Scott Plummer

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Albums I think everyone should own, or at least listen to.

Posted by Scott Plummer on October 21, 2008

AKA. My essential albums.

Let me make this clear, this isn’t a mandate. I am not going to insist that you go out and listen to these, it is merely a suggestion. With that being said I hope that you do seek out at the very least some of the songs mentioned. Some of the descriptions/reasons are longer than other because I was trying to make them stream of conscious. When my thoughts on one album stopped, I moved on to the next. There is no particular order.

Without further delay, here we go.

Rush – Snakes And Arrows
If you know me then you know that I am a massive Rush fan so it should be no surprise that Rush album makes this list. What may be surprising is which album I chose. Snakes And Arrows is Rush’s most overtly political album. In my opinion, except for Moving Pictures, it is their most accessible album for the non-initiated. With wide open acoustic guitar behind nearly every track S & A moves effortlessly from the in your face opening track Far Cry, to the emotionally tinged acoustic solo Hope. The talents of the three members are evident throughout. Especially noted is the vocals of Geddy Lee, which while I like, are an acquired taste for most listeners. On Snakes And Arrows the shrieking of the 70’s is gone for the most part and the vocal melodies are some of the best Geddy has ever written. The band has stated that they believe it is some of the best work they have ever done, and backed it up by featuring 9 tracks from the album on the accompanying tour, something that is relatively unheard of.

Genesis – We Can’t Dance
Another no brainer for the list as Genesis is another favorite of mine. It is also may be surprising that I chose this album. I was introduced to Genesis during the Phil Collins lead era so I have a natural afinity for that lineup. I respect what Peter Gabriel did for the group, and enjoy the work he did for them, but my bias is toward the PC lead lineup. We Can’t Dance was the final Genesis album with Phil and is in my top 2 or 3 favorite Genesis albums. The album spans a canyon of emotions from the humorous I Can’t Dance, and Jesus He Knows Me, to the sad and tragic Since I Lost You. The latter written after the untimely death of Eric Clapton’s son Conor. The group is too often criticized for being too “poppy” during Phil’s tenure as front man, but you can’t argue with the numbers. They sold a massive amount of albums and introduced listeners, like me, to the old Genesis. There are many pop like tunes on this record like Way of the World and Tell Me Why. There are also homages to their prog-rock past with tracks like Driving the Last Spike, Dreaming While You Sleep, and Fading Lights. These tracks are the best on the album for my tastes, expansive instrumental moments, powerful lyrics and emotion by the truck load. One track was an enigma for me for awhile and that is Hold On My Heart, a track some say would fit better on a Collins solo album. It is probably my favorite ballad by any group, ever. It has a special meaning to me right now with my current relationship “situation”. For a long time I felt this song was out of place on this album, but as I have grown and matured I can see that We Can’t Dance would be a different record without this track.

Imogen Heap – Speak For Yourself
While I had heard of Imogen Heap before, I had never heard any of her music. This was changed when I was introduced to the track Hide and Seek by a friend. Thanks Angie, I owe you. She thought it would make a good arrangement for a drum corp, I agreed and have started the arrangement, but that is a story for another time. Imogen’s style is hard to pin down, so I won’t try. She has an amazing vocal range and singing style I can only describe as “beautifully vulnerable”. The aforementioned Hide and Seek is the stand out track on the album. It is a cappella, sort of. According to Wikipedia Hide and Seek is “…performed with the sole accompaniment being the sound produced by a harmonizer (DigiTech Vocalist Workstation), creating an altered a cappella sound”. The result is mesmerizing. I have probably listened to this track upwards of triple digits in the just over a week since I first heard it. There are rock moments, pop moments, and electronica moments on Speak For Yourself. Something for everyone. It may not immediately appeal to you on first listen but don’t give up, there are plenty of treasures and gems to be discovered on this record.

Joe Satriani – Professor Satchafunkilus and the Musterion of Rock
Odd title? Yes. Brilliant record? Check. Amazing musician? Check. Joe Satriani is to the guitar what Yo-Yo Ma is to the cello, the definitive musician on his instrument. He really has to be heard to be appreciated. Joe drew inspiration for tracks on this record from Asik Veysel who was a highly regard Turkish musician. While there are notes, notes and more notes on this album, like all of Joe’s, this album has what may be my favorite instrumental ballad. Come On Baby was written for his wife, and like Rubina, and Always With Me, Always With You before it, it is a beautifully lyric piece by an absolute master of his instrument.

Pink Floyd – The Division Bell
This album, while Roger Waters may not think much of The Division Bell, it deserves a place as one of the best The Floyd have ever produced. A constant theme of communication, or the lack thereof is present over the entire album. It is spacey and ethereal at times, and David Gilmour’s amazing guitar work is ever present. The track Keep Talking, featuring speech excerpts from Dr. Stephen Hawking is a must listen as is the closing track High Hopes with amazing acoustic and pedal steel guitar parts.

Sheryl Crow – The Globe Sessions
I will admit that I am not the biggest Sheryl Crow fan. There is something about The Globe Sessions though. I can’t quite put my finger on it. I can listen to this album straight through which, considering it isn’t Rush, Genesis, or Pink Floyd, is quite an accomplishment for me.

U2 – Pop
My brother will probably not like this, but Pop has been, and will always be one of my favorite U2 albums. Their daring to go in a completely new direction is admirable, and contrary to popular opinion I think they hit a home run. The electronica influence is blatant, but some of The Edge’s best guitar work can be found on this album, particularly on Staring at the Sun. There are some quirky tunes like Playboy Mansion, and Miami, and some darker songs like If You Wear That Velvet Dress, and Wake Up Dead Man. The latter two are probably my favorite tracks. U2 got bashed for this effort, but like Rush, they are constantly looking to explore new sounds, and that is something I wish more artists did.

Yes – Talk
One of the most underrated albums Yes has ever made. This particular one is from the Trevor Rabin era rather than the Steve Howe era. There are two tracks that really stand out to me. I Am Waiting, and Real Love. Jon Anderson’s vocals are magical on those tracks and Rabin’s guitar work is masterful. He has a different style than Steve Howe but both have contributed greatly to this Yes’ legacy.

Phil Collins – …But Seriously
This album is Phil Collins at his best. From the political, Colours and Another Day in Paradise, to his bread and butter, the love song with Find a Way to My Heart. Thrown in for good measure are tracks with blazing horn work like Hang in Long Enough, and Saturday Night And Sunday Morning. This album has everything, including the massive hits Something Happened on the Way to Heaven, and I Wish It Would Rain Down. Phil is the consummate showman and performer and this album gave him plenty of material to showcase his great stage shows.

Dave Matthews Band – Stand Up
There are two main reasons I chose the DMB album Stand Up. For one, it is the last studio effort for the group to feature the late Leroi Moore. Second is their choice for producer in Mark Baston. Most known as a hip hop and R&B producer he took the group in a different and exciting direction. The stand out tracks on this album for me are Hello Again, and Louisiana Bayou. Two great songs that I dare you to not bob your head, or tap your foot to. An interesting fact on this album was Baston bringing in each member individually to play for him and sometimes having them play a different instrument than the typically play. The best result of this is Hunger for the Great Light. The guitar part for this song was written by bassist Stefan Lessard. Stefan, after laying the track down said that he didn’t care what Dave’s lyrics were, but that it had to be about, as he put it, “dirty sex”. Classic stuff.

If you live near me, or I see you on a regular basis I would be happy to let you borrow any, or all of them. Even better, come on over and we can listen to them together. I also plan on doing one of these lists for classical music as well, but with that it will be individual pieces, not entire albums.

~Peace
Scott

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Posted in Dave Matthews Band, Genesis, Imogen Heap, Joe Satriani, Phil Collins, Pink Floyd, Popular Music, Rush, Sheryl Crow, U2, Uncategorized, Yes | 4 Comments »

Funny Band. The Singer.

Posted by Scott Plummer on July 9, 2008

A while back I posted about a funny band. Not a group that plays comedic songs, but musicians that are not only talented musicians, but also happen to be quite funny. The original post can be found here. My original two members were on bass Guy Pratt, and on guitar Alex Lifeson. I have now come up with a vocalist, and that is Phil Collins, and if I don’t find a drummer, he will be pulling double duty just like he does with Genesis. What I find most humorous about Phil is his interaction with the audience, and his overall demeanor on stage epspecially in songs like I Can’t Dance, live, and the music video. So there we have it. Guitar, bass and vocals. This will probably be an ever expanding group, I am putting no limit to the number of members. Any suggestions are welcome.

Peace.

Posted in Genesis, Popular Music, Rush | 1 Comment »

Review (sort of) of the Pittsburgh Rush show.

Posted by Scott Plummer on July 5, 2008

Like I posted on Twitter, to borrow a phrase from Gary Vaynerchuk, the Rush concert in Pittsburgh on July 2nd rocked my face off. From the opening notes of Limelight, to the closing notes of YYZ Rush powered through an amazing set peppered with classics like Tom Sawyer, and The Spirit of Radio as well as deep cuts like Ghost of Chance and the crowd favorite A Passage To Bangkok.

The main highlight of the show, for me anyway, was the inclusion of 9 out of the 13 tracks off their latest, and possibly best album, Snakes and Arrows. Don’t get me wrong, I loved hearing Red Barchetta, 2112, Natural Science, etc. but this is, after all the Snakes and Arrows tour, and the music from that album should be featured.

Pittsburgh always seems to be a special show for Rush, as it was the first city they performed at with the classic Lee, Lifeson, Peart lineup. This evening was no different. Their playing was inspired. Alex’s lead/rhythm hybrid style of playing was spot on, Lee was on top of his game with his multi-instrument dexterity and vocals. Neil Peart, was, well Neil Peart. One of the best visuals of the night was seeing the intense concentration on my brother’s face during Neil’s amazing, marathon drum solo. My brother also happens to be a drummer.

This was the 7th time I have seen Rush live, and I have never been disappointed by a show. They are artists of the highest order who play for the fans, not for the ever increasingly hard to please music critics, and magazines. This is a band that deserves every award they have received, but have not received the one award they more than deserve. C’mon Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, let’s get Rush in there. I know they don’t care that they haven’t been inducted, but I am also pretty sure they wouldn’t turn it down either. While you’re at it Genesis and Yes should be there too. But that is a post for another time.

Peace.

Posted in Genesis, Popular Music, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Rush, Yes | 3 Comments »

HOLY CRAP A POST!!!

Posted by Scott Plummer on June 29, 2008

I know it’s been awhile since I posted but I just wanted to update anyone who might actually read this as to what has been going on. June has been pretty crazy. I’m settled into the apartment in Mt. Washington, and found out that two friends from IUP live up here too, Angie, and Walt. I went to Binghamton New York the first weekend of June for a friends master’s degree grad party. I spent Father’s day weekend in Latrobe with the family. I saw Jonathan Coulton and it rocked. His music has been dominating my playlist recently. I played a full ninety minutes at left back for an over 30 soccer game and will be playing full time again in the fall, I can’t wait for that. There was also the 2nd annual DTA picnic in Indiana, and this past weekend I was in Williamsport for the 40th Boyer family reunion. This week is going to be pretty jam packed too. On the 2nd, my brother Chris and I are going to see Rush at Post-Gazette Pavillion, my review will come sometime after the concert. Thursday is Chris’ birthday, and of course Friday is the 4th of July which I’ll be spending in Latrobe hanging out with my great family and friends. I am also going to try and squeeze in a trip to see Angie march for the Reading Buccaneers, hopefully I can fit that in, I think I have some time in July. I’m thinking about going to DCI finals in Bloomington Indiana the second weekend of August if I can find someone to go with, more on that later. I also am going to have an update to my funny band post of a few months back in the coming days/weeks. I’m going to try and blog more, we’ll see how that goes.

Peace.

Posted in Friends, IUP, Popular Music, Rush, Sports | 1 Comment »

Funny band.

Posted by Scott Plummer on February 7, 2008

I have been thinking lately about musicians who are also funny. I thought that it would be an interesting idea to “assemble” a super-group of funny musicians. I am not looking for the likes of Weird Al. I am not looking for people who make funny music, just musicians who also happen to also be funny. So far I have come up with a guitarist, and a bassist. See below for who they are and examples of why I think they should be part of the funny band. I need suggestions for a drummer, singer, and keyboard player, with examples of why they are funny. Suggestions for a name are welcome too.

Alex Lifeson from Rush on guitar. I couldn’t narrow it down, so here is a collection of his “rants” that he has done during La Villa Strangiato over the last few tours.

Guy Pratt, most recently of David Gilmour’s touring band on bass. Here is a few clips from his show “My Bass and other animals.” An interesting note on Guy. Along with taking over on bass for Pink Floyd after Roger Waters left. He is also the son-in-law of Pink Floyd keyboardist Rick Wright.

Posted in Pink Floyd, Popular Music, Rush | 2 Comments »

Two guitars, one person, playing Fur Elise

Posted by Scott Plummer on July 19, 2007

I saw this on You Tube via BoingBoing. This kid is great. He has some others on there too.

Posted in Classical Music, Popular Music, Video | Leave a Comment »

New arena for Penguins

Posted by Scott Plummer on March 14, 2007

As most people who care, and even those that don’t, know by now, the Penguins and state and local government have come to an agreement to build a new arena for the Penguins. There are plenty of articles out there about it and we are sure to hear more about it as the project moves forward. I was vocal in my dislike for something Mario Lemieux kept repeating throughout this whole process…”we were told that we were getting a new arena 8 years ago”. I am paraphrasing of course but this was heard a lot. I understood his frustration but I wanted him to move past the issue. I have since shifted my position on this, slightly. Recently the Police, and Genesis announced reunion tours, neither are coming to Pittsburgh. Why? The reason I have heard the most is that the facilities weren’t sufficient to host their show. Paul McCartney cited the same reason for not coming to the ‘Burgh a few years back. These rock icons could’ve brought huge money to the area if the deal had gotten done several years ago. The closest they are coming is Cleveland. Rush, my favorite band, while no dates have been announced, will be coming this summer and play at Post Gazette Pavilion, if they were scheduled to come in the fall they might have had to skip Pittsburgh for the same reason. I bring the issue up about these bands for those who think that the arena will only be used by the Penguins. This arena will be used more than the 41 home games for the Penguins.

Posted in Genesis, NHL, Pittsburgh Penguins, Popular Music, Rush, Sports | Leave a Comment »

NEW RUSH!!!

Posted by Scott Plummer on February 15, 2007

Just announced today, the first new album of original material from Rush since 2002’s Vapor Trails, entitled Snakes & Arrows will be released on May 1st. Preceding the release will be the first single called “Far Cry’. The single will hit rock radio in mid-March. There is a short sample of “Far Cry” on Rush’s official web-site. Rush is also planning to tour this summer but dates have not been officially announced.

Posted in Popular Music, Rush | Leave a Comment »

The Police at the Grammys

Posted by Scott Plummer on January 31, 2007

GIGWISE | The Police To Reform For The Grammys

Posted in Popular Music | Leave a Comment »

Untitled

Posted by Scott Plummer on November 22, 2006

Genesis tours again

Who wants to go to Rome for the free show? 2007 is going to be a good year for music, new Rush album and tour, and Genesis will be touring again.

Posted in Genesis, Popular Music, Rush | Leave a Comment »