Monday, December 5, 2011

Of Colds and Classic Rock


Sorry, had to be said.

I just spent a week with a particularly nasty bit of a bug.  The blasted optimists would say I should be thankful that I didn't go down for two weeks, like my wife.  This little bugger just sat there and refused to leave, kinda like Congress.

While this thing inhabited my body, I was kind of useless.  If you ask certain people, that was not much of a change.  Suffice it to say that I kinda sat there with a fever and a fuzzy brain.

After a while, the game became finding something to do whilst sitting there.  Not wanting to waste a sick day on actually being sick, I went to work for most of the week. After four days I still had a fever.  I decided that would not do.  The typical remedy was failing me (vitamin C, echinacea, zinc) so I alternated between Daytime Cold Stuff and Nighttime Cold Stuff.

Taking my temperature is something that has never gone well at my house.  This tends to be largely a problem of not being able to locate the thermometer.  Yes, living with a multiple has many joys.  And I will continue to pin this on my wife for as long as I can because it's partially my fault: if I were that interested in taking my temperature, I'd have purchased a second thermometer (or third or fourth) and hid it where I could be the one who didn't know where it was.

So I used the shortcut used by men around the globe: "I feel like a have a temperature."  This brings out the Inner Nurse (who also doesn't know where the thermometer is), who holds her arm up to my forehead and announces "You're hot."

I thank her for the compliment.

But seriously, she's my wife and has to say that stuff now and again.   After she gets done explaining that, she tells me I'm really hot.  I decline to repeat the joke, no matter how much it hurts.

So by this point I'm reasonably certain I have a fever.

The thing is.... whenever my wife feels my forehead, she tells me I have a temperature.  Sometimes I just ask her for the fun of it, even when I feel ok.  Who says science is dead?

So I took a sick day in spite of myself, hoping I could use the three day weekend to heal and be back to work.

Three days later, I was a little worried, as I still had a fever.  Fortunately it left toward the end.

Somewhere earlier I was talking about finding something to do while I was pretty much no good for anything.  When all else fails, there's the computer.  And when the laptop is on the lap, there's internet activity.


As I've mentioned, I'm a little slow on the uptake.  I don't do a ton of streaming video or audio.  Somehow I located Justin TV.  This is a site where people create channels and broadcast things that (hopefully) others will view.  There is no shortage of entertainment and content there.  The thing that really confused me was the video games.  People play video games and broadcast them for others to watch (and sometimes comment on).  Since I'm obviously not of that demographic, I have to wonder if this is really popular or goes on elsewhere.  I could find out this information with a search but I'd rather just comment on it and scratch my head.

In any case, there is a ton of content to be found at Justin.  If you can possibly tear yourself away from watching someone else play video games, you can see movies, tv shows, cartoons, ancient programming, and puppy webcams.  While I am a sucker for puppies, I haven't spent much time there.

The first thing I discovered were the `conspiracy' channels.  And my oh my are there a bunch of them.  I seriously recommend viewing some of the content, remembering to question everything and use your BS Filter at all times.  A person could really learn something there.

Then I stumbled upon some of the rock video channels.  There's one fairly constantly broadcasting channel that has a comprehensive collection of videos and concerts (you can look this up on the site's directory).  There's another guy who runs concerts on Friday nights.  He's the epitome of internet amateur broadcasting: great content, amusing comments, equipment breakdowns during the show, and you get to watch him drink soda while he comments (Yay!).  He's the genuine article.

So without further interruption (or temperature checking), I got to see a lot of video while the germs steadfastly refused to leave my system.  Here are some random thoughts....


The Concert Dude<tm> ran a Whitesnake show from 2004 in England.  Like them or not, you have to admit that these guys are tight and put on a show.  Coverdale et al are something of a guilty pleasure (because my guitar playing friends laugh at me when I say Whitesnake) but there are some seriously good tunes there, combined with some seriously good playing.

The first highlight came when a young lady presented David Coverdale (or Coverversion, as Robert Plant refers to him) with some flowers and a note thanking him for his music and his voice.  He seemed genuinely touched but quickly recovered and thanked the lady for her f-ing t*ts, allowing as to how they were inspirational too.

I would have spit out my tea, spraying it all over my monitor, if this happened twenty years ago.  In spite of the fact I always laugh at fart jokes, it just seemed like David might have been a tiny bit long in the tooth to make these jokes.  Or perhaps he could have done it a hair more creatively.

Speaking of old fellows, one also has to give it to Mr. Coverdale for his voice.  The man can hit all of the notes, which is quite a feat for most people north of fifty.  I remember reading that he trained with a cantor after a vocal injury.  Regardless, the man sounds fantastic for any age.

The band was very well-rehearsed and tight (although way too old for Jerry Sandusky).  Tommy Aldridge played drums and has been with this incarnation of the group the longest.  He was a favorite of mine way back when he played for Pat Travers.  That was a killer rhythm section.  This man is a maniac on drums and makes the whole band sound better and tighter.   The bassist was Marco somethingorother.  They even had a keyboardist but he was way down in the mix.

Naturally the fun for me was in the guitar.  Reb Beach played largely second guitar, with his Ibanez custom Strat-style (with EMG pickups).  When he played lead, he proved himself more than capable.  He was more modern-sounding, for better or worse.  Doug Aldrich did most of the leads, using Les Pauls and Marshalls.  He used to play for Dio and had his stage act together.  This guy was something to see, with his fingers moving a mile a minute, perfectly executing the leads of the guys who recorded before him.  A lot of his trilling seemed to be executed with his first and second fingers, which is not common.  His tone was good but a little over the top with distortion for my taste.

It was funny to see most of the band shirtless.  I wonder, if I got to play all the time, would I be able to lose enough weight to look decent in only a vest.  Let's face it - I don't go shirtless because people have to eat - ya know?  Plus the hair spray would probably choke me first.



I got to see Ritchie Blackmore in Deep Purple and one of the Rainbow incarnations (with Dio).  Never got to see him live, so this was my first exposure.

I suspect Mr. Blackmore to have the best sense of humor in classic rock.  He never said a word but you could hear it in his playing and watch it in his antics.  At the end of both concerts, he annhilated his guitars.  Much as it hurt to see perfectly good guitars (John Hiatt) get smashed, it was also pretty amusing.  He thoroughly disembowled the Strats, yanking on the strings, breaking the headstock, using the edge of the stage to `play' the guitar, having a serious fit smashing the remains, and losing a few off the end of the stage.  He'd get another one from a roadie then proceed to atomize it, just like the previous one.  At one point he went through four guitars in minutes.  This was obviously before litigation became a hobby.

One thing I noticed in both bands was the tremendous control he had over the band. They watched him and he gave hand signals whenever he wanted something.  His equipment appeared to be stock CBS Strats into two Marshall stacks, using a reel to reel tape deck for delay and gain.

The playing was the real show, however.  From the bits I could see and hear, Ritchie seemed to almost be a bass player, as opposed to a guitarist.  He would play a single note then an octave up, just like the bass.  Not exactly a ton of power-chording.  Most interesting to observe.

Ronnie James Dio (RIP) fronted this version of Rainbow and was his usual animated (and short) self.  The man's voice defines rock vocals.  I also watched him with Heaven and Hell (pretty much Black Sabbath).  There shall never be another voice like his.

I tend to find power trios boring at times and this was the case with Heaven and Hell.  There's no denying Tony Iommi (another lefty) and his massive tone, but there's only so much one guitar can do, especially when he switches to lead.  Tony used his trademark custom-made lefty SG through Laney amps.  A good guess would be that he detunes his guitar south of normal E.


Speaking of power trios, I saw two Queen concerts.  One was at the Rainbow on the Sheer Heart Attack tour (Killer Queen was the big hit).  I'm at a loss for a date but I'll guess around 1972.  This was a concert filled with songs from earlier in their career. Unfortunately I'm not all that familiar with the earlier songs so it was a bit wasted on me.

Never wasted was the spectacle that is a Brian May solo.  He is a singular voice on guitar and manages to perform miracles in the power trio format.  His early work with delays was groundbreaking and still stands on its own.  There was a small mountain of his trademark Vox AC30 amps and his homemade guitar for the world to behold (along with all that talent).

The next concert was on the Night at the Opera tour (Bohemian Rhapsody was the hit).   There was a greater song selection because of two intervening albums, making for a more interesting concert (for me anyway).

Suffice it to say that you haven't lived until you have beheld Freddie Mercury in short shorts.

Well, maybe not.

In any case, Freddie (born Faroukh Bulsara) set the tone for rock frontmen.  He was bold, brash, incredibly gay, and had a voice that didn't have to be restricted to rock and roll.  [note to self: omit show tune jokes]

At the encore, they had confetti raining down on the occupants of the stadium, along with balloons tied to blow-up dolls.  Quintessential Queen.

Imagine a band with great writing, singing, playing, and a show.  You don't get that often.


Amongst other stuff I saw a terribly early video of ACDC.  It was black and white and featured Angus before the dark schoolboy outfit.  They lacked nothing in attitude though.  It was odd to see Orange amps onstage but who's counting?

I even saw the tail end of a Blondie documentary.  To be honest I never liked the band but it was interesting to hear their story.  Can you say cocaine?  I knew you could.


So out of sickness came classic rock videos and concerts.  If you're a musician or rock fan, you need to check Justin out.  Even if you just like to watch videos.....

I'd stick around a bit longer but I have to wake my wife to see if my fever is still gone.


  1. Earlier today I had written this really long and winding response to this article, but I clicked something wrong and POOF! All gone.

    So, I guess I'll just say that I'm glad to read that your health is improving. It sucks to be sick.



  2. I hate it when that happens.
    But glad to have you reading and commenting.