Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Bun E Carlos Doesn't Foresee Another Cheap Trick Reunion

Back in April, the classic line-up of Cheap Trick reunited for the first time in years to perform at their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It's been quite a few months since then though and many people are wondering if there will be more activity from this favored version of the band. Sadly however, former drummer Bun E Carlos feels that further reunions with his old band are quite unlikely.

Though Carlos had a lot of fun playing with Cheap Trick again and that it really felt like old times, it's not something he really sees in the cards for a variety of reasons (one including the royalties feud with vocalist Robin Zander that was only settled just this past May).

In an interview with Radio.com, Carlos says:

"It probably was the last time, and it was real fun to get up and play. Like when bassist Tom Petersson rejoined the band in 87, when we sat down to practice, it was like, 'Oh yeah, the four of us play so much better together than the three of us without one guy.' It was kind of that good old feeling again, and that was real nice.

I’ve been asked repeatedly lately, ‘Are you ever gonna play with these guys again?’ I’m sure some promoter will come along and cough up the dough and offer us one more tour. And they’ll say, ‘Hey, that guy’s not so bad, let’s do one more.’ I really don’t anticipate that happening, though."

Kind of sad to see that there probably won't be any more Cheap Trick reunions, but I guess some times when something is meant to be over, it's meant to be that way for a reason. Plus, it's not like Carlos isn't busy or anything. Earlier this year he put out his debut solo album Greetings from Bunezuela. I hope whatever happens Carlos is happy and that Cheap Trick can keep rocking on till they can rock no more.

Monday, July 25, 2016

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #83

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. Mama, by My Chemical Romance

Yes, I'm throwing in something completely different from what I usually put in just to keep y'all on your toes. I don't usually listen to much emo stuff, but this song is so quirky and catchy (despite its incredibly dark overtones) that I can't help but find myself tapping my toes along to it and singing it long afterward. It has a rather eastern European folksy nature to it at some points, but then at others it is unapologetically punk rock. It works out surprisingly well.

2. Too Rolling Stoned, by Robin Trower

This is one of those cool songs where it has multiple distinct parts that get switched between. It goes from a funky uptempo groove to a slow, swaggering blues tune and then back again. Lots of soul here. You can kind of tell this is one of those songs that just came together by the band jamming and jamming and jamming (especially since it clocks in at about 7 and a half minutes). This was also one of my nephew's favorite songs when he was still a baby, so that should also give it further credit.

3. Come on Feel the Noise, by Slade

This song is better known for the version that Quiet Riot put out, but quite frankly I like this original version by UK glam rock outfit Slade better because it has more sparkle, shine, and warmth to it. Plus, it feels like the band is having a bit of a party while jamming this out. Vocalist Noddy Holder in my opinion is also one of the most under rated and sadly overlooked singers in the many decades of history of rock n' roll. So much power, grit, and soul in that voice. It hits you like a truck in all the best ways.

4. Review Your Choices, by Pentagram

If you like Black Sabbath, then odds are you're going to like Pentagram. They both have a rather similar sound, though Pentagram is not completely a clone of the famed doom metal quartet. This tune in particular has that Sabbath feel, but Bobby Liebling's voices is NOTHING like Ozzy Osbourne's and it works quite well for what the band is doing. The lyrics are rather full of dark imagery and flow quite well. I like the phrasing and the way the verses connect to and reference one another. Give it a listen.

5. Anyone's Daughter, by Deep Purple

You really don't hear a whole lot of ballads like this any more. It has sort of a Bob Dylan-esque quality to it (though quite frankly Ian Gillan's voice is a thousand times better than Dylan's ever was). This is one of those songs I'd definitely consider a toe tapper and could hear someone performing in a pub. I think one of the best parts of the whole song though is Jon Lord's piano solo part-way through. It's so bluesy, yet at the same time still has some classical elements to it.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Lost Beatles Demo "It's For You" Rediscovered

Some times pieces of high cultural importance may slip through the cracks and be lost to the sands of time - for a long while anyway. Fortunately some times by chance they get dug back up and are able to be shared with all the world - never to be lost again. Such is the case for a long lost Beatles demo It's For You, which was a song the band had given to singer Cilla Black (who died last year).

Relatives of Black had been going through some of the singer's belongings and found 21 discs of the singer's music. They found an envelope with her name on it and assumed it was just a copy of the single. They took all 21 discs to the Liverpool Beatles Shop to get appraised, when the manager of the shop Stephen Bailey was taken by surprise by what they had actually managed to find.

In an interview with Telegraph, Bailey says:

“We got to the last one, and as soon as I heard it, I thought, ‘Oh God, that’s not Cilla Black. It’s Paul McCartney. I was shaking with excitement and speechless. I realized that this was the long lost Beatles demo disc from 1964, and I was probably one of the few people to have seen and heard it in over 50 years.”

Black managed to take It's For You up to #7 on the charts in the U.K. during the summer of 1964. McCartney played the piano on the recording and producer George Martin produced it. The Beatles' demo of the song is expected to go for between $20,000-$26,000 when it goes up for auction on August 27th at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts.

Personally, I'm stoked by the fact that even after all these years there is still more Beatles music that has yet to be heard by the masses. Considering what cultural icons they are it's important for such things to be preserved and be heard by all of the millions of fans out there. You can listen to a 20 second sample of It's For You here at the auction website. It's grainy and crackles like old tape from a bygone era would, but it's full of that magic and soul that The Beatles put into every song nonetheless.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Denim & Leather, by Saxon

Some times it's good for us as music lovers to look at bands that have slipped through the cracks of mainstream music over the years. If we do we'll often find hidden treasures that we might not have known about before. A highly prevalent example of this would be NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) band Saxon. In the early 80's they put out a string of albums that many in the heavy metal community consider to be classics. Today we'll be focusing on one of their most beloved works (and the last with their classic line-up) Denim & Leather, which came out in 1981.

Denim & Leather is crunchy, overdriven, crank up your stereo kind of music from start to finish. Not a single slow, soft, or dull moment on it. The rhythms thunder, the guitars punch and wail, the vocals soar to the heavens, and then some. You can feel that old school leather metal vibe off of it (if the title track didn't give that away) where you can tell it's rock n' roll rooted, but sped up and made heavier and faster. It spawned two Saxon's most well known songs: Princess of the Night and the title track Denim & Leather. Though not the most lyrically profound of an album, it still has no lack of raw talent, drive, and a clear sense of love for what is being created and performed.

Never Surrender is one of those songs I could have heard myself blaring through my speakers a lot in my adolescence. It's all about rolling with the punches, not taking the attacks thrown your way (be they physical or not), and getting out the other side stronger. Granted, a lot of the lyrics are rather down and dirty street themed but that's what gives it that universal appeal. The heavy riffs and blistering guitar solos definitely help drive the point home as well.

Denim & Leather is one of those tracks where despite the fact I only just started listening to Saxon last week I'm playing it over and over again and feel like it's been part of me my whole life. The riff is catchy and the lyrics speak straight to my soul. It's very anthemic in nature. I can just hear it being played at a big stadium show. It's definitely a big love letter to the band's fans for helping them get as far as they did as well as celebrating the culture that surrounded heavy metal at the time.

Overall Denim & Leather may not be the greatest heavy metal album and I can see why Saxon might not have had as big of an appeal to a wider audience, but that by no means tarnishes the great music on this record. It's heartfelt and has everything associated with the true spirit of heavy metal. It's loud, raw, full of attitude, and proud. This is a fun album to put on when you want to liven up a gathering, put the pedal to the metal, or want to feel really cool. It's definitely also something I'd recommend to a beginner metal head.

Denim & Leather, by Saxon receives 3.75 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Princess of the Night
2. Never Surrender
3. Out of Control
4. Rough and Ready
5. Play It Loud
6. And the Band Plays On
7. Midnight Rider
8. Fire in the Sky
9. Denim and Leather

Buy the album on Amazon:


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Donald Trump Ignores Queen's Publishers When Asked to Stop Using "We Are the Champions"

Republican U.S. president candidate Donald Trump has never been particularly well known for his willingness to listen to people or play by the rules. This time he has decided to give Queen and their publishing company Sony/ATV Music Publishing the finger by continuing to use the band's classic anthem We Are the Champions at his events despite the fact that he has been formally asked to desist.
Though Queen guitarist Brian May had previously made a statement about how he wanted Trump to stop and he and the band do NOT support or endorse Trump in any way, Sony/ATV Music Publishing just put out a statement that says basically the same thing, reading:
“Sony/ATV Music Publishing has never been asked by Mr. Trump, the Trump campaign or the Trump Organization for permission to use ‘We Are the Champions’ by Queen. On behalf of the band, we are frustrated by the repeated unauthorized use of the song after a previous request to desist, which has obviously been ignored by Mr. Trump and his campaign.

Queen does not want its music associated with any mainstream or political debate in any country nor does Queen want ‘We Are the Champions’ to be used as an endorsement of Mr. Trump and the political views of the Republican Party. We trust, hope and expect that Mr. Trump and his campaign will respect these wishes moving forward.”
Personally I'm amused by how many bands keep telling Trump to stop using their music. I can't say I blame them, really. I wouldn't want my music associated with him either. It's pretty clear though that he is going to do whatever he wants regardless of what laws are in place and whoever's toes he steps on in the process (as he lacks a sense of basic respect and morals). Personally if I were the publishing company, I'd sue Trump. He'd probably find a way to get out of it though knowing his status and connections.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Op-Ed Piece: Should AC/DC Retire?

Tonight I kind of felt like a change of pace was in order. It's been a while since I did an op-ed piece, so I figure there is no time like the present to change that. That said, something has been floating around in my head lately: Should AC/DC after 4+ decades of rocking the world hang up their instruments and call it a day?

Well to be honest, it's kind of a complex issue. There are plenty of reasons both for and against the idea of the Aussie band to retire. Before I get to my final opinion though, I think I'm going to go into a bit of detail on each side.

Reasons they should NOT retire:

1. AC/DC is a major household name when it comes to rock n' roll. No matter how old they get or who is in the band at the moment (as long as lead guitarist Angus Young is there) they will sell out big venues in a snap. There is always tons of money to be made.

2. Millions of fans across the world would be sad to see them go and not have the chance to see them live or get any more new music from them. They have become a household name as previously mentioned because for many of us they have gotten so close to our hearts. To many they are the definition of rock n' roll and without them around it would feel like a big fundamental part of ourselves was gone.

3. Regardless of who they have in the band they still sound GOOD. At the very least the people replacing the key members seem to really care about giving their all and giving the fans the absolute best AC/DC experience humanly possible for them.

Reasons they SHOULD retire:

1. Angus Young is the only original/notable member of the band left. Everyone else but him at this point is just a stand-in. In my opinion Black Ice was the last real AC/DC album/tour because after that members started leaving for various reasons. Drummer Phil Rudd was arrested for drugs and trying to hire a hit man. Rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young was diagnosed with dementia and could no longer remember how to play any of the songs. Singer Brian Johnson can't perform live any more because if he does he will lose his hearing completely. Bassist Cliff Williams (who was the only person left from the 70's other than Angus on the Rock or Bust tour) will be retiring at the end of the tour.

Each member of the band that is gone means another piece of the engine is gone and therefore makes AC/DC lose that much more of what made it the awesome band it is/was. It would feel kind of dishonest to keep calling it AC/DC without them. Any further tours they would do would be purely a cash grab.

2. Without Malcolm or Johnson in the band the creative engine in the band is absolutely gone. Angus is great and he is iconic, but he isn't/wasn't the only part of what made AC/DC tick. Malcolm's riffs and Johnson's screams and lyrics were also a big part of what made us love them so much. I can't imagine what new AC/DC tunes without either of them would even sound like. Hell, Rock or Bust felt rather lackluster to me because even just Malcolm was gone.

3. Even if the actual members of AC/DC weren't almost all out of the band they are definitely getting up there in age and it would probably be a few more years anyway before they would start to consider retirement without it being forced upon them anyway. It is kind of hard to imagine them being in their 70's or 80's and still putting on a high voltage rock n' roll show. Maybe Angus could do some solo work with other rockers? I know he and Axl Rose definitely shared some chemistry when Rose filled in at the tail end of the most recent leg of the Rock or Bust tour.


As you can probably guess I'm more in favor of AC/DC throwing in the towel and enjoying their well deserved retirement. I would be a bit astounded if Angus did decide to keep carrying on as AC/DC once the Rock or Bust tour is completely wrapped up. With everyone but himself gone I think it would probably be the right thing of him to do by just folding things up. They have had a good run of it. Honestly, I think they should have called it when Malcolm had to retire. AC/DC will always have a special place in our hearts. Whenever we want to wave the flag of rebellion and rock n' roll we will crank their music. However, I think if they were to carry on as they are now it would be rather dishonest and would be giving fans less than they deserve.

What are your thoughts on the matter?

Monday, July 18, 2016

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #82

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. Denim & Leather, by Saxon

I just discovered Saxon's music last week. I'd heard the name before when it came to bands that lead the way in the late 70's/early 80's New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement, but I'd never given them a try. I was glad I did. This anthem kicks some serious ass and is a great song to vibe with if you are/were a rocker/metal head. It's all about the particular culture that used to exist back then and how much of a brotherhood was created by it. Big riffs, soaring vocals, and pounding rhythms. Can't go wrong here.

2.  Countdown, by The Black Keys

This has gradually become one of my favorite songs from the duo from Akron, OH. It's rather simplistic in nature, but that finger picking backed by that rock rhythm seems to work in ways I personally have never heard before. It has this happy delta blues vibe, yet somehow made more modern. If this doesn't get you moving, grooving, and feeling a little better about taking on the week then I don't have any idea what will. 

3.  The Attitude Song, by Steve Vai

Steve Vai has done a lot of cool stuff over the years on guitar - some more outlandish and complex than others. The Attitude Song is one of his simpler ones, as it is very much based around sounding as big, simple, rocking, and badass as possible. It's one of those ones you can predict where it's going and just head bang the whole way through. To be fair, this is from Vai's solo debut album Flex-able while he was starting to do stuff outside of projects he had been in like Frank Zappa so he would of course get more complex as time went on.

4. Looks That Kill, by Motley Crue

This is one of those big pulsing, pounding songs that makes you just want to clad up in black leather and hit up the city streets at night and just prowl like the badass you wish you were. This tune has some of Mick Mars's best guitar playing throughout all of his decades long career with Motley Crue. It's heavy, dark, and makes you actually a little surprised that the same band that put out Without You put out something this rough and nasty.

5. Something to Believe In, by Young the Giant

I know that I don't typically post a whole lot of newer stuff in this here blog, but my buddy had this on the radio the other day and I couldn't help but groove along to it. It was kind of hypnotic and psychedelic, yet in a way still anthemic. It combined so many different elements of multiple genres of music into one song and I couldn't help but actually fell pretty darn impressed. Needless to say, this (figuratively) old dog will be looking a bit into something new.


Friday, July 15, 2016

Ex-AC/DC Vocalist Brian Johnson to Host New Radio Show

Long time AC/DC singer Brian Johnson has been kind of floating around from place to place since he had to retire from singing at live shows due to high risk of total hearing loss if he continued. However, it seems things are finally starting to get back on track for him - though in a different way than before. Johnson will now be hosting his own radio show for Planet Rock.

Johnson will be hosting a new show on Planet Rock called The Producers. In this program Johnson will be taking a look through the personal lives and professional work of some of rock's most celebrated producers, such as: Bob Rock, Roy Thomas Baker, Nick Raskulinecz, and plenty more by doing some in depth interviews.

In a recent press release Johnson talks about the new job, saying:

“Having been fortunate to work alongside some of the best producers in rock, it’s great to be part of this show with Planet Rock. To be able to shine a light on how a producer captures a moment in the studio and turns it into rock ‘n’ roll dynamite, is great. Being able to listen to these guys talk about what they do best is a joy.”

I think this is definitely a cool project for Johnson to take on. He definitely seems pretty capable and fit for it, though he might not have been the first person that came to my mind had I heard about the concept of the show beforehand. Regardless, Johnson has always been fun to listen to and watch in interviews so now that he will be sitting in the other chair this time around I'm curious to see how that personality will translate over into this project.

Throwback Thursday: The Big Come Up, by The Black Keys

It's not uncommon for bands and artists who do eventually make it big to have rather humble beginnings. However, the degree of that humbleness can vary. In the case of The Black Keys, their beginnings were so humble that they made their first album The Big Come Up (as well as some subsequent ones) almost entirely themselves - recording, engineering, mixing, mastering, everything. Although it didn't sell all that well at first, this raw dirty blues rock record has since garnered attention from critics and hard core fans alike.

The DIY nature of The Big Come Up is quite frankly what gives the album its charm in my opinion. You can tell that they recorded this on old school reel to reel tape. That rawness is what gives this record a good chunk of its soul, aside from the passionate blues infused rock n' roll that it protrudes through your speakers. This is just two guys: just drummer Patrick Carney and guitarist/vocalist Dan Auerbach giving 110% at it with what little money and equipment they had at the time. This no frills, back to basics rock record started The Black Keys on one of the coolest rock n' roll journeys to ever happen.

As is a common thing to do with a debut rock record, a noticeable amount of the album (a third) is covers. One of my personal favorites is The Black Keys' treatment of She Said, She Said, by The Beatles. While it differs noticeably from the gentle woozy vibe of the original, it still is just as psychedelic - just in a more bluesy gritty way with some oomph in the overall sound. To me it sounds kind of like how it would have sounded had Cream recorded the song instead. In a way, I feel this is the definition of a good cover because it takes the song and goes completely in a different and original direction with it.

Countdown while not a widely talked about song is one of my absolute favorite Black Keys songs of all time. You can hear that early delta blues influence on Auerbach's guitar playing. That finger picking is absolutely delightful. There is no better word for it. His low, gritty, soulful singing and the drumming that comes in after a few measures just makes it that much more entertaining to listen to. I know for me I'm always kind of jumping up and down in my seat just a little bit as it plays. It masterfully combines old with new.

Honestly, The Big Come Up just goes to show you that you don't need a whole lot of money, fancy studio equipment, or dazzling production in order to make a good album. All you need is the dedication, passion, talent, and drive to do the best you can with whatever you have access to in order to give fans the best music possible. You can tell they are feeling every last note they play on this record and that it's all genuine. No rock n' roll just to make money and impress chicks here. Just a couple of guys who love what they do.

The Big Come Up, by The Black Keys receives 3.85 stars out of 5.

Track List:

1. Busted
2. Do the Rump
3. I'll Be Your Man
4. Countdown
5. The Breaks
6. Run Me Down
7. Leavin' Trunk
8. Heavy Soul
9. She Said, She Said
10. Them Eyes
11. Yearnin'
12. Brooklyn Bound
13. 240 Years Before Your Time

Buy the album on Amazon:


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Red Hot Chili Peppers Guitarist Josh Klinghoffer Sick of John Frusciante Comparisons

When a band has been around for a prolonged period of time and built up a large fan base that has become familiar with them inside and out, it can be difficult to be the new guy coming in and taking the place of a beloved musician who is no longer a member of the band. Naturally comparisons are going to happen whether you like it or not. Such a thing has been happening to current Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, who replaced John Frusciante not all that long ago.

While Klinghoffer is beyond thrilled to be a part of the band (since he joined as an additional guitarist in 2007 and took main role in 2009), he understandably feels rather adversely to people making such comparisons between him and his predecessor as anyone in his position would.

In an interview with Metro News, Klinghoffer talks about it, saying:

“Of course it gets annoying. On one hand it’s an honour for me to be part of this band, and be mentioned in the same breath as Frusciante. But all these comparisons are simply absurd. We are two totally different people. I have never tried to emulate his technique – and, of course, I was not trying to get him to leave the band. Seriously, anyone trying to compare us is an idiot.”

I can see why he would have such a strong reaction if it's been happening so often for so long at this point. No one wants to be called a copycat when they are putting every fiber of their heart, soul, and being into something they care about. Hopefully sooner or later for Klinghoffer's sake this kind of talk dies down and people appreciate him for the individual he truly is.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Red Hot Chili Peppers Mistaken For Metallica at Airport

All kinds of zany insaney things happen in the world of rock n' roll. Some times they aren't even dirty or disturbing. Some times they are just plain goofy. Such a thing happened to The Red Hot Chili Peppers a couple days ago (July 9th) at an airport in Belarus when the customs department of the airport stopped them, thought they were Metallica, and wanted photos and autographs.

The Chili Peppers insisted they were not in fact the famed thrash metal band, but the customs people insisted that the band sign the merchandise anyway. It was a very weird time for them indeed.

Bassist Flea made an Instagram post about the bizarre incident with a photo, saying:

“We were called into customs officials office at an airport in Belarus and they asked us to sign a bunch of Metallica cd’s and photos. We tried to explain to them that we weren’t Metallica but they insisted that we sign anyway. They had the power. Well I did play fight fire with with with Metallica once. I love Metallica anyways but I’m no Robert Trujillo.”

To be honest, I'm really wondering how this mix-up could have happened in the first place considering none of the members of the Chili Peppers look anything like any of the members of Metallica. Hopefully Metallica doesn't try to take some sort of legal action. I wouldn't put it past them to try to sue for forgery or whatever they can manage to make a bit of chump change with despite the fact they don't need it these days. Still, I think that this is a rather goofy and even mildly heart warming story that gives you a bit of a chuckle. Good on the Chili Peppers for making the best out of a really odd situation.

Monday, July 11, 2016

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #81

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. Flying High Again, by Ozzy Osbourne

This has to be one of my absolute favorite songs in Ozzy's solo repertoire for one reason and one reason only: Randy Rhoads's super radtastic amazing as hell guitar solo. It's said that he locked himself in the studio and didn't eat, drink, or sleep for two or three days and worked on that solo over and over again until he got it exactly the way he wanted it. It definitely paid off because it is blistering, yet melodic. You can hear the neo-classical chops of Rhoads pour through here more than almost anywhere else.

2.  Wine, Women, an' Song, by Whitesnake

This is one of those great boogie tunes that starts out with some really hot bluesy piano. It gets you moving and excited, but when the electric guitars and the rest of the band come kicking in it's enough to make you want to scream at the top of your lungs and lose your mind to the good time you're having. Sadly Whitesnake doesn't make music like this at all any more, but for those who know where to look the good old stuff can still be found.

3. For Those About to Rock (We Salute You), by AC/DC

This is one of those arena rock anthems that does nothing less than get a crowd on their feet and excited. It's usually put as the last song in the band's live sets (and for good reason). You can't really get any better than cannons being fired mid song to accentuate just how powerful of a song this really can be. It's big, pounding, and has enough of a slow to mid tempo groove for you to be able to easily fall into rhythm with. I definitely salute anyone who gives this song the respect it deserves.

4. The Mob Rules, by Black Sabbath

Want some Sabbath that isn't Ozzy but still kicks serious ass? You need to play this track RIGHT NOW. Tony Iommi lays down an absolutely killer riff while Ronnie James Dio howls like a wolf and the rhythm section thunders away like there is no tomorrow. It's also a great song to listen to if you're into stuff like warnings against going mindlessly with what the general public has to say all the time no matter what and not really thinking for yourself. 

5. Killers, by Iron Maiden

This is New Wave of British Heavy Metal music at its absolute finest. Its bass and vocal centered build-up followed by the galloping guitars and blistering solos. Plus, it's pre-Bruce Dickinson era so it still has that punk fueled Paul Di'Anno goodness to it as well though with better production quality than their previous album had. If you need something that works better than a cup off coffee to get you going in the morning, then this is the track for you.


Saturday, July 9, 2016

AC/DC Bassist Cliff Williams to Retire at End of Current Tour

Sadly it seems that piece by piece AC/DC keeps falling more and more apart. First rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young has to retire due to dementia, then drummer Phil Rudd gets in legal trouble that keeps him from touring or recording, singer Brian Johnson is forced to quit due to hearing loss, and now this: long time bassist Cliff Williams has announced his retirement at the end of the Rock or Bust tour.

Williams, who has been with the band since 1977 feels that it seems like it's the right time for him to hang up his bass and call it a day due to all of the recent major changes AC/DC has faced. In an interview with Gulfshore Life, Williams says:

“It’s been what I’ve known for the past 40 years, but after this tour I’m backing off of touring and recording. Losing Malcolm [Young], the thing with Phil [Rudd] and now with Brian [Johnson], it’s a changed animal. I feel in my gut it’s the right thing.”

At this point, Angus and Williams are the only two members of AC/DC currently in the band that have been in the band since the early Bon Scott era. As it stands, Chris Slade the current drummer is the next longest tenured member, having been in the band from the mid-80's into the early 90's. Stevie Young, Malcolm and Angus's nephew did a short stint in the late 80's and took over for Malcolm when he retired. The band currently has no new official singer, but Guns N' Roses front man Axl Rose took over for the tail end of the European leg of the current tour.

To be honest, I kind of get where Williams is coming from with the band being a changed animal. When you're one of the only long time/original members left of a band things feel entirely different from the way they did when you first got things going. You have to ask yourself "Is this really still the band I started/joined way back when?". If the answer is no and it doesn't feel right to you, it's time to move on. I don't blame Williams in the least for wanting to just call it a day. He has been doing this for about 40 years at this point and has had a hugely successful career. He has earned his rest. What I wonder now though is what Angus will decide to do with AC/DC once Williams leaves. Personally I think it's time for the whole band to call it a day if most of what people consider AC/DC is gone.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Sheer Heart Attack, by Queen

In 1974 barely anyone had heard of a band called Queen. Nobody really knew who Freddie Mercury was. However, that was about to change drastically when that year the band put out their big commercial breakthrough album Sheer Heart Attack. When this album came out, not only did the band's popularity begin to take off but it was also a driving force in the way future bands would be influenced in their sound and look from there on out.

Sheer Heart Attack is sort of a transitionary record, where you still hear a lot of the heavy rock/metal of Queen's first two albums but at the same time start to hear a lot of the pop hooks and other elements of commercial music that most of us associate them with. Plus, having major hits like Killer Queen on it was a major boost to their rising career at that point in time. It's eclectic in some ways, but at the same time all the songs manage to gel together in a way that makes it a cohesive record.

Now I'm Here has in recent years has become one of my absolute favorite Queen songs. It so seamlessly and flawlessly blends together Queen's older rock style and the pop music sensibilities they possessed. The way the intro comes with a steady chugging of chords from Brian May and Freddie doing all kinds of astounding feats with his voice while it gets echoed the way it does just blows my mind. When the main riff comes in with the rest of the band I was absolutely sold on this tune.

Killer Queen. Holy crap. This in my eyes is the exact moment when Queen became the band we all know and love. It is primarily piano driven, but somehow it shares that lead with beautifully harmonized and melodic lead guitar at the same time. Plus, you get to really hear how fabulous Freddie could be when given the right opportunity. The guitar solo is also pretty iconic. It's almost like it's its own song even without the rest of the tune before and after it. With all the glitz, glamour, and flash it's hard not to fall in love with such a beauty of a song.

If you're interested in where Queen became the band you're familiar with, then Sheer Heart Attack is definitely the album to go to. I would still recommend starting with the first two albums and working your way up if you want a real comprehensive history of Queen, but if you're just wanting to have a fun time listening to early classics then you've come to the right place. It's upbeat, rocking, and all around a jolly good time.

Sheer Heart Attack, by Queen receives 4 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Brighton Rock
2. Killer Queen
3. Tenement Funster
4. Flick of the Wrist
5. Lily of the Valley
6. Now I'm Here
7. In the Lap of the Gods
8. Stone Cold Crazy
9. Dear Friends
10. Misfire
11. Bring Back That Leroy Brown
12. She Makes Me (Stormtroopers in Stilettos)
13. In the Lap of the Gods...Revisited

Buy the album on Amazon:


Thursday, July 7, 2016

Concert Review: Guns N' Roses Chicago 7/1/2016

When Slash left Guns N' Roses in 1996 the band everyone had come to know and love over the past decade had pretty much come to an end (as many of the other members left shortly after as well), thus beginning the feud between the guitarist and vocalist Axl Rose. Their hatred of each other became so immense and notorious that no one on God's green Earth ever thought the two of them would ever even be in the same room together again, let alone play together. However, it seems that time really does heal all wounds. Nearly two decades after the implosion of one of the greatest things to ever happen to rock n' roll, Guns N' Roses has returned in one of the purest forms we've seen it in a long, long time.

Though Guns N' Roses carried on with Axl as the sole original member for a couple of decades, the band is now back in action with familiar faces Axl Rose on lead vocals, Slash on lead guitar, Dizzy Reed on keys, and Duff McKagan on bass. However, there are members from Axl's solo version of GN'R as well including: Richard Fortus on rhythm guitar, Frank Ferrer on drums, and newcomer Melissa Reese on secondary keys. Though it's not all of the people the old fans want to see on stage together, I have to say that this is still a pretty solid and tight line-up. They work well together as a unit.

I honestly wasn't entirely sure what to expect when I clambered into my seat at Soldier Field in Chicago on July 1st. I knew that while this was going to be one hell of a ride, it wasn't going to be the exact same band I had idolized in my angst filled late teen years. The guys would all be noticeably older and wouldn't be the same raging rock n' roll party animals they had been in the late 80's/early 90's. Fortunately however, my fears were all quieted the moment the silly intro (the Looney Tunes theme) was done and the real build-up began.

When the pyrotechnics went off and the lights came on, the crowd (myself included) cheered and went NUTS as the band kicked into "It's So Easy". I immediately dropped any fears I had about this performance. The guys looked and sounded GOOD. It was a wonderful feeling to be assuaged and see these guys despite their age being rather spry on their feet and playing better than guys half their age.

Guns N' Roses throughout their set list ran through the vast majority of their hits such as: Welcome to the Jungle, Sweet Child O' Mine, Paradise City, Knockin' On Heaven's Door, November Rain, Live and Let Die, etc. They also included many non-radio fan favorites including most of the Appetite For Destruction album as well as some Use Your Illusion deep cuts/surprises like Coma (the band's longest studio song to date that has barely ever been performed, clocking in at 10 minutes), and surprisingly a few tracks from Chinese Democracy (the album Axl did with no original members besides himself).

On that note, I'm actually rather enthused about the fact that they threw in some Chinese Democracy tracks because they got re-imagined in an old school GN'R way. No longer did they sound like the cold lifeless industrial compositions they once were, but instead had some organic warmth and rock drive to them. Plus, Slash's soulful soloing made the solo sections sound way better than they ever had before - especially in Better and This I Love. I would actually be ok with that whole album being rerecorded by the current line-up as much as I love it as it is.

Now that said, I do have a few minor gripes that I can honestly overlook due to how astounding of a performance this was overall. The first two do have to do with the age. First of all, Axl definitely can't be a consistent vocal powerhouse the way he used to be. There were moments where his iconic raspy high voice gave out briefly. To be fair, I don't expect a man who is 54 to be able to sing the way he did 30 years ago. However, despite that he still gave it his all and still had it where it counts. In a way, it made the show more exciting. I was gripping on just wondering how long Axl's voice would hold out at certain points - just dying to know if he would hit a key note in the song. I'd be sad if he didn't and blown away if he did.

Secondly, you could definitely tell that the band as a collective didn't have that driving rage that powered their music back in the day any more. They played their asses off with great passion for their music and sounded fantastic, but you can tell that Slash and Duff aren't young angry punks any more. It was obvious that this was more of a way for them to celebrate the past rather than them saying something to the world with their music. Axl on the other hand still has all of rage he ever has.

No Patience or anything else from GN'R Lies? WTF, you guys?

The only other small thing I would complain a little about is the fact that neither Izzy Stradlin, Gilby Clarke, Matt Sorum, nor Steven Adler were brought back as full time members of the band for the reunion. Izzy I know would be a long shot anyway because he doesn't like all of the attention, but you would think that since this is supposed to be a celebration of the past that they could have brought back one or two more people that the old fans are familiar with. That said, Fortus and Ferrer sounded absolutely GREAT with the old members that did come back.

Now that all of my bitching and moaning is out of the way, it's back to the good stuff. I expected to hear Slash do his version of The Godfather theme for his solo, which he of course did do. However, it was still rather surreal and chilling to the bone to see it for the first time in person myself - especially since it was at a GN'R show and not at one of his solo shows. He also did a rather delightful instrumental guitar duet version of Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here with Fortus.

Near the end the whole band covered The Who's The Seeker, which was driving and fun. I think one of my favorite parts of the entire concert however was when the whole band did an instrumental jam of the outro to Eric Clapton's Layla as an extended intro to November Rain. Slash did some of the most beautiful soloing I've ever heard him do in this. Plus, it was nice to see Axl being so soulful at the keys.

This might not be the same GN'R you knew as a kid, but they still deliver all the punches. Yeah, the guys might be older now but they sound as tight and rocking as they ever did and they have most of the key members. The tickets (if any are still available) might be pricey but are well worth it. The Not in this Lifetime... tour is history in the making. It is absolutely unreal to see Slash and Axl on the same stage together again after all this time. I am beyond happy and proud to say that I saw Guns N' Roses on this tour. You will be too if you can get to a show.

This performance receives 4 out of 5 stars.

Guns N' Roses Chicago 2016 Soldier Field Set List:
  1. Looney Tunes Intro
  2. The Equalizer
    (Harry Gregson-Williams song)
  3. It's So Easy
  4. Mr. Brownstone
  5. Chinese Democracy
  6. Welcome to the Jungle
  7. Double Talkin' Jive
  8. Estranged
  9. Live and Let Die
    (Wings cover)
  10. Rocket Queen
  11. You Could Be Mine
  12. New Rose
    (The Damned cover) (with "You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory - Johnny Thunders song)
  13. This I Love
  14. Civil War
  15. Coma
    (with band introductions)
  16. Speak Softly Love (Love Theme From The Godfather)
    (Andy Williams cover)
  17. Sweet Child O' Mine
  18. Better
  19. Out Ta Get Me
  20. Slash & Fortus Guitar Duet
    ("Wish You Were Here" by Pink Floyd)
  21. November Rain
    (with "Layla" piano exit intro - Eric Clapton song )
  22. Knockin' on Heaven's Door
    (Bob Dylan cover)
  23. Nightrain
  24. Jam
  25. Don't Cry
  26. The Seeker
    (The Who cover)
  27. Paradise City

Monday, July 4, 2016

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #80

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. Sweet Child O' Mine, by Guns N' Roses

This is THE essential 80's love ballad. It's on the radio all the time and you see it pop up in 80's love ballad compilations all the time. It's for good reason too, even if I am not into love songs. It's tender, it's loving, it's genuine, but it still has some real rock n' roll balls to it - especially when Slash pulls off that iconic guitar solo that must be played note for note by anyone taking on the song. In a way it's a song both you and your partner can agree on.

2. Coma, by Guns N' Roses

Clocking in at a little over 10 minutes, this is definitely GN'R's longest studio song to date. It definitely qualifies as a suite because it's comprised of multiple distinguishable parts that have all been put together in a way where it flows seamlessly and works perfectly. The music can go from soft and introspective to loud, monstrous, and angry. Plus, for those of you who feel so much pressure and other strong feels that aren't always so great you might be able to relate to the lyrics.

3. You're Crazy, by Guns N' Roses

Personally I like this version from GN'R Lies better than the one that was on Appetite for Destruction. It has more of a swagger and groove to it. It doesn't have quite the energy and rage that the Appetite version did, but it makes up for it by making you feel a little more intertwined with the stuff being sung about. It feels like there was more passion and soul put into it, though that could be said because according to the band this was the version they originally wanted to do.

4. Better, by Guns N' Roses

I know a lot of you aren't that fond of the Chinese Democracy stuff just because Slash isn't on it, but honestly I think Axl Rose's song writing prowess and the superb musicians he brought on are more than enough to make up for the Cat in the Hat's absence. Plus, if you kind of remove the idea of what you think GN'R is supposed to be from the listening process you kind of start to gain a new found appreciation for the power, emotion, and drive this tune has.

5. Paradise City, by Guns N' Roses

This song is a classic. It's essential to any GN'R play list or live set list (as it's the one they always close the show on). It's the song that all the annoying ditzy girls at GN'R shows shout for for multiple hours straight. Fun story, this song was actually written when the band was on their first "tour" before they were signed. Their van had broken down, so many other things were going wrong, and they just wanted to go home because they had been away so long. They put all their feels into this and jammed it all out till they had what's one of the best songs they ever wrote.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Aerosmith, by Aerosmith

1973 was quite a notable year for rock n' roll. Quite a few bands put out their first record that year such as Queen, Montrose, The New York Dolls, Robin Trower, and the one we will be focusing on today: Aerosmith. Aerosmith was the band's big breakthrough that would skyrocket them on their way to the super-stardom they would achieve, especially considering it contains one of the most popular songs in the band's repertoire.

Aerosmith is a pretty rough around the edges gritty blues rock album. You can hear the band's straight up blues and early rock n' roll influences pounding through your speakers, just with a louder punch to them. To help sell the record however though, it also has one of Aerosmith's biggest and most grand hits: Dream On. Sadly though aside from Dream On there aren't any of the big hits that Aerosmith is known for, but there is a TON of great hard rocking material on there.

Mama Kin in my opinion is one of the single greatest things Aerosmith ever did. It has a basic blues pattern riff, but the way that they tear through it makes it seem far from formulaic and fundamental. The way Joe Perry and Brad Whitford pound and slash at those chords drives the song so hard while Steven Tyler's wailing vocals fill it with immeasurable amounts of energy. You can feel the groove just dripping from this rocker.

Dream On is probably one of the best songs Steven Tyler has ever penned. I know all the ladies I know who listen to Aerosmith LOVE this one. Understandable. It's what's referred to as a "panty dropper". It is a big grand ballad, but it gets so epic (especially with the way Tyler gets his screams as ridiculously high as they do in this one). The way things build up from soft to monumental is what helps it do this. I like this song though because the message is quite inspiring: dream until your dream comes true.

Aerosmith is one of those major reminders that Aerosmith used to be a band that actually had balls and didn't write a bunch of cheesy love ballads. I guess this is the kind of album you get when you're young, driven, and just a rock n' roll punk that cares more about self-expression than money. Though Aerosmith isn't chocked full of radio hits like some of their later albums it makes up for that by being chocked full of soul, driven by pure unadulterated blues power, and brimming with raw rock n' roll energy. Definitely has my recommendation.

Aerosmith, by Aerosmith receives 5 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Make It
2. Somebody
3. Dream On
4. One Way Street
5. Mama Kin
6. Write Me a Letter
7. Movin' Out
8. Walkin' the Dog

Buy the album on Amazon: