October 2009

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http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKLV11497220091031?sp=true

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15) “Highway Star” (Ritchie Blackmore)

“Highway Star” is but one highlight of Machine Head, Deep Purple’s greatest triumph. Ironically, it almost never came to be. In early 1972, shortly after retreating to Montreaux, Switzerland, to record, the British band was beset by a wealth of problems. First, the place they were staying, which overlooked Lake Geneva, burned down—inspiring them to write “Smoke on the Water.” Then, in response to a complaint about excessive noise, the police kicked the band out of the ballroom where they were recording.

“We were stuck in Switzerland with nowhere to go, and a friend of ours who was the mayor of the town said that there was an empty hotel we could use,” recalls Ritchie Blackmore. “We gladly accepted and retreated to this lonely hotel in the mountains. We set up all the equipment in the corridor, with the drums and some amps tucked into alcoves.

“We had the Rolling Stones’ mobile recording unit sitting outside in the snow, but to get there we had to run cable through two doors in the corridor into a room, through a bathroom and into another room, from which it went across a bed and out the veranda window, then ran along the balcony for about 100 feet and came back in through another bedroom window. It then went through that room’s bathroom and into another corridor, then all the way down a marble staircase to the foyer reception area of the hotel, out the front door, across the courtyard and up the steps into the back of the mobile unit. I think that setup led to capturing some spontaneity, because once we got to the truck for a playback, even if we didn’t think it was a perfect take, we’d go, ‘Yeah, that’s good enough.’ Because we just couldn’t stand going back again.”

But while the vibe may have been loose, Blackmore’s solo on ‘Highway Star’ was well planned. “I wrote that out note for note about a week before we recorded it,” says the guitarist. “And that is one of the only times I have ever done that. I wanted it to sound like someone driving in a fast car, for it to be one of those songs you would listen to while speeding. And I wanted a very definite Bach sound, which is why I wrote it out—and why I played those very rigid arpeggios across that very familiar Bach progression—Dm, Gm, Cmaj, Amaj. I believe that I was the first person to do that so obviously on the guitar, and I believe that that’s why it stood out and why people have enjoyed it so much.

“[Keyboardist] Jon Lord worked his part out to mine. Initially, I was going to play my solo over the chords he had planned out. But I couldn’t get off on them, so I made up my own chords and we left the spot for him to write a melody. The keyboard solo is quite a bit more difficult than mine because of all those 16th notes. Over the years, I’ve always played that solo note for note—again, one of the few where I’ve done that—but it just got faster and faster onstage because we would drink more and more whiskey. Jon would have to play his already difficult part faster and faster and he would get very annoyed about it.”

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16) “Heartbreaker” (Jimmy Page)

Studio version (when Jimmy’s not drunk.)

Performing a convincing solo in a group context is difficult for any musician, but it takes a real man to stand unaccompanied and deliver. On “Heartbreaker,” Jimmy Page did just that. For an electrifying 45 seconds, Pagey let loose sans rhythm section, and, needless to say, the guitar world has never been quite the same.

“I just fancied doing it,” laughs Page. “I was always trying to do something different, or something no one else had thought of. But the interesting thing about that solo is that it was recorded after we had already finished “Heartbreaker”—it was an afterthought. That whole section was recorded in a different studio and was sort of slotted in the middle. If you notice, the whole sound of the guitar is different.

“The solo itself was made up on the spot. I think that was one of the first things I ever played through a Marshall. I was always having trouble with amps, and Marshalls were state-of-the-art reliability. By that time I was using a Les Paul, anyway, and that was just a classic setup.”

“We definitely recorded the solo section separately,” confirms engineer Eddie Kramer. “Jimmy walked in and set up and the whole session was over in about 20 minutes. He did two or three takes and we picked the best one, which was edited in later. However, to this day, I have a hard time listening to it, because I think we did a shitty edit—the difference in noise levels is pretty outrageous. But I don’t think Jimmy cared, he was more interested in capturing an idea, and on that level, he succeeded.”

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I don’t want health care “reform” to pass.

In addition to being the most regressive “tax” imaginable, with proceeds from that “tax” going to pad the balance sheets of insurance companies and big pharma, it’s a death sentence for too many Americans.

That’s it. I’m done with it. The last shred of “reform” has already been “compromised” away.

We can revisit it in another 20 years or so, after medicare goes bankrupt, along with the rest of the country.

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The defense bill that Obama just signed into law (LINK) contains revised rules for military tribunals.

It looks to me like they made only cosmetic changes — so they can pretend they made big changes.

(They falsely demonized the Bush-era tribunal rules, so they are now are in a position of being unable to use those rules without pretending they’ve made some big changes.)

I’ll post some excerpts in the comments to this post.

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17) “Cliffs of Dover” (Eric Johnson)

(I somehow heard that this song was listed in “The 100 Greatest Guitar Solos”. That’s when I decided to do this. I don’t think there are any more stinkers from here on out.)

“I don’t even know if I can take credit for writing ‘Cliffs of Dover,’ ” says Eric Johnson of his best-known composition. “It was just there for me one day. There are songs I have spent months writing, and I literally wrote this one in five minutes. The melody was there in one minute and the other parts came together in another four. I think a lot of the stuff just comes through us like that. It’s kind of a gift from a higher place that all of us are eligible for. We just have to listen for it and be available to receive it.”

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Profiles of Afghan Power Brokers

October 26, 2009

The following profiles represent a partial list of some of the major players in Afghan political society. U.S. attitudes toward these power brokers and ex-warlords have been ambivalent at best, and some actors have been alternatively embraced and pushed aside. The Obama administration will have to contend with Afghanistan’s entrenched power brokers and former warlords regardless of which strategy it pursues for the country. However, any strategy must recognize how counterterrorism cooperation with these figures works at cross purposes to the simultaneous efforts to build a state capable of resisting the Taliban insurgency.

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I know alvy posted something about this in one of the threads, and perhaps this would be a better reply there, but I couldn’t find it. It’s not that I’m too lazy to look, it’s that my nazi overlords are stepping up their efforts to live up to “the beatings will increase until morale improves”, so I just haven’t had the time I need to keep up with not only politics but my beloved board.

Be that as it may…

Who the fuck is in charge of our government? Seriously.

We’re funding drug lords in Afghanistan AND sending over DEA agents to fight (to die fighting) drug wars?

Surreal is the only word left to describe life in America.

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