Monday, October 31, 2016

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #95

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. Halloween, by The Misfits

Can't do Halloween right without this classic from horror punk legends The Misfits. This song pretty much encompasses everything that makes the night so creepy, scary, special and just downright awesome. The whole thing just sounds evil in all the best ways, especially the creepy sounding vocal harmonies in the chorus that just moan "Halloween" over and over again. Never heard anything like it before in my life and I couldn't be happier.

2.  Sweet Transvestite (Rocky Horror Picture Show), by Richard O'Brien

Halloween also isn't complete without going to the Rocky Horror Picture Show! This in my opinion is one of the most iconic songs on the whole soundtrack. It's a lot of fun to dance and sing along to and quite frankly it's just silly, especially in the context of the movie. You don't really take it seriously, but at the same time you can't help but finding yourself singing it long after it's over and you're around people who probably would think you weird singing a song originally sung by a man in pearls and heels.

3.  Killer, by Alice Cooper

I think this song is one of the original Alice Cooper band's greatest masterpieces. It has this sense of overall dread the entirety of the time it's going, but with the way the end turns into a dirge with the condemned man being killed and then his soul entering Hell it definitely gives goosebumps. It's no surprise that this is the song that has been used at Alice's concerts for the past few decades for when at the end of the show Alice gets executed (usually by beheading).

4. Thriller, by Michael Jackson

I know, I know. Michael Jackson doesn't usually fit the mold of this blog, but f*** it. It's Halloween! Can't go wrong with attempting to do the iconic dance to this catchy upbeat funk tune. Plus, anything that horror icon Vincent Price is involved with is virtually guaranteed to be gold. You might not like the man for what he may or may not have done in life, but you've got to admit that he really knew how to write a song and dance.

5. Walpurgis, by Black Sabbath

This demo is the original version of the Black Sabbath classic War Pigs. This version has a lot darker lyrics with themes of witchcraft, Satan, burning churches and priests, etc. Their record label was not too fond of these lyrics and forced the band to write a whole new set, lest the whole song be dropped from the album altogether. I can kind of understand why they did that. People in 1970 were NOT ready for this kind of thing. Listening back though, it's kind of fascinating to hear the origins of this Sabbath staple.


Saturday, October 29, 2016

M. Shadows on Avenged Sevenfold Working with Neil DeGrasse Tyson

In a surprise move, Avenged Sevenfold released their seventh album The Stage with no prior announcement to a release date earlier this week (the 27th). The band had been building up to the a surprise announcement, but most fans just thought it would be a release date and announcing of the album's title. In The Stage, much to many fans' delight it turns out the band worked with famed astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson for a song titled Exist.

Many of the songs on The Stage discuss outer space and artificial intelligence, so they wanted to give more impact by using audio from Carl Sagan's The Pale Blue Dot. Unfortunately Sagan's estate wasn't having it, so instead A7X reached out to Tyson. In an interview with Rolling Stone, singer M. Shadows discusses the experience, saying:

“We explained to him that we wanted to educate our fans and we wanted to a voice of science in another art form, and he was like, ‘Yep – if it’s for education, let’s do it!’ He asked us to read through a bunch of essays that he’d used at the Hayden Planetarium, and find any portions that we wanted him to take and expand on. We found some stuff we liked, and went back and forth on the phone with him about it to the point where we were all happy with it, and then he laid it down for us.”

I've listened to Exist myself. It's one doozie of a tune even with out Tyson's audio part. The fact that they would include something as knowledgeable and profound as they did in their music makes me have a whole new level of respect for them as musicians and people. I never took them to be the type that were into science and education, but I was delightfully proven wrong. It may be a 15.5 minute tune, but it's very much worth listening to.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Stranger in Us All, by Rainbow

In 1995, a sad day came upon us: the release of legendary guitar master Ritchie Blackmore's final rock album Stranger in Us All; done under the Rainbow moniker. Blackmore had become fed up with his former band Deep Purple (and rock music in general) and left them two years prior. He wanted to do a solo album just under his name, but pressure from his label made him do it under the name Rainbow. For this record Blackmore put together an entirely new line-up - having no one who had ever played with him before in the group. The most notable musician naturally was Scottish vocalist Doogie White.

You can sort of hear Blackmore's waning enthusiasm for rock/metal, but he and his band still churned out one hell of a performance for Stranger in Us All. You can tell that in some ways Blackmore went back to his hard rock roots to a certain extent, but it still had a great deal of that glossy overtone that many of his post-Dio albums had in the 80's when he was trying to make the band a big commercial success. To be honest it's kind of an odd mash-up of styles, but in a way it kind of encompasses many different parts of Blackmore's career sound-wise. In other ways, you can hear the beginnings of Blackmore's next/current project Blackmore's Night - the renaissance music group he formed with his wife vocalist Candice Night (especially in tunes like Ariel where she sings back-up).

Wolf to the Moon is one of my absolute favorite tracks on Stranger in Us All and quite frankly is one hell of a way to kick off an album. That driving riff at the intro tells you right from the get-go that you're in for a wild ride. The rest of the song with its carefree atmosphere and rebellious lyrics make you feel like you're just out tearing it up on the highway on a motorcycle; not giving a single care in the world and just living from stop to stop. It also has some of Blackmore's most signature solos and riffs on the whole album here. It feels the most like a classic Blackmore song.

Personally, I cannot say enough good things about the redone version of The Yardbirds's Still I'm Sad. This was a tune that ended the very first Rainbow album, so in a way it's kind of appropriate that it be the song that ends the final one. As it began, so too shall it end. You know? This version unlike the previous has vocals and has a more definite song structure, rather than it being a bit more of a funky open jam for Blackmore to just solo all over. White gives an insanely powerful and chilling vocal performance on this one. I can't praise him enough.

If you're more of a fan of Blackmore for his rock style playing, then this is definitely a record for you. It's kind of a nice way for him to say goodbye to his fans of multiple decades before going off to make faerie music for the rest of his days (aside from the three rock shows he did this past summer for shits and giggles). Even when Blackmore is somewhat phoning it in he still puts on one hell of a good show and can write a rocking tune. It's also a great record for those who are fans of Blackmore's Night to start getting a taste of what in my opinion REAL Ritchie Blackmore music sounds like. Regardless, Stranger in Us All is a solid album.

Stranger in Us All, by Rainbow receives 3.75 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Wolf to the Moon
2. Cold Hearted Woman
3. Hunting Humans (Insatiable)
4. Stand and Fight
5. Ariel
6. Too Late for Tears
7. Black Masquerade
8. Silence
9. Hall of the Mountain King
10. Still I'm Sad

Buy the album on Amazon:

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Original Yes Keyboardist Rick Wakeman Won't Attend Ceremony if Band is Inducted

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has been notorious for snubbing a great deal of well deserving bands/artists over the years. According to founding Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman many of the bands ignored by the Hall are prog rock bands. Due to that fact among other reasons, if Yes does get inducted this year he probably won't attend the ceremony.

This is Yes's third time being nominated for induction since they first became eligible in 1994. Unfortunately though due to the nature of the Hall they haven't been inducted. Wakeman weighs in during an interview with WROR, saying:

“I pushed for Yes to go in the Hall of Fame when I wasn't in the band, because I felt the band deserved to go in years ago. There's some bands that have been inducted that I have no idea why they’re in there. There’s bands like Yes and a few others and you go, ‘Why aren't they in?’ It just doesn’t make an ounce of sense to me.

It seems that anything to do with prog rock was considered a dirty word by them. It’s the most inventive and the most influential music to musicians that there’s ever been in the history of rock’n’roll – and yet it’s ignored. I’m not sure whether I’d turn up. I’m so disgusted with the way that prog rock and Yes have been treated, I might be busy. I might be washing my hair that night.”

I can kind of understand why Wakeman feels the way he does. If the Hall is snubbing prog rock bands just because they aren't big hit producing machines like so many of the other inductees then I don't blame Wakeman for wanting to opt out of the ceremony if they do get inducted. Prog rock is some of the most creative, exploratory, and mind expanding music to ever exist. Those who do it well deserve to be recognized just as much as anyone else for their accomplishments.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Playing Live Means Nothing to The Who's Pete Townshend

In recent years it's become rather clear that Pete Townshend, guitar player and song writer for The Who does not seem to derive any pleasure from touring any more. In fact, he hates it. Recently he has added onto that thought saying he feels that it's a scam.

In an interview with The Guardian, Townshend goes into how he feels about having played at the Desert Trip Festival with The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, and plenty of other big name rock acts from yesteryear and today, saying:

"I’m such a boring fucker. It means nothing to me. I would be a liar if I said, ‘It was really fun, man. It was great!’ It wasn’t great. It was a gig. I did it and I got paid. The fact is, I don’t really like performing. But I’m good at it. I’m lucky to be good at something.

I could have worked in an abattoir. I don’t get high on stage. I might come off stage and look in the mirror and go, ‘Hee hee,’ but it’s mischievous. It’s, ‘What a load of crap. We pulled off another scam.’"

I know I've said this before, but I think saying stuff like that publicly is probably not in the band's best interest. I know he despises his band and performing, but maybe he should save all that till after the tour is over so that the ticket sales don't drop and the fans that do come don't feel let down before the show even begins. I know I wouldn't want to go to a show where the performers actually hate what they're doing.

Monday, October 24, 2016

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #94

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. Roll Over Beethoven, by Electric Light Orchestra

It's not often that a cover can maintain the same spirit or even outdo the original, but I think in the case of Electric Light Orchestra's cover of this Chuck Berry classic it's safe to say that this is one of those times. It has that raw driving sincerity to it, but at the same time it has that clever progressive and orchestral vibe that only Jeff Lynne can make happen. Somehow symphony and rudimentary rock n' roll manage to come together seamlessly here.

2.  High and Humble, by Steepwater Band

If you want something a little more down to Earth and grooving, then this is the route you want to take. Definitely some top notch blues rock guitar playing here. I like that the vocals have a lot of that Lyrnd Skynrd southern soul type vibe to them without trying to rip off Ronnie Van Zant. Definitely a solid track. If you're needing something to get you pumped and going, then definitely put this tune on 11.

3.  California Girls, by David Lee Roth

Normally I don't post tracks on here for you to have a laugh at the artist's expense, but I couldn't resist making this one exception. David Lee Roth covering this Beach Boys classic is probably one of the most amusing things you'll hear all week. Somehow though, considering how much of a California beach bum Roth was known for being back in the day I'm not really surprised that he decided to make this one of his debut singles as a solo artist.

4. Cold as Ice, by Foreigner

Can't go wrong with this Foreigner classic, especially if you've just recently had your heart broken by someone cold hearted prick. It has power, emotion, and true gritty soul. The way they take such rudimentary bluesy piano playing and turn it into something so much more powerful and grand is something that not just anyone can manage to do. Takes a certain magic and finesse to one's ability as a songwriter and musician and Foreigner clearly has that.

5.  Martyr, by The Last in Line

This band made of original members of Ronnie James Dio's solo band with Andrew Freeman stepping in for the passed on metal legend put out an album this year chocked full of brand new material. You can definitely hear that the group still has that old musical chemistry that they had in the 80's - especially in the ripping and running track Martyr. It's upbeat, rumbling, and has much of that lightning quick fret board precision the old tunes had, though with Freeman's own form of vocal moxy pouring through like an open floodgate.


Saturday, October 22, 2016

Queen Puts Out Harder, Faster, and More Rocking Version of "We Will Rock You"

Queen is about to release a double album of epic proportions, titled: Queen on Air: The Complete BBC Sessions. It will cover six radio sessions the band did in the 70's for the BBC and it features something rather neat: a more uptempo, riffy, and rocking version of their big hit We Will Rock You (which can be listened to below).

The iconic stomps and claps are gone, but replacing them is some of the best riffing guitarist Brian May can do. It drives, it punches, and it kicks some serious ass. It's definitely faster too, which still gets you pumped up - though in a different way than the original did.

Queen on Air: The Complete BBC Sessions will be out on November 4th and will be available as a two disc CD set, a triple disc vinyl set, and a digital and deluxe six disc package that also includes live performances and interviews.

Personally I can dig this version of the classic. While it will never come anywhere close to overshadowing the iconic crowd pumping official recorded version, it's a fun alternate version to jam out to whenever you're in the mood to rock out. Put it on, and crank the volume up to 11.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Tommy, by The Who

By late 1968 The Who had become a huge part of the British Invasion movement of music. They had quite a few hits to their name and were still on the rise. However, guitarist and primary song writer Pete Townshend was getting bored of writing the same three minute pop songs over and over again and wanted to find a way to progress into something more creative. Townshend managed to do just that when he and the rest of The Who after several months of writing and recording put out the very first rock opera in 1969: Tommy.

Tommy is the story of a boy who goes blind, deaf, and dumb after his father who was a lost fighter pilot in WWII comes back and murders his step-father. From there people realize that by some miracle Tommy is insanely good at pinball despite his handicaps. When he regains his senses as an adult, he becomes a messiah and starts a religious movement until people won't take it any more (especially with all the capitalizing upon it that his family does). The songs' lyrics are profound while the music itself is quite catchy despite abandoning the traditional pop song structure for the majority of the tracks.

Pinball Wizard is the one track that everyone who has ever listened to/watched Tommy knows and loves. Then again, it was meant to be a catchy single. It was actually the track that gave the whole story and album focus once it was written. I love it because that fast chord playing with those powerful accent notes on the electric just hit me the right way. Of course it's also hard note to sing every word along with Roger Daltrey. Who knew a song about a deaf, dumb, and blind kid playing pinball could be so fun?

I'm Free is one of my personal favorites from the album. It's the song that tells of Tommy's spiritual enlightenment after he is freed from his mental shackles once and for all after his surgery to restore his senses. It is filled with such joy, positivity, and fun musically. It's hard not to get swept up in it. Personally I've always been able to dig this song in certain situations in my life even outside the context of the song's original intent because all of us have those moments where we are finally free of something that was chaining us down and keeping us from being where we wanted to be and doing what we wanted to do.

Tommy is definitely a landmark album not just for The Who, but for rock in general because it managed to bring the concepts of rock and opera together - a feat which no one beforehand would ever have dreamed possible. Naturally many other bands have done their own thing with the concept since then, but really this is where it all began. It is lyrically profound, musically creative, and will captivate and move you from start to finish. I would HIGHLY recommend getting both the album version and the film version.

Tommy, by The Who receives 4 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

Disc 1:

1. Overture
2. It's a Boy
3. 1921
4. Amazing Journey
5. Sparks
6. The Hawker
7. Christmas
8. Cousin Kevin
9. The Acid Queen
10. The Underture

Disc 2:

1. Do You Think It's Alright?
2. Fiddle About
3. Pinball Wizard
4. There's a Doctor
5. Go to the Mirror!
6. Tommy Can You Hear Me?
7. Smash the Mirror
8. Sensation
9. Miracle Cure
10. Sally Simpson
11. I'm Free
12. Welcome
13. Tommy's Holiday Camp
14. We're Not Gonna Take It

Buy the album on Amazon:

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Chuck Berry to Put Out First Album in Four Decades

After nearly four decades, Chuck Berry (who just celebrated his 90th birthday), the one man who in my opinion beats out Elvis Presley as the King of Rock n' Roll is putting out a brand new album filled with primarily new original material. You read that right. This is NOT a joke.

According to a press release put out by Berry's people, the album which will be titled Chuck is due out next year. Berry's backing band will consist of: his children Charles Berry Jr. on guitar and Ingrid Berry on harmonica, plus Jimmy Marsala (Berry’s bassist of forty years), Robert Lohr on piano, and Keith Robinson on drums.

Berry commented on the record, saying:

“This record is dedicated to my beloved Toddy (his wife Themetta Berry). My darlin’ I’m growing old! I’ve worked on this record for a long time. Now I can hang up my shoes!”

His son says:

“What an honor to be part of this new music. The St. Louis band, or as dad called us ‘The Blueberry Hill Band,’ fell right into the groove and followed his lead. These songs cover the spectrum from hard driving rockers to soulful thought provoking time capsules of a life's work.”

Quite frankly I'm astonished that Berry after all these years is putting out another album. I thought that after the 70's he had kind of decided that writing new tunes wasn't his bag any more and was just going to coast the rest of his life on the hits he wrote in the 50's. I'm glad that he has decided to do one last record, though. I'm interested to hear what Chuck Berry in the 21st century will sound like. I'm sure it will be rad, though. Anything by one of the key people who inspired me to be a guitar player will be awesome.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Gene Simmons: "Music Helps Fans Escape Every Day Life"

Now here is an interesting tidbit of news: Kiss co-founder and bassist Gene Simmons has actually just said something that is NOT him being a big jackass and saying something extremely negative. This time around he has made a rather positive statement about how music is like therapy to people and how it helps them escape the blues of every day living.

The interview happened with Metal Hammer after making an appearance on stage with famed J-metal band X Japan (covering Rock and Roll All Nite), saying:

"At the end of the day, all that matters is what happens on that stage – that’s electric church. That’s glory hallelujah, all hail rock’n’roll, where people who spend lots of after-tax money come to the show and their girlfriends have been torturing them about where did you go and traffic jams and all that.

And it’s our job – anyone who gets up on that stage – to create magic time. To make you forget about all that stuff and take you away, so just for those few hours...and then you get back to gravity, and all the chaos that’s out there."

I kind of dig the whole 'electric church' name given to a concert. It really is. It's a high voltage experience that in a way allows you to transcend the physical plane to a more spiritual realm that allows you to really connect with yourself, others, and the universe around you. Personally I'm surprised that Simmons has something like this to say after all his comments about how rock is dead. Maybe he is turning a new leaf? Either that or he is just trying to clean up his image a bit.

Monday, October 17, 2016

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #93

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 Stage, by Avenged Sevenfold

A7X has come back into the fold with the first single to their upcoming seventh album. It's surprisingly not a shorter catchy tune like many of their debut singles have been, but is instead an eight and a half minute epic prog-like journey. It has driving verses, but occasionally a part or two that features classical guitar segments. It flows seamlessly and is just as brutal as anything they have put out in the past. It is definitely a step up from anything that was on Hail to the King.

2.  Can't Get It Out of My Head, by Electric Light Orchestra

If ever you needed something that was relaxing and oozing in warmth and smoothness then this is definitely the musical cocktail for you. It manages to blend classical with baroque, pop, and rock. Like many of Jeff Lynne's creations it is a song that is more than just the sum of its parts. Turning on this song will make you feel like you just put on the most comfy blanket from your childhood and like you're just floating away on a cloud of relaxation and happiness.

3. Party of Special Things to Do, by Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band

Captain Beefheart was definitely an eccentric character, but that only bolstered the amount of creativity he and his Magic Band had way back in the day. I love the bluesy groove this tune has. You really can feel and move to it. Personally, one of my favorite aspects of it is Beefheart's dirty, slimy, hobo-like voice. Like, this is what you would expect a dirty grungy hobo from off the street to sound like if he wrote and sang a rock song. It works really well, though.

4. Barracuda, by Heart

Yes, I do listen to female rockers as well, ladies and gentlemen. This tune in particular is a stereo cranking classic. Although it is rather simplistic, it has that steady chugging/galloping rhythm to it that makes it easy to bang your head to and get lost in. However, Ann Wilson's singing is out of this world. With the kind of powerhouse voice she has, she can definitely keep up with the big boys; maybe even putting some of them to shame.

5. I Remember You, by Skid Row

Like many other bands of the late 80's, it was obligatory for Skid Row to have a power ballad on their record; especially seeing as it was their big debut. They managed to fulfill this 80's hair metal trope by putting out the tune I Remember You. It does have a bit of a cheesy factor to it, but at the same time you can definitely tell with Sebastian Bach's heart felt soulful singing and the band's passionate performance that this was a song they really did give a crap about. Definitely a tune I don't ever regret cranking when it comes on.


Saturday, October 15, 2016

Avenged Sevenfold Premiere New Video for New Track "The Stage"

Avenged Sevenfold has been keeping their cards pretty close to the vest for their upcoming album. However, they have finally decided to grace us with a single from it attached to a music video titled "The Stage" (which can be viewed below).

The video itself seems a little goofy, though to be fair it's kind of difficult to take anything with puppets too seriously. However, the creepy theater and the way they utilize the puppets more than makes up for the rather surprisingly childish at first visuals. It of course doesn't take long for us to see that this is meant to show us just how violent humans can be and how we are all controlled by someone or another. I won't give too much away though so that you can see just for yourself what I mean.

The song on the other hand is definitely a winner. It's definitely a step up from anything that was on their previous album, 2013's Hail to the King. It seems they have dropped the whole trying to sound like older band thing and gone back to doing what they do best: making powerful ripping and running songs with great technical details while also being fun and accessible. The Stage is dark, punchy, and has all of the blistering solos that we've missed from them for years. It also has multiple distinct parts to it, so in a way it's like a suite. Some are driving and heavy, some are softer and even acoustic. It definitely reminds me of something you would have heard on City of Evil, but at the same time it still sounds like they are pushing forward rather than trying to copy themselves.

Personally I'm kind of surprised that A7X didn't put out something shorter and more catchy as a first single, but I respect them for making a bold move by putting out something longer and more progressive sounding. It takes balls to put out an eight and a half minute tune as a first single of an album, let alone one as on the technical side as this one is. Props to them for that. That said, I am definitely stoked for hearing the rest of the album. If it's anywhere near as good as The Stage, then I have a feeling it will definitely more than make up for their rather lackluster previous release.

The new album is said to come out later this year. It will be the Avenged Sevenfold's first album on Capitol Records after having left Warner Bros. due to the fact that none of the people who were there when they got signed were still there and they weren't being treated the way they thought was fair and right. Now that they seem to have a bit more creative control again, I'm sure things will turn out just fine.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Aqualung, by Jethro Tull

In 1971 progressive folk rock kings Jethro Tull put out the album that many consider to be their crowning achievement: Aqualung. Though the band had already begun to build quite a reputation for themselves in the late 60's, this is where they really hit their stride and became the band that many classic/prog rock fans all know and love to this day. It has been highly acclaimed for its profound lyrical themes, admirable musicianship, and overall fantastic vibe.

Aqualung spawned many of Tull's best known songs such as: Aqualung, Cross-Eyed Mary, Hymn 43, Locomotive Breath, Mother Goose, etc. These songs are an intriguing blend of medieval folk music and more contemporary progressive hard rock. This has to be one of the few instances where a flute in a rock band not only works, but is badass. The blend between the genres is nearly seamless. Vocalist/flute player and front man Ian Anderson's writing also does the music justice - focusing primarily on the difference between God and religion.

The title track Aqualung is probably the most well known track Jethro Tull ever put out. That Martin Barre electric guitar riff is iconic and the soloing is on par with many of the other guitar greats of the time. However, the lyrical imagery is what really sticks with me. Just thinking about some greasy creepy pedophilic homeless guy creeping on little girls is enough to make me cringe, yet the music and melody are so enthralling that I can't help but be charmed all the same. As off putting as that is, I guess there is something to be said for a band that can manage to pull off such a feat.

Cross-Eyed Mary is one of my personal favorite Jethro Tull songs of all time. That flute and piano intro is absolutely enchanting, intriguing, and mystifying at the same time. The fact that it is followed up by something grinding and harsh creates a kind of cognitive dissonance that can only be gotten away with if executed just right (which in this case it is). Personally I love how the bridge/solo section sounds rather jazzy. It is a nice departure from the other genres packed into the song already.

I can't recommend Aqualung enough. If you're looking to get into something besides traditional regular format pop rock songs, this album is right up your alley. It brings so many things to rock n' roll that you wouldn't think would work with it, but do. Hell, I'd even recommend this album to someone who is more medieval folk oriented but wants to give something else a try. It's a very nice middle ground and is the best place to start when looking to delve into the Jethro Tull catalog. It is hailed as a classic by fans and critics alike for a reason.

Aqualung, by Jethro Tull receives 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Track Listing:

1. Aqualung
2. Cross-Eyed Mary
3. Cheap Day Return
4. Mother Goose
5. Won'dring Aloud
6. Up to Me
7. My God
8. Hymn 43
9. Slipstream
10. Locomotive Breath
11. Wind-Up

Buy the album on Amazon:

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Lego Has Beatles Yellow Submarine Kit Headed Your Way

You read right. I'm not making this up. Lego has a Beatles Yellow Submarine kit coming out (though quite frankly to no surprise except at the fact that this didn't happen sooner) on November 1st.

The set brick-ifying this classic sub-aquatic vehicle which won 10,000 votes on Lego's Ideas site is made up of 550 pieces and features figures of all four Beatles appearing the way they did in the Yellow Submarine film in 1968. The set has been given a recommended retail price of around $60 US.
In an explanation on Lego's Ideas page, designer Kevin Szetzo describes the reason and motivation for creating the tribute to the Fab Four, saying:
“As an amateur musician and songwriter, I have always been drawn to the music of the Beatles. The creation of the Yellow Submarine model was really my way of showing my affection for the Beatles, as well as trying to pay a small tribute to the Beatles phenomenon. The Yellow Submarine is bright, fun, and colorful, which also made it a good subject to translate into Lego form.”

Designer Justin Ramsden contributed also, saying:

“I€ watched€ the€ film€ when€ I€ was€ younger€ and€ was €really €inspired€ by €how €it €oozed€ so€ much€ imagination€ –€ comparable€ to€ how€ I€ view€ Lego€ elements. I’m €also €a €massive €fan €of €the€ Beatles, ˆ€having €grown€ up€ with €their €music€ all€ my €life, ˆ€so €to €see €the €Beatles €in €Lego €form €is€ a €dream €come €true.”
On the one hand, I think it's cool that such a set is finally coming out (as I've been a pretty big Lego fan since I was a kid). On the other though, I think this is just further selling out of Lego. When I was a kid Lego didn't have to make sets of pre-existing franchises to stay relevant, cool, and lucrative. Legos were awesome on their own and the series of sets they came up with were plenty imaginative and fun. I personally found it more fun to make Star Wars stuff or whatever using the pieces I had rather than buy a kit of what I wanted to make. All that ranting aside though, I still wouldn't mind getting this kit (if I can ever afford it).

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Metallica Lead Guitarist Kirk Hammett Leaves "Unforgiven" Solo Alone


It's not an uncommon practice for a guitarist to do their solos differently than they did in the recorded version of a song when performing live. Some times though, there is a solo that is so iconic that it would be a crime in the minds of many (including the guitarist who wrote the solo) to ever do anything to change it. Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett is no exception to this, especially with the big Metallica hit The Unforgiven.

In an interview with Classic Rock, Hammett talks in detail about his love for The Unforgiven's solo and how he would never want to change the way he plays it, saying:

"I enjoy playing the solo on The Unforgiven because it's such a dynamic solo. And a lot of times live, I'll change around my guitar solo because I end up not liking what I recorded, or I get bored with what was recorded – or I just want to play something completely different.

But with The Unforgiven, as a guitar solo it has changed very little over the years. It's probably one of the only guitar solos that I play just like the album."

To be fair I can understand why Hammett wouldn't want to change the solo. It's almost like it's its own song in itself and is quite a grand large scale production. A lot of the best guitar solos have that quality to them. A few others like that in my opinion would be: Sweet Child O' Mine, Smoke on the Water, Comfortably Numb, Crazy Train, etc. Changing even one note would be a massive offense.

Monday, October 10, 2016

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #92

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. I am the Walrus, by The Beatles

The Beatles in the latter part of their career came up with (to put it mildly) some rather strange stuff. Gone were the peppy, bubble gummy pop tunes they wrote as the four mop tops. As a result of all the drugs they started taking they decided to go a much more peculiar, creative, and progressive route with their music. Nowhere is this more prevalent than the hailed iconic stoner classic I am the Walrus, based loosely on C.S. Lewis's Alice in Wonderland. 

2.  Trouble (2014), by Bernie Marsden featuring David Coverdale

In 2014 one of Whitesnake's original axe men Bernie Marsden put out a new solo record titled Shine. On this record Marsden roped in his former band mate and leader David Coverdale to sing the first song the two of them had ever written together, but updated for 2014. It still sounds as raw and powerful as it did back then, though a bit less shiny and a bit more punchy. Certain parts of the arrangement are different, but overall it is still the amazing (if not more so now) song that it was back in 1978.

3. Post Office Buddy, by Buckethead

I still have a bone to pick with Mr. Brian Carroll after ending the show only halfway through when I saw him last April, but that by no stretch of the imagination means I like his music any less than I did before. This particular song is just about as creepy as you can get without it being an actual movie. In fact, it kind of is a movie in the way the tension and suspense grows with each phone call and the riffs getting more and more intense as the song progresses. The best part though is the tail end. You'll see what I mean.

4. Fire, by The Jimi Hendrix Experience

I absolutely LOVE it when a guitar and bass play the same melody and meld together seamlessly. That multi-layer sound just hits me the right way every time. The Jimi Hendrix Experience was good at doing stuff like that, and a prime experience of that is in their lesser played hit Fire from their debut album Are You Experienced?. It's an upbeat moving and grooving tune that you can really bob your head and move to. Definitely some of Hendrix's best work in an overall group setting.

5. Bad, Bad Leroy Brown, by Jim Croce

Probably one of Croce's best known tunes. It's definitely been a favorite of mine for a long while. I haven't always been his biggest fan, but I've noticed in more recent years just how many of his songs I've come to like. Of course you can never go wrong with a swingy upbeat song about an outlaw from the baddest part of the south side of Chicago. It's a fun singalong that is easy enough to pick up on if nothing else 


Saturday, October 8, 2016

Metallica is Inviting Fans to Be in Upcoming Video Shoot

If you are a fan of Metallica and live in the San Francisco Bay Area, then you happen to have found yourself in some considerable luck. Next week the band is doing open casting calls to be in Metallica's next music video.

The shoot will take place over the course of three sessions on October 11-12. Fans attending will be asked to do some lightly choreographed fighting and then cheer on while Metallica performs.

For more info on the casting call, details are thus according to the band's website:

Casting Call #1 

Shoot Date: October 11 - 12 (one day)
Shoot Locations: Marin County, Downtown San Francisco
Casting multiple roles of all ethnicities. Must be able to engage in lightly choreographed fighting.
Age Range: 21 - 55
  1. Male Street Fighter Type
  2. Female Street Fighter Type
Please email with METALLICA CASTING CALL #1 in the subject line with the following information:
  • Full Name
  • Age
  • Contact Info & Cell Number
  • Availability
  • Four Images Including Full Body & Head Shot

Casting Call #2

Shoot Date: October 11 - 12 (one day) NIGHT SHOOT
Shoot Locations: Marin County
Looking for rabid Metallica fans of all sexes, ages and ethnicities local to the San Francisco Bay Area who are ready to cheer on while Metallica performs.
Please email with METALLICA CASTING CALL #2 in the subject line with the following information:
  • Full Name
  • Age
  • Contact Info & Cell Number
  • Availability
  • Four Images Including Full Body & Head Shot

Casting Call #3

Shoot Date: October 11 - 12 (one day)
Shoot Locations: Marin County
Looking for rabid Metallica fans of all sexes, ages and ethnicities local to the San Francisco Bay Area who are ready to cheer on while Metallica performs.
Please email with METALLICA CASTING CALL #3 in the subject line with the following information:
  • Full Name
  • Age
  • Contact Info & Cell Number
  • Availability
  • Four Images Including Full Body & Head Shot

That said, if you live out that way and think you have what it takes to be in any of the sessions, you should try your luck. It's not every day you get the chance to try out to be in a Metallica video. Kind of curious what song they will be shooting the video for. Regardless, I'm sure it will be a fun time and will have a cool end result.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Number of the Beast, by Iron Maiden

Often times when a band replaces an important member like a singer, there is a period of uncertainty. No one knows for sure whether such a transition will allow the band to be able to survive. However, some times there are cases where such a change ends up not only allowing the band to survive but to flourish and thrive more than they ever had before. Such was the case for when power metal godfathers Iron Maiden changed vocalists from Paul Di'Anno to iconic long time and current vocalist Bruce Dickinson and they put out one of their best albums: The Number of the Beast.

Number of the Beast featured a massive change in sound for Iron Maiden. There music became a lot more dark, melodic, complex, exploratory, and grand. Due to the fact that Dickinson had better range and timbre than Di'Anno bassist and primary song writer Steve Harris was able to do a lot more than he ever had before. The sound was a bit more crisp and refined. It spawned multiple Iron Maiden classics such as: Run to the Hills, The Number of the Beast, Hallowed Be Thy Name, etc.

Run to the Hills is one of those songs that anyone who knows heavy metal even remotely will recognize the instant that iconic drum intro comes on. I love how it builds up with instrument after instrument coming in only to stop and then have that thundering fast gallop of a riff come in with Dickinson sounding angry and fierce as hell. You almost feel like you're on a field with those men on horses chasing the Indians away. It almost makes you want to do as the chorus commands, to run for your life to the hills.

The Number of the Beast is probably THE quintessential Iron Maiden track. That is the song anyone looking to be introduced to the band should listen to first, which is what I did so many years ago. It starts off with a dreadfully read passage from Revelations only to be joined in by a fast guitar riff and a sinister melody being sung, followed by a break that has one of the single greatest screams I've ever heard. From there it's everything Iron Maiden: big riffs, thunderous rhythms, lightning quick melodic guitar solos, and the most deadly sounding clean vocals you could ever imagine.

The Number of the Beast while admittedly an offputting title to those who might be a bit more religious is actually not particularly Satanic. It doesn't give a bad message. It's just filled with some of the most well written and revitalized sounding heavy metal to ever be put on tape. Like I said earlier, it's the best album to listen to if you want to delve into Iron Maiden. It has some of their best stuff and will get you off on the right foot for exploring the rest of their catalog. It's one hell of a wild ride from start to finish.

The Number of the Beast, by Iron Maiden receives 3.8 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Invaders
2. Children of the Damned
3. The Prisoner
4. 22 Acacia Avenue
5. The Number of the Beast
6. Run to the Hills
7. Gangland
8. Hallowed Be Thy Name

Buy the album on Amazon:

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Whitesnake's David Coverdale Not to Retire in 2017

Back in April during an interview with Rolling Stone, Whitesnake and former Deep Purple front man David Coverdale (who is now 65) stated that he might retire in 2017 as a way to go out with a bang on the 30th anniversary of the band's 1987 hit Whitesnake/1987. However, it would seem the ever charismatic singer has changed his mind on the whole thing.

In a recent interview with Vorterix Radio, Coverdale goes into detail about how the recent tour for The Purple Album left him feeling revitalized and nowhere close to wanting to hang up his mic and call it a day, saying:

“I made the mistake of saying to a friend of mine, a journalist, ‘This could be an interesting last project for me to finish as I started.’ It was kind of a foolish thing for me to say. My co-producer looked at me like I was fucking crazy. Then we went on an incredibly successful tour, which we’re finishing up editing for spring next year.

When I was mixing The Purple Album I’m going, ‘Man, how long do I have to do this?’ But in essence it’s re-energised me. I was totally honest – I thought, ‘This is probably it.’ But I had an incredibly good time on tour with my musicians. It just makes it more inspiring to look at the future for new stuff with these guys. I have no desire to hang up my rock’n’roll sneakers just yet.”

Somehow I'm not surprised that Coverdale is calling off his retirement for the time being. He still seems rather energetic and youthful despite his somewhat advanced age. In all honesty though, I wonder how many singing years he really has left considering how worn out his voice is at this point. He definitely doesn't have the timbre or range he once had. Don't get me wrong, he still puts on a good show and sounds good on records, but he definitely isn't a spring chicken any more in that department.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Metallica Doesn't Mind Paying Extra for Double Album

Some times when a band has so much material to release, the only option is to go the double album route. Such is the case for Metallica with their upcoming release Hardwired...To Self Destruct. This of course is costing the band extra money - 10 cents per copy. According to front man James Hetfield however, they do not mind biting the bullet and paying the price.

The album will arrive on November 18th in double CD and vinyl format, though the deluxe version of the CD will have a third disc. In an interview with SixxSense Hetfield talks about the length of the album, the fact that it's in double format, and the cost, saying:

“There’s some long stuff on there, and there’s some short stuff and some medium stuff. Metallica gets diverse, and we love that. I think maximum is 75 or 80 minutes, and then the sound quality starts to suffer, on vinyl especially.

I think CD-wise, there’s a max on that too. We want it to sound good – at the end of the day we’ve got a bunch of songs that we love. So that’s what has to happen. For the extra dime it costs to make it a double, we think it’s very worth it.”

I think if Metallica can make the money back from the ten cent cost per album then it's a wise move on their part. They are a big enough name in metal and rock that they could feasibly do it (unless of course a bunch of pirates steal the album). Otherwise it might have been wiser for them to go the Guns N' Roses route and just release two albums on the same day that aren't packaged together. Whatever happens happens, though.

Monday, October 3, 2016

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #91

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. Locomotive Breath, by Jethro Tull

This chugga-chugging rock n' roller from the band lead by a flute playing badass is a classic for a reason. It starts off simple enough and gradually builds up in intensity as more and more instruments come in. One of the things I've always loved about this band though is their ability to keep a song rather intense even in the moments that have flute playing. In fact, some times the flute playing makes it even more awesome.

2.  Working Man, by Rush

This was one of the the first singles to come from the greatest thing to ever come out of Canada (like ever) from the first album Rush back in 1974. It isn't particularly progressive in terms of its writing like many of their later songs, but it's loud, proud, and rocks. You can tell the band is just playing with everything they've got, and this was before they even had Neil Peart playing drums for them.  Crank it up and just groove with it.

3. Dead Again, by Buckcherry

Admittedly this song during the verses has a bit of a Kickstart My Heart vibe to it (which is no surprise considering that Buckcherry is from LA, just like Motley Crue), but I think that's already an awesome song to begin with. They're just kind of taking a similar driving, powerhouse, yet vocally melodic idea but doing their own thing with it. Quite frankly the chorus is actually my favorite part because of how catchy that vocal hook is. 

4. Neon Knights, by Black Sabbath

Fun fact: this Ronnie James Dio sung power anthem is the song I love to absolutely BLAST in my truck whenever I have a first date and I'm on my way to either pick the girl up or meet her somewhere. It's a heavy fast song and the staccato of the power chords just kind of hits me in a way that fills me with the confidence I need in order to be able to do well and not lose my groove when I'm trying to show the young lady a nice time.

5. Rebel Rebel, by David Bowie

Though the same riff cycles over and over through this song, Bowie's magical talent for melody, flow, and engaging lyrics keeps the song the surprisingly hard rocking (for Bowie that is, especially since this was at the tail end of his glam rock Ziggy Stardust phase) tune that it is. Definitely a great song to dance to or if you need a punk rock type theme song as a youngster wanting to rebel (go figure, right?). 


Saturday, October 1, 2016

David Lee Roth: "Help! I Have a Stalker!"

Van Halen front man David Lee Roth seems to be in a bit of a predicament. The charismatic singer has a new stalker that is causing him quite a bit of headache and upset and has reached out to the internet for any help he can receive.

In a recent blog post Roth made he details what is quite an unnerving situation for anyone to be dealing with and asks for advice on what he can do about it, saying:

"Help! I have a stalker. A very real one. 75 stalker phone calls in the last four months. Somebody knows a little bit about tech. They even know how to remove the number out of my phone when they want to. None of the phone numbers show up on my phone bill. Whoever is doing this knows that it’s a felony and he’s hiding. It may be a woman but I’ll characterize it for the sake of the article as a 'he'.

I haven’t pursued it beyond all the normal channels. What can I do? But I certainly invite anyone who speaks tech to weigh in here because it’s pretty rare that just one person does this much obsessive conduct and nobody else knows about it.

Whoever is doing this works somewhere, they eat lunch somewhere, they sleep somewhere and probably with someone. You better be careful. I’m a stranger and look what they did to me. You’re family, you’re familiar. He’ll turn on you with the exact same teeth and the exact same rationalizations they may have used to come after me."

This is not the first time Roth has been stalked, to absolutely no surprise. Considering what a public icon he has been since the late 70's I would be surprised if he had never been stalked before now. Roth goes into further detail about previous stalker experience, saying:

"As it was explained to me by the professionals, these calls are designed to make you terrified, nervous, afraid, upset and ruin your day which is exactly what happened to me during my first stalker experience in 1977.

I went through the phases of anger, fear, denial, etc. Van Halen was instantly successful. We sold 10 million records in weeks. With that success comes trolls and more."

That said, if any of you know anything about this kind of technology it would be pretty rad of you to help the guy out. Nobody (no matter how big headed) deserves to be made that freaked out. I can only imagine just what is going through Roth's head right now because of this. Hopefully the person doing this gets caught and punished soon.