Thursday, March 30, 2017

Throwback Thursdsay: Young Americans, by David Bowie

In 1975 pop rock sensation David Bowie underwent yet another transformation in terms of sound and appearance. For the past few years he had been the glam rocking gender bending Ziggy Stardust, but when he made the Young Americans album he entered the next phase of his creative journey by transitioning into the R&B/soul singing well dressed and groomed Thin White Duke. Although many people were shocked to see him go such a direction, they stayed with him because Bowie is awesome no matter what he does.

Young Americans is definitely heavily influenced by the popular R&B music of the early-mid 70's. Bowie had become fascinated by it in '74 while touring and decided that was what he wanted to do next, but with his own creative Bowie spin on it. It is more mellow and grooving than the loud and raucous tunes Bowie had been writing up to that point. Incidentally, it features former Beatles member John Lennon on backing vocals and guitar on the hit single Fame as well as Bowie's cover of Across the Universe.

Young Americans is probably the epitome of the Thin White Duke style of music making. It has a lot of soul to it, but at the same time it has elements of Latin music to it as well. It's smooth, it flows, and has a great groove to it that you can get up and move to. It's necessary for any 70's themed party playlist. Lots of great vocal harmonies are in this one as well. Bowie definitely knew how to pick his backing singers. He nailed the kind of sound that was going 'round in that era.

Across the Universe is my favorite tune on this album and not just because it's a Beatles song. It's the way in which it was done. Bowie took this song and just blasted it into outer space. This time there is a full plugged in band playing it rather than just a single acoustic guitar and it is extraordinary. Lennon was so happy with the way it turned out that he said it was the best recorded version of the song to ever exist. That's saying something considering that is the man who originally wrote the song in the first place.

Young Americans is definitely one of Bowie's major landmark albums. It was outstanding then and it's a classic now. It's not my personal favorite Bowie album as I'm more of a Ziggy Stardust fan, but I still dig a lot of what is on it. If you're someone who loves old school R&B/soul then this album will most definitely be up your alley. Fans and non-fans of Bowie alike will find at least a couple of tunes on here that they keep as a permanent part of their musical rotation.

Young Americans, by David Bowie receives 3.75 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Young Americans
2. Win
3. Fascination
4. Right
5. Someone Up There Likes Me
6. Across the Universe
7. Can You Hear Me
8. Fame

Buy the album on Amazon:

Aerosmith to Write and Record One More Album

The bad boys from Boston, Aerosmith have decided to postpone their upcoming Aeroverderci, Baby! tour, much to the disappointment of their fans. However, the postponement is to give the fans something even greater: a new album.

This will be Aerosmith's first release of new music in five years when they put out their less than spectacular album Music From Another Dimension. In a recent interview with AZ Central, lead guitarist Joe Perry talks about the decision to do another album, saying:

“We want to get in and give ourselves some time to get something done. We definitely have another record in us, if not two. But we’ll see how that goes.”

Perry was then asked if the new material would resemble the sound of Music From Another Dimension, to which he responds:

“Well, the next one will be a little more cohesive. At least in talking to vocalist Steven Tyler about it, that’s been kind of our vibe on how it’s gonna go. The main thing is just getting in a room and starting to lay stuff down.”

Personally I'm just hoping for a good record. As much as I would like for it to resemble what they did in the 70's, I know they have grown and moved on since then. You can't expect lightning to strike the same place twice. I'm sure it will be better than the last album, but quite frankly that isn't saying much. Even Just Push Play was better and it was filled with poppy junk. Regardless, hopefully this final album will come out nicely and will be a good way for them to go out on top.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Deep Purple's Roger Glover Puzzled on Former Bandmate Ritchie Blackmore Reviving Rainbow

Former Deep Purple and Rainbow guitarist Ritchie Blackmore has always been a man shrouded in mystery and legend. Most people don't seem to know why he does things the way he does including his former Deep Purple and Rainbow bandmate bassist Roger Glover when it comes to why he revived Rainbow within the past year.

In a recent interview with AntiHero Magazine, Glover expressed his puzzlement over Blackmore's decision, saying:

“I wish him luck. In a way, calling it Rainbow, I thought, he’s got his own name, I would have thought he should have gone out as just Ritchie Blackmore and some really great band. I don’t want to disparage him at all – I’m a fan of Ritchie as much as anyone else is. He’s a musician. I’m blown away that I got to work with such a musician.”

Personally I kind of understand why Blackmore is using the Rainbow name again. Rainbow is essentially whatever group of musicians he puts together to play rock n' roll as a solo artist. It is a living, breathing, growing organism. Plus, Rainbow has been a long enough established name that he probably sells more tickets that way (though I'm sure that's not the main reason he did it). Regardless, I hope to see some Rainbow dates in the U.S. some time in the not too distant future.

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #111

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. Big Boys, by Chuck Berry

In case you didn't see the post I made earlier in the week, there is a new Chuck Berry song out, Big Boys which is the first single from his upcoming album Chuck. It will be his first in almost 40 years, though sadly he passed away before it could be released. That said, this is exactly what you would expect from a new Chuck Berry song. It has that same 1950's fun energized rockabilly feel, but with a bit more modern production and shine to it.

2.  Uncle Salty, by Aerosmith

This has always been one of my absolute favorite Aerosmith songs. It has a nice walking along groove to it. It's simplistic, but has a bit more depth to it than you might give it credit for upon first listen, especially when you hear the chorus of: "Ooh... It's a sunny new day outside my window...". If you listen closer it's actually quite a bit darker, which is why I will give them credit for being so creative in terms of layering.

3.  Soap on a Rope, by Chickenfoot

I miss Chickenfoot. Sadly each member of this super group has their own thing going which keeps them from getting together any more. That said, they made some good songs during their run; especially this one. It's big ball simplistic rocking fun, but with that's all you really need when it comes to making rock n' roll. You'll be singing pounding on your steering wheel while driving and drumming along to this tune. Definitely some good stuff.

4. Crazy Train, by Ozzy Osbourne

Can't go wrong with a classic. You've probably already heard this song on the radio countless times over the years, but it's for good reason. Every last part of this song is iconic and without it Ozzy's solo career probably wouldn't have catapulted overnight the way it did. Guitarist Randy Rhoads definitely did some of his finest playing in this one. Rhoads is also the main reason Osbourne had any real success with a solo career as well.

5. Babe I'm Gonna Leave You, by Led Zeppelin

In my opinion the first Led Zeppelin album is pure gold. There isn't a single bad track on it and that's why Led Zeppelin was a huge overnight sensation. You might not hear every track on the radio, but anyone who has ever bought the album cherishes every last song on it, especially this one. It's the perfect blend of acoustic and electric guitar playing and you can hear Robert Plant showing off just how much vocal and emotional range his singing has. You can tell they had something to prove to the world.


Saturday, March 25, 2017

New Chuck Berry Song "Big Boys" Premieres

Earlier this week we lost Chuck Berry, a rock n' roll legend and a man who helped build the foundation of the genre as we know it today. As many of you already know, at 90 years old he was working on a brand new album; his first in almost 40 years. Now we have the first taste of what it will sound like when it gets released. A song called Big Boys (which you can listen to in the video above).

It sounds pretty much exactly how you would expect a Chuck Berry song to sound. It has a lot of those same kinds of simple, but lighthearted fun 1950's rockabilly lyrics, riffs and licks that he made signature back in rock n' roll's infancy, but with more of a modern sounding polish production-wise. Berry's voice and playing are in pretty stellar order considering his age when he did this.

Honestly, this is exactly what I was expecting from and hoping for in a new Chuck Berry song. He has his own style that in my opinion is timeless and there is no need for him to really deviate from it. I'm just sad that he didn't make it long enough to see the whole album released. I'm sure it will be well received by critics and fans alike if it is anything like we have heard here in Big Boys.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Pressure and Time, by Rival Sons

Today I'm cheating again and doing an album that is a little less than the usual 10 year old minimum criteria I set for Throwback Thursday. In 2011, one of the single greatest albums to happen to rock n' roll in quite some time by a little Californian heavy blues rock band named Rival Sons hit the scene. This album titled Pressure and Time though not the band's first album was what many consider to be their true debut into the world of rock n' roll and showed that you can play an old style that you love while still doing something original with it.

Pressure and Time is a mix-up of blues, hard rock, surf rock, ballads, and so much more. It's pretty well rounded and it feels like you're on a journey the entire time you're listening to it. Overall there is a very heavy classic rock vibe, but it doesn't sound like they are trying to knock of Led Zeppelin (as many have accused them of). Tunes like Pressure and Time and Face of Light are major concert staples for Rival Sons, though to be fair many fans consider the whole album to be classic material.

All Over the Road in my opinion is the most fun track on the entire album. It's the first song and in my opinion does a fantastic job of getting the party started. It punches you right in the face the second you hit the play button with big, beefy, pulsing guitar riffs from guitar master Scott Holiday with the rhythm section backing him with massive pounding thunder. It's not all crash, boom, bang, though. There is a lot of melody and groove that makes you feel like you could move or push the pedal to the metal while your girl or guy is in the seat next to you grinning. Buckle up. It's a wild ride.

Pressure and Time is the first song I ever heard from Rival Sons and it's what instantly hooked me within seconds. The drums ground and pound, the bass has a subtle but ever noticeable rolling presence, and the guitar rattles off some grinding echoey riffs. What makes the song for me though is Jay Buchanan's howling vocals. It feels like he could blow the roof off a building with how powerful his voice is in this song. You can feel the energy of him giving it his all. That said, this is a Rival Sons classic for a reason.

This is one of the few albums I love completely from start to finish. It's not absolutely perfect, but it's not far from. If you're a fan of older rock n' roll but feel like it's been hard to find anything other than what the radio has been playing for the last 20+ years, Rival Sons is right up your alley and Pressure and Time is where you want to start. You can feel their raw energy and passion pulsing through every last note from the moment you put the album on till the time it wraps up. Definitely a must-have.

Pressure and Time, by Rival Sons receives 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. All Over the Road
2. Young Love
3. Pressure and Time
4. Only One
5. Get Mine
6. Burn Down Los Angeles
7. Save Me
8. Gypsy Heart
9. White Noise
10. Face of Light

Buy the album on Amazon:

Fleetwood Mac's Mick Fleetwood: "New Album Without Stevie Nicks Will Win Awards"

Recently much to the dismay of many Fleetwood Mac fans singer Stevie Nicks stated that she doesn't want to do any more albums. However, we will not be going completely dry. guitarist/vocalist Lindsey Buckingham and keyboardist Christine McVie are putting together a new collaborative album to be titled Buckingham - McVie that will also feature bassist John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood. Fleetwood has come forth to express how he feels big things are in store for this album.

In a recent interview with Uncut, Fleetwood talks about how much life, energy, and drive McVie and Buckingham both have and how their album will be something special, saying:
“The crafting of the album became so specifically about Chris and Lindsey some time ago. It came under the heading of music that had to come out. Chris is full of vim and vigor, which is mind-blowing, and I’m really happy for Lindsey, because this is what he most likes to do – putting something together.

This relationship is a real expression of a musical powerhouse that’s come to the fore, and we’re all happy about that. It’s really cool. I think they’ll be walking down some red carpets with this one.”
Personally I'm stoked for this album. Whatever Buckingham and McVie will be nothing short of gold, I'm sure. Plus, I always felt that Nicks was kind of the weak link in Fleetwood Mac anyway. Even if Nicks did participate it would still be great, don't get me wrong. I just think she would be kind of half hearted about it. That said, having everyone else working together with her out of the way will definitely bring about something spectacular.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Music From Chuck Berry's Upcoming Album to See Release This Week

With the sad passing of rock n' roll pioneer Chuck Berry at the age of 90 recently, many folks have wondered and inquired as to whether or not the album he was working on Chuck (his first release of new material in over four decades) will be released. Fortunately, there was a positive answer. We will be getting our first samples of it later this week.

In a statement put out by Berry's estate recently, they reassure the fans that the music will be released including a couple of minor details, saying:

Since Chuck’s passing on Saturday, the Berry family has received many inquiries from friends, fans and media about the status of his forthcoming album CHUCK, which was originally announced on his 90th birthday, October 18, 2016.

Working to prepare the release of this record in recent months and in fact over the last several years brought Chuck a great sense of joy and satisfaction. While our hearts are very heavy at this time, we know that Chuck had no greater wish than to see this album released to the world, and we know of no better way to celebrate and remember his 90 years of life than through his music.

For months now plans have been in place, and preparations have been made with our friends at Dualtone Records, to reveal further details and music from the album this week. As a tribute to Chuck Berry, and with gratitude to his fans around the world, we will be following through on those plans in the coming days.

I'm glad that Berry's final songs will see the light of day. It's a shame that the man himself couldn't be around long enough to see it happen, but I'm sure he is looking down from the great gig in the sky and smiling knowing that countless people all around the world will still get to hear and enjoy the final gift he had to bestow. I'm pretty excited myself to hear what kind of music Berry made in his final days and will treasure it deeply.

Monday, March 20, 2017

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #110

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. Johnny B. Goode, by Chuck Berry

With the tragic passing of who in my opinion was the REAL King of Rock n' Roll, I am going to do something a little different this week with the theme. I'm going to give you your playlist like I normally do every week, but today I am also going to be sharing with you guys some of my thoughts and feelings about the passing of this legendary rock n' roll icon.

2. School Days, by Chuck Berry

My first album that I ever owned was a Chuck Berry compilation disc when I was probably no more than 10 or 11 years old. After hearing Johnny B. Goode in the classic film Back to the Future I just HAD to hear more of this guy. I would play that entire CD on repeat in my room day after day for years. Some of the fondest memories of my childhood involve his music playing in the background or me just sitting there paying direct attention, absorbing it all in.

3. Rock and Roll Music, by Chuck Berry

When most people think of 50's rock n' roll and the foundation of the genre, they think Elvis Presley. While they do have a point, for me it was always Chuck Berry. He penned and recorded so many classic songs that are staples in any 1950's playlist. He created the iconic duck walk which many other rockers have emulated over the past few decades. Without him laying down the basic groundwork for what rock n' roll should sound like, music would have gone in an entirely different direction.

4. No Particular Place to Go, by Chuck Berry

Honestly, it was Chuck that got me into rock n' roll as much as I am and later inspired me as a teenager to pick up the electric guitar. Even though at the time he wasn't the main thing I was listening to any more, his music had a huge ripple effect that caused me to realize that rock n' roll was more than just a pastime. It was what I wanted to do with my life. It's fun, grooves, and lets you express yourself in ways nothing else allows you to.

5. My Ding-A-Ling, by Chuck Berry

I'm really sad to see Chuck go. I know he was getting up there (90 years old), but I guess I wasn't quite ready for him to be gone yet. It's a real bummer to see just how few of the corner stones of rock n' roll are still around and how many of them have passed on to the great gig in the sky. That said, may you rest in peace Mr. Berry. You gave me my childhood and helped me figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I can't thank you enough.


Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Who's Pete Townshend Pens New Song for "Tommy"

It's been close to 50 years since The Who first wrote, recorded, and released their landmark album and rock opera Tommy. Now, song writer and guitarist Pete Townshend has come back to the work once more to pen one new song to be used in an upcoming stage production of what many people consider to be his magnum opus.

In a recent press release Townshend goes into detail on his feelings about the new production as well as what drove him to write the new song, saying:

“When I heard the there was a new planned production of Tommy, I was pleased, of course. But when I heard they planned to do a production featuring actors with disabilities of various kinds, that will actually throw new light on the original story, I became very excited. This is a totally new adventure, and really does refer back to my original story in which a young man, disabled by extreme trauma, finds his way to some kind of spiritual place because he can FEEL music. I can’t wait to see it.”

The new song is called "Acid Queen 2". According to Peter Straker in a recent BBC interview, (who will be playing the Acid Queen in this production) the song talks about how you deal with fame when it's faded. Personally I'm excited to hear this new song whenever there is a decent recording of it. I'd like to hear both the stage version and a studio version done by The Who if at all possible. Wouldn't quite have that magic if I didn't get to hear it coming from the band who originally recorded the legendary rock opera in the first place.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Throwback Thursday: The Mob Rules, by Black Sabbath

In 1981, Black Sabbath was hot off the Heaven and Hell tour, where they had resurrected themselves with their new singer, the late metal god Ronnie James Dio and drummer Vinnie Appice. The public having been mostly won over by the new line-up was craving more music from them, so they went to Abbey Road Studio in England to record the follow-up. The result was yet another classic album: The Mob Rules.

The Mob Rules doesn't have quite the same energy/vibe of Heaven and Hell. It's a bit darker and heavier in some respects. You can tell there was already beginning to be some internal strife in the band. That said, it still lead to some AMAZING music. Black Sabbath got quite a bit more creative in their song writing and it shows. There are still straight up rockers like The Mob Rules, Turn Up the Night, etc. but then there are more complex and drawn out tunes like Falling Off the Edge of the World, Over and Over, The Sign of the Southern Cross, etc. It's definitely a well constructed album.

Voodoo is probably one of my favorite songs on The Mob Rules. Tony Iommi always seemed chocked full of astounding memorable guitar riffs and Dio knew the right melodies and words to put with them. It's not only heavy and reputable musically, but catchy as well. That's not always the easiest combination to pull off. The vocal harmonies are definitely a welcome part of this song - something which Ozzy Osbourne lead Black Sabbath sorely lacked. It rocks.

The Sign of the Southern Cross is arguably the best track on this album. It definitely ranks in the top five tracks Black Sabbath ever did with Dio on the mic. It's the longest track on The Mob Rules and they make the absolute most of it. It's a slow track, but it has so much dark and evil presence to it. The riffs stomp you in the face, but the vocal melody is pleasant enough to provide a counterbalance. You can really tell they are letting their inner musical fantasies out to play.

Overall The Mob Rules isn't quite as good as Heaven and Hell, but not by a whole lot. This is still some of the best heavy metal ever bestowed upon us from the metal gods. You can tell they were trying not to make the same album twice, and thus evolved in their sound accordingly. There isn't a single bad track on it. Not where I'd recommend starting with Dio Sabbath, but it's definitely still recommended to still be on your playlist nonetheless. It's without a doubt a classic.

The Mob Rules, by Black Sabbath receives 4 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Turn Up the Night
2. Voodoo
3. The Sign of the Southern Cross
4. E5150
5. The Mob Rules
6. Country Girl
7. Slipping Away
8. Falling Off the Edge of the World
9. Over and Over

Buy the album on Amazon:

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Deep Purple Premieres New Music Video: "All I Got is You"

Deep Purple is gearing up pretty hard for the release of their much awaited 20th studio album inFinite, which will be hitting the shelves as well as the internet on April 7th. In order to get fans pumped up for this, they have released as of March 7th a music video for a single from the album called All I Got is You (which can be viewed above).

Visually speaking it's nothing much to look at. It's just footage of the guys in the band performing in a rehearsal studio as well as them just hanging out or going places. Then again, I didn't expect an aesthetic masterpiece out of a band that rose to fame before the era of MTV. Deep Purple is old school. They do things their way and leave the things as unimportant to them as music videos as simple as possible so they can focus on what really matters to them: the music.

I like the song. It's not really what I would consider an instant classic, but it's a solid track. It has a bit of a dark atmosphere, but not overly so. It sounds to me like it is blending multiple eras' worth of the band's sound into one track in a rather seamless and flawless way. Frankly, I'm a little surprised at how much guitarist Steve Morse has been sounding like his predecessor Ritchie Blackmore on the couple of tracks I've heard from the new album. Overall, it sounds like Deep Purple. Nothing more, nothing less.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Kids Mime as Iron Maiden to "Ghost of the Navigator" Perfectly at Talent Show

I know usually this blog is about actual news stories in the world of rock n' roll, but once in a while I like to change things up a little and do something fun. I found an article on Team Rock's web page with a video of some kids dressed up as Iron Maiden and miming to the classic Ghost of the Navigator as each member's individual stage persona (which can be viewed in the video above).

I couldn't find much in the way of any details about the origins of the video, but I do know that they called themselves Mini Iron Maiden. It's astonishing just how well these kids do it. I've been to an Iron Maiden show myself and they nailed the movements and personas of each member of the band down to a T. There is no random air guitaring or headbanging. It's honestly like you're watching a miniature version of the English metal titans.

I hope the judges have even a fraction of a brain and rank these kids at number one in the show. There was clearly a great deal of time, effort, and heart put into this show and it would suck if some lame dance routine or crappy singer won just because it was more mainstream than Iron Maiden. Regardless, it's still cool that at least some of the next generation will know what good music is.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #109

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. Top of the World, by Van Halen

This has always been one of my favorite cheer up jams. Whenever I'm feeling down and low and wanting to feel better again this tune is one of my go-to's. I know Van Hagar isn't considered real Van Halen and to some extent I will agree, but you can't deny that the songs they made when Sammy Hagar was in the band were a lot of fun to rock out to. You just kind of have to separate your mind from any of the pre-existing notions about Van Halen and then you'll appreciate the tunes more.

2. Spoonman, by Soundgarden

I've always dug Soundgarden because while they were big in the grunge era, they had more of a hard alternative rock vibe to their sound. You can tell they wanted to push the boundaries musically while still being more lyrically honest like their peers. This tune in particular shows that. It definitely has a great groove going on to it and I dig just how much of a punch it has. Plus, how many mainstream rock songs that you know of feature spoon playing?

3. Interstate Love Song, by Stone Temple Pilots

I used to hear this song all the time when it was still fairly new all the time on road trips with my mom to and from Michigan as a kid. It might still get overplayed to this day, but for good reason. This tune along with many other Stone Temple Pilots songs seem to have this movement and flow to them that you just don't hear anyone else do, even with all the copycats that are around decades after the fact. It's music that flows through you and makes you want to sway and move.

4. Even Flow, by Pearl Jam

This song is pretty iconic, as it is definitely Pearl Jam's best known song. Definitely has that grungy alternative edge to it while still remaining pretty driving and intense. I love how earthy and rhythmic it is. In a way it kind of reminds me of something tribal - like you would hear in some exotic environment with primitive folk. That kind of adds a sense of rawness and passion that you don't often hear in music today or even back then.

5. Brain Stew, by Green Day

Deviating from grunge a bit, this is probably one of my all time favorite Green Day tunes. It's definitely the simplest in their repertoire. It's just the same few chords cycled over and over and over throughout the entire song. Even in the breakdown parts it's the same pattern but with more intense strumming. I have to give them props for that, though. If they can make something so repetitive so fun, engaging, and catchy then they deserve an award. It's definitely a classic for a reason.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Deep Purple's Ian Paice: "We're Still a Young Band at Heart"

They say that age is just a number; that you are only as old as you let yourself feel. Such is the philosophy the guys in Deep Purple seem to be taking on as they reach further and further into their golden years according to drummer, co-founder, and only remaining original member of the band.

In a recent interview with Classic Rock Magazine, Paice talks about how Deep Purple despite the fact that they are old now still feel young at heart and that this definitely reflects in their music both in the studio and on the stage, saying:

“It’s hard to accept that this thing you helped to create and grew up with will be no more. When we can no longer cut the mustard on stage, then we’ll think about hanging the boots up. Go and listen to 1972 live album Made In Japan and glory in the fact that there were a bunch of kids who could back then capture all that craziness and still have a measure of control. Now listen to what we’re doing all these years later, and inside we’re still a bunch of kids. You don’t have to lose your love for making music.”

I can kind of see what Paice is talking about. Deep Purple definitely still has some strong energy and presence, even in old age. It's not wild, unbound, and dangerous like it was in the 70's, but it's still there. Maybe just a bit more refined and controlled. I'm definitely looking forward to them putting out inFinite, their 20th studio album on April 7th. I'm sure it's going to be chocked full of their mastery of rock n' roll in its most creative yet accessible form while still showing that they have some life left in them yet.

Throwback Thursday: Demon Days, by Gorillaz

In 2005, experimental alternative rock/hip-hop group Gorillaz changed the face of music by releasing their most well known album: Demon Days. Though they had already built up some notoriety with their 2001 debut release Gorillaz, it was this album that really put them on the map. The virtual cartoon band created by Damon Albarn and contributed to by multiple artists earned their place among the big boys with this album that brought experimental music into a more mainstream light, going five times platinum.

Demon Days is one of the most fascinating records I have ever listened to. It brings together so many styles, ranging from hip-hop, to electronica, to indie, to reggae, to dub, to pop, to alternative rock, to even moments of jazzy blues and other genres. This album is known for spawning the hit single Feel Good Inc., which has made itself a permanent spot on many people's 2000's playlist. The lyrics are also quite profound, making it more than just music for background listening. This is a full listening and attention giving experience.

Feel Good Inc. is definitely the most fun on the album. When that distorted laughter starts the song and that iconic bass line kicks in, you know you're about to have a good time. Even though 60% of the lyrics are rapping, I as primarily a fan of rock n' roll have found myself enjoying the song to the point where even I have learned to play certain parts of it on bass and guitar. It has that deep fast, but not too fast groove to it that snares anyone in regardless of what genre they like. I have to give this song credit where it's due. It's made me and so many other people give different genres we might not have before a chance.

Every Planet We Reach is Dead is one of those hidden gems that I cherish more than the singles from an album. It has this slow swanky, swaying, swing jazz/blues vibe to it. At the same time though, there is enough electronic instrumentation added onto the piano, drums, and other real instruments that it is definitely something more modern as well. It's the perfect marriage of old and new. Of course, it helps that they had Ike Turner doing the piano on this track. It grooves, and yet at the same time is haunting. Definitely a classic in my opinion.

Demon Days is a very clever album. It's certain to have something for everyone on it. The problem with that though is that it is so diverse that there will be several tracks you don't really care for on it. That's kind of the issue I had with it. There are a handful of tracks I absolutely love to death, a couple I'm kind of on board with, and then the rest I couldn't care less about. Regardless, it's still worth picking up and checking out. It's a great way for you to broaden your musical horizons and find new kinds of music for you to add into your library.

Demon Days, by Gorillaz receives 2.8 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Intro
2. Last Living Souls
3. Kids With Guns
4. O Green World
5. Dirty Harry
6. Feel Good Inc.
7. El Manana
8. Every Planet We Reach is Dead
9. November Has Come
10. All Alone
11. White Light
12. DARE
13. Fire Coming Out of the Monkey's Head
14. Don't Get Lost in Heaven
15. Demon Days

Buy the album on Amazon:

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Jethro Tull a Living Legacy, Not a Band Says Ian Anderson

Jethro Tull has not put out any new material in almost two decades. However, founder, only consistent member, and front man Ian Anderson has kept the music alive over the years by dedicating much of the set list in his live shows to performing it. That said, Anderson has still decided to call it a day with the band and has come forward on why that is.

In a recent interview with Eon Music, Anderson goes into detail on how Tull is more of a legacy than a band and why he has no interest in adding more music to the catalog, saying:
“At this point in the day, I think, it’s a little disingenuous for me to talk about ‘the band’ Jethro Tull, because it means so many different things. In terms of all those people who’ve given their individual input into the band, and given their time, and their passion, and their efforts. When I’m the only guy left from the early days, I think of ‘Jethro Tull’ as the repertoire; I think of Jethro Tull as all those people, but when I’m performing today, I’m performing ‘the music of Jethro Tull.'
If I think of Beethoven, I’m not thinking about ‘the man'; I’m thinking about the repertoire. We say; ‘Oh, I love Beethoven’ – you don’t mean you love Ludwig Van Beethoven; what you mean is you love his music, the repertoire that he left behind, which is what really defines people, at the end of the day.”
I kind of get where Anderson is coming from in terms of the legacy of the music outliving the members of the band that created it. It's like when I play a song from one of my old bands. Just because we're playing a song from a band that I was in, that doesn't mean we're that band. We're just preserving something that was created by a group of people that means/meant something. I also get that he doesn't want to get by on a name when he is the only original member left. That's just a cash in if you do that rather than having any artistic integrity.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Pink Floyd's Roger Waters Confirms Release Date of First Studio Solo Album in 25 Years

Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters has remained fairly silent for the past quarter of a century in terms of putting out new music. Much of what he has done has been touring, often performing his former band's album The Wall in its entirety. However, Waters's first new solo album in 25 years titled: Is This the Life We Really Want is now set to be released on May 19th according to a teaser video which can be watched above.

Is This the Life We Really Want from what we understand so far is more than likely going to be yet another concept album, though that is really no surprise to anyone considering this is Roger Waters we're talking about here. However, the subject matter has yet to come to the surface. Originally it was meant to be a radio extended play, but his producer Nigel Godrich said no to that right from the get-go.

This is an album I am definitely looking forward to listening to and reviewing. If anyone would have an interesting point of view about what is going on in the world today, it would be Waters. He doesn't seem to have lost that fire in his soul that he has always had, but with age it has become more wise and experienced. Granted, most of his fan base will probably just call him another dumb celebrity that needs to keep his mouth shut on politics because they are too narrow minded to accept the truths he will sing of but I'm sure this will be a monumental piece of art regardless.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #108

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. Every Planet We Reach is Dead, by Gorillaz

I'm usually not all that into the heavily experimental kind of music, but Gorillaz kind of threw a curve ball at me recently when I was giving their iconic album Demon Days a full listen in the form of this song. It has this real swanky, bluesy/jazzy swagger to it. Something you wouldn't expect out of a group that primarily does more modern alternative rock/hip-hop stuff. The vocal harmonies are delicious. It's a nice fusion of old and new. When I read that Ike Turner did the keys, it all made a lot more sense to me. That said, check this out for yourself.

2. Blue Turk, by Alice Cooper

Continuing the jazzy/bluesy vibe, here is a deep cut from Alice Cooper. That bass line is one of the sexiest things I've ever heard. Really holds the whole tune together. The smooth trumpet solos are what really makes the tune sparkle and come alive, though. This is the furthest thing from rock n' roll, but I'm really ok with that. Honestly I really never would have expected a song like this out of Cooper, but I'm glad it exists. I think you'll be just as pleasantly surprised as I was when I first discovered this tune so many years ago.

3. Cleopatra, by The Lumineers

Changing things up a bit, this is a tune the singer in my band turned me onto last week. It's not my usual shindig, but I find the vocal melody along with the simple three chord progression to be rather pleasing to the ear. There is also nothing particularly rocking about this song either, but it's emotionally powerful. It's softer alternative rock, but I guess it doesn't hurt to give something different a try once in a while, right?

4. Cowboys from Hell, by Pantera

All right, all right. Back to the stuff with some volume and balls to it. This Pantera classic is a staple in any metalhead's playlist. It has some damn fine guitar work by the late Dimebag Darrel. You can hear a LOT of that Randy Rhoads influence in his playing, especially the solos. The intense vocal styling of Phil Anselmo is rather timeless and iconic as well. Granted it's not for everybody, but if you love metal then you're sure to do just fine.

5. Riff Raff, by AC/DC

This is one hell of a fun song. Then again, I have yet to find a song by AC/DC that isn't. While this might never have gotten much in the way of any airplay, it matches the level of energy and intensity of anything that has. This is 70's Bon Scott era AC/DC at their finest. That main riff is memorable (and one of the first AC/DC riffs I ever learned on guitar) and will keep you pumped for the entire duration of the song. It builds, crashes, and then launches you into overdrive. A must-have for anyone trying to get themselves going with music.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Alice Cooper Responds to Minnesota Woman Trying to Ban His Show

Back in the late 60's/early 70's when Alice Cooper was first getting going he faced a LOT of conservative backlash for his macabre songs and outlandish stage antics. As years have gone by though, people have gotten a lot more used to him and he is regarded as a pop culture icon by both young and old folks alike. However, it would seem that there are still fuddy-duddies out there even to this day who are still shocked by Cooper and would petition to have him banned from playing in their town.

The Southern Minnesota News reported on the efforts of Barb Church (fitting name given the circumstances), a North Mankato resident who went to city officials complaining about the Alice Cooper concert that will be taking place at the nearby Vetter Stone Amphitheater. In her statement she says:

“I’m to tell you here that I think Alice Cooper is going to be very similar to Hairball and Nelly. Having now looked up the lyrics … I don’t think it’s wise for our community to have to listen to foul language. I don’t think we have to listen to things about suicide.”

Church referenced the Nelly concert because she claims the noise level got to 110 decibels in her home.

Cooper had an amusing, yet still classy response to Church's outcry against his show. He made a Facebook post saying:

"Across the river from my #Mankato gig (June 9th, Vetter Stone Amphitheater, tickets on sale now) is a woman who hates the noise generated by shows. She says she experienced 110db at her home during Nelly's recent performance.

Now, noise of that magnitude would annoy me too. But sound doesn't travel that well over long distances, so 110db at her home, across the river... That doesn't sound like an accurate number unless the audience at Nelly's show had their spleens ruptured by the loudest show on record (encore!).

We carry decibel meters, and according to my audio guys 110db is a number you'd see inside the venue at the sound board, but the laws of physics dictate it would spread and dissipate over that distance.

110db at her house sounds like a stretch unless she happened to meter the concert sound while 1,000 cats were meowing in her home at exactly the same time...

That seems SUPER unlikely given the circumstances so I'll give her the benefit of the doubt. I'm a "Nice Guy" after all. I guess I COULD have my snake swim over some earplugs... It's the least I could do."

Something I've always loved about Alice Cooper aside from his music and live performances is that he is incredibly witty, intelligent, and some times rather funny. The way he handled this situation not only shows him using his head, but also being respectful to the person causing a problem. Then again, considering how used to dealing with stuffy conservative old folks by now he probably has this kind of thing down to a formula. Regardless, good on him. I hope the people at that show have the absolute best time possible.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Throwback Thursday: 2112, by Rush

In 1976 famed Canadian prog rock band Rush achieved what is arguably the highest pinnacle of their entire career: writing, recording, and releasing the epic album 2112. This science fiction themed story told through one long 20+ minute song was a milestone not just for them, but for the prog rock/metal genre in general. After this countless musicians and bands began to follow Rush's example and tread into the newly discovered territory that had been opened up (as no one had done anything like this before and honestly since).

2112 is a seven part suite that tells the story of a man who lives in a future dystopian society controlled by the Priests of the Temples of Syrinx after a war that ravaged the entire galaxy discovers a guitar and believes it will be a great gift to humanity. However, the priests tell him it's just a silly whim and such a thing caused the collapse of the previous society. After that the man falls into despair and kills himself. The other half of the album is other songs that are not related to the story.

The way 2112 flows is rather seamless in its progression. It has multiple distinct parts, yet somehow they all manage to fit together just right. You feel like you're standing on the face of a barren planet at night staring at a futuristic pyramid or something the whole time you're listening to it. Even without the lyrics the music paints quite an amazing mental image for you. Everything is futuristic and wild sounding. The players are going nuts on their instruments and yet everything is still structured and tight. That is probably what impresses me more than anything.

Lyrically you can tell it is some of drummer and band lyricist Neil Peart's most inspired work. He put all of these profound political and philosophical concepts into such a grand, extravagant story and compacted it into only 20 minutes. You feel the emotions of the main character through every step of the journey. You feel like you're really there in the futuristic society. It makes you kind of think of how important individual self-expression really is and how bad things would be if it were taken away from us.

Honestly, you could probably make a movie out of this song. I'd actually LOVE to see such a thing if it were to be done right. It's definitely considered a classic and a masterpiece for a reason. This isn't the album I would start people on if they were interested in getting into Rush for the first time, but it's definitely what I would build them up toward. Everything in Rush's catalog is kind of the appetizer with 2112 being the grand feast itself. I would definitely recommend it for those who love a good story and also music that goes beyond the typical pop song structure.

2112, by Rush receives 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. 2112
2. A Passage to Bangkok
3. The Twilight Zone
4. Lessons
5. Tears
6. Something for Nothing

Buy the album on Amazon:

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Gene Simmons Has No Desire to Make New Kiss Record

Kiss is a rock n' roll machine that over the four decades it's been around has never really slowed down at all regardless of the countless troubles that have come their way. To this day they are still one of the most popular and most recognizable bands in the entire world and make millions of dollars every year. However, bassist, vocalist, and co-founder Gene Simmons has said he has no desire to put out a new Kiss record.

In a recent interview with Canton Rep Simmons goes into detail on why he feels like making a follow-up to their 2012 release Monster would be a waste of time, saying:

“It's just tough to find the time to sit down for six months and do nothing but a record. I'm not inclined to go out there and work your ass off making something you're proud of and then to have everybody steal it and download it and file share it. That's not for me.”

In all honesty, I get it. You can call him greedy and I know it doesn't really fit into the ideas of artistic integrity, but from a business perspective I completely understand why Simmons doesn't want to make another Kiss album. Why invest a lot of time, money, and effort into something that will lose you money? People might enjoy the music and will sing along at the concerts, but it would still be a money losing venture. Besides, when you tour as often as Kiss does you don't even need to have anything to promote. With how much of a legacy they have built up over the past few decades they can just continue to sell merch and concert tickets and make much more money and not need to put out another album. I disagree with them on an artistic level, but I also acknowledge that Kiss has always been more about the business side of things than being artists.