Friday, November 28, 2014

Ozzy Osbourne Contemplates Knighthood

Ozzy Osbourne has accomplished many astounding things in his life. Considering some of his antics and habits it's amazing that he has done/achieved even half of them. However, he is now mulling over one particular honor that still eludes him: knighthood. Osbourne was recently asked about it when an online campaign to get Osbourne knighted was mentioned in an interview with Time Out Dubai. Osbourne says:

“I’ve heard about that. Getting knighted? I can’t imagine anything better. And my wife would become a Lady, which would be pretty cool. But I’m not gonna get upset if it doesn’t happen. I never thought I’d get further than [my childhood hometown of] Aston.”

Even if Osbourne doesn't achieve knighthood (which I personally doubt he will, as much as I am a fan of his), he still has many wonderful things going on in his life currently, such as having reunited with Black Sabbath a few years back. From there he has recorded a new album with them (13) and gone on tour with them. Due to the success of that the band will be doing one more album and one more tour.

I still think that the idea of "Sir Ozzy" would be a weird thing to have come off of one's tongue. He may be a decent guy these days but somehow I don't see him fitting the bill of knight. If anything, he has spent most of his life doing the exact opposite things that would constitute proper behavior for one. However, crazier things have happened so it's not entirely out of the realm of possibility.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

AC/DC Drummer Phil Rudd Behaves Poorly at First Court Appearance

Think of what you consider a pretty exciting day that you might have. Well whatever it may be, it is NOTHING compared to AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd's day on November 25th. Things began with an arrest warrant and drew to a close with a near car accident. Your day definitely pales by comparison, doesn't it?

According to The Guardian Rudd was supposed to appear in court at 9 AM that day for charges of drug possession and threatening to kill a man. However, he missed that appointment. When that happened, the judge issued a warrant for his arrest. Luckily for Rudd, he managed to slide right into the doors of the court house half an hour before the warrant could take effect.

It doesn't end there, though.

During Rudd's hearing, he offered no plea toward any of the charges raised against him. From there, he was informed that the case would then be taken to district court. When this decree was issued, Rudd decided to jump a security guard's back, after which he then gave the bird to photographers while leaving the building. After that, Rudd took things a step further by just barely avoiding hitting a truck while reversing his car onto its path while out on the road.

Now I'm as much a fan of rock n' roll antics as the next guy, but I think Rudd needs to dial things down several notches if he is going to get through this court case. However, I get the impression that he intends to do no such thing. Rudd seems to have gotten to a point where he gives absolutely ZERO f***s about laws, propriety, and what people think of him. Admirable to a certain extent, but his recklessness may possibly cost him his life.

Monday, November 24, 2014

AC/DC Release Music Video for "Rock or Bust" and Stream Whole Album on iTunes

AC/DC are about to put out their 17th studio album Rock or Bust next week (December 2nd). To get their fans warmed up and psyched for it they have released a music video for the title track Rock or Bust.

Unfortunately, two founding members are not featured in the video. Rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young has retired due to dementia and has been replaced by his nephew Stevie Young. Drummer Phil Rudd is currently being stood in for by Bob Richards due to drug possession and death threat charges.

This video doesn't seem too different from any of AC/DC's other music videos. Then again, when you're someone like AC/DC all you need is the band doing what they do best (rocking your socks off) for an audience. Any other form of imagery would be excessive, distracting, and quite unnecessary as far as I'm concerned.

If you would like to listen to the rest of the Rock or Bust album it is currently streaming temporarily on iTunes. It will be released to the general public for sale on December 2nd. AC/DC does plan to tour with their current line-up in support of Rock or Bust starting next year.

Rock or Bust, by AC/DC

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #2

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. Cities on Flame With Rock n' Roll, by Blue Oyster Cult

 Most people who know of this song these days discovered it through the video game Guitar Hero III back in 2007. However, it is a tune from Blue Oyster Cult's 1972 debut album Blue Oyster Cult. The guitar work on this track is of course fantastic. Through both the music itself and the lyrics to a certain extent I really do get a picture of standing on top of a building in a city in the middle of the night just shredding on a guitar with fire behind me. It is a great musical manifestation of true rock n' roll rebellion.

2. Come On, by Whitesnake

I'm well aware that most of you only know of Whitesnake as the 80's hair metal band that did the famous radio hit Here I Go Again, but this wasn't always their identity. Whitesnake actually got their start back in 1978 as a bluesy/R&B type rock n' roll band when singer David Coverdale was forming a brand new project after the collapse of his former band Deep Purple two years prior. Coverdale decided to get back to his basic musical roots and from the ashes arose some EXTREMELY under rated rock music. This song Come On was one of the first songs the band did and was released on the Snakebite EP in 1978. It is a very uplifting and fun rock tune. It being a Whitesnake song, love is very much the theme of it but it isn't all soft and girly either. It's always put me back in a good mood whenever the weight of the world was getting me down and I bet it can do the same for you.

3. When the Levee Breaks, by Led Zeppelin

This is one of Led Zeppelin's more basic blues based songs, though oddly enough it came on their Physical Graffiti album; which is quite some time after they had changed their direction to more of a straight rock sound rather than their original heavy blues one that had been heard on their first couple of albums. There is some absolutely wailing harmonica that really makes the tune for me in addition to guitarist Jimmy Page's slide guitar work. The pace of the song is fairly slow, but the rhythm still thunders throughout the entirety of the track. If you want a tune that will make you air drum, you've come to the right place.

4. Hit the Road Jack, by Ray Charles

Now I know this isn't exactly a rock n' roll song by any stretch of the imagination, but Ray Charles did have a lot of influence on people who would go on to make such music. Quite frankly, if you don't know this song I would say you have been living under a road your whole life. Then again, knowing today's youth and their crap music I wouldn't be surprised if many of them didn't. The chord progression is pretty basic blues/jazz, but what was done with it was phenomenal. The singing is so soulful and passionate. You can really feel like that woman wants that dirty no good scumbag out of her house and to never come back. This is one of the few songs I would actually consider dancing to.

5. Into the Void, by Black Sabbath

For those of you who like something a bit heavier than Mr. Charles, Black Sabbath has you covered with their song Into the Void from their 1971 album Master of Reality. If you ask me, this was one of the first true long epic heavy metal songs besides a couple of Black Sabbath's earlier tracks. Sadly, this song doesn't get as much recognition as I think it should; though they do still play it at their live shows to this day. It starts off heavy, dark, and slow while set in a very minor key. Things then kick up a couple notches with the verse riff and the tempo picks up. In general this song has a lot of variety to it. It doesn't stay in one mood for too long. Guitarist Tony Iommi really shines on this track with his creativity and overall guitar chops. Singer Ozzy Osbourne's singing really does make you feel like you're traveling through space. I wouldn't say this is a moshing song, but it will definitely get your head moving and your horns raised.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Former Guns N' Roses Drummer Steven Adler Turns New Corner With Sobriety

Former Guns N' Roses drummer Steven Adler has always been notorious for his excessive partying and over-use of drugs. His habits and addictions were the direct cause of him being fired from the band in 1990 when he could no longer function effectively as a musician or person. However, recently Adler has made significant progress battling his addictions and has been sober for over 9 months now.

In an interview with Lucas H. Gordan Adler said:

“Right now, I’m just taking care of myself. I’ve been having these problems with alcohol, and right now I’m just taking care of it. I have a nice program I’m working, and I’m looking forward to having one year [of sobriety]. Right now, I’ve got nine months and eighteen days.”

In 2012 Adler got a new band together and released an album called Back From the Dead. However, he couldn't stay off the drugs and alcohol and had to check back into rehab; causing him to have to cancel a summer tour in 2013. In 2008 Adler was also arrested at a sober-living home in possession of heroin and has been through two seasons of the TV program Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew. All of these incidents were discussed his autobiography My Appetite for Destruction: Sex, and Drugs and Guns N’ Roses, released in 2010.

Adler is feeling very positive about the coming year. He says, “I’m gonna start working and getting the band back together. I’m taking care of [my addiction] — cutting it off at the neck. I’m looking forward to going out and playing again … It’s just been very exciting. Having a new life is exciting.”

I personally hope that for his sake Adler can stay off of all that bad stuff. Those kinds of hard drugs and alcoholism are horrible stuff to begin with, but I can only imagine how badly they have been wrecking him up at his age [49]. I can't imagine him being able to bounce back as well as he did when he was in his heyday with Guns N' Roses.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Paranoid, by Black Sabbath

In September of 1970, one of the most influential albums in the history of heavy metal was released out into the world. From here on out many bands would try to copy the riffs and general style of its dark, doom-ish, heavy music because in a way a template was put into place. The bar was raised and now a new standard existed. This album was Paranoid, by heavy metal fathers Black Sabbath. This would be their second album and would act as a near immediate follow-up to their successful debut release Black Sabbath.

Paranoid topped the UK charts for multiple weeks. It featured quite a few of Black Sabbath's most notable songs such as: Paranoid, Iron Man, War Pigs, etc. I personally don't know a single heavy metal guitarist who at some point or another has not at least attempted to cover one of these songs. Paranoid is probably one of the most covered heavy metal songs of all time from my experience. However, this is for good reason. At that point in time, there had never been music so loud, heavy, dark, thunderous, howling, etc.

Paranoid was originally not going to be on the album. The only reason it exists is because they needed to fill in a three minute gap in the record. That being said, in about half an hour they came up with one of the most memorable songs in rock history. The opening riff is pretty iconic. A couple of held out chords filled in with a simple lick and then the whole band comes in with a chugging rhythm that almost seems like a freight train. Surprisingly for as catchy as a song as Paranoid is, there is no chorus. Just a few verses and a couple interludes. The album would later be renamed after the song because the record company felt that the original title War Pigs would be too offensive. The funniest part about this whole song is that while recording his vocals, Ozzy Osbourne was reading the lyrics right off of the sheet!

Hand of Doom is one of my personal favorites from Paranoid. Geezer Butler's bass line has such a fantastic relaxed groove to it throughout the intro and the majority of the verses until the dynamics of the song kick up a few notches. The rest of the tune has a real swing rhythm (proving drummer Bill Ward's versatility) to it and features many of guitarist Tony Iommi's jazzy dark guitar solos. The lyrics as written by Butler discuss U.S. soldiers arriving in Britain at the time the record was being put together. These soldiers were arriving from the Vietnam War and were doing many hard drugs in order to forget or deal with all of the horrors and atrocities they had faced during their time there. The music does quite well to fit the subject matter, to be honest.

Often copied but never duplicated, Paranoid to this day is one of the greatest heavy metal albums ever put to tape. Many well known bands and artists cite this album as the reason for getting into music and heavy metal in the first place. Can you imagine what it would be like if there was a world with no Iron Man in it? I shudder at the thought of that too. Let us never entertain such a horrid notion ever again. However, I digress. There isn't a single bad or filler track (not even the title track) on Paranoid. Every track in some way or another serves a purpose; even the chill jazzy tune Planet Caravan that seems to throw many people off when they listen to the album. If you haven't already, go out and buy the record. What are you waiting for?!

Paranoid, by Black Sabbath receives 5 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. War Pigs
2. Paranoid
3. Planet Caravan
4. Iron Man
5. Electric Funeral
6. Hand of Doom
7. Rat Salad
8. Fairies Wear Boots

Buy the album on Amazon:

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

AC/DC Respond to Gene Simmons's Comment "Rock is Dead"

As if there weren't a vast number of people who disagree with Kiss front man Gene Simmons's statement about rock being dead, another major player has tacked their name to the list: AC/DC.

Singer Brian Johnson and lead guitarist Angus Young were recently interviewed by Ultimate Classic Rock, during which they were asked about the state of rock n' roll. During this part of the interview they were asked about their views on Simmons's comment.

Johnson says:

“With all respect to the lad, I think he’s terribly wrong for a start. I really do. I don’t think anybody should have the nerve to stand there and just say that a certain genre of music has just ff—- disappeared overnight…Well, I’m here to tell you, Gene, you’re wrong. And I’m saying it’s alive and kicking. My name’s Brian. How do you do?”

Young added:

“It’s been a long, long, long funeral” — he says just as he was about to go into a bit of wisdom for up and coming bands “If they think they’ve really got something,” he said. “They ought to stick with it…When people find their direction and…they finally kind of define what they are as a band, then they should hang on to that.”

I have to agree with Johnson's comments. Rock hasn't just vanished over night. It would be quite strange if it had, to be honest. Granted, it isn't what it was 30 years ago any more but that just means that the bands that are making their way today are doing it for the actual love of the music and not just trying to be pretty boys getting rich and famous just to have it all.

AC/DC's upcoming album Rock Or Bust will be hitting shelves and the internet on December 2nd.

You can watch this part of the interview below:

Monday, November 17, 2014

Early Axl Rose Recordings with Former Band Rapidfire Now Available For Sale

Before forming world renowned rock band Guns N' Roses, singer Axl Rose was in another band not too long after he'd arrived in Los Angeles, CA in 1983. This was a band known as Rapidfire, and they managed to get a 5 song EP recorded during their brief tenure together. Now for the first time in over 30 years the EP is available to the public for sale.

Small bits and pieces of the contents of this EP have popped up from time to time on the internet, but usually they are taken down fairly quickly thanks to Rose and his ever so vigilant legal team. According to Loudwire Rapidfire guitarist Kevin Lawrence was asked by the legal team to remove one of the clips from YouTube even though Lawrence owned the copyright to everything Rapidfire related.

In the months leading up to the release of the Rapidfire EP, Lawrence said, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead man. Oh, and I can’t wait for the 500-page illegal harassment of a cease and desist. Snore .. zzz … zzz. Heard of interference of business and SLAPP suits? I own the copyrights, the masters, the photos, the performances and I have the receipt that I paid for it all … LOL … open and shut.”

Looks like Lawrence has all of his ducks in a row. Seems this time Rose won't be able to get his way in court.

That being said, let's get down to the music itself. What does it sound like? To me it reminds me of a blend of Judas Priest and AC/DC stylistically. You can definitely tell that Rose is still developing his vocal style. At this point in time he wasn't really doing much in the way of the higher ranged stuff he would become later known for. Most of his stuff is in a middle to lower range for him. There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of variety between the songs, but that doesn't make them any less fun to listen to. All in all, it isn't the greatest rock n' roll record you'll ever hear, but it's only $5 and it is a cool piece of history.

You can buy the EP here:

To learn more about Rapidfire, go to their Facebook page.

Sample of Ready to Rumble, by Rapidfire:

5 Tracks for the Week #1

I've decided to try incorporating another weekly feature in Young Ears, Fresh Perspective in addition to the Throwback Thursday posts. For the time being I want to make a post on Sundays that have five song suggestions for you to give a try over the course of the week to help you make it through. Some will be well known songs, some not so much. We'll see how well this works out.

1. Since You've Been Gone, by Rainbow

When guitarist Ritchie Blackmore parted ways with vocalist Ronnie James Dio in 1979, he wanted a singer that would take Rainbow in a more commercial rock direction. Replacing him was Graham Bonnet, who at the time was more known for doing soul/R&B type music. No song better encompasses what this era of the band sounded like than the main single that brought them the success they wanted Since You've Been Gone. It is a cover of Russ Ballard but done far better in my opinion. The opening riff is iconic and still gets the tune radio airplay today. It's upbeat, catchy, melodic, and fairly relatable lyrically. It's fun, jaunty, and will have you singing along to its chorus in no time.

2. I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself, by The White Stripes

This song of saddening heartbreak is another cover song (originally by Burt Bacharach). What was originally a soft Motown tune is amped up and rocked out by Jack and Meg White. Oddly enough, while the volume and heaviness is raised up by a noticeable amount, the soulfulness of Jack's voice still keeps the focus on I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself's soul oriented origins. Fans of the original version might not be too fond of this, but I still feel that the band did it justice and did a fantastic job of taking a song and making it completely their own while still staying true to the original.

3. R.I.P. (Rock in Peace), by AC/DC

If you're looking for straight up bluesy hard rock, look no further. You've come to the right place. R.I.P. (Rock in Peace) is a straight up 12 bar blues song, but with lots of distortion, heavy drums, and howling vocals. This was originally on the Australian release of the album Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. It wasn't until 2009 that it saw release in the rest of the world on the compilation Backtracks, which featured other such rarities and gems that never saw the light of day in other parts of the world outside Australia. It's loud, it's simple, and it's fun. It's everything you want in a mid-70's AC/DC tune and more.

4. Pressure and Time, by Rival Sons

Rival Sons are a newer band formed back in 2008 in Long Beach, California. Though they are a newer band, they still sound like they came out of the early to mid-70's. However, what sets them apart from all of the other bands trying to go for a nostalgic feel is that they aren't trying to copy off of anyone. They really do have their own style and way of doing things that make them an honest and relevant band. Pressure and Time, the single from their second album Pressure and Time really gives you an instantaneous feel for what the band is about. It exemplifies all the skills and qualities that each of its members possess. It's an upper-mid tempo rocker that you can really jump and headbang to. I can't encourage you enough to give these guys a try.

5. Here Comes the Sun, by The Beatles

For those of you who like things a bit lighter, here is some Beatles for you. Here Comes the Sun is one of George Harrison's best tunes as far as I'm concerned. A lot of times I don't feel that he got enough time in the limelight. Harrison's songs are much better than some of the extra songs that were slapped on some of the records. Here Comes the Sun makes a very nice use of a capo on an acoustic guitar. The higher sounding chords and arpeggios really give the song the more positive and happy vibe he was most likely aiming for while writing it.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Angus Young on Phil Rudd: He's Not the Same Guy He Used to Be

AC/DC has been in the news quite a lot lately due to their drummer Phil Rudd being charged with possession of cannabis and meth, making threats, and attempting to procure murder of two different people. Though the murder charges have been dropped, he is still facing a possible seven year sentence for the remaining charges. The rest of his band was quiet about the whole situation until just now. Founding member and lead guitarist Angus Young has issued statements on how he feels about his band mate and the situation in general.

Young said in an interview with USA Today:

"It put us in a difficult situation. It put us in a spot where we couldn't move forward. Does the guy show up? Is he reliable to do his job in good shape? We've always been a solid, reliable unit."

This definitely is nothing new to rock n' roll, although you would think by this point in AC/DC's career they would have gotten past anything of that nature considering how old they all are at this juncture. Young went further into detail on his feelings on Rudd and his situation saying:

"Phil created his own situation. It's a hard thing to say about the guy. He's a great drummer, and he's done a lot of stuff for us. But he seems to have let himself go. He's not the Phil we've known from the past. When you get into that land, it's very hard. I don't know the exact situation. I can only say, from our perspective, that the guy needs to sort himself out."

 It can't be easy to see a long time friend and brother do such a thing to himself. I can only imagine the strife it has put AC/DC and Rudd's family through. Hopefully Rudd can get his crap together, but if he does land a jail sentence he will most likely have earned it and gotten what is coming to him. That isn't a nice thing to say about someone, but as I've said before when you get dirty deeds done dirt cheap you still pay the price.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Throwback Thursday: The First Punk Band: For the Whole World to See, by Death

Bands like The Ramones and The Sex Pistols like to claim that they were the first punk groups in the 1970's. However, before either of those bands there was another band with such a sound and attitude. Three African-American brothers from Detroit Bobby Hackney, David Hackney, and Dannis Hackney in 1971 formed their own band in their mother's upstairs room called Death. Their sound featured many of the kinds of attributes that punk music as we know it would use as their basic standard for years to come. Most of the songs were fairly short, loud, aggressive, and featured much social and political commentary.

Needless to say, Death had a hard time gaining any real steam due to their radical name. Many people at the time (and even to this day) would not buy records from a group named Death. However, at one point in 1975 the band did record seven of their songs at United Sound Studios with engineer Jim Vitti. Columbia Records president Clive Davis funded the sessions, but when Death refused to change the name of their group, he ceased his support. Death ended up keeping all the master tapes and self-released a single of their songs Politicians in My Eyes/Keep on Knockin'. When the band had made no progress by 1977, they disbanded. 32 years later however, Drag City Records rediscovered Death and released all seven of their songs on an album titled For the Whole World to See. Though founding guitarist David Hackney was dead, they replaced him with Bobbie Duncan and began touring and recording new music again.

The track Keep on Knockin' is one of the best choices they could have made in terms of album openers. It is upbeat, has a catchy lead guitar melody, and gives off the very attitude the band had back at that time. It does sound a little more rock n' roll than punk, but still easily fits into the punk rock category. When you think of the idea of a punk song you can jump around and dance to while having a good time, this is what would come to mind. In a way it almost reminds me of the kinds of underground indie rock that I hear today when I go into hipster cafes.

Freakin' Out is far more straight up punk than Keep on Knockin'. The chord progression and rhythm used to play it set the standard for almost every single band in the punk movement to follow. The lyrics on the other hand sound more like they are out of an acid trip and belong in hippie music or a Black Sabbath song, though none of the members of the band were drug users at that time. From my personal understanding of the lyrics, they talk about things not always being what you think they may be and doubting yourself in terms of your perception of reality. Be that as it may, it is still another fast paced punk rocking good time.

It really is an honest shame that Death never got anywhere when they first got started. They could have changed the course of musical history quite drastically. For the Whole World to See is short for an album, but in this case I will cut the band some slack given the circumstances. They were originally going to record 12 tunes before their funding got cut. I wish I could have heard the other songs they were planning to do, though if they haven't already I'm sure they will release them. That being said, give this album a listen. It's worth a listen. It is a golden piece of music history. For the Whole World to See is pure punk rock and is a fun time while also giving you some food for thought.

For the Whole World to See, by Death receives 4.5 out 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Keep on Knockin'
2. Rock n' Roll Victim
3. Let the World Turn
4. You're a Prisoner
5. Freakin' Out
6. Where Do We Go From Here?
7. Politicians in My Eyes

Buy the album on Amazon:

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

AC/DC Releases Music Video for Single "Play Ball"

AC/DC have now released the official video for their single Play Ball from their upcoming album Rock or Bust. You can watch it above.

The video doesn't seem to be anything particularly special, but then again it doesn't need to be when it's AC/DC. All that matters is the loud rocking music. The clips are just of the band playing in between various sports and women scantily clad. Sounds about the norm for these guys, doesn't it? When you're known for being loud, rocking, and a bit obscene for 40 years you can pretty much get away with this kind of thing. If anything, it's kind of expected and anything else would just be a letdown.

Naturally original rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young is missing from the video due to his illness (dementia) causing him to retire. Replacing him on the album and in this video is his nephew Steven Young. Original drummer Phil Rudd is also missing due to what the band is publicly calling a "family emergency".

However, although the band has not made an official statement on the issue yet, they will be carrying on without Rudd because of his recent criminal publicity involving him trying to procure murder, making threats, and possession of meth.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Led Zeppelin Update: Robert Plant's Publicist Denies Contract Tearing Incident

It was made public recently that Virgin tycoon Richard Branson offered former Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant a whopping sum of £500 Million ($800 million) to reform the band and do a 35 date tour. It was also made public that he tore up the contract in front of a number of stunned promoters. Plant's publicist has stepped forward however to quell such rumors.

According to the Guardian on 11/10 while it is true that Plant turned down the offer, he did not tear up the contract. The publicist said that the whole story was just "rubbish", which by the way was the full extent of his quote.

One source also said to the Guardian that, “They have tried to talk him round but there is no chance. His mind is made up, and that’s that.”

Apparently Branson was also willing to rename his private jet The Starship to fly the band to all of the dates that would have been on the tour had Plant agreed to do so.

While tearing up the contract in front of all those promoters would have been awesome had the story been true, I still feel that Plant made the right decision for him regardless. Money should never be a factor in whether or not a band gets back together in any way, shape, or form. Artistry and good vibes should come before cash any day of the week.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Robert Plant Rejects £500 Million Offer to Reform Led Zeppelin

It is no secret that recently former Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant has publicly expressed his lack of desire to do anything regarding his former band. Though he has been asked again and again about it, he has stuck to his guns on the issue. Recently however, Plant has done this in a way that really takes the cake: He turned down a £500 million offer to do 35 concert dates from Virgin tycoon Richard Branson.

If you think that such an offer is obscene, just wait till you hear how he did it. In front of a group of flabbergasted promoters, he tore up the contract into shreds. I can only imagine that all of their jaws must have gone through the floor and then some. Plant's share of the money that former band mates Jimmy Page  and John Paul Jones had already agreed to would have been £190 million before taxes. That would certainly be enough to have you, your kids, and even your grand kids set for life.

According to the Daily Mirror, Plant says that his reasoning for his actions are because it "wasn’t the right thing to do". That being said, it is more than likely that these concerts will not be going forward despite the fact that the other two remaining founding members had singed on to do them. Led Zeppelin without Robert Plant just wouldn't be Robert Plant after all.

I can't say I blame Plant for his decision. He keeps saying over and over again to the press that he doesn't want to go backward because it wouldn't do much for him as an artist. In his own way he is trying to remain relevant in the fact that he keeps going forward artistically and doing what he wants to do rather than just sticking in one part of his career as so many of his peers have seemed to do over the years.

Top 5 Early Non-Radio Songs by Queen

Queen has been putting out some of the best rock n' roll since the early 70's. They have had hit after hit after hit and become a world renowned sensation even to this day. You can turn on any classic rock/oldies station and you're guaranteed to hear quite a few of their songs. However, aside from the all the success those songs gave them, there are a great deal of mostly unknown treasures in their vault. Believe it or not, many of their early songs are hard rock and borderline heavy metal unlike the pop numbers that brought them commercial success. Below are 5 of what I feel are some of their best relatively unknown songs (in no particular order).

1. Ogre Battle

Good god is Ogre Battle from the album Queen II one of the heaviest songs I have ever heard from Queen. The high harmonized vocals that bring the song in are insane, but then the guitar riff that follows is unlike anything you would expect from a band that put out songs like Radio Gaga, The Invisible Man, I'm Going Slightly Mad, etc. It's thick, heavy, fast, and builds up to even more operatic vocals. The song isn't structured like a pop song at all. In fact, during this time period Queen was more prog rock than pop; though much of what they did was very melodic (especially in this song). That being said, Ogre Battle is worth at least one listen. It's loud, it's heavy, and still very much Queen.

2. Seven Seas of Rhye

There are two version of this song, but the one on Queen II is the version that is brought to full fruition and chocked full of Queen glory. This is a song about a fantasy world that singer Freddie Mercury and his sister played pretend in together when they were children. The fast piano riff is the focal point of the song, but guitarist Brian May does some absolutely fantastic harmonized guitar work as well. It is a very upbeat and driven song that almost has a bit of a galloping rhythm to it. Even today Queen does still play at least part of this song in their concerts with Adam Lambert on vocals.

3. Stone Cold Crazy

This song from the album Sheer Heart Attack has been covered by countless heavy metal bands including Metallica. To me it sounds like the very beginnings of thrash metal. Many bands since then have used similar riff patterns to make their songs. Unlike most Queen songs (even early ones), rather than focusing on being melodic, this song is rock for the sake of rock. Oddly enough however, the verses almost sound like swing in a way. May absolutely goes to town in this song and you can tell he is really into what he is doing. Heavy riffs, thunderous drums, fast solos.... What more can you ask for?

4. Liar

This song from the album Queen in a way is almost very reminiscent of their influence from bands like The Who and Led Zeppelin. There just seems to be that groove and vibe that those groups would give off in the intro and bridges. The first verse feels like it has almost a church music kind of vibe with the primary instrument being organ underneath Mercury's vocals. This song is an even better example of Queen's prog rock roots than Ogre Battle however because it has even less of a pop rock structure. In a way it's almost like a suite. It moves from part to part and many of them are distinctly different in musical style from one another. However, there is a very much loud hard rock vibe to almost the entire thing. It is quite creative and in my opinion one of the crown jewels of Queen's first album.

5. Flick of the Wrist

Another track from Sheer Heart Attack, it shows the beginnings of Queen's more operatic style that would be developed further in their fourth album A Night at the Opera. In a way, one could say that you can hear the beginnings of Bohemian Rhapsody in this track. There is a very prevalent nuance of classical music in the vocal melodies, though much of the song is still very much rock n' roll. What separates this track from Bohemian Rhapsody however is that the aforementioned song is very much an opera while this still has very definite pop song structure.

What are some of your favorite Queen songs that don't really get much in the way of any airplay on the radio? Feel free to comment them below!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Van Halen, by Van Halen

In 1978, a band from Pasadena, California appeared on the mainstream rock scene that would change how people make rock and metal forever and would inspire an entire generation of shredders. This was a band known as Van Halen. Guitarist Eddie Van Halen's guitar techniques (primarily his tapping) while not entirely original at the time were still brought to a whole other level by him. At that time no one had ever heard anything quite like it and were quite rightfully stunned by his astounding chops.

On February 10, 1978 Van Halen put out their self-titled debut album Van Halen. Though its initial reception was quite negative, it quickly shot up to number 19 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. After all, since when do critics ever know a thing? It contains many of the band's most notable tracks, such as: Runnin' With the Devil, Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love, Eruption, and their cover of You Really Got Me, by The Kinks amongst others. Although many of their hit singles would come later on, this is the one album that Van Halen fans always gravitate toward.

Eruption is the one track that blew people's minds more than anything else from Van Halen. It's only a couple of minutes long and just guitar with a bit of drums for accentuation, but it is one of the single most iconic guitar pieces in history. No one had ever heard anything like it. My dad told me that when he first heard it he thought it was just a synthesizer because a guitar couldn't possibly make those kinds of sounds. It is some of the quickest most melodic tapping anyone has ever done. Many shredders of the 80's and beyond would come to use this song as a learning piece to get their start from.

Runnin' With the Devil is a fun song to crank at top volume. The odd synth-like sound at the beginning was actually horns were of the band’s cars mounted in a box and powered by two car batteries with a foot switch. Their producer Ted Templeman lowed the horns down before adding them to the track. The track itself is very bass heavy. After the car horn intro, bassist Michael Anthony comes in with this fat bass line that sounds almost like Godzilla is stomping through a city. The guitar riffs sound nearly heavy metal-like in nature, but still have a very prevalent pop rock kind of vibe to the overall tone. It features some of Eddie's more melodic solos in between certain parts of the song.

Van Halen really does not have a single bad track on it. Even the songs that are not Van Halen's big hits still have catchy vocal hooks and blistering guitar solos. It is one of those albums that can be appreciated by both musicians and non-musicians alike because it features something for everybody at some point or another. In a way, Van Halen is the definition of energetic and youthfulness. Just by putting this album on you can feel like you're back in high school with your car windows rolled down, the stereo cranked, and blasting down the highway.

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

Track List:

1. Runnin' With the Devil
2. Eruption
3. You Really Got Me
4. Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love
5. I'm the One
6. Jamie's Cryin'
7. Atomic Punk
8. Feel Your Love Tonight
9. Little Dreamer
10. Ice Cream Man
11. On Fire

Buy the album on Amazon:

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

AC/DC Drummer Phil Rudd Charged in New Zealand for Drugs and Procuring Murder

It would seem that drummer Phil Rudd of AC/DC has recently been caught in some dirty deeds of his own. Drugs, threats, and murder.

According to The Guardian, Rudd's home was raided the morning of October 30th on the north island of New Zealand and was ordered to appear in court after having been charged with possession of cannabis and methamphetamines, threatening to kill, and procuring murder.

Rudd chose not to apply for his name to be suppressed from the press. As terms of his bail, he is not to have contact with anyone related to the case of him procuring murder and he must stay in Tauranga, New Zealand.

Currently Rudd is not talking to anyone in the press, according to the New Zealand Herald. Apparently Rudd has also been absent recently for much of AC/DC's promotional material for their upcoming album Rock or Bust, which will be released on the 28th of this month. Many of the members had been covering up for him. Singer Brian Johnson said to the public it was a "family emergency".

It's really sad when someone takes the rock n' roll life style too far like this. I can only imagine that this incident will really put a wrench in the works of AC/DC putting out their new album. Then again, this wouldn't be the first time they have replaced Rudd and carried on anyway. I really wonder what was going through Rudd's head when he was in the process of doing all of this. These are some serious charges. When you try to go out and get dirty deeds done dirt cheap for real you WILL fall flat on your face and you WILL pay the price, regardless of whether or not you are in one of the biggest bands in the world.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Top Drum Intros in Rock and Metal

Rhythm Magazine recently released a list of the top 10 drum intros in rock and metal. Number one was Hot For Teacher, by Van Halen. There are some pretty respectable tunes in the list, but I can't say I entirely agree with it altogether. I can think of some songs that deserve spots waaaay more than some of the ones in this list. Before I make my list, below is the results of the poll the magazine took to form their list:

Rhythm Magazine 10 Greatest Ever Drum Intros Poll Results:

1. Hot for Teacher, by Van Halen
2. The Spirit of Radio, by Rush
3. You Could Be Mine, by Guns N’ Roses
4. Rock and Roll, by Led Zeppelin
5. A Song for the Dead, by Queens of the Stone Age
6. When the Levee Breaks, by Led Zeppelin
7. Painkiller, by Judas Priest
8. Smells Like Teen Spirit, by Nirvana
9. My Hero, by Foo Fighters
10. Where Eagles Dare, by Iron Maiden

My 10 Greatest Ever Drum Intros:

1. Stargazer, by Rainbow. Drummer: Cozy Powell
2. Over the Mountain, by Ozzy Osbourne. Drummer: Lee Kerslake
3. Painkiller, by Judas Priest. Drummer: Scott Travis
4. Rock and Roll, by Led Zeppelin. Drummer: John Bonham
5. Mr. Brownstone, by Guns N' Roses. Drummer: Steven Adler
6. Hot For Teacher, by Van Halen. Drummer: Alex Van Halen
7. Pictures of Home, by Deep Purple. Drummer: Ian Paice
8. Strutter, by Kiss. Drummer: Peter Criss
9. Welcome to the Family, by Avenged Sevenfold. Drummer: Mike Portnoy
10. Open My Eyes, by Rival Sons. Drummer: Michael Miley

I do have my reasons for putting my list in the order it's in. I feel that some songs while more flashy and proficient haven't quite reached the iconic status as some of the ones listed above them. However, this is all just my personal opinion. That being said, feel free to disagree with me and post some of your favorite drum intros!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Former Megadeth Members Form New Band!

Thrash metal pioneer band Megadeth has been notorious amongst their fans for having many musicians come and go through their ranks since the band's inception back in 1983. That being said, three of its former members: lead guitarist Chris Poland, drummer Nick Menza, and bassist James Lomenzo have joined forces for a new project.

Lomenzo and Menza started working together earlier this year on a Metallica tribute, but have now added Poland to their ranks. Menza's website says:

“Chris, best known for his work on Megadeth’s first two albums, has been confirmed as lead axeman for the as-yet unnamed project. Poland already has six heavy original songs in the can that we can start working on.”

The three of them have never worked together before in any incarnations of Megadeth, but are still excited to do so now. They plan to release an EP early next year.

This sounds like it will be pretty exciting. Chris Poland was Megadeth's original lead guitarist and I have to say his work is pretty phenomenal. I can understand front man Dave Mustaine wanting to branch out a bit, but he was a perfect fit for the band (though I will admit Marty Friedman in the early 90's was an excellent choice as well). Hopefully they put out some tasty new metal tracks for us all to enjoy.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Duff McKagan Not Ruling Out Chance of Recording with Guns N' Roses Again

Within the past year former Guns N' Roses bassist Duff McKagan has been seen touring with his old band for the first time in about two decades; filling in for official bassist Tommy Stintson while he has had other obligations to attend to. These mini-reunions while temporary have definitely done well for the old fans of the band.

During an interview on the Blairing Out With Eric Blair Show McKagan has stated that he has certainly had a good time playing the shows with his former band mate (singer Axl Rose). McKagan was asked if he would consider ever recording with the current line-up of Guns N' Roses to which he responded:

“I never say never to anything, actually, these days. I’ve kind of learned, you never know what’s around the corner. All that aside, I’m just glad he and I were able to get together and talk about some stuff and then laugh about a lot of other s— that happened.”

This definitely wouldn't be the first time a former GN'R band member has reunited with Rose to record. Former rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin is rumored to have also written and recorded a song titled Down By the Ocean which has yet to be released.

Either way, it would be great for Duff to bring back some of that element of punk that the original line-up had. It might end up making some of the new Guns N' Roses music sound closer to the material that the old fans have been accustomed to.