“Love Sick” (“Time Out of Mind” Cover)

By Chris Moore:

Hello again, and thanks for tuning in for another all-new Laptop Session! I have the honor of presenting the first video of February, on the first day of our exciting, newly-designed LaptopSessions.com website design theme. Thanks to Jim for really bringing the site to the next level!

I’ve been pretty sick the past couple days, and I’ve barely been making it back and forth between work and sleep. So, when it came time to record today, I couldn’t think of any better song to do than “Love Sick,” the first track off of Bob Dylan’s 1997 album Time Out of Mind. Not only does it have “sick” in the title, but Dylan’s voice is particularly gruff on the album, so my voice is in prime condition. ūüôā

I’ll definitely be doing more from this album in the future. For now, you can look forward to another great song by Jeff tomorrow!

“All For You” (Sister Hazel Cover)

For Sister Hazel chords & lyrics, CLICK HERE!

By Chris Moore:

Hello and welcome to another week of brand new cover song music videos!¬† For me and Jeff, this week isn’t just another week, though.¬† I’ll be back in school on all but Wednesday this week, so it’s the beginning of the end of summer.

As with every summer in my life, this one wraps up with me having accomplished some tasks that I’m proud of, and yet falling short of doing all that I wanted to.¬† As Jeff pointed out in last week’s post, the summer certainly does fly by.¬† If you’re an ambitious person — like myself — and yet a person who puts value on relaxation during the summer — like myself — then you’re bound to feel like you’ve fallen short (watch it!) by the end of August.

On the plus side, I spent an incredible amount of time this summer playing guitar.¬† I have played my own songs as well as some of my favorite Laptop Sessions cover songs repeatedly until I can now comfortably pick up and play about twenty different songs without worrying about forgetting lyrics or chords.¬† Unfortunately for me, my mastery of a song — whether a cover version or an original — fades over time, so this practice was a process.¬† In the midst of all this playing, I’ve been bitten by the writing bug, and I have written ten songs over the past couple months.¬† Of the ten, five are complete and five have some more work to be done, namely lyrics here and middle eights there.¬† I’m really excited about this set of songs, and when I combine them with the best from my previous four years of songwriting — yup, it’s been a whole four years since Love Out of Fashion — I have a set of songs that I’m really proud of.

Now the only problem is what to do with them…

Jim offered his services as producer, drummer, and instrumentalist extraordinaire on my next album as a birthday present last year, and I gave him some demos a while back which we talked about a bit.¬† However, now that I’m not living with him, it presents a difficult situation in terms of really living with the songs and playing, recording, listening, mixing, and otherwise playing around with the tracks as the album is in progress.¬† At home, I have the facilities via my MacBook to record demo-quality tracks with layered vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, bass, and harmonica, but I really should invest in a higher quality mic.¬† And, without drums, what’s the point at this, well, point?

So, for now at least, the songs remain as demos.¬† I’m itching to work with them, though, so it’ll only be a matter of time before I work out a plan for how to put these songs down in some enjoyable format.

Without further ado, I bring you my Laptop Session of the day, a cover of Sister Hazel’s “All For You” from their 1997 album …somewhere more familiar.¬† This band is most definitely what you would refer to as a one hit wonder, as “All For You” reached #11 on the Billboard Hot 100.¬† Unless you count #59 as a hit – which is the height reached by their 2000 single, “Change Your Mind,” the highest charting of any subsequent single in their career – then they are one hit wonders indeed.

Just last week, Sister Hazel released Release, and I decided to try it out.¬† At the same time I was in Newbury Comics, I came across a used and very cheap used copy of their aforementioned 1997 album, so I picked that up as well.¬† The older album is very ambitious with Lennon/McCartney-esque harmony duets on every song (a la “All For You”).¬† The instrumentation is very catchy and impressive, even if all the songs do start to sound the same after a while.

Regardless, I’ll be listening to the new album this week and I’ll get back to you.¬† For now, though, I ask you to direct your attention to the video below, and I kindly remind you not to close this tab until you’ve come back tomorrow for Jim Fusco Tuesday and then again for Jeff’s “Thumpin’ Thursday.”

See you next session!

“Great Day” (Paul McCartney Cover)

By Jim Fusco:

Welcome to your Sunday edition of the Laptop Sessions!

Today, I bring you a tune that I covered on my album “That’s All Folks” called “Great Day” by Paul McCartney. It closes out his 1997 album “Flaming Pie”, one of my all-time favorites. ¬†That album, “That’s All Folks”, came about because I had purchased my first good acoustic guitar. ¬†That guitar meant everything to me- it sounded great, played great, and made me feel like a real musician. ¬†I didn’t even really know how to play too well when I bought it. ¬†So, I learned how to play a bunch of songs I was listening to at the time. ¬†That taught me more chords, which turned me into a better player. ¬†And, at the time, I was going through a HUGE Paul McCartney phase. ¬†They had just released “Wingspan” with all of Wings’ greatest hits. ¬†I know those songs probably grate on people after all this time, but they were all new to me- and I fell for it pretty hard. ¬†We were also listening, as a family, to Paul’s albums from the 90s quite a bit. ¬†The first real song I learned how to play (and played it for my parents) was, of all things, “Hope of Deliverance” by Paul McCartney off of the “Off the Ground” album from the early 90s. ¬†I guess you could say that Paul McCartney’s songs really taught me how to play. ¬†And when it comes to rock musicians, you can’t get a much better tutor than him.

This is the perfect acoustic song and gives quite a vocal workout, which you wouldn’t expect in such a simple song. ¬†I decided to do this acoustic cover song on my nylon-string classical acoustic guitar, as it gave me the opportunity to be more expressive in my performance. ¬†This song is very soulful, which you wouldn’t really expect from the lyrics. ¬†I kind of dumbed-down the guitar picking riff throughout because that’s not really my thing. ¬†I’m a strummer and a soloist, but can’t do the flat-picking thing too well. ¬†Paul McCartney, the phenom that he is, is proficient at almost anything, musically. ¬†The man is one of the best bass players of all time, he can play the drums, sing (obviously), write songs, and play any guitar part you throw in front of him. ¬†Oh, and he’s written some of the most famous rock songs of all time on the piano, as well. ¬†That’s a pretty impressive life, for sure!

I hope you all enjoy today’s Session, as I’ll be back on Wednesday with a “political” original song- don’t miss it!

Foo Fighters’ “The Colour and the Shape” (1997) – The Weekend Review

By Chris Moore:

RATING: 5 / 5 stars

Once in a band’s career — if they are that lucky — songwriting and performance coalesce on an album in such a way as to inspire both thought and emotion. When that bolt of metaphorical lightning strikes, the result is a collection of songs that breathe like living entities, some tracks crying, some tracks screaming, some tracks shining beautifully. Somehow, through a mixture of careful, intentional strategy and fortunate, indescribable chance, those songs come across as sincere, relatable, and entertaining. Sometimes, they even connect in such a way as to create an interesting statement as a whole.

In the Foo Fighters catalog, The Colour and the Shape is that album.

In the interests of full disclosure, I should make it very clear that I am not a big Foo Fighters fan. Aside from a brief phase of hurriedly listening to all their other albums, I have neither before nor since found their work extraordinary. I do have a great respect for Dave Grohl’s concepts, such as his half-electric, half-acoustic In Your Honor. Until 2007’s Echoes, Silence, Patience, and Grace, however, I was unable to find an album that came close to the heights achieved on their 1997 sophomore effort.

Perhaps the greatest strength of The Colour and the Shape is the balance between pure electric energy and calmer, more soothing tones. This is no middle-of-the-road album; in fact, it has some of the loudest screaming — as well as some of the lightest tones and harmonies — of any album I have ever heard. To be sure, it is one of the very few albums that I have found such extremes on and still found it enjoyable. Too much on the soft side can be boring, and too much on the hard side can be, well, too much.

That is certainly one of Dave Grohl’s fortes — he is shredding his vocal chords in one breath and crooning at the next. Because I tend toward liking the latter more than the former, I always find it a sweet relief to hear some simple double tracking or harmonies following an all-out electric track.

Foo Fighters'

Foo Fighters'

The first time I heard the album, the opening track made me shake my head and double check that I had put the correct CD in the drive. “Doll” is a light, bittersweet song with slightly muted vocals that set the tone for the album. This is a collection of songs about a relationship that is falling apart for a number of reasons — the narrator is willing to admit his own shortcomings (“Doll me up in my bad luck…”), but he isn’t shy about calling the other person on hers.

“Monkey Wrench” and “Hey, Johnny Park!” add up to one of the best one-two punches in rock album history. Each song introduces one killer guitar riff layered upon another, stacked with energetic vocals, and boneheaded metaphors not withstanding, the lyrics are fun. Even though it felt a bit out of my range, I ran my vocal chords ragged back in June 2008 to commit a cover song version of “Hey, Johnny Park!” to video for the Laptop Sessions (CLICK HERE to have a listen!).

These are followed by two more songs that vacillate between power chord-fueled electric rage and Grohl’s calmer, clearer tones. It doesn’t get any more blunt than these lyrics (“This is a blackout; don’t let it go to waste. This is a blackout; I wanna detonate…”), but they work on these tracks.

“Up in Arms” borders on tender (and sad), but certainly isn’t lacking in the backbone department. Then, “My Hero” unfolds a tribute to the “ordinary” hero — fans have speculated that it’s an ode to Grohl’s former Nirvana bandmate Kurt Cobain, but Grohl himself says it’s directed at the average workingman.

I suppose it’s up to you to decide what you believe…

Then comes one of my favorites on the album, a song so unlike the others and yet so wonderfully intertwined thematically. “See You” lends more straightforward acoustic rock sensibilities than you’ll find anywhere else on the album, although they are hinted at in several other tracks.

The rest passes in a blur, starting with the anger and brevity of “Enough Space.” I found this track tough to swallow at first, but my tastes in music have progressed over the years, and I like this song very much now, if for no other reason than it is not what the album as a whole sounds like — Grohl and company seemed to take care to balance such elements.

Although the final four songs are each over four minutes, they pass quickly. “February Stars” boasts a Goo Goo Dolls sound on the outro, and frankly, Grohl does a better job making that sound interesting than John Rzeznik himself. “Everlong” is, of course, a classic. If you listen carefully to the lyrics, it is an emotional, brutal song, and you can almost hear it in the performance — Grohl, Nate Mendel, and Pat Smear must realize what a gem they are recording.

The final two songs work well as a pair, “Walking After You” representing the phase in a breakup where one party clings desperately to the remnants of the relationship even as the other is walking away and “New Way Home” embodying that deep breath and next step for the lonely one left behind. If you’ve been in this situation before and been heartbroken by someone who has lost interest in you, then you’ll appreciate the closing tracks on this album.

In closing, The Colour and the Shape is a standout effort from the Foo Fighters. It is not only the first (and only) album I would recommend to others — with the possible exception of Echoes, Silence, Patience, and Grace — but it is also one of the great rock albums of all time, in my opinion, an effort that is stronger as a whole than the individual tracks could ever be.

On a more emotional level, it is an album I continually find myself returning to when I’m contemplating relationship problems, and I would highly recommend it as one of the Weekend Review’s picks for albums to keep on hand for those aforementioned sad and/or angry moments!