Thursday, April 30, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Born Again, by Black Sabbath

In 1982 heavy metal godfathers Black Sabbath were between a rock and a hard place once again. The band was in need of a new singer once again as Ozzy Osbourne replacement Ronnie James Dio had just left the band due to internal problems that had arisen during the mixing process of their first live album Live Evil. Not sure where to go or what to do, guitarist Tony Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler got a hold of former Deep Purple singer Ian Gillan to see if he wanted to start a project with them. Gillan agreed. Though they originally meant the project to be called something else, the record label coerced the group into releasing what would be the album Born Again in 1983 under the Black Sabbath name. In a way it makes sense because original drummer Bill Ward rejoined the band to record the album.

Born Again features a distinctly darker sound than any of Black Sabbath's previous albums; especially in tracks like Disturbing the Priest, Zero the Hero, Born Again. The production unfortunately is a bit muddy but the recent remaster did clean some of it up. Unfortunately the original tapes have been lost. Be all that as it may, Born Again does feature some of Iommi's darkest most haunting riffs and solos. The instrumental tracks like The Dark and Stone Henge are the creepiest songs you could listen to at night. Gillan does some clever lyrics and provides some absolutely fantastic screams. This album really was a match made in Heaven.

Disturbing the Priest is one of my absolute favorite heavy metal tracks of all time. It has everything: powerful riffs, spooky atmosphere that gets you looking over your shoulder at night, powerful screams to accentuate certain musical moments, well written lyrics, etc. Just be careful if you have headphones on or have your stereo turned up. After listening to the soft instrumental track Stonehenge that leads into the song the shock of this loud crashing song coming in will jolt you right up and possibly make you piss your pants. I kind of think Black Sabbath did that on purpose. I thoroughly enjoy it every time I listen to Born Again.

The title track Born Again is the real gem of the album. What is a bit remarkable is that the title track and best track of the album is a softer track; something you wouldn't think would happen on a Black Sabbath record. However, it's true. It's slow, atmospheric, and beautiful. Iommi's solos in this track are what I imagine it would be like if the electric guitar were brought into a fairy tale. Gillan's melodic and harmonized screams also add to the track's beauty. Naturally his melodic voice does well too. You can kind of feel the pain he is trying to convey through his lyrics and the way he sings them. Geezer Butler's bass effects really do add to the atmosphere and overall mood of the song. It would be lacking without them.

If you can get past the absolutely ugly album cover then you're in for one hell of a heavy metal treat. Despite what I said about Gillan's high screams most of the singing actually is melodic. The creepy atmosphere is something you don't find on a whole lot of records. Born Again is a highly under rated album that seems to have been lost to the ages because of the circumstances of its release. However, some of Black Sabbath's absolute best songs are on there; you just have to put it on and have a listen to find out for yourself. It's a shame that this line-up only lasted for one album and tour. Then again, many of Black Sabbath's line-ups post Ozzy seem to be that way.

Born Again, by Black Sabbath receives 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Trashed
2. Stonehenge
3. Disturbing the Priest
4. The Dark
5. Zero the Hero
6. Digital Bitch
7. Born Again
8. Hot Line
9. Keep It Warm

Buy the album on Amazon:

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Former GN'R Bassist Duff McKagan to Release EP With Former Bandmate Izzy Stradlin'


Fans of Guns N' Roses rejoice! On May 12th former GN'R bassist Duff McKagan will be putting out a three song EP along with his new book How to Be a Man.

This new EP will feature some fairly big names, like former GN'R rhythm guitarist and song writer Izzy Stradlin, Alice in Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell, and Stone Sour drummer Roy Mayorga. This will be McKagan's first release since his band Loaded's 2012 release Walking Papers. Also it will be his first entirely solo release under just his own name since his 1999 release Beautiful Disease.

Last month McKagan and Stradlin' were said to have made a new track together in the studio, with McKagan reporting it was "super kickass". No word yet as to whether or not the track will be on the EP, but it is more than likely that it will.

Stradlin' and McKagan have worked together in brief stints over the years for some of Stradlin's solo works like a song or two. This will be the first time Stradlin' will have appeared on any of McKagan's works outside of Guns N' Roses. I'm personally looking forward to seeing these two do more work together. Stradlin' is a brilliant song writer (he wrote most of Guns N' Roses's songs) and McKagan has a punk rock spirit that always shines through in his music. Who knows? Maybe they can get Slash in on the action at some point?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Alice Cooper on Rebirth of Vinyl

It's no secret that in the past few years vinyl records have made a remarkably huge comeback. Sales have gone up tremendously and kids are buying more rock than ever according to ICM Unlimited. Shock rocker Alice Cooper says this is all because kids are sick of "buying air".

In an interview with WGRD, Cooper says:

"Last year, vinyl went up 85%. And the kids, I think they're tired of buying air. They don't get anything with it. I think this generation is rebelling against the technology thing. I sign more records than I do CDs anymore."

ICM Unlimited's research is showing that 41% of the subjects included bought rock albums. The biggest increase in terms of demographic was in the 18-24 year old range; a 14% jump since 2013.
Cooper furthers his point by talking about how buying a record is like buying and owning and actual "piece" of the band.

 Cooper says:

"We were in a golden age where you'd go to a record store and buy records. And when you bought the records, you owned a piece of Motley Crue, you'd own a piece of Alice Cooper."

Cooper does have a point about owning a "piece" of a band when you actually buy their records. When you buy/illegally download a mp3 file all you have is a bit of data on a hard drive that has no substance to it and can easily be lost and forgotten within a short span of time. With vinyl records and even CD's however, you are buying a piece of the band's legacy and history. You are part of something bigger than what was just a trip to your local shop.

Plus, the vinyl craze is a great way to combat piracy. You can't illegally download a tangible object. You can't replicate that warmth and crackle. I still think this is a passing trend that will sooner or later die out, but in the mean time it is a great time to be a music fan. I personally will be enjoying the ride until the end.

Monday, April 27, 2015

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #23

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week is a feature I run on Young Ears, Fresh Perspective on Sundays/early hours of Monday morning where I pick out 5 tunes that I think are notable and tell you a bit about them. The point is to give you some rocking music to help you deal with your weekday blues. You can either listen to one each day, listen to them all at once, or any other combination that you feel. As long as you can get through the week without the man getting you down, that's all I care about. Without further ado, here are the 5 tracks I've picked out for this week:

 1. Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, by Graham Bonnet

Before joining Rainbow in 1979, singer Graham Bonnet put out a self titled solo record Graham Bonnet that featured not only some soulful original material, but great covers as well such as Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, by The Shirelles. Bonnet took this soothing 50's pop classic and made it into his own late 70's dance masterpiece. Though the strings have been replaced with guitar, the song remains as melodic and pleasing as ever. Plus, the amount of passion and power Bonnet put into his vocals really do make the track come alive.

2. Lucille, by Little Richard

Lucille is an early rock n' roll classic. Not only does Little Richard kill it on vocals but he really knows how to play a mean piano as well. In a way it's one of the songs that acts as a foundation and template for many songs in the genre that would come well after its release. Even if all that stuff isn't your bag an average listener can appreciate the kind of upbeat boogie it has to it. Some of the best dance tunes really did come out of the 1950's. It's simple, fun, and right to the point. Some times that's all you need.

3. You Really Got Me, by The Kinks

Many people have their own views on where the punk rock genre came from. Some say it started with The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, The New York Dolls, Iggy and the Stooges, etc. Personally I believe it got started with bands like The Kinks and The Who in the early to mid 1960's. You Really Got Me lays down a lot of the musical groundwork that punk would derive itself from later on. It's got big simple power chords with punchy overdrive to back them up. Plus, the rebellious attitude adds that much more to the idea of being a forerunner to punk.

4. Boom Boom (Out Go the Lights), by Pat Travers

This song falls under the musical category I like to call "tough guy blues rock". Boom Boom (Out Go the Lights) exemplifies it perfectly. It's the kind of song I imagine muscular dudes like to listen to while working out or whatever. Either way, it's got some solid blues guitar licks in it. However, its iconic chorus is what sets it apart. Plus, it is a great way to get a crowd pumped up and participating at a concert.

5. Headless Cross, by Black Sabbath

The 26th anniversary of the album this track came from actually came a couple of days ago. It really is one of Black Sabbath's more under rated works. On this track in particular vocalist Tony Martin absolutely wails and puts some real cajones into what he is doing. However, there are also more melodic moments where he shows he can do more than just be loud. Overall the song builds up a mystical and almost spooky atmosphere while Tony Iommi brings his trademark big riffs and iconic solos into the mix. It just goes to show that Black Sabbath can exist quite fine without Ozzy Osbourne.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Van Halen Didn't "Photoshop" Their Live Album, Says Eddie


Over the past few decades it has become quite a common practice in the music industry to fix mistakes in the studio made by the artist in a live performance when working on making a live album. Some times whole performances are entirely rerecorded; like for Judas Priest's 1979 album Unleashed in the East where all of Rob Halford's vocals were entirely done in a studio due to equipment failure. However, with Van Halen's recent release Tokyo Dome Live in Concert the band decided to keep everything as it was heard that night; warts and all.

In a recent interview with Guitar World, Eddie Van Halen says:

“There are mistakes. After it was mixed I listened to a few parts and went, ‘Okay, I fucked that up.’ But that’s how it sounded that night so we just left it. It’s like a photograph of that evening and we didn’t Photoshop it. When you fix parts or mistakes, it’s not a real live experience any more.”

Eddie has expressed great disdain for when bands over edit and redo things to their albums; creating an unauthentic live experience just so that they can pick up some more cash. A major disappointment to Eddie was Cream's Wheels of Fire album, saying “That ruined it for me. I thought it was one performance.” Rainbow did the same thing in 1977 with their On Stage album. At least when Guns N' Roses did that with their Live Era '87-'93 album they were straight up honest about it.

As for whether or not a new Van Halen studio album is in the foreseeable future, Eddie says “We don’t ever plan that far ahead. That’s how the live album came about. The best things aren’t planned far in advance – we like to keep it loose."

While some aspects of the Tokyo Dome Live in Concert album may have been a bit rough around the edges I at least respect the band for giving us the real authentic Van Halen concert experience. It's a refreshing change of pace compared to so many bands who redo almost everything in the studio when producing a live album. Props to you guys, Van Halen. You just earned more of my respect.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Abbey Road, by The Beatles

By 1969 The Beatles had built a tremendous legacy with their slew of legendary albums. However, due to a myriad of stressful factors that created a great deal of internal tension the band was on the verge of total collapse. The members were fighting with one another and their management kept getting in the way of a great deal of things going as smoothly as they should have. A year later and they would be no more. However, before that happened they put out one of the most fan favored albums they ever created: Abbey Road.

Abbey Road was the last album to feature that cheery upbeat kind of jaunty acid trip music the Fab Four had been famed for making, as their next album Let It Be was considered to be more of a funeral march. In a way, some fans refer to Abbey Road as the last true Beatles album. Abbey Road featured hits such as Maxwell's Silver Hammer, Oh! Darling, Something, Here Comes the Sun, Carry That Weight, and Come Together. The Beatles' proficient progressive musicianship had truly come to a pinnacle at this point in time. Everything is melodic, warm, and passionate.

Come Together is the best known tune from Abbey Road. It's been covered to death by countless famous bands like Aerosmith. The smooth melodic bass line is iconic. Nothing is more instantly recognizable than it. The lyrics are probably some of the most tripped out ones I've heard from The Beatles except for maybe I Am the Walrus. Then again, that was kind of John Lennon's thing. He is the only one I know of who could get away with making such nonsense so famous and highly regarded. Props to him for that.

Oh! Darling is definitely one of the crown jewels of Abbey Road. Paul McCartney reportedly sang this song balls to the wall every day for a week before he finally recorded it because he wanted the vocals to have the worn down tired feel of someone who has been shouting and crying themselves to death for a week to them. It really comes through on the recording. In this swaying bluesy pop rock number you can really feel the angst and pain McCartney wanted to get across. Besides his clever lyrics and song writing, one thing you can truly praise Sir Paul for is his honesty.

Despite all of the in-fighting and tension going on this album really does feature some of the best music The Beatles ever composed and recorded. I guess when you can put aside all of the drama for just long enough to focus on what really matters no amount of loathing of one's partners can get in the way of a true masterpiece coming to life. That being said, Abbey Road is an essential piece of any Beatles and general rock n' roll or pop aficionado. Every track fills you with this warm presence that makes you feel you're on this fantastic journey where everything will be just great. You don't even need to be stoned to feel that way.

Abbey Road, by The Beatles receives 5 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Come Together
2. Something
3. Maxwell's Silver Hammer
4. Oh! Darling
5. Octopus's Garden
6. I Want You (She's So Heavy)
7. Here Comes the Sun
8. Because
9. You Never Give Me Your Money
10. Sun King
11. Mean Mr. Mustard
12. Polythene Pam
13. She Came in Through the Bathroom Window
14. Golden Slumbers
15. Carry That Weight
16. The End
17. Her Majesty

Buy the album on Amazon:

Santana Aim For 'World Domination' Says Neil Schon


It looks like the original line-up of Santana is rearing and ready to go for some world domination according to Journey and Santana guitarist Neil Schon. Recently original members Carlos Santana, Neil Schon, Greg Rolie, Michael Carabello, and Michael Shrieve reunited after four decades to do new material and possibly a tour.

Schon has said the following things via Facebook:

“We are wrapping up Santana IV this week. Sounds amazing!

“This record is going to take over the world. I hope management gets it together for us to tour – I will tour with Carlos either way.

“It’s way too happening not to. World domination once again.”

Schon seems to want to take the reunion as far as it can possibly go; especially since he has stated recently that there is little chance of a new Journey album due to keyboardist Jonathan Cain not wanting to have any part of something like that. Carlos himself said Schon had “chased him like a guided missile” to make the reunion take place. Shrieve said back in February "The results are beautiful. It’s like putting on a pair of old jeans."

To be honest, this does have a little bit of a cash grab vibe to it, but at the same time if their hearts are really in it and they are enjoying it then I have no problem with it. It will be pretty fantastic to hear what these guys can cook up together after all this time they spent apart from one another.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Yoko Ono Refers to Ringo Starr as "Most Influential Beatle"

Over the years, wife of Beatles front man John Lennon Yoko Ono has received a lot of flack from fans of the Fab Four for being what many consider to be the end of the band. Her avant garde vocal and musical style isn't very highly regarded either. That being said, I can't imagine many people would take her seriously when recently in an interview with Rolling Stone she called drummer Ringo Starr "the most influential Beatle".

Ono says on the subject of Starr's consistent starrdom:

“John would go up and down and all that, but Ringo was always just very gentle [...] He just sort of embodies peace and love.”

Ono was beyond happy for Starr finally being inducted as a solo artist into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame, saying “It means so much to all of us in the Beatle family. It would have been better if George [Harrison] and John were here, too."

Ono certainly felt it took long enough for Starr's induction to happen. "For some reason John got it, then George got it, then Paul [McCartney] got it, so why didn’t they think about Ringo? ”

I do kind of have to agree with Yoko here. Ringo Starr is definitely the most under rated Beatle. While the songs he penned and sang might not be the most profound and complex material, it still blows away much of the competition and has left a lasting legacy upon millions of great musicians. Good for you, Ringo. I'm happy you're finally getting the recognition you deserve.

Monday, April 20, 2015

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #22

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.  Pills, by The New York Dolls

In 1973 famed glam rock/proto-punk band The New York Dolls put out their self-titlted debut album New York Dolls. It featured a slew of great tunes; one of which was a cover of a Bo Diddley tune called Pills. This fun jogging tune has some absolutely wailing harmonica in it. The funny thing about Pills is while it sounds upbeat and cheery the lyrical subject matter is actually pretty dark. Be that as it may, it's still a great bluesy jam that will up your spirits.

2. Shine on You Crazy Diamond (Parts 1-5), by Pink Floyd

If you like music that exceeds the boundaries of typical pop format and explores strange new worlds, then this extended Pink Floyd masterpiece is for you. Clocking in at 13:40 this song actually kicks off the Wish You Were Here album. It features some rich synthesizer, emotional guitar, soulful saxophone, and powerful lyrics. There are layers upon layers upon layers. If you put this on through headphones it makes the experience that much more rich and vibrant. You can feel the music coursing through your body, making your arm hairs stand up.

3. Street of Dreams, by Guns N' Roses

Anything GN'R post-Slash and the original line-up can't POSSIBLY be any good right? WRONG. Street of Dreams is a piano driven ballad that shows that Axl Rose is still just as prolific and powerful of a song writer and vocalist as he ever was. Plus, the newer members show off their respectable chops as well throughout the song. It might not be what many would really consider a Guns N' Roses song, but if you remove any pre-existing bias and just listen to the music for what it is I think you may actually find yourself enjoying it. It is emotion packed, honest, and rocking.

4. Meet Me in the City, by Junior Kimbrough

If you want something a little less intense or mildly pretentious then here is some simple straight up blues for you. Junior Kimbrough was a Mississippi based blues musician who had a noticeably raw and repetitive style. Meet Me in the City reflects this quite well. It's a laid back kind of walking down the street kind of song. Kimbrough's vocals are quite smooth and rich. The shuffle rhythm is easy to move along to. Blues really does not get a whole lot more authentic than this.

5. I'm Just Having Such a Hard Time Loving You Right Now, by Wake Up the Neighborhood

Yes, I'm shamelessly self-promoting my own work. This is my blog. Deal. Anyway, if you like jazzy lounge music type music then I'm Just Having Such a Hard Time Loving You Right Now is right up your alley. It's the new single we just put out for our upcoming demo. It's (if I do say so myself) a fantastic blend of laid back jazz and amped up swingy rock jams. Stephany West puts a great deal of power and soul into her vocals. You can tell she means every last word she is singing. Plus, the guitar work is quite snazzy (again, if I do say so myself). Check it out.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Black Sabbath Facebook Battle Rages On


It would seem over the past day or two things between Black Sabbath vocalist Ozzy Osbourne and original drummer Bill Ward have heated up to quite a boil. On Wednesday Ward released a statement on his website and Facebook page saying he would only rejoin Sabbath if he received a genuine public apology from Osbourne and if he was presented with a "signable" contract. Ward's original statement can be found here. Osbourne did in fact respond. However, it wasn't exactly in the way Ward and Black Sabbath fans were hoping for. Osbourne released the following statement directed toward Ward this past Thursday via his own Facebook page which can be read here.

The basic gist is that Osbourne was calling Ward out on his statement and said that the former drummer was too physically incapable of doing an album and a rigorous 16 month tour. Ward had been hospitalized many times over the past few years since the band had announced their reunion back in late 2011. Such inconveniences would have heavily inhibited Black Sabbath's ability to carry on with the tour.

However, this past Friday Ward made his own rebuttal to Osbourne's statement; once again via Facebook. The statement can be read here. Ward insists that he was physically ready to do the tour at the time the ball got rolling. He had been under a vigorous exercise routine for some time and had lost a great deal of weight. Ward also goes into great detail about how the procedures that had him out for so long were elective and could have been postponed until after the tour. From there Ward talks about how he was dealt an unfair hand in the business aspects of Black Sabbath in more recent years and how Osbourne has said a great deal of hurtful things.

Personally I find it astounding how two men in their 70's could resort to arguing publicly over Facebook. I mean, come on. Facebook drama is for kids. I feel like saying to Osbourne and Ward, "Come on, guys. You're 70, not 17. Act like it. Resolve your differences like proper grown up gentlemen.". I am sorry that their relationship has worn down so much, but there are better ways of handling such problems.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Come Taste the Band, by Deep Purple

By 1975 hard rock giant Deep Purple had left a humongous mark upon the world of music. Everywhere they went they put on shows that were absolutely electrifying and occasionally dangerous to the people on and near the stage. Much of this had to do with guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and his love of blowing up amplifiers, smashing guitars, and throwing the remains of both into the crowd. However, by '75 Blackmore had become very dissatisfied with the current state of the band, as it was no longer the heavy neo-classical band it had once been but featured more elements of soul and funk music. That being said, Blackmore quit. Being in quite the pickle, the band recruited its first American member: jazz fusion guitar extraordinaire Tommy Bolin of James Gang, Zephyr, Billy Cobham, and solo fame. Thus, the briefly lived Deep Purple Mark IV was born.

Deep Purple Mark IV only wrote and recorded one album together before the whole band was folded. This is a somewhat unknown gem called Come Taste the Band; a name that came about after a drunken slur from Bolin. The music delves further into the funk and soul direction the band had been going in for some time. The style of Bolin definitely differed from that of Blackmore. Where Blackmore was more classical and bluesy at times Bolin was more jazzy and funky. It actually made for an interesting blend with the pre-existing members of the band.

Gettin' Tighter is the absolute funkiest and most cheerful sounding tune on the entire album. Bassist and backing vocalist Glenn Hughes takes the lead on it and puts every last bit of power and soul he has in his body into it. It gets especially astounding when Hughes shows off just how high he can get his voice to go. You wouldn't think a human being could do that, but it's possible. The funky guitar playing from Bolin is absolutely fantastic. All the chicka-chickas and upbeat nuances in his playing make it impossible to not smile and dance. It is reminiscent of the era it was written in, but it still has aged well.

The crowning achievement from Come Taste the Band however has got to be the 5 minute bass centric epic You Keep On Movin'. Hughes's and lead singer David Coverdale's voices blend together flawlessly and beautifully in ways you cannot imagine unless you put the track on for yourself to hear. The song structure itself is pretty simple, but near the end Bolin absolutely rips and runs with some of the most blistering solo work I have ever heard on a guitar. Before I had heard this song I didn't think it was possible for anyone to compete with Blackmore, but Bolin clearly proved me wrong.

Sadly as mentioned earlier Deep Purple Mark IV only lasted for one album and tour. Hughes's and Bolin's substance and partying problems made the band's performances rather lackluster on a frequent basis. In 1976 Deep Purple officially disbanded. Bolin died later that year due to a drug overdose. It's a crying shame because Bolin was so young and extremely talented. I would have loved to have heard more music from this line-up. Anyway, I can't recommend this album enough; even if you aren't a fan of Deep Purple to begin with. To be honest, Come Taste the Band doesn't really feel like a Deep Purple album. It feels like an entity all its own. It is a unique funky jazzy hard rock experience. You won't regret picking this album up.

Come Taste the Band, by Deep Purple receives 5 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Comin' Home
2. Lady Luck
3. Gettin' Tighter
4. Dealer
5. I Need Love
6. Drifter
7. Love Child
8. This Time Around
9. Owed to G
10. You Keep On Moving

Buy the album on Amazon:

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Black Sabbath Drummer Bill Ward Wants Apology From Ozzy Osbourne Before Reuniting With Band

In late 2011 heavy metal fans all over the world were absolutely stoked when news of the reunion of Black Sabbath hit the airwaves. All four members would be reuniting to record another studio album of all new material and then embark on a massive world tour. Unfortunately, this was not to be. An album (13) and a tour embarked upon, but one piece of the puzzle was missing: original drummer Bill Ward. What happened? Apparently Ward was not provided with a "signable" contract and his contributions to the band were belittled by singer Ozzy Osbourne. For the longest time Ward was almost completely silent on the issue, but recently he opened up about it on a post from his official website and Facebook page.

Ward has stated that he would like to reunite with the band. He misses playing with them and would like to mend his friendship with Osbourne; especially since Black Sabbath is about to record one final album and do a farewell tour before retiring the band name forever. However, for that to happen Ward has stated that he would have to be presented with a "signable" contract and would have to receive a public apology from Osbourne that was spoken in the singer's own words and not something prepared for him by a publicist or anyone else.

Hopefully Osbourne and Ward can overcome their differences like grown adults. It would be wonderful for the band to truly reunite, make new music, and tour together one final time as the original four piece that came out of Birmingham, England in 1969. These guys are old now and don't have a whole lot of time left on this Earth. I'm pretty sure they realize this, so hopefully they can grow up, bury the hatchet one last time, and make this happen.

Ward's statement can be read in full below:

"I hope you’re well and in good spirits. I have not made any public statements regarding my relationship with Black Sabbath since February 2012. Today, I want to address that relationship in this formal statement. Thank you.
I have neither severed nor discontinued my relationship with Black Sabbath, however, since 2012, the often inaccurate statements about me as a person and as a musician have caused me to be guarded and be especially detached emotionally and spiritually from Ozzy. His rhetoric above all has brought me the most discord. The continuing misguided information about me has established a necessity on my part to confront these issues. And now, with the imminent release of a new Bill Ward Band album, and the flurry of rumors about new Sabbath projects, I feel it appropriate to speak in a truthful and an un-cynical way.
There is always speculation about a true, original Sabbath lineup for the next tour or record. With a sad heart, I have to say I will not participate in any musical undertakings until a righting of the wrongs spoken against me has been achieved. I must admit, I have little to no expectations of this happening, but in the order of first things first, I’m looking for an honest accountability of all of Ozzy’s statements that I felt were untrue. I would want Ozzy to amend his opinions and exaggerations. I would want him to be forthcoming about his unrealistic viewpoints. And because I was chastised publicly, I would want him to amend publicly in his words, and not through an Ozzy representative, the nature of the wrongs. I would not want to continue on with him without this seemingly impassible dilemma being addressed. I don’t think previously strong relationships can remain strong after dispute by just sweeping the offensive stuff under the carpet, or by saying a puny sorry, or “oh, that’s all over now.” It doesn’t work like that for me. Righting of wrong works, and that’s what I want if I’m ever going to be his friend again.
Still undone and faraway is a “signable” contract. I would require a “signable” contract before moving one step toward a pathway that could lead to us all playing together again. I want a contract I can approve. That’s my truth. That’s my stand. I’ve listened to nothing but insults and false remarks, and if as a band or as individuals they wish to continue along the same lines, then any notion of an original Black Sabbath lineup will continue to fade away.
Put simply, it’s up to them. I have dearly missed playing with them and as people, I have been heartbroken over the loss of who I thought we were. And now you know where I stand.
Very soon my band, BWB will release a new album ironically called “Accountable Beasts.” I re- kick-started it in May 2012, and in an off and on journey to record, we have reached our final destination – a good mix, and a well mastered record. At this time we are putting the final touches on the digital booklet.
There are other multiple projects in different stages of progress, and I hope to bring more definitive news about them as things unfold this year. I have been very happy writing new songs, playing drums and working with other musicians. I have been blessed with musical visions and the ability to harness them. I’m moving into the future with an optimistic outlook.
For our many Sabbath fans, I love you all dearly. You are extremely special people. You f–king rock. I have been in deep regret since January 2012 that a true union was denied. I’ve remained faithful to you and honest with myself. Had I not been honest throughout I would have perished long ago. My hand is within yours, and I am encouraged to know you better. Stay safe and stay strong.
Now it is time to meet the circumstances of my statement and attend to what else is ongoing and before me.
Bill Ward"

Monday, April 13, 2015

10 Easy and Fun Songs for a Beginner to Learn on Guitar

Picking up a guitar is one of the absolute coolest things you can ever do in life. I would even put it on the same level as meeting the love of your life or the birth of your children. Hell, I might even put it a tier above both of those. However, no one starts out with super star power on the instrument. It takes time and practice in order to build up noteworthy skill that will get all the groupies throwing their panties and bras at you. However, don't feel like it will take forever to have any fun with the guitar. There are several fun easy songs that you can play within your first few lessons. Today I'm listing 10.

1. Knockin' on Heaven's Door, by Bob Dylan

This song is a classic and has been covered to death. However, it's for good reason. It has profound lyric, a memorable melody, and the easiest 3 chord pattern that just loops over and over again. It's hard to mess this one up.

2. When I Come Around, by Green Day

Another tune with the same chord progression throughout the majority of the song, except for one short easy arpeggio section. If you can play a power chord (the easiest kind of chord) you can get through this modern punk classic with little to no problem.

3. Calling Dr. Love, by Kiss

If you have a fever and the only cure is more cowbell, then this tune is right up your alley. It's loud, anthemic, fun, and rocking. If you want to get into the hard rocking right after picking up your first guitar, this is a great way to do it.

4. Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin', by Journey

This song is basic 12 bar blues. There really isn't a whole lot to it. As long as you can play a basic walking paced shuffle pattern you can do this. It is one of the first things you learn how to do most of the time when you start learning the guitar.

5. Highway to Hell, by AC/DC

This song other than the solo is almost entirely basic chords. I guarantee you can play one of the most iconic opening riffs in rock history within your first few lessons. Just learn the basic chords, crank up your amp, and let that high voltage rock n' roll flow through you.

6. Jailhouse Rock, by Elvis Presley

No list of course is complete without a song from the king of rock n' roll. Every rock guitarist should be able to play at least one Elvis Presley song. Again, if you know power chords and the basic blues pattern then you can shuffle right into this classic.

7. Tangerine, by Led Zeppelin

If you want to play something that is a little more acid/stoner rock then Led Zeppelin has you covered. You might need a little bit of practice with your chords first to get rolling with this one, but not a whole lot. This is one of Zeppelin's best acoustic tunes and the easiest to play along with.

8. Nowhere Man, by The Beatles

Can't leave out the Fab Four, now can we? You might need a capo to play this song in its original key, but if you don't have one don't let that stop you. It's easy and I guarantee you can quickly pick up on it. If you want to learn unique chord progressions, I highly recommend this song and others in The Beatles' catalog.

9. Paranoid, by Black Sabbath

If heavy metal is more your pace, then this is one of the best introductory songs to the genre in existence. Black Sabbath is the Bible of metal. Paranoid is one of the first songs in the genre you should learn. It has all the basic techniques like power chords and basic solos.

10. Satisfaction, by The Rolling Stones

If you can learn one or two basic scales and a few chords you can get through this song with no sweat. It's mostly the iconic riff over and over with some parts where you're playing chords over the verses. It's a rock standard that you can get on with easily. You'll get satisfaction pretty quickly.

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #21

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. Picking Up the Pieces, by Quiet Riot

Before 80's metal staple Quiet Riot made their mark on the world with songs like Cum On Feel the Noize and Metal Health (Bang Your Head) they had a more pop rock oriented sound. Kind of unusual, don't you think? Most bands transition from heavy to poppy if they do shift their sound. Anyway, this tune features original guitarist Randy Rhoads, who would later go on to play for Ozzy Osbourne at the start of his solo career and would help write songs like Crazy Train, Mr Crowley, Over the Mountain, etc. Here you can hear his melodic roots. It's a great tune to dance around and party to; especially if you need a pick-me-up.

2.  10 Lovers, by The Black Keys

When I think of The Black Keys I don't normally think of their newer non-bluesy stuff. However, I still think the song 10 Lovers from the Turn Blue album is pretty fantastic. It blends 70's Stevie Wonder style funk, modern dance music, and stoner rock. It makes for a unique experience. You can definitely dance to it, no doubt about that. That bass line is killer. The synth melody is pretty futuristic sounding to me, but I love it when it transitions into a guitar solo at the end. It takes that same melody and adds a whole bunch more soul and depth to it.

3. Foxey Lady, by The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Can't go wrong with a Hendrix classic, right? It's so inspiring to listen to the ways Hendrix took blues, jazz, and rock n' roll in order to go off on his own tangent and be the single most innovative guitar player to ever live. Guitarists even to this day are still trying to mimic and come even a fraction of the way close to Hendrix's sound. Foxey Lady even to this day is a fantastic tune to groove to. It's simple, yet colorful. His solos get so creamy and smooth while his chords are so dirty in all the best ways possible. Stoner rock at its best.

Another Brick in the Wall Part 2, by Pink Floyd

EVERYONE knows this song. If they don't they have somehow been living under a rock for the past few decades. It is the most anti-education/teacher/establishment song known to mainstream rock. This song got us all at some point or another singing "We don't need no education....". Despite there being plenty of other great songs that have gotten this same message across, none are anywhere near as widespread and iconic. It gained that status for a reason. It does it so well. It plays to one's emotions and digs up those feelings of extreme resentment for teachers who really did you wrong and made you want to rebel.

5. She's the Woman, by Van Halen

In 2012 Van Halen put out its first album with original front man David Lee Roth in almost 30 years titled A Different Kind of Truth. While some fans might poopoo it, I thought it was actually pretty good. Half the songs were ones they had held onto but hadn't used from the 70's. One of them is She's the Woman. That opening bass line is eargasmically fantastic the way it climbs up and up again like a computer program. Of course the tune itself has that early Van Halen swagger to it which I absolutely LOVE. Roth's voice might have aged some, but it still has its old charm here. If you give the song a chance you may be pleasantly surprised.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Black Sabbath Guitarist Tony Iommi Sets Record Straight on Recent Health Rumors


Lately there has been a great deal of speculation flying around about Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi's health due to the band's recently cancelled Japan shows that were supposed to be the band's final farewell. Iommi has been dealing with lymphoma for some time, so it is understandable. However, the Iron Man himself got on his soap box to set the record straight.

Iommi made this post yesterday (4/9) to his personal Facebook page:

“Thank you for all the enquiries about my health, very kind. I’m not sure how the rumour of my being unwell started as I was away on holiday! Once you’ve had something like lymphoma the fear that it will return never leaves, all I can say is that right now I’m fine and have regular blood tests.”

Instead of Black Sabbath performing in Japan at Ozz Fest on November 22 it will be Ozzy Osbourne and Friends. No statement for the reason behind the change has been made at this point. It's kind of an odd thing to do to say that Black Sabbath will be performing their final show all of a sudden to make such a big switch, but what do I know?

Be that as it may, it's good to hear that Iommi is in relatively good health at the moment. I can only imagine the kind of stress he has to deal with when it comes to his illness. Hopefully Iommi can stay healthy and keep on making those big heavy riffs for years to come. We have lost too many great musicians the past few years. It would be nice to keep some for a little while longer.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Quiet Riot (1977), by Quiet Riot

Quiet Riot and Ozzy Osbourne are linked in the most interesting way. It's more than them both being famous 80's metal bands, though. Both bands were once both home to one of the youngest most talented guitarists to ever play the instrument and left this Earth too soon: Randy Rhoads. Before Rhoads was writing hits with Ozzy like Crazy Train, Over the Mountain, Mr Crowley, Flying High Again, etc. he was in Quiet Riot. However, this was before Quiet Riot had made it huge with tunes like Come on Feel the Noize and Metal Health (Bang Your Head). Before joining Ozzy, Randy put out two albums with the band: Quiet Riot and Quiet Riot II.

The first album Quiet Riot came out in 1977. You can tell it's Rhoads tearing it up on the guitar, but it isn't quite the heavy neo-classical riffs and solos that he became known for with Ozzy. If anything, a significant portion of the songs are reminiscent of Kiss with sprinkles of Judas Priest; which isn't surprising considering how huge Kiss was and how Judas Priest was on the way up at that point. The songs are definitely more pop oriented than the kind of metal the band would later become famous for in the early 80's after Rhaods's departure and unfortunate passing.

Get Your Kicks definitely has the Kiss vibe, though also a bit of Bad Company and Aerosmith. It's a fun upbeat tune that starts off with a drum cadence that sounds very traditional military. However, it's not too long before you realize that it's rock n' roll. I absolutely LOVE the solo. Rhoads throws in bits of the melodies of the American national anthem and Yankee Doodle Dandy while throwing in some of his own licks. The lyrics are pretty basic. It's about praising rock n' roll. However, some times that is more than ok. I feel in this case it applies.

Tin Soldier has a bit more of Quiet Riot's Judas Priest influence. The chugging guitar riffs and vocal melodies make that pretty apparent. I particularly like the intro which makes it sound like you're listening to funky space music. It's almost Hendrix-ish in a way. The chorus screams Kiss, though. It has that anthemic loud proud vibe where they sing about love and all that fun jazz that often gets sung about in pop. Nonetheless, it's a lot of fun despite hearing all those influences.

Randy Rhoads definitely went on to do more groundbreaking and original material with Ozzy Osbourne, but Quiet Riot is a fun way to hear his 70's roots. Quiet Riot of course would do some better stuff as well. If you're a fan of the big 70's rock bands though, this album is right up your alley. Unfortunately it and Quiet Riot II are both difficult to come by because they were only released in Japan for whatever reason. However, the songs are floating around on YouTube (in proper playlists fortunately) so you can still hear them. I would really recommend it because they are fun, loud, and rocking. Plus, it's always nice to dig up little time capsules like this, isn't it?

Quiet Riot, by Quiet Riot receives 3 out 5 stars.

Track List:

1. It's Not So Funny
2. Mama's Little Angel
3. Tin Soldier
4. Ravers
5. Back to the Coast
6. Glad All Over
7. Get Your Kicks
8. Look in Any Window
9. How You Want It
10. Riot Reunion
11. Fit to Be Tied
12. Demolition Derby

Listen to the album on YouTube (album was too rare to find on Amazon)

Twisted Sister to Do One Final Tour as a Last Hurrah

Within the past couple of weeks Twisted Sister, their families, and their fans have had to cope with a tremendous blow: the death of drummer AJ Pero. To honor and respect Pero's memory and bring their own careers to a close, Twisted Sister will be doing one final tour next year to wrap up the band's 40 year history. This report comes from a TMZ article which singer Dee Snider then officially endorsed on his own Facebook page

Filling Pero's shoes for the position of sticksman on this final excursion is Adrenaline Mob and former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy. The tour will be called Forty and Fuck It, though before that tour happens the band will play a couple of tribute shows for Pero over the next few months.

Twisted Sister were already considering calling it a day before Pero's passing, but this was pretty much the nail in the coffin. (Sorry for that pun. I couldn't resist. My condolences to Pero's loved ones.) Guitarist J.J. French had said “[W]e need to look at this and say to ourselves, as a live entity, on which our reputation rests, How do we honor that history? How do we honor AJ? And how do we honor the fans’ loyalty?”

Personally I think this is probably the best way to end the band's career at this point. Instead of going the Led Zeppelin route where they just completely stop after the death of their drummer they instead celebrate his life by giving the fans one last hurrah before the band retires. They definitely could not have picked a better drummer to fill the vacancy. Portnoy has also filled in on stick duty before for a passed on drummer when back in 2010 Avenged Sevenfold lost their drummer The Rev and needed a temporary replacement until they could find a permanent fix. I congratulate Twisted Sister on 40 years of rocking and wish them all the best in their future endeavors.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Former Rainbow Vocalist Joe Lynn Turner Says Reunion with Ritchie Blackmore Will Happen This Year

Despite the fact that his many efforts in recent years to do so have gone down in flames, former Rainbow vocalist Joe Lynn Turner ( whose tenure was 1981-1984) is once again attempting to get a reunion with guitarist Ritchie Blackmore going.

Turner says this about Blackmore in a recent interview with Classic Rock Magazine:

“He’s itching to do some rocking, and we’re going to get together in the fall. Ritchie is really, really ready to rock. He still has the chops too. I’m not sure if it’s going to be a Rainbow reunion, or a bunch of remakes – which I detest, because you can’t improve on perfection. But that’s what’s happening."

Turner of course has said all of this before. Last year Turner had supposedly come close to completing negotiations to getting a 60 day tour with Blackmore going that would have also included former Rainbow bassists Bob Daisley and Jimmy Bain when things came to a halt due to Blackmore having to finish an album with his current project Blackmore's Night.

“We had multi-million dollar deals set up with Live Nation. A 60-day tour to start with, HD 3D movie, everything – and then he had to finish the album."

It's good that Blackmore decided to fulfill his prior engagement, though personally I think if he had really wanted to do that tour he would have. Blackmore has stated time and time again in recent years that he is perfectly content with his renaissance music venture with his wife Candice Night. It isn't most of his fans' cup of tea, but at least he is enjoying his retirement.

Turner really isn't helping his case much when he says “Unless his wife or mother-in-law gets in the way. She drives me fucking crazy." when referring to the possibility of getting such a tour happening again. A word to the wise, Joe. If you want something from someone, you might not want to insult their loved ones.

Monday, April 6, 2015

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #20

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. House of the Rising Son, by Frijid Pink

In case you missed this past Thursday's post, Frijid Pink were a late 60's/early 70's Detroit based band that specialized in blending psychedelic/acid rock with blues and hard rock. On their debut album Frijid Pink they released a cover of the beloved classic House of the Rising Sun. This version packs much more of a hard rock punch than the version made famous by The Animals. It's the only version as far as I'm concerned that even comes close to rivaling it. With the howling vocals and powerful guitars it's difficult to not be blown away by this passionate cover.

2. Sweet Home Chicago, by Robert Johnson

Want to go waaaaay back to the beginnings of what would become rock n' roll? Having supposedly sold his soul to the devil for talent to play the guitar, Robert Johnson is pretty much who many people consider to be the father of the blues as we know it today. During his short life Johnson in the 30's would record on cheap equipment many songs that would become blues standards, including Sweet Home Chicago, Crossroads, Hellhound on My Trail, etc. This original version of Sweet Home Chicago is about as old school delta blues as you can get. With nothing but a guitar, his voice, and the sweet warm crackle of old school vinyl Johnson left a HUGE legacy behind.

3. Frankenstein, by Edgar Winter Group

If you don't know this funky 70's instrumental, then you've been living under a rock. Frankenstein has everything: big guitar riffs, slick synthesizer, sexy saxophone solos, iconic drum solos, and so much more. It's a fantastic song to put on at a party; especially if you have some strobe lights going on in the room. Frankenstein also a great tune to listen to with headphones. So many things bounce around and build up in ways that raise the hairs on your arms and neck. If somehow you have gone your whole life without listening to it, I'm prescribing this to you. Fill it now.

4. Lay It On the Line, by Triumph

If you've listened to a decent amount of classic rock radio you have probably heard this Triumph classic at some point or another. Released in 1979 on their Just a Game album Lay It On the Line helped give birth to the 80's arena rock genre. It features some juicy dual guitar harmonies, punchy riffs, powerful rhythms, melodic guitar solos, and vocals that go up to the rafters. It will get your fist pumping and have you singing along to the chorus in no time. It just goes to show you that Rush aren't the only Canadians who know how to rock.

5. Soul Love, by David Bowie

During David Bowie's early 70's glam rock phase he put out what is considered by many to be his most iconic album: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars. It featured so many great songs; even if not all of them were big hits on the radio. The track from this album Soul Love is really laid back and mostly acoustic. It has almost a Latin type rhythm to it. However, the crown jewel of the song is Bowie's saxophone solo. It is so passionate, melodic, and warm. It feels like you're being enveloped by a warm blanket of music when listening to it. I find myself swaying side to side to it quite often.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Van Halen Possibly Doing New Record After Next Tour

It looks like Van Halen really are getting back into the swing things after a prolonged absence from the public eye. Not only have they just released a live album earlier this week titled Tokyo Dome Live. To sweeten the pot, they are also embarking on a wide scale North American tour this summer. From there though, the band may be doing some more awesome stuff according to a recent The Washington Times interview with Eddie Van Halen.

Van Halen says, “After this touring cycle, we will probably hunker down and do a studio record. We certainly have enough material. It is a matter of timing and getting everybody together. That’s the only way it can be done.”

Van Halen also wanted to release a 25 song demo from their club days, but unfortunately that was not able to work out. According to Eddie, “What I originally wanted to do was remix the original 25 song demos. That would have been really cool. But the tapes are lost. They are gone. So that was out the window."

It's unfortunate that the demo was not able to be released, but it's great that the live album was released and that they may be doing a new record soon. As much as I liked A Different Kind of Truth being half old shelved songs and half new songs, I hope that this time around that they do all new songs. I'm sure Eddie and Alex Van Halen have enough material from their jams that they could whip up something really cool.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Frijid Pink, by Frijid Pink

For as many rock n' roll bands and artists who have made it huge over the years to the point where they have a widely renowned legacy, there are countless more who have unfortunately slipped through the cracks and mostly been forgotten. One such band is a highly under rated Detroit based hard/blues/psychedelic rock group named Frijid Pink; which began in 1967. Before vanishing off the face of the Earth after numerous line-up changes in the mid-70's, the band released a slew of singles as well as six studio albums.

Amongst the band's underground following, the most highly regarded album from Frijid Pink is their self-titled 1970 debut album Frijid Pink. On this album Frijid Pink takes the idea of late 60's psychedelic and blues rock of bands like Cream and Jimi Hendrix and takes it to a whole other level. This was stoner rock with a punch to it. In a way it really was the beginning of the hard rock genre as we know it. This album was like a transitioning point in a way.

The song that Frijid Pink has become best known for over the years is their cover of House of the Rising Sun, as made famous by The Animals and countless other artists. It keeps that solemn psychedelic presence as The Animals' version, but they decided to put more power and gusto into it. The guitars pack a punch and the vocals by Kelly Green absolutely howl from start to finish. It really is the only version I know of that comes even close to The Animals' version of the song. It's big. It's epic. It is arguably the best version of the song.

When listening to the track I'm On My Way you might think that the album accidentally contains a song written and recorded in the 50's to be played at a sock hop or whatever 50's teenagers got their groove on at. That would be understandable. It's a boogie tune that is upbeat, melodic, bluesy, and fun. There is some fantastic slide guitar work done by guitarist Gary Ray Thompson. It's a great tune to get up off your feet and dance to.

Frijid Pink isn't exactly an easy album to come by, but if you come across a copy in a record store then I HIGHLY advise you pick it up. It's a great addition to your vinyl collection. Of course you could just go the lame cop out route and get mp3's or a CD, but what fun would that be? The music is creative and innovative for its time. It has its serious and powerful moments, but also some fun ones as well. Frijid Pink really are an under rated band and should have gotten more notoriety in their heyday than they did. Have a listen if you get the chance.

Frijid Pink, by Frijid Pink receives 4 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. God Gave Me You
2. Crying Shame
3. I'm On My Way
4. Drivin' Blues
5. Tell Me Why
6. End of the Line
7. House of the Rising Sun
8. I Want to be Your Lover
9. Boozin' Blues
10. Heartbreak Hotel
11. Music For the People

Buy the album on Amazon:

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Look Back at AC/DC Singer Brian Johnson's Glam Rock Beginnings

Before his massive continuing success from joining AC/DC in 1980, singer Brian Johnson was in a different kind of band than you would have expected; a band called Geordie. Oddly enough, they were a glam rock band. I know that is kind of difficult to imagine, considering the style of heavy hard rock Johnson became known for performing with AC/DC later on. However, in the video below the proof is right there for you.

Original AC/DC vocalist Bon Scott had actually seen Johnson perform and said to guitarist Angus Young "There's this guy up there screaming at the top of his lungs and then the next thing you know he hits the deck. He's on the floor, rolling around and screaming. I thought it was great, and then to top it off—you couldn't get a better encore—they came in and wheeled the guy off!'"

To be honest, Geordie's music isn't bad at all. You wouldn't think Johnson would be suited for any other style of music than AC/DC, but apparently he is more versatile than we might have given him credit for. Personally I'd like to see him perform some of these old songs again with the original line-up if the band (if enough of them are still alive). I know he did some hard rock cover versions back in 2001 with musicians who were later in the band after he left, but it's not quite the same. Anyway, take a look at the video and let me know what you think!

A Throwback but Not Exactly Pseudo Review: The First to Escape EP, by Crisis Cage

Today on Young Ears, Fresh Perspective I'm going to do something I usually don't do: review my own work. For those of you who don't care about such things, come back tomorrow. I write what I want. For those of you sticking around, I know what you're thinking. "Josh! How can you do an objective review on something you wrote and recorded?". Well it's been at least 4 years, I've grown and moved on a great deal, and I'm playing with a completely different group of musicians. I feel pretty far removed from it all at this point.

That being said, 5 years ago I was in a band called Crisis Cage. We were a hard rock band out of Highland, IN. Our sound was pretty punkish/bluesy hard rock. I was listening to a LOT of Guns N' Roses at the time so a significant portion of the musical inspiration came from them. During the original line-up which consisted of my best friend Quin Barwick on lead vocals, Billy Mach on rhythm guitar, Frank Cizon on drums, and myself on lead guitar we never did play any live shows, but we DID record and release a 4 song EP called The First to Escape EP. This was all original material that I had written (though most of the lyric work was done by Quin). It consisted of 3 regular songs and 1 short instrumental; all of which were recorded in the basement of a semi-pro producer we knew. Also, we had a studio musician Ian Echols come in and play bass on the recordings.

The song writing on the EP while still fairly simplistic still holds up to a certain extent. It isn't my finest work, but is some of my most passionate, primal, and powerful. I was just coming out of my teenage years at the time and was still filled with some of that rage. The song Being a Gentleman reflects that perfectly. It's one of the few times I could get away with playing just an E chord for the majority of a song, but yet still have it kick serious ass because of the way I was playing it. The lyrics I actually wrote myself because of a bad date I had been on and how frustrated I was about love in general at the time. Surprisingly though, they don't make me cringe. I actually still enjoy listening to it. Quin put some serious gusto into it and conveyed the very feelings I was trying to get across.

Quin of course did some fantastic lyric writing of his own on the other two songs that had lyrics: Let's Wake Up the Neighborhood and You Better Run. For those songs he didn't write so much from personal experience but more of took concepts and let his imagination run wild with them. His vocals are absolutely killer on the recordings. You can tell he was putting everything he had into every song. His passion inspired me to do even better myself. Who knew such a big sound could come out of such a little guy?

Of course, not everything on The First to Escape EP was perfect. There were moments where things did get a little too self-indulgent on my end and Quin's as well. Plus, to a certain extent it was straight up cock rock. Not exactly a bad thing, but you could tell that not all the lyrics and music were supposed to have profound depth to them. In terms of production the guitars didn't exactly sound the best because Billy and I were using two different guitars and two different amps with different settings. This made for a bit of a muddy lackluster guitar sound. Also, there wasn't enough power in the drums. No pop in the snare and barely any kick drum at all in the mix. Personally, I felt the drumming was also a bit simplistic for my taste; though that isn't to say it was bad by any means.

As I look back on The First to Escape EP I remember fondly writing and recording those songs. Despite the fact I was trying to be Slash (especially during the instrumental titled Downstairs Blues) at the time I'm still proud of the fact that we were able to get into a semi-studio setting to record this. I'll admit it doesn't quite have the exact sound I was going for, but there are a myriad of reasons for that; some the studio's fault and some our own. I look back at it and think of the EP as my first step into a larger world. Naturally I've done bigger and better things since then (not to toot my own horn), but it's always nice to listen back to where I came from in terms of being a musician. I wouldn't mind rerecording these songs some day but with better production, better guitar and drum sounds, better solos, slightly more complex drumming, etc. I think those songs deserve it.

The First to Escape EP, by Crisis Cage receives 3 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. You Better Run
2. Let's Wake Up the Neighborhood
3. Downstairs Blues
4. Being a Gentleman (Gets You Nowhere)

Listen to the EP on YouTube: