Sunday, August 31, 2014

Pics of Pink Floyd's New Album Master Disc Arise

If you had suspicions that the new Pink Floyd album Endless River may have been a hoax, the band has just released photos that should quell them.

The photos were taken as the master discs arrived where it will be pressed at Quality Sound Pressings in Salina, KS. One of the spokespeople from QSP says, “We’re ecstatic that QRP was chosen to press The Endless River on vinyl and proud that our recent pressing of The Division Bell was so highly received. When we say we press the world’s finest-sounding LPs, we mean it.”

 The Endless River it seems will be a double album. It will be Pink Floyd's first release of brand new material since their 1994 release The Division Bell. It will contain keyboard recordings that were recorded in some of the band's final sessions in the mid-90's by the late Richard Wright, who died in 2008 and was the band's keyboard player.

The album is set to come out this October. Many of the songs will be ambient instrumentals similar to what was on The Division Bell. Knowing the kind of hard work Pink Floyd usually puts into their music, I'm sure it will be something amazing. For the first time in 20 years we will finally get to embark on yet another Pink Floyd adventure.

Friday, August 29, 2014

AC/DC's Upcoming Album Took Only 10 Days to Record

In more recent years many of AC/DC's fans have come to notice that the band takes noticeably long periods of time (at least 5 years) between recording albums. However, apparently that does NOT mean that when they are in the studio things take a long while. In fact, it seems to be quite the opposite.

Even though this is AC/DC's first album without founding member rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young (due to him having health issues), the music according to the band seems to be "stellar" and shows that the band is at full strength. In a recent interview with Australian radio station Triple M drummer Phil Rudd has this to say about the process:

“It was done in 10 days, and I’ve never played better. I hope it’s as good as I remember when I came away from the studio. It’s pretty damn good.”

Rudd seems to be quite impatient with the rest of the process, however. “Usually you master something and wait a couple of weeks, and you go and have a listen to it. They do things a certain way — I think they’re taking too long.”

Be that as it may, I'm sure the wait will be well worth it. After all, we wouldn't want a product that wasn't as good as it could have been just because we were in a big hurry to get it. Hopefully Rudd as well as the rest of the AC/DC fan base will be happy with the end result and will be able to forget about the wait. If the music is said to be that good I'm sure it will be.
“Usually you master something and wait a couple of weeks, and you go and have a listen to it,” he added. “They do things a certain way — I think they’re taking too long.”

Read More: AC/DC's New Album Took 10 Days to Record |
“Usually you master something and wait a couple of weeks, and you go and have a listen to it,” he added. “They do things a certain way — I think they’re taking too long.”

Read More: AC/DC's New Album Took 10 Days to Record |

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Heaven and Hell, by Black Sabbath

In 1979 heavy metal legends Black Sabbath had come nearly to a breaking point. Singer Ozzy Osbourne had delved far too deep into the drugs, alcohol, and partying for the band to keep carrying on as they were. Plus, they felt immense lack of creativity. Sabbath had been working in Los Angeles for nearly 11 months trying to come up with new material and the sessions were not going well to say the least. A lot of it had to do with Osbourne's behavior. Something had to change and quickly; otherwise the band would cease to exist altogether. That being said, Osbourne was booted out.

This left Black Sabbath looking for a new singer. Since the band had garnered such huge notoriety throughout the decade they had their pick. They ended up deciding on former Rainbow singer Ronnie James Dio who had recently left the band due to creative differences. The first day guitarist Tony Iommi and Dio jammed together at Iommi's house, there was instant chemistry and they finished the entire song Children of the Sea. Bassist Geezer Butler initially didn't want to be in the band any more, but he came back to record the whole album with them. Shortly after drummer Bill Ward would quit. The result of the first work with Dio became the album Heaven and Hell. It was released April 25th, 1980 and although old fans were at first apprehensive, the album became Black Sabbath's highest selling album since 1975 album Sabotage.

The album's title track Heaven and Hell is one of the most amazing heavy metal songs I have ever heard. I remember at the time I first listened to it I was a die-hard Ozzy fan, but when I heard that signature riff and then that astounding operatic voice of Ronnie James Dio soar up over the bass line I was stunned. To me it was like Black Sabbath saying that they were back from the dead and could do such better things than they could have ever done before. It's a pretty mid tempo song as many of Black Sabbath's songs are. The lyrical style definitely differs from what they had done before because Dio had taken up primary lyric writing duties (which as a singer he should). Not only is the guitar riff unforgettable, but Iommi does some of his best soloing in this song. To sum it all up, it will leave you with chills and raise the hairs on your arms.

If you really want to hear some of the best work Iommi has ever done solo-wise however, listen to the track Lonely is the Word. It's the album's closing track and gradually fades out near the end. The lyrics are some of the darkest that Dio had done up to that point and you can tell a lot of emotion was put into the singing. It really gives you the feels. However, when it gets to the part of the song where Iommi solos musically you get feels too. It makes it seem as though you are just floating out into the universe all alone like you will keep wandering without seeing a single soul forever.

Heaven and Hell is a metal masterpiece. It proved that Black Sabbath could do just fine without Ozzy Osbourne. You can really tell that the band was rejuvenated with the replacement of Osbourne with Dio. The style of their playing did change slightly but it was for the better. The music got heavier, the lyrics got more dark and creative, and the life of a legendary band was extended. I know that a lot of people will always think that Ozzy is Black Sabbath, but that simply isn't true. Not giving Heaven and Hell a chance is a crime. You're missing out on some great music if you think that way. It's all killer and no filler.

Heaven and Hell, by Black Sabbath receives 5 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Neon Knights
2. Children of the Sea
3. Lady Evil
4. Heaven and Hell
5. Wishing Well
6. Die Young
7. Walk Away
8. Lonely is the Word

Buy the album on Amazon:

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Robert Plant's Next Album May Be His Last

Former Led Zeppelin front man Robert Plant has had a very busy career the past 45 years. He has been around the world singing his balls off to audiences of all kinds. However, in a recent interview with Independent Plant is alluding to the idea that his upcoming album lullaby … And the Ceaseless Roar may be the end to not just his recording career, but his entire career.

Plant says:

“Maybe this new album is the end now for me. Of this musical wanderlust and the wonderful carousel that I’ve been on. It’s like a kaleidoscope: you hold it up to the light, rotate it, and the pieces fall beautifully in different ways, but this record feels different. It’s a consummation of all those bits from Son House to Roni Size to the Gambia and it seems to have some sort of finality.”

lullaby ...And the Ceaseless Roar of course will not go unbacked by a tour. The album comes out September 9th and a short North American tour will kick off on the 25th of the month.

This new album will be Plant's first release of brand new material since 2005. A bit of a stretch, but he was plenty occupied with other projects and activities during that time. The music this time around will have a bit of an edge but with world rhythms and electronic beats. Not exactly what we're all used to hearing from Plant (at least those of us who haven't heard much of his work outside Led Zeppelin), but I'm sure whatever it is will be worth at least one listen; especially if it will be his last album ever.

Hopefully Plant chooses to carry on making music, but if not I can kind of understand. He has been at it a long time and has a respectable catalog and career behind him. Sadly this will probably put the nail in the coffin for a Led Zeppelin reunion, though he has already turned down the idea multiple times recently. Personally, I think if he is going to retire he should do one more Led Zeppelin tour just for old times' sake but that's just me. I know he doesn't want to be a human jukebox and only be doing it to please everyone but himself.

Alice Cooper to Release Concert DVD of 2013 Wacken Performance

Seems that the godfather of shock rock Alice Cooper will soon be releasing a brand new live DVD/CD combo of his August 3, 2013 performance at the annual Wacken Open Air Festival that takes place in Wacken, Germany.

This package of gruesome will be packed with a total of 22 songs, three of which will be covers. In this case he has Break on Through, by The Doors, My Generation, by The Who, and Another Brick in the Wall, by Pink Floyd. A pretty interesting choice in covers if I do say so myself. I've heard him do part of Another Brick in the Wall while blended with School's Out at both the shows I've seen him perform and it worked out surprisingly well. However, I'm more curious to hear his take on Break on Through and My Generation. Those have GOT to be something else.

Portions of the profits from this upcoming package will be going to help fund the Wacken Foundation, an organization that helps fund up and coming heavy metal and hard rock bands. Sounds cool to me because it would be great to see undiscovered talent rise to the stardom they deserve.

Raise the Dead – Live from Wacken Track Listing

1. ‘Hello Hooray’
2. ‘House of Fire’
3. ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy’
4. ‘Under My Wheels’
5. ‘I’ll Bite Your Face Off’
6. ‘Billion Dollar Babies’
7. ‘Caffeine’
8. ‘Department of Youth’
9. ‘Hey Stoopid’
10. ‘Dirty Diamonds’
11. ‘Welcome to My Nightmare’
12. ‘Go to Hell’
13. ‘He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask)’
14. ‘Feed My Frankenstein’
15. ‘Ballad of Dwight Fry’
16. ‘Killer’
17. ‘I Love the Dead’
18. ‘Break on Through’
19. ‘My Generation’
20. ‘I’m Eighteen’
21. ‘Poison’
22. ‘School’s Out’ / ‘Another Brick in the Wall’

Sunday, August 24, 2014

On With the Show! Jack White Sprains Ankle But Continues Touring

As if I didn't have enough reasons to respect blues rock singer/guitarist Jack White already, he just gave me and the rest of the world another one. The other night White severely sprained his ankle, but performed his show at San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium anyway despite this.

White's label Third Man Records was highly against the decision and even wanted him to postpone the rest of his tour. However, White wouldn't have it. He has decided he does not want to let his fans down and will continue with the tour as scheduled.

Third Man Records have even posted a pic of the black and blue on White's foot to their Instagram account:

Hopefully White can make a speedy recovery despite his continued tour activities. I know that standing on stage and being active for two hours every night even without an ankle injury is no easy feat. That being said, much props and get well soon Jack White!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Album Review: Space Invader, by Ace Frehley

Lately former Kiss lead guitarist Ace Frehley has been talking big game about how his new album Space Invader is going to put the current line-up of Kiss to shame and show them and the whole world that he is not a big screw up any more and can blow any replacement of his off the stage. A couple of days ago Space Invader made its debut and is now available to the public. Does it live up to the boasting of its creator? We're going to talk about just that today.

I will say this, it does have Ace Frehley written all over it. The guitar playing is unmistakeably him. While that is a good thing, I do have a few nitpicks. The overall sound of the album is too over-produced for the style of music. A lot of it does sound like classic Kiss, but that's the problem. There is too much shine for what fans are used to. As far as I'm concerned, part of what made Kiss's sound back in their 70's heyday was the fact that to a certain extent it was raw and had a bit more warmth to it. Secondly, I know this is something that Ace can't exactly help but the age in his voice definitely shows through. You wouldn't know the vocals were him unless you knew who it was beforehand.

Gimme a Feeling was the first single put out from the album a couple months before its release. It starts out with a classic Ace guitar riff and solo that we have all heard him do many times, but I think it works. It's the song's way of saying, "Yeah, this is Ace motherf***ing Frehley up in this b****!". It is a mid tempo rocker does sound like something Kiss might have done back in the day. However, I think higher octave vocals like the kind Ace was able to do a long while back would have helped it a bit more. Other than that though, the guitar work is fantastic. It's flashy, it's ballsy, and it's Ace.

Ace did another cover for this album as well. This time around it was Steve Miller Band's The Joker. I was a little dumbfounded when I found this out, but I decided to give it a fair shot. It definitely sounds different from the original and is quite unique. I will give it this, while the vocals don't really astound me, to the song's and Ace's credit the blend of acoustic and electric guitars really does work. Ace really makes this classic his own and really makes it almost an entirely different song (though not in a bad way). However, I do kind of miss some of the whistling sounds that were in the original.

Space Invader is by no means a bad album, but if you want the God's honest truth from me none of the songs really stood out to me. There was no one particular track that really grabbed my attention and made me want to play it on repeat like some Kiss songs have in the past. In my opinion, I think Ace my have bragged about it a little too much. However, it is still worth finding online and listening to a couple times. There is some good guitar work. It's what you would expect from him. Maybe if he had toned down the production a bit things might have worked out a little better. I get the impression that maybe this is one of those albums you have to listen to a few times to really grasp it.

Space Invader, by Ace Frehley receives 3 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Space Invader
2. Gimme a Feeling (Radio Edit)
3. I Wanna Hold You
4. Change
5. Toys
6. Immortal Pleasures
7. Into the Vortex
8. What Every Girl Wants
9. Past the Milky Way
10. Reckless
11. The Joker
12. Starship
13. Space Invader (Radio Edit)
14. Gimme a Feeling

Buy the album on Amazon:

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Machine Head, by Deep Purple

On March 25, 1972 one of the most influential albums in rock and heavy metal history was released out into the world. To this day, many bands and artists cite it as a direct influence and inspiration. This album is Deep Purple's Machine Head. In fact, this same album spawned the very guitar riff that is one of the first that new guitar players in modern times learn that drives music store owners absolutely insane: Smoke on the Water.

The album was recorded during the winter of late 1971 and early 1972 in Montreux, Switzerland. Originally the band intended to do its sessions at the Montreux Casino with a mobile recording studio owned by The Rolling Stones. However, during a Frank Zappa concert at a venue in the casino some less than intelligent concert goer fired off a flare gun into the theater and caused the whole place to be burnt to the ground. From there, Purple had to relocate their base of operations to a theater across town called Pavillion. They got many of the basic tracks for one song recorded before the police were called on them due to noise. After that bit of unpleasantness, the band relocated one last time to an empty hotel called the Grand Hotel. This whole misadventure lead to the idea behind the lyrics to Smoke on the Water.

Smoke on the Water. If you don't know this song even the tiniest bit, you have clearly been living under a giant pile of rocks the past 42 years. Everyone has heard it at least once. It starts off with that catchy riff that finds a way to dig into your brain so it will never get out. Interestingly enough, most people who try to play it do it wrong. As guitarist Ritchie Blackmore has stated in multiple interviews rather than with basic power chords, it's actually done in fourths on the D and G strings of the guitar. However, I digress. It is a pretty mid-tempo kind of song with a really snazzy beat laid down by drummer Ian Paice that is focused primarily on the hi-hat of the drum kit with sparing hits on the snare and bass. It's a pretty basic song with under rated jazzy parts at time. However, it really is a defining song of rock n' roll.

Let's talk about a track a little less known from Machine Head, though. It's one of my personal favorites called Maybe I'm a Leo. It was originally written by the bassist Roger Glover. When presented to the band, they just picked up on the riff he played and made a whole jam/song out of it. It is a somewhat slower and more jazzy song, but has a catchy riff as well. Honestly, that riff gets stuck in my head more than Smoke on the Water. There isn't anything particularly flashy about it, but the way the song progresses melodically while basic is very pleasing and fun to groove along to. Listening to the main parts along with Blackmore's solo feels almost like drinking a very pleasant non-alcoholic beverage, if that makes any sense.

If you want flashy on the other hand, Lazy is right up your alley. This song features a blend of rock, jazz, blues, boogie, and more. Many people consider it an instrumental where the band is just straight up jamming, but the reason I don't is because there is a section where Ian Gillan the vocalist comes in and sings a couple verses before letting the band carry on. It is a very upbeat song and really showcases what Blackmore and keyboardist Jon Lord could do. It is a bit of a long song, but fun to listen to. It does a pretty good job of keeping your attention.

Machine Head is pretty darn fantastic. I've bought it on at least two different formats and even gotten that tribute album ReMachined that came out a couple years ago. Machine Head belongs in the collection of anyone who is a fan of classic rock or metal. It is pretty easy to see why it has become such an influence on so many musicians and as well as why it has become an inspiration for people to pick up guitar in the first place. It features TONS of great tracks besides Smoke on the Water. All killer no filler, as far as I'm concerned.

Machine Head, by Deep Purple receives 5 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Highway Star
2. Maybe I'm a Leo
3. Pictures From Home
4. Never Before
5. Smoke on the Water
6. Lazy
7. Space Truckin'

Buy the album on Amazon:

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Nickelback Sign to New Label and Release New Single

Recently Canadian hard rock band Nickelback got back into the game by releasing the single from their eighth studio album which they hope to release this autumn, a follow-up to 2011 release Right Here, Right Now. This single is titled Edge of a Revolution and it is VERY much full of political connotations.

The band has signed just recently with Republic Records and are looking forward to having a fresh start and being able to make music they feel strongly about. Nickelback front man Chad Kroeger recently made a statement saying:

“We are very excited to be releasing new music for our fans and feel it’s some of our strongest material to date. During the recording process as we looked toward the next chapter, it became clear that Monte, Randy and the entire Republic / Universal team had a shared vision and passion for this project.  Their track record of artist development speaks volumes to their success and we are honored to be partners with them.”

I've listened to Edge of a Revolution myself and I have to say that I definitely like it. Musically it sounds somewhat like older Nickelback but lyrically it is full of brutally honest political lyrics. They definitely aren't hiding their feelings about all of the things going on in the world today. Now I know it's fun to hate on Nickelback, but you should give the song at least one unbiased fair listen. It's worth the few minutes. To be honest, I never understood the Nickelback hate anyway. Seems a bit unwarranted.

Nickelback: Edge of a Revolution Lyric Video

You can buy the single on iTunes here:

Monday, August 18, 2014

Glenn Danzig to Record Elvis Cover EP

It would seem that former Misfits front man and long time solo artist Glenn Danzig is currently in the process of recording an EP full of covers of songs by the late king of rock n' roll Elvis Presley.

The EP will be titled Danzig Sings Elvis and it was announced via Danzig's Facebook page on the 8/17. He also included a photo from the recording sessions to his page as well.

Danzig's message with the photo reads:

"So strange how things happen.Working in studio all this week on
"Danzig sings Elvis" ep & tonight is anniversary of day Elvis died"


Personally, I'm curious to see how this will turn out. Danzig in his big hey-day did have a vocal timbre similar to that of Elvis as well as the late Jim Morrison of The Doors. However, I know he has aged and like any singer who gets to be as old as Danzig his voice is not what it once was. Be that as it may, I kind of want to hear him do the Elvis classic Love Me Tender. It would be so unlike Danzig yet at the same time kind of awesome and maybe a little bit funny. Depending on how well he pulls this off, I would love to hear him do some Doors covers as well.

3 More 70's Bands You May Not Know About

As I said during the previous post of this nature, the 70's had a great deal of amazing rock bands; many of which have unfortunately gone unnoticed by the general public. Today however I have dug up three more of them for you.

1. Trapeze

Before singer/bassist Glenn Hughes became famous in the rock world as a member of Deep Purple he was a member of a three piece funk/boogie rock band called Trapeze where he was the front man.  The band began in 1969 as a five piece, but keyboardist Terry Rowley and vocalist John Jones quit after the first album. From there, the line up of Hughes on bass and vocals, Mel Galley on guitar, and Dave Holland on drums would become the one the band was most known by its fans for. In the line up's initial run of 1970-1973 they put out two astounding albums: Medusa and You Are the Music, We're Just the Band. When Hughes left to join Deep Purple in 1973 the band dissolved, but did get back together with different line-ups except for a few reunions in the late 70's and early 90's. Unfortunately Galley passed away in 2008 leaving any future reunions impossible.

The sound was primarily upbeat blues and funk rock. Every member was very proficient in what they did. It's incredible how Hughes was able to play some of his complex bass lines while also giving vocal performances that you would NOT believe. The man's range was (and still is to this day) incredible. He could get incredibly high but at the same time sing very softly and melodically. They have something for everybody musically. Some upbeat funky dance music, some softer ballad type songs, and some songs that were just straight up rock. Definitely worth checking out.

2. Uriah Heep

Uriah Heep is another band that got its start in the 1960's, but it wasn't until the early 70's when they became noticed and their classic line-up came together. They along with Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, and Led Zeppelin are considered the "Big Four" of early hard rock. Their most played song that you can still hear on classic rock radio from time to time is Easy Livin'. The band is still together to this day, but guitarist Mick Box is the only original member currently left in the band. The others who are still living have gone on to do other things.

Like many other bands of that time period, they had progressive leanings but were mainly focused on making guitar and keyboard blended hard rock. Keyboardist/organist Ken Hensley wrote most if not all of the band's classic material. Their songs pack quite a bit of a punch while still being quite artistic for the time. To top it all off, classic vocalist David Byron had a great vocal range which could also get really high, but really it was the timbre of it that made him special. Unfortunately he passed in the mid-80's. This is a band worth checking out if you are into 70's hard rock and prog rock.

3. New York Dolls

If you're a punk or glam rocker at all you may already know of these guys. However, you don't hear about them too much on the radio or any general media these days so I figure they are still worth mentioning. Anyway, The New York Dolls formed in 1971 and quickly attracted the attention of a manager and people from the music industry. What got them a big break however was an opening spot for Rod Stewart in London. The band would put out two albums with its classic line up, but would dissolve by 1975 due to loss of interest from their record label and their own problems with drugs and alcohol.

The New York Dolls were one of the key influences for the punk movement of the 1970's. Both their loud straight rock sound and outrageous appearance in feminine attire and make up would garner the attention of many up and coming rockers like Motley Crue, Kiss, The Ramones, etc. Lead guitarist Johnny Thunders was a huge influence with his attitude, playing, and appearance. The New York Dolls were one of the first bands to where their appearance was almost as important if not more important than the music itself. However, that doesn't make the tunes any less good.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Gene Simmons Attempts to Clear His Name After Cruel Comment on Depression

It is no secret that lately Kiss bassist and front man Gene Simmons has been drawing much negative attention to himself in the press. Some of it is political, but what really has the public upset is the following comment he made when asked why he does not have a good relationship with former Kiss members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss in an interview with Songfacts:

“I don’t get along with anybody who’s a drug addict and has a dark cloud over their head and sees themselves as a victim. Drug addicts and alcoholics are always: ‘The world is a harsh place.’ My mother was in a concentration camp in Nazi Germany. I don’t want to hear f— all about ‘the world as a harsh place.’ She gets up every day, smells the roses and loves life. For a putz 20-year-old kid to say, ‘I’m depressed. I live in Seattle.’ F– you, then kill yourself.”

Seems a pretty harsh thing for him to say, don't you think? It's easy to say things like that when you personally have never experienced the kind of hell that addicts and victims of depression go through on a daily basis. This comment has caused many radio stations across the nation to start banning Kiss from being played on their stations, which personally I think is a little silly because Gene while being a major representative of the band does not speak for the entire group. Besides, can't you just enjoy the art but hate the artist if that's the way you feel about it? After all, Guns N' Roses front man Axl Rose has said and done some outrageous things over the years but you don't see their music getting banned from the radio.

Back to the topic at hand, though. This comment really got the attention of Motley Crue bassist and chief song writer Nikki Sixx. Sixx, who is a recovering drug addict and victim of depression had this to say on his radio show Sixx Sense:

“To be honest with you, I like Gene but in this situation, I don’t like Gene. I don’t like Gene’s words, because … there is a 20-year-old kid out there who is a Kiss fan and reads this and goes, ‘You know what? He’s right. I should just kill myself.’”

I think Sixx hits the nail right on the head here. Gene Simmons has a huge amount of influence. Therefore, he has a major responsibility regarding said influence. He needs to be careful about what he says because saying something like that could cause one of his fans to do something tragic. Even the loss of one person due to this would be a grave tragedy.

However, after all the public outcry about these comments Gene has come forward with two apologies to take back the comments he made. The first one from his personal Facebook page on 8/15 says this:

"Depression is very serious and very sad when it happens to anyone, especially loved ones.
I have not commented on various allegations made in the media, but I want to make this statement for the record and to clarify.
I deeply support and am empathetic to anyone suffering from any disease, especially depression.
I have never sugarcoated my feelings regarding drug use and alcoholics.
Somewhere along the line, my intentions in speaking very directly and perhaps politically-incorrectly about drug use and alcoholics have been misconstrued as vile commentary on depression.
Unkind statements about depression was certainly never my intention.
And I do not intend to defend myself here and now by listing the myriad charities and self-help organizations I am involved with.
This is not about me. This is about clearing up misconceptions and being clear. My heart goes out to anyone suffering from depression."

Later on he made another apology meant to be more detailed on the same day on the official Kiss Facebook page:

"I want to make this statement about my views on depression for the record and to clarify my prior remarks.

To the extent my comments reported by the media speak of depression, I was wrong and in the spur of the moment made remarks that in hindsight were made without regard for those who truly suffer the struggles of depression. I sincerely apologize to those who were offended by my comments. I recognize that depression is very serious and very sad when it happens to anyone, especially loved ones. I deeply support and am empathetic to anyone suffering from any disease, especially depression.

I have never sugarcoated my feelings regarding drug use and alcoholics. Somewhere along the line, my intention of speaking in very directly and perhaps politically incorrectly about drug use and alcoholics has been misconstrued as vile commentary on depression. Unkind statements about depression was certainly never my intention. Fully, you will know that and I do not intend to defend myself here and now, by listing the myriad charities and self-help organizations I am involved with. Rather, I simply want to be clear that my heart goes out to anyone suffering from depression and I deeply regret any offhand remarks in the heat of an interview that might have suggested otherwise."

To wrap this all up, it seems to me that Gene is just backtracking in order to have positive PR again. He may yet recover, but I don't think anything will ever be quite the same again. After all, how can you say you are empathetic towards those with depression when you make a comment like "For a putz 20-year-old kid to say, ‘I’m depressed. I live in Seattle.’ F– you, then kill yourself.”? Personally, I'm a little surprised that he would say such a thing considering how much he knows about business. Saying stuff like that to the public isn't exactly going to help you sell more albums and merchandise. Be that as it may, I personally will still continue to rock out to Kiss but Gene Simmons will definitely not be one of my favorite people.

What are your thoughts about the whole situation? Leave comments below.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Elf, by Elf

Before world renowned metal singer Ronnie James Dio was singing about rainbows in the dark, Heaven and Hell, or even the man on the silver mountain, he was singing a very different kind of music. Before all that, he sang the blues and straight up rock n' roll in a band that went through many line-up and name changes called Elf. By the time the group finally put out their first full length album titled Elf, the line-up consisted of Ronald Padavona (Ronnie James Dio's real name which was used on the first album in order for the family name to be on an album) on vocals and bass, David Feinstein on guitar, Mickey Lee Soule, on keys, and Gary Driscoll on drums.

Elf was produced by Deep Purple members Ian Paice and Roger Glover when the two of them had seen the band auditioning and found that they liked them very much. Elf had been their opening act on multiple tours so in 1972 Glover and Paice decided to give them a real chance by helping them produce a studio album. From there Elf would go on to produce two more studio albums and much success as an opening band on multiple tours for Deep Purple until they morphed into what became Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow.

Sit Down Honey (Everything Will Be All Right) has to be one of my absolute favorite tracks not just on this album, but by Elf in general. It starts off with a very honky-tonk sounding opening on piano and is soon joined by the rest of the band at a moderate 12 bar blues groove. From there Ronnie's legendary voice comes soaring up over the band, but not in a way many of his fans are used to. His vocals surprisingly suit this style of music very well and add a very nice amount of richness to it. The beauty of Sit Down Honey however is that it doesn't try to be anything more than it is. It is straight upbeat blues that promises nothing less than a good time.

Never More like many of Elf's other songs is piano centered. It is the sad ballad of Elf. This one is almost prog-rock oriented rather than straight up blues. The band does seem to do a bit of experimentation musically. Dio of course makes Never More really sparkle with his vocals and cleverly worded lyrics. Another splendid aspect of the tune is that rather than just piano, Soule also incorporates in some Hammond organ; which adds to the prog-rock element of it. For those who are not fans of overly long experimental songs however, it doesn't go on too long.

Elf is not the most spectacular of Ronnie James Dio's works, but it gives great insight as to where he came from musically. While not overly flashy and majestic, the musicianship is still respectable in many ways. The band sounds tight, the songs while straightforward are creative in their own ways, and the album knows exactly what it is. Elf is a key piece in any Dio fan's collection and is even quite enjoyable for an average listener to pick up and listen to. It isn't very difficult to digest and it is a good time.

Elf, by Elf receives 4 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Hoochie-Koochie Lady
2. First Avenue
3. Never More
4. I'm Coming Back For You
5. Sit Down Honey (Everything Will Be All Right)
6. Dixie Lee Junction
7. Love Me Like a Woman
8. Gambler, Gambler

Buy the album on Amazon:

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Australian Sharks Love AC/DC

In the spirit of Shark Week, I thought I would share with you an interesting shark related rock story. It would seem that recently an under water tour operated in Australia found out that not only people love AC/DC, but sharks in Australia do too.

Tour operator Matt Waller was recently interviewed by Adelaide Now and was asked how he came to this astounding discovery. He says when he asked about how to attract sharks he was told by a couple of different companies that they hear best at 20-1000 hertz. Waller further went on by saying that sharks prefer low frequencies, such as the ones in AC/DC's rocking tunes. When played under water however, the sharks reacted differently. Waller says in a different interview with ABC:

“Their behavior was more investigative, more inquisitive and a lot less aggressive. They actually came past in a couple of occasions when we had the speaker in the water and rubbed their face along the speaker which was really bizarre. Sharks don’t have ears, so it’s more about trying to establish what frequency and vibration in the water that appeals to the sharks. If we can establish what that is it puts us a step to understanding more about this animal.”

People from the scientific community like Dr. Jonathan Werry are a bit more skeptical about the claim saying that sharks are naturally curious so any sound of that nature will draw their attention and cause them to investigate, especially when they have not come into much contact with boats or people.

Whatever the case may be, it's still amusing to find out that Waller claims that sharks like AC/DC songs You Shook Me All Night Long and If You Want Blood (You Got It) more than anything else. If it is true that the sharks love AC/DC, at least they have good taste in music. Maybe if sharks weren't so deadly we could invite them to a concert?

Writer's Moment:

Sorry I haven't posted anything in a few days. My internet was out of whack, so the only way I was able to get online was by going somewhere with wi-fi for a bit. Things seem to be back in order now though, so I will be back on track.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Concert Review: Motley Crue with opener Alice Cooper 8/8/2014

Last night a loud, bright, and flashy rock n' roll spectacle appeared in Tinley Park, IL at the First Midwest Bank Amphitheater. To be fair however, that is putting what happened lightly. The perpetrators of this awesomeness were none other than world renowned bands Alice Cooper and headliner Motley Crue. Currently Motley Crue is embarked on what they are calling The Final Tour. Recently they signed a legal document where if they perform live again after the end of this current tour they will be sued something HUGE. Fortunately however, that does NOT mean they cannot make new music.

The Chicago stop on this tour got started nearly 45 minutes late because so many people just kept filing and filing into the outdoor theater. There was not an empty seat in the place and the lawn was crowded beyond belief. Part way through the show, singer Vince Neil announced that there were a total of 28,000 people at the show. It was a bit insane.

However, when the show did start the spectacles began right away. Alice Cooper and his band took the stage by force, surprisingly opening with an older song, Hello Hooray. Cooper went through many of his well known classics like No More Mr. Nice Guy, School's Out, I'm Eighteen, and of course his popular 80's hit Poison. His stage show was pretty much what you would expect at an Alice Cooper show. A lot of the key elements and features were there, but it was no less fun to watch. He of course had the giant Frankenstein monster walking around the stage during Feed My Frankenstein, threw fake money into the crowd during Billion Dollar Babies, had a flashy hat and popped balloons during School's Out, and of course had his head chopped off by a guillotine near the end of the show.

It was nice to see Alice make space for some of his especially older songs in such a short set. I was pleasantly surprised to hear his band do my personal favorite Alice Cooper tune Under My Wheels. I will says this, even though they are pretty much hired guns the Alice Cooper band definitely has stage chemistry and they showed it quite frequently throughout the performance. Joining them this time around was a new lead guitarist Nita Strauss, formerly of The Iron Maidens, an all female Iron Maiden tribute band. She definitely had some wicked fast guitar chops and got the chance to showcase them time and time again. Overall I was quite impressed with what I both saw and heard. Alice's voice was in top form and there was never a dull moment in terms of visuals.

After Alice Cooper played for about an hour however, it was time for the main event of the evening to begin. At around 9 pm the song So Long, Farewell came on over the loud speakers. Everyone stood up and cheered where Motley Crue then took the stage and wasted no time by blasting right into Saints of Los Angeles, the title track from their most recent album put out back in 2008. The show consisted mainly of widely radio played songs from the Crue but they made sure to include a few gems from their first album that only hardcore fans of the band would know such as On With the Show, Too Fast For Love,  and Live Wire. Of course songs from Dr. Feelgood like S.O.S., Kickstart My Heart, Without You, Dr. Feelgood, and Don't Go Away Mad.

The stage show for itself was absolutely unbelievable. I will do my best to describe it with words, but really it's something you have to see for yourself to fully comprehend. There was this HUGE upside down pentagram hanging from the rafters of the stage. It was filled with all kinds of lights that got used in different ways throughout the show. Secondly, there were platforms on the sides of the stage that a performer could walk onto and it could be raised and lowered at whatever time. The backdrop of the stage was fairly elaborate. It looked almost like a building in some respects. There were windows where the back-up dancers/singers could go behind where the crowd could see their silhouettes as they danced.

Let's talk visual effects. Pyrotechnics up the wazoo. They had fireworks set in time to many of the songs, but it was cool when Crue would be wrapping up a song and each time they would hit a chord a blast would go off in time with it. The visual arrangements of the fireworks were also really well done. A firework would go off on the left, then another on the right, then another big blast in the middle. The best of the pyrotechnics however was Nikki Sixx's flamethrower. He had the nozzle hooked to the bottom of his bass and would just fire it at will at a few points throughout the show. It was FANTASTIC. The inner trouble maker in me squealed with delight at the sight of such massive fire.

One of the major climaxes of the show however was the drum solo. Not because of Tommy Lee's drumming chops (though they were pretty excellent), but because of what happened during the solo. Tommy's drum set as well as Tommy himself tightly strapped down to a platform that turned Tommy upside down and back up again. This platform was set on a roller coaster track that went out into the audience. While Tommy is risking his life like this he is just throwing himself at his drum kit in time to a few different electronic hip hop sounding songs. I was honestly a little concerned for his safety, but not too much because I was sure that they had gone through many safety precautions and tests beforehand.

The performers were on top of their game. As I said earlier, Vince sounded great especially considering his age. He definitely no longer looked like the Adonis he once was but that didn't particularly matter. He gave 110% and that is all that counts. Mick Mars's age definitely was showing as he was stationary a lot of the time, but that didn't stop him from tearing up every last riff and solo like a boss. He looked like a ghoul or skeleton, but he actually made that work to his advantage. His guitar solo was a bit unusual, but I liked it. There was a little bit of shredding, but most of it was him making as many creative sounds with a guitar as he could for a few minutes. I was quite impressed to be honest.

Tommy was definitely the most energetic of the bunch. You would never guess he is 51 because he could beat the hell out of his drums and when not on the kit jumped around and shouted out to the audience as though he were still a teenager. Nikki was all dolled up like it was still 1987. He really did. He looked good for his age and threw himself into everything he did. Plus, whenever he got on the mic to talk to the audience he was very charismatic.

Even though the stage show was one of the primary aspects, the band itself sounded really tight and well rehearsed. No one missed a single note and the music was able to back up every last bit of visual flamboyancy. They were able to walk the walk in addition to talking the talk. There honestly are not a whole lot of bands left that can do that. Personally, I'm surprised they did as much of their first album as they did. Even throwing in Too Young to Fall in Love from the second was a nice surprise. The only song they didn't play that I REALLY wanted to hear was Public Enemy #1. I didn't have high hopes for it, but it is my favorite Motley Crue song so I had to hope a little.

During the show a couple of other interesting things happened. At one point Nikki took the mic and told all 28,000 of us to sit down, which we did. From there he told us the abridged version of the story of how Motley Crue began back in 1981. The way he told it was filled with so much enthusiasm and attitude that I could not help but be hooked on his every word. Unfortunately some a**hole sitting next to me at one point shouted, "Shut the f*** up and play some f***ing music!" after which he and a couple people sitting next to him laughed. I wanted to say something, but I figured it wasn't worth it.

The coolest thing was the encore. The band performed Home Sweet Home, but did so on a raised platform in the middle of the crowd. I along with several other people who had gotten cheap seats rushed up to it without a moment's hesitation to get up close and personal with the Crue. It was one of the most surreal experiences of my life to be that close to the band, especially Nikki considering he is a hero of mine. I was able to look each of them in the eye while they played. That is an experience that no matter how old I get I will never forget and take to my grave with me.

I am honestly so thankful that I got the chance to be a part of history. I got to attend Motley Crue's very last Chicago performance. I heard almost every song I wanted to hear and got to see way more than I had anticipated. They had everything from fire, to sexy backing dancers/singers, to lights, to other spectacles all while playing some real rock n' roll. Motley Crue definitely put their hearts into this performance. It was definitely an appropriate way for them to say goodbye. I would expect nothing less from such a band than to go out with a bang.

Motley Crue and Alice Cooper both receive 5 out of 5 stars.

Alice Cooper setlist Tinley Park 8/8/2014:

Hello Hooray (Judy Collins cover)
No More Mr. Nice Guy
Under My Wheels
I'm Eighteen
Billion Dollar Babies
Dirty Diamonds
Welcome to My Nightmare
Feed My Frankenstein
Ballad of Dwight Fry
Killer (partial)
I Love the Dead (excerpt)
School's Out

Motley Crue setlist Tinley Park 8/8/2014:

Saints of Los Angeles
Wild Side
Primal Scream
Same Ol' Situation (S.O.S.)
Looks That Kill
On With the Show
Too Fast for Love
Smokin' in the Boys' Room (Brownsville Station cover) (With "Rock and Roll (Part 2)
Without You
Mutherfucker of the Year
Anarchy in the U.K. (Sex Pistols cover)
T.N.T. (Terror 'N Tinseltown)
Dr. Feelgood
In the Beginning /Shout at the Devil
Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)
Drum Solo
Guitar Solo
Live Wire
Too Young to Fall in Love
Girls, Girls, Girls
Kickstart My Heart

Home Sweet Home

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Elephant, by The White Stripes

In the early 2000's, raw bluesy garage rock was beginning to make a rather large comeback. One of the bands at the forefront of this movement was none other than the dynamic duo that was The White Stripes, which was comprised of singer/guitarist Jack White and his wife/ex-wife (though at the time they were pretending to be siblings) drummer/keyboardist/vocalist Meg White. Having put out three well received albums already by 2002, the band was looking to keep the momentum going and get even further. This lead them to produce one of the absolute greatest albums of their career: Elephant.

Elephant was recorded in only two weeks at Toe Rag Studios in London during April of 2002. Jack White made many bold moves during the process by not only producing the album himself but also recording on an 8-track tape machine and using equipment made before the 1960's. This ended up giving the album a much more raw and vintage feel, which worked to the band's advantage because upon release it was very well received by critics and fans alike when released on April 1st, 2003. Its rawness combined with Jack White's profound lyrics gave many people exactly what they were looking for.

Now anyone who knows The White Stripes knows I would not be able to get away with reviewing Elephant without discussing this particular track. It's one that continues to get tons of radio airplay even to this day and even has people not so much into the band rocking out. This song is Seven Nation Army. I have to say, for being such a simple repetitive tune it is surprisingly catchy. It starts off with a VERY low tuned guitar riff that cycles through all the verses of the song. All it is is Jack cycling down the E-minor pentatonic scale. Then, Meg comes in with a stomping drum rhythm. These elements combined while simple create something ghostly and at times powerful. White's unique falsettos definitely contribute to that vibe as well.

This next track is one I feel gets overlooked far too much and I feel it's a shame. Ball and a Biscuit in my opinion is the best track on Elephant because it really shows Jack getting back to his traditional blues roots. While simple and straightforward, the song also features Jack just noodling around and making the most he possibly can out of a 12 bar pattern. Plus, even though he isn't actually singing in the song he really brings back a lot of classical blues lyrical elements such as being a seventh son of a seventh son and cocaine; elements that artists like Willie Dixon would use. The solos and jam sessions in the middle and end of the song are absolutely fantastic. Jack really shows what he can do and does NOT hold back. In a way it also reminds me of The Lemon Song, by Led Zeppelin but it is still very much its own song.

Overall I am extremely impressed with Elephant. I had always been a bit skeptical about listening to The White Stripes because I figured they were just another popular alternative band. However, when I kept hearing and reading about what a good blues guitarist Jack White was I figured I would give the band's best known album a listen. It is definitely highly acclaimed for good reason. I was blown away by the raw bluesiness of it along with the honesty of the lyrics. Plus, the album explores some other genres as well and Meg gets to show off her vocal and keyboard chops at a couple points. I would have loved to have reviewed the album track by track so I could go into all of them, but unfortunately I have no time to do that and I doubt you want to read all that. Anyway, if you haven't bought this album you should. It's worth every penny.

Elephant, by The White Stripes receives 5 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Seven Nation Army
2. Black Math
3. There's No Home For You Here
4. I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself
5. In the Cold, Cold Night
6. I Want to Be the Boy to Warm Your Mother's Heart
7. You've Got Her in Your Pocket
8. Ball and a Biscuit
9. The Hardest Button to Button
10. Little Acorns
11. Hypnotize
12. The Air Near My Fingers
13. Girl, You Have No Faith in Medicine
14. Well It's True That We Love One Another

Buy the album on Amazon:

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Nikki Sixx's Sixx AM Debuts New Single 'Gotta Get It Right'

While 80's hair metal gods Motley Crue are currently on their last tour ever this summer, this has not stopped bassist and songwriter Nikki Sixx from finishing a new album with his side project Sixx AM. Joining him in the band is guitarist DJ Ashba of Guns N' Roses and singer and songwriter James Michael. Early this morning, the band released the upcoming album's debut single Gotta Get It Right.

The album will be titled Modern Vintage and will be arriving in stores and available for download on October 7th. Ashba says in a recent press release, “Gotta Get it Right is a great example of how Sixx: A.M. has set out to celebrate the music that has influenced us over the years. We truly feel we’ve made a genre defying album with Modern Vintage.”

Judging by what I've heard from the single so far I can kind of hear such older influences. Gotta Get It Right does have the kind of old school rock feel that would have influenced them back in the 70's. Its swing rhythm is something that just isn't heard in a whole lot of modern music these days. The basic chord patterns also work for the song in this case.

However, I can appreciate the way they still made Gotta Get It Right sound like it was made in the present. I will admit that such an approach took me a few listens to catch onto, but now I'm hooked and stoked for the full album. If the rest of the album is anything like this song, Modern Vintage would probably be a very apt title.

The official music video for Gotta Get It Right will be premiering tomorrow (August 6th) on Vevo. Keep watch on YouTube for that because knowing the kinds of imagery these guys are into it ought to be quite a spectacle.

Gotta Get It Right, by Sixx AM

Monday, August 4, 2014

Swedish Bluegrass Band Steve n' Seagulls is Back with Cover of AC/DC's 'Thunderstruck'

They're at it again! Swedish bluegrass band Steve n' Seagulls has produced yet another hoedown version of a classic hard rock song. In the past these guys have done tunes from Slayer, Iron Maiden, and even pop artists like Michael Jackson. This time around it's Australian monsters of rock AC/DC's classic stadium anthem Thunderstruck.

Steve n' Seagulls definitely captured the tune in their own unique way. They didn't in any way try to copy off of AC/DC, which is what makes it great. Instead of the over the top screaming kind of vocals that AC/DC vocalist Brian Johnson is known for they put in a more melodic vocal tone and even did some great down home harmonies.

The banjo playing is absolutely FANTASTIC. The banjo player absolutely nails the signature lick played throughout the majority of the song and still gets it to sound like it is still true bluegrass.

Overall I have to say I'm impressed. I knew these guys were good. I've seen some stuff they have done in the past. However, being a long time AC/DC fan I think they did this classic some serious justice. It's definitely worth listening to.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

New Queen Album to Include Duets Between Freddie Mercury and Michael Jackson

Not long ago, legendary rock band Queen announced that they would be working on and releasing a new album with songs done with the late Freddie Mercury on vocals. Many of the songs on the album will be big ballads from the 80's that the band never released.

Recently however, it was announced by NME that two of the songs on the album would be duets Mercury did with King of Pop Michael Jackson back in the early to mid 80's. The songs are apparently just demos because unfortunately the collaboration never came to fruition.

The first song State of Shock was eventually redone by Jackson and Rolling Stones vocalist Mick Jagger for The Jacksons 1982 album Victory. Mercury on the other hand did his own version of the other song There Must Be More to Life Than This for his 1985 solo album Mr. Bad Guy.

These two songs are no secret to fans of both Mercury and Jackson, though. MP3's of the collaborations have been floating around the internet for years and anyone tech savvy enough has in some way or another managed to get a hold of them. I have heard them both and find them pretty good. There Must Be More to Life Than This is a true gem and it's a shame it never went anywhere till now.

The album will be called Queen Forever and it will be the band's second posthumous project using vocal recordings from Mercury since their 1995 release Made in Heaven. Guitarist Brian May has also stated that the possibility exists that brand new material featuring current touring vocalist Adam Lambert may also be featured on the record, but nothing is for certain yet. I personally hope it's true because Queen with Lambert was absolutely phenomenal in concert.

YouTube links to both songs are below:

There Must Be More to Life Than This

State of Shock

Friday, August 1, 2014

Vivian Campbell Announces His Cancer is Gone Once Again

After a second prognosis of remission of his cancer, Def Leppard and former Whitesnake and Dio guitarist Vivian Campbell is feeling quite optimistic, though he understands he is not out of the woods just yet.

In a recent post on Facebook, Campbell said, “I’m currently in Boston and I did a scan on Tuesday morning. The scan shows that the cancer is in remission. Great news, but I’m trying not to get too excited about it, as I heard that same phrase late last year — only to be disappointed again a few months after when it returned.”

Cambell had his first remission prognosis for his Hodgkin's lymphoma fall of last year. He is still undergoing chemo along with other forms of cancer treatment once he concludes the tour Def Leppard is currently doing with Kiss.

Campbell continued his statement by saying, “The plan is to do a stem-cell transplant as soon as the tour is finished. However, to keep me in remission, my doctors have recommended that I do another, third round of the chemo, so I’m back in hospital, all hooked up and doing my rock ‘n’ roll drugs. Keef would be most proud!”

It looks like Campbell is taking a fairly healthy approach to his treatment. It can't be easy to be in his shoes, even with the cancer in remission. All we can do now is hope for the best for this guitar shredding legend.