith Richardses grew from Guitar Hero's influence? The Robot Guitar might be a nice mix of gimmick-toy and reality for them.

Speaking of guitar heroes (and innovators), one of the great moments of 2007 was witnessing a very intimate hang between Les Paul and Willie Nelson outside Annie Balliro's Hard Rock Cafe event for Farm Aid and Willie's Peace Research Institute. They had a good hang and when Les bailed for his Iridium show, Willie kept repeating "That was Les Paul."

***See you on the second generation (with another price break!): The iPhone

10. U2 Joshua Tree Reissue
The best of the best comes back to remind us how great they have were, and for how long they have kept it going. There is no U2 reunion -- they have never broken up! I am thrilled they have reunited with Eno/Lanois again and expect their next one to be great too. They announced the Joshua Tree reissue in typical U2 style, FIRST, with a promotion from iLike.com. It featured a great interview with Bono recorded on a camera phone, singing along as he described writing the lyrics to "Wave of Sorrow."

11. Missed reality shows: A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila, Bret Michaels, Peter Brady, Scott Baio, Anna-Nicole, Brittney, etc.

12. Prince for all his 2.0 moves. As talented as he is as a writer, producer and performer (hello, the Super Bowl appearance was amazing), Prince has also set the pace business-wise from the earliest days of his career. London Times giveaway, shutting down bloggers... Maybe he is on Music version 3.0 by now!

13. Robin Quivers - because no one ever puts the great Howard Stern on any lists and that means Robin does even worse. I love the show but I want to give her credit for cracking me up and being pretty on tv too. I love Artie Lange a lot and had an epic hang backstage with him thanks to Amy Salit (who was doing the usual post-appearance NY guest list hang) at the benefit for Cabbie.

*** The new Bionic Woman was utterly disappointing as was Fantastic Four 2: The Rise of the Silver Surfer. Good effects, bad story and not violent/scary enough.

Farewell Phil Rizzuto. The Scooter was a big part of our lives for over 30 years and I will always remember him as the voice of the Yankees. A huge chapter of Yankees, baseball and New York City history ends with his passing.

2008 things to look forward to:
Iron Man; new u2 album; Willie's 75th birthday box set; A new US president; Amy Winehouse gets teeth

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