Sunday, May 31, 2015

First 2 Post-Jim Morrison Albums from The Doors to Be Reissued

For those of you who may not be aware, The Doors actually released multiple albums after the passing of front man Jim Morrison in 1971. Fortunately for fans of the band the first two of these long since out of print albums titled Other Voices and Full Circle are about to be rereleased as a two disc set and on vinyl September 4th.

The recording sessions for Other Voices had actually begun a week before Morrison passed away. Though he was gone, the remaining members Robby Krieger, John Densmore, and Ray Manzarek decided the show must go on. Manzarek and Krieger both took on vocal duties in Morrison's absence. It seemed to work out because the album ended up becoming a top 40 hit in the US when it was released in October of '71. They did the same thing again for Full Circle, which was released in July of 1972.

The Doors ended up breaking up after the tour for Full Circle, but did release one more album American Prayer. This album was the band performing brand new backing tracks to recordings of Morrison reciting poetry that he had written.

The producer of Other Voices Bruce Botnik did the remastering of the songs on both of these rereleases. Also, a rare bonus track Treetrunk will be put onto Full Circle. It was originally the B side to the single Get Up and Dance.

While this rerelease can be labeled a cash grab by some, I am still in support of it. It's great when old nearly forgotten music is brought back into public attention. Even without Morrison The Doors were a fantastic band. They were each proficient at their instruments to an enormous degree and were tight as a unit. I am personally looking forward to hearing what these albums contain.

Track Listing:

Other Voices

1. In the Eye of the Sun
2. Variety is the Spice of Life
3. Ships with Sails
4. Tightrope Ride
5. Down on the Farm
6. I'm Horny, I'm Stoned
7. Wandering Musician
8. Hang on to Your Life

Full Circle

1. Get Up and Dance
2. 4 Billion Souls
3. Verdilac
4. Hardwood Floor
5. Good Rockin'
6. The Mosquito
7. The Piano Bird
8. It Slipped My Mind
9. The Peking King and the New York Queen
10. Treetrunk

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Kill 'em All, by Metallica

Before Metallica became the tired sold out commercial entity that they are today they were once four angry drug and booze fueled metal musicians who were hungry for world domination with their own terrifying new brand of heavy metal known as thrash. In 1983 they would begin their long trip to the top by putting out their debut album Kill 'em All (which they were originally going to title Metal Up Your Ass, but Elektra Records would not let them use that in fear of severe backlash from the public). Be that as it may, this album did lead the band to bigger and better things.

Kill 'em All is a very raw tone to it when compared to the high production quality of Metallica's subsequent efforts. While part of the organic nature of the sound came from production, much also came from the band's passion and enthusiasm for what they were doing. This was Metallica at their most primal and sincere. However, half of the songs on Kill 'em All were not written by any of the four members of Metallica who played on the album. Before the band went in to record the album they fired original lead guitarist Dave Mustaine who would go on to form Megadeth. The band replaced him with Kirk Hammet who has been with them ever since.

The Four Horsemen is in my opinion the most brilliant song from Kill 'em All. Though it isn't the band's fastest track it combines many different melodies and riffs to form what is an ingenious piece of songwriting in terms of construction. It definitely has some of the most passion and energy of all the songs on the album. Fun fact: The Four Horsemen is actually an altered version of a Metallica song that was called The Mechanix. The album version is slowed down, has different lyrics, and has more riffs and melodies. The original version would be recorded by Mustaine on Megadeth's debut album Killing is My Business.

The song most people know from Kill 'em All however is Seek and Destroy; for good reason too. It's opening riff is iconic. The moment the band tears into that opening riff everyone knows who is playing and what song it is. Plus, the chorus while not necessarily the most melodic is impossible not to sing along to when you're cranking the tune as loud as your stereo will allow you to. In a way it makes you feel one with this beefy monster of a song. This is the kind of song you listen to when you want to feel like a badass tough guy.

Kill 'em All is one of the more under rated of Metallica's early works. It's one of the few albums I know of where there is one track entirely dedicated to being a bass solo (from the late Cliff Burton). It might not be as crisp as some of the later albums, but what it lacks in production it makes up for in being pure raw metal that gives you nothing but Metallica at their hungriest and most passionate. It's a great crash course in thrash metal and is a great way for all of their influences from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal to culminate.

Kill 'em All, by Metallica receives 4 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Hit the Lights
2. The Four Horsemen
3. Motorbreath
4. Jump in the Fire
5. Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth)
6. Whiplash
7. Phantom Lord
8. No Remorse
9. Seek and Destroy
10. Metal Militia

Buy the album on Amazon:

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

B.B. King Poisoning Allegations "Baseless and Unfounded" Says Estate Lawyer

As many of you know by now blues legend B.B. King unfortunately recently passed away at the age of 89. While it is never easy to cope with death, it seems that in this case it is especially difficult for King's children; as daughters Karen Williams and Patty King are pressing allegations against King's business manager LaVerne Toney and assistant Myron Johnson for poisoning and killing him slowly. However, King's estate lawyer Brent Bryson does not seem to share their views.

Bryson says “baseless and unfounded and are unsupported in reality."

Bryson continues saying:

“Unfortunately even musical icons die. Ms. Toney did everything she could to carry out the wishes of Mr. King while he was alive, and continues to carry out Mr. King’s wishes after his death. I hope over these next few days we can focus on Mr. King’s musical gifts to the world and not fictional statements made by those seeking attention at the expense of Mr. King.”

In the mean time the allegations are still being investigated with an autopsy of King's body. Toney has been able to produce three documents stating King “was monitored on a 24-hour basis by Certified Nursing Assistants” and that “no action [was] taken to hasten the demise of Mr. King,” who died “peacefully in his sleep.”

I understand that King's children are devastated by the loss of their father. That is completely normal. However, I think they want to find someone to blame and point their finger at because they feel he was stolen from them. Personally I don't see what is so farfetched about an elderly gentleman passing away peacefully in his sleep. Hopefully soon the truth will come out and all of this will be able to be left in the past where it belongs.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Jack White Pens Poem "Music is Sacred"

Recently Jack White did a press conference online via his record label Third Man Records' website answering questions and defending the new music streaming service he is part of called TIDAL. White went on to describe how this service will benefit up and coming artists who are trying to make it with their craft and not have to have second jobs. On May 23 in conjunction to the press conference, White also posted a poem on the Third Man Records blog titled Music is Sacred that goes on further to emphasize why it's important to help this music be made.

The original post with the poem can be read here.

"music is sacred
those of you who stand for the sanctity of music
so that its soul can breathe
and be heard
so that it blooms in graveyards
echoes in hotel hallways
awakens neighbors in the night
and fills peoples minds with fire
shout it out loud with whatever microphone you have
or these stones will shout for you.
jump in front of demons,
and stand over cowards and those who would intend
to rip out your lungs and dampen your desire
tell the living and the dead
what you know in your heart to be true
and what you know your ears
will forever hear
that the melody of the human race
is a song that never ends.
music is sacred."

Honestly, this is definitely one of the better pieces of written work describing the importance and sanctity of music. It plays an important role in our lives and culture. Without it so many people would be voiceless and have no way of communicating what they have within them. Props to White for talking about the subject so eloquently and beautifully.

Writer's Moment:

This has nothing to do with the story, but I want to say something really quick. Today marks one year since I embarked on writing Young Ears, Fresh Perspective. I realize I don't have anywhere near the readership that some blogs and publications do, but that just makes me appreciate those of you who do take the time every day to read through what I have to say even more. It's what gives me the strength and motivation to keep on with this. Thank you so much. I look forward to another year of writing these blogs for you all. 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #27

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.  For All the Cows, by The Foo Fighters

Personally I feel this is one of the absolute best songs The Foo Fighters have ever put out. It has a bluesy swingy feel during the verses and puts things into overdrive during the choruses. In a way I kind of get a vibe from it that reminds me of The Doors at certain points. Naturally the lyrics are full of mid-90's introspective theme that criticize society, but it works for this song. Plus, it's a great way for Dave Grohl to start making his own sound after the death of former Nirvana band mate Kurt Cobain.

2. In the Navy, by Alestorm

Now I know The Village People aren't rock music by any stretch of the imagination, but this cover done by pirate metal band Alestorm makes it WAY better. Where everything in the original was disco, they have made it pure metal with overdriven guitars, thundering drums, and dirty Scottish pirate vocals. I kid you not, this is a version of In the Navy that you can actually headbang and mosh to. I know. I never thought I'd live to see the day were such a thing would be able to be said with full seriousness.

3. Lie to Me, by Jonny Lang

Singer/guitarist Jonny Lang was only a teen when he hit the blues music scene in the late 90's, but he took it by storm with his cover of the song Lie to Me. With his vibrato guitar technique and soulful vocals, it made it seem like the late Stevie Ray Vaughan had come back from the dead via reincarnation. Although he mainly plays Christian music now the mainstream will always have this fiery passionate blues tune to jam to whenever someone has been stretching the truth with how faithful they are being.

4. New, by Paul McCartney

This track from Paul McCartney's 2013 album of the same name proves that the man still has all song writing magic that he has ever (if not more) and that his voice is still in as good of shape as it was back in the day. New is a Beatles-esque jaunt that talks about how love feels when it's new. I kind of get the image of romping through a field of daisies; especially during the build-up at the beginning. Despite all that, McCartney still manages to give the song a bit of modern edge to show that while he is true to his roots he has also managed to progress as a musician at the same time.

5. Metal Guru, by T. Rex

Metal Guru is an upbeat cheery tune that in a way is a celebration of life. This song flawlessly blends electric guitars with horns. It's glam rock at its finest if you ask me because it takes the standard pop four chord progression and uses it to make something catchy, original, and memorable. It's the kind of song you jam in the middle of a huge party; or at least you would if it's a party where the people attending actually have taste in music and don't just listen to all the top 40 garbage that goes around these days.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Bill Ward Refuses to Reunite With Black Sabbath Until Ozzy Feud is Patched Up

Yesterday Black Sabbath won the Ivor Novello Award. 3/4 of the band was there to accept it; including: Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and original drummer Bill Ward who has not made a public appearance with the band since late 2011. Despite this appearance, you might not be seeing something like this again for some time if at all.

In an interview with NME Ward says:

“I’m in a huge dispute with Ozzy, so that doesn’t really help, and as far as I’m concerned, until that dispute is finished then I’m not gonna participate. They’ve already made an album without me [2013's 13], so I’m sure they’d go on without me playing, and that’s okay with me – I still love them just the same. I’d love to think I could [rejoin the band], but the things I’m asking for may be out of reach.”

Within the past couple of months singer Ozzy Osbourne and Ward have been having a public war of words over their official Facebook fan pages. Ward called Osbourne out on his cruel behavior toward him and made a list of demands to which Osbourne responded by calling Ward out on some of his own issues.

Black Sabbath is supposedly doing one more album and tour starting next year according to Osbourne. Butler and Iommi however are not so sure, though they both said in the same NME interview that they would like to keep on and see where things go. Both feel it would be a nice way to end and bring things full circle for the band.

Ward still seems to be on as friendly terms with Butler and Iommi as ever. Hopefully for the sake of Ward and Osbourne's friendship they can resolve their issues with one another like grown adults. Even if they don't do any more Black Sabbath work together it would be great for them to bury the hatchet. Bands and music are great, but at the end of the day friendship and brotherhood are far more important.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Perpetual Burn, by Jason Becker

Often times in the world of rock n' roll you hear tales of musicians dying way too young. They had so much talent and could have gone so much further had things not been cut dreadfully short for whatever reason. Some times however, some musicians meet a fate worse than death. One such musician is Jason Becker who at the age of 20 started developing ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). Over time this disease sapped him of his ability to move and speak. Though he is still alive to this day and still composes music he is no longer the rip-roaring neo-classical shredder he once was.

In 1988 Becker put out his debut solo album titled Perpetual Burn. This album is entirely instrumental and features many forms of neo-classical guitar playing: from melodic shred to almost traditional classical guitar pieces that are soothing to the ears. Needless to say, it has something for everyone; even those who are not particularly fans of rock and metal music. Even stuffy old farts who only listen to classical would enjoy parts of it. For those who do partake in the heavier stuff you will absolutely dig the musical statements Becker makes.

The title track Perpetual Burn is pretty much Becker's signature song. For good reason too. Rhythmically it packs a wallop, but over the top of that Becker wastes no time tearing it up with some melodies expressed through artful shred. In this track Becker stands head and shoulders above other shredders because the way he uses the techniques is in such a way where it creates a followable song with flourishes here and there that show off just what kinds of chops he has. Plus, the way it all flows together is unlike anything I've heard from most other guitarists of that era.

Air is one of the more traditional classical tunes I was mentioning earlier. It almost sounds like it is being played by an orchestra at certain points. However, the main melody is very much an electric guitar; though it is not played with any overdrive and the pacing is slowed way the hell down from tunes like Perpetual Burn. It almost sounds like a Bach piece because of how mathematically precise it is. It is nice to see such influence making its way into modern popular music even after all these hundreds of years.

If you're a fan of the electric guitar and can listen to music with no vocalist, Perpetual Burn is definitely your shindig. Becker really pushes things to the absolute edge on the album. It is amazing to hear how one so young can be so proficient at the instrument while still also playing with passion and soul and not sounding like a robot like so many other 80's shredders do. It's unfortunate to see such talent not be able to get better with age. Fortunately, Becker still composes classical music thanks to special computers he has that follow his eye movements. Pick this up. If it doesn't inspire you to air guitar, I'll be genuinely surprised.

Perpetual Burn, by Jason Becker receives 4 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Altitudes
2. Perpetual Burn
3. Mabel's Fatal Fable
4. Air
5. Temple of the Absurd
6. Eleven Blue Egyptians
7. Dweller in the Cellar
8. Ocus Pocus

Buy the album on Amazon:

The Purple Album: Whitesnake Returns to its Purple Roots [Album Review]

Before singer David Coverdale was belting out hit songs like Here I Go Again and Still of the Night for his flagship band Whitesnake in the late 80's, he sang for a band that was just as big in its heyday: Deep Purple. When singer Ian Gillan left the band in 1973 they needed a power house of a replacement and fast. One of the audition tapes in the massive pile sent to them was one from a young unknown singer who turned out to be Coverdale. Though only 30 seconds of the tape's material appealed to Deep Purple they called him up right away and had him join the band; skyrocketing him into worldwide fame overnight.

During his 3 year tenure in the band Coverdale would record 3 albums with Deep Purple titled: Burn, Stormbringer, and Come Taste the Band; all of which are considered classics by the fans. 40 years later Coverdale has decided to go back to his beginnings to pay tribute and give thanks to the very band that gave him his big break by recording some of his favorite songs from his time on a new Whitesnake album titled The Purple Album.

The songs on The Purple Album are not just covers of these classic songs, but modern heavy metal reinterpretations of them. Though the guitar was always a driving force in Deep Purple, the songs seem to be even more guitar driven and centric than ever before. There is still the presence of keyboards in certain songs though because without it they would fall completely flat no matter how you tried to rearrange them.

The vocals on this album are kind of a touchy subject. Obviously no one will sound the same as they did 40 years ago, but it is clear in The Purple Album that Coverdale's voice has lost a massive amount of the power and aggressiveness it once possessed. This is especially present in the track Burn. Where Coverdale could once howl like a wolf he now can barely raise his voice to a listenable volume. Plus, the lack of Deep Purple bassist and backing vocalist Glenn Hughes also makes a huge difference. The band does the best they can and it isn't bad at all but nowhere near as powerful, iconic, and soulful as Hughes.

However, Coverdale's performance wasn't entirely bad. The album has its moments vocally. In tracks like Soldier of Fortune, Sail Away, and Holy Man Coverdale's aged voice makes these songs even better than they already were. There is more of a smokey richness to them now that makes them sound like what a good aged scotch would taste like. On some of the more rocking tunes such as Lady Double Dealer and You Fool No One he was also able to hold up well enough.

Another thing that kind of disturbed me was the distinct lack of keyboards on this album. Though I did mention earlier they did make many of the songs more guitar centric it was Jon Lord's Hammond organ coupled with Ritchie Blackmore's guitar playing that made Deep Purple the monster of rock that it was. The only song that seems to have any keyboard in it is Burn and even then it sounds kind of hackneyed. Maybe it was the production quality, but even so the performance didn't impress me. It had none of Lord's fire and finesse. It felt like it was there just to fill an obligatory spot in the song.

One thing I do appreciate about The Purple Album however is that although Whitesnake redid the songs in their own way many of the elements of the iconic Ritchie Blackmore guitar solos were kept in the songs. Props to Reb Beach and Whitesnake newcomer Joel Hoekstra for that. I could tell that while they were both doing their best to put their own stamps on these songs they also wanted to preserve what made these songs as wonderful as they are to begin with.

The Tommy Bolin/Mark IV era stuff kind of fell a bit flat in my opinion. Those songs were meant to have more of a jazzy/funky soul kind of vibe to them. Making them more heavy metal oriented kind of took that out of them in my opinion. They sound almost nothing like the way Bolin originally played them and that makes me kind of sad. Don't get me wrong, the Whitesnake versions still sound good if you're not thinking of them as cover songs but that's what bothers me. They feel like different songs entirely.

Now I know I've been saying some not so kind things about The Purple Album so far, but some tracks actually legitimately impressed me. For instance I LOVE the way they redid Might Just Take Your Life. With the addition of slide guitar it almost makes it sound like a bluesy late 70's/early 80's Whitesnake song. It really works for that. Also, while the age in Coverdale's voice does show Stormbringer still packs a punch now just as much as it did in 1975. If anything, the redo of it packs more of a punch and makes it feel more like the heavy metal kind of song it was always meant to be.

Overall I still feel The Purple Album is worth picking up despite its numerous flaws. When I listen to it I can still feel that old Deep Purple spirit in many places. I'm still kind of wondering though why Coverdale would choose to just rerecord his old stuff instead of pushing forward to make new material; especially since Whitesnake just got a new guitarist. However, I'm glad that Coverdale remembers where he came from and felt the time was right to bring these beloved songs to a brand new generation. I applaud him for that. The songs do deserve to be remembered because when they came out they blew the minds of rockers all over the world.

The Purple Album, by Whitesnake receives 3 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Burn
2. You Fool No One
3. Love Child
4. Sail Away
5. The Gypsy
6. Lady Double Dealer
7. Mistreated
8. Holy Man
9. Might Just Take Your Life
10. You Keep on Moving
11. Soldier of Fortune
12. Lady Down Stay Down
13. Stormbringer

Bonus Tracks:

14. Lady Luck
15. Comin' Home
16. Soldier of Fortune (Alternate Mix)

Buy the album on Amazon:

Monday, May 18, 2015

George Harrison Guitar Sells for $485,000 at Auction

Another piece of rock n' roll memorabilia has just sold for big bucks. The guitar that Beatles guitarist George Harrison used during the band's live shows in 1963 just sold for $485,000 (£310,000) at an auction.

The guitar as pictured above is a Maton Mastersound and it was used at Beatles' gigs between July and August of 1963. This guitar was on loan to Harrison by Barratt's Music Store when his Gretsch Country Gentleman was in the shop for repairs. The Maton was recently auctioned off at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York by Julien's Auctions according to a report from Rolling Stone.

Harrison ended up using this guitar at about a dozen shows whilst his Gretsch was being fixed. Once Harrison was done with the guitar he gave it back to Barratt's. Later on, the Maton was sold to Roy Barber of The Cruisers.

Also for sale at the auction was leather shorts belonging to Trent Reznor, a glove worn by Michael Jackson, a stage worn tank top donned by Madonna and Elvis Presley's marriage certificate and tour bus.

It's kind of cool when stuff like this guitar pop up again out of nowhere after being hidden away for so much time. Though it was only used a few times, it doesn't surprise me that it garnered such a high price at auction. Any instrument used or even touched by a Beatle is worth the world to a lot of people. It's a piece of history.

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #26

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

1. The Thrill is Gone, by B.B. King

With the unfortunate passing of the King of the blues, what better way to honor his memory than putting on one of his best known songs? If your relationship just doesn't have the spark any more and it's giving you the blues this is the perfect song for you. B.B. King's smooth soulful voice expresses the pain the song communicates perfectly. It's as though he is going through it himself. Even better is once King just can't say any more with his mouth, his guitar Lucille does the talking for him and speaks on an emotional level that no human words ever could.

2. Heaven and Hell, by Black Sabbath

This past Saturday marked the fifth anniversary of the passing of the mighty Ronnie James Dio. This being one of his most highly renowned songs I figure it was fitting to put on the list in order to keep his memory and legacy alive. It's a fantastic song. Every member of Black Sabbath was on their game. With his soaring vocals and prolific lyrics Dio proved that Black Sabbath would do just fine without Ozzy Osbourne fronting the band. As he did with all of his work, Dio put every last fiber of his being into his writing and performance. May he continue to R.I.P.

3. Hold Me Tight, by The Beatles

If all this talk of death has been a bit of a drag, then this should be a pretty good pick-me-up. The Beatles really did make some ear pleasing pop dance tunes in their early years. Plus, who doesn't love singing along to a song about love? Well I suppose those in a bad mood (like someone who just got dumped), but I digress. The harmonies are precise and sweet and the rhythms make you want to get up, grab your girl or guy and do some dancing that doesn't involve grinding and twerking. You know, actual dancing.

4. La Grange, by ZZ Top

If you're looking for some southern style blues with some balls to it, look no further.  The trio from Texas goes balls to the wall in this classic. The riffs are big, the groove is kicking, and the solos are absolutely out of this world. Plus, it's a great way to get your fix of pinch harmonics without hearing them all the time like the way Zakk Wylde does when he plays guitar. It's simple. It's gritty. It's fun. Some times that's all you need in order to get your point and your passion across to your listeners. ZZ Top seems to have that down.

5. Accident Prone, by Snakecharmer

Good new classic rock still exists if you know where to look. This group consists of former members of Whitesnake and has other noteworthy musicians as well such as Adam Wakeman, son of Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman. It is straight up bluesy hard rock with a little bit of modern shine given to the production. Accident Prone was the main single to Snakecharmer's 2013 self-titled debut album Snakecharmer. It does a pretty spiffy job showing off how much youthful energy these older generation rockers still have and how they can raise the bar even for younger musicians. Give it a listen. You won't regret it.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Thrill is Gone: B.B. King Editorial


The thrill is gone. As many of you are well aware by now the king of the blues B.B. King who was a winner of 15 Grammy awards and acted as a mentor and inspiration to multiple generations of musicians passed away last night (5/14/2015) at 11:40 PM CST in Las Vegas. He was 89 years old and passed peacefully in his sleep.

Though it does not make things any easier, King's passing did not come as a surprise. His health had been declining for years due to his ongoing struggle with diabetes. King had been checked into hospice care for only a matter of weeks before his passing.

Many well known musicians such as Slash, Eric Clapton, David Coverdale, Buddy Guy, Glenn Hughes, John Mayer, Joe Bonamassa, Huey Lewis, Mickey Dolenz, Ringo Starr, Stevie Wonder, Mick Jagger, Lenny Kravitz, Keith Richards, and more including President Barack Obama came forward today to profess their sorrow for King's passing.

Since this is an editorial, I'm going to be mainly giving my own thoughts and feelings about the passing of this regal blues legend.

As a blues guitar player myself I have often found how I inadvertently use King's technique in my own playing. This is because many of the bands/artists I listen to on a daily basis were influenced directly by King and his technique. It is a simple style, really. It's based more on simplicity and feel rather than flash, speed, and intense knowledge of musical theory. That was the beauty of King's playing. He could say more with three or four notes than most guitarists can with 100. King was proof you don't need to be trained in years' worth of musical theory to sound good on your instrument. As long as you have that fire in your heart and the will to play from your soul you will sound just fine.

I also have to admire King's work ethic. He was almost constantly on tour. I heard once King spent an average of 221 days per year on the road performing. The man absolutely LOVED to play. I've heard of people who have insane amounts of passion for what they do, but this really raises the bar and takes things to a whole other level. Not many people have the drive or the energy to do this amount of work on anything.

The one album I would HIGHLY recommend you listen to is Live at the Regal 1965. This is half an hour of pure straight up blues and soul. B.B. not only makes his guitar Lucille wail, but his onstage persona is one of the most smooth and charismatic I have ever encountered. The man at this show managed to make everyone regardless of race, age, gender, etc feel as one and as though they could relate to what was being talked about in the music. This is a pretty big deal given that this concert happened during a time where America was still racially segregated and dealing with a great deal of race related violence. The fact that King could bring people from all walks of life under one roof to enjoy themselves and connect with one another during such a time is no small feat.

It is a truly mournful and somber day when one of the true originals and greats has transcended from the realm of the living to the ethereal plane. Hopefully by now he is up in Heaven jamming with many of the other musical legends who have passed on before him. If you are not that familiar with King's work, I cannot advise you enough to go to YouTube, Spotify, Amazon, iTunes, or your local record store to listen to his stuff. It is honest, emotional, and powerful music that will live on long past the man himself. R.I.P. B.B. King. You will be truly missed....

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Throwback Thursday: You Are the Music... We're Just the Band, by Trapeze


Before Glenn Hughes was wailing away on songs like Burn with Deep Purple he was in another band that was beginning to gain some notoriety until he left to join Purple. This was a three piece funk rock outfit called Trapeze. Together this early 70's power trio fused funk, hard rock, soul, jazz, blues, and more. The amazing thing about Trapeze is that although you wouldn't think three little white British guys could be a power house of soul but they proved that if you have a fire in your heart then you can be jamming with the best of musicians. Trapeze hit its climax with the release of its 1972 album (the last one with Hughes before he joined Deep Purple) You Are the Music, We're Just the Band.

You Are the Music... We're Just the Band features a variety of nuances of different musical genres but at the core it is a very funk fused rock n' roll album. However, it does have some tender moments with slower ballads; one of which has the smoothest and sexiest saxophone solo I have ever heard in my life. Hughes manages to reach sky scraping octaves vocally that I didn't even think was possible for a human being to reach. Like, wow. Even if this isn't your preference of music, you still have to appreciate and applaud the man for having some God given talent.

The title track You Are the Music... We're Just the Band is what made me fall in love with Trapeze right away. It showcases the talents of everyone in the band: from Hughes's skyrocketing vocals and nimble bass playing, to Mel Galley's fiery guitar chops, to Dave Holland's thundering on his drum kit. It is an upbeat funk rock dance tune and really will get you moving if you have any soul in your body. It does go on a little long, but if you're getting that much into the groove of the song then it isn't really a problem. This is one of my absolute favorite tracks on the whole album because there are no additional studio musicians and no studio magic. It's just three guys having a blast on their instruments.

As for the slower and more tender ballads I was referring to earlier, Will Our Love End? knocks it straight out of the park. Hughes in this song instead of singing loud and proud with his voice hitting astronomical heights he shows just how beautiful and soulful his voice can be when singing softer, lower, and more melodic. His vocal timbre will make your arm hairs stand up. If that doesn't, then the saxophone solo played by Jimmy Hastings in the interlude sure will. I absolutely love the use of vibraphone as the main instrument rather than the guitar; though guitar is still very much present. It really is a musical cocktail you need to try for yourself to truly enjoy. No explanation could do it justice.

You Are the Music... We're Just the Band is the definition of a hidden gem. It's a shame that its music doesn't get played on regular radio. The songs are classics in my opinion. If you're lucky enough to find a copy of it at your local shop or can get it online I HIGHLY recommend you do. There isn't a single bad track on it. Every song is filled with passion, heat, and soul. You can tell that these three guys were young and out in the world proving just what they could do. Though I'm glad Hughes joined Deep Purple I can only imagined what they might have accomplished had that not happened.

You Are the Music... We're Just the Band, by Trapeze receives 5 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Keepin' Time
2. Coast to Coast
3. What is a Woman's Role
4. Way Back to the Bone
5. Feelin' So Much Better Now
6. Will Our Love End
7. Loser
8. You Are the Music... We're Just the Band

Buy the album on Amazon:

Joe Satriani Reveals Release Date for New Album

Guitar wizard extraordinaire Joe Satriani has just announced that his follow-up to his 2013 release Unstoppable Momentum will be released to the public for sale on July 24th.

The yet to be released album will be titled Shockwave Supernova and it will be a concept album that focuses around Satch's alter-ego/stage persona of the same name. 15 tracks in length it was recorded last year at Skywalker sound in California with Bryan Beller bass, Marco Minnemann on drums, and Mike Keneally on keyboards and rhythm guitar. On the band he has this time around, Satch says: "I couldn’t have asked for a better band to help bring these songs to life."

On the concept of Shockwave Supernova, Satch explains:

"I had a funny thought that I use this alter ego to kind of push me out there and be a showman, because that’s not really how I am – I’m usually more the shy, retiring type. The songs I’ve been writing over the past two years sort of address that transformation, what this guy Shockwave is thinking. It’s a crazy, funny concept."

The concept behind Shockwave Supernova sounds interesting. I'm intrigued to see how Satch pulls off such a concept when at least 90% or more of his work is entirely instrumental. It's nice to see him taking a different approach to writing an album, though. Personally, I felt Unstoppable Momentum was kind of a letdown so I have higher hopes for this new album.

Shockwave Supernova can be pre-ordered on Satch's website, Amazon, and iTunes.

Shockwave Supernova track list:
  1. Lost In A Memory
  2. Crazy Joey
  3. In My Pocket
  4. On Peregrine Wings
  5. Cataclysmic
  6. San Francisco Blue
  7. Keep On Movin’
  8. All of My Life
  9. A Phase I’m Going Through
  10. Scarborough Stomp
  11. Butterfly and Zebra
  12. If There Is No Heaven
  13. Stars Race Across The Sky
  14. Goodbye Supernova

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Top 5 Under Rated Bass Players

In most cases bassists are some of the most overlooked members of a band. Usually they just lay back and lay down a groove for the rest of the band to feed off of and don't concern themselves with getting an abundance of audience attention. From time to time though certain bassists will distinguish themselves and stand out to those who care enough to pay attention. However, there are plenty of bassists who despite having some fantastic chops on their instruments still get glanced over because they don't choose to make a spectacle out of themselves. They bring styles of playing to their respective bands that without them things just wouldn't be the same. Today I'm listing my personal top 5 most overlooked bass players in no particular order.

1. Neil Murray: Whitesnake/Black Sabbath/Brian May Band/etc.

Neil Murray's bass playing feels like it's on a whole other level than that of your run of the mill bass players. In my opinion his style surpasses even that of some more well known bass players because when he plays it's like he is creating a song within a song. It's almost as though Murray's bass is a melodic instrument that still somehow holds together a groove and boosts the lower end of a song. The way he ties things together is phenomenal. The best example of Neil Murray's playing would be in Whitesnake's Trouble album.

2. Gary Thain: Uriah Heep

Gary Thain unfortunately passed from this world too quickly, but when he was in Uriah Heep in the early 70's he presented a style that made the bass a distinguishable instrument from the rest of the band. Thain also made the bass rather melodic and would play so smoothly that in the right context it would make the hairs on your arms and the back of your neck stand up. Of course he also knew when to tone things back a bit and just hold down a steady groove for the rest of the instruments in the band to fall into. The best example of Gary Thain's playing would be Uriah Heep's Demons and Wizards album.

3. Craig Gruber: Elf/Rainbow

Craig Gruber isn't exactly the first name that comes to a hard rock/heavy metal fan's head when they think of the bassist for Rainbow, but he laid down the groove on many of Rainbow's best early tracks including Man on the Silver Mountain and Catch the Rainbow. His playing was not the most melodic, but it managed to fall into pocket in all the right ways and have the right kinds of flourishes at just the right moments. Without his style of playing a lot of the early Rainbow songs just would not have had the same warmth and charm that they did. The best example of Craig Gruber's playing would be Rainbow's Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow album.

4. Glen Matlock: The Sex Pistols

Though Sid Vicious holds the legacy for being bassist for The Sex Pistols it was actually Glen Matlock who helped write the tracks on the one album they did release as he was the original bassist for the band. It's admirable to see someone who actually had some legitimate musical talent just rumbling away on the bass with a lot of attitude and not a care in the world. Fortunately for Matlock whenever The Sex Pistols have reunited he is the one playing with them at the shows (seeing as Sid Vicious died in 1979). The best example of Glen Matlock's playing would be The Sex Pistols' Spunk demo album.

5.  Bob Daisley: Rainbow/Ozzy Osbourne/Gary Moore

Bob Daisley has been in TONS of bands, but his most notable ones were Rainbow, Ozzy Osbourne, and Gary Moore. Daisley wrote most of the lyrics for the vast majority of Ozzy Osbournes early solo albums. His bass playing has also always been up to snuff as he could keep up with the likes of guitarists like Ritchie Blackmore, Gary Moore, and Randy Rhoads. He is very versatile; as he can go from playing something that is straight blues, to hard rock, to fast paced heavy metal. Daisley really should get more credit as a songwriter and player than he has the past 4 decades or so. The best example of Daisley's playing is Ozzy Osbourne's Blizzard of Ozz album.


So did you agree with my list? If not who are some of your favorite bass players that you feel don't get enough credit and limelight? Leave your comments below.

Monday, May 11, 2015

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #25

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

1.  I'm a Man, by The Yardbirds

If you love a good blues romp with some sweet harmonica, you have come to the right place. The mid to late 60's British blues movement provided us with some of the best artists and tunes to ever come out of the genre and would also lay the foundation for hard rock bands to come. The Yardbirds had a number of big name artists go through its ranks like Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page, Cream's Eric Clapton, solo artist Jeff Beck, etc. That being said, if you're looking for the roots of rock as we know it, have a listen.

2. Satellite, by Glenn Hughes

If you feel like toning things down a few notches for a moment and just relaxing (especially at night) then Glenn Hughes can hook you up with his tune Satellite. It has tranquil elements of soft funk to it. While Hughes is known for being a power house of a vocalist, he really shows with many layers of vocals that he can also be melodic and soothing to the soul. Despite his age he shows no sign of slowing down. The bass solo he lays down in the track is also rather slick and quite fitting in the context of the rest of the song. In a way Satellite kind of makes you feel like you're floating slowly through the sky on a cloud on a warm but not too warm summer night.

3. Perpetual Burn, by Jason Becker

Now if riproaring and shredding is more your cup of tea, then give Jason Becker a try. In the late 80's Becker brought the art of neo-classical shred to a whole other level with the release of his debut solo album Perpetual Burn. The title track shows just how much the electric guitar can do when used to its full potential while still also having some passion and soul behind the notes. His performing career was unfortunately cut short when he was diagnosed with ALS at the age of 20. He still composes music to this day however through the use of special computers that follow his eye movements.

4. Carolina, by Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators

This song almost feels like Superstition, by Stevie Wonder on steroids. Slash and his solo band absolutely tear this funky jive up. The use of talk box really does make the song. Don't get me wrong, everything else in the song is great, but it's the groove laid down by the talk box that gets me wanting to stand up and actually shake what my momma gave me despite the fact that I'm a white boy and have no sense of rhythm in my feet.

5. Rolling in the Deep, by Adele

I know this isn't usually the kind of music I write about. Normally I hate top 40 stuff as much as the next person with any taste in music, but I feel Adele is one of the rare exceptions of a popular mainstream artist actually possessing some legitimate talent. Rolling in the Deep really does remind me of the kind of Motown and soul music that I used to listen to a lot when I was much younger. Adele has some serious vocal pipes and you can tell she puts heart and meaning into every last word she belts out.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Ozzy Osbourne Donates $10,000 to Young Percussionists Covering Crazy Train

Nearly 3/4 of a million people have watched the Louisville Leopard Percussionists' unique and thrilling reinterpretation of Ozzy Osbourne's classic song Crazy Train. [You can see it for yourself below] In fact, the Prince of Darkness himself loved it so much that he donated $10,000 from his own pocket to the group.

The Louisville Leopard Percussionists are a youth organization that provide musical education to children between the ages of 7-14 for little to no cost. The organization founded by Diane Downs over two decades ago is comprised of children from 50 different schools in the Louisville area.

Downs says in an interview with NPR:

“I want them to feel like rock starsI want them to realize, ‘Oh, this is why we work so hard in rehearsal.’ I tell them that when you’re presenting something to the public, you don’t want it to be okay — you want it to be great. So, hopefully they’re going to carry that over into their lives once they grow up too.”

This isn't the first time the group has received widespread attention. Back in February the Louisville Leopard Percussionists did their own version of Led Zeppelin's song Kashmir that was shared by guitarist Jimmy Page who said the song was "Too good not to share" when he shared it to his 1.6 million followers.

I think it's great that there are people out there who take the time and effort to help kids realize just how great it can be to play a musical instrument. There is a certain feeling of satisfaction and achievement in being able to do something that not everyone else can. This Crazy Train cover seems to prove just how much of a difference you can make in a kid's life if you give them the chance they need. Kudos to Ozzy for helping to fund such a wonderful program.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Throwback Thursday: School's Out, by Alice Cooper

In 1972 the original Alice Cooper band released its fifth studio album: School's Out. The title track School's Out is of course the album's most well known track that is still a staple in Cooper's live sets as well as played on the radio and used as a down with the establishment anthem to this very day. School's Out as a whole is a concept album that centers around the idea of trying to make your way through the struggles of academia and overbearing authority figures while also dealing with the pains of adolescence.

School's Out showcases the original Alice Cooper band at their most experimental. It features a variety of musical genres from hard rock, to jazz, to western, to even Broadway show tunes. Studio musicians such as the band's producer Bob Ezrin, Dick Wagner, and Rockin' Reggie Vincent were also brought in to add extra tonal layers to the music and make the record that much richer of a musical experience. If you're willing to listen to more than just the title track you're in for quite a unique treat.

School's Out is one of the most iconic songs in rock n' roll. It says everything that the genre was ever about. Who as a kid didn't cherish the idea of on the last day of school just absolutely trashing the place, defying all of the teachers and principals, and then never returning ever again? Musically the song is pretty simplistic but in this particular case it doesn't need to be anything more than what it already is. If anything, its simple yet impacting punch makes the point of the lyrics come across that much clearer and stronger to the intended audience.

Blue Turk is one of the most under rated songs in the Alice Cooper catalog. It is a rather jazzy/swingy mid-tempo kind of tune with a delectable bass line. One of the crown jewels of the song however is the trumpet solo. It is mildly mournful but at the same time it has a smooth sweetness to it that envelopes you in this cool relaxed lounge state of mind. It's the kind of song I would expect to hear if I were going to an old school New Orleans jazz club late at night. Blue Turk isn't exactly the kind of song you would expect to hear on a rock n' roll record, but it is a pleasant surprise nonetheless.

I actually would not consider School's Out to be a rock n' roll album. Instead, I consider it to be 40 minutes of musical exploration and diversity that has all songs built around the same concept and working to further it in a variety of ways. Odds are not every track will necessarily be to your liking, but if you give it a fair shot you will probably end up finding a handful of unexpected gems nonetheless. This really is Alice Cooper and his original band at their most inspired and through the hard work they put in it really shows.

School's Out, by Alice Cooper receives 3.75 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. School's Out
2. Luney Tune
3. Guttercat vs the Jets
4. Street Fight
5. Blue Turk
6. My Stars
7. Public Animal #9
8. Alma Mater
9. Grand Finale

Buy the album on Amazon:

Duff McKagan Streams New Song with Former GN'R Band Mate Izzy Stradlin

Recently it was announced that former Guns N' Roses bassist Duff McKagan would be working with his former band mate guitarist Izzy Stradlin. The two will be putting out a 3 song EP called How to Be a Man on the 12 of this month. To tide us over however, McKagan has put up one of the tracks titled How to Be a Man on his SoundCloud page.

In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, McKagan was asked what it was like to be playing with Stradlin once again. McKagan says:

"His guitar playing is so fucking good. Not that it surprises me, but it's like, 'Oh dude, you've been playing a lot of fucking guitar. What are you doing out there?' He's got a little creative zone out where he lives, and I think he probably sinks himself into that. I write books, I write columns, I'm pretty public, and, of course you can write and still remain private, but he is really just off the grid. His comfort zone is off the grid. He doesn't do any press, he doesn't have a publicist, and he just puts out a record every couple of years on iTunes. He's pretty pure."

The track How to Be a Man is linked at the bottom of the page. It's pretty good. I wouldn't say it was outstanding, but it was of the high caliber you would expect of these two musicians. It had a bit of a Use Your Illusion era of Guns N' Roses undertone to it. Stradlin does some fantastic acoustic guitar work and McKagan's vocals are as pure punk rock as they ever were. It's worth having a listen to if you have a few minutes to spare.

How to Be a Man stream link:

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

AC/DC's Phil Rudd: "I've Seen the Error of My Ways"


Former AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd has opened up to the press with his first interview since he plead guilty to the death threat and drug charges he was arrested for last November.

The interview was done on the Australian program A Current Affair. [The video of it can be watched below.] According to Rudd, the cause of all of the problems going on for him recently was a big "meltdown" caused by the major disappointment with how poorly his 2014 solo album Head Job did.

Rudd says:

“I was pretty stressed at the time. I got back here and the people who I had working for me for this launch — it was a total f—ing disaster. So I was really p—ed off.”

None of the members of AC/DC have been in contact with Rudd since the arrest. Rudd has written to them, but has received nothing but silence in return. The band has been on tour since the release of their most recent album Rock Or Bust and have replaced Rudd with former AC/DC sticksman Chris Slade who played for the band through the late 80's and early 90's.

Rudd says:

“I wrote them a letter, I tried to get in contact with [Angus Young]. I’ve had no contact with anybody. … I’m sure they’re having a great old time. I’m sure they’re really enjoying playing. I’m sure it really sounds great.”

Rudd seems to have had a change in attitude since his first post-arrest interview where he said “I’m going back to work with AC/DC, I don’t care who likes it or who doesn’t. Everyone listens to the wrong people, they should listen to me.” Rudd is doing his best to get out of doing any time in jail, but at the moment he seems to be getting serious about turning his life around for the better. In the clip he says “I’ve seen the errors of my ways. It’s onward and upward from here.”

Hopefully Rudd is true to his word. If he can avoid the jail time (which he probably can because he is a rockstar with tons of money) Rudd can once and for all clean up his act and live out his remaining years with some dignity and respectable behavior. Time will only tell, though.

Monday, May 4, 2015

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #24

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.  Maybellene, by Chuck Berry

Ahhh.... 1950's rock n' roll at its finest. Nothing gets more classic than an upbeat electric guitar boogie about drag racing cars down a country road. Plus, there is a pretty ear pleasing guitar solo for an era where the concept of guitar as a solo instrument was not particularly widespread yet. In my opinion Chuck Berry always was the true King of Rock n' Roll instead of Elvis Presley. Elvis might have done a lot of things first, but that doesn't mean he did them best. All that being said, Maybellene is a blast from the past and is a fun way to augment your sunny afternoons driving with the top down.

2. Binge and Grab, by Buckethead

If the electric guitar is something that truly appeals to you, I could not any more highly recommend the works of Buckethead. He may seem strange because he always wears a mask and bucket on his head, but his guitar chops will quickly win you over. Binge and Grab features him at his most shredding AND melodic. Despite the lack of vocals it is still a very followable song. The melodies, riffs, and guitars solos really do make up for there not being a singer; as is the case for most of Buckethead's works. This is a great driving at sunset kind of tune.

3. Seesaw, by Joe Bonamassa and Beth Hart

For their 2011 collaborative album Seesaw modern blues guitar extraordinaire Joe Bonamassa and powerhouse blues vocalist Beth Hart covered the Aretha Franklin classic Seesaw. Hart does a fantastic job of keeping the soul and passion of the original alive in this cover. You can tell she is giving it everything she's got. Bonamassa while not in the forefront of the song comes busting in with a smooth bluesy guitar solo that absolutely tears things up in the sexiest way possible. It compliments the mood and feel of the tune perfectly.

4. Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?, by Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa was always known for being one of the most out there and eccentric musicians to ever live. He had a lot of musical aptitude and creativity to back all of that up. One of the prime examples of this is his tune Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?. The song is about exactly what you think it's about. It's pretty funny. However, there is some legitimate musical composition behind it that makes it more than just something a pothead would sing at a party. Side note: Zappa was absolutely against drugs and alcohol, so they were never a factor in his song writing. All of those crazy lyrics were just him being him.

5. Love is All, by Roger Glover/Ronnie James Dio

Many of you know the fabled Ronnie James Dio for being the single greatest metal vocalist to ever live. However, he didn't always do such heavy dark music. In fact, there is one song he sang in his early career that is one of the single warmest and happiest songs I have ever heard. In 1974 Dio contributed vocals to a project former Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover concocted that featured dozens of talented musicians called The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast. It was a concept album based on a children's book of the same name. Dio sang 3 songs on it; one being Love is All. It is a parade-esque hippie song of pure love, joy, and celebration. You wouldn't think Dio would sing of such things, but he did. Have a listen for yourself.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Sex Pistols Singer Johnny Rotten: "I Knew Sid Vicious Had No Aptitude For Music"

Sid Vicious is legend in punk rock for being one of the most notorious bassists in the genre while also having no musical talent whatsoever. Even Sex Pistols vocalist Johnny Rotten was aware of the lack of musical talent when he invited Vicious to join the band back in 1977, as he recently has admitted in a recent interview with Rolling Stone.

Rotten says:

"Sid was very, very lazy. He had no work ethic – he never learned anything, and by all accounts he had no aptitude for music at all. It’s curious why I brought him in. It must have been some kind of self-destructive element. But I never had any aptitude until I started. I thought, ‘That’s how it will work. You’ll find your way.’ He got all the postures dead right – he could stare into a mirror for ever."

Rotten elaborated more on what kind of person Vicious was and how fond of him he was by saying:

"He was very hilarious, sarcastic. He loved to imitate people and he could really put them down on it because he was very good at it. But all that went sour when the drugs came in. The personality changed and shifted into a selfish drug-hunting fucker."

Vicious ended up dying in 1979 after a heroin overdose. He had been very depressed; especially since he was the prime suspect for his girlfriend Nancy Sprungen's murder. Despite the tragedy, Rotten says he would not have changed anything about the situation; saying he found it "thrilling".

I guess since punk rock has never been about having an abundance of musical aptitude the choice to induct Vicious into the ranks of the Sex Pistols makes a bit of sense to me. He had the image and attitude down pat. Too bad he couldn't pick up on bass just enough to play through songs properly, though. Either way, Vicious's story is an intriguing one and will be told for years to come.