Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Concert Review: Glenn Hughes Chicago 8/27/2016

On the evening of August 27th a couple hundred fans packed into the bare bones graffiti-ed and stickered up Reggie's Rock Club in Chicago for an intimate evening of pure musical energy and magic. The legendary vocalist/bassist Glenn Hughes who has performed with the likes of Trapeze, Deep Purple, Hughes/Thrall, Tony Iommi/Black Sabbath, Black Country Communion, California Breed, and countless others as well as having an enormous catalog of his own solo material.

When I got in the club I was rather amused by the fact that they actually had a bunch of fold out chairs right in front of the stage, though they had all be reserved for folks who had paid double the price of a normal ticket. My guess is they were catering to the fact that almost the entire audience was above 40-50 years old. I guess I can't say I blame them, though it did make the experience a little awkward. It was definitely weird to be one of the only people there below that age range.

In the space of an hour and a half Hughes managed to cover over four decades' worth of works across multiple projects he has been involved with at some point or another. He managed to play stuff from Trapeze, Deep Purple, Black Country Communion, solo work, and even a tune from the somewhat obscure Hughes/Thrall album that came out back in 1982. I would have been a bit more surprised by that, but I'd already heard about it being included in the touring set ahead of time.

Hughes went pretty bare bones in this show; having only himself on bass and vocals, Soren Anderson on guitar and backing vocals, and Pontus Engborg on drums. I get the feeling that he was going for more of a raw, punchy rock n' roll kind of feel to give his old school fans more of a Trapeze vibe. It definitely worked in certain areas, though in a couple songs made things a little lackluster. Surprisingly this three piece was able to pull off some of the Deep Purple era songs pretty well without a keyboardist. They worked pretty well as a group and managed to get quite a variety of different sounds while still making the performance fresh, vibrant, and unique.

Hughes for a man of 65 years old had astounding energy up on that stage. The way he looked, the way he moved, the way he sang and played.... You honestly would have thought he were a younger man. I guess that's what happens though when you take good care of yourself in old age. Hughes was also incredibly happy and grateful to be there. He kept thanking everyone for coming out, telling us all how much he loves us, etc. You can tell the man loves what he does and is grateful to his fans for still being able to do it after all these years.

I think one of the most extraordinary and stunning aspects of the whole evening however were the parts where Hughes would do certain vocal runs as well as manage to use his surprisingly well preserved falsetto to hit notes that could put countless younger, more famous singers to shame. All I could do in those moments would just stand there still in amazement and then just applaud when he got through. I didn't think it was possible for ANYONE to do the things he can do.

I do have a few gripes, but they are fairly minor ones. Personally I kind of wish there would have been one or two more songs each from Trapeze and Deep Purple, but I realize Glenn has over four decades' and multiple bands/projects' worth of material to cover so I can't get too unhappy about that. I was really hoping to hear one or two tunes from the Seventh Star album Hughes did with Iommi, but that would have required a keyboard player (which he did not have).

I also wish that the set could have lasted another half hour (as Glenn's set was only about an hour and a half including encores). There were also moments where I think the guitar should have been turned up a bit louder in the mix. I think my biggest gripe though was the fact that the opening band didn't even go on until an hour after the ticket said the show was supposed to start. They only just started letting people in the building at the printed time.

On a more positive note, I was quite pleased with the opening act Hughes brought on; an English singer/songwriter/guitarist by the name of Joanne Shaw Taylor. My god. That woman could sing like a soulful southern blues belle like Melissa Etheridge or Koko Taylor while also absolutely tearing it up on guitar like Jimi Hendrix and Slash. Then of course she and her band which was also a power trio were also an insanely tight unit. There wasn't a moment where the three of them weren't completely in sync with one another. I think what stuck out to me most aside from the performance itself though was how she could go from singing like she was from the southern US to talking with a rather thick English accent between songs. She is definitely someone to keep an eye on.

Overall it was an excellent performance. Even if you aren't a big fan of Hughes's work you would probably still have gotten great enjoyment out of watching him perform. His voice is so impressive that it alone made the price of admission well worth it. Plus, getting to see a man so legendary up close and personal like that was really a surreal and life completing moment. It's not every day you get to see a man who was in Deep Purple right in front of you like that give you the performance of his life. I would HIGHLY recommend you get to his next show if his next stop is in your town.

This performance receives 4 out of 5 stars.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Man Turns Microwave into a Working Guitar

I've heard of a lot of ridiculous things in my day: little kids in Asia ripping and shredding better than most full grown adults ever will, rats the size of cats, pineapple on pizza, there is no center of the universe, etc. However, this bit of news I just heard really takes the cake. A man has actually turned a microwave into a working electric guitar.

The gentleman in question is a YouTuber Moose ON. In this video (which can be watched below) we are shown the time lapsed process of him putting together this monstrosity and then given a demonstration of how it sounds afterward by tearing through parts of Cemetery Gates, by Pantera.

I was a bit skeptical about the idea of this at first, but when I listened to it I was actually quite surprised with how good that guitar actually sounded. Probably because it had some sweet pick-ups attached to it. I think the most ridiculous part though was halfway through the video, Moose ON pauses his playing, microwaves some food for his buddy, and then goes back to playing. I kid you not. The microwave part of it still works too.

Talk about multipurpose tools.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, by The Beatles

In 1967 one of the most heavily influential landmark albums to ever be brought into creation came out: The Beatles' Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. When it came out it was an over night sensation, staying at number one in the charts for 15 weeks and 27 in the top albums. This was one hell of a way for the band to show that they could be a powerful creative force and still sell millions of albums throughout the world without having to do any more touring to promote their product (as they had retired permanently from touring the year before due to them tiring of all the screaming girls ruining the experience).

Sergeant Pepper is a concept album where all the songs are a performance from the fictitious band the album is named after which happens to be an Edwardian era themed military band. In this album The Beatles move even further away from the bubble gum pop rock kind of stuff they started with and more into the creative psychedelic music they became famous for creating in the latter part of their semi-short lived career as a group. They had been shifting that way for a while, but this is where they really took the plunge into their more innovative material.

Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds has acid trip written all over it. It has an Indian flair all over the intro as well as the verses. That of course is probably due to the fact that George Harrison is playing a tanpura. John Lennon's vocals are also unusually sweet sounding, probably to add to that oozing syrup-like feel that the song is supposed to give off. Believe it or not, the song is NOT about LSD - rather it is based off a drawing done by Lennon's (at the time) young son Julian that showed the child's puppy love for a class mate with the name Lucy.

With a Little Help From My Friends might not be the most technically advanced song on the album, but who cares? Even the Ringo Starr stuff has its purpose - usually to be easy to listen to and have fun with. Plus, having Paul McCartney back him up on vocals makes it that much more pleasing to the ear. It's one of those songs that is easy to clap along to while also feeling close to your friends (the title kind of gives that one away, right?). I think the beauty is in its straightforward simplicity. It gets across a good message and makes you want to get up and join hands with friends.

Sergeant Pepper is one of those albums that has something for everyone, though if you listen to it all the way through you will still find enjoyment in being taken for the ride through this magical performance from this enchanting band - both the actual Beatles and the fake band they are playing the role of. It definitely at the very least has several Beatles classics which anyone who knows anything about them has come to know every lyric of and love over the years. This is for sure a must have.

Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, by The Beatles receives 5 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
2. With a Little Help From My Friends
3. Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds
4. Getting Better
5. Fixing a Hole
6. She's Leaving Home
7. Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
8. Within You Without You
9. When I'm Sixty-Four
10. Lovely Rita
11. Good Morning Good Morning
12. Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (reprise)
13. A Day in the Life

Buy the album on Amazon:


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Metallica Lead Guitarist Kirk Hammett Refuses to Read Comments on New Song

Thrash metal godfathers Metallica gigantic as they are are no more exempt from the cruelty of internet comment section criticism than anyone else. Fortunately though one can always ignore that vat of puke and garbage stew. Lead guitarist Kirk Hammett has decided to take that route with the band's newest single Hardwired, which is the first one from their upcoming album Hardwired...To Self-Destruct.

Hardwired...To Self-Destruct is Metallica's first new album in 8 years (not counting their 2011 collaboration with Lou Reed: Lulu), so the wait and build-up to this song and album has been pretty high. In a recent interview with 93X, Hammett talks about how he has been handling the internet response to the song, saying:
“I feel the excitement, the energy in the air. We’re all kind of picking up on it. I’m getting a tremendous amount of texts from friends, saying, ‘Great song! Wonderful song! But as soon as I go onto my computer I think to myself, ‘Should I read what other people are saying? Should I read some comments?’ 
I instantly say to myself, ‘Don’t go there.’ Because I’ll get angry, then frustrated, then confused – and then want to write it all off as just fucking useless bullshit. ‘Why did I even waste my time?’ Having said that, I know there’s a great buzz out there and I’m totally thankful that the song is so well-received.”
Quite frankly I don't blame Hammett for not wanting anything to do with reading the commentary from the peanut gallery. Nothing they do is good enough for a great deal of their fans who feel like they sold out and stopped putting out anything good after the 80's. While I agree that much of the 90's and early 2000's was full of commercial crap I think they are finally starting to loop back around to the kind of music their fans actually like. I really liked Hardwired. It reminds me a lot of the Kill 'em All stuff from their early days. If the rest of the album sounds anything like that I'll be good with it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

5 Movies With Great Soundtracks #1

As many of you know, I'm a pretty big rock and metal buff. However, there are other art mediums that I take great enjoyment in as well. One of my big ones besides music is film. Film brings together so many senses and takes you on a fantastic voyage. It brings together visuals, story telling, emotion evoking, and most importantly for the purposes of this blog: music. Music in film can take a moment on screen and skyrocket it to new heights of emotion. It can take the scariest scene and make it that much more bone chilling. It can take the most romantic scene and make it feel that more passionate. It can make the most adventurous part of a movie and make it that much more thrilling. Today I'm going to talk about five films that have remarkable soundtracks that do just those things and then some.

1. Minions

I know, it's a kids film and not exactly the most artistic work to ever come to the silver screen. Despite the rather amusing childish slapstick antics of those adorable yellow rascals there is actually a great deal of great iconic classic rock from the 1960's that plays throughout it. This of course has a great deal to do with the fact that it takes place in London in 1968. It spans from multiple songs by The Beatles to The Who to The Kinks to The Monkees to Donovan, to The Turtles, to countless other 60's classics. Quite frankly I think they put all those songs in to give the adults that got dragged by their kids to the movie something to keep them entertained. Regardless, I think it worked for me.

2. Heavy Metal

In 1981 a rather odd though visually striking animated anthology film that had multiple different stories told that were all loosely tied together by a few recurring plot points was put out. It wasn't exactly everybody's cup of tea but it had some of the best hard rock/heavy metal artists involved in its soundtrack. It had the likes of Sammy Hagar, Black Sabbath (with Ronnie James Dio on vocals) actually putting out a new song just for the movie, Blue Oyster Cult, Journey, Cheap Trick, Devo, and several other big names putting their musical touch on the score. To be honest, I think most of us who have watched the film watched it for the music and interesting visual stimuli (if you catch my drift).

3. Rocky Horror Picture Show

Who doesn't love to see a film about a fabulous sweet transvestite from Transexual, Transylvania strutting about a castle in the middle of the night performing to a captive audience? Everything musically in the film was written by play write Richard O'Brien who also played the roll of the character Riff Raff. The music is pretty lively and has a lot of that old 50's rockabilly feel to it, though there are some more ballad-like tender moments in the soundtrack as well. Regardless, this film has had countless generations doing the Time Warp again and again. Bit of random trivia: this is actually the movie where Meatloaf got his big debut as a performer.

4. Flash Gordon

Although this film from the 80's was a major cheesy dud the one saving grace it did have was that the entire soundtrack was written and performed by Queen. Not really surprising considering how big of a sci-fi fan guitarist Brian May is. Plus, even though the movie wasn't that great you can't really beat the epicness of that scene where Flash is flying to the rescue while that iconic "FLASH! Ahhhh....!!" plays in the background. The music will get you pumped and rooting for our hero despite the fact it's a stupid movie.

5. Across the Universe

This movie is entirely filled with Beatles classics redone and reinterpreted by other artists all while in the context of a film that highlights a great deal of the counter culture movement of the 1960's. I have to say, many of the songs are quite well done and come very close to the same level as the originals. The movie is definitely a great big love letter to multiple generations' worth of fans of the Fab Four. Granted, not all of the songs are placed all that well in the film but the ones that are do an astronomically good job where they are. Revolution was probably my favorite segment of the whole movie. Watch for yourself and you'll see what I mean.

Monday, August 22, 2016

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #86

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. No Stranger to Love, by Black Sabbath

In 1986 Black Sabbath had for the most part completely fallen apart. Guitarist Tony Iommi decided it was time for him to start going in a solo direction. The album he recorded with former Deep Purple bassist and singer Glenn Hughes titled Seventh Star however ended up getting put under the Black Sabbath name as to sell more records. Honestly, tracks like No Stranger to Love sound NOTHING like what you would expect from Black Sabbath. It's a lot more glossy, commercial, and melodic. That said however, it's still pretty powerful and passionate.

2.  Master of Puppets, by Metallica

As I said in my Throwback Thursday post last week, this is the quintessential Metallica track. It's what got me introduced to them however long ago it was at this point. It pretty much has everything that Metallica was all about when they were still a reputable band: fast heavy riffs, blistering solos, dark lyrics full of socio-political messages, and more. It's made up of several distinct parts that actually flow together quite seamlessly. If you're looking for a headbanger, go no further than this.

3. I Want Action, by Poison

Who puts Poison and Metallica on the same playlist?! Who DOES that?! I DO. Gotta keep things interesting, don't I? Besides, this track is pretty fun. Sure hair metal isn't the most honest and raw form of music, but some times you got some tunes from the genre that were actually a lot of fun to just turn on and jam out to. Some times it doesn't need to be about expression, but just having nothing but a good time. How can I resist?

4.  Why Can't This Be Love, by Van Halen

Van Hagar stuff will naturally never trump the David Lee Roth material, but that of course by no stretch of the imagination means that none of it was any good at all. Quite the contrary. There were a lot of fun poppy numbers (even though some of them were quite cheesy in the lyrics department). I think Why Can't This Be Love is probably at the top of the shelf in terms of stuff from that era of Van Halen. It's upbeat, full of sunshine vibes, has good energy, and is naturally catchy as all hell. You try not getting into it when it comes on. I dare you.

5. Devils Island, by Megadeth

Can't leave Metallica's rival band Megadeth out of the mix, can we? With more anger, heavier riffs, darker lyrics, faster rhythms, and way better guitar solos it has always been clear who the superior band was. I guess people only hail Metallica as higher because of how much they sold out. Songs like Devils Island show just how much of a thrash metal power house Megadeth could be, especially since at that point in time they could actually put a bit of production into their recordings.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Metallica Unleashes New Music Video and Info From New Album "Hardwired...To Self-Destruct"

Seems like Metallica has been a busy bunch lately, as they have not only FINALLY put out a new song from their upcoming album, but also shown the cover, revealed the name, the track list, AND announced a release date for it.

First up, the album will be titled Hardwired...To Self-Destruct. This will be their first studio release since 2008's Death Magnetic and their 2011 collaboration with Lou Reed Lulu. According to the band this record is set to hit the shelves November 18th. It is already available for pre-order in a variety of formats (including the extensive deluxe edition) through Metallica's web store here.

As for the music video Metallica just put out (which can be viewed below) for their first single of the album Hardwired is really simplistic. It's set entirely in black and white with close ups of the band with a strobe effect going. Gives you a real sense of panic and tenseness, but not in a bad way. They definitely look like they are having a lot of fun just tearing it up.

However, the most important part is the song itself. Hardwired was honestly a LOT better than I expected it to be. It is by no means the greatest thing they have ever put out, but it definitely sounds like the band has gotten back to its 80's thrash roots. You can hear Kill 'em All and Master of Puppets overtones all throughout it. The fast picking, the quick pacing of the drums, and the lack of crybaby on the guitar solo definitely brings you back to Metallica's early days back when they were actually reputable. The lyrics aren't anything special, but I admire the fact that James Hetfield at least sounds like he is giving a crap.

That said, if the rest of the album follows suit stylistically with Hardwired I think this will probably be the best Metallica album that has come out in decades. The long wait at least so far seems to be worth it. All we can do now is just watch and wait to see how things unfold when the album drops in November.

Hardwired...To Self-Destruct Tracklist (Deluxe):

Disc One
“Atlas, Rise!”
“Now That We’re Dead”
“Moth Into Flame”
“Am I Savage?”
“Halo on Fire”

Disc Two
“Dream No More”
“Here Comes Revenge”
“Murder One”
“Spit Out the Bone”

Disc Three (Deluxe Edition Only)
“Lords of Summer”
“Riff Charge (Riff Origins)”
“N.W.O.B.H.M. A.T.M. (Riff Origins)”
“Tin Shot (Riff Origins)”
“Plow (Riff Origins)”
“Sawblade (Riff Origins)”
“RIP (Riff Origins)”
“Lima (Riff Origins)”
“91 (Riff Origins)”
“MTO (Riff Origins)”
“RL72 (Riff Origins)”
“Frankenstein (Riff Origins)”
“CHI (Riff Origins)”
“X Dust (Riff Origins)”

Throwback Thursday: Slide It In, by Whitesnake

By the early-mid 80's Whitesnake had gained a decent bit of notoriety in the Europe and somewhat in the U.S. However, band leader/vocalist David Coverdale wasn't entirely satisfied with the band's direction or lack of larger commercial success. Up until that point they had been playing a very Bad Company meets Led Zeppelin style of bluesy rock, but Coverdale wanted to go in a more hard rocking commercial direction in order to crack the U.S. market as well as keep the sound of the band fresh and alive. Coverdale then switched out a bunch of the musicians in the band to write, record, and release their commercial breakthrough album Slide It In.

Slide It In is a transitionary album of sorts, as it moves listeners from the bluesy stuff of the past into the more heavy metal hits that the general public would become familiar with later on. It featured some Whitesnake staples/hits such as: Slide It In, Slow an' Easy, Guilty of Love, Love Ain't No Stranger, etc. There are actually two versions of the album: the UK version that features original guitarist Micky Moody and replacement bassist Colin Hodgkinson and the US version with new guitarist John Sykes and returned original bassist Neil Murray. The US version focuses more on guitar and drums, making everything shinier whereas the UK version has a more hard rocking organic punch to it.

Gambler I will readily admit I like the US version of better. It is definitely a more metal song that suits Sykes's style perfectly. The guitar has more of a crisp edge to it that the UK version kind of falls flat with. That pulsing rhythm also sounds better with the drums turned up in the mix. I do wish the organ would have been kept up a bit more in the mix though because it added a really nice melodic accentuation to the guitar gallops. Overall though it's a pretty solid head banger of a tune while also being passionate.

The title track Slide It In was definitely WAY better in the original UK mix. The US mix made it too glossy and over produced. I like it better in the UK mix because it has this grit and punch to it that makes it seem like way harder of a rock song. It almost has a bit of a thunderous AC/DC kind of feel to it. The real difference though is in the guitar solo. I LOVE Sykes's shredtastic playing, but Moody's original solo is way more melodic and memorable. It's one you can sort of sing along with if you wanted to. Some times melody is more important than flash.

I'll admit that I was hesitant to listen to Slide It In for a long while because I was such an original Whitesnake purist. Despised the hair metal stuff (at that moment in time). However, when I finally broke down and gave it a listen I was pleasantly surprised. Big memorable riffs, that same raucous, yet soulful smooth whiskey Coverdale voice, and that same passion and desire to bring down the house with maximum rock n' roll. For those of you who love rock n' roll in its purest form then this is definitely the album for you. It's also a great way for any old school Whitesnake fan to transition into the more hair metal stuff (which is also great too if you give it a chance).

Slide It In, by Whitesnake receives 5 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

US version:

1. Slide It In
2. Slow an' Easy
3. Love Ain't No Stranger
4. All or Nothing
5. Gambler
6. Guilty of Love
7. Hungry For Love
8. Give Me More Time
9. Spit It Out
10. Standing in the Shadow

Buy the album on Amazon:


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Sammy Hagar Apologizes to Eddie Van Halen for His Part in Feud

Could the feud between Eddie Van Halen and his former band mate vocalist Sammy Hagar after nearly two decades be finally over? Well nothing is for certain a this point, but Hagar is certainly hoping to put the deep conflicts of the past to rest once and for all. He has made the first move by apologizing to Eddie for his parts of their issues with one another.
In an interview on the TV program Oprah: Where Are They Now? Hagar goes into detail about how he would like to let bygones be bygones and rebuild his friendship with Eddie before it is too late, saying:
“The whole Van Halen issue, I really put that behind me, and I’m proud of what we did. So I’ve decided, forgive and forget. I ain’t looking for nothing from nobody. I don’t wanna … I ain’t asking to be, you know … get back in the band and do all that again. That’s work! I don’t wanna do that. No, no, no, I just wanna be friends. I wanna say I’m sorry of anything I said bad about you.”
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Hagar talks about how deaths of recent legends like David Bowie and Glenn Frey have made him realize that life is too short to hold grudges, saying:

“I realized that I didn’t want to take my enemies to the grave. If I K.O. tomorrow, I don’t want to have an enemy. I don’t know how the afterlife works, but I’d just as soon not go there with any enemies.”
Personally I don't see Eddie reaching out to Hagar and returning the apology. It doesn't seem like the kind of thing he would do. He is kind of arrogant like that. However, it would be nice if it could happen. Hell, if Slash and Axl Rose could mend their feud (which was by far way worse than Hagar and Van Halen's feud) then I don't see why there wouldn't be at least some sliver of a possibility of them mending fences. I guess all we can do for now is stay tuned for more.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Dave Mustaine Wants Current Megadeth Line-Up to Be Final One

Change can often be a difficult thing to deal with. It can be even more rough when it happens to you on a rather frequent basis. It is no different for Megadeth front man Dave Mustaine who over the past 30+ years the band has been around has seen countless musicians come and go from his ranks.

In a recent conversation with his followers on Twitter, Mustaine talks about how people make too big a deal out of line-up changes and his plans for the future of Megadeth, saying:

“Iron Maiden had a bunch of lineup changes. They’ve had more than one singer; they’ve had three singers. We’ve only had one. Slayer’s had lineup changes, Metallica’s had lineup changes, so I don’t really put too much importance on lineup changes. If somebody doesn’t wanna be here, then f–k ’em! You know what I mean? I don’t wanna make any changes anymore. I want this to be my band lineup until the end,”
Mustaine currently plans to do at least two more Megadeth albums before he calls it a day, and he hopes to keep the current line-up of Megadeth featuring himself on rhythm guitar and lead vocals, David Ellefson on bass, Kiko Loureiro on lead guitar, and Dirk Vebeuren on drums together throughout that time. If he does do this, it will be the second longest Megadeth will have ever gone with the same line-up, with the famed Rust in Peace line-up still being in the top spot.
It would be nice for Mustaine to actually retain some musicians for a change, but from what I've seen he is sort of similar to Ritchie Blackmore where he can be difficult to work with and if you don't stick within his vision of things it's not going to work out. Personally it wouldn't hurt him to listen to another person from time to time. Might freshen and liven things up with his music a bit.

Monday, August 15, 2016

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #85

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 Impressario, by Overclocked Remix

This is one of my absolute favorite covers of a video game song EVER. Final Fantasy VI had a huge segment where the party takes part in an opera, so this tune is a medley of all the parts they showed in the game but turned into a rock song in the style of Queen. It's like if Bohemian Rhapsody met Final Fantasy. The lyrics are also quite powerful and touching for something that is basically another starcrossed lovers story.

2. Wig in a Box, by Stephen Trask

From the 1998 stage musical and 2001 film Hedwig and the Angry Inch, I find this tune to be rather catchy. I first came across it when I went to my local Rocky Horror Picture Show showing and they were playing music videos on the theater screen while people were still filing into the theater. This tune is definitely catchy and a nice balance between a soft piano ballad and a loud party going rock n' roll anthem. That said, if you liked Rocky then you'll dig this for sure.

3. Love Reign O'er Me, by The Who

This tune is the epic conclusion to The Who's concept album/rock opera Quadrophenia. Personally, I have rarely if ever heard singing and wailing as passionate and powerful as what Roger Daltrey does in Love, Reign O'er Me. You can almost feel the torrential rain pouring down on you and the blistering winds tear across your face during some of the more powerful moments. If you want something to get your blood pumping, look no further.

4. Mother, by Pink Floyd

It's not uncommon for Pink Floyd to put out tracks that are rather powerful emotionally, and not always in a happy positive way. If feels are what you're looking for, then this will do the trick even better than the previous track I mentioned. The Cold War was kind of a big deal when Floyd wrote this track and it had a major impact on their childhoods. Definitely a big part of the character Pink's sphere of influence during the course of the story of The Wall.

5. Teenagers, by My Chemical Romance

This is one of the last songs I ever expected to hear out of an emo band. It has a heavier classic rock vibe than I'm used to hearing out of them. Love the bluesy shuffle groove that it has throughout. Too bad they didn't make more tunes like this when they were around. They were surprisingly good at it for a band that mostly made rather formulaic pop punk music to appeal to a younger teenaged audience.


Saturday, August 13, 2016

Rick Astley Performs AC/DC's "Highway to Hell"

Yes, you read that right. No, this is not a repost from The Onion. I know I personally did a double take when I saw it for myself. Not exactly what you would expect to hear out of a one hit wonder pop singer from the 80's.

Rick Astley for those of you who don't know is the singer who performed the all too infamous pop smash hit Never Gonna Give You Up, which has since become part of the classic internet prank known as a Rickroll where someone hypes up a video link for one reason or another, but when clicked on the victim is taken to the music video for Astley's song.

Anyway, recently at a show he performed at The Troubadour in Los Angeles to promote his new album 50 Astley whipped out a big surprise by performing the AC/DC classic Highway to Hell. Not only did he sing it though, he also played the drums in this performance. The video can be watched below.

Surprisingly the performance was pretty decent. It wasn't anything outstanding and it sounded nothing like Bon Scott (to no surprise), but it was actually not too shabby at all. If anything, Astley's lower more soulful vocals added an interesting twist to the song that AC/DC fans aren't really used to hearing in the music. What will Astley pull out next? Stairway to Heaven? Stay tuned and find out....

Friday, August 12, 2016

Throwback Thursday: No More Tears, by Ozzy Osbourne

In 1991 Ozzy Osbourne put out his most (and arguably last) iconic LP since his 1980 solo debut The Blizzard of Ozz: No More Tears. Thanks to the strong guitar work of axe man Zakk Wylde and the lyric writing prowess of Motorhead's Lemmy Kilmister and others this album had track after track after track of absolutely killer material. I remember reading in Ozzy's autobiography that there was a great deal of time, effort, and care put into making No More Tears the absolute best album it could possibly be.

No More Tears has some of the most balls to the wall sounds and is the heaviest of Ozzy's noteworthy albums. Honestly, this is in my opinion Wylde's crowning achievement as a guitarist. Afterward he just kind of started copying Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrel and the pinch harmonics became a bit old. Anyway, back to a more positive note, there is a lot of great melody backed by some crunchy pounding chords and blistering melodic solos from Wylde that are nothing to scoff at. it also spawned a great deal of Ozzy's hits, such as: No More Tears, Mama I'm Coming Home, Hellraiser, etc.

Zombie Stomp is probably my favorite track off the whole album. It's just a fun, stomping tune that you can rock out to. Bob Daisley's bass playing really shines through here and in the midst of what is overall a heavy metal song/album you hear the kind of rhythmic and almost funky kind of groove you normally wouldn't associate with Ozzy. The lyrics aren't anything special, but quite frankly they aren't meant to be the focal point of the song. You just get caught up in singing along with a chorus of "Hey! Hey! Do the Zombie Stomp!".

Mama I'm Coming Home is another unexpected number from Ozzy because never once before this had anyone heard anything even remotely as country/southern rock from him as this. You don't often associate twangy 12 string acoustic guitars with the Ozzy sound. Wylde definitely had a lot of fun constructing it and you can feel his passion pouring through in the solo. With the soulful and meaningful lyrics written by Kilmister this is a tune that is understandably one of Osbourne's biggest hits for a good reason.

Despite being primarily a heavy metal album No More Tears is a rather diverse sounding Ozzy album. That probably helped boost his record sales because by doing so he was able to market to a wider audience. That said, even with the marketing stuff aside there is some genuinely powerful work on No More Tears. I used to listen to the whole thing all the way through all the time. It's got all the essential things that a good rock/metal album needs and then some. This was a passion piece, not a formulaic product existing only to make money. I recommend it way more than anything Ozzy has put out in the last 20+ years.

No More Tears receives 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Mr. Tinkertrain
2. I Don't Want to Change the World
3. Mama I'm Coming Home
4. Desire
5. No More Tears
6. S.I.N.
7. Hellraiser
8. Time After Time
9. Zombie Stomp
10. A.V.H.
11. Road to Nowhere

Buy the album on Amazon:


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi's Cancer in Remission

Back in 2012 the heavy metal community got a serious shock when it was that Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi had been diagnosed with lymphoma - a serious form of cancer. For the past few years he has undergone some heavy treatment while touring with Black Sabbath, but now there is some good news: he has a clean bill of health!

In a recent interview with Birmingham Mail, Iommi discusses the current situation with his health, his treatment, and his future. Things at the moment seem to be looking up for him and that he still has a pretty bright future ahead of him despite his ever advancing age, saying:
“I came back to hospital straight after we finished a round of European tour dates, and the good news is that everything is alright up to this point. The chemotherapy and the follow-up treatment appear to have done the trick — but I’m aware that it could come back one day. I have a blood test every six weeks at my GP’s, and I come in here at regular intervals for check-ups. That’s something that I’ll have to live with for the rest of my life, looking for any warning signs that it might be rearing its ugly head again. But the availability of a facility like the Specialist Care Centre makes it so much easier. They’re all lovely here! 
The cancer journey is a tough and emotional one for everyone involved – including family and friends,” she told the paper. “But I think we have what we need to make that journey as comfortable and successful as possible.”
It's wonderful to hear that Iommi seems to be doing pretty hunky-dory these days. I somehow doubt that this will mean more Black Sabbath shows, but at the very least we'll get to keep the riff master around for a little while longer. It would be a shame to see him leave us so soon. Personally I'd love to hear him do another album with Glenn Hughes, Tony Martin, Ian Gillan, or any other countless amounts of other rock/metal giants.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Op Ed Piece: Holograms of Dead Musicians in Live Performances

There is a recent trend that has just gotten started lately in music where now a beloved performer who has passed on to the great gig in the sky can be "resurrected" through the power of modern technology via hologram. Notable musicians brought back from the grave this way include: rapper Tupac Shakur, pop icon Michael Jackson, and now beloved metal god Ronnie James Dio this past weekend at the Wacken Festival in Germany during a performance from the Dio Disciples. The Dio Disciples is a band comprised of former members of Ronnie's solo band throughout the years, for those of you who don't know.

These holograms don't just appear, but they make sound as well. In the case of the hologram of Ronnie they took recordings of live vocals of his and layered them over the hologram as the Dio Disciples performed. The band has promised that this will not be the only appearance of the hologram, but it will make appearances next year during their upcoming tour.

Within days of the performance the appearance of the late metal giant has already sparked a great deal of mixed reactions. Some were of absolute wonder and joy at the fact that there is now a way for future generations to see Ronnie perform, but others were of absolute shock, horror, and disgust at the fact that they would insult the man's memory and legacy like this.

As for where I stand, I feel I'm kind of on the fence. While I'm caught up in the flash and wonder of it all, I do kind of see where people are coming from when they say that the hologram is a dishonor to Ronnie's memory. I sadly never got to see Dio perform while he was alive and this is honestly the next best thing. It would be a real spectacle, that's for sure.

However, it seems kind of disingenuous because even if I did see the hologram I'd just be listening to and watching a recording from days past. He wouldn't really be there. He wouldn't really be performing. I could easily just watch a Dio concert DVD at home. I wouldn't go so far as to say it dishonors Ronnie's memory, but it does seem a bit like they are wandering into a real grey area and unknown territory that they need to watch their footing in.

With this new technology it's kind of hard not to wonder how exactly it will be used from here. If holograms are going to be more commonplace, what is to stop record labels/big corporations from making entire concerts out of groups that are entirely holographic? They could put on a show without any live performers in the venue at all and still make a hefty sum of money. It makes me a little concerned because I have this bad feeling that despite the fact that it is literally a cash grab people will spend money to go see shows like this anyway and real live shows won't be as much of a thing any more (except for the bands who don't have the kind of money to have holograms).

Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for having rock n' roll shows be big spectacles. When I spend some ungodly amount on a concert ticket I want to get as much bang for my buck as humanly possible. However, at the end of the day what is important is that it is real live people making real live music from the heart up on the stage. If you're just playing a recording you've kind of lost the purpose and soul of a live concert. There's no exhilaration. There's no energy. There's no spirit. Nothing. Just moving pictures in 3D with an audio track.

That said, while I'm overall not in favor of holograms becoming a widely used thing to replace performers altogether, I wouldn't mind them showing up for a song or two maybe once in a while. It just wouldn't be right to mass produce them for whole shows. There is no way to ever truly replace a performer once they are gone or just not present. Hopefully these fears of mine and others do not come to pass.

Monday, August 8, 2016

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #84

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. Egypt (The Chains Are On), by Dio

I've always been a fan of the big long epic tunes with multiple distinct parts that flow well together. This is one of those songs. It has a big rolling thunder type persona, but at the same time there is a mysterious and ancient under tone to it as well. You can tell that this was one of those tunes that the band just jammed away at and had the best time putting together. Plus, Ronnie James Dio's powerful operatic voice and lyrics make it that much more of a legendary experience.

2. I Am Become Death, by Joe Satriani

Before guitar god Joe Satriani put out his debut album Not of This Earth back in 1986 he actually recorded, pressed, and distributed an EP independently where he played absolutely everything himself. The interesting part though is the only instrument on there is guitar. All sounds, even the percussive ones were made doing various things on the electric guitar. I feel that I Am Become Death is probably the cream of the crop as even with low budget and minimal instrumental featuring it has this larger than life feel to it.

3. Slow & Easy, by Whitesnake (UK version)

There are actually two different versions of this song because there is the original version put on the initial UK release of Slide It In and then the remixed one with guitar parts rerecorded by John Sykes and bass parts by Neil Murray that got released in the US. Personally I think this song works better with original guitarist Micky Moody because slide guitar has always been the man's personal specialty when it comes to guitar. Sykes is great at what he does, but this style is more suited to a blues man.

4. Perfect Strangers, by Deep Purple

This is definitely the most notable track from Deep Purple's reunion in the mid-80's. While most of what they have done since then hasn't been anywhere near the level of the stuff they did in their 70's heyday this track is definitely one of the better songs from the reunion period. When Jon Lord's opening organ riff cuts the silence and opens the song, it makes the hairs on your arms and neck stand completely at attention because you know that something fantastic is about to follow.

5. Scuttle Buttin', by Stevie Ray Vaughan

If ever you wanted to hear a blues guitar player with some real prowess and proficiency at what he does, then you'll want to put this song on your player IMMEDIATELY. The first time I ever listened to Scuttle Buttin' my eyes popped open and my jaw hit the floor. This guy though sadly not among us any more will put countless amounts of guitar players for generations to come in the two minutes this song goes on for.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Ringo Starr Feels New Bands Need More of a Leg Up

It's no secret that music (especially rock n' roll) is a very difficult business to get into these days - a lot more so than it used to be. One high profile rock star who feels that it's about time that up and coming bands got a real leg up is Beatles drummer Ringo Starr.

Starr, who has been working hard to get local bands over the years noticed feels it's time that the industry and venue owners need to start pitching back in to nourish all the new undiscovered talent in order to give people more of a chance to hear the kinds of music that might really strike a chord with them.

In a recent interview with Bloomburg Business Week, Starr says:

“I go crazy, because if you want to open for a well-known band you have to pay – management makes you pay. Who is giving back? I did a Ringo tour once and had a local band at every gig open for us just to give them exposure. Nobody is helping anybody. For an artist starting off, there’s no clubs for them to play in. The venues have gone down. It’s very hard now. It’s easier to become a celebrity on a TV show as a band for four months than work solidly. People think it just happened – we just woke up one morning and were Beatles. That’s not true. We worked very hard with the venues and put in the time."

Personally, I agree with Starr. With how many venues have closed or make you pay in order to open for a high profile act it's amazing that anyone ever gets noticed enough to make it even semi-big. It's probably a big reason why you have to dig hard to find even a little bit of good music these days. No one is willing to give those with legitimate talent a leg up. It's sad, really. Music these days doesn't actually suck, but you wouldn't know because no one seems to want to give the new bands a break these days like they used to.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Master of Puppets, by Metallica

In 1986 thrash metal band Metallica put out their third studio album: Master of Puppets. It was in this album that the band really made a big breakthrough as a common household name in the world of heavy metal. The two albums before were absolutely fantastic, but this is where Metallica kind of came into their own and started to leave a big lasting impression on their fans and the world. To this day Master of Puppets is considered by many to be THE essential Metallica album and also an essential heavy metal album in general.

Master of Puppets is where Metallica really started getting into big heavy production, long songs with as many distinct riffs as possible thrown in, and the overall big crunchy dark sound we all know and love them for. You can tell they ran out of all of the material written by former lead guitarist Dave Mustaine (who would go on to form Megadeth), but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Now that the band was completely writing on its own they went into new territory that was really inspiring and driving for them.

When that acoustic intro to Battery kicks in, you might be a bit confused at first because this doesn't sound like something Metallica would do at all until the electric guitars come crashing in with a great big wall of sound that then quickly degenerates into a speedy thrashy riff. The build-up to this is actually quite genius in my opinion, at least for the time. Now it's not uncommon but I appreciate it for its innovation at the time. Plus, who doesn't love getting goosebumps before a good headbanger of a tune?

Master of Puppets (the title track) is to many of the band's fans the iconic Metallica song. Whenever anyone mentions the name Metallica, that's the song that comes to most people's heads first. The intro riff is something almost every metal guitarist I know (even myself included) has learned to play. It's an epic 8 and a half minute song broken up into multiple distinct parts that flow together beautifully. For a thrash metal song, it's surprisingly well constructed. The musicianship is top notch. There are hard, fast, angry moments, but at the same time there are slowed down, melodic, and beautiful ones as well. Definitely go to this song for your first impression of Metallica.

I remember Master of Puppets being my first Metallica album as a teen. I had not really listened to Metallica before, but when I popped this on for the first time I was pleasantly surprised. I'd even venture to say blown away. This was one hell of a way for me to introduce myself to the kings of thrash metal. I would highly suggest the same for you if you're looking to check out Metallica or the thrash metal genre in general. Master of Puppets is a huge musical thrill ride from start to finish. It's a wild ride that you had best be ready for when you put it on your player.

Master of Puppets, by Metallica receives 4 out of 5 stars.

Track List:
1. Battery
2. Master of Puppets
3. The Thing That Should Not Be
4. Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
5. Disposable Heroes
6. Leper Messiah
7. Orion (Instrumental)
8. Damage, Inc.

Buy the album on Amazon:


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Bill Ward Releases Statement Confirming He Won't Be Joining Black Sabbath on Final Tour

Ever since the Black Sabbath reunion got moving a few years back, many people have wondered whether or not original drummer Bill Ward would ever be rejoining the group. Ward chose to opt out because he was given a contract that did not make him seem recognized as an equal part of the band for multiple reasons. That said, there have been countless rumours floating around the internet about Ward rejoining for the final tour or show. However, Ward has now released a statement that puts all of those rumours to rest.

In a statement released by his website, Ward denies any involvement with the band on any part of their final tour that is currently going on, saying:

“We have seen it reported in the news that Bill will be playing with Black Sabbath on ‘The End’ tour in the UK. This is incorrect, and we wanted to make sure you heard it from us directly: Bill is not playing with Black Sabbath in the UK or on any other dates of ‘The End’ tour. As always, we thank you for all your support and understanding. Rock forever.”

Ward had responded earlier this year to a Facebook post bassist Geezer Butler had made about Ward participating in the absolute final show of the tour, but Ward pointed out that the management had said that there was no interest in such a thing. Kind of sad, if you ask me.

It's a really sad thing when business gets in the way of such an important event in the history of music. This is Black Sabbath we're talking about here. Quite frankly I don't see why they couldn't have given Ward a better contract. At the same time though, I also think that Ward should be thinking more of his fans and being there when things with Black Sabbath finally do come to an absolute end. This is a big deal. It's a big part of his life. You would think he would want to give it a proper send-off.