It’s that time of year again. We’re going up in flames. While the rest of the country is bracing for colder temperatures, snow and increased precipitation, southern california is in the midst of going up in smoke. What a crazy dichotomy. Is Bush and his advisors really sure there is no such thing as Global Warming? The fires are coming earlier this year most likely due to a lack of precipitation. It’s been a rather mild year for water here. Hmmm… I think Georgia is having that same issue too, right?
Unfortunately fire is what prevented me from doing a mountain bike ride yesterday out in Sycamore Canyon. It is sorta hot out too. The interesting thing was it was a shift that could be felt at the beach Saturday night. It was getting chilly after the sun went down, but by 10 p.m. the Santa Ana’s were blowing in and it got warm.
Speaking of fire, I had to pull this out. This song captures that urgency of fire. Who cares if it’s not as relevant in todays music scene. A good song is a good song and Van Halen certainly produced quite a few. I know I’ve mentioned them on the blog here before. I know I’ve also mentioned that I wouldn’t want to go see the current tour. Unfortunately I’ve been privy to a video clip of a recent show they did. Kinda reinforces the fact that I won’t go, but now I can’t say that I haven’t seen some of it.
The video is called Train wreck. After viewing it, I can understand why. It’s a perfect Spinal Tap moment (I don’t care how old you are, if you don’t know Spinal Tap the movie, you’re not a fan of music, nor are you a true musician). The setup is this… They’re using backing tracks for their keyboard parts now and probably some of the backing vocals too since Michael Anthony is no longer around. Thus it’s the song Jump which is heavily keyboard oriented. The clincher is that whoever was in charge of running the sampler/playback screwed up and changed the sample rate of the playback. Thus it’s playing slightly fast and sharp by probably 1 1/4 steps, meaning you can’t easily transpose while you play a tuned instrument. Thus the bass and the guitar are horribly out of tune.
I will hand it to Dave, he took it in stride and actually sang in key with the keyboards. However, Eddie and Wolfie end up being unable to do anything about and it sounds on the whole, retched. From personal experience because I do play with a laptop as an extra member of the band, I’ve gone to great lengths to devise THE best way to accomplish it live and yet retain that live aspect to it. Ironically using a program called Live by Ableton. Granted, I’ve twisted it to my will thanks to a drummer buddy of mine Donny Gruendler. Anyway, while I had never had an instance with it being out of tune, there are times when something goes wrong and it’s out of sync. The best thing to do is just turn it off and continue on with the song without it – that’s what most pros would do. Fortunately for the setup I have, it can come back in at the very next section of the song and we can vary the tempo if needed. It’s very flexible.
For the life of me I can’t figure out why Van Halen didn’t do one of the following… Hire an actual keyboard player (its not like they’re hurting for dough), turn the tracks off or switch the sample rate on the fly. To me, going on as if there’s nothing wrong like they did, isn’t wise. But it does make for interesting video to watch. Van Halen Train Wreck.
Regardless, if you don’t own Van Halen I, you’re missing out on one of the great rock records in history.
(** Disclaimer: If Van Halen’s label decides to throw some fire my way, I’ll have to burn the audio off the server. The post will remain to show that some bands should have live keyboard players when they’re definitely making the dough to have them. **)