Saturday, November 18, 2017

Special Report: AC/DC Co-Founder and Rhythm Guitarist Malcolm Young Dead

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Normally I don't post on Saturdays, but today I'm making a special exception and for good reason. AC/DC co-founder and rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young has sadly passed away at the age of 64 from Dementia.

As Young was aging it was getting more and more difficult for him to remember how to play the songs and to stay mentally present. He had been suffering from Dementia for a long while by this point, which was also the cause of him being forced to retire from the band a few years back.

AC/DC put out a statement on their official website, saying:

"It is with deepest sorrow that we inform you of the death of Malcolm Young, beloved husband, father, grandfather and brother. Malcolm had been suffering from Dementia for several years and passed away peacefully with his family by his bedside.

Renowned for his musical prowess Malcolm was a songwriter, guitarist, performer, producer and visionary who inspired many. From the outset, he knew what he wanted to achieve and, along with his younger brother, took to the world stage giving their all at every show. Nothing less would do for their fans.

Malcolm is survived by his loving wife O'Linda, children Cara and Ross, son-in-law Josh, three grandchildren, sister and brother.

While thanking all for their overwhelming support and heartfelt condolences, the family ask that you respect their privacy during this time of heartbreak and grief.

For those wishing to send messages to the family please visit the Sydney Morning Herald Malcolm Young Memorial website which will be available next week.

The family have asked instead of flowers to send donations to The Salvation Army."

Lead guitarist Angus Young made his own separate statement on his older brother's passing, saying:

"Malcolm, along with Angus, was the founder and creator of AC/DC.

With enormous dedication and commitment he was the driving force behind the band.

As a guitarist, songwriter and visionary he was a perfectionist and a unique man.

He always stuck to his guns and did and said exactly what he wanted.

He took great pride in all that he endeavored.

His loyalty to the fans was unsurpassed.

As his brother it is hard to express in words what he has meant to me during my life, the bond we had was unique and very special.

He leaves behind an enormous legacy that will live on forever.

Malcolm, job well done."

Malcolm Young and Angus Young started AC/DC together in 1973 in Sydney, Australia. Malcolm co-wrote most if not all of AC/DC's material. Most if not all of the big riffs in all of those hits and other great songs were his doing. He was a big part of what made the AC/DC engine turn. Without him there would be no Back in Black. There would be no Dirty Deeds. There would be no For Those About to Rock. There would be no Highway to Hell. You get the idea, I'm sure.

I find myself at a loss a bit because Malcolm Young was a HUGE inspiration to me (as well as countless other people) as a musician, especially when I first picked up the guitar. His monstrous rough riffs and excellent song writing in tandem with Angus's guitar solos made me want to play rock n' roll too. When I was a teenager I used to listen to every AC/DC record all the way through on repeat every day. The high voltage rock n' roll I was listening to charged me with a spark of life that I had never experienced before and have never experienced anywhere else in life. Without him the course of my life would have been entirely different.

Before I knew about AC/DC I didn't know that rock n' roll or even music in general could have such balls, energy, and thrill to it. When I was a kid and first experiencing this music though, you can bet that I was blown away beyond all the far reaches of the imagination. Up to that point all I had ever really heard was 50's and 60's light rock and pop. Stuff that was rated G, you know? It was good enough at the time, but it didn't do much besides entertain me a little for a few minutes at a time. When I heard AC/DC though, that was when I understood just how awesome music could be and it made me want to play too. In a sense, Malcolm Young was responsible for this grand fantastic change in my life.

My thoughts, prayers, and condolences go out to the Young family in their time of great sorrow and strife. I can't begin to imagine how difficult this is for them. If any of them by any slim chance happen to read this blog, I want them to know that Malcolm meant a great deal to me too. He and his music changed my life in so many ways for the better and I will never be able to thank him enough for it.

David Coverdale Boasts "Seriously Whitesnake" Upcoming Album

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There seems to be no stopping the Whitesnake machine lately. Not only has singer and band leader David Coverdale called off retirement due to feeling rejuvenated by the Purple Album tour, but he has recently released a big box set rerelease of the 1987 album and has a brand new album on the way that he boasts is a "seriously Whitesnake" album.

In a recent video Whitesnake put out on their YouTube channel, Coverdale discusses the song Don't Turn Away from the 1987 album to promote the rerelease of the record, but he also goes into the topic of the upcoming album, saying:

“Now I’m involved significantly more with social media, and fans of Whitesnake can directly communicate and ask me questions – it’s a fascinating scenario. There are songs I’ve never played live, people’s absolute favorites, and Don’t Turn Away is one of them. Problem is, we’ve got a kick-ass new album for next year, and it’s got some seriously Whitesnake live in-your-face stuff.”

There has been no mention of when we will get the new Whitesnake record, though Coverdale says he is still writing new songs all the time and that they will be going in next year to record more of it. I know I'm definitely excited, since they haven't put out any new original material in over six years. I'm curious to hear what the new stuff will sound like, especially with Coverdale feeling revitalized and them having swapped out guitarist Doug Aldrich with Joel Hoekstra, have Tommy Aldridge back on the drum kit, and newcomer Michele Luppi on the keys. As for the 1987 stuff, I think they should just split the set up between celebrating that album as well as promoting the new one. I think it would balance out nicely.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Get Your Wings, by Aerosmith

In 1974 Aerosmith was nowhere near the rock n' roll household name they are today. They only had one record out and had only just started to tread their way down the path. When they put out their second album Get Your Wings however, they definitely got more of a leg up because this is when they really started developing their signature sound and putting out hits that people would remember forever. They still had a long way to go after this, but they definitely got a lot further than they already were even if none of the songs made the pop charts at the time.

Get Your Wings is where Aerosmith started exploring a bit more musically and developing a sound that was uniquely theirs. Where their debut album Aerosmith was basically just blues on steroids, Get Your Wings got a bit heavier and delved into more creative song structure and writing though the blues influence was very much still present in much of the music. It featured memorable songs like Same Old Song and Dance, Pandora's Box, Train Kept A-Rollin', etc.

Pandora's Box has always been one of my favorite songs from this album even if no one else seems to talk about it. It has this bluesy signature riff that is so catchy and gets ingrained in your head. It picks up and grooves pretty well. It's filled with all kinds of innuendos and rock n' roll badassery. It also features some loud and proud horn playing to back it up as well, making it almost feel like it's a Las Vegas show girl song. Incidentally, drummer Joey Kramer wrote the riff to the song when he found a guitar in a dumpster one day and started playing it.

Same Old Song and Dance is probably the best remembered song from this record. I can't say I blame anyone because this has a lot of that flare that only Aerosmith can conjure up. It's got everything a good Aerosmith song needs: a steady groove from Joey Kramer and Tom Hamilton, some snarling bluesy guitar licks and riffs from Joe Perry and Brad Whitford, powerful gritty vocals from Steven Tyler, and lyrics that while down and dirty tell a story that you can follow. I find it pretty awesome that despite the lack of a real chorus aside from a short refrain people still find it so memorable.

Get Your Wings while definitely not Aerosmith's best album is a great way to hear for yourself the progression of the band's sound from a ragtag rough n' tumble blues band from Boston to the stadium filling rock n' roll icons that we know them to be today. They definitely sound a lot more like themselves on this record and you can tell that they were hungry and wanting to push for the best record they could make. It's a solid time capsule of a special time in Aerosmith's growth.

Get Your Wings, by Aerosmith receives 3.75 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Same Old Song and Dance
2. Lord of the Thighs
3. Spaced
4. Woman of the World
5. S.O.S. (Too Bad)
6. Train Kept A-Rollin'
7. Seasons of Wither
8. Pandora's Box

Buy the album on Amazon:

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Aerosmith Guitarist Joe Perry Announces New Solo Album

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It's been five years since Aerosmith put out any new music and about eight since lead guitarist Joe Perry did solo for a non-holiday release. Kind of a long time to wait for new music from any of the Bad Boys from Boston. However, that is about to change as Perry is about to put out a brand new solo album according to a report from Ultimate Classic Rock.

The album, titled Sweetzerland Manifesto has no release date yet, but it features a great deal of rock n' roll royalty on it such as David Johansen (singer for the New York Dolls), Zak Starkey (Ringo Starr's son) on drums, Johnny Depp, Perry's sons Tony and Roman, Robin Zander (singer for Cheap Trick), as well as Terry Reid.

In a recent statement regarding the album, Perry said:

"It's going to be interesting to see what songs people gravitate to because there's such a wide variety of tunes."

I'm intrigued by the fact that there are two instrumental tracks on the album (the full track listing is below). Then again, Perry is a guitar player and as a guitar player myself I know we kind of tend to like to have our moment in the sun that isn't just 16 bars 3/4 of the way through a song. I like a lot of the people he has playing on his record, so I'll definitely be looking forward to the album's release.

Joe Perry, 'Sweetzerland Manifesto' Track Listing:

Rumble in the Jungle (instrumental)
I'll Do Happiness (featuring Terry Reid)
Aye, Aye, Aye (featuring Robin Zander)
I Wanna Roll (featuring David Johansen)
Sick & Tired (featuring Reid)
Haberdasher Blues (featuring Johansen)
Spanish Sushi (instrumental)
Eve of Destruction (featuring Perry)
I'm Going Crazy (featuring Johansen)
Won't Let Me Go (featuring Terry Reid)

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

ELO Announce US Tour

Photo courtesy of efestivals.

Next year after 37 years since Electric Light Orchestra's last extensive tour across the Atlantic, Jeff Lynne is planning on bringing his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted band to the United States for a 10 date tour.

On the subject of the tour, the band released a statement saying:

“On the heels of a once-in-a-lifetime Wembley Stadium show and a European tour in 2017, Jeff Lynne’s ELO announces its first North American tour in 30 plus years produced by Live Nation.

Jeff Lynne’s last extensive US tour with ELO was in 1981. Known as one of the most iconic forces in music history, Jeff Lynne’s ELO has spent the last two years with a critically acclaimed and chart-topping album, a sold out run of UK and European shows, as well as an induction into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame.”

The tickets will go on sale at 10 AM local time on November 17th at Ticketmaster. Needless to say, I know I'm pretty stoked and am going to be trying to get hold of a ticket to what will probably be my one and only chance to see such an iconic and extraordinary band. It's not every day that ELO is right in your backyard performing (metaphorically speaking).

Jeff Lynne’s ELO 2018 North American Tour Dates:

Aug 02: Oakland Oracle Arena, CA
Aug 04: Los Angeles The Forum, CA
Aug 08: Denver Pepsi Center, CO
Aug 10: Houston Toyota Center, TX
Aug 13: Dallas American Airlines Center, TX
Aug 15: Rosemont Allstate Arena, IL
Aug 16: Detroit Little Caesars Arena, MI
Aug18: Toronto Air Canada Centre, ON
Aug 21: New York Madison Square Garden, NY
Aug 24: Philadelphia Wells Fargo Center, PA

Monday, November 13, 2017

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #142

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. Long Wavy Black Hair, by Led Zeppelin

In 1969 Led Zeppelin went on the radio to do a performance session at the BBC. Included in the set were a number of their own songs as well as renditions of classic blues tunes. This is one of the blues songs that is actually a blend primarily of a Sleepy John Estes tune by the name of The Girl I Love, She Got Long Curley Hair and a number of other blues songs. I'm not sure what you would call this, but it's still some fine, raw, rocking music from one of the best bands to ever exist early in their career.

2. Save Me, by Rival Sons

I've seen Rival Sons live four times and they have never once played this tune, which is sad because it is really driving and uptempo. It would REALLY get the crowd going. I'm surprised that it wasn't made a single from the album. It definitely has all of the elements a good rock single needs: crunchy guitars, a fast rhythm, a charismatic vocal melody, and memorable lyrics. Maybe it will be one of those songs that they retroactively promote at their shows some day?

3. Straight for the Heart, by Whitesnake

This is another one of those songs where I wonder why it has never gotten more attention. It has never been played live by the band, though singer and band leader David Coverdale regrets that. It's another driving and uptempo song in a fairly similar vein to a previous release of theirs, Guilty of Love. This song however has crunchier riffs and more flamboyant melodies. This could have easily been a high selling single in the charts back in 1987.

4. Blue Blood Blues, by The Dead Weather

This was the song that got me hooked on The Dead Weather right from the get-go. The way that opening riff just pounds through your speakers just shakes you in a way that not many songs can. It's powerful. It's deep. Then there is the dual vocals between Allison Mosshart and Jack White, which when harmonized sound like something out of the netherworld. It's dark. It's scary. It's oh so intriguing and tempting you to dive down the rabbit hole that is The Dead Weather.

5. Gold on the Ceiling, by The Black Keys

This is one of the first songs I ever remember hearing by The Black Keys a few years back. This is when the band had REALLY hit the big time with their 2012 release El Camino. The way it blends modern electric keyboard with soulful hard hitting 70's blues rock is impeccable. It's definitely a catchy song and rightfully earned its place among the top ranking songs in the rock and mainstream charts at the time.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Alice Cooper Gives Tribute to Former Drummer Whitey Glan

Photo Courtesy of Alice Cooper

Many artists who have reached the stratosphere in terms of career would never have been able to do so without the right help, especially in music. Alice Cooper is certainly no exception to this, but he acknowledged it recently when making a statement paying tribute to his former drummer Whitey Glan who just passed away.

Glan was Cooper's drummer for Welcome to My Nightmare back in 1975 and would stay in his live band throughout the rest of the 70's. He recently passed away of lung cancer. Cooper made a statement on his Facebook page paying tribute to his fallen comrade, saying:

"Rest in Peace, Whitey! I picked Whitey Glan as the drummer for my Welcome to My Nightmare Tour because he was simply the best drummer around, not knowing he could drink me under a table. He was just a great guy, everybody who’s worked with him considered him one of their best friends. He was one of rock's premier drummers, but in my opinion he was very under rated and under publicized -- he was certainly a drummer's drummer! Canada is less one world class musician."

Sadly I myself was unaware of Glan, but from what I've heard of his work with Alice Cooper he was nothing to scoff at. It's a shame when such talented musicians go unknown and under appreciated. Often times they are more talented than the people they are supporting. Hopefully people in light of this will look back through Glan's catalog and learn to recognize and appreciate him more.