Monday, April 02, 2007

Some musings about good music and the new Shaw-Blades CD

There are several things I tend to like in bands.
1. I like bands with strong vocal harmonies. I think this is often a way to sort out the real musicians from the wannabe rock/pop stars. If they can really sing well together; especially if they do more than the basic 1-3-5 kinds of harmonies, I appreciate it.
2. Related to this, I enjoy strong tenor voices. I don't have one, and really don't even have a falsetto. I tend to enjoy music where guys can really hit the high notes with force.
3. I like top-notch musicianship. As a guitar player, I'm especially drawn to bands with good--or at least creative--guitarists. But I'm just as content to listen to any other instrument, if the person playing has a good mastery of the instrument.
4. I like music that is surprising and well planned out to the Nth degree. I enjoy listening to blues/jazz/jam band music while I'm working around the house, but when I really want to listen to something, I have less of an appreciation for improv, and prefer music that has been agonized over at every measure. I have little use for plain old 1/4/5 chord progressions in every song, or for cheesy love song after cheesy love song.

Because of these reasons, I really like bands such as: Rush, Yes, Radiohead, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Led Zeppelin, Queen, King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Kansas, Boston, etc. I like most progressive rock.

I purchased a CD yesterday that I'm very fond of. It's by Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades; the lead singers of Styx and of Night Ranger. They record as "Shaw-Blades" Both are powerful tenors. The CD is called "Influence". It is all covers of songs that have been very influential on them as musicians. Some are better than others. I thought the weakest remake was "For What It's Worth". The reason I bought the CD is because I had been hearing "Your Move" (originally part of "I've Seen All Good People" by Yes) on the radio. I never thought I would like to hear someone sing it besides John Anderson, but these guys really do the song justice. The CD is a lot like a playlist I might make on my IPod. It's a bunch of greatest hits from some of the better acts in the later '60's that have been remade; some with different twists on them.

I think what I really like about this CD is that you can tell by the sound of their voices how much they really love singing these songs. It's not American Idol, where some puppet just sings what they have to to make a buck. Even though it's a cover CD (which I normally frown on tremendously), there's somethign pure about it. One review I read criticized them for not making more of the songs "their own". I kind of appreciated that they didn't have to screw all of them up, pretending like it's original to play someone else's song (You hear that, P-Diddy!?!). Many of them are very similar to the original, but I think in several cases that's a good thing.

Here's the link to the CD at Amazon.

Have any of you heard this one yet? "Your Move" seems to be the most played track from the CD so far on the radio.


  1. Have you heard "Knife" by Grizzly Bear and "Province" by TV On the Radio?

    You might like it. (Bowie sings on "Province")

  2. I haven't heard either of them, but I'm about to check them out on I-Tunes. Thanks for the recommendations!

  3. Dragonforce! You gotta check out Dragonforce. They aren't prog, but they have very strong falsetto and awesome, creative guitars.

  4. Oh yeah, I saw a video of them on Youtube. Those guys are nuts! Great guitar players. Very very over the top, but also very entertaining! Too bad stuff like them can't quite make it mainstream.