“Stand By Me” (Ben E. King and/or John Lennon Cover)

Originally posted 2009-10-27 22:20:47. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

Welcome, welcome to another edition of the Laptop Sessions with me, Jim Fusco!  Tonight, I bring you the classic standard “Stand By Me”, made famous by Ben E. King and then covered by John Lennon years later.  And, no, I did not base my pick tonight on the cheesy movie we watched while growing up…

Tonight, as it has been in the past with a couple other songs, the version of “Stand By Me” that plays in my head is a combination of the John Lennon version and the Ben E. King version.  I hear the music to the Ben E. King version but John Lennon’s voice.  It’s probably because Lennon did such a spot-on cover.  Man, watching this video of John performing “Stand By Me” just makes me wish he were still alive to make music today.  I know he would’ve still been great today and that he would be coming out with the kind of music that Paul and Ringo are coming out with now (not to mention the great stuff George did before he passed-away).

Anyway, I’ve known this song for as long as I can remember- just listening to the radio growing up.  Then, while jamming with the Acai Berries a few weeks ago, we happened upon this tune and were going to do a cover video ourselves.  But, I figured I could just do it on my own because it doesn’t require another singer or really any other instrumentation (unless you want to be a purist and have someone play the riff constantly in the background).

As much as I don’t like the fact that my studio is gone, I’m really happy with the acoustics I’ve been getting!  You know, it’s terrible to have so much echo and reverb when recording a multi-track song, but it’s the greatest thing ever when recording a solo acoustic video like this.  On another note, I’m trying to justify purchasing an HDV video camera for two reasons: to play the high definition video tapes of our wedding into the computer for editing, and the prospect of having the Laptop Sessions in high definition!  How cool would that be?  We’re getting faster internet next week, too, so my uploads wouldn’t be too painful.  I’m watching an auction on eBay- let’s see what the Mrs. has to say…

We just found out this evening that we are CLEAR TO CLOSE on the house this Friday- right on schedule!  It was a rough ride getting to this point, but everything is finally ni place and we’re hoping that we’re all moved in and set up by end-of-day Saturday.  We bought all new furniture, hired movers, boxed everything up, got the condo rented- what a project.  The best part is that we’re doing it all at once and (hopefully) that’ll mean it will be DONE all at once, you know?  I hate stringing things out.  So, this weekend will be very busy.  But, hopefully things will be stable enough that I’ll be back with a fresh new video next Tuesday!  Then, the Acai Berries are getting back together to record some more tracks- we’ve got a TON of songs in mind, but we’re ready to do about four of them, so stay-tuned.

Have a great week (make sure to stop back on Thursday for Jeff’s post!) and please, please, please wish us luck with our crazy weekend ahead.  It promises to be one of the most important weekends of our lives!  Until Tuesday…



“Two Of Us” (The Beatles Cover)

Originally posted 2009-09-08 23:52:35. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

I swear we didn’t plan this… I’m sure by now, if you’re a rock music fan, you’ve heard about the Beatles Rock Band game that’s coming out tomorrow, Wednesday, 9/9/09.  Everyone in the gaming world is excited about this new release, and you better believe I am, too!  You see, it’s very rare we get an official Beatles release (any more “interview” discs floating around?), and it’s great to see the Beatles music brought to a whole new generation of youngsters that are sure to fall in love with it just like the rest of us did.  I’m excited about the new Rock Band video game for Playstation 3, but I’m especially excited about the entire Beatles catalog (including the collection of singles in Past Masters Volumes 1 and 2) being remastered and re-released.  I’ve wanted the Beatles albums remastered for as long as I remember hearing them.  The original tape transfers sound so tinny- the discs they were selling on shelves all the way up until today were made in 1986 and have just been duplicates.  Go ahead- check your CDs- they all say 1986 on them!  That’s back in the time where they had to tell you the “great sound quality and fidelity” you get with CDs…  Anyway, as I am happy that they’ve remastered the original two-track masters of the Beatles albums, I’m a bit disappointed in two things:

First, they’re not remixed.  Not to say that they weren’t mixed great for the time, especially because (next to Brian Wilson, in my personal opinion) George Martin was the best producer ever.  But, now you listen to these songs and many leave a lot to be desired.  Imagine if you heard some of the songs on “HELP!” without all the vocals to the right channel and the music in the left.  Imagine if the drums in the early records were panned more towards center so they don’t cut through the mix (especially the tambourine).  As tacky as the “Love” CD from Cirque de Soleil is, it’s still pretty cool to hear the songs in such lush stereo, as opposed to the duophonic sound that they achieved before the late 60s.

And second, there are no bonus tracks.  My father is quick to point out some key missing tracks that were left off the Anthologies (“The extended version of “Dig It”!”, he always yells) and we’re left with nothing more than the albums that we’ve already bought on LP, 8-track, cassette, and original CD.

So, there’s Beatlemania in the air and I love it.  It’s been WAY too long since the fervor of the Anthology series and it feels great to say, “Oh yeah, well I’m only 25 and I’ve been a fan ALL 25 years!”

Which brings me to tonight’s Beatles cover song video.  Let me tell you, folks- prepare to be blown away.  Along with my mystery guest Steve and other off-camera guest Chris (not Moore) (from my new cover band, the Traveling Acai Berries, also featuring Bill, who couldn’t be at the session), we play a completely effortless version of “Two of Us” from the “Let It Be” album.  Chris appears on-camera in the video I’ll be posting next week, but Steve, by request of his college-age daughter who would commit social suicide if her friends found out her father was on YouTube singing Beatles songs with a 25 year old :-) , decided that he would just show his guitar skills on camera.  Actually, that’s Steve singing with me on this one, too.

And that way I described the performance: effortless.  That’s what makes it different from many of my past collaborations.  Whether it be getting the chords right, remembering the words, or remembering harmony parts, past duets have always been troublesome.  But Steve, Chris, and I play this like we’ve been playing for years, and that’s what I love about this video.  You can barely hear Chris in this video- he’s playing mandolin away from the microphone, but at times, especially late in the chorus, you can hear him plucking away.  His sight reading was impressive.  On next week’s video, you can definitely hear him, though.  Steve’s playing is great, as he took the time to learn all those parts I don’t on guitar, which is just so great knowing that I can just sing and play rhythm.  Steve reminds me a lot of my father- not only in his love for the Beatles music, but in how he can sing harmony parts without having to teach him every note.  Somehow, he just knows.  And that’s where this familiarity comes from- it really shows through in the video.

I sincerely hope you enjoy tonight’s performance- one’s that’s been in the works for months now.  It was a lot of fun and I hope they’ll want to do more, especially when they see all the good reviews we’ll get!  I’ll be back next week and hopefully I’ll be enjoying the new Beatles Rock Band game, too.  I’m going to wait until Christmas for the Beatles remastered albums, though- in stereo, of course.  And don’t even get me started on the new “mono” box set… :-)  Until next week!!


“Friend of the Devil” (Grateful Dead Cover)

Originally posted 2010-02-11 00:10:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

Well, as promised, I’m back with your Wednesday edition of Jim Fusco Tuesdays!  Don’t understand that?  Then you should be visiting the blog more often! :-)  Tuesdays are my usual day to post, but unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera last night, so I had to put-off doing the video until today.  I also recorded another video for next week that you’re going to LOVE.  It’s from a guy you probably haven’t heard of, but he’s new to the blog and he’s a well-respected musician.  I guess you’ll have to wait in suspense until then!

I can’t believe it- this blog has been up for well over two years and there hasn’t been a Grateful Dead song done yet!  Late last year, I decided that I wanted to learn more about the Grateful Dead.  Back in high school and early college, I used to work at the now defunct Cheshire Video and Disc (a local video store).  I used to work with this hippy girl named Karen.  She was cool- we used to work on Sunday mornings together and always had a nice time.  She used to play this Grateful Dead VHS tape during our shift every week.  It was from the 80’s.  It was a trippy kind of concert- crazy 80’s video effects and extended drum solos.  But, I really enjoyed the songs.

Fast-forward about seven years to the present-day.  I finally got my Grateful Dead “Best Of” for Christmas from my mother in law and I was so excited to play it for the first time.  My boss had re-ignited my interest for the band, as he put a few of their songs on a mix CD for me.  So, I got the CD and played it at work for the first time.  I LOVED IT!!

It’s 17 songs and, believe me, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better overall “Best Of”.  It has all of my favorite elements: harmonies, good guitar, everyone plays their own instruments, and (my personal favorite) multiple band members writing songs!!  Actually, my favorite song on the whole “Best Of” CD (which I will definitely cover in the future) is “Box Of Rain”, written by bassist Phil Lesh.  (On another note, I hear he and former Dead member Bob Weir are now touring as “Furthur”, but the show in my hometown of Wallingford, CT is SOLD OUT!  Grrr….)

Anyway, there are so many great songs on this disc- from the ones you’ve heard of (and probably didn’t know they did them) like “Truckin'”, “Casey Jones”,  and “Touch of Grey” to the ones that you haven’t heard of yet, this is a top-to-bottom rare “Best Of” find.  The last times I felt this great about a “Best Of” was when I purchased the America and Doobie Brothers’ discs.  So, what I’m saying is, if you haven’t purchased the Grateful Dead “Best Of” (the one with 17 tracks- NOT the cheap 10-track version), then you should really give it a try.

Tonight’s song is “Friend of the Devil”.  At first, this wasn’t one of my favorites, but it’s catchy and the story is pretty cool, so it grew on me quickly.  I love singing it in that Jerry Garcia drawl.  Plus, this was an easy one to convert to acoustic.  Most of their songs aren’t so easy because of their great harmonies.  I’ve wanted to do so many of their songs, but it just won’t sound right without someone else singing with me (who knows the song really well, too).

So, whatever idea you had of the Dead (I thought it was just a stupid stoner band that jammed nonsensical songs for hours on end…which may be true for the live sets, as I’ve heard), throw it away!  They’re a tight band that last quite a while and came up with some great songs.  And now I’m even more excited that I can build my vinyl record collection with some of their interesting albums, such as their lone 60’s record (from 1967, which I’m INCREDIBLY interested in hearing) and their all-time classic from 1970, American Beauty.

Enjoy tonight’s LSHD video and make sure to come back next week for my newest obsession in music!



“Heaven” (Brett Dennen Cover Version)

Originally posted 2010-02-17 02:27:46. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

Hi folks!  Welcome to another Jim Fusco Tuesday!  This was one of those weeks where, after such a great long weekend, I truly dreaded the four-day week ahead.  I have two immediate video programs to edit, a whole bunch of PSA’s, an audio mastering project, and multiple projects looming around the corner… And that’s all stuff I have to do AFTER a crazy day at work!  I feel myself getting a better handle on things at work, but it’s still a struggle on a daily basis, as I’m constantly trying to dig out of a growing hole.  It’ll get better, but it’s just these weeks when everything piles up that I get a bit nervous.  Becky’s been helping (bringing me coffee and snacks, plus trying to keep me to a schedule), so it’s definitely hurt less than it should’ve.

Anyway, onto tonight’s video:

I’ve been churning out the new artists to the blog lately (and ones you might even have heard of, by the way), but tonight I might break that mold a bit.  I had never heard of Brett Dennen before, but my boss kept telling me about him after he heard Dennen’s music on Last.fm, a music service on Xbox 360.  Anyway, he burned me a copy of Brett’s songs (don’t worry, Brett- I bought the LP version of “Hope for the Hopeless” afterward and so did my brother!).  But, even though he kept asking me about it, I didn’t put the CD in because I was still hooked on the Grateful Dead!  So, about four weeks ago now, I popped Brett’s “Hope for the Hopeless” album in and completely fell in love with the music.

The man is simply a good songwriter.  His songs are not overly complicated (which I LOVE)- he uses some pretty simple chords in some songs (and some cool inversions in others, too) and the songs are short and sweet.  The songs pretty much follow the verse-bridge-chorus model and there’s one or two guitar solos spattered throughout the album.  It’s a short one with only 11 songs, but I don’t care- the quality definitely makes up for the quantity.

Dennen’s two previous releases before “Hope for the Hopeless” had the feel of Jack Johnson’s first album- sparsely produced to its detriment.  Yes, there are good songs, but I need a little more than an acoustic guitar to make me love an album.  “Hope for the Hopeless” is different.  It’s almost like he got signed to a label that gave him some more money to produce an album.  The result is amazing- I just love the production on this disc.  You won’t find a lot of harmonies here and the instruments are no-frills.  Mostly, you have an acoustic, an electric, bass, piano/organ, and drums.  That’s a perfect mix for me.  What’s great about this album, and I plan on trying with my next album, is that there really is no rhythm guitar.  The guitar only plays what it needs to.  So, the music sounds open, but not lacking.  You’ll just have to listen to get what I’m saying.

I could’ve picked any of the 11 songs from “Hope for the Hopeless” to cover.  My favorites are “Who Do You Think You Are?” and “Make You Crazy”, but I chose “Heaven” because it’s just one of those “perfect” songs.  It has such a message- kind of like “Imagine” by John Lennon.  This song, according to Dennen fans, will stand as his masterpiece.  On the recording, I challenge you not to get chills once the band comes in at the start of the second chorus.  It’s AWESOME!

So, I decided to record my version of this song just acoustically, though I’ve been playing it on the piano recently, as well.  “Heaven” is a great song to sing by yourself, as it only has one vocal in the album version anyway (the single version suffers from a female lead vocal in the second verse- I much prefer the album version and I’m glad he did it that way).

One thing about Dennen- when you hear his songs, you’ll notice his…let’s say “accent”.  I’m not really sure what it is.  It sounds Louisianan to me.  At first, I really didn’t like it.  But, if you get past the way he says certain words (like instead of “trouble”, he says, “trugh-bowl”), you’ll really like these songs.  And now, I even like the way he says those words, because I can tell he’s not doing it on purpose (just to sound different)- it’s just the way he talks/sings.

On a side note, check out one of my new favorite tunes, “Make You Crazy”, on YouTube- the music video is pretty cool.

Now, I had a feeling I’d heard of Brett Dennen before.  I mean, that voice is so unmistakable.  Becky and I both agree that we’ve heard his most “famous” song, “Ain’t No Reason” (not one of my favorites and if you heard it and know my musical tastes, you’ll understand why).  We must’ve heard it in a TV show.  Then, my brother Mike ended up knowing (and loving) “Make You Crazy”, too, from his days working at Hollister, where they played the song on a daily basis.

Okay, enough talk- time to watch the LSHD version of “Heaven” performed by me, Jim Fusco!  I’d love to hear your thoughts about the song, my performance, and Brett Dennen.  I hope you have a great week and make sure to stop back next Tuesday for another acoustic cover song.  I plan on it being a classic early 60’s tune that Becky and I heard in the car while on our way to Albany, NY for our weekend trip.  We had a blast- check my Twitter (jimfusco) for all the updates and photos from the road!  Until next week!