While watching the new Heaven and Hell DVD Live at Radio City Music Hall, it came to me. Listening to “The Mule” on Deep Purple’s Made in Japan just confirmed it: solo spots are overrated.

While I’m perfectly fine with a guitarist shredding away during an extended solo in a song, I can’t stand it when the same guitarist gets five minutes alone on stage to wank on his guitar. The same goes for the keyboard player and the drummer. Hell, even a bass solo would suck if it wasn’t integrated in a song.

On the Heaven and Hell DVD, Vinny Appice gets five minutes to show off his chops. It is by far the dullest moment of the show. In fact, while he was beating up his kit, I just occurred to me that I had to do something for myself. While Vinny is a more than decent drummer, I just can’t see the point of a drum solo. Can you?

But when a solo is helping a song along, I’m all for it. The album version of Within Temptation’s “Enter” starts with a brief drum intro. And when they still played their old stuff live, the drummer was occasionally allowed to tear it up a bit. Like so.

So, while I’m all for solos, solo spots should die a horrible and painful death. Anyone care to disagree?

I’m a published photographer

Today I got a notice that for the second time, one of my creative commons licensed photo’s was included in an online travel guide.

The Old Royal Naval College The first picture was taken in Greenwich, London, England in September 2005 and depicts the Old Royal Naval College. It was taken the day before I left: I spent the morning walking around in Camden and Nothing Hill, and the afternoon lazing in the meadow in front of the Royal Observatory and the prime meridian. On my way back to the tube, I shot this picture. (Full disclosure: there was a crane to the right of the buildings in the background. I ‘shopped it out.)

The Rape of PolyxenaThe second picture was taken on the Piazza della Signoria, in Florence, Italy in November 2006. On the photo you can see a statue called “The Rape of Polyxena” by Pio Fedi (1816–1892). It stand inside the Loggia dei Lanzi, and this might just be my favorite place in Florence. In Greek mythology, Achilles fell in love with Polyxena, who in the end betrayed him, by revealing his only weakness. So now you know why women are mens’ Achilles’ heel. (Full disclosure: I cropped the picture a bit to get the “composition” right.)

You can find both pictures on a Schmap. One is in the museum section of the Schmap London Guide and the other in the The Political Centre section of the Schmap Florence Guide.

First Lines: Verzamelde Mannen

Diederik van Vleuten & Erk van Muiswinkel — Verzamelde Mannen
Zaallicht gaat uit. Doek open.

All right, not the first lines exactly, but close enough. It sets the stage for the rest of the book, which is a compilation of the texts of Van Vleuten and Van Muiswinkel’s first three theater programs: Mannen van de Wereld, Mannen op de Maan and Mannen met Vaste Lasten (Men of the World, ~ on the Moon and ~ with Overhead Costs respectively).

As this book is mostly concerned with humor, I won’t even try to explain it. Just download their award winning song from Mannen op de Maan, Tibet (link expired). I’ve considered it for several 700MB CDs, but I never got round to it. And since I don’t see Part V happening anytime soon, what the hell.

On a related final note: I’ll be seeing their fifth show Prediker en Hooglied in March.

The Sound of Muzak

After the release of Bat out of Hell III: The Monster is Loose, it became very clear to me: Diane Warren is the devil incarnate. Or at least, she has sold her eternal soul to Lucifer in exchange for the opportunity to write the most craptacular and dull song to ever disgrace any album with the word Hell in the title.

Ever since 1995’s Welcome to the Neighborhood Warren has contributed songs to Meat Loaf’s albums. And I must say, I’ve never been impressed by the lot of them. While “Not a Dry Eye in the House” is a great song, and “I’d Lie for You (And That’s the Truth)” is decent enough, be it a bit unremarkable and not really a duet, that’s the cream of the crop. Two of the other three songs that made the actual album (“You’re Right, I Was Wrong” and “Cry Over Me“) are contending for being both the worst song on the album, as well as being the worst Meat Loaf song in the History of crappy songs by Meat Loaf. The other two (“If This Is the Last Kiss (Let’s Make It Last All Night)” and “Unsaid”) are both pretty dull, bland and weak.

But then again, Warren has a history of (co-)writing dull, bland, weak or just plain bad songs: Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now“, Aerosmith’s most un-Aerosmithy ballad snoozefest called “I Don’t Want To Miss a Thing“, Rhythm of the Night, Un-break My Heart, so I shouldn’t be all that surprised either.

That said, she’s written some songs I quite like, like “Not a Dry Eye in the House”, Cher’s “Just Like Jesse James” [download] (co-written by Desmond Child) and in a guilty-pleasure sort of way I dig “Can’t Fight the Moonlight“, but my favorite song by her, is Dusty Springfield’s version of “Wherever Would I Be?” [download]. Or maybe that’s just because I’m having an enormous Dusty-kick lately.

As a bonus, “I’d Lie for You (And That’s the Truth)” from The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra plays the Muzak of Meat Loaf [download]. Hold that elevator for me, will you?

Hooray for Vinyl

Today is Vinyl Record Day, on what may or may not be the 130th anniversary of the invention of the phonograph by Thomas Edison. But whether or not the day is completely accurate — as some say it happened in November or even December 1877 — hooray for records.

When you’re a collector of the Music of Jim Steinman and/or Meat Loaf and Related Stuff of the type that has to have it all, you can’t get around the LP. Mr. Loaf’s very first recordings have never been released on CD. Anything he did before the Ted Nugent album “Free-for-All” still is only available on vinyl. Well, there is a compilation set that includes both the A- and B-side of the “More Than You Deserve” single, but both have some third party additions, so that hardly counts. And then you have a decent amount of alternative versions, single edits, extended remixes and live tracks that are LP-only.

In the Steinman-department, nearly everything has been released in the digital realm. Apart from two tracks, the “Delta House Theme” and “Shadows on the Freeway” there are only a few single edits out there. Unless you want to count some of the Bonnie Tyler B-sides he had nothing to do with.

I’ve dug up some vinyl-only stuff:

Bring Me the Head of Jerry Garcia (single version) by Iron Prostate
A couple of years ago, George Tabb of Iron Prostate made the demo version of this song available through his website. That demo was produced by Jim Steinman, and supposedly features the cast of Cats as backup vocalist for the chorus. Iron Prostate broke up during the recording of their second album, possibly produced by Jim. Who had nothing to with the single version, released in 1992 on Vital Records. That version was produced by George Tabb and Jim Fourniadis.

I’m Gonna Love Her for Both of Us (vinyl rip) by Meat Loaf
Some people aren’t quite impressed with the CD-release of “Dead Ringer”, saying that the mastering blows compared to the LP. Here’s one track to figure out if that’s true. You’ll need to provide your own CD though.

Once Upon a Time b/w Hello by Popcorn Blizzard
In 1968 Meat Loaf was in the band Popcorn Blizzard, and they cut a single, of which approx. 7,000 copies were released in and around Michigan. Luckily for me, I was able to pick up a copy of the “Michigan Mixture Volume I” bootleg LP in Utrecht some years ago.

Downloads can be found on the downloads page. Pops and crackle are on the house this time.