Errols Weekly Music Update.

January 29, 2010

Weekly Update – 01/29/2010

Chuck Berry at BB Kings on Fri. June 25. Tickets on sale next Tues. Feb. 2 at 5:00 p.m. $95 ($100 day of show).

Dionne Warwick at BB Kings on Fri. Rocktober 15. Tickets on sale next Wed. Feb. 3 at noon. $67.50 ($72 day of show).

Allman Brothers have added two additional shows at the United Palace Theater on Mon. Mar. 22 and Tues. Mar. 23. Pre-sale tickets for American Express cardholders begins today at 10:00 a.m. until next Fri. Feb. 5 at 10:00 p.m. General public on sale is next Sat. Feb. 6 at 11:00 a.m. $60.00, $100.99 and $150.99.

Dave Matthews Band at Citifield (Home of the Mets) on Fri. & Sat. July 16 and 17. Tickets on sale Fri. Feb. 26. (Price info to follow) Also appearing at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts on Tues. July 13. Tickets on sale Fri. Feb. 26 at 10:00 a.m. $40.50 (lawn) $75 (reserved).

Nickelback with Shinedown and Sick Puppies at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City NJ on Sat. Apr. 3. Tickets on sale tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. $35, $65 and $89.50. (No offense but Shinedown should no longer be openers).

Jefferson Starship 40th Anniversary Tour at BB Kings on Fri. May 21. Tickets on sale tomorrow at 10:00 a.m.$35.

Ace Frehley at Nokia Theater on Sun. Mar. 21. Pre-sale tickets for American Express cardholders on until noon today. General public on sale at noon. $32.50

Richard Nader’s “Doo Wop” Reunion XXI at Izod Center on Sat. June 12. Pre-sale tickets now until 11:59 p.m. this Sunday night Jan. 31. Password is: Access. General public tickets on sale Mon. Feb. 1 at 10:00 a.m. $28, $40, $50 and $103.

The National at Radio City Music Hall on Wed. June 16. Tickets on sale this morning at 11:00 a.m. $39.50.

Teena Marie and The Whispers at Theater in Madison Square Garden on Sun. May 9. Tickets on sale this morning at 10:00 a.m. $49.50 – $79.50.

Cage the Elephant at the Music Hall of Williamsburg (Brooklyn) on Thurs. Mar. 4. Tickets on sale today at noon. $15

The Flaming Lips at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on Mon. Apr. 19. Tickets on sale today at noon. $40

The Magnetic Fields at the Town Hall on Fri. Mar. 12. Tickets on sale today at noon. $36.

She & Him at Bowery Ballroom on Mon. & Tues. Mar. 29 & 30. Tickets on sale today at noon. $25.

Selena Gomez at Gramercy Theater on Thurs. Feb. 11. Tickets on sale tomorrow at noon. (Live Nation Event).

The Chieftains at The Town Hall on Wed. Mar. 17. Tickets on sale today at noon. $49 and $74.

Bone Thugs-N-Harmony at the New York Fillmore on Tues. Apr. 6. Tickets on sale today at noon. (Live Nation Event).

Other items:

Thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Morgan Harrington, the young woman who went missing after attending a Metallica concert in Charlottesville back on October 17. Her remains were found this week on a remote farm. This is such a tragic story. Metallica released a message on their website to extend their condolences and stated that “words can not express the grief and anguish” that her parents are going through.

My favorite “classic rock” song of the week is “Rock and Roll Soul” by Grand Funk Railroad. These guys were the real deal and I’ll say it again-they do not get the respect that they truly deserve. To be able to put the word “rock and roll” in a song title, you better make sure it rocks and rolls and these guys made damn well sure of that in this track. This is classic rock and roll at its best. Check it out for yourself.“We having a party… everyone is invited!!!”

My favorite “new song” (OK it’s not so new but it should be a “new” hit) of the week is “Breathe” by U2 from the absolute powerhouse of an album from 2009-“No Line on the Horizon.” This is another-“doesn’t get the respect it deserves”- rant of mine. The more you listen to “No Line” the more you will discover its greatness. I want to go on record (obviously along with Rolling Stone) that in years to come, all the “pundits” will come around on this album and then classify it as a “classic.” I, along with RS, have stated that this is a masterpiece. Listen to this track and you’ll realize it too.

Bret Michael’s new single “Nothing to Lose” will be released on Feb. 2. I like it, check it out on the web. (More on Bret in the “top 10” section below).

Rob Zombie’s new single “Sick Bubblegum” is now on video and I have to tell you that I really like the sound but again the “F” bombs are everywhere, so parents beware. He is always someone that I listen to just in the car or on my I-Pod with the earplugs and no where else. Love the guy but it’s not socially acceptable in many circumstances. That said, yes I will buy this song.

Ozzy has been a busy man lately, his new book “I am Ozzy” arrived in bookstores this week. His new album-10th solo album-is set for release in July with new guitarist-Gus G. Ozzy- who replaced Zakk Wylde-who had performed on every album and tour with Ozzy since 1988. In addition- “Ozzfest” will be back this year after a one year hiatus last year-no announcement if it is just a one day thing or a tour. By the way he and his family will be on “Ellen” next Thurs. Feb. 4.

Believe it or not: The Scorpions have announced that they are calling it quits after the release of “Sting of the Tail” which will be released in March. They will tour for the album beginning in May, so it will be the last time to catch them live. I will keep you posted on tour dates.

Jon Bon Jovi will soon be making a guest appearance on my favorite TV show “30 Rock” and will play the part of a former boyfriend of Liz Lemon.

“And 5, now this is most important, Rat…comes down to making out… whenever possible.. put on side 1 of Led Zeppelin IV

Pieces of Eight

Side 1 of “Pieces of Eight” by Styx released in November 1978.

My I-Pod shuffle landed on “Great White Hope” by Styx and it brought me way back to 1978 when I had just become a teenager and was ankle deep into Kiss, The Cars and Foreigner. Thanks to my good friend Cathy, she introduced me to, in my opinion, a great rock album of the 1970’s. Now of course when you are 13 and are discovering music really for the first time-without the influence of your parents- (although I would have to say that I stay current enough to influence what my kids listen to, hopefully they don’t mind. Now with me, as mentioned hundreds of times, my dad still thinks its 1957 so there was no chance that he was going to introduce me to bands like Deep Purple, Sabbath, etc. I had to find them on my own) the sky is the limit, right? Now with Styx, yes one can clearly say that Queen had to be one of their influences, (although the “die-hard” Styx fan would point out that their first album debuted in 1972, so maybe Queen was not an influence-I still say yes) because they took the grand “theatrical” experience to another level. So at 13 years of age,with their “over-the-top” theater like sound but accompanied by the loud rock guitars, well I thought I discovered the greatest rock band ever. Fast forward thirty years, I don’t get the same exact feelings but I tell you what- it is awfully close especially when I listen to songs like “Sing for The Day.” I loved this song from the first time I heard it and love it even more now in 2010. Literally, I could listen to this song all day- I can’t get enough of it. Anyway I’m supposed to be talking about the perfect album side-which is side two- and I’ve mentioned 40% of the songs on the first part. As mentioned so many times, music brings you back to a time in your life and unlike many adults who say that they wouldn’t want to go back to the teenage years (my wife included), I’d have to say that I lean heavily on going back because I loved being a kid, and still am a kid at heart.(Someone recently said “Boy you must be pretty good at softball for that team to want you to play at your elevated age”- I was floored because in my mind I’m still 17-maybe that’s why I’m writing about bands like Styx, you think?). So I’m back on 46th and 47th street in Sunset Park Brooklyn for this perfect album side. I was running, running everywhere while also playing softball, football and stickball in the “well” at Pershing Junior high school as well as handball and then some backgammon on summer nights. I joined my first baseball team with the “Flynn Celtics” and my teammates where a great bunch of guys as well as damn good ball players and we were led by “Mr. G.!!” Boy those were the days. “Pieces of Eight” was my first album from Styx and I was immediately hooked, I love the entire album but side two is impeccable, so here goes.

The first track on side two is “Blue Collar Man” and I say that this song can go “toe-to-toe” with any rock song out there-old or new. Now unfortunately the Styx “factions” seemed to be created as their popularity grew. On one side you had the Dennis DeYoung team (“Theatrical”) and on the other side it was the Tommy Shaw/James Young (“Rock”). Now I loved both and that’s why I think the period from 1978-1983 or so is where they hit their stride and were at the top of their game. Sadly, their musical directions drifted apart and now Dennis is no longer one of the co-singers/creators of the band. (Actually Dennis is playing with his band at the Ridgefield Playhouse in CT on Feb. 25, the tour is actually titled: The Music of Styx. I saw him recently on an interview and to me he was way too full of himself, he needed Shaw/Young just as much as they needed him. He really didn’t seem interested in the “rock and roll” part…anyway). Back to the track- This song rocks so good and I knew my youngest son would love it. When I played it for him, he was in and ironically it seems he tends to trend towards the Shaw/Young songs-oh well I guess it’s inevitable at any age. “My mother and father, my wife and my friends, you see them laugh in my face. But I’ve got the power and I’ve got the will… I’m not a charity case…” This is classic rock with a bite and stands the test of time, nice job fellas. Now the next song “Queen of Spades” starts out with the “opera-like” sound that DeYoung seems to have on every one of his songs, it starts out very soft and tranquil and I could just picture James (JY) Young jumping out of skin to get the wheels in motion and blaze in with that huge wall of sound created by his guitar, along with Tommy’s guitar as well as the Panozzo brothers (Chuck on bass, John on drums-sadly he passed away in 1996) manning the rhythm section. JY has a distinctive sound on his guitar (as well as voice) and I immediately know when he’s at the forefront. Now Dennis demonstrates that he could kick into gear and sing the rock part very well. I would say to all his “haters” look at this song as an excellent mixture of what he brought to the table as well as James and the rest of the boys. This is my second favorite song on the album (remember “Sing for the Day” ranks way up there for me, all-time-never mind just Styx) and the arrangement/production is really top notch. Love the part where Dennis sadistically states “haa haa haa… you lose” while John does as masterful job on the skins.

Track # 3- “Renegade”- could just be their most popular song (along with “Come Sail Away”) on the classic rock radio format. Styx had this way of fooling you into thinking that a song was going to be soft and then just like a lightning bolt, they joust you out of your seat with an explosion similar to when someone sneaks up to try and scare you. (You know those pranksters right, everyone has ‘em). What stands out most to me is the harmonization of the vocals between Shaw and DeYoung (my assumption) especially during the “heartbeat” part of the song where they both sing-“Oh mama I can hear you a crying you’re so scared and all alone..” This is a powerful song and even though it’s been played millions of times, I still get psyched when I know the “fast” part is coming after the scream of “Yeeeaaahhhhh… The jig is up…” Not to be outdone by his counterparts, Mr. Young has a blazing guitar solo that I think the creators of Rock Band or Guitar Hero had in mind when they fashioned this product. Excuse me while I jump up on the table to “air-guitar” as this solo is unbelievable. Whew I’m at a fever pitch and to cool off the very under-rated “Pieces of Eight” song begins and I have to say that this could be one of the best vocal performances by Dennis. His voice is confident as well as passionate (you have to give him that). It sort of has that “Queen” feel to it, especially the piano parts and the “high pitched” back ground vocals. Tommy takes it away with a nice guitar solo and the song turns into a “singfest” as I always have the urge to keep singing “Pieces of Eight.. don’t let it turn your heart to stone..” Nice touch with the piano ending. The last track on side two is the instrumental- “Aku Aku”- now to all you youngsters out there- this is what went on in the 1970’s- bands always had one or two instrumentals on their album. Now I’m not going to sit here and tell you this is a “Frankenstein” but for the theme of the album, it’s a nice touch to end the album. Tommy speaks “Aku Aku” a few times. You’d have to ask him what it means, I have no clue.

“Pieces of Eight” is one of their finest “pieces of work” that Styx has ever done and if I’m not mistaken- it is their best selling album of all time as well. (3 Million plus). As mentioned, this album, along with ‘Grand Illusion”, and subsequent albums that followed “Pieces” catapulted this band into super stardom but yet at the same time seemed to create a rift that still hasn’t healed to this day. I think after the “Paradise” tour-when they were really at the top of their fame-the members of Styx probably knew things had to change because it seemed that the struggle to see who was going to be the “captain” of the ship was getting old and even though they continued for “Mr. Roboto,” the writing was on the wall. It appears, in a nut shell, that Dennis wanted more “theatrics” while Tommy and JY wanted to just “rock and roll.” At least we have the original recordings to fall back in the absence of a “reunion” (I know Styx is still going strong). And just like in 1978, side two of “Pieces of Eight” remains perfect. If you do not have any Styx in your library, you may want to start with this album, like I did. Thanks Cathy.

“TOP TEN”:

I don’t know about your I-Pod shuffle but there are times when I press mine-even though I have thousands and thousands of songs- they seem to pick the same genre for about 5-10 songs in a row or they play 4 out of the first 20 songs by the same artist, even though again there are hundreds to choose from. Well this week, my shuffles kept landing on Poison and Cinderella so I decided to make this week’s top ten from their respective library of work. Now no offense to the “die-hard” fans of either but I have elected to choose my favorite five songs from each to create my top ten list this week. So I guess the genre this week is “hair-band” metal but again labels mean nothing to me-if it moves me, I’ll listen. Now I am a huge fan of both bands and am not ashamed to admit it (like many of you reading this now, you’ll brush it to the side as “‘80’s hair metal” but you know you listen and like it). I’ve seen Poison as “openers” and as “headliners” and believe me these guys put on a great live show. You can’t help but enjoy yourself. Call it whatever you like, I love the hair-bands of the 1980’s. Now with Cinderella I would have to say that these guys were my favorite “hair-band” of all time. Again it’s a shame that there is a “label” because to me, this band could play blues, country, rock and roll, throw in some “metal” riffs and of course sprinkle in the “power ballad” dressing which in my mind completes their deserved spot on the menu of very good bands from the late 1980’s-again “pre-Nirvana.” Remember, I’m on a deserted island and have been told that I could only have five songs from Poison and Cinderella-“These are Them:”

Image of Poison

Poison

(All images from Amazon.com)

5.     Look What The Cat Dragged In– Love the rocking groove in this track. This gets me out of my seat and has me playing air-guitar as I run all throughout the house trying to do the same “David Lee Roth splits” as he jumped in the air-remember those?-there is no other way to listen to this track but LOUD!!! The “back-ground” vocals are so good throughout the song. “Oh my God look what the cat dragged in!!!” The drumming in this song is super solid.

4.     Unskinny Bop– I can clearly remember driving in my car when I lived in Ringwood NJ and was headed somewhere on the weekend to do those Saturday “errands” when it came on “WDHA FM” (105.5 on your radio dial) and I had not heard this song in a long time and I was immediately struck on how fresh it sounded. I had to take some more time out of my errands, so I drove to the mall to pick up their greatest hits CD. (I had their music on vinyl and tape at the time). Love the groove and the chorus is probably one of the most infectious out of all the songs they recorded. Like the way CC trails Brett’s vocals with the guitar-yes OK a rip off of the Mighty Zep but they are/were not the only ones to employ this trait. (see Van Halen). This is just an all around fun song, pure enjoyment.

3.     Poor Boy Blues– Is it “over the top” the way the song is recorded, maybe yes. Is this true “blues”- well maybe not. But there is something about this song that keeps me coming back for more. I can remember being in my early 20’s living in Brooklyn and when I would put this song on, my mom would always say “leave the door open for this one.” It starts off with this slow “bluesy twist” which for some reason I picture pouring syrup from a high level onto pancakes down below. But then it starts to pick up and before you know it, the drums, guitar and Brett’s vocals are just about in 3rd gear and the flow is so rocking that I have to run around the room like a maniac-excuse me while I do this…..Ok I’m back. “Let’s walk this dog…ahhh don’t hurt yourself CC…” as Mr. DeVille breaks out into a ferocious guitar solo.. excuse me again… even the bass guitar work by Bobby Dall is very noticeable especially after CC’s guitar solo- you can feel the bass in your chest. (of course only if it is LOUD!!!). I can’t stop dancing around the room. These guys know how to make fun songs, I’m sorry but I love it. Again call it what you will but this is rock and roll the way I like it.

2.     I Want Action– This song rocks-I don’t care what anyone says (yes the lyrics are juvenile but its about the music)-this pumps me up so much and immediately brings me back to one of the best time periods in my life and that was my time spent at the gym at MBIA Insurance Co. This was one of our “staple” boot camp songs (Ok yes I was the one who always put it on multiple CD’s) and whenever it would come on it was like I was possessed. The adrenaline would flow through my veins, bloodstream and every orifice and even if I might have been draggin’ through the stations, this song would pick me right back up. It pushed me harder to do those “bubble” jumps, rope jump faster, sprint faster, do more push-ups (Ok I’m lying now). But those classes spent with Dave, Tricia, CIC, Nick and Doreen were the best. Thanks everyone for making those mornings so memorable.

1.     Something to Believe In– Ok, yes this is the obligatory “power ballad” that is most associated with the “hair bands” but the lyrics in this one have a greater “social” impact than most of its peers, including “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.” I think the whole arrangement of this track is top notch and it always gets me when Brett laments “I tried all night not to break down and cry while the tears rolled down my face…I felt so cold and empty, like a lost soul out of place…” Yes there was a time that MTV (sorry Eddie) played this video “every hour on the hour” and I did distance myself from this song because I did hear it too many times. So I tucked it away and came back years later and it still touched me the same way as when I first heard this classic ballad-which I consider their best song.

Image of Cinderella

Cinderella

5.     Nobody’s Fool– This track reminds me of “Too Late for Love” by Def Leppard and that is one of my favorite songs. This band has changed many members since they started back in the 1980’s (they are from PA) but the one constant voice is Tom Keifer, now if you are a fan of AC/DC I would say his vocal style is similar to that of Brian Johnson. (For those of you who do not know who this band is, the man has a “high pitched” singing voice and may be an acquired taste for some. Rumor has it his voice has returned to “normal” after he has blown out his vocal chords a few times. On these original recordings it’s very high pitched). Now I know this a slow trudging tune but it still rocks in my opinion, something about it that pulls me in, “hook, line & sinker.”

4.     Heartbreak Station– This song reminds me of my mother and now when I listen to it, it really is a “Heartbreak.” She use to listen to my music from the dining room while she was eating or crocheting and I remember her saying “that guy’s voice can be annoying but I like this song.” This is a love song about Keifer losing his girlfriend so the vibe is melancholy but sometimes you need that, especially when it reminds you of someone you love with all your heart. Thanks Mom.

3.     Loves Got Me Doin’ Time– Love the guitar riff that blasts open this song. If you are at the gym and are punching the big bag you may want to put this song on your I-Pod song list for your next workout. It’s not that fast moving but at points when the pace picks up, it will make you jump around the bag like you were “floating like a butterfly” while Cinderella will put the “sting” into you with the “electric” guitar solo. “Ooh got this funny feeling that you are not on the level… I can’t pay the fine.. got me doin’ time…” This song rocks. \m/ \m/

2.     Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)– Yes this is the typical “power ballad” that filled the airwaves back in the late 1980’s and on MTV, repeatedly but again I eat this up, don’t ask me why but there is something about this genre that I love. Maybe it brings me back to my younger days when there weren’t as many worries as you build up as you grow older. That’s why I consider music the most important release that people can have, it takes you away-albeit to you come back to reality but it makes you feel better. At least it does for me and songs like this are sappy, yes I know but I need sappy in my life-squeezed in with every other genre that I listen to.

1.     Shelter Me– For some reason when I hear this I think of the Black Crowes.. that is until Tom starts singing. This is one of my all-time favorite songs, never mind by Cinderella-I’m talking out of all the bands and artists that I listen to. Love the lyrics-“check out Mr. Politician in a suit & tie… meanwhile Mr. Medicine’s treating his best friend’s wife.. Tipper led the war against the record industry she said she saw the devil on MTV..” Now remember when Al’s wife took it to the music industry and we watched Dee Snider on the hill… back then I was so upset with Tipper but now as a Dad, I thank her. (parental advisory labels were her victory). Anyway, I love the groove in this song and could sing it all day long. This is Rock and Roll at its best folks, don’t kid yourself- even my wife likes this song!!!

Trivia Questions

Answers from last week:

1.     Soul Stirrers

2.     Billy Preston and Lou Rawls

3.     True, in Philly

4.     Named after Chevy REO Oldsmobile station wagon

This week’s trivia (Poison, Cinderella)-

1.     What famous rocker from New Jersey recommended that executives from A&R records to go see Cinderella perform live?(which gave them the break they were looking for)

2.     What “Loggins & Messina” song did Poison cover?

3.     Which song-arguably Poison’s most popular- was featured in the film “Mr. & Mrs. Smith?”

4.     True or False: The Poison and Cinderalla Tour of 2006 averaged 10,000 people per show?

Name That Tune

Answers from last week:

1.     “Back in the U.S.S.R.”- The Beatles

2.     “Back in the U.S.A.”-Chuck Berry

3.     “Back in Black”-AC/DC

4.     “Back in My Arms Again”- The Supremes

Can you guess the title from the following lyrics from part of the song?

1.     “Seasons changed and so did I.. you need not wonder why.. you need not wonder why…”

2.     “But there never seems to be enough time to do the things you want to do.. once you find them.. I looked around enough to know… ”

3.     “But you’ll come running back (said you will baby).. You’ll come running back (I said so many times before) You’ll come running back to me…”

4.     “And I was walking down the street one day.. a pretty lady looked at me and said her diamond watch had stopped cold dead….”

Back on this Day

Sadly back on this day in 1992, the legendary Willie Dixon passed away at the age of 76.

Sadly back on this day in 1994, Mary Wilson was injured in a car crash that killed her son in California.

Back on this day in 1962, Peter, Paul & Mary were signed to Warner Brothers Records.

Back on this day in 2006, Bryan Adams was the first Western Act to perform in Karachi, Pakistan where he performed a benefit concert for children affected by the 2005 earthquake.

If it is your birthday today, you share the same birth date with Tommy Ramone, (last surviving original member), David Byron (Uriah Heep) and Eddie Jackson (Queensryche).

January 22, 2010

Weekly Update – 01/22/2010

James Taylor and Carole King at the Mohegan Sun on Sat. June 12. Tickets on sale this morning at 10:00 a.m. (Live Nation Event)

Daughtry at the Prudential Center (“The Rock”) on Sun. Mar. 21 and also at the Nassau Coliseum on Fri. Mar. 26. Tickets on sale tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. (if you are part of fan club there is “pre-sale” access). “Rock” prices: $32.50 and $42.50; Nassau prices: $39.

New Kids on the Block at Radio City Music Hall on Fri. June 18. Pre-sale tickets begin this morning at 10:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. next Fri. Jan. 29 if you are an American Express cardholder. General public on sale is next Sat. Jan. 30 at 11:00 a.m.$59.50 – $99.50.

Bryan Adams at The Performing Arts Center at Purchase College on Sun. Apr. 25. Tickets on sale this morning at 10:00 a.m. (This is his “Barebones Tour”) $45, $55 and $75. Tickets available on line or at box office at (914) 251-6200. M-F 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Josh Ritter at Town Hall on Thurs. May 20. Tickets on sale today at noon. $26 and $30.

Coheed & Cambria at the Music Hall of Williamsburg (Brooklyn) on Wed. Mar. 31. Tickets on sale today at noon. $30

Ray Davies at Theater in Westbury NY on Sat. Feb. 27. Tickets on sale this Sunday Jan. 24 at 12:30 p.m. (Live Nation Event)

Korn, Rob Zombie, Five Finger Death Punch, Hatebreed and others will be the acts for this year’s “Rock Star Energy Drink Mayhem Festival” which will stop at the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden NJ on Fri. July 23. Also appearing at The Comcast Theater in Hartford CT on Sat. July 24 as well as the PNC Bank Arts Center on Wed. July 28. Pre-sale begins on April 2 and general public sale starts on Fri. Apr. 16. More details to follow.

Dashboard Confessional at Nokia Theater on Fri. Mar. 26. Tickets on sale this morning at 11:00 a.m.  $25

Johnny Winter at BB Kings on Wed. June 23. Tickets on sale tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. $30.

Other items:

Tonight (at 8:00 p.m. on so many channels) will be the two hour concert for “Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief” which will star so many top musical acts. Scheduled performers include-but not limited to-Bono, The Edge, Cold Play, Alicia Keys, Springsteen, Sting, Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Hudson, Wyclef Jean, Stevie Wonder, John Legend, Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, Dave Matthews, Jay-Z and Taylor Swift. Kid Rock will perform with Sheryl Crow and Keith Urban. Of course you can make donations when the show is on but then these performances will be loaded up on I-Tunes for purchase and all proceeds will benefit Haiti. It’s mind numbing what has happened over there and so sad, please help.

Soap Box Time:   Not sure if you all have been following this attempted merger between Ticket Master and Live Nation but right now it is sitting with the Department of Justice and a decision could be made as early as next week. Here is my take:

You know how in life there are things that you can not believe actually occur. There are so many examples, like the time a woman sued McDonald’s because they did not let her know that when she ordered a “hot” coffee-that it was actually hot-so of course she spills it on herself while driving and lo and behold, McDonald’s has to pay her for her incompetence. (Millions more than what she paid for that cup of coffee, mind you). Or how about cleaning products that have to disclose: please do not drink or swallow… don’t we all know that “Liquid Drano” is not on a menu list? I guess not. Or how about when all evidence points to a clear cut decision but a high priced lawyer can put that one doubt in a jury’s mind to make them acquit. We often ask ourselves, where is the Justice? Now think back to when you were a kid-really young-when you would sell lemonade for twenty-five cents a cup. Meanwhile the neighborhood bully stakes out a place right across the street from you and undercuts you at fifteen cents a cup but also throws in a cookie. How do you compete? Pretty soon you fold up your stand and get back to the business of being a kid. As the years pass though, the tough guy is now is the only “ticket” on the block-no wait- the entire neighborhood but now even on the coolest spring days sells that same cup of lemonade for $10 per cup. He claims to have more expenses- the lemons have been frozen out due to the cold winter in Florida (don’t actually know if they grow lemons in FL but you get the picture) and since the entire world is going “green”- paper costs have skyrocketed because we have to save our trees, so that cup is more expensive. And you have a “no fault of mine” added in at $4 per cup because if you the customer don’t like how the lemonade tastes, it still going to cost you $6 because they get to keep the $4. Remember he was there for you when you needed that cup of lemonade.

So now he takes his stand and opens them across the U.S.-he has no competition because of “exclusive” agreements with the sidewalks and street associations across America. And as the years go by, you wonder why you can’t try another lemonade stand. Why? Because, he has crushed all the competition. But wait, here comes another bully who actually muscles his way in and you’re thinking- OK I can buy a different cup of lemonade and maybe this time it will be cheaper. Wow this is going to be great. Then within days, these two bullies form an alliance and tell the sidewalk association management teams that they will of course provide the same great service at reasonable prices. (With a wink of an eye). And the best part- the sidewalk association grants them acceptance of their proposed merger. Sound familiar?

See sometimes I feel that no matter how much the majority of us know that Ticket Master and Live Nation should NOT be allowed to merge, there’s always a way these crazy things get approved. We all know that Ticket Master needs more competition to drive down prices of concert and sporting events but yet we keep turning a blind eye. Pearl Jam-(heroes in my book forever)- decided to take a stand a long long time ago- and it was like everyone knew they were right but yet no one else jumped into help. So what happens? After a while Pearl Jam utilizes Ticket Master. Now finally after some many friggin’ years, Live Nation enters the fray and what happens? They decide to merge with Ticket Master? Are you kidding me?

Are we that numb to our surroundings? Have we all just thrown in the towel with a shrug of our shoulders and say “yes-this is OK… doesn’t affect me, so why should I care?” I keep going back to “Ma Bell” many years ago? Didn’t the government force this telephone monopoly into different companies? Why not Ticket Master? We all know that they charge an astonishing amount of “fees.” How many times have you ordered 4 tickets, lets say for $50 a piece and by the time Ticket Master finishes slapping on their fees, your bill is closer to $300 than what it should be-$200. I know I am stating the obvious but don’t think with this merger that ticket prices are actually going to head down. If you do, I have a bridge I want to sell you.

To the Justice Department: if you really are all about Justice, there is no way you could ever approve this merger. You should take down the barriers that Ticket Master has skillfully crafted over the years, which are now cemented, and chip away until there are more firms that would be allowed to compete for everyone’s hard earned money. Oh and by the way- aren’t we in the “Great Recession?” In this time of financial hardship, how can we keep everything –“status quo”- please Justice Department- don’t let this happen.

Another “Say it ain’t so, Joe” moment: Aerosmith, according to Joe Perry, is till auditioning for a new singer while they wait for Steven Tyler to come back. Joe feels that they have “let the fans down.” Note to Joe: You will let the fans down if you let anyone other than Steven Tyler sing for the band named Aerosmith.

My favorite song of the week belongs to Tom Petty’s “other” band- Mudcrutch– with “Orphan of the Storm.” Boy this is “down home cooking” and I can’t get enough of it. This is folk/rock music at it’s best.

My favorite “old school” song of the week is “How Can I Be Sure” by The Rascals. How great is this song? One of the best “sing-along-songs” ever recorded. And if you have that someone special, you can sing it to them. Great tune.

“And 5, now this is most important, Rat…comes down to making out… whenever possible.. put on side 1 of Led Zeppelin IV

Side 1 of “Hi InFidelity” by REO Speedwagon released in November 1980.

Hi Infidelity

As I mentioned on last week’s page when I hit my middle teenage years, things really started taking off for me musically on my journey into the world of rock and roll, rock and hard rock. (remember I didn’t really delve into the world of metal until the early 1990’s-after I married-to the chagrin of my wife). I would say that the period from 1978-1984 formed the foundation-(sort of like pouring the cement into the ground when one builds a house)-of my “first true love(s)” of rock music. Now I know the 1980’s decade seems to always get slammed as some sort of a joke when compared to all the other decades, but I see it differently. Sure Joey Ramone called it the “corporate rock” era but again if it moves you… then who cares what label people give it. (by the way have you ever read the lyrics to “Rockaway Beach?”…. ‘nuff said). So anyway, I gravitated to bands like Foreigner, The Cars, Van Halen, Boston, Aerosmith, etc. and along comes REO Speedwagon with their ever popular “Hi Infidelity.” Now this was their ninth studio album so I am not going to sit here and tell you that I am a “die-hard” fan-no, maybe the opposite. There are some artists where I only have one piece of work from them-for example Billy Joel- I only own the “Glass Houses” album, I have songs from other albums (obviously from I-Tunes) and Molly Hatchet’s- “Flirting With Disaster” are the first two that come to mind. And this is the only REO Speedwagon album that I had/have. Now a few weeks back, my best man finally read one of my blogs (only because I told him that I mentioned him, he says the blog is always “too long”) and he was upset that I said that “he looked like he was being electrocuted” when he was dancing at my wedding to “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns & Roses. Well he is not going to like what I am going to say now. You know how you have family/friends where if you give/lend them something, you are never getting it back? (C’mon you know you have some). Well guess who “borrowed” my vinyl version of “Hi Infedelity” and never gave it back. That’s right, my best man “Johnny Boy.” Now you all know how much I treasure music so you can appreciate my outrage.. you forgive.. but you never forget the next time something is asked to be “borrowed,” right??!! Anyway, Hi-Infidelity has sold over 9 million copies, so you know it’s popular. I absolutely loved the first side of this album and consider it a perfect album side. I also like some of the songs on side two but again side one is “classic.”

The album kicks off with the “sleeper” of the album in my opinion (even though it starts off the album) the fantastic-“Don’t Let Him Go”-which was not as popular as the other two monster hits on this side but don’t get fooled-this song stands on its own merits and can rock with the best of them. This fast paced song is led by the fantastic organ, synthesizer playing by Mr. Neal Doughty and followed up by the nice guitar playing of Gary Richrath. All along the ride, Mr. Alan Gratzer keeps the train moving with his pounding of the skins. “He makes you so angry, he makes you so sore.. baby I don’t know..” Love it. This song could definitely be utilized in your next “Spin” class as I can definitely see some hill climbing but also some breakout blasts of speed. This is my favorite track on the album, sometimes the first one is-doesn’t mean the rest are not good. Oh contraire, yes the sappy “Keep on Loving You” follows next and like I have always maintained-sometimes you need sappy in your life. And anyway it’s not sappy if you love it. I guess I have to admit that this was the song that pulled me into this album and made me make the plunge towards its purchase. I love the predictable guitar solo in the middle-(like all love ballads, huh?)-I make no apologies for “loving” this song and REO Speedwagon also doesn’t need to apologize as well. This song put them on the map in my opinion (please “die-hards” don’t hate me for saying that). This was their first number one hit in the U.S. Track # 3-“Follow My Heart”- gets back to the rocking side of Speedwagon and for some reason this song reminds me of something that Whitesnake would do-I can picture Coverdale (obviously way past his Deep Purple days) singing this track. The guitar work is rock solid and Kevin Cronin’s vocals are spot on. This song has a slick feel to it with an addicting chorus which will make you sing “should I follow my head or follow my heart..” all day long. Mr. Richrath has a blazing guitar solo which really makes you stand up and pay attention as well as not to easily dismiss this band as just a “pop” band-listen to this track and tell me the guitar work isn’t great. Now the fourth track-“In Your Letter”- doesn’t seem to fit the genre of the album but it doesn’t mean it’s not a good song. I can’t put my finger on it but I feel like I have heard this song before because it sounds like something right out of the early 1960’s- a la-“The Ronettes” or “The Shirelles.” The piano work really makes this a fun song. Now admittedly this really is a pop song but there is nothing wrong with that. (I’m making that point here because back in 1981, I was ridiculed for listening to this when my friends were thick into Ted Nugent and Black Sabbath-I eventually got there but I took a different path). The last song on side one-“Take It on The Run”- is definitely a pop ballad song and I love it. The entire arrangement production of this song is spectacular in my opinion. Cronin’s vocals make you hang on to every word that he is portraying in the story about how his girlfriend is cheating on him. Now we all can identify in some way shape or form to the lyrics of this song, right. I know this song hit home for me in the mid to late 1980’s. Let’s talk about the amazing guitar solo again by Gary Richrath, I’d venture to say that this is one of the best solos for all the pop ballad songs that are out there. I would say that the “air-guitar” contestants take a listen-just the solo, slow down- and get up there and try to match the blazing finger work. Talk about an addicting chorus? Boy I can sing this song over and over again. Classic.

Again REO Speedwagon is not a band that I followed before or after “Hi Infideltiy” was released. I make no apologies for this, I am drawn in by good music and in my opinion this was their best work (or to the die-hards-their most popular). Side one produced two of the biggest songs that are still in heavy rotation on the “classic rock” radio format around the U.S. “Keep on Loving You” and “Take it on the Run” have stood the test of time and forget all the nonsense that it is “corporate rock” or whatever the nay-sayers want to call it, this is good rock or I’ll even label it something-“comfort” rock. Eat it up.

“TOP TEN”:

Image of Sam Cooke

Last week on PBS there was a one hour special on the legendary Sam Cooke (the channel may be repeating it this month so look for it) and it made me think that I should try and pick my favorite ten songs from this man with the magical voice. Folks, I can even begin to tell you how important this man was to the world of music, no matter what I write down- he has done better and there are superior accolades already written or filmed than I could do justice by putting my feelings down on a blog. For the past ten years or so I have been really getting into his music and he now stands as my favorite all time male singer. Of course I grew up in a “doo-wop” household and my dad always had Sam Cooke playing all the time. (Not that I would consider Sam “doo-wop” but he was at the forefront of R&B music scene). His influence over so many artists-which include The Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart, Southside Johnny (famously known for the remake of Cooke’s “We’re Having a Party”), Aretha and so many more R&B artists, is a testament to his raw talent. Now I am not going to sit here and profess that I know Sam Cooke’s entire body of work, I do not. (My top ten does not include his Gospel work before he made the “crossover.”) But what I have in my music library is something that I will treasure for the rest of my life and I have already passed his music on down to my sons. Folks if you do not know who Sam Cooke is (again it’s like never seeing the “Godfather” movies-I & II) you really need to do your homework to make it your business to listen to one of the greatest singers of all time. Think about what this man accomplished in his 33 years on earth- it’s just mind boggling on the impact he made on some many lives. From what I have seen written, his “crossover” to the “mainstream pop” world from the land of Gospel was vehemently opposed by many of his Gospel brethren. I am obviously too young to have witnessed it at the time but I would dare say that it parallels Bob Dylan when he made the “crossover” from acoustic to electric. (remember that film clip where all his folk fans were “booing” when he “plugged” in?). And I believe Dylan pushed Cooke because after hearing “Blowin’ in the Wind” it drove Cooke to write the world renowned “A Change is Gonna Come.” So again I am on an island and I am told that I have ten songs to choose from by Mr. Sam Cooke- “These would be them:” (Now my dad will be upset that I don’t have “You Send Me” in my top ten as this is his favorite Sam song so I will mention it here).

10.     “Another Saturday Night”-I can remember growing up and always having Sam mixed in with a whole bunch of other R&B, doo-wop stars on every weekend and the one thing that always stood out was his voice. Now there have been others that have sung this song but no one like Mr. Cooke, this is a finger snapping classic and yes we have all been there a one point in our lives, right? (meaning you were alone on a Saturday night). Love the part “It’s hard on a fella when he don’t know his way around.. if I don’t find me a honey to help spend my money…”

9.     “Little Red Rooster”-Sam’s version of this Willie Dixon blues classic is my favorite (yes better than the Stones, Howlin’ Wolf and The Doors). Billy Preston plays the organ while Ray Charles works his magic on piano but it is Sam who steals the show with his “so cool” vocal style. Take a listen to the many different versions and then come back to Sam’s and tell me this isn’t the best one? Love it when Sam says “play it Billy” then “Answer him Ray.. Lord have mercy..” Yes Lord have mercy because that part of the song (as well as the whole)contains three of the greatest entertainers this world has ever seen making arguably the best blues song ever recorded. But Sam is not done, he kicks it up a notch as he passionately sings “Now if you seen my red rooster, send him home..” And he takes it home by saying “I ain’t had no peace in the barnyard since my red rooster been gone..” Awesome.

8.     “You Gotta Move”-Similar genre to “Little Red Rooster” and this fits Sam like a glove. He sings the blues (as well as any other style) better than most, if not all. I’m squinting my eyes as I try to match his fervor by singing “I love you baby.. to my heart.. you keep on mis-treating me…oh we got to part… You got to move. ” His vocals are spectacular and if this doesn’t “move” you, there is something wrong because I can’t stop snapping my fingers, sliding my feet across the floor and performing my best “lip-sync.” Who sings like this? No one.

7.     “(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons”– Man when I hear this song I just float away. This man had so many great “love” songs and this one has to rank way up there as I love to sing this song to my wife. Now matter how many times he says “I Love You” I actually want him to sing it more. Next time you attend a wedding make sure you take this song with you and make the DJ play this, then take the hand of that someone special, lead to the dance floor and float away. I guarantee everyone at the party will ask the DJ to play that song again-it’s that good.

6.     “Cupid”-Talk about a love song? I always take my two hands and put them over my heart as I try to make believe that I am Sam Cooke. Of course my eyes are closed (again- this seems to be a pattern with all his songs) because I drift off and while I listen I am in complete awe. You really have to ask yourself- Was there ever a singer before him or after him that was as magnificent-it’s almost like he was from another planet or at least another stratosphere because this is pure genius.

5.     “Love You Most of All”-Do you have some favorite songs that just make you singer louder or sing with more passion? This song is one those songs that does it for me. (I turn the volume up louder of course). It sounds like they had a great time recording this song, so upbeat and fun. “You can rock, you can roll.. you’re so kind..” This is a perfect sing along song when you having a house party- hand out the words to all your guests and have as much fun as it sounds like Sam is having- and belt it out.

4.     “Sad Mood”-Even though the mood is melancholy, his voice will put a smile on your face because this is pure sweetness (the piano work reminds me of something that Patsy Cline would sing). This song is flawless and I’m not sure what else to say except that this song will stop you in your tracks and make you pay close attention.

3.     “A Change is Gonna Come”-I freeze every time I hear this, I can’t seem to move-in fact I don’t want to move. I want to listen to every note, every word and every meaning as he poured his entire being into this majestic body of work. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like in the recording studio while he was creating this masterpiece. Every one there had to have their jaws hitting the floor and also had to know that they were witnessing a piece of history that could never be replicated. This is so good that it brings tears to my eyes, the arrangement and production of this song just might be the best we will ever hear in our lifetime.

2.     “Bring It On Home To Me”– A few years back I went to see Al Green in concert and he paid homage to Sam by doing this song. I have to say it was one of my best concert moments in my entire life. The entire audience was swaying back and forth while belting out the words to this song. I never wanted it to end. To see the endless smiles on the people there was a sight to behold and I looked up in the sky and was wondering if Sam was looking down on us with a smile. The moment was surreal and now every time I listen to this song it brings me back to that special moment. Thanks Sam. You have affected my life with your music and I was born in 1965 and I have passed it on down to my sons who were born in the 1990’s. I will make sure that if my children have children to pass it on down to them. This song is so phenomenal it is hard to put into words; you just have to feel it.

1.     “Nothing Can Change This Love”This really could be my ultimate song for my entire life, I truly believe if someone asked me what my favorite song of all time is-I would have to pick this one. Really every time I listen to it, I get chills that run up and down my spine. Sometimes when things are so good, I start to tear up-don’t ask me why but it does and every time I hear this song I can feel myself getting misty-eyed. When my wife and I renew our vows, this will be our song that we will dance to. I try to dance with her every time I hear this song. As I sit here, the tears are flowing and I have to stop writing. This is the most beautiful song ever recorded in the history of music.

Trivia Questions

Answers from last week: (Congrats to Cathy for answering the questions):

1.     “I Need A Lover”

2.     Beyonce/John Legend; Vanessa Williams/George Benson

3.     Stephen Stills-(Cathy- Melvin Dunlap played bass)

4.     “You Better Run”

This week’s trivia (Cooke, Speedwagon)-

1.     What legendary Gospel group did Sam take over on lead vocals at the age of nineteen?

2.     Name at least two fellow artists that Sam Cooke help make the transition from Gospel to mainstream music industry?

3.     True or False- REO Speedwagon performed at the Live Aid Concert back in 1985?

4.     How did REO Speedwagon get its name?

Name That Tune

Answers from last week:

1.     “November Rain”- Guns & Roses

2.     “September”-Earth Wind & Fire

3.      “December”-Collective Soul

4.     “New Year’s Day”- U2

Can you guess the title from the following lyrics from part of the song?

1.     “Flew in from Miami Beach B.O.A.C.. didn’t get to bed last night.. on the way the paper bag was on my knee.. man I had a dreadful flight…”

2.     “New York, Los Angeles.. oh how I yearn for you….Detroit, Chicago.. Chattanuga.. Baton Rouge…let alone just to be at my home in old St. Looo… ”

3.     “I got the hurts cause I never die..I got.. nine lives.. cats eyes.. using every one and never wondering why.. because…”

4.     “Oooohh… All day long I hear my telephone ring.. friends calling giving their advice..from the boy I love.. I should break away….”

Back on this Day

Back on this day in 1959, Buddy Holly made what would be his final recording in his apartment in New York City.

Back on this day in 1965, the Animals were all set to film a live concert at the Apollo Theater but it never happened as the Immigration department ordered the show to be cancelled.

Back on this day in 1990, two visibly drunken members of Guns & Roses, Slash & Duff McKagan, forever changed the way the American Music Award show would be broadcast because after their appearance, the “7 second” delay was introduced, giving ability to the producers to edit what they saw fit before hitting the national audience ears.

If it is your birthday today, you share the same birth date with the legendary one and only Sam Cooke, (I did not know that it was his birthday when I wrote my top ten songs by him, must have been a sign, right?) and Steve Perry (former Journey frontman) and Steven Adler (former drummer for Guns & Roses).

January 15, 2010

Weekly Update – 01/15/2010

Jay-Z and Young Jeezy will be at Madison Square Garden on Tues. Mar. 2 and at Mohegan Sun on Fri. Mar. 5. Tickets on sale this morning at 10:00 a.m. MSG: $39.50 – $139.50; Mohegan: $80 – $120.

James Taylor and Carole King at Madison Square Garden on Tues. June 15. Pre-sale tickets for American Express cardholders go on sale tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. until Fri. Jan. 22 at 10:00 p.m. General public tickets on sale next Sat. Jan. 23 at 10:00 a.m. $39.50 – $154.50.

Three Days Grace with Breaking Benjamin and Flyleaf at the Prudential Center (The “Rock”) on Fri. Feb. 19. Tickets on sale tomorrow at 10:00 a.m.  $39.50.

Spoon at Radio City Music Hall on Fri. Mar. 26. Pre-sale tickets begin this morning at 11:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. tonight and the password is HESPOON. General public on sale is tomorrow at 11:00 a.m.$39.50

Rodrigo and Gabriela at Radio City Music Hall on Thurs. Apr. 29. Tickets on sale today at noon. $34.50 – $49.50.

Train at Theater in Westbury NY on Fri. Mar. 19. Tickets on sale this Sunday Jan. 17 at 12:30 p.m. (Live Nation Event) $39.50.

Keith Emerson and Greg Lake at Theater in Westbury NY on Fri. Apr. 4. Tickets on sale this Sunday Jan. 17 at 12:30 p.m. (Live Nation Event)

Unearth at the Gramercy Theater (formerly “Blender”) on Sat. Apr. 3. Tickets on sale tomorrow at noon. (Live Nation Event).

Killing Joke at the New York Fillmore on Fri. May 21. Tickets on sale next Fri. Jan. 22 at 10:00 a.m. (Live Nation Event).

Ringo Starr at Bethel Woods Center in Bethel NY on Sat. June 26. Tickets on sale this morning at 10:00 a.m.  $35 – $90. 

Ricki Lee Jones at the Concert Hall (2 West 64th street NY) on Thurs. Feb. 25. Tickets on sale this morning at 10:00 a.m. $45 – $75.

Other items:

Thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Mr. Teddy Pendergrass who passed away on January 13 at the young age of 59. Recently, he battled cancer and almost 30 years ago he was involved in a car accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. He is considered by many to be the best R&B singer of all time. Teddy started out his career in the group “Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes” and sang lead on the landmark song-“If You Don’t Know Me By Now.” He went on to do so many great songs including the classics- “Love T.K.O.” “Close the Door” and his masterpiece in my opinion- “Wake Up Everybody”- whereby he really tries to wake up everyone with his poignant words. He had an unbelievable career and his legacy will carry on forever. Rest in peace Mr. Pendergrass.

I know I am way late on this one but I actually heard a Slipknot song where I understood the words and it was melodic. Of course I heard it on the best rock radio station in all of the U.S.- 106.9 WCCC- out of Hartford CT (by far the best station I have ever heard in my life) and the song is called “Snuff.” It is off of their “All Hope is Gone” album which was released in Aug. 2008. I actually enjoyed that song. Now of course all the die-hard Knot fans will be pissed off because they went “commercial.”

My favorite “old school” song of the week is-This Guy’s in Love With You” by Herb Albert & the Tijuana Brass. How great is this song? It puts me at such ease. If you are stressed out and need to unwind-put this song on and you should be calm in no time. The arrangement of this tune is phenomenal and has to be considered one of the best songs of the 1970’s. Pure perfection.

Rob Zombie will get behind the director’s camera for the CBS show “C.S.I.-Miami” and his episode will be broadcast on Tues. Mar. 1. Look for it.

My favorite “R&B” song of the week belongs to Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up, Part I”- when is the last time you have heard this groove? Forget about it.. this song is right up there with the best songs he has ever recorded. I don’t even know how to dance but when I hear this song I have to get out of my seat and try to dance around the room. Classic.

My other favorite “old school” song of the week is “(Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher and Higher” by Rita Coolidge. Boy does this song really take me back- actually so far back to the 6th grade when I went to P.S. 169 on 44th and 7th Avenue in Brooklyn. This song is pleasing to the ear.

“And 5, now this is most important, Rat…comes down to making out… whenever possible.. put on side 1 of Led Zeppelin IV

Precious Time

Side 1 of “Precious Time” by Pat Benatar released in July 1981.

Ahhh don’t you wish you were 16 again? Well for this review I am going to put myself back in my “Chuck Taylor Converse” sneakers (“canvas” style, of course not like the leather sneakers out there today, we felt every pebble and rock when I was a kid) and become sixteen. I can remember being shifted into 4th gear (Ok maybe 3rd gear) by the time I was sixteen in the music scene. It was not all brand new but it really still was the beginning of my journey into the world of rock music. [Just think of a small child at around the age of 7 when they really start to realize that Santa Claus is coming for cookies and milk at their home on Christmas Eve-(I still believe so don’t ruin it).. now do you know where I am?]. Now in the world of rock back in the 1970’s it was really dominated by the male persuasion-now of course I know there were many great female rockers- but for me-most of the bands that I was starting to get into (Kiss, Van Halen, Mighty Zep, Beatles, etc.) and there are people who know me personally for a long time, who know that I was/am very competitive and definitely contained the attitude of not “losing to a girl.” (I’m trying to paint a picture here). So now again youth does make you do stupid things and yes I was dumb for thinking and behaving this way. (By the way this carried into my college years until I had my booty whooped by my good friend-Roseann- who destroyed me in paddleball after I was talking too much smack). So how could I listen to a girl rocker when I was a teenager? Well Ms. Pat Benatar changed all that and knocked me right out. A “TKO” in the first round. Deservedly so. The first time I heard “Heartbreaker”-a few years before “Precious Time”- I was floored. I needed to know who this woman behind the microphone was. I don’t care what anyone says-“Heartbreaker” is one of the best head-banging, hard-rock songs in the history of rock. Did back then, still feel that way. Pat Benatar became my first female rocker that I followed and I had to make sure I knew when she was coming to town and when her next album was to come out. Now back in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s a music fan did not have to wait that long for an artist to put out new albums (except for “Boston”- we have been through that) and she put out some raw, totally rockin’ tunes from 1979-1985. It was a new album for every year and she cemented her status as one of the best female rockers-No- you know what- one of the best Rockers-(forget the female crap)- of all time and she is still going strong today. (although her shows at BB Kings can cost a pretty penny)

But getting back to her status as one of the best rock stars in the 1980’s, she had some monster albums including her debut-“In the Heat of the Night” and “Crimes of Passion.” But for me, this album put her in a different stratosphere, especially the first side-which is “undeniably a perfect album side (yes even though one of the songs is a cover of the Paul Revere & the Raiders-if it’s great then you have to include it- as it is a perfect side). Side one starts off with the unbelievable track-“Promises in the Dark”-I love the intro with the piano and her passionate vocals which immediately grab you by the throat but wait she will squeeze a little harder as the song progresses. I can just picture a grimy alley way as she leans up against the side of a building as her head is resting on her right arm as she struggles between the balance of having enough of this relationship but yet keeps “coming back for more.” (How many of us have been there?) “Just when you think you’ve got it down.. your heart securely tied down.. they whisper…” BOOM.. she takes off the gloves and comes right at you. No more feeling sorry, she is now a bit ticked off and her vocals tell you how much she means business. I love it. Her husband, Neil Geraldo, is a much under appreciated guitarist in my opinion and his riffs in this song are unforgettable. Folks this is rock music at its best, I would not lie.

The second track is a song that I think most people seem to forget (or maybe just haven’t heard in a while) was a smash hit-“Fire and Ice.” I love the bass guitar part in the beginning that hooks you right in and then Benatar takes over with her slick vocals. When she gets to the bridge where she wails “You’re an expert in the field without a doubt” well, I just love it. And she knows your methods inside out… so do not mess with her. This is a cool song to use for your next Spin class. Then it’s on to her excellent cover of the aforementioned Paul Revere & the Raiders song-“Just Like Me”- Now you all know my feelings on performing covers (some are never to be touched) and one of the most important prerequisites is that the artist doing the covering exemplifies the respect that is needed when taking on this task-admittedly some are much harder than others. Now Benatar completely nails the passion required and keeps the body of the song, close to the original. (That is not to say that I am opposed to a completely different “take” on a song, as long as it is good). Her version of the song is lively and full of her own brand of energy, her special touch. She can be aggressive and to me that is one of her strong points. Anyways a long lost classic covered to perfection. The last song on side one is the title track of the album. This song is very slick, when it starts off I can picture a snake crawling its way through some grass and it sneaks up on its prey. The groove has a bluesy twist (which also is another one of her strengths) and then switches gears as it begins to rock out but then it settles down to that slow moving pace. The fun never stops in this song as it heads back up the hill with her exclaiming “Life is too short, so why waste precious time?” (Well said huh? Think about some of the situations currently going on in your life and I’ll bet this line hits home, no?). One of her best songs, in my opinion.

So there you have it folks, a perfect album side that is not up for debate. Pat Benatar has to be considered a force in rock history and specifically has been (and still is) one of the best female vocalists in the history of music. How many hits does she have? It’s eye opening and if I had a vote for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame- she gets in on the first ballot. Again for the people out there who were around when “Heartbreaker” first came out you know how what a shot in the arm it was for the world of rock. (Remember disco had seized the moment back in the late 1970’s and had a nice grip on the world for a while-never let go of Brooklyn by the way). From that moment onwards, she was a force to reckon with and proved that she could compete with the “big boys.” To me, this was her signature album and will always be considered a perfect album side. You should have her music in your music library and if you don’t have anything (hard to believe) then start with this album and work your way back and ahead to her great body of work- you won’t be disappointed.

“TOP TEN”:

This week I came across two infamous “Bill’s” – Mr. Bill Withers and Mr. Billy Preston– on my I-Pod shuffle and decided to name my top 5 songs from these gentlemen to equal my top ten for this edition. Both of these gentlemen are legends-(sadly Mr. Preston passed away a few years ago) and their impact on the world of music is priceless and should be enjoyed for generations to come. Mr. Withers has written some of the most insightful songs in the history of music and Mr. Preston just “had the music in him.” We all know that he played with the Beatles and Rolling Stones but he also engaged himself with so many artists and bands that his influence from the 1950’s until his death, could have possibly reached, (while also making an impact), on more people across this world-just as much as any other artist in the last century. (By the way he does an unbelievable cover of the Beatles-“Blackbird”). I just saw a piece on Mr. Withers last month on “SportsCenter” where he was invited by Pete Carroll to come to USC and spread his knowledge and music to the members of his team (yes I know he has left to go to the Seattle Seahawks). I was in awe watching this great singer. Folks I can’t stress enough on how great these two men are and you need to perform your diligence to know their library. And if their die-hard fans have any suggestions for more albums and songs, please let me know. So here goes my top ten for this week-again I am on an island and can only choose five songs from each artist- “these are them”:

Image of Bill Withers

Bill Withers

5.     “Grandma’s Hands”– Bill has this way of turning every song that he performs into the coolest sounding tunes-he just has “it.”-That something special. And everyone can relate to his songs in some way shape or form. Now with this particular track it is evident that his Grandmother was an integral part of his life-now how many people can relate to that? The beat is so simple but yet so addicting. “Grandma’s hands use to issue out a warning.. she’d say Billy don’t you run so fast.. might fall on a piece of glass..” You will close your eyes while you sing this song and think of your grandma, I know that’s what I do. “If I get to heaven I’ll reach for grandma’s hands..” Amen.

4.     “I Don’t Want You On My Mind”– Talk about an addicting song? Put this track on and tell me you are not immediately hooked? I love the blues laden riff drenched with that classic R&B sound. Can you get a better mixture? The groove in this song will knock you out. I can picture him doing this song in a smoky (Ok no longer smoky but you know what I mean) club with the lights turned down real low while the crowd is just moving their heads up and down while slowly going into a dream like state. This song is unreal.

3.     “Ain’t No Sunshine”-Talk about a timeless classic. Wow this song makes you stand up and take notice-it’s that good. Tell me this doesn’t put you in a good place? No one makes songs like this anymore. His voice is gripping and you can feel the passion bleed through your speakers-that is what music is supposed to do-it is meant to move you in some way shape or form. This song knocks me out every time I hear it.

2.     “Lean on Me”– This could be one of the greatest songs ever written in the history of music and there is no one who can sing it like Mr. Withers. This song should never be re-recorded by anyone else (in the same category as “The Day the Music Died” by Don McLean). He had me on the opening piano notes-are you kidding me? This song gives me the chills and think of how many people know this song? Feel this song? Relate to this song? Have helped their friends and/or perfect strangers at one point in their life? (And of course it has the always gratifying “hand claps”).

1.     “Use Me”– I remember a few years back a good friend of mine Erik, came by my desk and asked me if I knew this song, he said that he had heard it on the radio and was blown away by the groove in this track. Now I knew the song but I hadn’t heard it in many years, so you know I immediately went out and did some exploring of this man’s music. This song quickly skyrocketed to the top of my list and I can say that I have probably listened to this tune more than any other since about three years ago. I turned my youngest son on to this a number of years back and he too enjoyed it. And of course it has three hand claps, can it get any better? Thanks Erik for making me stand up and take notice. Now it’s your turn people.

Image of Billy Preston

Billy Preston

5.     “That’s the Way God Planned It (Live)”– “Why can’t we be humble? Like the good Lord says…” What an inspirational song, this has to bring a smile to your face. You when it’s a cold day (like the many frigid days we have been having in the Tri-state area for the last 4 weeks) and you have a nice bowl of hot soup and that feeling when it goes down your throat-that’s the same feeling I get when I hear this song. Talk about a genius on the keyboards, this man was definitely at the forefront of creating that special sound with his extraordinary skills on piano, organ and synthesizer.

4.     “You Are So Beautiful”– Even though most people recognize the Joe Cocker version-as he did put his mark on it- Billy actually co-wrote this song and not for nothing- sings it just as wonderfully as Mr. Cocker. Think about this song for a minute…. Think of how many weddings have had this song.. think of how many dads have danced with their daughters at that wedding.. think of how many requests DJ’s have received over the past 40 years to have this song played at a party so someone could dance with that very special person in their life. This song is incredible, so real, so heartfelt-it really is a tune for the ages.

3.     “Outa-Space”-Watching the video (Ok not an “MTV video” per say but the clip of him playing this song back in the day) is really something to behold. Billy was riding high at the time and to see him play the organ/keyboards in the prime of his career is equivalent to watching Hendrix or Clapton or whomever you want to add here, playing guitar in their prime. Simply an amazing composition and yes the “hand-claps” are included in this psychedelic treasure, so this has to be included in your music library or on your I-Pod.

2.     “Nothing from Nothing”-He had me on the first few notes. It’s impossible not to like this song. Tell me it doesn’t put a smile on your face and make you think about times gone past? This brings me back to Otisville N.Y. where I spent my summers with my Grandparents and my uncle. My uncle took me everywhere and played ball all the time with me. That is something I will never forget and will always treasure. This song makes me think of those wonderful days. Thanks Ma, Pop and Gary!!!

1.     “Will It Go Round in Circles”-I’d say about 4 or 5 years ago I remember my youngest son loved this song and I couldn’t believe that a child of 6 or 7 would love this track. (Hopefully he still loves it like his dad). I use to play this song so many times on the road trips that we’d take up to Cape Cod and watched him groove through my rearview mirror. How great is this song? Billy’s vocals just blow the cover right off the ball and there is no way that you don’t move when you hear this song. You can feel the passion, you can feel the beat as it enters every oracle of your body as you wish you could have been the one to write this song. Timeless classic.

Trivia Questions

Answers from last week:

1.     False, original drummer was John Rutsey

2.     Huckleberry Hound

3.     Roll The Bones

4.     Jeff Jones

This week’s trivia (Benatar, Preston, Withers)-

1.     What John Cougar song did Pat Benatar cover on her first album?

2.     Name one pair of a male/female duo who went on to perform a cover of the smash hit “With You I’m Born Again” made famous first by Billy Preston & Syreeta Wright?.

3.     Who played guitar on Bill Wither’s popular “Grandma’s Hands?”

4.     Name the second video ever played on MTV (after the Buggles-“Video Killed the Radio Star”) Hint-Ms. Benatar

Name That Tune

Answers from last week:

1.     “Monday, Monday”- The Mamas and Papas

2.     “Tuesday Afternoon”-Moody Blues

3.      “Everybody’s Working for The Weekend”-Loverboy

4.     “Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting)”- Elton John

Can you guess the title from the following lyrics from part of the song?

1.     “Do you need some time..on your own.. do you need some time.. all alone.. everybody needs some time…”

2.     “Remember how the stars stole the night away..Ba de da say do you remember.. Ba de da..…”

3.     “Don’t scream about.. don’t think aloud…turn your head now, baby, just spit me out..don’t scream about..don’t speak of doubt…”

4.     “Oh maybe the time is right.. Oh, maybe tonight..I will be with you again.. I will be with you again….”

Back on this Day

Sadly back on this day in 1992, Dee Murray, bass guitarist for Elton John, died in Nashville from a stroke. He was only 45. What a shame.

Sadly back on this day in 1994, Harry Nilsson, died in his sleep from heart failure in Agoura Hills, CA. He was only 52. Another shame.

Sadly back on this day in 1998, Junior Wells, a famous harmonica player who recorded with The Stones, Buddy Guy & Van Morrison dies from lymphoma. He was just 63. Very sad.

Back on this day in 1967, the Rolling Stones appeared on the Ed Sullivan show and chaged the lyrics from “Let’s Spend the Night Together” to “Let’s Spend Some Time Together.”

Back on this day in 1974, Brownsville Station had their only gold record with “Smokin’ in the Boys Room” which peaked at number three on the Billboard charts. Motley Crue covered it years later and that song became their first top 40 song.

Back on this day in 1982, the Police kicked off their national tour for “Ghost in the Machine” at the Boston Garden. The opening act was the Go-Go’s. I was at that show when it came to Madison Square Garden in NY.

If it is your birthday today, you share the same birth date with the late great Ronnie Van Zant, (singer for Lynyrd Skynyrd) and Melvyn Gale (ELO, cellist).

January 7, 2010

Weekly Update – 01/08/2010

Allman Brothers at United Palace Theater on Thurs.-Sat. Mar. 11-13; Mon. & Tues. Mar. 15 & 16; and then Thurs.-Sat. Mar. 18-20. Pre-sale tickets for American Express cardholders on sale now until 10:00 p.m. Thurs. Jan. 14. General public tickets will go on sale Sat. Jan. 15 at 10:00 a.m. $60.99, $109.99 & $150.99 (See below for more on this).

Trey Anastasio & Classic Tab at Terminal 5 on Tues. Feb. 16. Tickets on sale today at noon. $39.50

Wilco at the Wellmont Theater on Fri. & Sat. Apr. 4 & 5. Tickets on sale today at noon. $38

Eric Church at New York Fillmore at Irving Plaza on Wed. Feb. 10. Tickets on sale this morning at 10:00 a.m.  $22

Gladys Knight at Theater in Westbury NY on Sat. June 12. Tickets on sale this Sunday Jan. 10 at 12:30 p.m. (Live Nation Event).

Kenny Loggins at Theater in Westbury NY on Fri. May 14. Tickets on sale this Sunday Jan. 10 at 12:30 p.m. (Live Nation Event).

W.A.S.P. at the Gramercy Theater (formerly “Blender”) on Thurs. Mar. 11. Tickets on sale today at noon. (Live Nation Event).

Other items:

Thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Tony Bellamy, (born Anthony Avila) singer and guitarist for the band “Redbone” who had a major hit in 1974 with “Come and Get Your Love,” (love that song) as he passed away from liver failure at the age of 69 on Christmas day. They also had some other hits such as “Maggie” and “The Witch Queen of New Orleans.” Redbone was at the forefront of Native American rock bands and was supposedly was formed by the encouragement of Jimi Hendrix. He also performed with Dobie Gray and Peter & the Wolves which those two bands merged and became Moby Grape.

Rumor of the week: Well I told you it was coming and now according to Chris Cornell’s twitter message on New Year’s Day: Soundgarden will reunite in 2010 and tour!!! Little details like letting Matt Cameron get out of his gigs with Pearl Jam- he joined them after Soundgarden broke up back in 1997. If they are taking requests- please play the entire “Superunknown” album live at the show. Without a doubt- I am SO IN!!! Welcome Home Chris. Now we get to experience the so underrated lead guitarist Kim Thayil in action again!!

The “Say It Ain’t So” Moment of the Week: In the year 2010, the Allman Brothers WILL NOT– I repeat-WILL NOT– be playing the Beacon Theater for their annual “March Madness” shows. Can you imagine? For the last 20 years (except in 2008 when Gregg was sick) they have been a mainstay in this great city. The reason: Cirque du Soleil-the Montreal circus troupe. No offense to the Cirque, but are you kidding me? I thought the Beacon was made for music shows? It’s perfect setting for an intimate show as it seats 2,800. This circus is booked through possibly into August…. August?… C’mon even Ringling Brothers don’t set up their tent for that long. So now the band will head uptown, way uptown to the United Palace Theater in Washington Heights-which seats about 3,300. (but concert goers have complained about the “echo-filled” acoustics in this place). MSG (Dolan again right?) executives offered up Radio City Music Hall but Gregg scoffed at that notion and was quoted as saying “That’s a place for Hannah Montana” but he quickly added “I think she’s great.” So the Allman’s will do 8 shows for now (if they sell out they will add more) and the dates are: (see above). You have to wonder if the Allman “faithful” will trek up to Washington Heights because they always had a “pre” and “post” party going on (some may not have even made it to actually see the Allman’s anyway as they continued to party-“pre” “during” and “post”) as you couldn’t have a better spot than the upper west side for restaurants, bars and pizza joints to congregate before and after the Beacon shows. How many years did we have to sit in the Beacon when it was falling apart and now that it is brand spanking new, they go ahead book a circus for more than a half a year? (I know-the almighty dollar). Between MSG and Cablevision-which Dolan owns- is there any aspect of our every day lives that he hasn’t upset? First the “Food Network” is off of Cablevision and now this- the Allman’s kept out of their home for a circus?   Using a “Faganism”-“I’m scratching my head so hard right now, it’s bleeding.”

Ozzy Osbourne will be signing his new book –“I am Ozzy”- at the Barnes & Noble book store on 46th street and 5th Avenue in New York City at 12:30 p.m. on Monday January 25. Then later that day at 6:00 p.m. he will be at the “Bookends” store located at 232 East Ridgewood Avenue, Ridgewood N.J. In addition, on Tuesday January 26th, he will sign copies at “Borders” located at 10 Columbus Circle in New York City at 7:00 p.m. More than a few opportunities to meet the Prince of Darkness himself. For my friend in Chicago, Ozzy will appear at the book store-“Barnes & Noble” located at 55 Old Orchard Center in Skokie, IL on Saturday January 30th at 1:00 p.m.

My favorite “old school R&B” song of the week belongs to Gladys Knight & The Pips with their excellent version of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.” With no offense to Marvin Gaye and Creedence Clearwater Revival but Gladys’s version (along with the Pips) is the best version of the song ever. Put it on and tell me you don’t feel like moving, it can’t be done. Wow, songs like this are just not made any more. This is classic stuff folks, jump on it if you don’t have it.

My favorite “old school” song of the week is “If You Want to Get To Heaven” by the Ozark Mountain Daredevils (thanks Mike!!). This band was mostly known for their smash hit “Jackie Blue” but put this one on for size and you will be highly impressed. This is pure syrup, I mean rock and roll!!!

My other favorite “old school” song of the week is “Brandy” by Looking Glass. How cool is this song? This really takes me back. This song is as fresh today as when it was released in the 1970’s. This is “comfort” music.

Album Review: “Hotel Paper” by Michelle Branch; released June 24, 2003

Hotel Paper

This week’s I-Pod shuffle landed on “Breathe” by Michelle Branch and I had not heard this song in a long while and I was pleasantly surprised on how much I enjoy this tune. In my opinion, this is a “monster hit” and deserves your attention. So I remembered that my oldest son-when he was younger- listened to this album incessantly and if I am correct, I actually bought this album as a gift for my wife-based on this song.Anyways, I went back and listened to the entire album and have to give it a total thumbs up. I am not sure of any of her prior (or post) work because this is the only album that I own from her catalog. (except for a single-“I’m Feeling You” which she did with Carlos Santana). I believe this has to be considered one of her best efforts-if not the best- but if her fan base has other opinions, please let me know and I will explore.

The album starts off with a real “old time” introduction that sounds like it’s from the 1920’s or 1930’s and then slips into the slick contemporary “Are You Happy Now?” It conjures up thoughts of Alanis Morrisette’s “You Oughta Know” it sort of sounds like Alanis is going to break through and help Michelle sing “Would you look me in the eye and say it to my face?” It is probably the roughest that Ms. Branch will get with you but it’s good to see (hear) that she has an edge.

“Find Your Way Back” is a nice grooving song that has an addictive chorus. Michelle has this hypnotic voice that lures you into her world as you will find yourself thinking-“I need to listen to more of her music.” This is a perfect song to shout out as a request if there is someone with an acoustic guitar around taking orders. If there is a relationship that you are involved with where you want the other person to come back and don’t know how to get them to return-sing them this song, it may just turn your luck around. “Empty Handed” is my favorite track on the album- it is a beautiful song with some kick to it. The background string section compliments the nice guitar work throughout the song and when she sings the “La da, la da… aaay.. ee.. yaa” part while the acoustic guitar plays along, well it is something to behold. I can picture singing this song in a high school auditorium and dancing around on that small stage trying to match her passion as she belts out “How it’s suppose to be.. How it’s suppose to be..” Track # 5- “Tuesday Morning”- is another perfect “pop” song as the blend of her voice with the arrangement of the track is a delicious treat, like all the egg-nog you try to avoid over the holiday season. “Please don’t drive me home tonight…” she belts out as she doesn’t want to go home, maybe a true experience for Michelle? Sounds like she is writing from the heart. On “One of These Days” her voice seems to be in a higher octave as the pace of the song slows down from the prior tracks with the piano being the most prevalent part of the tune. It has to be a good tune because before I knew it, the song was over. In the track “Love Me Like That” she gets some help from Sheryl Crow and the combination is pure magic. As Michelle sings the lead, Sheryl shadows her in the background and the result is real nice. It has an upbeat tempo as you will tap your foot as well as make believe you are playing acoustic guitar. This makes me want them to do more songs together as their vocals blend perfectly.

“Desperately” takes the tempo down a bit and could be considered a “filler” but I have to say I like it. I think there is a theme with this album and that is love-it definitely sounds like there was a real special person in her life that she wanted to be with. (maybe she is). The aforementioned “Breathe” is the ninth track and the “hit” of the album. It has a catchy chorus and you will be singing this song all day long. I wonder what it be like to have a song that so many people like, it has to be very rewarding (not saying her other songs or other artists songs are not rewarding but you know what I mean). I love the beginning of the song with the acoustic guitar lick as she comes in saying “I’ve been driving for an hour.. just talking to the rain….. and it’s keeping you away..” You could also scream out this song if that person with the acoustic guitar is still around. Track # 10-“Where Are You Now”- sounds eerily like Edie Brickell’s “What I Am” (remember that song? Whatever happened to her? She married Paul Simon and that was it) in both the beginning chords as well as Ms. Branch’s vocal style. This is another song that you can easily sing along to, she seems to have that knack. Her backing band has some real talent and I would assume they must have a good time when Michelle performs live, I would like to see her perform this song. “Hotel Paper”- the title track is one of the best songs on the album. It has this melancholy mood to it but also possesses the needed exquisiteness to draw you in. I can really picture her writing her lyrics to her songs on “Hotel Paper.” Actually it is probably one of the best places to write down your thoughts (instead of reading those bulky magazines that highlights the best places to visit for the city that you have landed in) and there is always that hotel paper sitting on the desk in the room. “Till I Get Over You” is a heartfelt cry of pain as a result of a breakup. When she sings I can picture her looking out a bay window in a home while the rain falls gently all while one rain drop slowly slivers down from the top of the window towards the base similar to the tear that is finding its way down her cheek. This is the most touching song on the album. The last song of the album-“It’s You”- keeps with that same solemn mood but again the splendor of her vocals keeps you listening very intently. This is a raw emotional song that grips you and whomever the person she has been singing about throughout the album must be (or must have been) a very special person. If there is that someone special in your life, you may want to learn the words to the song and sing it to them, this track has such an allure. As the song ends you again hear the “really old school” sound that harkens back to the 1920’s and 1930’s.

“Hotel Paper” is a special album and deserves your attention. It starts off with many good songs and admittedly there may be a few fillers in the middle-but not many- and the album ends on a very strong note beginning from “Breathe” to “It’s You.” My recommendation is to “buy” and then “hold” on to and listen to as many times as my oldest son has (and now maybe even me). This is a top notch effort and it will stand the test of time, would I steer you wrong?

“TOP TEN”:

Image of Rush

This past Tuesday night my youngest son called me into the living room and he sounded excited, so I ran into see what was catching his attention. He had the channel on VH1 classic and they were showing Rush in concert (I have seen it more than a few times in the past few months). What a smile that came across my face as he has been getting into these guys the last few months and I was thrilled that he was so wound up about them. At one point during the footage most of the crowd were giving them the “We Are Not Worthy” bow ( a la “Wayne’s World”) as this phenomenally talented three-some is something to behold. Neil Peart’s drum set was like an island as he was surrounded in a complete circle by so many drums, cow bells and cymbals. I’ll say it again- it’s a travesty that Rush is not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They have to rank way up there as the most prolific three piece band in the history of rock music-period end of story. Seeing them perform “2112” is almost like an “out-of-body” experience and you are truly missing out if you have not seen them live.

Anyway I decided to make this week’s top ten list to be that of Rush. Now again since their history spans more than 30 years you know I am going to have songs that will have the “die-hards” smashing their heads into their computer as they read the list but again, if I am on an island and was told that I could only have ten songs by Rush, “these would be them:”

10.     “The Trees”– How friggin’ great is this song? C’mon just by the lyrics alone this song lands in my top ten. “And the Maples scream oppression and the Oaks just shake their heads” or “So the Maples formed a union and demanded equal rights. The Oaks are just too greedy..” And what about the dazzling guitar work by Alex Lifeson? A pure spectacle when you see this performed live it’s that much better.

9.     “Analog (For Mongo)”– Ok now I know even the most die-hard fan will shake their head “no” on this one. But I think that this is the cleverest song ever written- yes ever written. Take a look at the lyrics by Neil Peart and see if you agree.For example, “There’s a snake coming out of the darkness.. parade from paradise.. and the need for enden.. chase the dreams of merchandise.. there is “tic” “toc” in atomic..” C’mon you have to admit it’s ingenious and there are so many words within words throughout the song. I also love the melody of the track, especially the chorus. “Take your best stab at the beast.. the night is turning thin…” This is from my favorite album by these guys-“Presto”-I know, I know… another “sac-religious” thing to admit

8.     “Fly By Night”-There is something about this song that keeps me coming back for more. I was flip-flopping with so many other songs (as this list was also hard) but I kept coming back to this track. The groove is so infectious and I take turns playing “air-guitar” bass and “air-guitar” lead. Love when it slows down and it sounds like Geddy is singing under-water. This song is a timeless classic, ‘nuff said.

7.     “Nobody’s Hero”– Boy do I love this song, love the guitar work by Alex Lifeson and for those of you who say they can’t take Geddy Lee’s vocals, check him out in this song and tell me it’s not good? In my opinion this song is totally different from any other song that they have recorded. It’s not the typical Rush sound, a true ballad type song (I know what you are thinking- what about “Tears”- yes Ok that is a ballad also) and again the lyrics cut right to the bone. Not only is Neil one of the greatest drummers to have ever walked this planet but I consider him a better writer/lyricist.

6.     “2112: Overture/The Temples of Syrinx”– OK I know it’s “sac-reigious” to not put down the other sections of the song that make up the entire 20-plus minutes masterpiece but even Rush put this part of their song on their greatest hits collection, including “Chronicles.” I was at Madison Square Garden when they played the entire “2112” album about 5-7 years ago and I have to say it was one of the most hypnotizing moments in my life. I watched in complete awe and almost pulled a “Homer Simpson” whereby the drool was close to the surface. (I said almost). For those of you who do not know this song it is the equivalent to not ever seeing “The GodFather” movies. (Parts I and II of course) I’ll say it again-this song alone gets them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Are you kidding me? This is the fourth “r”- Reading, “Riting”, “Rithmatic” and Rock-that is required for graduation. I’ll let it go if you haven’t heard it but go back and get your “GED-dy!!” How do you like me now?

5.     “The Spirit of Radio”– If you look up the word-“progressive rock”- in the dictionary you may just see this song included as part of the definition. How many times did WNEW-FM radio (when it was cool back in the day) play this song? I’d venture to bet that this song was up there in the race for the song that was played the most during the time that they were a rock and roll station. And don’t even tell me you haven’t “air-drummed” to this song because if you do- you are lying. Makes you want to take drum lessons, doesn’t it? Geddy Lee is “the bomb” in this song, I’m sorry-he just nails it with his vocals. Again there are just three guys creating this wall of sound. Do you recognize that fact? One of the best “head-banging” songs of all-time. Timeless classic.

4.     “New World Man”– I remember when “Signals” came out and I just wore out the album sleeve on this bad boy. Listening to the .33 records is so much better than any other sound produced. By yourself a turntable and see what I’m talking about. Love the “outer-pace” beginning and just the whole arrangement where it “stops” and “goes.” “He’s old enough to know what’s right but young enough not to choose it”-sound familiar- Have I mentioned that Peart is a great writer? I can sing this song for days, love it.

3.     “Red Barchetta”– I always wanted to have an uncle “who had a country place that no one knows about” so that way I could bring this song to his place and sing it out loud. This is another masterpiece-and if the Hall is looking for another song to open the gates-well here it is, what are you waiting for-these guys have to be in. Well in my mind (as well as the thousands and thousands of Rush fans) they are rubbing elbows with every other act that has been voted in. We know better. Who doesn’t know all the words to this song? This is another unbelievable experience at their live shows. I always wished I could jump on stage with them and sing this song. “Well leathered leather hot metal and oil.. every nerve aware!!”

2.     “War Paint”– Talk about a one-two punch? I remember when “Presto” had just come out and I had to serve jury duty in Brooklyn at the time. I wore out my tape player (yes tape player-not even a CD player) playing this song (as well as “The Pass”) as I took the 8th Avenue bus- the B-64 I believe- to the 36st street train station on 4th avenue and continued to listen on the train and then the courtroom. “Boys and Girls together.. mistake conceit for pride.” I truly can listen to this song all day long, in my opinion the 2nd best song they ever wrote/recorded.

1.     “The Pass”– I offer no apologies for this being my favorite…ultimate….-whatever accolade that defines-“The Best”… Rush song of all-time. They had me on the first note-Geddy’s bass lick-and as the song progresses it becomes evidently clear that this could be the most passionate and sincere song-possibly ever recorded in the history of music. (a little strong yes but that’s me). Again the lyrics are flawless and I don’t know what it is but I feel like I am “growing as person” when I listen to this song. I feel like I can do anything that I set my mind to whenever I hear it (so you know I have been singing this song passionately for the NY Jets in their quest for their second Super Bowl win-hey I can dream and this song can take me to the “top of the mountain”). This song lands in my top ten songs of all time. I can’t express how much this song affects me, it really moves me in a way that few songs do. Thank you Rush for this gem, I treasure it like none other.

Trivia Questions

Answers from last week:

1.     Farrokh Bulsara

2.     False, he decided to stay retired

3.     Under Pressure

4.     Crazy Little Thing Called Love

This week’s trivia (Rush)-

1.     True or False: Neil Peart played on their first album.

2.     From what cartoon was the title of their live album “Exit… stage left” taken from?.

3.     What Rush song has a little “hip-hop” mixed into it?

4.     Who was the original singer for Rush?

Name That Tune

Answers from last week:

1.     “Put a Little Love in Your Heart”- Jackie DeShannon

2.     “(Love Is) Thicker than Water”-Andy Gibb

3.      “Love is Like Oxygen”-Sweet

4.     “Love Me Tender”- Elvis Presley

Can you guess the title from the following lyrics from part of the song?

1.     “Every other day.. every other day of the week is fine.. but whenever…”

2.     “I’m just beginning to see.. now I’m on my way..It doesn’t matter to me.. chasing clouds away…”

3.     “Everyone’s watching to see what you will do.. everyone is looking at you, oh.. everyone’s wondering…”

4.     “It’s seven o’clock and I wanna rock.. want to get a belly full of beer.. my old man’s drunker than….”

Back on this Day

Sadly back on this day in 1991, Steve Clarke, guitarist for Def Leppard, was found dead in his apartment in Chelsea UK from a mixture of alcohol, painkillers and anti-depressant’s. He was only 30. What a shame, the man was so talented.

Back on this day in 1993, the Elvis stamp was released.

Back on this day in 1975, tickets went on sale for three Mighty Led Zeppelin shows at Madison Square Garden and 60,000 tickets were sold in four hours. You say so what, right? But think back to 1975, these people were lined up outside Madison Square Garden, the Garden officials had to call up other ticket outlets to help them out.

Back on this day in 1979, Canadian government named Rush official Ambassador’s of Music.

If it is your birthday today, you share the same birth date with the late great, the one and only Elvis, the living legend David Bowie, Robbie Krieger (The Doors), Mike Reno (Loverboy) and Terry Sylvester (the Hollies). Wow there are some big names here today!!

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