Saturday, December 23, 2006

My Top Music Of 2006

It has been too long since my last post so I thought I would accelerate the publishing of my yearly music list. This past year was a fun year for music and had us taking full advantage of the concerts in the Los Angeles area. The only disappointment is the big shows are very difficult to get good seats to, and if you wait too long for that club show it will probably sell out. Lessons learned the hard way. And for all of those asking why haven't I posted, unfortunately I don't have a good answer but you are in store for a long read this time out!

Feel free to comment on music or concert finds you had this year.

Top CD Purchases
Jack's Mannequin - Everything In Transit
I bought this after many ads in LA Weekly prompted me to check it out at a Tower (RIP) listening station. I did not know the back story, the circumstances, or who even played on the CD, but it was good catchy pop music with a heavy piano focus. As a bonus when I was reading the liner notes I found out Tommy Lee (Motley Crue) played drums on the majority of the album. Jacki and I got to see the band in Anaheim this past year and this has been in heavy rotation since my purchase from nearly a year ago.

Whitesnake - Live In The Still Of The Night
This could be labeled the dirty little pleasure of 2006. Not only did this come with a beautifully shot DVD of the concert but it also included highlights of the show. If you like hard rock, and can deal with watching an aging David Coverdale then this is highly recommended.

Buckcherry - Fifteen
Like many I had written these guys off after their Time Bomb album. Not only did they come back with the best disc of their career they did this independently. Being a fan of the disc I also picked up the Japan issue that includes a couple of bonus tracks. One of those bonus tracks as an Elvis Costello song called "Pump It Up". That song is almost worth the price of the Japanese import alone. Right before the Crazy Bitch single took off I saw these guys at the Whisky on the Sunset Strip in front of a packed crowd. They left for their nationwide tour the next day and went from being written off as a one hit wonder has been with "Lit Up" to now having a gold record accomplished entirely on their own. The must own hard rock record of the year!

Pearl Jam - Pearl Jam
I still believe has their greatest album still left in them. Pearl Jam is a step back in the right direction with some killer tracks. Although the album does mellow out at points this is a return to form.

Mike Keneally Band - Guitar Therapy Live
One of the highlights of living in LA has been the chance to see Mike Keneally play on multiple occasions. This cd included a DVD shot at the Baked Potato in Studio City. Although Jacki and I didn't live out here and did not see that particular performance, we did get to see the very lineup on this disc perform at the Baked Potato several times. I'll be the first to admit that listening to Mike Keneally is not for everybody, but if you ever have the chance to see him live in a small venue you will be mesmerized.

Bob Schneider - The Californian
Bob is one of the few artists I listen to that with each new release, I never want to go back and listen to his old recordings. This disc is no exception. One of the pluses for me is it is a straight ahead rock record and much less singer/songwriter oriented. The band on this disc is great. One of the musicians I still hold onto from our days in Austin.

The Black Crowes - Lost Crowes (Band)
This two disc set includes the best Crowes album that never was. The disc has been titled the Band sessions. For me this went from a poor quality bootleg to being the Crowes album of choice I'll pick up when I want to hear them.

John Mayer - Continuum
John Mayer has now stepped into his own. First with the rockin' John Mayer Trio live album from last year, and now with this disc of soft-rock fare. Although I do lose interest listening to this album in one sitting due to its light nature, there are a couple of standout songs. The lead of single "Waiting On The World To Change" never gets old, and "Stop This Train" has probably become my favorite John Mayer song. I was hoping to get a new studio album from the blues inspired John Mayer Trio but this disc with full band was a nice consolation.

Def Leppard - Yeah!
A covers album done right. Def Leppard took on some great 70's tracks from mostly british acts for the Yeah! sessions. This is another band that many have written off, and although their own song writing has had its ups and downs since Hysteria, they still show they can still make a fun rock album. The stripped down nature of the production is also welcomed over their typical over produced recordings.

Paul Stanley - Live To Win
Thanks to my "industry friend" I was able to get a copy of the advance about 5 weeks before its release. In the absence of KISS releasing new material this is the next best thing. If you enjoy Paul Stanley's KISS material of the 80s then be sure to pick this one up. Has modern production with the hard rock / pop songwriting Paul has been known for.

Top Concerts (ordered chronilogically)
The concerts of 2006 have been better than I could have imagined. Not only did I get to see KISS in a small club with full on pyro, but I got to see Pearl Jam give what seemed like the performance of their career.

March 10, 2006 - Dream Theater - Pantages Theater, Los Angeles
My brother in law Terry flew in for a weekend of Dream Theater. We saw them the night before in Anaheim, and this was one of those occasions when a night can make a huge difference. This was my first experience at Pantages and Dream Theater gave a great performance. One of the highlights was their performance of Sheep, by Pink Floyd.

May 25, 2006 - VH1 Rock Honors Taping - Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas
The night that became one of a lifetime. Less than a week before this taping KISS posted a link for free tickets on their website. On a whim I went and sent my information and was quickly emailed that I had received a pass to the taping. Jacki and Darian were off to Texas and I took a day off from work to head to Vegas.

In order to stay out of the casinos I went to the venue 5 hours prior to the taping. Once we got inside I was able to get a spot against the stage in front of where Gene Simmons mic would end up being.

Acts included Foo Fighters, Queen, Godsmack, Judas Priest, All American Rejects, Def Leppard, a tribute band featuring Rob Zombie, Ace Frehley, Slash, Gilby Clarke, Tommy Lee, and Scott Ian, and KISS. The show was broadcast a week later on Vh1 and I was even able to get a copy of the KISS peformance in HD on a DVD. I can be seen on the front row throughout the broadcast.

July 10 - Pearl Jam - Forum, Los Angeles
This was the third time I saw Pearl Jam, and although I was hoping for a good show I had no idea what was in store. Jacki was with me and all I kept hoping was that the show would be good enough for her to enjoy. Not only was it good enough, it ended up being nearly too good to be true. Hit after hit, and even the b-sides pulled from their catalog were great. The band carried the energy of the 2+ hour show the entire time and the Forum ended up becoming an intimate venue with 17,000 of your closest friends.

July 26 - KISS - Chumash Casino - Santa Ynez
KISS returned from a tour of Japan and played two shows at the Chumash Casino upon their return. Jacki and I caught the first night of those performances. KISS advertised these performances as being stripped down with no pyro and that the attraction would be getting to see them in a small venue. The venue held about 1200 people and our seats were about 10 rows from the stage. As the first big chords of the show hit we had pyro. Everyone was completely shocked. And then KISS performed "Kissin' Time", their first US performance of the song since 1974. To top it off I even got a couple of Tommy Thayer guitar pics at the end of the night.

September 9 - Supagroup - Keyclub - Los Angeles
This ended up being a family outing. After some convincing I guaranteed they would have a good time. We all ended up having a great time. The opening acts were good, and we even discovered a new act called Vayden. After the show we got to talk with Supagroup, Darian got a picture and we capped off the night at Mel's. On the way home we drove back by the Keyclub and even got to yell at the Giraffe's guy. One of the funnest nights we had as a family all year.

November 4 - The Who - Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles
Accept no substitutes. The Who returned and put on one of the best concerts I've seen in years. The Hollywood Bowl even redeemed itself to me as being a viable venue, after being disappointed earlier in the summer at a different concert. They played a number of songs off of their Endless Wire release including a min-set of the Wire & Glass rock-opera. Highlights included Eminence Front and a beautiful closing with Tea & Theater. This also marked the first time I've been at a show where they will sell you a DVD of that performance. I received the DVD 1 month later in a beautifully shot anamorphic widescreen presentation.

Other Events
Other key events included the launch of my company, Helio, and of course my mom's wedding. Helio launched in May and to we now are offering three handsets in the market. The Kickflip, Hero and most recently Drift.

My mom married in July, and it was great occasion to be a part of. Of course the only odd part is for the first time in my life she now has a different last name than mine.

Now it's time to look forward to see what 2007 has in store.

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