Thursday, March 31, 2016

James Hetfield, Sammy Hagar, and More to Play Acoustic-4-A-Cure Show

Seems like quite a few performers from a vast multitude of genres have banded together for a good cause. This year, folks like Metallica's James Hetfield, Van Halen's Sammy Hagar, and many more will be performing at this year's Acoustic-4-A-Cure benefit show at the Fillmore in San Francisco on May 15th.

Acoustic-4-A-Cure is now in its third year. Each year it raises money for the Pediatric Cancer Program at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital. Definitely seems like a worthy cause if you ask me. Why wouldn't you want to help find a cure for kids that have cancer?

The tickets will go on sale on April 1st at 10 AM via LiveNation. Below is the list of the performers. Quite frankly I'm intrigued by the people they have on here. I'm curious to hear what Satch (Joe Satriani) will sound like unplugged, seeing as that is something that you don't get too often out of him. Everyone else I'm not entirely surprised by, except MAYBE James Hetfield. Regardless, I'm sure it will be a cool show.

This year's performers:

James Hetfield
Sammy Hagar
Tommy Lee
Joe Satriani
Melissa Etheridge
John Mayer
Pat Monahan

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Megadeth Front Man Dave Mustaine Finds Critics Bitter

Music critics over the decades have gotten a pretty bad rap from musicians and fans alike. It's absolutely no surprise that Megadeth front man Dave Mustaine who has been known for his radical opinions and statements over the years has some harsh things to say about them as well.

In a recent interview with Fox News Magazine, Mustaine goes off on critics with no holds barred. Nothing new from him of course, but this was probably partly in response to feedback he has gotten over the years due to his split from Metallica in 1983.

In the interview, Mustaine says:

“I think that there's a lot of people out there that are probably overtly harsh in their criticism and it's because they don't want people to know that they don't really know what they're talking about. It's like the old saying – dogs with no teeth bark the loudest. You find that the meanest critics are people with no real musical education and they're just bitter.”

Megadeth put out its 15th studio album Dystopia back in January, so I would imagine Mustaine would have some fresh feelings regarding the musical press and its lack of positive things to say about him and other musicians.

I can kind of understand Mustaine's own bitterness. The press has never really been that kind to him. To be fair though, it has been a while since Megadeth put out anything that was really that earth-shattering. I imagine Musataine has been getting a bit frustrated with being called out by the press for that over the years. Negative review after negative review would probably get to anybody, no matter how much of a thick skin they have.

Monday, March 28, 2016

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #66

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. After Midnight, by Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton has done quite a variety of stuff in his five decade long career. This classic really cooks and kicks it into high gear. After Midnight is fun and shows how Clapton could make something that was fun to dance and kick a groove to. Definitely a lot of soul too, especially with the almost gospel-esque backing vocals. Naturally Clapton's less is more approach to guitar solos also works out quite nicely too in this context.

2. Running Wild, by Judas Priest

If you want something that will REALLY get you motivated and moving however, look no further than this Judas Priest classic ripper. It is a pure adrenaline injection (metaphorically speaking of course). If Running Wild doesn't get you to want to put your pedal to the metal when it is cranked all the way up then there is something SERIOUSLY wrong with you. Just make sure you listen to the Unleashed in the East version. It's WAY better.

3. Angel of the Morning, by Juice Newton

And now for something completely different. Nothing says tender ballad like this classic that was most famously covered by pop/country artist Juice Newton. Of course these days this version is especially popular among Marvel fans, as it was used in an amusing way during the hilarious opening credits scene in the movie Deadpool that came out about a month and a half ago. Regardless, this song is still a classic and a treasure for a reason (even though from now on people won't be able to listen to it without laughing their asses off).

4. Oh Yeah, by Chickenfoot

I remember the summer of 2009 this was the big debut single from super group Chickenfoot. It honestly has everything you could want in a good straight up rock tune: a catchy guitar riff, fun lyrics with a boastful voice, backing vocals that push to the heavens, a guitar solo that makes you think we had just received a gift from the gods of rock, and a rhythm that gets you bobbing your head all around. Even all this time later I still find myself cranking this through my stereo whenever I need some no frills rock n' roll to get me through the day.

5. Hey Hey My My, by Neil Young

I don't talk about the enormously talented Neil Young enough here on the blog. The dude is an absolute genius both lyrically and musically. This in my opinion is one of Young's finest works. When performed live, the guitar solo is especially one of the absolute greatest things in this tune aside from the really heartfelt lyrics. It really is not so difficult to believe that rock n' roll will never die when you get your jive on with this grooving tune. 


Saturday, March 26, 2016

Guns N' Roses Announce 21 City US Summer Tour

Guns N' Roses has already blown people's minds by announcing six shows with most of the original line-up including Slash since his two decade feud with singer Axl Rose came to an end. Now however, it seems that there will be more where that came from as they are intending to do a 21 date US tour this summer.

Though the venues and dates are yet to be confirmed, the list of cities (which is below) was officially released to the public via their publicist after mysterious billboards started popping up all over the country in the cities that the band intends to perform in. 

GN'R's already announced concerts are set to go down April 8-9 for the opening of Las Vegas’s T-Mobile Arena, including Alice in Chains as the opening band both nights. Once they wrap those shows up, GN'R will be playing at the Coachella music festival in Indio, CA on April 16 and April 23, including shows on April 19-20 in Mexico City.

I am personally STOKED for GN'R to be touring this summer. I NEVER thought that Slash would play with the band again. I would probably sell my left kidney to get a ticket to go see this. Hopefully Axl's voice is in tip-top shape though because otherwise it might not be worth whatever ridiculous price they will be charging for tickets. Even so, I'd probably still go anyway because then I'll be able to say I got to see Guns N' Roses with Slash and Duff - something NO ONE from my generation has been able to say.

List of Cities GN'R Will Tour:

Kansas City
New Orleans
New York
San Diego
San Francisco
St. Louis
Washington, D.C.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Throwback Thursday: 1984, by Van Halen

In 1984 Van Halen put out one of their most successful albums of all time: 1984. Featuring hits like Hot For Teacher, Jump, I'll Wait, Panama, etc. it would also be the band's last studio album with original singer David Lee Roth until their 2012 release A Different Kind of Truth. That said, despite the egos of the band members getting heavily inflated this was one hell of a way for their classic line-up to end their initial run with a bang. It really is them at their absolute best.

You can definitely tell that in 1984 Van Halen were really on top of their game. The songs definitely sound more well constructed, as though they were written by more experienced song writers (which by that point in their career they were). It's no surprise that so many of the Van Roth hits come from this album alone. Naturally there is a lot of Eddie Van Halen going wild on the guitar, but this time around it seems a bit more precise and thought out.

Jump was Van Halen's first number one hit in the charts, and for good reason too. It's peppy, it's positive, and it's just plain fun. When that iconic synth intro kicks in, it's enough to send any group of people into a wild spree. Combine that with Roth being as Roth as he can be with his upbeat boxing related lyrics and Eddie's soloing and you really do have what Van Halen was all about condensed into one song. It may be one hell of an overplayed song, but this is one of the few times I won't complain about that.

Top Jimmy may not be one of the more popular cuts from 1984, but that makes it no less of an awesome song. For a song that doesn't have a whole ton of distortion and reverb this song REALLY drives and grooves. It's a song you can really bang your head along to. Plus, I LOVE the way bassist/backing vocalist Michael Anthony's voice combines with Roth's. While normally he is all sunshine and melody, he is just belting it out like the true rock star that he is. It's another song that is just all around fun.

1984 is one of those albums that really drove Van Halen into success, just in time for Roth to quit and Sammy Hagar to follow up to pick up the pieces and launch them into the commercial stratosphere. Even if you're just here to hear some Van Halen hits this really is one of the best albums for you to pick up. Plus, you'll get to hear some tunes you might not have on the radio that you will be pleasantly surprised by. Being all killer and no filler from start to finish, this is one of the few albums I'd consider to be nearly perfect.

1984, by Van Halen receives 4 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

2. Jump
3. Panama
4. Top Jimmy
5. Drop Dead Legs
6. Hot For Teacher
7. I'll Wait
8. Girl Gone Bad
9. House of Pain

Buy the album on Amazon:

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Gene Simmons on the 70's Van Halen Demos He Produced

It's absolutely NO secret to fans of Van Halen that right before the band got signed to Warner Bros. Records in 1978 they were discovered by Kiss front man/bassist Gene Simmons, who helped them record and produce a demo.

In a recent interview with Rolling Stone Simmons goes into detail on the story of how it came to happen and how unfortunately the demos will never see the light of day, saying:

“I discovered the band. I saw them, signed them, flew them to New York and put them in Electric Lady Studios. They were signed to my company, Man Of 1000 Faces. I produced their 24-track demo – 15 songs – which I still own. It has everything from the first record and also faster versions of House Of Pain. It's a lot of cool stuff, but the band just doesn't want it to come out. The back and forth with David Lee Roth complicated matters.”

Eddie and Alex Van Halen apparently were also brought on by Simmons to help record some Kiss demos around that time too. On the matter, Simmons says:

"We recorded three songs I had written. I was in Los Angeles between tours, and I called Alex and Ed and said: ‘Listen, I got three songs. I'm going in at 2am. Do you want to come down and help me?' Usually, I play the guitars and the drums to the extent I can and put down all the parts. But I wanted to do three songs instead of one. So we did Christine Sixteen and I put the keyboards on, everything else. And Ed did the solo to the rhythm guitar, bass, and Alex was on drums.”

Simmons says that he wants to put these demos in a solo box set at somewhere down the line, saying:

“It was originally going to be called Monster, but we decided to call the 2012 Kiss studio record Monster, so it may be called Alter Ego. We'll include 150-200 songs that were never released. I've got one called Mongoloid Man with Joe Perry on guitar.”

I would DEFINITELY love to hear those old Gene Simmons produced demos, but I guess the Van Halen brothers have to be all uptight and weird about it. I don't see what the harm in it is, considering the fans would love to hear them and they are a huge part of the band's history. Maybe they don't want an unrefined product being out on the market for everyone to hear? Regardless, it's a bit beyond me why they wouldn't make as much money off those as possible.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Ace Frehley Won't Rule Out Kiss Reunion

Many of us were surprised to hear that Kiss front man and rhythm guitarist Paul Stanley recently collaborated in the studio with his former band mate guitarist Ace Frehley. The two did a cover of Free's Fire and Ice for Frehley's upcoming solo covers album Origins Vol. 1.

That said, according to a recent interview with Frehley a reunion between him and Kiss doesn't seem to be entirely out of the question. Both Stanley and Frehley both seemed to have a really good time together in the studio and are pleased with how the track turned out.

In an interview with Team Rock, Frehley says regarding a reunion possibility:

"We haven't discussed that at this point, but I'm not ruling it out. I always leave the door open. I know there have been rumours and stuff, but there hasn't been any talk of us getting back together. Right now it's just the excitement of this record, and I'm very excited about Fire And Water.

There's a good chance that we're gonna release that as a single. Paul's really happy with the way it turned out, I'm very happy, the record company's very happy, so we're just moving forward in a positive way. And whatever happens in the future, it happens, or if it doesn't, it doesn't."

Well regardless of whether or not a reunion happens, it's cool to see that Stanley and Frehley seem to be on good terms again. I kind of doubt Frehley will ever rejoin the band full time, but it would be nice to see him do a song or two with them once in a while whenever they might happen to cross paths on the road. Hopefully this collaboration leads to other cool Kiss related stuff as well.

Monday, March 21, 2016

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #65

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. Boom Boom, by John Lee Hooker

Can't go wrong with a blues standard in your playlist, right? This one is simple, upbeat, and just all around fun; especially if you want to let a girl you're in the mood for your intentions. It's a fun song to play on guitar too. It's great to pick up when you're just beginning because it will teach you a lot of the basics. That said, even if you aren't interested in that and want some good music to dance to you're still covered here.

2.  Life's Been Good, by Joe Walsh

This is another one of those tunes I used to hear on the radio ALL the time as a little kid and wouldn't be the least bit surprised if it was still over played on commercial rock radio to this day. My mom would never miss an opportunity to crank it in the car on the way to wherever it was we were going at the time. Who can blame her? It's always fun to hear about the fairy tale world of rock n' roll excess at its peak. Plus, it's actually kind of neat to listen to how well put together the song actually is and how well it transitions from electric guitar, to synth, to acoustic guitar, etc.

3. Ruby, by The Kaiser Chiefs

I remember when this song was on Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock. I played the hell out of it ALL the time. To me The Kaiser Chiefs sounded like what The Beatles would sound like if they were around in modern times. Granted I was probably wrong about that, considering I was only maybe 17 at the time. Regardless, this is still a good tune that is fun to get all caught up in, especially with that tasty synthesizer melody that plays during the chorus. It reminds me of drinking a milkshake for whatever reason.

4. Jailbreak, by Thin Lizzy

This is one of Thin Lizzy's biggest hits for a reason. It's really driving with a sense of urgency that would naturally accompany the act of busting out of prison, knowing you might not survive the night. It shows through the riffs, the rhythm, and Phil Lynott singing away at the mic. Naturally there are those juicy dual harmonized guitar solos that Thin Lizzy did a lot of in addition to some catchy guitar melodies and riffs. Great tune to drive to for sure.

5. Talk Dirty to Me, by Poison

No, this is not that stupid pop song that's been going around. Anyway, this is one of the easiest 80's hair metal songs to play on a guitar ever. The riffs are fun and easy and the solo is actually pretty basic. More flash to it than actual skill. All that aside, this is a cool song to blare in your room when you're with your significant other during intimate time or just to dance around your high school gym to during a school dance (though they probably wouldn't play this one any more considering most kids listen to crap). Either way, it's a great pick-me-up of a tune when you need it.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Metallica Producer LOVED "...And Justice For All" Bass

Over the years many Metallica fans feel that former bassist Jason Newsted got the short end of the stick during his stint in the group; especially during the recording of the band's fourth studio album ...And Justice For All when he first joined; replacing recently deceased bassist Cliff Burton. After all these years, even the album's producer Flemming Rasmussen agrees.

...And Justice For All has been infamously notorious since its release in 1988 for its low bass mix. This has been since been revealed as a decision from singer/rhythm guitarist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone Rasmussen dishes on the details of it and gave his own thoughts.

Rasumussen says:

"Jason is one hell of a bass player. I'm probably one of the only people in the world, including Jason and Toby Wright, the assistant engineer, who heard the bass tracks on …And Justice for All, and they are f***ing brilliant. It was Lars and James who said to turn the bass down. I know that for a fact because I asked them. He always more or less was the new kid. I actually had him practice bass when me and Lars would be doing drums.

And I'd ask Toby to do some bass sounds with Jason to run it through a few times, and we'd go, 'This is great. This is not great. Do this, do that.' And we'd let them bang it out after we'd left for the night. While we went to sleep, he was actually doing some of his bass tracks. We'd listen to them the next day.I feel and I think the general feeling in the band is that he was never treated with the respect that he deserved."

Fans of course have made "remix" versions of ...And Justice For All over the past three decades, but they in my opinion aren't quite what the fans and Newsted deserve. Would be nice if somehow Metallica would get their heads out of their asses and have it properly remixed with the bass parts present. Of course, knowing them such a thing will never come to be. At least those who really care know how rad Newsted really is as a bassist.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Destroyer, by Kiss

One of Kiss's biggest albums of all time just hit its huge 40th birthday. Destroyer, which was released in 1976 was the band's big studio follow-up to their big breakthrough live album Alive!. This time around the band was looking to continue their commercial success and show that they could keep up that high energy balls to the wall rock n' roll sound in a studio setting as well as in their live shows. Needless to say, 40 years later they definitely managed to achieve that goal.

Destroyer definitely sounds like a bigger production than Kiss's previous studio efforts, both in terms of production and song writing. This of course is thanks to famed Canadian producer Bob Ezrin. Some of the band's most notable tunes come from this album such as: Detroit Rock City, Beth, Shout it Out Loud, God of Thunder, etc. This record has a lot of punch packed into it and honestly I feel it's where Kiss really shined the brightest in the studio.

Detroit Rock City is one of the most kick ass ways to open an album (or as they have done since then, live shows) EVER. It starts off soft and builds up until it is loud, proud, and blaring anthemically through your speakers. It's honestly the definition of epic as its drums pound from Peter Criss's thundering arms, vocals reach the heavens from Paul Stanley, and guitars played by Stanley and Ace Frehley make the most rad solo you could imagine. It's kind of weird to think that such a song though would be made around an incident where a Kiss fan died on the way to a show.

God of Thunder is another epic anthemic track (something Kiss seems to be good at making), but this time around bassist Gene Simmons takes the lead vocals. Given his personality (especially on stage) it's no surprise that he would sing such a song. It stomps and pounds the ground like thunder as it goes along, making you the listener feel like you're pretty damn powerful yourself. The piano parts in it actually work out surprisingly well too.

Destroyer is a MUST have for Kiss fans and just plain rock n' rollers alike. From start to finish it will get you rock n' rolling all night and partying every day. You can truly hear where Kiss became the big time commercial success they are known to be today. Everything about it reflects just how big they had become at that point, especially considering how many of their biggest hits were on it. Definitely worth picking up a copy TODAY.

Destroyer, by Kiss receives 4 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Detroit Rock City
2. King of the Night Time World
3. God of Thunder
4. Great Expectations
5. Flaming Youth
6. Sweet Pain
7. Shout It Out Loud
8. Beth
9. Do You Love Me
10. Rock and Roll Party

Buy the album on Amazon:

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Eagles Fold Up According to Don Henley

After a 4+ decade career, The Eagles are calling it quits once and for all to no big surprise. For real this time.

In an interview with BBC drummer Don Henley explains that the band's performance of Take It Easy (which can be viewed below) as a tribute to the late Glenn Frey at the Grammys was the band's last ever performance.

On the performance, Henley says:

“It was very difficult. We actually almost didn’t do it – but the Grammy people were very insistent, so we decided that we would. I think that was the final farewell. I don’t think you’ll see us performing again.

That was probably it. Jackson [Browne] was the appropriate person to sing the song, because, as most people know, Jackson started the song and Glenn helped him finish it. I thought it went pretty well – we were very emotional, but we did it.”

Honestly I feel this is probably for the best. Without such a key member of the band it's only fitting that they hang it up and call it a day rather than continuing on and tarnishing the legacy that the band had built with Frey over the years. Honestly, I think the performance was a rather moving tribute. Now if only the Reaper would stop taking away so many legends of rock...

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Guns N' Roses Reunion Not the End of Slash's Solo Career

The reunion of Slash with his former band mate Axl Rose under the Guns N' Roses banner is probably one of the hugest things to happen in rock in a very long time. This is definitely a big career move for Slash, but it would seem he is not abandoning his solo career despite that.

According to Conspirators (Slash's solo band) bassist Todd Kerns, the band has plans to record this Spring. In an interview on Eddie Trunk's podcast, Kerns says:

“We’ve always had a springtime plan to get into bass and drums recording. And we’ve already got an album-plus worth of music together. I think he’s gonna go off and have this great experience and then we’re gonna make this record. There’s no reason to not make it or whatever other than scheduling getting really crazy, which, let’s be honest, could happen … and I’m perfectly okay with just sort of playing it out and see what happens.”

In regards to the reunion, Kerns says:

“[It’s] bigger than all of us. This whole thing is history of rock occurring right under our noses, which is interesting for a guy from my perspective. I think it’s a really great thing for the entire planet, but for the individuals involved, guys like Duff, who I know and love to death too, I think this is an important part of a return for them.”

I think it's a good thing that Slash is keeping his solo career going despite the GN'R reunion. It's always nice to have an outlet where you get to be in charge of doing your own thing just the way you want to. The GN'R reunion is definitely going to be awesome and fun for Slash, but I have a feeling he won't want to have all of his musical efforts be based solely around whether or not Axl will want to get off his ass and do things that day.

Monday, March 14, 2016

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #64

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. Summer Nights, by Van Halen

It's almost that time of the year, thank God. Now that Daylight Savings Time is upon us it won't be too much longer now before the evenings with the warm breeze rolling past us while we cruise down the highway with the windows down is here. What better way to prep than with some Van Hagar? I know, I know. It's not REAL Van Halen, but who really gives a crap? Summer Nights is a fun song to celebrate Summer and if it weren't called Van Halen y'all would LOVE it.

2. Bloody Well Right, by Supertramp

This has always been one of my little favorite tunes that I used to hear ALL the time on the radio when I was younger and still some times do when I actually bother to listen to radio rather than a CD when in the car. The chorus is damn catchy, but I would expect absolutely no less than infectious perfection from Supertramp. If you need something to sing along to in order to shake off your weekday blues, look no further.

3. I Won't Back Down, by Tom Petty

I've always thought of this song as a personal anthem ever since I was a kid. To anyone who is downtrodden and always being stepped on by others, this is a GREAT tune to motivate yourself to stand up to those who would hurt you and not take any more of the crap that they seem to love throwing your way. It got me to stand my ground and not back down back then as well as to this day as well. I'm sure it will do the same for you too.

4. Hollow Bones (Part 1), by Rival Sons

Rival Sons came out with a new track this past Friday! It is definitely different from what they have done before but it still has that dirty undeniably Rival Sons groove to it that makes it crankable and kick so much ass. Hollow Bones (Part 1) has an intensity to it that surpasses even tunes like Keep on Swinging and Pressure and Time. That's definitely saying something if you are familiar with their catalog at all. Even if you're not, you owe it to yourself to check out some amazing brand spanking new rock n' roll.

5. Tarkus, by Emerson Lake & Palmer

With the passing of Keith Emerson last week it's only appropriate that this week we remember him with one of the absolute greatest prog pieces Emerson Lake & Palmer ever put to tape. It still saddens me that he left this world the way he did. It's tragic, really. I can understand why he did what he did, but that doesn't make it any less horrible. Regardless, let's try to remember the good times that he gave us when he was here.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Keith Emerson of Emerson Lake & Palmer Dies at 71

It would seem that the Reaper has struck the world of classic rock yet again. (Would you please stop that already?!) Founding Emerson Lake & Palmer keyboardist Keith Emerson has sadly passed away at the age of 71 on March 10th.

According to Billboard and TMZ Emerson's cause of death was suicide. Emerson was found by his girlfriend in Santa Monica, CA with a single gunshot to the head. It is speculated that this was done due to depression over a degenerative nerve condition in one of his hands.

Even though it hadn't been since 2010 that the band had performed together and 1994 since they put out any new music, Emerson's band mate Carl Palmer fondly remembered Emerson and had this to say on the passing of his friend and fellow musician:

“Keith was a gentle soul whose love for music and passion for his performance as a keyboard player will remain unmatched for many years to come. He was a pioneer and an innovator whose musical genius touched all of us in the worlds of rock, classical and jazz. I will always remember his warm smile, good sense of humor, compelling showmanship, and dedication to his musical craft. I am very lucky to have known him and to have made the music we did, together.

It is such a massive shame that such a HUMONGOUS prog talent such as Keith Emerson had to meet with such a terrible fate. Not many of the greats of classic prog rock are left around these days. I don't condone his actions by any means, but I do understand why he would be so depressed over his condition when hands are kind of the most important thing you have as a musician (unless you're a vocalist). I feel bad for his friends and loved ones of course too. Maybe now we'll get lucky and won't lose any more true musicians this year. Maybe.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Flying in a Blue Dream, by Joe Satriani

In 1989 guitar wizard extraordinaire Joe Satriani released his third album Flying in a Blue Dream, which was a BIG follow-up to his industry crashing guitar oriented record Surfing With the Alien that had been released two years prior. What Satch had managed to do in the previous album was far surpassed this time around from a creative standpoint. His fans seemed to think so too, as it is one of his best selling albums to date.

Flying in a Blue Dream is primarily a guitar focused album, but unlike his previous records there are a few songs that actually contain vocals. However, the guitar really is still the focal point as Satch continues to make all kinds of fireworks on the fret board, making the listener feel like they are being blasted into space or some times in a rather pensive emotional state. The guy really knows how to play to your emotions without even having to sing a single word.

Flying in a Blue Dream is one of the best choices Satch could have made for a title track. It kicks off the album and really does make you envision soaring through a clear sky created in the world of your head whilst fast asleep. The melody gives you that sense of anticipation of being about to lift off and then that feeling of release when you are gently floating off into the clouds to do as you please in your dreams. It's a peculiar song in that it's both intense and yet soothing at the same time in that way.

I Believe is one of the tracks on the album that has vocals. While there is nothing spectacular about Satch's voice it does have this semi-raspy yet soothing quality to it that makes him very relaxing to listen to. This song is mostly chords and nothing that fancy, but naturally when the guitar solo kicks in it SCREAMS Joe Satriani all over the damn place. He tears it up melodically and warmly the way he would any other song. It's a nice song for sure.

Flying in a Blue Dream definitely shows Satch being more experimental this time around. There are countless other tracks that are also worthy of mentioning, but because I don't want to spend all day writing and you don't want to spend all day reading I'll let you just go find out for yourself. Even the shorter guitar only tracks are worth checking out. The whole album is an experience that really does take you through a wide range of thoughts and emotions. Even if guitar music isn't exactly your big shindig it's still worth looking into.

Flying in a Blue Dream, by Joe Satriani receives 5 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Flying in a Blue Dream
2. The Mystical Potato Head Groove Thing
3. Can't Slow Down
4. Headless
5. Strange
6. I Believe
7. One Big Rush
8. Big Bad Moon
9. The Feeling
10. The Phone Call
11. Day At the Beach (New Rays From an Ancient Sun)
12. Back to Shalla-Bal
13. Ride
14. The Forgotten (Part 1)
15. The Forgotten (Part 2)
16. The Bells of Lal (Part 1)
17. The Bells of Lal (Part 2)
18. Into the Light

Buy the album on Amazon:

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Original AC/DC Singer Dave Evans Volunteers His Services to Front Band

Singers Bon Scott and Brian Johnson are not the only ones who have ever sang for AC/DC. When the band started in 1973 they were fronted by Dave Evans, who now apparently is offering his services to front the band once more due to Johnson's hearing problems.

In an interview with Sydney Morning Herald he acknowledges he probably won't get the call to take up the post, but he says about Johnson:

“I just thought it was sad news. It’s your lifeblood as a singer, live performances are so personal, without the crowd and the adrenaline it’s going to be hard for him. Performances are the big highs in our lives.”

Evans feels however that even though he probably won't be fronting AC/DC again, it would still be cool to do a guest performance, saying:

“It would be nice. [Former members] were all part of the band no matters what era they were from.”

I think given that AC/DC is definitely in the twilight of their career it would be kind of cool if they gave their original singer one last quick go at performing with the band on stage. Plus, it would kind of be cool for Evans to experience what the rest of his band mates were able to achieve once they had passed him up for Scott. At the very least a guest performance on one or two songs would be a good thing of them to do.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

AC/DC to Postpone Tour Due to Brian Johnson's Hearing Loss

AC/DC have been on a gigantic tour to promote their 2014 release Rock or Bust. However, recent health issues have once again gummed up the works of their finely tuned rock and roll machine.

In the home stretch of their U.S. tour AC/DC are according to a press release they put out being forced by doctor's orders to postpone the 10 dates they have left due to vocalist Brian Johnson being on the verge of suffering 'total hearing loss'.

The same release says that the shows will be made up later in the year, likely with a guest vocalist. Below are the list of dates being postponed.

It sucks that health concerns keep getting in the way of AC/DC doing what they do best. First founding rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young gets dementia, drummer Phil Rudd is dealing with drug related problems (amongst other things), and now this. I guess maybe it really is time for AC/DC to hang up the schoolboy cap and call it a day. I don't think anyone would blame them. They have had a fantastic 4+ decade run. Since lead guitarist Angus Young would be the only original member of the band left it would seem kind of disrespectful to keep going. Besides, I don't even know who they could possibly get to replace Johnson. No one sounds anything close to the way he does.

AC/DC’s Postponed 2016 U.S. Dates:
3/08 — Atlanta, Ga. — Philips Arena
3/11 — Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. — BB&T Center
3/14 — Greensboro, N.C. — Greensboro Coliseum
3/17 — Washington, D.C. — Verizon Center
3/20 — Detroit, Mich. — The Palace
3/23 — Columbus, Ohio — Nationwide Arena
3/26 — Cleveland, Ohio — Quicken Loans Arena
3/29 — Buffalo, N.Y. — First Niagara Center
4/01 — Philadelphia, Pa. — Wells Fargo Center
4/04 — New York, N.Y. — Madison Square Garden

Monday, March 7, 2016

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #63

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. Will Our Love End, by Trapeze

Before singer/bassist Glenn Hughes joined Deep Purple in 1973 he fronted a funk rock trio called Trapeze. This particular tune while not very rocking in the least showed a great deal of Hughes's ability as a singer. It showed that while he could get ear piercingly high (in a good way) he could also sing tenderly and melodically in a way that felt like smooth chocolate that was good for the soul. To top things off, Will Our Love End also features one of the most gorgeous saxophone solos I have ever heard in my entire life.

2. Last Child, by Aerosmith

This has to be one of my absolute FAVORITE Aerosmith songs of all time. In fact, it was one of the first songs I learned on guitar. Last Child has some rather funky undertones to it, but overall it is still very much a straightforward grooving unmistakably Aerosmith kind of tune. It starts off sounding kind of sad, but fortunately it doesn't stay that way for all that long. If ever there was a song about wanting to go home that was kickass, it's this one.

3. The Grand Illusion, by Styx

This track kicks off one of the absolute greatest albums that Styx ever put out. It does an excellent job of mixing a marching vibe with moments that are just straight up rock grooves. Quite frankly I think the organ playing is top notch. It punches, yet at the same time fills you with a sense of great joy and ready-to-go-ness. The fact that this song and the rest of the album it's named after exists is fortunately for the entire world no illusion. 

4.  Lawless and Lulu, by Buckcherry

This song follows a pretty straight up basic 12 bar blues pattern, but it does so in such an uptempo punchy rocking way that it's hard to not jump around and dance to it. Lawless and Lulu is the story of a villain and a hooker. With all of those elements put together it's kind of hard not to love it, right? It's the kind of tune I would expect to hear when packed into a crowded club with a bunch of other dirty rock n' rolling concert goers.

5. Tribute, by Tenacious D

Every now and again it's important to remember to not take yourself or your favorite genre of music too seriously. Tenacious D exists to help us do exactly that; especially when writing ballads that are a tribute to the greatest song in the world that can't be remembered. I always did find it kind of funny that the way such a song would be paid tribute is with another song. Then again, in a way it's rather appropriate and fitting.


Saturday, March 5, 2016

Steven Tyler Jabs Back at Joe Perry

It would seem that Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler has taken note of his band mate lead guitarist Joe Perry's pot shot at him recently regarding his decision to make a country album and has publicly given a response.

Perry and Tyler have notoriously had a rocky relationship for decades now, so it comes as absolutely no surprise that they have things to say about one another and the things that they choose to pursue outside of Aerosmith.

In an interview with TMZ Tyler says:

"Jealousy runs deep in this family. He's doing what he's doing and I do what I do."

Perry originally said:

"If I didn't know him when I heard the song I'd go, 'It's okay, next.' I'm not going to say anything else about that. Steven is in Nashville doing whatever he's doing. He's got a rhinestone cowboy hat going 'Yippee ki yay.' I don't know what else to say about that."

 Perry's comment was made just after the first single from Tyler's upcoming solo album The Red, White, and You came out back in January. To me it just sounds like both of them are being rather petty. If Tyler wants to do some solo stuff, let him. I get that the band is frustrated for a tour being cancelled, but still. Plus, Perry really has NO room to talk about doing solo stuff when on at least two occasions he has done his own thing with The Joe Perry Project and countless other artists.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Wish You Were Here, by Pink Floyd

In 1975 Pink Floyd was just wrapping things up with the monumental success they had had with their 1973 release Dark Side of the Moon. Now was the time to prove that it wasn't just a fluke and that they could construct something even bigger and better. That year they managed to do just that by recording the progressive masterpiece that is known as Wish You Were Here. Even though the album is only 5 tracks long, they are 5 of the most brilliantly constructed and passionately performed tracks of their career.

Wish You Were Here hasn't a single bad song on it. Half the album are the progressive odysseys Shine on You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V) and Shine on You Crazy Diamond (Parts VI-IX) and the other are the three radio hits the tender and somber acoustic ballad Wish You Were Here, the music industry critique Have a Cigar, and the further critiquing synth wonder Welcome to the Machine. It really is a grand production overall.

Wish You Were Here is a classic for a reason. It is so simple (which is why many guitar players learn it early on), yet so profoundly meaningful. There is a great deal of raw emotion pulsing through every last chord and lyric. It's a song you can kind of get gently picked up and swept away into the dark current with. I wouldn't say that Pink Floyd isn't the first thing that comes to mind when the word 'soulful' comes up, but it definitely isn't quite what you would usually expect of them in that particular department. It's nice when now and again the focus is on feeling rather than technical prowess.

Shine on You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V) is one of my absolute favorite things that Pink Floyd ever created. The song is a suite that in a way acts as a fantastic journey across a relaxing warm yet hair raising soundscape. Each part flows from one into the next absolutely seamlessly. It's definitely not a radio hit by any means, but I find so much more joy in it than something that would be on the airwaves because there is so much musical exploration in it. To make things better, this is DEFINITELY one of those songs where you become more immersed by listening to it on headphones.

Wish You Were Here is nothing short of a masterpiece and a classic from Pink Floyd's extensive catalog. You can tell they were giving it every last bit of care and love possible. If you like stuff that is a little more exploratory than just the same old three chord stuff you hear on the radio all the time then you're covered here. There is so much passion to create and explore while also expressing the deepest most important things in their souls at the time. Not having this album is a crime against your musical well-being.

Wish You Were Here, by Pink Floyd receives 5 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Shine on You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V)
2. Welcome to the Machine
3. Have a Cigar
4. Wish You were Here
5. Shine on You Crazy Diamond (Parts VI-IX)

Buy the album on Amazon:

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Foo Fighters to Go on Indefinite Hiatus

Dave Grohl lead Grammy winning band The Foo Fighters made an big announcement to the public today that while sad, is at least not as bad as many people were speculating it was for a little while. It would seem the group will be taking an indefinite hiatus.

Rumors had been circulating for a few days that the band was about to break up due to an article that the New York Post had published on whether or not Grohl was considering a solo career due to his solo performance at the Oscars. The rumors however are addressed quite humorously in the video below, saying:

“For the millionth time, we’re not breaking up. And nobody’s going f–ing solo!”

Drummer Taylor Hawkins in an interview with Artisan News back in January said the band was taking a break for a while “not because we don’t love each other, or don’t want to make music together. We did so much in the last five or six years, we as a band could go into the studio tomorrow and have just as much fun as we ever had. But I think the world needs a break from us for a little while.”

To further instill in the fans the fact that everyone in the band is cool with each other and that a break-up isn't happening, Hawkins confirms the hiatus saying:

“We’re on ihateus right now. We’re on an indefinite ihateus.”

 For those who are freaking out about the Foo Fighters taking a break, it's nothing new. This has actually happened before. From 2008-2011 they relaxed and then came back with the award winning album Wasting Light. If the they need to breathe for a while, I say more power to them. I'd rather they come back refreshed with some kickass new music than to just keep pumping out stuff that is not up to the Foo Fighters standard we have all become accustomed to.