Friday, September 22, 2017

Throwback Thursday: "Black Sabbath", by Black Sabbath

When it comes to musical genres, many have rather ambiguous beginnings. It's almost impossible to track things down to a definite starting point. This however is not the case for heavy metal. Though a few may argue against it, most of us will acknowledge that heavy metal was born on February 13th 1970 when a virtually unknown band from Birmingham, England called Black Sabbath came out with the darkest and heaviest album released up to that point in time: Black Sabbath.

Black Sabbath was unlike anything anyone had ever heard in 1970. These guys were louder and heavier than Led Zeppelin and had dark lyrical themes relating to Satan, wizards, H.P. Lovecraft references, and more. It takes that blues based hard rock and brings it to a whole different level. When the music wasn't crashing and pounding it had this sinister tone to it. Overall the album has this eerie, yet intriguing presence that makes you want to keep on listening.

Black Sabbath, the title track of the album starts things off and boy does it set the tone for what the band is about. It starts off with sounds of ominous thunderstorms that are then interrupted by the band stomping in with that iconic Devil's Triad based riff that repeats throughout the song in the most foreboding and frightening way. Ozzy Osbourne definitely did a splendid job of instilling even more hand trembling fear with his sinister vocal tone and horrifying screams. I remember being maybe 16 or 17 listening to this by myself in my room in the dark for the very first time and being nearly scared shitless. Needless to say, it made me want to listen on.

Warning in my opinion is one of the best Sabbath tracks of all time, but somehow it always gets overlooked and unspoken of. It's a cover of a song by The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation that gets extended into a ten and a half minute blues rock jam that takes many twists and turns. It definitely keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole time because it's so intense and you don't know which way it's going to turn next. The instrumentalists in the band really strut their stuff as individuals and as a cohesive unit here. This song is actually where I learned a lot of my guitar chops.

Black Sabbath is THE essential heavy metal album. It's where I would start anyone who wanted to get into Black Sabbath or heavy metal in general. This is where an entire genre and subsequent sub-genres have their roots. Without it, the world as a whole would be a very different place. That said, I can't think of a single track on it that I don't love to death. I think you'll understand why. For a real experience with it, play it while wandering a forest in mid-Autumn in the early evening. It will really be something else.

Black Sabbath, by Black Sabbath receives 5 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Black Sabbath
2. The Wizard
3. Behind the Wall of Sleep
4. N.I.B.
5. Evil Woman
6. Sleeping Village
7. Warning

Bonus Track:

8. Wicked World

Buy the album on Amazon:

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Foo Fighters Drummer Taylor Hawkins Discusses Being Slapped in the Face by Prince Harry

Photo courtesy of Radio X

I've heard of some wild stuff happening to rock stars over the years, but this is definitely something else for sure. Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins recently opened up about being slapped in the face by England's Prince Harry.

In an interview with BBC Breakfast (via NME) Hawkins talks about his meeting with the prince, saying:

“At first you meet him and [you think] ‘It’s Prince Harry. Wow, I’ve seen you on a lot of magazines in America.’ Then you start talking and having a real talk.

On getting slapped by English royalty, Hawkins says:

I was like, ‘Wow, I’m so jetlagged right now’. We were getting ready to walk onstage and I was tired and so jetlagged. And he just goes… [slap]. I was like, ‘What was that?’ It was great, it was funny. I wore the slap with pride. He’s one of the boys. What a boy. It’s like Paul McCartney, once you break through the royalty, or the Beatles thing, you find they just want to hang out with the boys, like we do.”

I'm glad that the slap was all in good nature, though personally I think it would have been more rock n' roll and funny if it had been out of upset. Regardless, I'm glad that the Foos and English royalty seem to get along pretty well. Definitely doesn't hurt to have friends in high places like that, that's for certain.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Joe Satriani Announces New Album with Glenn Hughes and Chad Smith

Photo courtesy of Downtown El Paso

Ever since Chickenfoot seemed to dissolve a while back, Joe Satriani has jumped right back into his solo career that was usually his main focus to begin with. After releasing his 2015 album Shockwave Supernova, a concept album that tells the story of his on stage alter-ego and the retirement of said entity, he is now about to release a new album. Not just any album, though. This time he has recruited Deep Purple and Black Country Communion bassist and vocalist Glenn Hughes and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith to accompany him.

The brand new album will be titled What Comes Next and is set to be released on January 12th of next year.

The announcement was made yesterday (9/18) via Satriani's website. It's on the home page of the site and it also features a short clip of one of the tracks: Energy. So far no commentary has been made on the upcoming album, though Hughes did hint not that long ago that he was working on a new album with another famous musician.

If I was to venture a guess, I'd say the album title comes from Satriani what will be coming next for him as a musician and a performer now that he has laid such a gigantic part of his life to rest. Regardless, it already sounds like a fun album judging from the snippet on the website. It sounds like a blend of signature Satch style with some heavy California groove rock from Hughes and Smith. I hope there are at least some songs with Hughes singing because that would be one hell of a thing to witness.

Joe Satriani, "What Happens Next" Track Listing:

1. Energy
2. Catbot
3. Thunder High on the Mountain
4. Cherry Blossoms
5. Righteous
6. Smooth Soul
7. Headrush
8. Looper
9. What Happens Next
10. Super Funky Badass
11. Invisible
12. Forever And Ever

Monday, September 18, 2017

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #134

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week is a feature I run on Young Ears, Fresh Perspective on Sundays/early hours of Monday morning where I pick out 5 tunes that I think are notable and tell you a bit about them. The point is to give you some rocking music to help you deal with your weekday blues. You can either listen to one each day, listen to them all at once, or any other combination that you feel. As long as you can get through the week without the man getting you down, that's all I care about. Without further ado, here are the 5 tracks I've picked out for this week:

1. As Tears Go By, by Avenged Sevenfold

I never thought I'd hear Avenged Sevenfold and The Rolling Stones mentioned in the same sentence, but here we are. A7X recently recorded a cover of the song made famous by the Stones and in my opinion they nailed it. It is the furthest thing from heavy metal I've ever heard them do, and yet at the same time I hear it fitting in with some of their older material. It's odd, but it works. Have a listen for yourself and you'll see what I mean.

2. Rock and Roll Victim, by Death

The Hackney brothers back in their original go with Death were really something else. Here were three black brothers from Detroit playing punk rock before punk was even a thing in a time and place when funky Motown music was very much still the big main thing for the majority of folks. They were bold, innovative, and unafraid to stand out and do their own thing. Even if they didn't get the fame they deserved back then, they clearly deserved it.

3. Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo, by Rick Derringer

This is another one of your straightforward commercial radio rock n' roll tunes, but at the same time it has this groove and vibe to it that I can still get behind anyway. Personally I always loved how the falsetto backing vocals in the chorus manage to smoothly transition into a sweet natural harmony between vocalists. It's definitely not easy to make that kind of transition. That aside, it's a fun song and is great to keep a party going.

4. Mississippi Queen, by Mountain

This song is the epitome of loud, passionate, pulse pounding rock n' roll with balls. Everything from the beefy guitar to the bluesy licks, to the thundering drums, to the beastly vocals definitely makes this song a staple in the world of rock. This song inspired countless bands who wanted to sound just as gargantuan and awe inspiring as Mountain did. Can you blame them? Who wouldn't want to make such a big sound when rocking?

5. I Would Love To, by Steve Vai

No matter at what point in his career he has been at, Steve Vai has never been anything but fun and at the same time musically adventurous. This has always been one of my favorite tunes from his classic album Passion and Warfare that I feel is heavily overlooked by most people who listen to Vai. It has some great guitar work, some terrific melodies, seamless flow, and outstanding guitar harmonies. It makes you feel like you're flying.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Ozzy Osbourne Feels Another Album Would Be a Waste of Money

Photo courtesy of Teamrock

Ever since Black Sabbath wrapped up their final tour, front man Ozzy Osbourne has been a fairly busy man by jumping back into his dormant solo career. In fact, he even got long time guitarist Zakk Wylde back into the mix. However, fans shouldn't get their hopes up for another album.

In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Osbourne talks about where he is in his solo career, saying:

“I would like to do another record. But it's wasting money. Nobody's buying. You don't have to sell that many records any more to get a no.1. Depending how many records you've sold. You can have 30 or 40! Nobody buys them.

Live, good rock music is not dead. But I think the record industry is really suffering now. There are only about two fucking record companies left.

When I went to the Grammys a couple of years ago, there'd be artists who'd go from a fucking laptop straight to the charts and release a record.

It's really a sad thing for me. It's just changed so much. I said to Sharon, ‘It's like when vaudeville ended and fucking modern music began. We're the history now.’

And no matter what gimmick – what colour album, vinyl, whatever, the fact of the matter is people don't want it. Why should people buy records when they can download it? You can get anything now online. And at the same time, I don't know how to turn the fucking light on the monitor.”

Personally I get where Ozzy is coming from on this. As much as I crave another album from him and would not like Scream to be his swan song I understand why he wouldn't want to make one. Why spend thousands, if not millions of dollars to make something and tire yourself out and spend even more money promoting it if you're going to lose a bunch of money from it because people feel entitled to get everything online for free? It just wouldn't be a smart decision even though he is incredibly loaded.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Trouble, by Whitesnake

Whitesnake is an older band than you might think. Most people associate them with their late 80's hair metal hits, but they actually got started noticeably earlier than that. The band was founded in 1978 when band leader/singer David Coverdale decided that he liked the band he was touring with so much under his own solo act that he wanted to keep them around. Not long after, they had their bluesy, rocking debut album Trouble out to the public.

Trouble couldn't be any further from metal. In the beginning Whitesnake sounded more like a blend of Led Zeppelin and Bad Company, among other things. At the same time, they had their own unique and potent identity which shined through brilliantly on the first album. It's full of rockers, blues ballads, and songs with a bit of swagger to them. It was a strong start for the countless things that would come to follow.

Trouble features one of my absolute favorite Beatles covers ever done: Day Tripper. Where the original was just a straightforward 60's pop rock tune, Whitesnake made it funky and groovy. I know, not adjectives you would normally associate with the band. Still, the cover sounded grand and smooth while also having a rhythm that you could almost associate with reggae. The best part though is the breakdown when they use the talk box.

The title track of the record, Trouble is a classic for certain. In some ways it has some of that slow southern rock feel to it with its melodies, organ, and guitar arpeggios. At the same time though, you can feel that beastly rocking bluesy soul that only the British could manage to create. It's a slow, swaying kind of tune but it will make you want to get your lighter out and hold it in the air while getting lost in the feel of the music.

While Trouble isn't my personal favorite Whitesnake record, I find there is absolutely nothing wrong with it at all. As I said earlier, it's one of the strongest debut records I have ever heard. It's got variety and keeps you guessing while still managing to be a cohesive unit. It's definitely a must have for anyone who is a big fan of British blues rock from the 70's or anyone curious to hear where this band got its start. Can't recommend it enough.

Trouble, by Whitesnake receives 4 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Take Me With You
2. Love to Keep You Warm
3. Lie Down (A Modern Love Song)
4. Day Tripper
5. Nighthawk (Vampire Blues)
6. The Time is Right for Love
7. Trouble
8. Belgian Tom's Hat Trick
9. Free Flight
10. Don't Mess With Me

Buy the album on Amazon:

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Sex Pistols to Release Book to Mark 40th Anniversary

It's kind of hard to think of The Sex Pistols as a band that has been around for four decades, considering how relevant they still are in modern culture due to their angry, raw music and their outrageous characters. To celebrate the 40 year legacy that the band has made, they are releasing a book titled 1977: The Bollocks Diaries next month.

The band released a statement on the book and what will be in it, saying:

“Straight from the mouths of the Sex Pistols and their collaborators, with first-hand stories of secret gigs, recording sessions, fights, record label meltdowns and a media storm like nothing ever seen before, 1977: The Bollocks Diaries is the inside line, told by the people who were there.

Packed with photography and rare items from the Sex Pistols archives – from gig posters and early album art to master tapes and notes from recording sessions – this is the final word on a year like no other.”

I think it will be cool to see all of these astounding punk rock artifacts jam packed all in one book. Without them there would be no punk as we know it. Plus, for anyone who is a huge fan of the Sex Pistols this looks like it will be a must have for their collection. I know I'll definitely be giving it a look.