Eric Clapton – Minnesota Night

Minnesota Night is a nice little snapshot of Eric Clapton’s tour in support of his 1986 albumAugust which happened to be produced by his ol’ buddy Phil Collins. I’m not sure if Collins felt like he owed Clapton after the album got panned by critics at the time but in any case, Collins played with him for a number of shows during 1986 and 1987.

So what we have here is a fantastic sounding recording of the April 18th Minnesota show which featured a stripped down four piece unit that included Nathan East on bass and Greg Phillinganes on keyboards. It’s a stellar band and it’s also nice to hear Clapton as the sole guitarist in the group since he normally includes one or two extra guitarists in his touring band.

Even though I’m a huge fan of Phil Collins’ drumming, I have to say that his style is a bit too heavy-handed for some of the material featured here. Frankly, at various points in the show, his pounding backbeat overpowers the rest of the band and even ruins “Layla” by setting the tempo way too fast. But I’m a musician and I’m probably being overly critically about the playing captured here. In any case, this is a unique band lineup and I’m glad to have a nice sounding document from this tour.

30 Rock - Kidney Now - Milton Greene

Musical segments rarely work in a sitcom especially when it’s not part of the normal structure of the show. But thankfully last night’sKidney Now bit on 30 Rock finished off the show’s season with a bang. The show struggled with incorporating celebrity guests this season and I really thought Tina Fey & company were doomed with having the likes of Clay Aiken (never funny) and Mary J. Blige on the show. Yes, the spoken lines by Sheryl Crow and Elvis Costello were stilted and unnatural but I can forgive it all due to the fact that the ending tribute for Milton Greene was so well done. So often, songs written specifically for sitcoms feel like an afterthought but in this case the song “He Needs a Kidney” was the highlight of the episode. Check it out…

Wilco (The Album Review)

Even though I miss the experimentation that Wilco was known for before 2007’s “Sky Blue Sky”, I have to say that their latest release, Wilco (the Album), is still pretty enjoyable to listen to. One may wonder what really goes on inside Jeff Tweedy’s head but it seems pretty clear that Tweedy & company wanted to focus more on songcraft than the production or the performance end of things this time around. In other words, there are no extended guitar solos or complex layering of instrumentation on this record. It’s “back to basics” for the band and it definitely does place the focus back on the song itself rather than on a jarring guitar solo or a dissonant instrumental jam. and thankfully for the most part, the songs here are strong enough to bear the scrutiny. I do have to say though that there are a few moments on the album that are a bit too relaxed or underdone at times but overall the good definitely outweigh the few misses here.

The highlight for me is the song “Bull Black Nova” which is more complex in arrangement than the other songs and features some interesting guitar work by Nels Cline. The song is a dark and twisted snapshot of a murderer. “It’s in my hair, there’s blood in the sink. I can’t calm down, I cannot think. I keep calling, there’s blood in the trunk, I can’t calm down. Pick up! oh pick up!” It’s disturbing and full of tension and it’s simply Tweedy at his best.

Most daring and shocking videos on TruTV

Now that it has been a couple years since the changeover from Court TV to truTV, the network has proven beyond any doubt that it had made the right decision. I, for one, have been very impressed with how much the programming has improved since the switch. Their current primetime lineup is increasingly drawing viewers away from the other major networks by broadcasting quite an assortment of entertaining and compelling shows like Black Gold, Forensic Files, The Smoking Gun Presents andParty Heat. One of TruTV’s specialties is showing intense and dramatic real-life video clips through shows like Speeders and one of my personal favorites, Most Daring. Most Daring is probably the ultimate in “caught on tape” shows featuring the most incredible, life-threatening moments involving ordinary citizens. These are the moments that gets your heart-pounding and your jaw-dropping. the videos range from daring rescues to freak accidents to inspiring moments of bravery.

Here’s a video clip from the show that took place at a dirt bike racing event. The “holy crap” moment arrives pretty quickly when a biker plows straight into another biker at top speed. The moment happens in a flash and the video has to be slowed down and replayed several times in order for the viewer to full grasp what just happened.

Thankfully the crash wasn’t fatal but as you can see from the video, the outcome could’ve just as easily went the other way. What’s even more amazing to me is the fact that these moments were even captured on video. Most of these incidents happen at a blink of an eye and to have someone witness the event AND have the camera rolling is a major feat in itself.

The dirt bike video is just one of thousands that have been shown on the TruTv series. I love watching the show and I sometime catch myself with my mouth ajar or sitting at the edge of my couch while viewing some of this stuff. It’s THAT good. In fact, these types of visceral reactions among viewers of TruTV are pretty typical nowadays. They call it the “TruTV effect” and the network even has to caution its viewers due to some reacting too severely to these dramatic videos. And it’s not hard to realize the greater impact these videos have on people just for the simple fact that they’re from real-life events. The network slogan sums it all up pretty clearly – when the stories are real, the effect is actual. very true, indeed.

Fox renews Dollhouse for 2nd season

Sweet! According to the Hollywood Reporter, Fox will be renewingDollhouse for another season. The show had a lot stacked up against it especially since it was relegated to the dreaded friday night timeslot. But due to strong DVR and online streaming numbers, the network execs decided to keep the show going. Kudos to Joss Whedon for creating such an interesting show. Honestly, I think Eliza Dushku’s acting chops are painfully limited to carry the show by herself so thank goodness the supporting cast on the show is very strong. But ultimately what brought me back to the show each week was the intriguing storyline about the underground organization and the far-reaching conspiracy to keep it hidden. Oh, and the season finale that featured Alan Tudyk as Alpha was brilliant and showed how great the series can actually be when the writing and the performances are equally rock solid.