An eight-disc George Harrison boxed set titled The Apple Years 1968-75 was released today, for all you post-Beatles Harrison freaks out there.

When I interview musicians I often ask what they've been listening to in their spare time, and sometimes it leads to an interesting response.

When I called up Ketch Secor of the Old Crow Medicine Show last week to chat in advance of his band's appearance at the Orpheum Theatre this Sunday (September 28), the query resulted in a plug for one of Vancouver's top alt-country/Americana acts.

You'd think that pop legend Elton John would be beyond caring what the critics think by now, right?

Well, apparently he still reads the reviews. Even before they get in the paper.

I wrote a pretty damn glowing online review of the Big E's show at Rogers Arena last Saturday (September 13), tacking on a complaint about his choice of encores. I didn't care for the way he went all Disney on our asses by ending the night with those sappy tunes from The Lion King, "Circle of Life"/"Can You Feel the Love Tonight".

Todd Kerns, recently declared to be "the Most Rockin’ Canadian Bassist of the 21st Century", performed with his band SMK&C (Slash featuring Myles Kennedy & the Conspirators) on the Howard Stern Show yesterday.

That's a long way from his birthplace of Estevan, Saskatchewan.

If you're the type of diehard Rush freak who thinks who've seen everything the band's ever put to video, get ready for this.

The Canuck prog-rock legends announced today that, on November 11, they'll be releasing a 10-DVD/6-Blu-ray collector's boxed set which also includes all eight songs from a show in 1974 at Laura Secord Secondary School, featuring original drummer John Rutsey.

Bet you weren't there for that gig!

Thirty years ago today—on Sept. 13, 1984—KISS released its 12th studio album, Animalize. Although it wasn't exactly classic KISS, I do seem to recall thinking that the single "Heaven's On Fire" was alright.

The album was unique in "KISStory", as Gene Simmons might say, because it was the only one to feature guitarist Mark St. John, who replaced Vinnie Vincent in April of '84 but would be forced to leave KISS by November after being diagnosed with Reiter's Syndrome, a severe form or arthritis. St. John died in April of 2007 at age 51 from a brain hemorrhage bought on by an accidental overdose of methamphetamines.

Twenty-five years ago tomorrow—on September 11, 1989—Mr. Big played Club Soda.

"Who the hell is Mr. Big?", you might be thinking.

Well, at the time it was an American rock quartet that was being billed as the next supergroup. And it lived up to the hype. Two years after Mr. Big played here it had the number one song in 15 countries with the pretty ballad "To Be With You".

Maybe you remember Mr. Big now?

Anyway, I was psyched back then to interview Mr. Big's bassist, Billy Sheehan, cause that dude could play. For all you nostalgia hounds out there, here's the story that ran in the Straight's Sept. 8-15 issue. 

Groundworks Marketing announced today that a new Paul McCartney tribute album will be released on November 17, and that it will feature some of my fave artists from the seventies, including Alice Cooper, Steve Miller, Heart, Bad Company's Paul Rodgers, Montrose's Sammy Hagar, the Who's Roger Daltrey, and Cheap Trick's Robin Zander and Rick Nielsen.

It will also have KISS.

Twenty years ago today—on September 3, 1994—ZZ Top played the Pacific Coliseum, touring behind its first album in four years, the pretty decent Antenna. That was the first release as part of a five-album, $30-million deal with RCA Records, which no doubt helped Billy Gibbons purchase a few extra guitar picks.

The coolest thing about the Vancouver gig, for me anyway, was that I got to interview Gibbons in advance of the show. It was the first and (so far) only time I got to speak directly to the man whose wild licks had brightened so many of my teenage years, ever since I discovered Tres Hombres back in '73.

For all the other ZZ Top freaks out there, here's the story that ran in the Straight under the headline "Mr. Time Turns Up on ZZ's Side".

Twenty-five years ago today–on September 1, 1989–Johnny Winter played the Commodore. The chance to witness the underrated Texas guitar legend in the confines of one of VanCity’s finest concert venues (for the second time) was not one I was about to pass up.

Besides, at the time I was really grooving on his latest album, The Winter of ’88, especially tunes like “Rain”.