Monday, May 30, 2016

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #75

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. How You Remind Me, by Nickelback

Who didn't hear this at least half a dozen times or more on the radio every day when it came out in the early 2000's? This was the song that got Nickelback the stardom and status they would achieve before becoming scorned by the masses for God knows what reason. Overplayed though it may be, it still has one of the most pulse pounding epic choruses of the post-grunge period. Taking the concept of introspective meaningful lyrics backed with darker music that builds up to a big chorus as done in the 80's it was one hell of a fusion that worked for countless bands during that point in music history.

2. Side of a Bullet, by Nickelback

This is definitely one of the most metal songs that Nickelback ever put out. It's got some deep grooving riffs that just tear right into you. The best part of the song however is that the solo was an old sample recorded by the late Dimebag Darrell, the guitarist from the legendary metal band Pantera. The lyrics themselves are about the tragic death of Darrell, who was gunned down on stage during a show for his band Damage Plan. It's kind of suiting that the solo is from the man himself.

3. This Afternoon, by Nickelback

I always thought this was one of Nickelback's most chill fun songs. It's not anything balls to the wall, but it still has a lot of heart and soul to it in that it talks about despite the fact you might not always have a whole lot of money you can still have some of the best times in life as long as you have good friends and a good attitude. It's all about doing what you can to scrape by and being happy with virtually nothing.

4. Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting, by Nickelback

I honestly NEVER would have expected Nickelback to cover Elton John, but it honestly works pretty well. Dimebag Darrell and Kid Rock even lend their talents to this one to make it even more fun. I guess it's hard to go wrong when you're doing a masterpiece of a song with that much musical talent on it. They take this cooking tune and turn up the heat to make it even more of a driving guitar based song and it really does manage to kick a lot of ass.

5. Rockstar, by Nickelback

Come on. You knew I had to put this one in when I'm doing an all Nickelback theme post for this week. This one got overplayed way more than How You Remind Me. Hell, it still gets played a lot on the radio even to this day. It's for good reason, though. The song is a humorous examination and mockery of the rock and roll lifestyle that has become so infamous over the decades. Plus, when you've got Billy Gibbons in there doing backing vocals and guitar it's kind of hard for the song not to be something rad.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Rush Guitarist Alex Lifeson Has Hours of Possible Solo Material

Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson seems to be a pretty productive guy. Despite the fact that his band isn't doing much in the way of anything right now, that hasn't kept him from staying busy to the point where he apparently has hours' worth of unused material to do stuff with.

In a recent interview with Guitar Connoisseur, Lifeson talks about this material a little bit, but does not seem to be gun-ho about the idea of actually committing to putting together and recording a new solo album. In addition, Lifeson expresses his feelings on what it was like the last time he recorded a solo album, 1996's Victor.

Lifeson says:

“What I enjoyed most about making that album was the variety of the material. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to explore and expand on certain genres of music that were not necessarily open to me within the context of Rush. The workload was relentless, and I seemed to be working on that album every day for a year, but it was enormously satisfying for me as a songwriter, producer, and musician. I don’t have the same drive to jump into a project like Victor at the moment, but I do have hours of material that does inspire me to at least consider such a thing.”

Right now all the members of Rush seem to be taking a break from doing anything serious musically, as they recently came off a huge tour and are taking the time they need to relax and reconnect with their family and friends. Kind of understandable, really. However, it would be cool to see Lifeson put out a solo album if at any point he works up the motivation and drive to do so. Would be cool to hear him do something entirely instrumental.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Rust in Peace, by Megadeth

In late 1990, Big Four thrash metal legend Megadeth reached a pivotal point in its history with the release of its masterpiece album Rust in Peace and the formation of its first stable and iconic line-up consisting of Dave Mustaine on rhythm guitar and lead vocals, Dave Ellefson on bass, Marty Friedman on lead guitar, and the late Nick Menza on drums. This was arguably the band's biggest album and it helped skyrocket them even further into the stratosphere in the world of metal. In fact, it would become Megadeth's highest charting album.

Rust in Peace definitely shows where Megadeth got more creative in terms of song writing. There were more complex song structures, unusual rhythms, creative guitar melodies, etc. The band became more than just thrash. With their brand of thrash becoming far less formulaic than it was at their inception, they became a metal power house. The lyrics are very much political and religious themed throughout most of the album, but that was nothing new for Mustaine. However, that made them nonetheless piercing and powerful.

Holy Wars...The Punishment Due is one of the single greatest things Megadeth has ever done. There are so many different parts to it that alter in so many ways that at some points it gets difficult to believe that it is all one cohesive song. The amount of amazing riffs packed into one song is astonishing. The lyrics are based entirely on the Northern Irish conflict that had been going on at the time. Personally, I think the best part of the entire song is the short segment that has Friedman playing a rather mystical sounding Arabian acoustic guitar solo before the plugged in guitars come back in and things speed up near the end.

Tornado of Souls has some of the best guitar work on the entire album on it. For one thing, it has nice use of natural harmonics in its intro riff. The solo by Friedman is also blistering and technical, yet at the same time melodic and enjoyable. Songs like this is where Friedman and Mustaine proved they really could work together well as a guitar duo. In terms of vocals, I can't get enough of Mustaine's cat wailing and the harmonies done in the chorus. It's dark and haunting, yet pleasing nonetheless.

Rust in Peace is hands down one of the greatest things to ever happen to heavy metal as a genre. It's big, loud, technical yet accessible, powerful in subject matter and delivery, and so much more. While it isn't where I would recommend starting with Megadeth, it is definitely an essential album to own if you want to get into them or hear where so many modern metal bands got a great deal of their influence from. I would say that Rust in Peace is the closest thing to perfection that Megadeth has ever and probably will ever do.

Rust in Peace, by Megadeth receives 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Holy Wars...The Punishment Due
2. Hangar 18
3. Take No Prisoners
4. Five Magics
5. Poison Was the Cure
6. Lucretia
7. Tornado of Souls
8. Dawn Patrol
9. Rust in Peace...Polaris

Buy the album on Amazon:

Thursday, May 26, 2016

David Lee Roth Hopeful on His Future With Van Halen

Van Halen vocalist David Lee Roth seems to be placing a lot of faith in his band as well as his own future within it, according to a recent video he posted to YouTube.

In the video Roth talks about how he is confident that the line-up of the band that recently toured last year and also recorded 2012's A Different Kind of Truth (the band's first album with Roth since 1984's 1984) will be back at it again soon enough - with himself in the fold of course.

“It’s not like my career path is gonna be altered. I sort of know what the next 10 summers are going to bring. Eddie Van Halen aside — those are ups and downs — I don’t know when we’re going to tour but I have a sense that we will. I don’t know that we’re going to record again — when that’ll happen — but I get the sense that it’s gonna happen.”

Of course there have also been rumours of the band reuniting with former vocalist Sammy Hagar, who took Roth's place when he quit in 1985. Such rumours started when a few months back Hagar tweeted a happy birthday message to Eddie Van Halen. However, nothing of the sort in terms of a reunion have been confirmed. It seems unlikely anyway, considering the last time they tried a reunion back in 2004 things didn't go so well.

Personally, I hope that Van Halen does another album with Roth. As much as I like the Hagar stuff, when I think Van Halen I think David Lee Roth. I'd like to see what kind of new direction they could go from A Different Kind of Truth. It's been far too long since they put out a new album. This time around I'd like to hear some all new material rather than have half of it being shelved material from the 70's that they didn't feel was good enough to make the cut the first time around.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Dave Mustaine Wants All Ex-Megadeth Members to Participate in Nick Menza Tribute Show

By now many of you who follow heavy metal news know that former Megadeth drummer Nick Menza from the band's iconic Rust in Peace line-up passed away this past weekend from a heart attack. Band founder and leader Dave Mustaine has decided he wants to not only do a tribute show for his fallen friend, but wants anyone who was ever in Megadeth to participate in it.

Mustaine says the show take place in California, but has yet to announce any further details on it. The vocalist/rhythm guitarist is hoping to do a rather nice thing for his passed on drummer by putting on this heartfelt tribute concert.

Mustaine in an interview with Albany Q103 says:

“The band has already agree to do a benefit in California. We’re working out the details. We’re hoping to leave an open stage for all the alumni of Megadeth to come and play with us, so we can help leave something for Nick’s children, which I think have been kind of left in a bad way. We want to get all that stuff set up, and right now the wheels are turning.”

It's nice to see how big of a heart Dave Mustaine can have, despite the fact that he has not always placed himself in a favorable light to the public over the years. Even though Menza and Mustaine never did manage to patch things up enough for Menza to rejoin Megadeth it's still always cool to see how they were able to stay close enough friends to where his passing affects Mustaine this much. Plus, the idea of every remaining Megadeth alumni on stage together seems like the most awesome thing to happen in metal in a long while. The idea of Mustaine and ex-lead guitarist Marty Friedman jamming together again is pretty exciting if it happens.

Monday, May 23, 2016

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #74

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. Holy Wars...The Punishment Due, by Megadeth

Since former Megadeth drummer Nick Menza just passed away, I figured I'd remember him and his fantastic work by including my favorite song from his tenure in the band; which was what many people consider the iconic Megadeth line-up. Holy Wars is just fantastic. It's a multi-part thrash fest that features a lot of creativity from its melodic solos, to its punching riffs, to its middle eastern sounding acoustic interlude. If you thought that metal couldn't get that diverse and creative, this is just the track to prove you wrong.

2. Tied Up, by Rival Sons

Big ballsy British blues vibing band Rival Sons from California just put out a new single from their upcoming 5th studio album! This tune while sounding a bit different from the directions the band has gone before still has that distinct Rival Sons booming thunder in the rhythm, fuzzy grooves in the riffs, and moonlit howls in the vocals. It definitely differs from the Led Zeppelin meets British Invasion sound they have gone for. Listen for yourself and you'll hear what I mean.

3. Nobody's Fault But Mine, by Led Zeppelin

Speaking of Led Zeppelin, check out this Blind Willie McTell cover they did. Unfortunately they credit it as their own work, but I guess considering how different it sounds from the original song they may as well have called it their own song. They definitely took this blues classic and Led Zeppelin-ified it. In a way by the time they did this song it was a bit of a throwback to their earlier works from when they were still primarily a heavy blues band. Once again, they blasted the blues into outer space.

4. I'm a Believer, by The Monkees

How about a throwback from our childhoods, eh? I'm still kind of skeptical on the concept of love some times, but who can hate such a catchy tune? It's cheesy 60's pop rock at its absolute finest. It's upbeat, fun, and full of good vibes. It's a great song to dance to even if you don't have a special someone to groove along to it with. Plus, if you're starting out on guitar and want to woo over some girls this is an easy one and is sure to do the trick. Just saying, fellas.

5. Joy to the World, by Three Dog Night

Three Dog Night is one of the coolest bands that I never hear ANYONE talk about. I really don't understand why. They had such a slew of amazing songs - Joy to the World being my absolute favorite. You know when such a powerful soulful voice starts singing a song about a bullfrog named Jeremiah that it's going to be pretty rad. This is a tune that is guaranteed to get you dancing and lift your spirits the moment it starts blaring (because you should NEVER listen to it on low) through your speakers.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Gene Simmons Says the Only Cure for Pedophilia is Death

Kiss front man and bassist Gene Simmons has been known over the years to express some rather bold and usually controversial views. Simmons is at it once again, expressing a rather radical view on pedophiles.

Simmons gave this viewpoint in a recent issue of Classic Rock Magazine in a segment called The Gospel According To... The segment usually covers some rather heavy hitting topics like drugs, politics, pedophilia, and more. You know, stuff that people usually have a strong viewpoint one way or the other on.

Simmons was asked about how he felt about it and said:

"Paedophilia is an incurable condition – death is the only answer, apart from sending them to the gulags of Siberia. And priests who are pedophiles are the lowest of the low. If you put on a priest's collar and use your influence to command someone to suck your cock, there's a special place in hell for you."

I'm kind of wondering what the rest of the big names in rock are going to have to say in response to this, considering the fact almost everything Simmons says usually garners a noticeable amount of response from them. Maybe if we stopped all paying attention to him he might not keep running his mouth, though I guess this time around his feelings about pedophiles does have a certain amount of understandablility to them even if they are rather extreme.

Throwback Thursday: Houses of the Holy, by Led Zeppelin

In 1973 rock giants Led Zeppelin thundered through the front door with one of their biggest productions at that point: their fifth studio album Houses of the Holy (which ironically didn't contain the track of the same name; it would be put on the band's following album Physical Graffiti). The band needed something to follow up their epic album Led Zeppelin IV which contained their most well known track that is forbidden from being played at guitar stores: Stairway to Heaven. Recorded over the span of 9 months, they put a lot of time and effort into making this the most grand thing they could, and they succeeded.

Houses of the Holy goes a different direction than Led Zeppelin's previous efforts as it goes into more hard rock and experimental directions, forgoing the blues and folk sounds that they had previously rooted themselves so heavily in. Some of the songs pack a pretty serious punch, while others get just plain odd (though not in a bad way by any means). Plus, some of the band's most well known tracks such as The Ocean, D'Yer Ma'ker, Dancing Days, and Over the Hills and Far Away.

The Ocean is one of my absolute favorite Led Zeppelin tunes of all time. If you crank it up loud enough you can hear drummer John Bonham say in the background at the start saying in his rough boisterous English accent "We've done four already and now we're steady and then they went one, two, three FOUR.". When Jimmy Page comes in with that big beefy guitar riff along with John Paul Jones thundering along on bass it's incredibly difficult not to move your head along to the groove. In some ways you really do feel like you're on an ocean and hearing it roar.

No Quarter is in my opinion the most peculiar song Led Zeppelin ever put out. You can definitely hear how it inspired later bands such as Rival Sons with the kind of riffs Page threw in and the big thundering rhythms from Jones and Bonham. Robert Plant's vocals get distorted to sound like they are under water for much of the tune, which adds a bit of a psychedelic feel to it. Overall it's a lumbering giant of a song, making you feel like if you're not careful you're going to get stepped on.

Houses of the Holy is definitely one of Led Zeppelin's crowning jewels. I think it deserves a place on the top shelf with the other classics they put out. Half the album is well known radio hits and the other is fascinating soundscapes with more depth to them for the listener who is interested in delving into something a little more interesting than a quick 4 minute radio friendly pop piece. It's a must have for any fan of Led Zeppelin or anyone looking to start experiencing their holy grails of rock n' roll.

Houses of the Holy, by Led Zeppelin receives 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. The Song Remains the Same
2. The Rain Song
3. Over the Hills and Far Away
4. The Crunge
5. Dancing Days
6. D'Yer Mak'er
7. No Quarter
8. The Ocean

Buy the album on Amazon:

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Clapton May Be Thinking of Saying Farewell

It's not secret that over the past few years blues guitar legend Eric Clapton has been considering hanging up his guitar and calling it a day for a peaceful retirement. Though he isn't confirming that he is doing that with his new album I Still Do, he isn't denying it either.

Clapton recently did an interview with Billboard where he said he realizes that each new release he puts out could very well be his final one. The song Clapton recorded for the album I'll Be Seeing You is one that acknowledges his possible retirement. Clapton says:
“It’s one of those things that’s been haunting me. I love the song and I love the sentiment. Just in case I don’t cut another record, this is how I feel. I kind of might be saying goodbye. But I’ve been doing that for a while.”

One thing that can lend credence to the possibility of Clapton retiring is that recording I Still Do was difficult due to the guitarist's problems with eczema. Clapton elaborates:

“It was a nightmare. I started thinking that it was psychosomatic, that maybe I was nervous. And maybe I was. Who knows? I had full-body eczema and it ended up my hands.”
I guess I wouldn't be able to blame Clapton if he did retire due to health reasons. I mean, who could? Can't force the guy to keep doing something if it is literally too painful for him to do. Hopefully though he can find a way to manage his condition so that he doesn't have to give up doing something that he clearly loves more than anything else in the entire world.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Eric Clapton Premieres Psychedelic Music Video For New Single "Spiral"

Eric Clapton has just released a rather trippy new music video for his single Spiral, which will be showing up on his upcoming album I Still Do that comes out May 20th. This will be the first album since 1977 that Clapton has done with producer Glyn Johns since 1977.

The video (which can be viewed below) has a rather 60's psychedelic feel to it and goes through an animated sequence of presenting images of Clapton at various points in his 50+ year career. It's kind of a nice way for the guitarist to give a nod to his background, from before he became an old man who wears khakis and straw hats.

As for the song itself, Sprial isn't anything flashy or out there, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's just Clapton laying down a nice groove with some tasty blues licks while also singing about how glad he is to still be doing what he is doing. Clapton's voice while aged still has that soulful edge to it that occasionally snaps down and bites in just the right way.

It would have been nice for Clapton to actually physically appear in the video in some way or another at some point, but I guess that would kind of take away from the artistic motif of the video. Plus, musicians from his generation don't seem to be too big on the idea of making music videos. Such things are a bit after their time and I can kind of understand to an extent.

Monday, May 16, 2016

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #73

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. Billion Dollar Babies, by Alice Cooper

I've always thought that this was one of Alice Cooper's most hard rocking and pseudo-metal tunes from his original band's days. It's pretty intense right from that drum solo and the dual harmonized guitar solo that introduces the song. One of the other cool things is that folk singer Donovan joins the band on backing vocals and does some rather astounding things, especially in terms of just how high he can get. I think this is probably one of the coolest collaboration songs in classic rock by a long shot.

2. Dream On, by Aerosmith

This seems to be the one Aerosmith song that ALL the chicks dig. Seriously. A large percentage of the girls I've dated or at least talked to with interest as well as my mom seem to get their jollies on with this tune. I guess I can understand. It is pretty rad. It's heartfelt, dramatic, and at times rather emotionally intense. Maybe I don't vibe with it quite the same way that they do, but regardless it's a good tune for if you want to feel like a big shot rock star.

3. D'Yer Mak'er, by Led Zeppelin

Need a bit of reggae in your life? What better way to get it than by listening to four white British guys do it? In all seriousness though, this is a good tune to kick a groove to. It's great for if you want something that is Led Zeppelin, but not quite the in your face balls to the wall blues riffs most people are accustomed to hearing from them. While that stuff is all well and good in its own right, it is always nice to see that artists have the ability to branch out a bit and throw audiences a curve ball.

4. Make It Last, by Montrose

Like many of the other tunes on Montrose's first album, this is a song made of rolling thunder rhythms and then big Led Zeppelin-ish guitar riffs played by the under rated guitar legend Ronnie Montrose. Then of course there is the loud, proud, and soulful Sammy Hagar singing his balls off to top it all off. This is one to blare through your speakers at top volume because anything less is just a slap in the face to the awesomeness that is this song. 

5. Lookin' For a Kiss, by The New York Dolls

When I say I'm in love, you'd best believe I'm in love - L-U-V. It's always interesting to really take a closer look at bands like The New York Dolls because while on the surface they seem like another loud, over made-up glam band their lyrics cut pretty deep into the heart of teenage angst, drug problems, and other dark parts of modern culture. Lookin' For a Kiss is a prime example of this because it delves right into the heart of peer pressure and doing drugs all while set to some bouncy bluesy rock n' roll.


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Misfits to Reunite with Danzig and Doyle to Headline Riot Fest

It seems all kinds of long drawn out feuds in the world of rock n' roll can eventually come to an end, given the right circumstances. First Guns N' Roses, then Paul Stanley and Ace Frehley of Kiss, and now Glenn Danzig and Doyle Von Frankenstein with horror punk icons The Misfits.

After 30+ years, Danzig is FINALLY reuniting with the only original member remaining in the current line-up of the band he started bassist Jerry Only along with former guitarist Doyle. The three plus whatever drummer they hire will be headlining the annual Riot Fest in Chicago on September 16-18 and in Denver from September 2-4.

For those of you that don't know, The Misfits are a horror punk band started in 1977 by singer Glenn Danzig. Through 1983 the whole project was his brain child until he disbanded it to pursue other things. In 1995 the band reunited without him (he didn't want in), got a new singer, and carried on until now with members swapping out except for Only.

I'm a bit astounded to hear that such a thing is happening, consider only a couple of years ago Danzig was suing his old bandmate Only for using the band's imagery by putting it under under his own name to cut Danzig out of whatever future deals there might have been. My guess is that Danzig is probably out of money and needs something huge like this in order to keep his head above water. Regardless, I'm still pretty stoked that this is happening and wouldn't mind seeing it for myself.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Killer, by Alice Cooper

In 1971 the original Alice Cooper band put out their fourth album Killer, which was the second to be put out on Warner Bros. Records (the label that got them to the level of fame they would achieve). This album was where the band would get musically and lyrically darker, with tracks like Dead Babies stirring up a noticeable amount of controversy around them. This of course would naturally only help the band become more popular with the younger generation.

Killer is where the Alice Cooper band finally gained some real focus and direction with the sound and themes they wanted to present their audience with. As mentioned before, they got a lot darker and more hard rocking with songs like Dead Babies, Killer, Desperado, etc. At the same time they went in a more progressive direction with tunes like Halo of Flies. Naturally however they had to have some commercial appeal as well, so they put on Under My Wheels and Be My Lover (which in my opinion are two of the best songs they ever put out).

Dead Babies is NOT quite what people think it might be on a surface level. If you examine its lyrical content it's clearly professing an anti-child abuse message. However, it caused the controversy it did due to the fact that people are quick to judge and not take a closer look before getting all riled up. That said, it really makes you take a look at the state of society even today when you have parents out and about doing all kinds of messed up things while ignoring their young children that are clearly in need of attention and care.

Under My Wheels is one of my absolute favorite Alice Cooper songs. It's a simple straight up rocker that clocks in under three minutes, but it's fun, up-tempo, driving (go figure), etc. It's one of those tunes you will definitely air guitar and bang your head along to. Plus, the backing horn section gives it a bit extra pop and shine (not something you often associate with Alice Cooper, but still works in this context). Plus, the lead guitar work from Glen Buxton is pretty flashy and snazzy too.

Killer is one of those albums where if you really want to see where shock rock as we know it came from, it's where to begin. From start to finish there are all kinds of macabre, dark, and disturbing themes; some of which are all the more unnerving because of how real some of them are in the world around us. I guess some times we need shock rockers like Alice Cooper in order for us to realize just how much of a dark underbelly we as a society have. That said, Killer is definitely an Alice Cooper classic for a reason.

Killer, by Alice Cooper receives 4 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Under My Wheels
2. Be My Lover
3. Halo of Flies
4. Desperaado
5. You Drive Me Nervous
6. Yeah, Yeah, Yeah
7. Dead Babies
8. Killer

Buy the album on Amazon:

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Original Alice Cooper Band Working on New Album

While the world of rock n' roll has suffered a great deal of losses recently, we are getting something pretty awesome to help make this difficult time a little easier: a brand new album from all of the members of the original Alice Cooper band.

Cooper's previous effort was an all covers album with a variety of rock n' roll royalty to pay tribute to his dead friends. This time around, he is doing another nostalgic project, but with new material based on the sound of his 1971 album Killer. Cooper recently did an interview in The Weekender where he explained the project.

Cooper says:

“We’ve always been a hard rock band, guitar rock, and I’ll never give that up. But every once in a while, though, there’s just a flavor of what album do we want to go to here to give it that flavor. And it seems to be going toward the Killer album. And I kind of go, that album, let’s revisit the sound of that album and what we were kind of thinking. You can never go back and totally recapture it, but you can certainly look at the elements that made that album work the way it did.

We worked together in Phoenix for about two weeks just writing songs and demoing songs. And you never know which ones are going to make the album, but I said let’s do that. It’s fun to go back and work with guys you haven’t worked with in awhile. It’s not trying to recapture your youth. It’s trying to recapture a sound. And it’s a very elusive sound.”
Personally I'm STOKED for this album. This is kind of what I was hoping for when I heard the band was reuniting on Cooper's 2011 release Welcome 2 My Nightmare instead of it just being three tracks. While some of Cooper's newer stuff has kicked some serious ass, there is nothing quite like the magic the old band had when they were originally making music. Hell, you can even hear it on the aforementioned tracks as well.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Axl Rose Didn't Speak to Brian Johnson Before Taking Over AC/DC Vocal Duties

You would think that when taking someone's place in something big and meaningful to them that you would at least have a conversation with the person you are replacing before doing so. It would seem that Guns N' Roses front man Axl Rose did not talk to Brian Johnson before temporarily taking over vocal duties in AC/DC before taking the gig.

While many (myself included) would normally find that to be a rather dickish move, Rose does give a reason for it. According to him, there was no time to make the "perfect arrangements" before the first show (May 7th).

In an interview with NME, Rose says:

“I have not spoken with Brian. We haven’t spoken much about Brian. There hasn’t been any negative talk with the guys or anything – it’s just the time schedule of having to get things together for the shows, while I also had Guns N’ Roses commitments, and then breaking the foot."

While I get that Rose might have wanted to make the right arrangements to talk to Johnson about taking over the job (even if only temporarily) I think he could have at least made a phone call. I think he could have easily done that much. However, what's done is done I guess. Regardless, I think Rose has DEFINITELY done a fantastic job so far covering for Johnson. He NAILS those songs dead on without trying to copy either of the band's famous vocalists.

Monday, May 9, 2016

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #72

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. Highway Star, by Deep Purple

You can't get more classic pedal to the metal than this. Right from the build-up intro you know you're about to be blasted into overdrive with this Deep Purple ripper about rocketing through the countryside in the fastest car around. Plus, it has Ritchie Blackmore's most iconic guitar solo of all time. It's almost like it's own little tune within a song. It's high octane fun from start to finish with no slowing down to breathe whatsoever.

2. Starman, by David Bowie

This tune is probably my number one favorite David Bowie tune of all time. It's the first Bowie tune I ever learned to play on guitar. It's upbeat while mellow, riffy but melodic, and overall really fun. Would you expect anything less from David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust era music? That guitar melody that comes after the chorus always hits the spot for me every time I put the tune on. It might not be the most rock n' roll song out there, but I think it has just as much balls as any heavy metal tune ever written.

3. Circle of Hands, by Uriah Heep

Ken Hensley's enormous Hammond organ playing really takes the forefront in this monster of a tune. The beauty lies in the contrasts that it jumps between. It goes from loud and stomping to soft and ambient with little to no warning in the most precise ways. I have to admit that the timbre of David Byron's voice also does well for the song because you feel like you're listening to a beautiful wizard who has seen so many things tell you a story and provide wisdom.

4. Buick Mackane, by T. Rex

This is probably one of the sexiest songs that Marc Bolan lead glam rock band T. Rex ever put out. It has this groove to it that you can just feel yourself slithering and moving to. Plus, the lyrical content while somewhat sparse does give you that kind of feeling as well. You can tell that the focus of this song is more on the musical content than the lyrical, which in certain contexts (this one included) is not a bad thing by any means.

5.  Snowblind, by Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath were absolutely notorious back in their heyday for their rampant drug use. They didn't really do much to cover it up. Their music is proof enough of that; especially with one of the main singles from their album Volume 4 titled Snowblind. Oh no. This isn't about cocaine use. Nope. Not at all. Regardless, it's a big rolling thunder rumble of a song. It's exactly what you want from them. It's loud, drug infused, and will make your ears ring for a week if played at the proper volume.


Saturday, May 7, 2016

AC/DC's Angus Young Insists Brian Johnson Wasn't Fired

Ever since long time AC/DC singer Brian Johnson left the band recently due to health concerns regarding his hearing, many fans have speculated and started rumours that he was fired by the band rather than leaving of his own accord. However, in a recent video interview with lead guitarist Angus Young, bassist Cliff Williams, and Guns N' Roses and temporary AC/DC stand-in singer Axl Rose Young insists that is not the case.
Young says:
“You get a lot of rumors out there; a lot of people think Brian was fired. That’s not the case. It was mainly his hearing. He already had a very bad ear, and the good ear that he had left was dropping rapidly. I mean, it was ongoing … all the way pretty much through the tour from the beginning.”

Williams also put his two cents in, saying:

“He had an instance where there was a marked drop in that one good ear and it came back, but not completely. The doc told him this can happen again and it may not come back. So, you know, you kind of — what do you do with that?”
Understandably AC/DC was going to get a lot of backlash from the fans no matter what they did because if they cancelled the rest of the tour, thousands of people who paid good money would be let down. If they carried on however, fans would be angry that they were trying to replace the band's beloved front man. Young comments on the situation, saying “We wouldn’t win in a lot of situations, because if we just stopped, there would have been a lot of people unhappy.”
As many of you already know, AC/DC has in fact decided to continue on by having Rose stand in for Johnson for the remainder of the Rock or Bust tour. This of course has met with many mixed reactions, including several fans returning their tickets for a refund. I can kind of understand where they are coming from, but at the same time I think they are missing out because this is a once in a life time kind of opportunity. Nobody can replace Brian Johnson, but getting the chance to see two rock n' roll gods join forces like this is something you don't see every day. Personally, I envy the people who are still going to go to the shows.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Throwback Thursday: British Steel, by Judas Priest

In 1980, metal legends Judas Priest put out the album British Steel, which would launch them into super-stardom and cement them as an institution of the world of mainstream metal. After years of hard work and building up fame and reputation among the more dedicated metal fans during the 70's, the band refurbished their sound to a more radio friendly vibe and then finally broke into the sight of the general public and put out a record packed with classics from start to finish.

British Steel as mentioned earlier is when Judas Priest worked more on making their hard hitting, unrelenting metal sound a bit more digestible by the masses. While the tunes on here are still by all means Judas Priest, they are a bit easier to follow. Songs like Breakin' the Law, Livin' After Midnight, United, etc. were exactly the kinds of hit singles they needed in order for them to attain the kind of commercial success they needed if they were going to keep going into the 80's.

United is probably one of my favorite Judas Priest tracks of all time. It might not have any wicked guitar solos, but what it lacks in technical prowess it makes up for in raw power and inspiration. It's such an anthemic tune, just like the title might suggest. It's all about banding together as brothers/sisters and not letting anything that may come our way get us down or make us give in. It packs a punch and makes you want to march and bang your head. That big chorus at the end really makes you feel like you're a part of something big and grand.

Breakin' the Law of course is a Judas Priest classic and a metal standard. I don't think I've ever seen a metal bar band that DIDN'T play this song at some point during their set. Honestly though, I think it's for good reason. Its riff is iconic. It makes you want to put your pedal to the metal and sing along with every last word as though you were more bad ass than you really are. Of course everyone can sing along with the chorus pretty easily because there is absolutely no melody to it whatsoever. However, that is by NO means a bad thing. Naturally Rob Halford makes up for it with his gritty punchy vocals.

Honestly, British Steel does deserve all the hype it gets. It's by no means my favorite Judas Priest album, but it's a classic for a reason. It has a lot of memorable fun songs that everyone expects to hear at their concerts, and is a great way to satisfy your metal soul if you need something to give you that extra bit of punch to get you through your day. Plus, if you're new to metal it's a great way to get your feet wet. You can never go wrong by popping this album into your player.

British Steel, by Judas Priest receives 4 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Rapid Fire
2. Metal Gods
3. Breaking the Law
4. Grinder
5. United
6. You Don't Have to Be Old to Be Wise
7. Living After Midnight
8. The Rage
9. Steeler

Buy the album on Amazon:

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Ahmet Zappa Writes Public Letter to Brother Dweezil Over Family Dispute

Recently a dispute has arisen in the late Frank Zappa's family over the rights to play their father's music live. Dweezil Zappa has accused his brother Ahmet Zappa in an article in the New York Times of extortion in terms of how much he has to pay to play his father's music and use the name Zappa Plays Zappa to tour under. However, Ahmet has now fired back in a public letter, giving his side of the story.
The letter reads:
Strange to be writing this in public, but I don't know how else to respond. 
After reading the article in The New York Times, I'm not sure how else to reach you. If we talk through our lawyers, it's not because I want that. It's because you've refused to talk any other way. I've been reaching out to you for months. I even tried to set up a family meeting so we could discuss all of our family issues, but you repeatedly said you couldn't fit it into your schedule, and that you weren't available to attend without your lawyers present. 
Instead, you've given this incomplete, misleading story to the NYT and the media, and invited the whole world to take sides about our family business. Now, we're becoming "that family" – the spoiled brats arguing in public about who deserves what. 
I understand you're hurting and angry. We all are. But the more we fight about this in the press, the worse it gets for all of us. We're not gaining anything by doing this in public. 
If you're not willing to talk to me, though, I don't know what else to do. The New York Times has a story about a version of me that isn't based on facts or reality, and I don't know how else to set the record straight – or get you to talk to me – except to write this here, where people can form opinions by reading what I said for themselves. 
If you want to share private facts and legal documents, we can do that too, because honestly, we both know what'll happen: it will give everyone a complete picture of what's happening. Not the distorted one that's out there now, which makes it look like this is about business crushing art, or me being a greedy asshole who wants to take away your rights. 
 I don't know how else to start, so I'll just respond to a few things I've read:

1. The article claims that you're no longer allowed to perform under the name Zappa Plays Zappa.

Not true, and we both know it. I have never asked you to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to use the ZPZ name. You've only been told that you can't keep using the name without agreeing to a fee of $1 per year, which you're fully aware of, but never mentioned in your interviews. I'll come back to that in a second. But just so everyone is clear:

Fact: You can absolutely keep touring under the name Zappa Plays Zappa.

You could do it tomorrow, and honestly, I hope you will. You’re a fucking guitar god and in my opinion one of the best guitar players in the world. You do an amazing job playing our father's music with total integrity. Your tours help keep Frank's name alive, just like the work Gail and I have done through the ZFT. 
This isn't about your tours, or art, or even about you. This is about the way the Trust was set up ages ago: if any of us use the "Zappa Plays Zappa" name for commercial purposes, a share of the profit goes back to the ZFT, to cover the high costs involved in maintaining the business and releasing more of Frank's content for the fans. Period. 
The point is: No one is stopping you from using the name, as long as you follow the exact same rules as the rest of us.  
And before anyone starts thinking that we're trying to screw you, let's talk about fees again.

2. The article claims that if you perform without paying the ZFT an "exorbitant fee," you'll be charged up to $150,000 for each song you play.

Again, not even close to true. 
Honestly, this was the part that really hurt, because now a lot of Frank's fans think I'm some greedy dude who's just in this for the money. Can't blame them. It sounds like blackmail. Like I don't want you to be able to play Frank's music. If I read that article without knowing the rest of the facts, I'd think I was a greedy asshole too.
 It's just not true. 
Personally, I don't think the fee Gail asked for was exorbitant. If you want, we can share the exact terms with the public, instead of just asking them to take our word for it. But even if the price was too high, it doesn't matter anymore, because I didn't want it to be an issue for you. That's why I suggested a workaround. 
So, if you're going to share family business with the whole world, I wish you'd tell them the whole story:

Fact: The "exorbitant fee" you're now being asked to pay the ZFT, to keep using Frank's name and performing his songs, is $1 per year.

That's not because the ZFT needs that money. I think we can live without an extra buck every year. It's because that token payment handles the legal requirement. Even though I thought the original fee was reasonable, I wanted to find a way to get us past this. 
And again, it's not just you: it's all four of us. If I want to perform Frank's music, I'll pay $1. So will Diva and Moon. That's just the deal, and I think it's a pretty reasonable solution. 
One dollar, man. It doesn't seem like The New York Times knew that part. 
And that's what hurts. If I was the greedy, deceitful asshole I'm reading about, I wouldn't be working this hard to find a way to make everyone happy.

3. The article suggests that this is all happening suddenly, that I'm changing the terms of your deal with the ZFT, and that you're being singled out.

Again, none of this is true. 
First, this isn't sudden or new. That was always the deal Gail put in place – not just for you, but all of us. Gail's decision was always that any of us who want to use the name – you, me, Moon, Diva – can perform under that name. 
But be honest: Frank Zappa's legacy isn't something we built, and "Zappa Plays Zappa" isn't a name that any one of us "owns" or has special claim to. We all got the same name at birth, and as the four beneficiaries of the ZFT, we all have an equal right to benefit from that name. 
That's why Gail decided that any Zappa using the name "Zappa Plays Zappa" would pay a percentage of profits to the ZFT, where it could keep the family business going. 
That rule doesn't just apply to you. It's for all four of us. 
A lot of people don't seem to realize this, but when you pay that fee – not even up front, but with a share of the profits you made performing our dad's music, and selling merchandise with his picture and name – it's not like it goes into my pocket. Most of it goes to the ZFT, so we can afford to keep remastering and releasing more of Frank's music to the fans, and building the business. 
I know the business side of Frank's legacy is less romantic than going out and touring with the music, but it's pretty damn important to me, and to the fans. It's also pretty damn expensive – and takes a ton of work. That's why Gail told us we have to sell the house: because she knew how much it would cost to maintain the catalog, work out deals with distributors, and get more content out to fans. Gail spent most of what we had just fighting to make sure we'd keep the rights to Frank's catalog. 
And when the ZFT does have profits, we split them between the four of us. I'm getting enough heat on social media that I'm betting a lot of people don't realize that you also receive funds from the ZFT. Even when you do pay fees to use the Zappa name, and sell Zappa merchandise, you receive a portion of the profits from it. 
I could say more, but it still feels weird to be saying all of this in public, especially when it feels like everyone is hoping for more drama. But, if I keep seeing inaccurate and misleading articles about what's happening, I don't know what you want me to do. Pretend it's true? Can't do that.
Again, if you won't talk to me about this, and want to work things out in public, we can. Privacy has always been important in our family, but that doesn't mean I have anything to hide. I just don't see how it helps anything to get the media and the public to take sides, especially when they don't have all the facts. 
If you're willing to talk – and not just through a lawyer – I hope you'll call me. 
Your Brother, 
After reading all this I'm definitely curious to see whose side of the truth is more accurate and where all of this is really coming from. I hope Dweezil gets his ducks back in a row with the whole Zappa Plays Zappa thing because from what I've heard he really does do the music some serious justice. It's just a shame though when petty bickering and drama get in the way of what is really important. I suppose it's only a matter of time though before Dweezil fires back.

Monday, May 2, 2016

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #71

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. Space Child, by UFO

Some times you need something that gives you those middle of the night solitary feels. Every time I listen to this I get the mental image of a gentle breeze brushing me across my cheek on a warm but not too warm summer night while sitting on my lawn or somewhere peaceful outside. The lyrics have nothing to do with that, but that's still what I get. In addition, it's some of the best melodic non-shred guitar solo work I have ever heard out of Michael Schenker. That dude really does have some talent and range.

2. Who Made Who, by AC/DC

This tune sounds fairly similar to Thunderstruck, which is why I'm guessing it doesn't get quite as much attention. I find that kind of odd though considering that Who Made Who came out five years previous. Regardless, it's still a pretty rocking tune in its own right. It has a cool legato riff that Angus Young absolutely tears it up on with Brian Johnson doing those demonic yet alluring screams of his. You do hear this one on the radio still every now and again, and when you do you should CRANK it.

3. Wild Horses, by The Rolling Stones

This is an under rated Rolling Stones classic. It might not be upbeat or rocking and rolling (as it is unapologetically a love ballad), but it has some raw, genuine emotion poured into it through every member of the band. It's one of those moments in the Stones' catalog where they take time from all of the big ego stuff to actually sing about feelings and stuff that really matter to them. It's calming, relaxing, and will kind of make you think of your own experiences with the kind of love where not even wild horses could drag you away from it.

4. Rock and Roll High School, by The Ramones

Now if something a bit more rocking and rolling is what you're after, then you can't go wrong with The Ramones. Now while I do NOT condone the blowing up of buildings, this song does bring out the young angry teen in me that absolutely HATED high school and would have loved to see my favorite rock n' roll band come in and rescue me from it. If you're looking to get your teenage angst out or are looking to relive your younger days for a couple minutes, look no further.

5. In the Air Tonight, by Phil Collins

Now if you REALLY want a song that will give you those late night solitary feels and all the other stuff I mentioned earlier, THIS is the song to go with. It's great to drive at night with the windows down to. I don't care how many times this song gets over played, that drum break will ALWAYS be one of the most epic things to ever happen in music. That transition from cheap electronic drums to the real thing just makes the hairs on my arms and the back of my neck stand up. It's played too much for a reason.