Sunday, March 29, 2015

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #19

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. 20 Buck Spin, by Pentagram

Now before you go getting the wrong idea, no this is not a devil worship band. If you didn't see this week's Throwback Thursday feature then Pentagram is a doom metal band in a similar vein to Black Sabbath that also got their start in the early 70's. 20 Buck Spin is a bouncy rock n' roll jam that goes instrumental for somewhat extended periods (though there are some vocal parts that are fantastically melodic) for some blistering guitar solos. It's a great tune for headbanging and considered one of the band's classic tunes for a reason.

2. She Sells Sanctuary, by The Cult

Being one of The Cult's biggest hits, She Sells Sanctuary seems to have this mystical presence that starts and the very beginning of the song and carries on throughout its entirety. It is fun and upbeat, but at the same time it makes the hairs on your arms stand up with its almost eastern music sounding parts on the guitar mixed with the added on reverb. At the same time though the song is very representative of its time (the 80's); the near electronic tone of the drums gives that much away. Combine all that with Ian Astbury's powerful unique vocal timbre and you've got yourself one hell of a pop rock song.

3. Rocky Mountain Way, by Joe Walsh

After leaving The James Gang, Joe Walsh went on to have a pretty successful solo career throughout the 70's and beyond. It's pretty astounding how in Rocky Mountain Way Walsh is really just playing the most basic of blues forms and yet somehow making it utterly unique, powerful, and memorable even to this day. It just goes to show you that you can use the same technical aspects of any kind of music but twist it in a different way to make it almost entirely your own. I really have to applaud Walsh here.

4. Na Na Na, by Cozy Powell's Hammer

Drummer Cozy Powell was one of the best hired guns you could get in rock and metal for decades (having been in such bands like Rainbow, Whitesnake, Michael Schenker Group, Black Sabbath, Jeff Beck, etc.) till his untimely death in 1997 due to an automobile accident. That being said, he dipped his hands in TONS of projects; one of them being a short lived solo project in the early 70's called Cozy Powell's Hammer. They released only one single titled Na Na Na. It's a fun song about wanting to be a drummer in a rock n' roll band; not caring about what people think you have to do to get by in life. It's simple, joyful, and will help you kick those weekday blues.

5. Roadhouse Blues, by The Doors

If you want some straight up rocking blues with some balls to it, look no further than The Doors' classic Roadhouse Blues. That twangy brown sounding opening guitar riff augmented by honky-tonk keys just builds up into one of the most jumping and jiving tunes I've ever heard from The Doors. This is some straight up tough sounding man music. Like Walsh's Rocky Mountain Way it is just simple structured blues but with its own edge to it. Many bands since then have tried to emulate the kind of magic that The Doors brought to the blues.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Beatles Reunion Could Have Come to Fruition, Says Ringo Starr

Since their break-up in 1970 millions of people pined for the day that The Beatles would reunite and once again make the music that has enchanted and inspired multiple generations. Unfortunately, with the untimely passings of John Lennon and George Harrison such a notion never came to fruition. However, Ringo Starr in a recent interview with Rolling Stone says that he felt that it could have.

“With the [technology] you have now, I think we could have got it together. I think the stumbling block was just sitting around and saying, ‘Okay, let’s do it.’ And we never got to that. You know, we did in twos, we talked about it.”

Of course there were multiple occasions throughout the 70's when people tried to get the band to reunite; primarily through bribery and by attempting to appeal to their good nature for charity. Unfortunately, there would have been too much pressure for them to do well according to Starr. It would be understandable considering the legacy the band had already come by even just after their career together ended.

“But I think if we had just relaxed behind it long enough, we still had the songs, and we still could play. We could have put it together. And we could have done ‘A Day in the Life.’ Of course, it’s ended now. John and George are gone.”

The best we will ever get these days are the occasions when Paul McCartney and Starr will get together on stage to play. It doesn't happen that often, but when it does there is a mighty cheerful uproar. It is the closest thing that the current generation will ever get to seeing the fab four perform together.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Throwback Thursday: First Daze Here, by Pentagram

Once upon a time, there existed a heavy metal band from Alexandria, Virginia who throughout the 70's worked hard and gained notoriety throughout the underground scene only to face turmoil. This band was Pentagram. The band would not release its first full length studio album until 1985 and would be done with almost an entirely different line up; the only consistent member being vocalist Bobby Liebling. Also, the old 70's Pentagram songs that the band had built up notoriety with would be almost entirely replaced on it. However, that is not to say that the "classic" songs went unheard. Official recordings were of course made with newer members of the band, but the old demos with the original Pentagram line-up did eventually resurface and get an official release in 2001; titled First Daze Here.

Back in the 70's Pentagram sounded heavily influenced by Black Sabbath. Some would almost venture to call Pentagram a clone of them. There is some truth to it. The dark fantasy lyrical themes and overall sound of the band (primarily the tone of the guitar) on the First Daze Here demo reflect much of the heavy bluesy sound of Black Sabbath's first couple of albums. However, they put their own spin on it and took it in a unique direction; furthering the doom metal genre. Also, Pentagram does/did NOT worship the devil. Much like their source of inspiration, their message was more of a warning against such behavior.

The track Pentagram are probably known for most amongst their underground legion of followers would be Forever My Queen. Though minor elements of Black Sabbath can be heard, it is still mostly an original sounding piece. It comes in with this big, dark, heavy riff with Liebling's intense and almost frightening vocal presence bursts right in. In a way, it's almost darker than anything Black Sabbath was making at the time despite the fact that if you listen closely it's a love song. Kind of weird the way such things work, isn't it?

20 Buck Spin is one of my absolute favorite songs from this album. Despite the very Black Sabbath tone of the guitar, the bouncy nature of the song almost reminds me more of Deep Purple. It is more bluesy and rock oriented rather than heavy metal. This song is more focused on guitar riffs and solos rather than lyrics, but that isn't a problem at all. It is fantastic to hear a young energetic band just jamming out and giving it every last ounce of power that they can. This song alone makes it a shame that the original Pentagram line-up didn't go anywhere.

While First Daze Here isn't exactly the most original sounding record out there, it's fantastic for if you feel like listening to some old school doom metal. The riffs are good and the vocals and lyrics will haunt your dreams. Plus, if you're a musician looking to get into doom metal then this is a great way to get some basic education on the subject. All the basic elements are there for you to pick up on. If you're just a regular listener it's still a great way to give something different a try and start to get away from the mainstream a little more.

First Daze Here, by Pentagram receives 3.75 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Forever My Queen
2. When the Screams Come
3. Walk in the Blue Light
4. Starlady
5. Lazylady
6. Review Your Choices
7. Hurricane
8. Livin' in a Ram's Head
9. Earth Night
10. 20 Buck Spin
11. Be Forewarned
12. Last Days Here

Buy the album on Amazon:

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Twisted Sister May Call It A Day Due to Drummer's Death

80's "hid" metal band Twisted Sister amongst other bands lately are considering putting in their notice and calling it quits soon. This is no surprise though, considering the recent loss of their drummer AJ Pero last week while he was on tour with his other band Adrenaline Mob.

In a recent interview with Eddie Trunk, guitarist Jay Jay French discussed the band's future plans and what are currently subjects of discussion amongst the remaining members.

“We’re going to discuss the near term which is the concert in Vegas on May 30, then we’ll discuss getting through the shows in Europe this year. And then we’ll talk about the long term which is – Is 2016 going to be a statement year for us? It's the 40th anniversary of me, Dee and Eddie Ojeda getting together. It may be time. It may be. We are trying to confront the reality of it because I don’t want to be in this forever. We could – some bands are forever in that ozone area and continue to play on. But we need to look at this and say to ourselves, as a live entity, on which our reputation rests, how do we honour that history? How do we honour AJ? And how do we honour the fans’ loyalty?”

It would be understandable if soon Twisted Sister did disband. Led Zeppelin did the same thing when their drummer John Bonham died in 1980. In a way it shows a lot of loyalty because it just wouldn't be the same band that had worked to make the kind of impact that they did for all those decades. It would be intimidating for any drummer to fill someone else's shoes like that. If this is the choice Twisted Sister wishes to make, then I support them. They have had a good run. Couldn't ask for more.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Black Sabbath Officially Announce Final Concert

All good things must eventually come to an end, it would seem. Heavy metal godfathers Black Sabbath are no exception; as they have just announced when and where their final performance will take place before they hang up the towel and call it a day.

The aforementioned announcement (which can be viewed in the video at the bottom) was made by singer Ozzy Osbourne's wife and manager Sharon Osbourne, saying “Ozzfest will be back in Japan on November 21st and 22nd. And this will be Black Sabbath’s farewell. We’re also announcing Korn, who are celebrating their 20th anniversary. Now you can’t miss that.”

In addition to one final tour, Black Sabbath are also intending to record one more album, bringing back producer Rick Rubin who worked with them on their most recent release 13; which was released back in 2013.

I'm kind of hoping that original drummer Bill Ward makes a surprise appearance and performs with the band at their final show, but I somehow doubt that will happen. He has refused to work with Black Sabbath since their reunion due to not being handed a "signable contract". If you ask me, that is a bit big headed and greedy of him. Of course I don't necessarily know all of the details of the matter, but you would think that for something like this it would be more about playing music you love with old chums and making millions of fans across the world happy to be able to see you play with the group one more time.

Monday, March 23, 2015

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #18

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. The Lemon Song, by Led Zeppelin

This is a pretty buoyant bluesy rocker from Led Zeppelin's second album Led Zeppelin II. I'm sure you've heard it on the radio a handful of times if you listen to the classic rock stations. It's a great way to get a grooving vibe going if you want something to move a little bit to while driving to work or wherever it is you're going.  Guitarist Jimmy Page does some fantastic finger picking work while Robert Plant just howls away. Definitely a must-listen for anyone just starting to get into Zeppelin.

2. Mambo Sun, by T. Rex

This isn't exactly what you would consider soft easy listening music, but Marc Bolan's vocals in this tune seem to be almost sung at an odd sort of whisper. I guess that is part of what makes this glam rock groove so intriguing. It adds to what in my opinion is more of a soundscape rather than a traditional pop song with distinguishable verses, choruses, bridges, etc. The song starts, makes you move, and just goes till it ends. As boring as that might seem to some people, it actually works to the song's advantage. It's a fun time for sure.

3. Smokestack Lightnin', by Howlin' Wolf

If old school blues is more your speed, then this blues classic by Howlin' Wolf is right up your alley.  This was recorded in the late 50's and you can definitely tell. However, that doesn't make it any less smooth and soulful. If anything, it makes it more so. The vocals are so deep and rich that they remind you of a really well brewed cup of coffee in a way. The Chicago style harmonica playing only adds to the richness and sends a shockwave of pure awesome through your body. If you want a blues song that isn't so sad, give this a listen.

4. Raw Power, by Iggy and the Stooges

Like 50's rock but some times wish it had a bit more punch to it? Look no further! In his early career Iggy Pop and his band The Stooges answered your prayers. The Stooges took the genre to a whole other level and even acted as a bridge between traditional rock and what would become punk (aka proto-punk). The track Raw Power is rock n' roll at its most basic, but with better production, a more punched up guitar sound, and more sleazy lyrics. It's a great way to get your aggressions out while still retaining some level of musical integrity.

5. Honky Tonk Women, by The Rolling Stones

If you have a fever and the only cure is a prescription for more cowbell, this is the song for you. It starts with it and it just keeps going through the whole song. This is one of the Rolling Stones' best and most well known cheery upbeat jaunts. I sing along to it every time it comes on. Even if it's for the millionth time, I find it impossible to grow weary of the tune. It has everything: cowbell, guitar, horns, and an atmosphere of FUN. If only one song were ever able to get you through a crappy week, it would be this.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Former STP and VR Vocalist Scott Weiland Not So Fan Friendly

It isn't so uncommon to find that someone you idolize or consider a personal hero to you isn't quite the person you had thought they were. Never did this become more apparent than when recently former Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver vocalist Scott Weiland said some rather distasteful things to fans that had paid for a meet and greet package with him at a show of his in Boston.

An article on KSHE 95 mentions how several fans were disgusted by the way Weiland treated them during their time with him. These fans posted to Weiland's online message board about these experiences and how it left them feeling empty and upset.

A user named PigsInZen wrote:

“Scott didn’t even look at me when I was talking to him, he put his arm around me and literally said ‘Let’s get this s— done with.’ As I fakely smiled for my photo, I couldn’t believe what just came out of my hero’s mouth…Scott should not be saying that when people paid $150 for a brief picture with him after the show.”

Toahiaph, another user said:

“[Scott] says something like, ‘OK, hurry up I don’t want to hear it.’ I stand next to him and smile for my picture…meanwhile he was complaining the whole five seconds that it was taking too long. I will NEVER pay to shake his hand again.”

A great deal of the fans at the meet and greet think that Weiland was under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both. A user named Matthew elaborated on this and said, “I did the meet and greet as well and he said ‘Let’s suck a d—!’ to me and that was it. Over and done in 10 seconds. He was definitely drunk and ready to get outta there.”

It would be no surprise if this were the case, given Weiland's notorious history with substance abuse. Such problems got him fired from both Velvet Revolver as well as Stone Temple Pilots. It really is a shame that at this point in his life Weiland doesn't seem to have his crap together. All his other rock n' roll peers in his age group seem to have. It has ruined what should have been one of the best experiences for his fans by disillusioning them in a pitiful unnecessary way. Hopefully some day he can kick his vices for good and give his fans what they deserve.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Shades of Deep Purple, by Deep Purple

In 1968 a band out of Hertford, England appeared on the scene that would soon enough change the face of rock n' roll music as we know it forever with some of the most powerful riffs, melodic solos, and expressive vocals to ever grace our ears. This band was Deep Purple. Before songs like Smoke On the Water, Highway Star, or Space Truckin' however, they were almost an entirely different band altogether; as the band has evolved and changed a great deal over the years in their sound and varying line-ups.

The band's first line-up of Rod Evans on vocals, Nick Simper on bass, Jon Lord on keys, Ian Paice on drums, and Ritchie Blackmore on guitar released its debut album Shades of Deep Purple in 1968 on Parlophone Records. The 8 song album featured 4 original songs and 4 cover songs reinterpreted in a more psychedelic and progressive style (styles which were gaining more and more popularity at the time). The most notable cover song from this album that still gets some attention to this day would be their reinterpretation of Hush, by Joe South.

In the case of Hush people are actually more familiar with the Deep Purple version (whether they realize it or not) more than they are the original version. What always puzzled me about this version is that it starts off with a very faint sound of a wolf howling at the moon before the actual intro of the song comes in. I'm not entirely sure why that is there. However, the song itself is fantastic. It's your basic love song, but the upbeat late 60's pop-rock vibe to it with the marriage of Hammond organ and guitar works out beautifully. Plus, the vocal melody will leave you singing "Na na na na na na na na na na..." over and over.

Mandrake Root was the first song that Deep Purple ever worked on together as a group. Though the beginning section does have a verse or two of vocals it fairly quickly goes into the long drawn-out instrumental psychedelic odyssey that it is known amongst Deep Purple fans to be. There are many trade-offs between organ and guitar in terms of being the focal point while the rhythm section gives you the feeling that you're in the middle of a jungle running from something. Either way, it was a great way for Blackmore and Lord to showcase their chops while still within somewhat of a structured piece of music.

If you like adventurous music that feels like it could take you anywhere, Shades of Deep Purple is right up your alley. There are some familiar classic rock songs that have been turned into intriguing psychedelic acid trips - in a good way of course. I particularly enjoy how they completely redid Help, by The Beatles, except for the vocal melody itself. Despite the album sounding fairly dated (the timbre of the keyboards really gives it away), it is still a fun way to go on a trip without even having to leave your living room.

Shades of Deep Purple, by Deep Purple receives 4 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. And the Address
2. Hush
3. One More Rainy Day
4. Prelude: Happiness/I'm So Glad
5. Mandrake Root
6. Help!
7. Love Help Me
8. Hey Joe

Buy the album on Amazon:

Ozzy Osbourne's Story Turned into Comic Book

If you're a fan of heavy metal and comic books, then this announcement is right up your alley. Black Sabbath and solo singer Ozzy Osbourne will be getting his life and experiences put into comic book medium.

The comic will be titled Ozzy Osbourne: The Metal Madman and will be out later this week. It was written by Michael L Frizell and Jayfri Hashim and published by Bluewater Productions.

According to Frizell out of great respect there was an abundance of time, effort, and research put into this comic to ensure full accuracy and enjoyment for fans of Osbourne.

Frizell says:

“Ozzy’s legacy is well-known, but a lot of research went into the script. One mis-step and the fans would know. Jayfri and I wanted to respect the legend and the fans by giving them something both familiar and unexpected."

Ozzy Osbourne: The Metal Madman is being released along side a comic about Osbourne's wife Sharon Osbourne titled Female Force: Sharon Osbourne by the same company. Both can be purchased over at as well as digitally on Kindle and iTunes.

Personally I'm a little surprised something like this hasn't happened sooner. Maybe it did and I just didn't know, but still. Either way, I'm sure it will make for an entertaining read. I read Osbourne's autobiography I Am Ozzy and I'm looking forward to some of these stories making the transition from text to comic.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Former Guns N' Roses Members Izzy Stradlin' and Duff McKagan Record New Song Together

Seems former Guns N' Roses bassist Duff McKagan had one hell of a great birthday recently. He got together with former band mate rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin' to record a new song together for the first time in about 25 years.

In an interview with Vorterix McKagan says:

“We were talking on the phone, and [Stradlin'] said, ‘Let’s go record a song.’ I have it. It just got mixed. It’s a super kick-ass song, and we just had fun.”

Stradlin' and McKagan managed to do the song all in one day at a studio owned by Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age; having Taz Bentley of the band Reverend Horton Heat on drum duty.

When asked about how far this collaboration will be pursued, Mckagan says:

“We’ll probably do it some more. We’re gonna maybe record some more. But we just enjoy making music together and enjoy each other’s company. We’re allowed to do that.”

Personally, I'm stoked for this tune. It's always great to hear any of the ex-GN'R crew do anything; especially when two or more of them do it together. Granted, none of it will ever come close to the magic that was Guns N' Roses in their heyday but these guys are incapable of putting out anything that doesn't rock. A full album from these two would be fantastic; especially if they can get Slash in on it.

Monday, March 16, 2015

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #17

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.  Green Manalishi, by Fleetwood Mac

Before Fleetwood Mac became the highly beloved pop rock band that they have become known for since the mid-70's, they were a straight up blues/rock band fronted by notable bluesman Peter Green. Before quitting the band in 1970, one of the last songs he ever wrote with the band was quite a rocker. In a way it was almost heavy metal, which is why in the late 70's it was covered by Judas Priest on their Hellbent For Leather album. The lyrics are full of frightening dream imagery; not surprising as Green was into many forms of drugs at the time. Be that as it may, this is a classic from the original Fleetwood Mac line-up.

2. Up to the Light, by The Soft White Sixties

I've mentioned this band on Young Ears, Fresh Perspective before and I will do it again. The Soft White Sixties is a newer band that blends modern pop with classic rock in quite a clever way. This piano centric song is quite cheery and features some vocal harmonies that are so perfect that they give me shivers. In a way, it's mildly reminiscent of Electric Light Orchestra's Mr. Blue Sky in terms of the kind of vibe it produces. Once you learn the lyrics it will be pretty difficult for you not to be singing along.

3. I'm the Only One, by Melissa Etheridge

This early 90's hit is a pretty groovy tune. It's about as basic as you can get in terms of singing the blues. Etheridge's powerful gritty vocals backed by the steady chugging of a 12 string guitar is a match made in heaven. Plus, if you're a woman who has ever been done wrong by a man but still love him this song is right up your alley. Nothing but pure honesty behind these lyrics being belted out with a glowing hot intensity. If you didn't hear it playing on the radio a lot during the 90's, you need to play it. Now.

4. Cry Freedom, by Black Country Communion

During this super-group's short lived tenure they put out a slew of great heavy blues rock songs. On their third album Afterglow guitarist/backing vocalist Joe Bonamassa and bassist/lead vocalist Glenn Hughes both sang on a song together, trading off lead vocals at certain points. It's a powerful song of revolution and freedom. The structure isn't that complex (though the main riff makes you want to bang your head and groove), but the amps are turned up to 10 and both singers are giving their all into a meaningful song.

5. Whole Lotta Sabbath, by Wax Audio

Do you love Black Sabbath? Do you love Led Zeppelin? If the answer to both of those questions is yes, then I HIGHLY recommend you check out this mash-up of Black Sabbath's Warpigs and Led Zeppelin's Whole Lotta Love done by Wax Audio. The marriage between these two songs is impeccable. The editing is seamless and everything flows together as a cohesive song. It's a creative way to take samples from each song and make them into something new and unique. If you're new to the idea of mash-ups, this is a great place to start.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page Not Fond of Digital Music

It would seem that despite the fact that former Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page has been vital to his old band's music being brought into the digital age, he is not very fond of the limitations the format presents listeners with.

In a recent interview with Kerrang! Radio Page discusses why he decided to go through the time consuming and tedious job of remastering the band's entire catalog for the deluxe sets that are currently being released. Unsurprisingly, a lot of it has to do with how appalled Page was by the lack of quality found in digital music; primarily with MP3 files.

Page says, “I’d be confronted with Led Zeppelin music on MP3. It almost sounded like it had been remixed, and not very well at that. The songs lost their transience and depth on their way to MP3. They were mixed in stereo with a depth-of-field to them, with everything in focus. To have it squashed down is not how it was intended to be.”

Page has been working to make sure that with these remasters that no matter what may come in the future, the songs will be ready and properly preserved for any possible digital format.

“If you review the situation of how things are listened to, and approach vinyl, CDs and digital separately, it’s not one size fits all. We’ve got high-resolution files for whatever’s going to come down the line. It was essential to do that, to make sure you don’t have to remaster again for a number of years.”

Personally, I can't say I blame him for being so upset with digital music; primarily MP3's. When you convert something MP3 you condense it heavily; taking away much of the presence and depth of the original song as Page said. It feels like a great deal of the soul of the song has been removed in order to save space on a hard drive. If you want to have a better idea of what songs should sound like but still use a digital medium, listen to WAV or FLAC files. They may be drastically bigger than MP3's, but the quality is that much greater as well.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Holy Diver, by Dio

By late 1982, metal god Ronnie James Dio had already been in two of the greatest bands to ever bless the genre: Black Sabbath and Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow. At this point, Ronnie had just left Sabbath over disagreements in the mixing for the band's live album Live Evil amongst other bubbling tensions. From there he started a new band; recruiting former Black Sabbath drummer Vinnie Appice, former Rainbow bassist Jimmy Bain, and a then unknown Irish guitarist Vivian Campbell. Together they would form the band Dio and release three studio albums together before musicians would start going and coming.

The first of these three albums is Dio's most highly acclaimed solo album to date: Holy Diver. Released in 1983 it keeps much of the themes of fantasy, eloquent wording, and intensity of Ronnie's previous work. However, with Campbell in the mix there was more of a fire to them because the young guitarist was out to prove himself while amongst musicians who were already giants in the heavy metal world at the time. At the same time, he does not copy Tony Iommi or Ritchie Blackmore, making his own iconic riffs and lightning quick solos.

The title track of the album Holy Diver is a staple in the bible of heavy metal. Though the song is slow to start with a synth intro that sounds like wind and electronic keys (goes on almost a minute and a half) it is the perfect way to build suspense for when the band comes in with the iconic riff that metalheads have known and loved for 30+ years. It's a mid-tempo song; perfect to be the kind of anthem that it is. Then of course you can't count out the fact that you have Ronnie singing with the most conviction anyone has ever heard him sing with. Despite the lyrics of the song being quite cryptic, you can tell he means every last one of them with a burning fiery passion from his heavy metal heart.

There are many other memorable and iconic tracks from this album, but one of my personal favorites that is a little off the beaten path is Caught in the Middle. While not a fast song, it does kick things up a little more from Holy Diver; especially with the speedy part of the signature riff that starts the verses. However, what really makes this song special is the vocal melodies and harmonies. Ronnie's voice absolutely sailed and soared above everything going on in the song; like a bird taking flight above clouds in a way. Each plays its part in the scene, but it's the bird (or in this case Ronnie) that captivates you and steals your attention.

Holy Diver is another essential for a metalhead's record collection. There are countless classics on it for you to become acquainted with if you somehow have not already such as Rainbow in the Dark, Holy Diver, Stand Up and Shout, Don't Talk to Strangers, etc. It's heavy, but melodic. It's intense, but captivating. You can't help but feel yourself get wrapped up in the fantastic lyrical portraits Ronnie paints while enchanting you with some of the most heart felt melodies you have ever heard. Add the power, passion, and prowess of the rest of the band and you will find yourself caught in the middle of an album you will have a hard time taking off of repeat.

Holy Diver, by Dio receives 5 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Stand Up and Shout
2. Holy Diver
3. Gypsy
4. Caught in the Middle
5. Don't Talk to Strangers
6. Straight Through the Heart
7. Invisible
8. Rainbow in the Dark
9. Shame on the Night

Buy the album on Amazon:

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Illness Strikes Fleetwood Mac Again

Fleetwood Mac seem to not be having the best of luck with their 2015 tour. Once again, illness has struck a member of the band; causing them to postpone their show in Little Rock, Arkansas. This news comes from a post on the band's official Facebook page late yesterday evening (March 10th).

The post reads:

"The March 11th, Fleetwood Mac "On With the Show" tour date at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock, AR has been postponed to a later date, due to an illness. Details of a new date will be announced soon."

Fleetwood Mac at this point has not released any information as to who is ill and what they were stricken with.

This is not the first time on this tour that a member fell ill. During a show in Lincoln, Nebraska on January 17th of this year drummer Mick Fleetwood collapsed during the set due to stomach flu; causing his drum tech to step in and play a couple of songs before they called it a night. Also, back in 2013 bassist John McVie had a brief cancer scare that caused the cancellation of many dates while he recovered.

It's a shame that this is happening on this tour of all tours because keyboardist Christine McVie is now back with the band after a lengthy space of time. Plus, the band is planning on recording another album now that all of the famous members of the band are reunited; their first album in over a decade.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Woodstock Artist Compensation List Released

Anyone who hasn't been living under a rock the past 46 years knows about Woodstock, the most famous and well attended rock festival of all time. Over the course of 3 days in mid-August of 1969 32 of the most well known artists performed for 400,000 people; the most amount of people ever gathered together in one place. Some recently unearthed documents show what each artist was compensated with for their performance at the festival.

It's no surprise that Jimi Hendrix tops this list; though in this day and age it is astounding to see how little even he got paid by today's standards. Making only $18,000, Hendrix would not have even been able to buy a much in the way of a new car. Naturally if you adjust for inflation of course (especially considering money went a lot further back then), these artists ended up profiting a lot more than today's generation might have thought they did.

1. Jimi Hendrix – $18,000
2. Blood, Sweat and Tears – $15,000
3. Joan Baez – $10,000
4. Creedence Clearwater Revival - $10,000
5. The Band - $7,500
6. Janis Joplin - $7,500
7. Jefferson Airplane – $7,500
8. Sly and the Family Stone – $7,000
9. Canned Heat – $6,500
10. The Who – $6,250
11. Richie Havens – $6,000
12. Arlo Guthrie - $5,000
13. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – $5,000
14. Ravi Shankar – $4,500
15. Johnny Winter – $3,750
16. Ten Years After – $3,250
17. Country Joe and the Fish – $2,500
18. Grateful Dead - $2,500
19. The Incredible String Band - $2,250
20. Mountain - $2,000
21. Tim Hardin - $2,000
22. Joe Cocker - $1,375
23. Sweetwater - $1,250
24. John B. Sebastian - $1,000
25. Melanie - $750
26. Santana - $750
27. Sha Na Na - $700
28. Keef Hartley - $500
29. Quill - $375

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #16

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. Theme From Star Trek, by 331Erock

As many of you know, Leonard Nimoy who portrayed Mr. Spock on the hit TV show and series of movies Star Trek recently passed away at the age of 83. Having inspired fans of multiple generations, many were impacted by his loss. Many tributes in the past week and a half have been made, but one of the most notable is that of YouTube guitar sensation 331Erock, who made a heavy metal medley of the original TV show theme as well as the one from the movies. Though the volume and intensity has been raised, it still keeps the same kind of wonder, excitement, and heart of the original songs while also adding a bit of a Steve Vai kind of vibe to the interlude.

2. Since You've Been Gone, by PelleK

Speaking of YouTubers doing their own take on classics, I couldn't pass this up. Made famous by Rainbow in 1979 Norwegian metal vocalist PelleK did his own version of the song in 2013 with friends Karl Golden on bass and guitar and Lion on drums. It stays pretty true to the original overall, though there is a lack of keys. However, theses guys more than made up for it with the energy and passion that they put into this fun pop rock tune. Plus, you can definitely tell that PelleK is NOT trying to copy former Rainbow vocalist Graham Bonnet in his performance.

3. Heaven and Hell, by Motion Device

Motion Device which is a band I've mentioned a time or two on this blog before is another band which garnered much of its fame through YouTube. In this video they do their take on Heaven and Hell; Ronnie James Dio's signature song from his time in heavy metal pioneer legend Black Sabbath. Their 12 year old singer Sara (who was a little younger when this video was made) shows her true passion for the work of her idol and for rock and metal music in general. The whole band does an excellent job paying tribute while showcasing their own talents.

4. Friday, by Mike Walter

Remember a few years ago when that Rebecca Black song Friday was all the rage for being so awful it was amazing? Many people did their own take on the song to make it more bearable, but my favorite version has to be an 80's hair metal version done by YouTuber Mike Walter. The lyrical content is still pretty stupid, but it becomes much more melodic and easy to listen to; especially when the rapping section is replaced by a very commendable guitar solo and the vocals are done by someone with the vocal range to properly sing it. Either way, it's a fun version of the song and it translates into poppy hair metal quite well.

5. Eruption, by The Cellonator

Just when you thought Eddie Van Halen's legendary guitar solo Eruption couldn't get any cooler than it already is, The Cellonator comes and blows it out of the water with his electric cello rendition. Although the video is already 8 years old, it is still as astounding as the day it was posted. What Van Halen did with two hands on the fret board, this guy was able to do with only one; making it sound almost exactly alike. It just goes to show you that classical instruments can be used for more than just music for old fuddy duddies.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Dave Grohl Gives Drum Stick to Blind Fan During Foo Fighters Show

Good guy Dave Grohl is at it again. The legendary former Nirvana drummer and now Foo Fighters front man stopped a show recently to make the wish of a visually disabled fan come true.

On the night of February 26th, 2015 at a Foo Fighters show at ANZ Stadium in Sydney, Australia a blind man held up a sign to the stage reading "Drumstick for a blind guy". Grohl having a reputation for being the "nicest guy in rock" stopped the show to comply with the devoted fan's request. In the clip in the link below you can watch video of the event and even see Grohl shouting over to drummer Taylor Hawkins "Give me a drumstick".

Anyone wondering how a proper rockstar should behave should look no further than Grohl. He is always doing wonderful things for fans and people in general. One of the most substantial acts of kindness on Grohl's part was when in 2006 two miners were trapped after the Beaconsfield mine collapse in Tasmania, Australia. One of the miners while waiting to be rescued requested an iPod with the Foo's at the time most recent album In Your Honor. In addition to that, Grohl also sent a note of support and offered them two free tickets to any Foo Fighters show once they got out; which he made good on.

That being said, it's pretty difficult to find a reason to hate the guy, wouldn't you say?

Link to video:

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Ramones, by The Ramones

About a year before The Sex Pistols came crashing onto the scene with their own loud, obscene, and earth shaking brand of punk rock, there was a band already coming into the main stream with music in a similar vein: The Ramones. In a time where rock music was becoming more and more corporate, drawn out, and pretentious there were those wanted the genre to return to its fun upbeat roots with catchy, short, and memorable tunes that everyone could sing and dance along to. The Ramones were pretty much the answer to such prayers when in the mid-70's they hit the New York club scene and released their first album.

This debut album was simply titled Ramones; straight to the point. Released in 1976 its 14 tracks have the album clocking in at only 29 minutes. Most of the tunes don't last longer than two minutes; the longest coming in at 2:38. All of the songs are fast, raw, and melodic. It's punk rock in its purest form. In a way, they remind me vaguely of what The Beach Boys might sound like if they were to up the tempo and crank up the overdrive on their amplifiers. In a way this is probably along the lines of what The Ramones were going for at the time.

There is one song that EVERYBODY knows The Ramones for, even if they don't know it's by them; this tune being Blitzkrieg Bop. Its intro is iconic. With its simple repetition of "Ay! Oh! Let's go!" over a driving rhythm from drummer Tommy Ramone how could it not be? It's a song to make you get off your ass and want to just GO. Despite the fact that it is just simple three chord punk rock it's a great way to get your day going if you're just dragging your feet and not really feeling going in to work or school.

The Ramones also had a bit of a softer side to them as well unlike many of the other bands who would take up the punk flag. Such tenderness is showcased in the love song I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend. Like many of the songs from the band it is just three chords but they are used to the fullest extent to accent a very pleasing vocal melody from Joey Ramone. Despite the fact that he wasn't the most talented vocalist by any stretch of the imagination, he knew what he could do and made the best of things. If you're a punk rocker and want to woo a girl over, I HIGHLY advise you learn to play this.

Though The Ramones were not the first punk rock band to ever exist, they were crucial to it coming to the mainstream; and rightfully so. Their style is simple, honest, and all around fun. They are an every man (or woman) kind of band that many younger people can still relate to in some way or another even to this day. The lyrics are simple, yet full of substance and backed by some of the loudest and most pulsing music you can imagine. Ramones shows where the band came from and pretty much the birth of a genre. It's a must-have for every punk rocker out there.

Ramones, by The Ramones receives 3.75 stars out of 5.

Track List:

1. Blitzkrieg Bop
2. Beat on the Brat
3. Judy is a Punk
4. I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend
5. Chainsaw
6. Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue
7. I Don't Wanna Go Down to the Basement
8. Loudmouth
9. Havana Affair
10. Listen to My Heart
11. 53rd and 3rd
12. Let's Dance
13. I Don't Wanna Walk Around With You
14. Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World

Buy the album on Amazon:

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Judas Priest Vocalist Rob Halford Calls for Fair Payment to Artists on Spotify

In this day and age it is becoming more and more common for consumers of music to stream their music from services like Spotify or Deezer rather than download files onto their computers/devices. However, it would seem that this new trend has not exactly worked out completely in favor of the artist. It was recently revealed that for every €9.99 someone spends on a monthly subscription only €0.68 goes to the artist. Judas Priest vocalist Rob Halford has something to say about that.

In an interview with 3News Halford says:

“The big ones like Spotify appreciate the position they’re in. They’ve got buckets of money. I think you’ve just got to be ‘fair’s fair’ here. Without us, you don’t have a streaming company – that’s it, plain and simple.”

Halford feels that it will come to a battle the way things did with iTunes did within the past decade. Halford further elaborates by saying:

“It’s a struggle. It’s a battle. But I think the artists will prevail. I’m hoping we’ll see some common sense from Spotify and the others to make it all work for everybody.”

I hope for the sake of the artists who spend countless hours and money buying their equipment, honing their skills, creating something new, and then recording it that a more fair deal will be struck between them and the streaming services. It isn't right that the fat cats should keep all the money when it's the artists doing all the real work. Halford is right. Without the artists, they have no company. The streaming services need to realize this before it's too late.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Metallica to Release First Demo "No Life Til Leather" on Cassette for Record Store Day

Looks like Metallica is going way back to the past for their contribution to this year's Record Store Day. In addition to that, the format it's being released on will be equally as retro and will match the original format it was released on.

Metallica recently made a Facebook post saying they will be returning to their humble beginnings by rereleasing their first demo No Life Til Leather on cassette. The demo was originally released in 1982 and featured 7 songs that would all eventually be recorded for their debut studio album Kill 'em All. No Life Til Leather will only be released on cassette for Record Store Day unlike most releases for the occasion, but over the summer it will be put onto vinyl and CD as part of the reissue campaign that will include the rest of the band's discography over time.

The tape will be 7 tracks; all of the ones that were featured on the original demo. They will be in the same order as they were and will all be the original mixes in order to according to drummer Lars Ulrich keep “the same innocence and, I guess, borderline ignorance, of four kids barely out of puberty, rockin’ along, doing their thing.” Also, No Life Til Leather features original bassist Ron McGovney and original lead guitarist and now Megadeth front man Dave Mustaine.

I think this is kind of a nifty idea and is a great way for Metallica to make some easy quick cash; especially since they don't seem to really be able to produce anything of the same quality any more. I have heard the tracks from No Life Til Leather and I honestly prefer them to even the album versions. They are more raw, honest, and passionate than a lot of what the band would go on to do. Plus, Mustaine's lead guitar work is far superior to that of current lead guitarist Kirk Hammett. Despite the fact that I don't think Metallica needs to make any more money, I'd say go ahead and buy this anyway when it comes out.

Monday, March 2, 2015

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #15

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. Alive, by Adler's Appetite

Back in 2010 former Guns N' Roses drummer Steven Adler made a brief comeback with a band called Adler's Appetite. With the new group he released three singles-the first new music he had made in two decades. Alive is a dirty little upbeat rocker of a song that is pretty reminiscent of the style of music he had made with his former band in the late 80's. However, despite the similarities it is still a great way to rock out. There are some pretty passionate heartfelt lyrics and no lack of cowbell whatsoever.

2. Wasted Years, by Iron Maiden

This is one of what I feel is Iron Maiden's more melodic songs. The moment you hit the play button that guitar melody is instantly recognizable. It is dark, eerie, and gives you the notion that it is building up to something big; especially with the bass melody bringing up the rear. The vocal harmonies in that driving chorus is what really adds the icing to the cake, however. Singer Bruce Dickinson puts his absolute all into belting out that chorus that has by this point become iconic amongst fans of the band and the heavy metal community in general.

3. Daydream Believer, by The Monkees

And now for something completely different. This song is also quite melodic, but in a far different way from its predecessor on the list. Then again, anyone who hasn't lived under a rock for the past 5 decades or so would probably know this. It is definitely a classic and guaranteed to bring you back into a happy sing-along mood if you're feeling a little blue. It's one of those songs I feel ages well and is timeless as far as pop/rock is concerned because it doesn't use a whole lot of gimmicks from the time period it was made in and is written in such a way that anyone can relate to it in some way or another.

4. I'm the One, by Danzig

Now when you think of Glenn Danzig, normally you would think heavy metal and punk rock. However, on his second album Lucifuge: Danzig II he did a track that was entirely acoustic delta blues. This track being I'm the One. It also has a bit of a shuffle to it and is vaguely reminiscent of John Lee Hooker's Boom Boom. It's pretty easy to just close your eyes, tap your feet, and get caught up in the overall feeling of the music in this one. At the same time you could kind of mistake it for a song from The Doors, but you could pretty quickly recognize it as Danzig lyrically and vocally. Either way, it's an interesting take on an old style.

5. Free Fallin', by Tom Petty

For a song that is pretty much three chords that repeat throughout the entirety of its course it is one of the most memorable and classic of the genre. It is definitely a case where lyrical content actually seems to matter more than the music that backs it; though the music itself is nothing to scoff at by any means. This is Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne's songwriting at its absolute best. It's a pretty great song to sway to and again just get caught up in the musical atmosphere it creates that seems so real you feel like you could touch it.