Tag Archives: Joni Mitchell

Carole King & James Taylor: Two Musical Icons Reunited and They Sound So Good!

I’m a fan of the smooth, golden voiced James Taylor and recently stumbled upon a PBS showing of his concert with Carole King.  The show took place at the Troubadour, a legendary West Hollywood spot, back in 2007 to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the iconic musical venue.  The Troubadour was a place that many artists like The Eagles, Joni Mitchell, as well as Taylor and King performed early in their career.   What was intended to be a one and done show has turned into a world tour and the release of the cd/dvd combo pack of the reunion between King and Taylor.

I caught the tail end of the show and sat captivated listening to the distinguishing tenor of James Taylor and his acoustic guitar while Carol King accompanied him on piano.  Last night, I purchased the afore mentioned cd/dvd combo pack and treated the whole familial crew to a little bit of musical greatness.

Even though the concert is co-billed, only “You Got A Friend” is performed as a duet while the other fourteen songs receive backing vocals and musical accompaniment.  Speaking of musical accompaniment, the other musical trio in the show included original and longtime band members; Danny Kortchmar was on guitar, Leland Sklar on bass, and Russell Kunkel manned the drums. 

Keep in mind that it has been almost forty years since Taylor and King last played together.  The years were not at all evident in the show.  The intimacy of the show was certainly enhanced by the apparent love and respect that each has for the other. 

The fifteen song set list included:

  1. Blossom
  2. So Far Away
  3. Machine Gun Kelly
  4. Carolina On My Mind
  5. It’s Too Late
  6. Smackwater Jack
  7. Something In the Way She Moves
  8. Will You Love Me Tomorrow
  9. Country Road
  10. Fire and Rain
  11. Sweet Baby Jane
  12. I Feel The Earth Move
  13. You’ve Got A Friend
  14. Up On The Roof
  15. You Can Close Your Eyes

While these might seem like some obvious selections, consider the source and realize that anything that made the list would seem obvious given their long, tenured career.  These are two musical icons reuniting after forty years of successful songwriting careers and each has given us a litany of classic songs. 

There was the occasional banter between the songs with each singer regaling us with snippets of song inspiration, emotional connectivity, etc…  None of it felt forced or contrived, just two old friends talking about the good old days. 

Great music awaits!


You should be listening to A Perfect Circle!

A Perfect Circle is the ever changing heavy metal/hard/alternative rock group that was formed in 1999 by Tool’s Maynard James Keenan and guitar tech to the rock stars Billy Howerdel.  Howerdel’s resume includes bands such as Faith No More, Fishbone, Guns N’ Roses, Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails, and most fortuitously Tool.  It is through his work with Tool that he approached Keenan with his music and Keenan offered up his vocals in the event that Howerdel ever formed a band.

Fortunately for us, dear reader, that little venture came to fruition and has provided us with three excellent albums.  In 1999, the band comprised of Howerdel, Keenan, female bassist Paz Lenchantin, who later left to help Billy Corrigan create the forgettable Zwan.  Tim Alexander, formerly of Primus briefly handled the drums and was replaced by Josh Freese. Troy Van Leeuwen rounded out the band on guitar.  Easy to see why A Perfect Circle was bestowed with the over used and oft times kiss of death title of “Super Group”. 

Mer de Noms (translates to Sea of Names) was the debut album for A Perfect Circle and was released in 2000.  The album entered billboard charts at #4 and stayed on the charts for consecutive 51 weeks.  The album yielded three singles: Judith, 3 Libras, and The Hollow.

Their follow up album, Thirteenth Step, was released in 2003 and reach #2 on the billboard chart.  Shortly after the release, both Paz and Troy left to pursue other musical interest.  As mentioned Paz left to help create Zwan and Troy left to tour with Queens of the Stone Age.  In an ironic twist of fate, James Iha, formerly of Billy Corrigan’s Smashing Pumpkins replaced Troy on guitar.  Jeordie White a.k.a Twiggy Ramirez (bassist for Marilyn Manson) replaced Paz.

They quickly released eMotive, their third album, in 2004. The album is basically a cover album of political and protest songs.  There are two original songs on the twelve track disc.  The covers include John Lennon’s “Imagine”, Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On”, Depeche Mode’s “People Are People”, and Joni Mitchell’s “Fiddle and the Drum”.

A Perfect Circle Discography:

  • Mer de Noms
  • Thirteenth Step
  • eMotive

It appears that Howerdel was an apt pupil while working with the upper echelon of rock music geniuses.  Whether it is the musical theatrics of Smashing Pumpkins or the distortion of Nine Inch Nails Howerdel knows how to texture the music and get the most out of the accomplished musicians that make the band.  With Maynard’s vocals, A Perfect Circle is reminiscent of Tool, especially on Mer de Noms as it is darker and more bombastic while Thirteenth Step seem to be more melodic.

Top 5 Perfect Circle Songs:

  1. What’s Going On (eMotive)
  2. The Hollow (Mer de Noms)
  3. Weak and Powerless (Thirteenth Step)
  4. Judith (Mer de Noms)
  5. Blue (Thirteenth Step)

The bands last performance was in 2004 and it appears that they are on a lengthy hiatus with rumors of both their demise and resurrection surfacing over the years.  We may not have realized, ten years ago, how much we needed A Perfect Circle to broaden the musical landscape, but I think it is safe to say that we could certainly use them now given the auto tuned vocals and saccharine musical confections that pass for music today.

Check out A Perfect Circle at www.aperfectcircle.com.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=352RjUV_f1U

www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXlKkzjkheg

www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5xuY3OFHvA&feature=related

Great music awaits!