Month: October 2012

“30 Rock” season 1 DVD review

Image

With the Season 1 DVD just lying around unwatched, I thought that since I recently finished watching all seasons of Scrubs that I’d chuck on 30 Rock. What I discovered is that 30 Rock is actually quite similar to Scrubs in a number of ways. They both utilise a single-camera setup, they are both primarily set in the central character’s workplace and both have a wide range of memorable characters. Even the writing and humour of the two shows I found to be quite similar. While I think Scrubs is a more creative show, it would be unfair for me to compare the two when I’ve only seen one season of 30 Rock.

30 Rock is an American TV show starring and created by Tina Fey. It’s a sitcom that satirises television, and draws inspiration from Fey’s experience writing for Saturday Night Live30 Rock is set in a television studio where Fey’s character Liz Lemon works with her employees to produce a weekly live sketch comedy show while also dealing with her personal life. While Liz Lemon is undeniably the central character, 30 Rock features an ensemble cast, with 7 cast members in Season One.

The series begins when Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) becomes the new network executive and it’s his job to reboot Liz Lemon’s series The Girly Show. He convinces Lemon to hire actor Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan), who has previously demonstrated wild behaviour in the past. Donaghy makes major changes to the show, such as its name and focusing it on Tracy, which takes the attention off attention-craving Girlie Show star Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski). Other main characters are Pete Hornberger (Scott Adsit), the wise producer with a troubled marriage; Kenneth Parcell (Jack McBrayer), the hilariously naive NBC page; and the rude and disgusting writer Frank Rossitano (Judah Friedlander). All the characters, including the supporting cast, are great and it’s fun to watch them develop during the season. Alec Baldwin’s character almost makes the show and it’s worth watching 30 Rock just to see what Jack Donaghy gets up to. Frank is the most underdeveloped character on the show, and he seems more like a peripheral character at times rather than a main cast member.

I really enjoyed the season; nearly all of the episodes are really funny and memorable. The more 30 Rock you watch, the better it gets. There were plenty of hilarious situations and character moments. Even the pilot episode provides a lot of laughs. I can only recall one subpar episode, which had rather poor writing and an ending that went a little bit too far. The final episode also doesn’t end the story arcs on a very satisfying note. Despite this, I really want to keep watching.  If only I can get my hands on the second DVD.

And speaking of the DVD, there are absolutely no special features. There’s no commentary, not even subtitles. You get what you get – 21 episodes on three discs.

It’s never a dull moment with 30 Rock, with the writing being both sharp and witty. The cast members are outstanding, and you’ll love them more and more as well as the show itself the more you watch. I think everyone should give this show a chance, especially if you’re a fan of Scrubs.

I give 30 Rock Season One a score of 4/5. The DVD features (or lack thereof) did not impact the score.

Note: I wrote this review at least 3 months ago. I saved it for a special moment, such as now as my studies are getting a little too hectic for me to find time to write these. Just so you know, I am currently up to Season 4, Kenneth is currently my favourite character and the show just gets better and better. It just started its final season, so now is the perfect time to watch it!

Steel Panther 2012 Concert

Steel Panther create one of the most enjoyable concert experiences ever. In fact, this heavy metal/glam metal/hair metal/hard rock band put on not just a concert, but a really really good show!

Sunday night was the second time I’ve seen Steel Panther. I had regrettably missed their sideshow with Alter Bridge so had to resort to a meagre 40 minutes of heavy hilarity at Soundwave. Steel Panther were the band I was looking forward to the most, although to be honest that Soundwave line-up wasn’t really doing it for me. Everyone I know that saw them thought they were killer, with awesome songs and hilarious on-stage banter. They are the only band that can talk so much without annoying the audience, even with only 40 minutes.

I did have high hopes for Steel Panther’s first headlining show in Australia, and I have to say, it was even better than I was expecting!!

Opening act The Art, an Australian band, played a tough gig. People go to Steel Panther’s show to see Steel Panther and nothing else. They weren’t bad.  There was even a drum solo in there, which was actually pretty good. I hope these guys find success later on, because they played well.

Steel Panther opened with what I was missing the most from Soundwave, “Supersonic Sex Machine”. It works so well as an opener. It pumped up the crowd and then the band wasted no time, playing the next song, “Tomorrow Night”. This song has a perfect chorus to sing along to, and was a taste of things to come.

Then the band talked for 5 minutes and it was hilarious. These guys can crack good jokes. Then they played “Fat Girl”, the first song in the set where the girls in the audience started flashing their breasts. It was also the first great sing along of the night, with the crowd singing louder than the band at times.

All four members of the band brought their 110% to the gig, and you could tell. Didn’t matter whether they were playing songs off their debut Feel the Steel or the latest album Balls Out; Satchel’s guitar riffs were killer, Michael Starr’s vocals sounded amazing and Lexxi Foxx on the bass worked well with Stix Zadinia to create a fantastic rhythm section.

I’ve never seen a concert where the crowd sang the words loud to every song, but Steel Panther’s audience came pretty damn close and it was spectacular. The vibe created by the first three songs continued throughout the entirety of the main set, with moshing, sing alongs and topless girls on stage. Things did slow down a bit with the ballads “If You Really Really Love Me” and “Girl From Oklahoma”, the latter of which may have been one of the funniest songs of the night. A girl got on stage and sat with Starr; he dedicated the song to her and it was absolutely priceless.

My favourite Steel Panther song is “Just Like Tiger Woods” and I remember one downside I picked up on when I saw the band at Soundwave. That song has up to 3 or 4 guitar parts, but when played live Satchel is the only one on the guitar – no backup guitarists standing in the shadows of the stage. I was definitely able to tell that something was missing during the second verse when the extra guitars are obvious. This took away from the live performance of the song. That was at Soundwave, however Sunday night I was singing every single word with the crowd that I didn’t even notice the missing guitar part. This band is legendary…as long as you give them a headlining set.

Satchel’s guitar solo was really cool. This band started out just playing covers every week, and this solo was a call back to those days. The first half of the solo consisted of all the guitar tricks you could think of back in the ‘80s. The second half saw Satchel jumping behind the drum kit and hitting the bass drum pedal while going through a variety of classic guitar riffs. I heard riffs from Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Deep Purple and Judas Priest. He also played a quick classical piece. It was absolutely awesome.

If there are going to be pornstar signings at any concert, it had to be at Steel Panther’s, and the band would be nuts to miss the opportunity to bring them on stage. During the last couple songs of the main set, the adult actresses joined girls from the audience on stage and they were all over each other. These two songs, “Party All Day” and “Death to All But Metal” with the girls on stage and the crowd yelling out the lyrics, probably best represented what this band is about. It was the pinnacle of what the fans came to see.

There was still so much excitement when the band came on for the encore. They resumed playing with “Community Property”, possibly the greatest power ballad of all time…and possibly the greatest sing along ever. The crowd won the battle with the PA with this song. It’s one of those songs that everyone in the venue knows.

The band finished up with a couple more moshers, “Eyes of a Panther” and “17 Girls in a Row”. There was plenty of crowd surfing and it was clear that the band had ended on a high note.

I must say, I thought the sound was great and the lighting was cool too. While there were no screens, the lights added plenty to the show and it seemed that nearly all the songs had lighting to match. It’s clear that the band had the best people working behind closed doors.

I will definitely not be forgetting this show because it was one of the most memorable gigs I’ve been to in a long time. The entertainment continued between songs, with hilarious dialogue from the band. The crowd clearly bought these tickets to see a Steel Panther show, and the band fed on the crowd’s energy to create one of the most fun times I’ve had at a concert ever. Honestly, the only flaw I can think of is that they didn’t play “Weenie Ride”, but I’m not sure if that’s fair. Obviously if you don’t like Steel Panther you wouldn’t go, but I really, really recommend that the rest of you go buy tickets to these shows next time they come to Australia. Do buy their albums too, because they capture the energy and style of the ‘80s so well. I paid less than $70 for this gig, and if I paid $150 I still would’ve had my money’s worth. I’m dead serious, if the band had a second Melbourne show this tour I would’ve been there. If someone asked me what bands that I believed everyone must see live before they die (only the bands I have actually seen count), Steel Panther would definitely be one of them, alongside U2 and AC/DC.

Rating: 5/5

Setlist below, with my favourites in bold.

In the Future
Supersonic Sex Machine
Tomorrow Night
Fat Girl (Thar She Blows)
Asian Hooker
La Grange snippet (ZZ Top cover)
That’s What Girls Are For
Just Like Tiger Woods
If You Really, Really Love Me
Girl From Oklahoma
The Shocker
Guitar Solo
Turn Out the Lights
Party All Day (Fuck All Night)
Death to All But Metal

ENCORE
Community Property
Eyes of a Panther
17 Girls in a Row

http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/steel-panther/2012/festival-hall-melbourne-australia-43dd3743.html

Joe Walsh – Analog Man

Image

“Hotel California”. Know that song? Good! Heard of the Eagles, as in the American band? Excellent! What about Joe Walsh, one of their members who plays guitar and has sung lead vocals in a few of their tracks? Did you know about his solo stuff and former band James Gang? Do you know he tried to make his most famous song, “Life’s Been Good”, replace the American national anthem? If you know all that stuff, great! I bet most of you youngins would have struggled with any of those questions aside from the first two. You have a lot to learn, read on!

Actually everything I just wrote up there sums it up quite well. He was part of a band called James Gang in the 60s and 70s and became the main attraction of that band with his guitar playing. In late 1975 he joined the Eagles and performed on their most famous album, Hotel California as well as the iconic title track from that album. He has also released many solo albums, although Analog Man, released this year, is his first in 20 years. I keep hearing how the Eagles hate each other (well it can’t be too perfect in the world of rock n roll), so it makes sense that all four members (plus the one that got fired) have been working on solo albums since the last Eagles studio release.

I was correct in the title of the album alluding to the fact that Joe Walsh is a man who grew up with analogue technology, and I thought this meant the album would be recorded on tape, much like Foo Fighter’s recent record, Wasting Light. From what I can tell, the album has actually been recorded digitally, with the title track telling us how Walsh is “an analog man in a digital world”. The penultimate track, “Funk 50”, is a digital version of the tracks “Funk 48” and “Funk 49” that he wrote with James Gang. This indicates a key theme of the record is Walsh’s old age, and he presents the lyrics the way he always does, with honesty and wit.

Analog Man is a great comeback album for Walsh. It’s very tightly cut, only spanning 36 minutes, a decision that most likely can be attributed to producer Jeff Lynne. Instead of making up for lost time by stuffing the record with as much content as possible (ala AC/DC’s Black Ice), the album gives listeners a great set of songs and not much else. While I wouldn’t say there are killer hit singles on Analog Man, unlike the other albums I’ve reviewed this year, there is less filler present.

The record has both rock songs and pop songs. It will please both Joe Walsh and Eagles fans. The first time I heard “Lucky That Way” I immediately thought of the early Eagles songs such “Peaceful Easy Feeling”, “Tequila Sunrise” and especially “Best of my Love”, as “Lucky That Way” has a very similar chord progression. It’s interesting as those are the songs before Joe Walsh joined the group. Eagles fans may remember “One Day at a Time” making an appearance on the Farewell 1 Tour DVD and here’s the song’s official recording after 7 years.

My surprise favourite song on the album is “Family”. A very old school sounding pop track, “Family” is literally just about that. This is going to sound douchy as, but this song is perfect. Perfect composition, perfect music, perfect structure, perfect vocal delivery and perfect lyrics. I actually have nice thoughts about my family when I listen to this song. With all love songs being about partners, it’s nice to have a song just about a loving family.

Joe Walsh has received critical acclaim as a guitarist, and just when I was worried there wasn’t enough guitar work on this album, the album ends with “India”, a digitalised instrumental track showing off what Walsh does best. It’s a nice way to finish.

Analog Man is a Joe Walsh album through and through. It has his humour, his storytelling and some good guitar work. Some more solos would have been great and some more ambition, as this is a rather safe affair. Analog Man is still a good album that has been tightly cut, giving us the best bits and only the best bits. Good comeback albums are acclaimed when they sound the way the fans wanted them to do, and Analog Man succeeds in doing so.

Rating 4/5.

 

Tracklisting below, with my favourites in bold.

  1. “Analog Man”-  4:03
  2. “Wrecking Ball” – 3:45
  3. “Lucky That Way”– 4:14
  4. “Spanish Dancer” – 3:49
  5. “Band Played On” 4:03
  6. “Family” – 4:21
  7. “One Day At A Time” – 3:18
  8. “Hi-Roller Baby” – 3:18
  9. “Funk 50” – 1:57
  10. “India” – 3:44