Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Them Crooked Vultures may make U.K. debut as early as tonight

The new supergroup involving John Paul Jones has been on a European tour, with last week's concert itinerary consisting of one club appearance and two festivals.

Them Crooked Vultures now appears set to repeat the pattern in Jones's home country.

The band has been rumored to be playing a surprise set at Brixton Academy tonight and turning up at both the Reading and Leeds festivals this weekend.

(Update: Tonight's rumored gig has now been confirmed as per updated Google Earth imagery on the band's official Web site.)

Tonight's gig has been rumored as an opening slot for the Arctic Monkeys, which is scheduled to perform a sold-out show at the London venue. Online music media such as Spinner, Gigwise and -- plus the British journalists behind, the Times Online and MTV UK -- have reported the rumors of tonight's appearance by Them Crooked Vultures.

Last week, the band shifted its approach as to fan-shot footage of its concerts. Just days after the removal of multiple YouTube videos was attributed to the band's Josh Homme, the band began using its own online applications to publicize some amateur footage of complete Them Crooked Vultures songs played in concert.

This started just after the band's Aug. 19 upload of 33 seconds of video footage of the band hanging out in the studio, with the audio backdrop of portions of their song "Nobody Loves Me and Neither Do I."

Several videos of Them Crooked Vultures can be viewed here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Dutch line up in anticipation of Them Crooked Vultures

There's been a long line at the box office at Melkweg in Amsterdam this afternoon as tickets went on sale for tomorrow's show by Them Crooked Vultures.

The band distributed a snapshot of the scene on Twitter today, which is shown at right.

Some on the band's official forum have been filing reports from outside the venue, saying hundreds had shown up to obtain their allotted one ticket apiece.

There's also an interview with some of the people in line, shown here.

The show in Amsterdam takes place at 9 p.m. tomorrow. It will be the second gig from Them Crooked Vultures, the new supergroup with John Paul Jones, Dave Grohl and Josh Homme, and the band hasn't confirmed any further shows.

However, it's likely the band will be playing festival dates very soon. Watch this space for further developments as reported by Lemon Squeezings.

In the meantime, a color version of the Chicago gig photo at is included among The Week's Best Live Shots at

(Update, Aug. 19: The Amsterdam show hasn't sold out yet. Remaining tickets will go on sale at the Melkweg box office beginning at 3:30 p.m.)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Zep's first two albums top Rolling Stone readers' favorite '69 albums list

Rolling Stone may have panned Led Zeppelin's debut album 40 years ago, but readers of the magazine have now voted it their favorite album of 1969.

And Led Zeppelin II, reviewed that same year without a straight face, was voted the year's No. 2 album.

Both LPs best the '69 releases by the Beatles, the Stones and the Who.

The list includes a total of 15 records from the year that yielded the Woodstock festival, and artists from that show are well represented: Woodstock performers Neil Young, the Band, and Sly & the Family Stone all have discs on the list, as do the Velvet Underground, the Stooges, Blind Faith, the Kinks and Captain Beefheart.

To read the complete list, click here.

The cover art for the current issue of Rolling Stone, shown at right, was designed by Shepard Fairey, who in 2007 lent his creative hand and pop-art stylings to the artwork of Led Zeppelin's best-of set, Mothership.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

At Woodstock, Led Zeppelin was never booked to play, says festival organizer Michael Lang

Forty years ago, the Woodstock Festival of Arts and Music took place on Max Yazgur's farm in Bethel, N.Y. As we know, Led Zeppelin did not play at Woodstock. But it is seldom understood why this was the case.

It is often printed that Led Zeppelin was at one time booked to play Woodstock but later opted out. This is not the case, says Woodstock organizer Michael Lang. Led Zeppelin was never booked to perform at the festival.

In a conversation with Lemon Squeezings last week, Lang remembered talking with Led Zeppelin's manager, Peter Grant, in 1969 about booking the band for Woodstock but was unable to obtain a commitment. "Their manager [Peter Grant] said he didn't want them to be just another band on the bill," Lang recalled.

It's an odd explanation, given that Led Zeppelin played similar festivals near Seattle and Austin two weeks before and after Woodstock, alongside many of the same acts that were at Woodstock. But when it came time for the three days of peace and music, Led Zeppelin took its serving of "Whole Lotta Love" elsewhere.

Woodstock was the second gig for a supergroup called Crosby, Stills & Nash. It was the breakthrough gig for a San Francisco band called Santana. Jimi Hendrix made an iconic appearance, turning the Star-Spangled Banner into an expression of how an abandoned generation felt about the war and the establishment. The Who played its genre-bending rock opera "Tommy."

Led Zeppelin, meanwhile, chose to play four gigs over the weekend Woodstock was taking place.
  • The first was a headlining gig over Jethro Tull and Sweet Smoke on Friday, Aug. 15, at the Hemisfair Arena in San Antonio, Texas.
  • The other three, however, were a short driving distance from Woodstock.
  • Two on Saturday, Aug. 16, took place at the Convention Hall in Asbury Park, N.J., with Led Zeppelin headlining over Woodstock act Joe Cocker.
  • The weekend closed with a Sunday night performance at the Oakdale Musical Theatre in Wallingford, Conn. Led Zeppelin was the only band on the bill that day.
By the time of Woodstock's second anniversary, a Premier Talent agent told Billboard magazine why Led Zeppelin didn't perform at Woodstock: "There's a misconception in the business that from a monetary point of view festivals are successful. At the time of Woodstock, Led Zeppelin played five dates around the area at triple the money. The festival audience usually travels from 200-300 miles to make the festival scene, which usually means a "barring clause" goes up against working the area. Zeppelin would not have been able to play those five dates if they had done Woodstock. The same is true today. I advise my acts against festivals."

Peter Grant addressed the subject in one of the final interviews he gave before his death. What he told Dave Lewis in 1993 indicated Grant's own personal preference for having Led Zeppelin be the only band on a concert bill, rather than one in a multitude. This explanation obviously gels with the one Michael Lang now cites. Lang's remarks to Lemon Squeezings on Aug. 10 followed a panel discussion and screening of "Woodstock: Now & Then," a new documentary directed by two-time Academy Award winner Barbara Kopple.

Lang served as executive producer of the film and is also featured prominently in it, as is fellow Woodstock organizer Artie Kornfeld, who also took part in the panel discussion after the screening. Also joining the discussion was singer Grace Potter, who was a generation younger than the others present. She said her dad skipped out on attending Woodstock because he preferred to see Led Zeppelin at one of the weekend concerts.

The documentary airs, in edited form, on the History Channel tomorrow night, Aug. 17, at 8 p.m. Eastern / 7 p.m. Central.

Them Crooked Vultures destination: Amsterdam

Tickets to an Aug. 19 performance by Them Crooked Vultures in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, are going on sale one day in advance.

Found online at the Web site for the Melkweg concert venue is a poster sporting the coded band name "8436 2766533 88588737" (the numbers you would press on the phone to spell out the band's name) and the band's scourge doctor logo.

(Update: The band's official confirmation of this concert came minutes after the initial posting of this concert on The official Twitter page of Them Crooked Vultures linked to a page containing the poster.)

Tickets are to be sold exclusively at the Melkweg box office beginning at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 18. To prevent scalping, there is a limit of one ticket per customer, and a photo ID is necessary for the purchase. The ticket and wristband issued at the point of sale must be brought back to the venue the following day for entry to the concert. Tickets are nontransferable.

The concert is scheduled to take place on Wednesday at 9 p.m. Doors to the show open at 7 p.m. Cameras and recording devices are prohibited.

For fans who did not attend the debut performance in Chicago, there is little to go on as to what the new music sounds like. The band is acting as its own gatekeeper, releasing elusive tidbits one at a time through online networking sites.

Not only that, but the poster for the Amsterdam show explicitly prohibits recording devices and cameras inside the venue. Likewise, security inside the Metro in Chicago on Aug. 10 kept many fans from taking pictures or video during the debut performance, and the few quality videos taken at that show have been removed from YouTube, apparently following a request from singer Josh Homme.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Jimmy Page's instrumental composition follows familiar path

Jimmy Page's guitar instrumental "Embryo No. 2," as heard during the movie "It Might Get Loud," has already had a 10-year life. It debuted publicly onstage at a concert appearance in October 1999, when its title was later confirmed to be "Domino."
It is assumed that five months earlier, Page included "Domino" among instrumental studio tracks he recorded with drummer Michael Lee as the basis for what they hoped would be a new album with Robert Plant. The singer had just bagged a set of tour dates and set about to avoid touring on memories with Led Zeppelin, but Page was still doing whatever he could to re-energize Plant so they could work together again on some new collaborations. He was unsuccessful in recruiting Plant back into the fold, and life went on for them both.
The next time Page and Plant reunited for any great length of time was eight years later, with John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham, in a group billed as Led Zeppelin for a tribute concert to Ahmet Ertegun. Following this one show, Page, Jones and Bonham spent parts of 2008 rehearsing for a touring and recording group they hoped would also involve Plant. That group never came to fruition. It is believed that "Domino" was introduced during the rehearsals, as Page reveals he "played [it] with other musicians relatively recently, in the last year or so."
Toward the end of last year, the original drummer on "Domino," Michael Lee, died unexpectedly.
Now that the instrumental, retitled as "Embryo No. 2," makes an appearance in the movie "It Might Get Loud," he says he expects to revisit the piece during his next musical project, the details of which will probably be unfolding in another year or two.
On the Led Zeppelin discussion group For Badgeholders Only, one user joked today that "Embryo No. 2" will make the 12-minute Led Zeppelin composition, "Carouselambra," released on Led Zeppelin's final studio album 30 years ago today, look like "a mere ditty compared to this, huh?"
There actually is a model from Page's past for the path "Domino"/"Embryo No. 2" has taken over the past 10 years. This involves several coincidences, and it foretells that the piece, when completed in time, will be well worth the wait.
Page first conceived an instrumental "Swan Song" in about 1973 or perhaps even earlier. He rehearsed it with John Paul Jones and John Bonham at the time, but the track was abandoned during the Led Zeppelin years. Meanwhile, Page continued previewing segments of it live during their concerts, fitting it in during his solo guitar showcase of "White Summer" and "Black Mountain Side."
About three years after the track's original drummer had died, "Swan Song" underwent a new name change, to "Bird on the Wing," and made it onstage yet again, this time with Paul Rodgers during their touring for the ARMS concerts. Now it had words too, born out of the loose Page-Rodgers collaboration. It finally emerged in finished form on the Firm's first album as the beautiful "Midnight Moonlight." Only through collaborating with other musicians did this final product come about.
By now, Page must realize he can no longer wait for Plant to be involved. He may never come around again. Whoever Page's next Paul Rodgers is will hopefully bring a voice to "Domino"/"Embryo No. 2" -- and perhaps under a new, definitive title.

Jimmy Page recasts his life story in 'It Might Get Loud'; echoes of Les Paul observed in another flick also showing in New York this week

Reminders of the late Les Paul permeate anything having to do with modern music. The 94-year-old guitarist and multi-track recording pioneer is remembered in two new music documentaries that premiered in New York City, coincidentally the day after his death.

In "It Might Get Loud," associate producer Jimmy Page employs a unique opportunity to relate some of the key stories of his musical career. His two co-stars are as mesmerized with Page as they are forthcoming with stories of their own formative moments.

Meanwhile, "Rock Prophecies" focuses on recent developments in the life of longtime rock photographer Robert M. Knight. For more than four decades, he has lived to capture still images of little known bands and artists who would later become the world's most seminal figures in rock music. In the '60s, his subjects were Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. Knight, in the film, says he collects rock stars. His shots of ZZ Top, Jeff Beck, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Slash, Panic at the Disco and many more are highlighted in the film.

In both movies, electric guitar features prominently. It is the central muse of "It Might Get Loud," which director Davis Guggenheim has described as "a love letter to the electric guitar." The instrument figures no less in "Rock Prophecies," where Knight's discovery of blues guitarist Tyler Dow Bryant at age 16 gives way to a turning point in the unfolding plot as Knight champions and courts the youngster to some of his formidable connections in the music world.

Knight, in his narrative asides and on-screen encounters, peppers "Rock Prophecies" with anecdotes about the musicians he's photographed. In one scene, he passes on to the young band Panic at the Disco some insight he attributes to Robert Plant: that the more successful you become, the lower the quality of the people you meet.

In "It Might Get Loud," numerous witticisms and observations come straight from the artists themselves in personal revelations by Jack White, The Edge and Page. When Edge asks Page what songs from his '60s studio session work in London he would recognize Page's uncredited playing on, the elder guitarist names one, Shirley Bassey's "Goldfinger" and immediately relates a story about the recording session. Edge follows up and asks if Page played with the Kinks, and the elder guitarist ends up saying yes but the reports of his pervasive contributions to them have largely been exaggerated.

While White discusses how unpopular it was to play any musical instrument in his native town and Edge recalls the impact the punk music movement and violence in his Irish homeland had on his music in U2, Page talks moviegoers through every phase of his career prior to and including Led Zeppelin. As a visual backdrop is a showcase of many still photos of Page as a youth.

The film may not have many new revelations for the ardent Zeppelin fans who have ingested the liner notes of every box set to the point of memorizing dates and facts, but this film may possibly represent the most accessible way for fans of rock music in general to learn, directly from Page, about his direct line of progress from his early road work to art school to his session days to the Yardbirds and, finally, Led Zeppelin. While playing an instrumental version of the recognizable "Ramble On" for the cameras, a cleverly placed voiceover from Page demonstrates the concept of "light and shade" in Led Zeppelin's music.

If "It Might Get Loud" is a love letter to the electric guitar, it is also a tribute to Les Paul. "Rock Prophecies" is a tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan and a love letter to Knight's mother, who is living with Alzheimer's disease under his care. Touching moments in "Rock Prophecies" make the film suitable for all audiences with a heart.

"It Might Get Loud" is playing daily in New York at the AMC Empire 25 and the Landmark Sunshine Cinema through at least Aug. 20. It is also showing in Los Angeles. Further theatrical release dates in U.S. locations have been scheduled through October.

"Rock Prophecies" is playing daily at the IFC Theater near New York University through Aug. 20. It will also show Aug. 27 in Aspen, Colo., and Sept. 5-6 in Seattle, Wash. Click here for more details.

Where might Them Crooked Vultures play next?

John Paul Jones, Dave Grohl and front man Josh Homme debuted their new band, Them Crooked Vultures, in concert during the first 80 minutes of Aug. 10. Following the set, there was no announcement of any further concerts.

However, a cryptic use of Google Earth on the band's official Web site soon led fans to believe a location would be revealed. So far, the location has centered on western Europe, including where two music festivals are taking place 200 km apart from each other in neighboring countries Belgium and the Netherlands.

For a larger map, click here.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Jimmy Page foreshadows his next musical project in new interview

Tomorrow's theatrical premiere of "It Might Get Loud" in New York and Los Angeles allows people to hear the early workings of some new music Jimmy Page says is destined for a future project of his.

As Lemon Squeezings reported in April 2008, the movie contains instrumental numbers called "Embryo No. 1" and "Embryo No. 2." These are the first new compositions from Page released in any form since October 1999.

Now, Page tells Billboard magazine he intends to morph these, and other new tracks, into fully developed studio compositions.

In exactly what setting the "Embryo" pieces will emerge, Page didn't specify. But he did tell Billboard he had "played them with other musicians relatively recently, in the last year or so."
By this he might mean John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham, even possibly with Alter Bridge singer Myles Kennedy. It has been widely reported that those four considered assembling a band for some time last year, even to the point of rehearsing new music and eventually going out on tour to support an album release.

By the end of last year, that prospective band project was no longer being considered. Now, Jones has just debuted his new band, Them Crooked Vultures, reportedly after six months of rehearsals and studio recording. Page, meanwhile, seemed to have given no indication to his manager, Peter Mensch what projects he would be working on in 2009. Mensch said in an interview with MusicRadar this January, "F--- if I know" the direction in which Page's career would head.

Page now tells Billboard what's been going on and what he has in mind. "This year I've had quite a lot of things going on," he says, "sort of things relative to preparing for projects. There's a lot of groundwork that's been going into that so that I can be getting on with things next year. I really intend to be doing some playing and ... be seen, if you like. If you've got ambitious projects, they take time to put together if you're going to do them properly."

Page's last publicly disclosed comments on the subject came in June, as reported by the LA Weekly blog West Coast Sound. In that interview, Page said:

"I've got some new music. There's sort of little tastes and shades of it in the documentary. Bits. It's just a question of actually doing it now. Actually getting a project that I've had in mind for a while. I've just got to go and do it. Don't want to tell anyone about it. But, yes, I've got a big project I'm working on."
As for tomorrow's public premiere of his "Embryo" pieces in the film "It Might Get Loud," Page says he is excited. He's even hinting toward a future DVD release of the film packed with surplus footage of songs its starring guitarists played each other.

"It's inevitable there'll be a DVD on the horizon," he offers. "There'll be some extra stuff from the summit, that's obvious. I know there's another number I did. There was a lot that was played at the summit, that Edge did, I'm sure, and Jack. I'm sure there'll be a DVD, and I can tell you with a certain confidence there'll be extras because that's the way things work these days."

Theatrical release dates for "It Might Get Loud" in various U.S. cities stretch into October, and a U.K. premiere has been promised for this autumn. Sony Pictures Classic last year purchased widespread international distribution rights for the film, which has been screened at numerous festivals worldwide.

After watching "It Might Get Loud" in a theater twice today (Friday, Aug. 14), I couldn't pick out "Embryo No. 1" either time in the film. It's listed in the credits as having appeared very early on, but I listened for it twice and either missed it twice or it was not really there. Have any sharp-eyed readers spotted "Embryo No. 1" in the film?
Also, I was somewhat disappointed to learn that this so-called "new" composition, "Embryo No. 2," is a mere remake of the instrumental that was called "Domino" and included during a Net Aid set in October 1999 with Guy Pratt on bass and the late Michael Lee on drums.
If there was no "Embryo No. 1," and if "Embryo No. 2" is only an unfinished version of an instrumental track written 10 years ago, then perhaps Page isn't all that far into what he describes will be a "big project"!

Further update:

After my third screening of "It Might Get Loud," I realize "Embryo No. 1" is what's playing over the opening credits. Furthermore, it's what you hear in the background between seconds 25 and 53 on the trailer. Listen!

Les Paul, father of the electric guitar and modern sound recording, dies at 94

Jimmy Page spent his teen years teaching himself how to play guitar, and one of the jazz guitarists who inspired him at that time was Les Paul.

Page once said, "Les Paul was so far ahead of the time, he was like a scientist."

Paul died today at a hospital in White Plains, N.Y., after a bout with pneumonia. He was 94.

In addition to being a pioneer in utilizing the complexities of the electric guitar, Paul was also responsible for developing multi-track recording processes.

Page grew up listening to the jazzy hit records Les Paul made in the 1950s with his wife, Mary Ford, on vocals. Often, Ford would be harmonizing with herself on two separate tracks, while her husband would be playing a lead track on top of a rhythm track.

Multi-tracking became an industry standard, and it is certainly a part of the Led Zeppelin sound on albums.

In the movie "It Might Get Loud," which opens tomorrow in New York and Los Angeles, Page tells his fellow guitarists Jack White and The Edge that as a kid, he used to listen to any records that had guitar in them at all. This clip, which also shows Page playing air guitar to "Rumble" by Link Wray, is available below:

Les Paul played weekly jazz sets in New York, often with special guests. Page attended Paul's birthday celebration on June 9, 1987, and the two jammed together.

Them Crooked Vultures affirm role as gatekeeper

See or hear any good song clips from Them Crooked Vultures lately?

In a move that saw the band flexing its copyright muscle, a handful of unauthorized videos have been excised from the Web.

Two high-definition videos shot by a fan while attending the only gig so far by Them Crooked Vultures have been removed from Youtube. In place of each is an explanation:
This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Joshua Homme .
The two high-definition videos had been viewed a total of 14,826 times in about 24 hours. Both videos featured clear footage of John Paul Jones, Dave Grohl and Josh Homme playing their instruments, although obscured by some heads in the way.

Probably more troubling for the band is that both videos also contained a decent audio recording of songs that have not yet been released in any form.

Four fan-shot concert videos, believed to be the first uploaded to Youtube, contain highly overloaded sound and their music is barely discernible. These four videos remain on Youtube, evidently not selected for removal in this first wave of deletions.

The two high-definition videos were removed from Youtube on Aug. 12 but were uploaded a second time each, this time with a notation pleading with the band:
C'mon Josh, it's awesome music, don't delete it, just show to us more amazing TCV!
Only one promotional video has made its way onto the video-sharing site courtesy of Them Crooked Vultures. That video, called "Nobody Loves Me and Neither Do I," matches 14 seconds of audio with an animated sequence starring some swooping vultures and three scourge doctors. It has so far been played 32,600 times.

Also removed from YouTube on Aug. 12, with the same explanation of "a copyright claim by Joshua Homme," is a supposed Them Crooked Vultures video that turned out to be a hoax. It claimed to feature a full instrumental demo by Them Crooked Vultures of a track called "Paved Death" from an upcoming album.

A U.S. Patent and Trademark Office record reveals a filing date of July 29 for the phrase "Them Crooked Vultures" by a Delaware-based limited liability company of the same name. The trademark extends to "entertainment activities" and the "production of audio and video recordings."

The band is attempting to exercise exclusive control of the release of not only its new music but also all details relating to an upcoming tour schedule.

Daily updates from the band direct Twitter users to images of the earth, each day zooming closer to a destination many assume will ultimately reveal the location of the next Them Crooked Vultures gig.

So far, the imagery appears to be closing in on a location in the North Atlantic, playing into a rumor that Them Crooked Vultures will appear at the Pukkelpop Festival in Belgium on Aug. 20, giving way to further festival dates in Europe by the end of the month. (Update, 1:32 p.m.: The image at the left centers just east of the United Kingdom and is expected to pan farther east as it hones in on the location.)

The Pukkelpop Festival announced on Aug. 6 that a so-called "surprise act" had been booked to perform on the festival's opening day, Aug. 20. The act is to go on around 9 p.m. on the Marquee stage and play for an hour, the announcement says.

Many users of the festival's Web site have guessed the secret act's identity is Them Crooked Vultures.

Whether or not they're right is something the festival says it will not confirm until the time of the show.

"Do not expect any hints, tips or clues from us," reads the festival's announcement. "We can only promise that you will be astounded by our 100% surprise act."

The band has also been mentioned in connection with the Lowlands Festival in the Netherlands on Aug. 23 (Update, Aug. 15: Now Belgium and the Netherlands look even more like a possibility. Click here to view a map of the locations of these festivals.), the Leeds Festival in England on Aug. 28, the Reading Festival in England on Aug. 29, and Rock en Seine in France on Aug. 30.

Monday, August 10, 2009

'Quite a buzz' as Them Crooked Vultures debut completely original set in Chicago; online forum and store unveiled night of show

Advance promotion of the gig roughly told ticket buyers they were going to see a band called "8436276653388588737." When split into three words, "8436 2766533 88588737" translates in phone number code to "Them Crooked Vultures."

Wyatt, a concert goer three rows from the stage, where he spotted a keyboard in front of him at stage right, said Josh Homme confirmed the band's name toward the beginning of the midnight set at Metro.

All reports Tweeted, texted, phoned and otherwise communicated either during the show or immediately after it seemed to agree that between 10 and 14 songs made their debut during the show.

Titles revealed from the set list include "Scumbag Blues," "Elephant" (or "Elephants"), "Caligula" (or "Caligulove") and "Spinning in Dandelions" (or just "Dandelions"). Wyatt recalled one song title as "The Last Breath You Take After You Give Up," which one Twitter user said he recognized as the original title for the Queens of the Stone Age track "Turnin' on the Screw." If true, cool.

Apparent concert goer JohnEPark writes on a newly launched official forum for Them Crooked Vultures, "
Unreal show. I came in with what I thought may have been ridiculously high expectations and they blew em out of the water in the first 2 minutes. ... Josh and JPJ both rocked balls. JPJ plays the bass 90% percent of the time, keys for a couple songs and the keytar for a song."

Wyatt confirmed the keytar, adding he saw Jones playing the keyboard as well, plus "a sort of portable lap steel" and all sorts of basses -- some with four, five, 10 or 12 strings each! On Twitter, NC17 mentioned, "John paul jones on strapped slide guitar."

Says logan5ive on the band's official forum, "The 1st song, Elephants, kicked major ass! That felt, without question, like witnessing an inaugural musical eruption."

NylonBandoleers wrote on Lollapalooza's official forum, "Pretty awesome show. ... Everyone looked like they were having a good time and they put on a hell of a show. Great way to end Lollapalooza. As for the sound, it didn't really bear a striking resemblance to any of their previous work. Josh Homme handled nearly all the main vocals, and John Paul Jones played some of the most ridiculous basses ever."

Twitter user DannyWirtz wrote, "Them Crooked Vultures is what happens when a good idea is also well done. a nice mix of all 3 bands ... Bring on the record."

Greg Kot's "Turn It Up" blog for the Chicago Tribune said the band "
sounded like it was on to something fresh, invigorating and just plain nasty." The meat and potatoes of Kot's review:
Homme handled lead vocals and guitar, and was unusually clear-eyed and affable, playing with more precision than he usually musters in Queens. And Jones, whose music with Led Zeppelin is an obvious touchstone for both his bandmates, was a huge presence with his variety of four-, six- and eight-string basses, a match for Grohl’s power and a counterpoint for Homme’s melodies. The group was rounded out by Queens alumnus Alain Johannes on guitar.

The set’s foundation was hard rock and hard edges, with Jones and Grohl going toe-to-toe in the engine room. Homme played more with texture and layering sounds on his guitar, the first memorable riff showing up four songs into the set on “Dead End Friends.” His high vocals were often bolstered by harmonies from Grohl, Johannes and even Jones. There were a couple of red herrings: “Bandoliers”” flirted with tenderness (Homme introduced it as a love song) and “Interlude w/ Ludes” came off as a prank, with Jones on keytar and a shimmying Homme in lounge-crooner mode. Otherwise, it was wrecking ball time, with the arrangements sometimes taking several turns before resolving.

Two epic tracks stood out. “Daffodils,” which hinted at psychedelia with reverb effects on the vocals and a massive bass tone, was capped by a Jones piano solo. And “Warsaw” ebbed and flowed, winding down to a low-key guitar-bass exchange before building back up into a slamming finale.

History tells us that super groups usually don’t last very long. But at least this particular one is off to a rousing start.

Then, Kot includes a transcribed set list:
New Fang
Scumbag Blues
Dead End Friends
Mind Eraser
Interlude w/ Ludes
Nobodys Loves Me
A review of the show on the blog Hightower and Jones is heavy on the adulation, if not the hyperbole:
To call it the greatest debut ever is like calling Kareem Abdul-Jabbar a mere center or Bruce Lee a simple martial artist. To call it promising would severely downplay the talent of the band's members and the songs that spanned their 77 minute debut.

Josh Homme, Dave Grohl and John Paul Jones took the stage with nothing to lose and nothing really to prove other than to simply rock and they did exactly that. Accompanied by an additional guitarist, Them Crooked Vultures performed a set of unheard, unreleased material that left the remants and sounds of their more familiar bands at home. Instead, they brought forth a sound that rocked, was funky, bluesy and, overall, nothing short of jaw dropping.

... There are bands who dream of sounding as perfect as this, even during a rehearsal. ...

Them Crooked Vultures isn't just another supergroup. Based off tonight alone, they're a group that could singlehandly bring Rock back to the top of the Billboard charts.
Another forum user, this one posting at the Rekords Rekords forum, writes, "It was mind blowing. If you asked me what it sounded like, I can only answer 'it sounded exactly the way it should have'. Honest to god, some of the best music I have EVER heard. John Paul Jones was incredible and smiling the whole time ..."

As for the prospect a tour, which was never really in doubt until a MTV UK report questioning it, consider the Crooked Vultures logo on the drum kit an indication that more than one show is planned.

In addition, Antiquiet's Skwerl promises, "We’ll have news soon on a headlining tour."

Also take into consideration tonight's launch of Them Crooked Vultures official store, which so far contains but one black T-shirt in four men's sizes. The shirt sells for $30 and ships for an additional $10. Inside the shirt reads the slogan, "Deserve the Future." The shirt and a concert poster were sold at the gig.

Another addition to the official Web site of Them Crooked Vultures: The scourge doctor now breathes.


The beginning of the show is here on YouTube:

Through an iPhone's distorted recording, the minute's worth we can hear of this song sounds like a heavy basher in drop D tuning:

Here's a portion of a jam in the key of A:

This appears to be the end of "Daffodils" because it has John Paul Jones playing keyboard just before a round of applause and what could be Homme uttering Jones's name to the jubilant crowd:

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Tonight's Them Crooked Vultures show a one-off?

Various rumors have been circulating about Them Crooked Vultures on the Internet. Although the band has its own official Twitter, Myspace and Facebook pages (update: official YouTube channel too!) as well as its own official Web site, all these communication platforms have done so far is confirm a single performance.

Rumors about a forthcoming album and the supposed preview of a demo of one song have hit the Internet this week, although not through the official channels and therefore of dubious authenticity.

One especially interesting facet of this all, particularly in light of the concert taking place 12 hours from now, is something sources close to Them Crooked Vultures have apparently told at least one media outlet about John Paul Jones, Dave Grohl and Josh Homme. MTV UK reported on Thursday:
It is alleged that the musicians have been working together on and off for the past three years despite the new super-group being played down as: "a few friends talking".

Sources close to the three rock legends are insisting that the gig does not confirm reports that Them Crooked Vultures will continue to play live or whether the new venture will lead to an album.
The initially publicized hint of a Grohl-Homme-Jones collaboration, as posted June 20 on the blog Plastic Pizza Party!, said the three had been "been holed up in a Los Angeles recording studio working on a new record. The new band name and record release date are currently TBD … keep your ears peeled kiddos."

That wasn't the only statement to lead to an assumption the project would yield newly recorded material or a tour. Going back further, Jones said in April he hoped "to be everywhere this summer" with "a couple of other people" who've been "working [with him] on some other music, which is more rock based."

But he also said, "There are some exciting projects coming up, let's put it that way." Projects, plural! Maybe Them Crooked Vultures is one project, and it's not necessarily the one that's touring!

This is just way too much hype to be all aimed at only one show. Of course, I guess we thought that of Led Zeppelin's reunion concert in 2007 too, didn't we? The seminal moment came in late January 2008, when Jimmy Page told reporters in Tokyo, "I can assure you the amount of work that we put into the O2 [concert], for ourselves rehearsing and the staging of it, was probably what you put into a world tour." There was no payoff from this other than just that one show.

Unconfirmed rumors of a Vultures album title (Never Deserved the Future), release date (Oct. 23, unconventional in that it is not on the usual Tuesday for the United States), record label (Interscope Records, same as Homme's band Queens of the Stone Age), and the supposed leak of an instrumental demo called "Paved Death" are all believed to be fake.

One other rumor, however, comes from Nech on the For Badgeholders Only discussion group about Led Zeppelin, who has been famously correct on several Zeppelin-related events and elusive whenever prompted to reveal how he came to know things in advance. Nech says Them Crooked Vultures has at least one more gig this month: at the Reading Festival in the United Kingdom, which is to be held Aug. 28-30.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Folk musician Mike Seeger dies at 75

Mike Seeger died at his home on Friday night at the age of 75, NPR has reported.

An American multi-instrumentalist well known in the folk music community, Seeger once told he did not know who Robert Plant was when he recorded for the album Raising Sand with Plant and Alison Krauss.

On Sept. 25, 2007, he said:
"I don't know if I should really make my ignorance known, but I didn't know who Robert Plant was. I've heard of Led Zeppelin, but I'm so engrossed in traditional music including bluegrass and country-western that I don't know other kinds of music much. ... I did know Alison Krauss. Alison is a wonderful singer and fiddler and bandleader ... and on the strength of her music, and with T Bone [Burnett] producing it, I thought I could help some."
Seeger's sole contribution to Raising Sand was on the closing track, "Your Long Journey." He proclaimed the track to be "one of the most beautiful songs in the genre." Fittingly, its lyrics surround the imminent passing of a loved one.

The version on Plant and Krauss's album bears a prominent autoharp track from Seeger.

When asked why he might have been selected to contribute to the album, Seeger told, "Well, I think it was that I play a fairly traditional-sounding autoharp style, and it fits with the older songs."

"Your Long Journey" is credited to the husband-and-wife duo of Doc and Rosa Lee Watson, who originally recorded it for the 1963 LP Doc Watson & Family (available on CD since 1993 as The Watson Family).

Seeger deserved credit for being awfully open-minded in his musical tastes. He was raised on a steady regimen of recordings his parents often carried back from trips to the Library Congress.

"I'm interested in a lot of sounds," said Seeger. "I was reared on those field recordings and my parents' singing to us and my brother [Pete Seeger]'s music."

Seeger lived in Lexington, Va. NPR reports that Seeger had recently been "working on a video documentary project focusing on current Southern banjo players."

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Them Crooked Vultures tickets hard to get, reminiscent of Led Zeppelin reunion concert

Great report today, with ongoing updates, about this morning's ticket sales for the Them Crooked Vultures debut show on Sunday night at Metro in Chicago: Click here.

Reminds me of the ticket fiasco to the 2007 Led Zeppelin reunion concert at the O2 arena in London: So many people logged on to get tickets that the system crashed. Click here to relive some memories.

And we're already seeing Them Crooked Vultures tickets on eBay and Craigslist. Reminds me of this.

Let the buyer beware: Don't forget, to get admission, the person whose credit card was used to purchase tickets must be present to receive the tickets upon entry to the venue. So don't buy a complete pair second-hand as the tickets will be unusable to you! You may buy a single ticket secondhand if you trust that the other person bought the pair himself or herself and will be attending with you. Only that buyer's identification will gain you entry!

One difference between the ticket sales method used by Them Crooked Vultures and that of the reunited Led Zeppelin in 2007 is the Ahmet Ertegun tribute concert involved being notified by e-mail and given a unique passcode with which to purchase tickets. Click here to recall why that didn't work smoothly.

Update: Jim DeRogatis of the Chicago Sun-Times reports tickets sold out in three minutes! He quotes a spokesperson for the band as saying, "They're doing paperless [tickets], so no scalpers. Make sure your readers know not to get ripped off!" See above; that's my advice.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Official: John Paul Jones to debut new band at Lollapalooza this weekend

It's official: Them Crooked Vultures will be debuting this weekend!

The supergroup including John Paul Jones, Dave Grohl and Josh Homme has been scheduled to perform Sunday night after the Lollapalooza festival in Chicago has concluded.

The aftershow concert is scheduled for a midnight start time, and tickets are to go on sale Thursday morning exclusively online.

The concert will be a midnight show taking place after a full day's lineup closing the Lollapalooza festival this Sunday, Aug. 9. Doors are open at 10 p.m.

The appearance was officially confirmed when an e-mail from, the band's official site, linked to the official ticketing page. An image in that e-mail also contained the same three symbols -- the Foo Fighters symbol, the John Paul Jones symbol and the Queens of the Stone Age symbol -- that bloggers had earlier noticed were together on by an unnamed act.

Also this morning, the listing of aftershows at the Lollapalooza festival's official Web site and the venue site also began listing ticketing information for an unnamed act but identified only by those same three symbols.

Jim DeRogatis of the Chicago Sun-Times, in an online blog, mentioned a rumor this morning that John Paul Jones and his new supergroup would be playing Sunday night at Lollapalooza.

Soon afterward, Brent DiCrescenzo wrote in another blog about the rumor and pointed to a page on with tickets to be sold exclusively online beginning this Thursday at 10 a.m. Central.

Word of the symbols on that ticketing page also appeared this morning on the Chicagoist blog and TankBoy's blog. Visitors to the venue's official site also spent some time guessing what the symbols meant.

Jones's management has not confirmed to any aspect of the collaborative project the musician alluded to in an interview this April with Women's Wear Daily. Speculation began in June that Josh Homme and Dave Grohl were involved.

Over the past few days, the group's name has been floating around the Internet as Them Crooked Vultures. It is this name that both bloggers use in their postings today.

DeRogatis points out the festival's management has not confirmed the booking. If it happens, he says the Grohl-Homme-Jones appearance would "provide the much-needed icing on the cake largely missing from this year's festival lineup by closing things out with a special intimate after-show Sunday night at Metro."

DiCrescenzo calls this event "one of the biggest 'secret' shows to grace our Chicago stages in a while."

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Them Crooked Vultures logo; is the vulture a relative of the Thunderthief?

Admittedly, I'm no ornithologist, but I get the feeling these two birds might be related.

The one on the left is the de facto symbol for Them Crooked Vultures, as shown at the Dave Grohl-Josh Homme-John Paul Jones supergroup's presumably official Web site,

And on the right is the cover of John Paul Jones's second solo album in the last 10 years, The Thunderthief. The bird shown there was designed by Peter Blegvad. Click here for my review of that album, released in the United States and Europe in February 2002.

Incidentally, Jones credited Blegvad, who also contributed lyrics to two songs on that album, as influencing him to try writing his own lyrics for a few other songs on the disc. See this mentioned in part 20 of the transcript of my interview with Jones in December 2001.