Errols Weekly Music Update.

February 27, 2010

Concert Review: John Mayer with Michael Franti & Spearhead at Madison Square Garden on Fri. Feb. 26, 2010

‘No Such Thing’ As a Bad John Mayer Show

(This review was written by my 15-year old son who is a huge fan of John Mayer).

As some of you may know I am an avid John Mayer fan, I am a huge fan of his music and he inspired me to pick up guitar, I was so excited to finally get to see him in concert for the first time. I had always heard about how great he was live and how he sounded even better live than on his albums. Everything I had heard about his live shows is true; there really is “no such thing” as a bad John Mayer concert.

Before the show started my dad and stopped to get some pizza at Sbarro’s. When I walked in I heard the guitar ring from Mayer’s “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room.” They were blasting Mayer’s music in honor of his show just hours away. At that moment I knew that this was going to be a night to remember, after hearing that song I knew I was ready to see the show.

Opening for Mr. Mayer was Michael Franti & Spearhead, and they were thrilled to be playing at the famous Madison Square Garden. Their energy was so pure you could tell that they were all on cloud nine. I had never heard of this band before but am really glad that they opened the show because I got introduced to a very talented band. Michael Franti’s music is a fusion of rap, rock, reggae, dance, and “rockabilly.” I know that may sound odd but the experience was very cool, they played an awesome set with their own songs and a few remixes of famous songs like “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson, “Bad” by U2, and “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana. They had great acoustic songs as well as nice electric guitar songs. Franti had the whole Garden on its feet, jumping and dancing, and my dad said it was one of the best opening acts he’s seen in a long time and I have to agree.

After Michael and his band left the stage everyone in the Garden anxiously waited for John Mayer to come out and play. The stage had been transformed by the crew and there was now a huge clear shower curtain around the stage that would act as a TV screen for a few songs. When the place got dark and the curtain started to lift you could hear the U2 like guitar of Mayer’s hit song “Heartbreak Warfare” and the place went nuts. This was one of the songs I had really wanted to hear because it’s a personal favorite of mine, and he played it perfectly. His vocals were amazing and he changed the song up a little, singing some parts higher or lower than the original recording and I loved it. As he played the short guitar solo it was finally dawning on me that I was really seeing my favorite singer and guitarist in concert, it was really happening.

Next Mayer threw an odd ball by playing a song that most of the crowd didn’t know (well I knew it) and it was called “Good Love Is on the Way.” This song is a B-side that never made it to a studio album but is something Mayer plays live often. This great upbeat song got the crowd going and Mayer continued to keep the crowd moving by played a fan favorite: “Vultures.” The pounding drums and guitar licks are irresistible you have to surrender yourself to the music and just enjoy. The crowd was singing every word while Mayer was having a guitar battle with his fellow guitarist David Ryan Harris. John didn’t miss a beat and went right into “Perfectly Lonely” from his new record “Battle Studies.” John did an extended solo at the end of the song with his other guitarist Robbie McIntosh while they crowd was singing “that’s the way, that’s the way, that’s the way that I want it.” So far the concert was going great!

Mayer decided to slow it down and started playing his signature “jam” before the song “I Don’t Trust Myself.” I was really excited to hear this song; it’s one of my favorites. The familiar guitar intro started and I was lost. I was in my own world where the only thing I heard was the guitar and his voice despite the loud cries everywhere. The guitar solo was so loud it felt like my records I had listen to so many times had come to life. After the awesome solo, John, out of nowhere, says to the crowd “my favorite cereal is “Count Chocula” and I started laughing because it was so random. But then he displayed on the screen that someone in the audience had a sign that had the question “What is your favorite cereal?” on it. John said he always answers questions on signs. After that he pulls out his acoustic guitar and played the last song in the world I thought he was going to play: “Comfortable”. This a really old song from his 1999 EP “Inside Wants Out” and now a days he rarely plays this song and it was a very pleasant surprise. He performed this song excellently and with faster guitar part. I noticed he also changed the lyrics from “I can’t remember what went wrong last September” to “last December.”Coincidence? Maybe. After the last cord was played John went straight into his infamous cover of Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’.” This time he played it closer to the original version than his remake of it. Everyone in MSG was singing along, “She’s a good girl, loves her mama…”

John Mayer then said something like get ready to groove your face off and gave the stage to Steve Jordan his drummer and co-producer. Steve took full advantage of being in the spotlight and he played his heart out! Most people say that drum solos are bad and get old and annoying fast but not this one. I could watch Mr. Jordon play drums all day long and never get tired of it. He played with such energy and aggression he was sweating so much when he was done. It was a good five minutes of drum pounding action and it was one of the highlights of the night. The drum solo eventually led into arguably Mayer’s biggest hit “Waiting On the World to Change.” As the song was ending all of the sudden it just switched into a slow jam and Mayer took out his blues guitar. The band was jamming and then out of nowhere Michael Franti, from the opening act, came on the stage and started rapping while John was playing guitar! He introduced all of the band members in an awesome rap it was so unexpected yet it was so amazing. Then the greatness continued with “Assassin” one of the best songs on the new album. Throughout the whole song there were targets and rifle scopes shown on the screen trying to resemble a real assassin. I was waiting for the moment when the flashy guitar solo would kick in and right before it happened I braced myself, and when it kicked in for a moment I was on top of the world. I have “air guitared” to this song so many times and to hear it live was spectacular.

John embraced his inner blues man and played “Crossroads” a cover of the Robert Johnson song (no it’s not Eric Clapton’s song). After jamming to Crossroads he played “Half of My Heart” which turned into a lengthily jam where John randomly started singing “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac. He was really in the moment and he is infamous for singing whatever song comes into his head at concerts and “Dreams” worked out really well in the jam. When that finished John talked briefly about how he thought the opposite of love is not hate but is “lovelessness.” Another infamous thing about Mr. Mayer is that is always says whatever he is thinking or feeling at the moment (which is not always a good thing). After the speech he pulled out his acoustic guitar and played his anthem “Why Georgia.” It was amazing how the Garden exploded with cheers when the opening chords started playing; this is one of the songs that will always be associated with him. Sticking with acoustics he played his first hit song “No Such Thing.” Come on how can you not love this song? It’s addicting to sing “Welcome to the real world she said to me…”Mayer then left the stage on a good note and moments later came out for the encore.

John Mayer came back onto the stage playing his new anthem “Who Says” and the verse “it’s been a long night in New York City” really came to life. It was pretty cool to hear the whole Garden singing that verse in New York City. This was a very good part of the show. Then Mayer puts away the acoustic guitar and pulls out his electric and starts fooling around with some solo and then the moment everyone was waiting for happened, he played the soul stirring intro to “Gravity” which is almost always the last song he plays at every show. Literally every person in the Garden was singing this song word for word, at one point John told us to sing it to him. This song never ceases to impress me every version you can find of this song is unique and different. After the first solo John did something amazing he shared some new lyrics he wrote the other day and sang them wonderfully. It was awesome how he just sang a new song right in the middle of “Gravity” and when he finished it he played a fantastic ending solo. It was so loud my ears hurt but it was worth it; the guitar playing was great. Towards the end of the solo he put the guitar on the floor and played slide guitar which looked very difficult. After he finished the solo on the floor he got up and thanked the audience, bowed with the band, and for the last time left the stage.

Overall the show was great. Mayer had a big stage presence and he just owned the Garden. His vocals were even better than on the albums just proving how great an artist he is. He was hitting high notes that I never thought he could hit. Guitar work was very good too and the band members out did themselves as well with Robbie McIntosh on guitar, David Ryan Harris on guitar, Steve Jordan on drums, Sean Hurley on bass, Charlie Wilson on keys, and Julie Delgado and Melanie Taylor on back-up vocals. The set list was well picked as well with some unexpected songs (“Good Love is on the Way”, “Comfortable”, “Dreams”) that I’m very glad were picked for the set. The only song I wish was played was “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room” but even without it the set list was great. It really was a night to remember and I think I always will remember it. John Mayer rocked the Garden like I knew he would, he didn’t disappoint. I heard someone say that there’s no such thing as a bad John Mayer show and honestly after seeing that show I couldn’t agree more.

 
 
 Set List

1.       Heartbreak Warfare

2.       Good Love is on the Way

3.       Vultures

4.       Perfectly Lonely

5.       Jam / I Don’t Trust Myself (With Loving You)

6.       Comfortable

7.       Free Fallin’ (T. Petty)

           Drum Solo

8.       Waiting on the World to Change (Jam with Michael Franti)

9.       Assasin

10.     Crossroads (R. Johnson)

11.     Half of My Heart/Dreams (Fleetwood Mac)

            Speech

12.     Why Georgia

13.     No Such Thing

Encore

14.     Who Says

15.     Gravity

February 26, 2010

Weekly Update – 02/26/2010

Tom Petty at Madison Square Garden on Wed. July 28. (No opener announced as of yet) Also appearing at the Izod Center on Tues. Aug. 24. (My Morning Jacket is opener) Tickets on sale Mon. Mar. 8. More info to follow. His new album-“Mojo” will be released this spring. The first single-“Good Enough”- is available to listen to on his website. The tour begins in May starting in Raleigh North Carolina. The first part of the tour will have Joe Cocker as the opener. The Drive By Truckers, Crosby, Stills & Nash, ZZ Top and My Morning Jacket will also be openers. Lots of dates everywhere, so look on his website for further information.

Thom Yorke with his new band (no he did not leave Radiohead)-Atoms for Peace- will be at the Roseland Ballroom on Mon. & Tues. April 5 & 6. Tickets on sale this coming Tues. Mar. 2. (this is what it says on Radiohead’s website but Ticketmaster has next Fri. Mar. 5) at 10:00 a.m.$48.

Dave Matthews Band at The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in Bethel NY on Tues. July 13. Tickets on sale this morning at 10:00 a.m. $46.75 (lawn) $86.05 (everywhere else). Also appearing at Comcast Theater in Hartford CT on Fri. & Sat. May 28 & 29. Tickets on sale this morning at 10:00 a.m. $40.50 and $75.

Sheryl Crow at Hammerstein Ballroom (for Nature Conservancy) on Mon. Mar. 22. Tickets on sale this Mon. Mar. 1 at 10:00 a.m. $50 – $62.50 (Note: Tickets have to be purchased in multiples of 2).

Echo & The Bunnymen at The Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza on Sat. May 1. Tickets on sale this morning at 10:00 a.m. $38 (standing room only)

Sharon Jones & The Dapkings at the Apollo Theater on Sat. May 1. Tickets on sale this morning at 10:00 a.m.$37.50

Vampire Weekend at Radio City Music Hall on Wed. Sept. 15. Tickets on sale today at noon. $39.50.

Gossip at Terminal 5 on Fri. Apr. 30. Tickets on sale today at noon. $27.50 ($30 day of show).

Hot Tuna and Steve Earle at The Performing Arts Center at Purchase College on Sat. July 24. Tickets on sale this morning at 10:00 a.m. $45 and $55 (includes a $2.50 parking fee).

Lupe Fiasco at The Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza on Sat. Apr. 10. Tickets on sale today at noon. (Live Nation Event)

Other items:

Last week I mentioned to you about the passing of Brandon Flower’s mother and I received an e-mail from a friend, Dave (even though we have never met, our connection is music, especially Cheap Trick-and a mutual friend-“99”) and he enlightened me to the fact on the Killers album-“Day & Age”- that Brandon had written a story about his mother’s battle with brain cancer. The song-“A Dustland Fairytale”- is a heart wrenching song (even though the pace of the song would not make you think it was a plea for his mother to hang on) about the way his parents met at a young age but his dad takes off and now years later his mom is suffering with her plight. And Dave is right “this is one of the most powerful, sad/touching songs” that I have heard. Thanks Dave, this has now become my favorite “Killers” song.

Finally, all the nonsensical talk of replacing Steven Tyler as the lead singer of Aerosmith will now end as Tyler has rejoined the band. “I just auditioned and got the gig” joked Steven as Aerosmith is planning a European tour this summer. Now the earth is back on a level axis, did you feel it shift back to the right place? Whew, thank goodness they didn’t replace him.

My favorite “Nu Metal (?)” song of the week belongs to Korn with their super cool “Twisted Transistor.” This song came up on my I-Pod shuffle while I was shoveling (for those of you not in the North-East it feels like it’s been snowing, sleeting & raining since last year’s holiday season, especially this past week, it seems like the most precipitation ever) the extremely heavy snow (I guess a good sign that spring is coming right? C’mon we need something to look forward to) and I had to keep repeating this song to keep me going. Who knows maybe my neighbors thought I was wacked out as I had to take breaks in between trying to dance and air-guitar. In my opinion, this is their best song!!

The first single from the last Scorpion’s studio album –“Sting in the Tail”-is “Raised on Rock” and is a salute to the bands in the 1960’s that the band grew up on. After my initial listen to the song, the first thing that came to mind is how “polished” it is and sounds closer to a-dare I say- “pop” song. This has a definitive “radio” feel to it, that said-I like it and the Scorpion fan will as well.

Kris Allen’s version of “Let It Be” on American Idol was actually fantastic. I was amazed on how well he performed it-every single artist takes a huge chance when they dare to cover a Beatles song. You can purchase it on I-Tunes and all proceeds with go to the Haitian Relief Fund.

The Stone Temple Pilots will release their first album (self titled) in nine years and it is due out on Tues. May 25. There was a listening party earlier this week in New York City and reports have it that Scott Weiland looked the best he has in years. Reports are that the music is “Beatle-esque harmonies with hard rocking melodies and astonishing singing by Weiland.” I, for one, can’t wait for this to come out. Weiland belongs in STP and STP only, forget Velvet-this is his home.

A new Pantera’s greatest hits will be released on Mar. 30. “1990-2000 a Decade of Domination” will actually be released through Wal-Mart. This marks the first time that Walmart is selling a Pantera album and the record is “un-cut,” so very surprising that Walmart is doing this now. Something’s fishy, I don’t get it. There has to be something wrong here…..

A Rush documentary is supposedly going to be released in May. I will keep you posted.

Congratulations to seventy-one year old Louie Sulcer of Georgia as he downloaded the 10 billionth song off of I-Tunes. For spending $0.99 on a Johnny Cash song- “Guess Things Happen That Way”- Louie receives $10,000 I-Tunes gift card. Sweet.

Taylor Hawkins, drummer for Foo Fighters, will release his second solo effort with his band-Taylor Hawkins & Coattail Riders– on April 19 and the album is called “Red Light Fever.” It will feature guest appearances from Elliot Easton (of The Cars!! Yes see below about this great guitarist) along with Brian May and Roger Taylor of Queen. Ok yes Mr. Grohl is helping out as well.

Alice Cooper & Rob Zombie have hooked up for a limited U.S. tour beginning in May. (sort of like “Frankenstein” vs. “Wolfman”, huh?) I will keep you posted if they hit the Tri-State area. I am in for this one. \m/ \m/

The White Stripes will release a live album-“Under Great White Northern Lights (Live)”-on Mar. 16. Should be most excellent.

Album Review: “Candy-O” by The Cars; released on June 13, 1979.

Candy-O

Last Sunday I was riding in my car when I heard the first few notes of “Let’s Go” by The Cars (“I-95” Rock Radio out of Danbury CT) and it really had “been such a long time” (“Since I Held You”) since I have heard this track; I immediately turned up the volume while seemingly driving “Back to The Future” as I recalled my youth when The Cars were my ultimate band. Ahh, the good ole days, not for nothing but 1979 was a great year in music for me and this album, without a doubt, was the highlight.(no not just for the cover, the music baby!!) Fast forward back to the present, I have been laboring for some time now to prove to both my sons’ that The Cars in their “heyday” had the “wow factor” but they still haven’t come around, especially my youngest. But for those of us who were in our early teenage years, The Cars represented a change from what was on the radio; some called it “new wave,” others referred to it a “Pop” and “All I Can Do” is sit here to tell you that no matter what you call it- these guys were real good. (“great”- in my opinion). This band was one of my early favorites which I know everyone can relate because all of us probably have a special place in their hearts for their “firsts” and now when I hear them, it’s not that I forgot about them but reminded again of their splendor as well as taking me back to a very special time in my life-being a teenager. I had “discovered” The Cars a year earlier in their phenomenal debut album and they followed up with this “most excellent” disc. If you have neither album, you again, are truly missing out. There is not one bad song on either disc, so without further adieu here is my take on the Cars second studio album-“Candy-O:” (All songs written by Ric Ocasek by the way on this one)

Side one starts off with the aforementioned “Let’s Go”; David Robinson crashes his drums and cymbals as Greg Hawkes and Elliot Easton each enter the fray with their keyboards and guitar to make one of the more distinctive beginnings to a song-you immediately know it’s The Cars before Benjamin Orr begins to sing-“She’s driving away, with her dim lights on..” Is it simple-maybe yes Ok but sometimes simple is the best way to approach things. One thing about the Cars is that all five members can be heard on most of their songs-on this track you can hear the very addicting keyboards of Mr. Hawkes, while Ocasek and Easton set the rhythm with their masterful guitar work and Orr does a great job on bass with Robinson keeping the pace up with his very fun drumming. You have to admit this is a fun song and isn’t what that one of the main functions of music? Connecting with other people to bring joy to their tough everyday job we call life, music is an escape and why not make it fun sometimes? (or all the time). This song was a mainstay on the radio back in 1979 into 1980 and deservedly so, this is classic. “Since I Held You” is one of The Cars best songs and probably lesser known to the non-fan base, so if you are unfamiliar with it-you need to jump all over it. The arrangement highlights Easton’s unheralded talents on guitar and Ocasek’s vocals just may be the best there has ever been on a Cars record. “I really love the way you talk, I don’t mind saying so..” The song has a few twists and turns that flow so perfectly that you will soon be singing this song all day long. “It’s been a long time, since I held you” as Easton’s guitar lick follows flawlessly in the background. Excellent tune. Track #3-“It’s All I Can Do”- again showcases Easton’s ability on guitar-especially the solo, it’s so “money.” How can anyone not like this song? I find it impossible as the melody is so relaxing, so refreshing as this could be one of Benjamin Orr’s best job on vocals. “You wait in the wing like a Saturday flirt” –Ocasek had some writing style, didn’t he? Love his lyrics on most every song he wrote. Before you know it this song is over and that to me signals how good a tune is-it’s over in a flash. This song has such a special meaning for me, especially the part “I cancelled my flight from going nowhere..” The next track-“Double Life” could be my favorite on the album, it sounds so psychedelic as Ocasek’s voice sounds so far away as the song begins but then he surrounds your ears as it appears that he has run up to the microphone to exemplify the “space-like” sound coming from the rest of the band. (Think –“Talking Heads”). As the song progresses, you really have to wonder why Mr. Easton wasn’t considered one of the best guitarists at the time as again his solo is breathtaking, they may be short but they are not simple. Almost feels like they recorded this song in a tunnel. Another thing that totally stands out is the background vocals that compliment Ocasek’s lead vocals which is sung in an almost robotic style. Now speaking of robotic, the next song-“Shoo Be Doo”- feels like it was created in “outta space” as Greg Hawkes makes these psychedelic noises with his keyboards that is something totally different from anything you have ever heard. This track is so great, I love what they do to Ocasek’s voice-“ Don’t you tell me what to do… Dooo..” they have that “echo” effect nailed down perfectly. The only bad part about this tune is that it’s only a little more than a minute and a half long as the first side comes to an electrifying end with the explosive title track- “Candy-O.” This is “head-banging” music in my mind because of the driving beat of the song. Again Easton is all over this album he lays down an awesome solo during the middle, all the while Hawkes is making these “asteroid” type noises (remember that video game?) with his keyboards. Next time you listen to this song just focus on Greg’s part- (do you ever do that to a song? It’s like when you go to a football game and on the kick-off you focus your eyes on one player the whole time until the play is over-you get an appreciation of the talent level)- he is all over the place, like a mad scientist. Admittedly, this band does exhibit that sort of “nerdy” type of image (I could see these guys, especially Ocasek, on a guest role on the CBS hit “Big Bang Theory”) but they can rock with the best of them and this song would be “Exhibit A.”

Side two starts off with probably the best song on the entire album-“Night Spots.” If I had to pick a song to best describe The Cars (for those who don’t know them too well) I would have to point to this track. It has everything-that “new wave” (at least that’s what it was called back in the late 1970’s and early ‘80’s) feel to it-especially Hawkes work on the keyboards (again focus on just him and you’ll be amazed on his talent) as well as that classic Ocasek sound-again nearly robotic but he has a human touch as you can feel his passion. Now then please focus on the electric guitar work by Elliot, listen how he trails seemingly in the background but his talent puts him at the forefront. If you really keen in on just his part you will hear exactly what I’m talking about and when he blasts off with that “out of this world” guitar solo well there you have it folks-the rock and roll part of the Cars. When the song gets to the end I can sing the part “It’s just an automatic line” all day long- how addictive is that part? Track # 2 on side 2 is the funky “You Can’t Hold on Too Long.” Benjamin Orr is flat out phenomenal on this track with his vocals. The song starts off with that “Asteroid” effect as Easton takes over with a short guitar intro but quickly hands it off to Orr- “you’re looking for kicks there’s nothing around..” This is such a fantastic tune to listen to with your head phones, I hate to keep saying it but follow Greg throughout every song. Now the bad part about these ground breaking songs is that they are too short, my only complaint- you blink and their over. Now admittedly years ago I would tend to skip over the next song-“Lust for Kicks”- because I couldn’t wait to get to “Got a Lot on My Head” and felt like this song was too slow. But years later as I went back to this album I found myself repeatedly playing this song over and over. In the middle they sort of have that Beatles moment in Sgt. Peppers when you hear an audience laughing and clapping. The song is simple yes but has quite an appeal factor. Ocasek’s vocals pull me in as well as Hawkes “effortless” sounding work. Now throughout every song I have to give “props” to Mr. David Robinson on the skins as his work does not go unnoticed, in fact it stands out in most all the songs. He starts off the blazing- “Got a Lot”- along with Easton on guitar, this duo were far too under-rated in my opinion. Now I believe (before my computer went bonkers) that this song was the most played in my I-Tunes library. Ask my boys, one day my youngest came over to the computer room and asked me how many times I was going to play that “stupid” song. (Yes I took care of that misguided statement). There were so many times (back in the 1980’s)I imagined myself being Elliot Easton up on stage while jumping on top of my bed air-guitaring to this song as the volume of the record player reached exorbortant heights-of course my dad wasn’t home, my mom was though. The last track-“Dangerous Type” is one of their best and well known songs. It has been played on the classic rock radio format for so many years and continues to be a fan favorite. Again all these guys shine as their individual parts creates one of the best “team” sounds that the music world has ever seen. Yes that’s what I’m saying- it’s enough already, the lack of respect these guys get. In my mind, this band was one of the best-if not the best- during the period that ran from 1978-1983 for their “genre” of music. “Dangerous Type” exemplifies this fact, as this is one of their masterpieces. I love this band!!!

The Cars, in my opinion, are often over-looked as a “super power” and maybe that had something to do towards the end of their career when I believe there was extreme pressure on them from the record companies to create those massive “hits” which left some believing that they were sort of this “pop” band, which is unfair. Yes they had the radio friendly songs like “Tonight She Comes” and “Drive” but you can’t forget about “Bye Bye Love” and “Candy-O.” When they veered off and made the music they wanted on the album-“Panorama”- the sales didn’t follow (but yet to me that album is fantastic) so they had to go back “on course” with the popular stuff. It’s a weird phenomena, when a band puts out their debut album it’s typically music that is really embedded from within and it’s songs that the artist wants to put out there. They don’t know if the album will take off and once it does, then all the pressure from the “money grabbers” comes down and they start to dictate to the artist what to play. Meanwhile, it’s their music that put them there in the first palce and as they try to create more, they are directed back to the same formula which we all know, the public will get full of at some point. Or in the case of many, artists can never top their debut (see “Guns & Roses’). And that is a long winded explanation of what I think happened to the Cars (I could be wrong) but “Candy-O” is no sophomore slump, this album is the “real deal” and doesn’t have one filler. (even “Shoo Be Doo” so don’t say it). You need to have this in your library. And in my opinion, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame should clear one shelf-in some way shape or form- for this band from Boston because they deserve to be in just based on this album alone-as well as their debut.

“TOP TEN”:

Image of Tesla

This week’s I-Pod shuffle landed on “Look @ Me” by Telsa and just like a few weeks ago when I finally sat down to write down my top ten songs by the Mighty Zep-this has been the other “elephant in the room” with its trunk hanging over my shoulder as a constant reminder that I need to “step up to the plate” and let the readers of this page know my favorite Tesla songs which has to be limited to ten. I really don’t want to do this because when I listen to Tesla, it’s basically every song on every album-so have your pick because in my opinion they have not ever made a bad album. Now for those of you out there who don’t know Tesla you’re probably going to skip right over this and for those who put them into the “hair-band” era, (I don’t even acknowledge that ridiculous implication) you too might skip over this. But for those “in the know”-you will acknowledge how hard this task is. For some reason, there are many of you out there that don’t get the greatness of this band or even worse don’t acknowledge their existence. But you know what, maybe the songs I write here (which many of you will not know) will get you to explore this “so underrated” band and not think of them as a one hit wonder group with the classic-“Signs”-(which is a cover of the “Five Man Electrical Band”).

I was introduced to this California group way back in 1986 when they opened for David Lee Roth (he had just split with VH) at the Nassau Coliseum and sometimes I don’t watch the openers but when they played their first song I thought to myself-“wow these guys sound good.” As the show progressed I was blown away and immediately became of fan, ran out to purchase “Mechanical Resonance” and the rest my friends as they say “is history”-I was hooked. Now these guys did run into some issues and did not make an album for ten years but that break did wonders for them because they are back now (“Into the Now” is freaking phenomenal) stronger than ever and just doing what they do best-make music. Even their “covers” (see “Real to Reel”) are done with the respect that the original artist would appreciate and if you have those two discs you’ll see the wide range of the musical taste that shaped and influenced their career. There are many singers that I wanted to be when I was growing up (and still to this day wish I could be them) and Jeff Keith has always been someone who I wish I could step into his role for a tour or so. His passion is something that I have always felt when I listen to their songs and yes his voice can hit that “high” note that sometimes dogs can only hear but that only shows me how much he puts his entire body and soul into in what he loves to do. Songs like “Only You” should make you stand up and take notice that the man can sing. Now the musicianship that backs Mr. Keith up is in my opinion one of the most talented bands to ever come out of CA and the U.S. for that matter. This band gives you their all on every note and every verse and has been for a very long time. So with that Tesla I salute you and like I said I could pick whole albums, never mind just ten songs but I will stick to the ship that I have constructed. Here they are “coming atcha live” my top ten songs by Tesla:

10.     Getting Better Everyday-As I eliminated song after song to get my top ten, this tune narrowly beat out “In a Hole Again” from their latest “Forever More” and my oldest son kept pushing me to stick to my guns with my picks while imploring me to stay true to what I really love. He is right and I remember the first time I heard “Getting Better” I was thinking OK this is going to be a fine, nice, slow acoustic song but then BOOM- “Ahh it’s getting better now everyday” as the blazing, blaring guitar duo of Frankie Hannon and Tommy Skeoch really push this song into overdrive as the pace kicks into gear like no other song you have heard. It’s like riding the “Cyclone” (in Coney Island) as you approach the first hill, there is that second of silence and then it’s on. If you have seen their live shows you know this is one of the many crowd favorites as everyone sings while dancing around in a circle waving their fists-“Getter Better!!!”- This band has always pointed out the positive in life and this is one for the ages. “Soon the sun will shine through my window..” I’m hoping for all of us that day is coming soon!!!

9.     Flight to Nowhere.-So many great songs to choose from “The Great Radio Controversy” and believe me again as I narrowed the list down to ten there were more than a few that I knocked off from this classic. The reason why this song remains is I think this song depicts what Tesla is all about. The arrangement is spectacular as it portrays this band as one that can take it down but when it comes back up-watch out-these boys can rock with the best of them and the labor of love contributed by the guitarists accompanied by their incredible talent results in one of their most scorching tunes ever recorded. ‘Nuff said.

8.      Changes– This song takes me back to my early days for the Standard & Poor’s men’s softball team as you can probably tell from the passion that I have for this band that I latched on to “Mechanical Resonance” and could not stop listening to it. To get me pumped up for the games I would put my CD player on, squeeze the headphones to my ears as I rode the #1 train up to Columbus circle and even though this track is slow it does pick up the pace and it became my “go to” song before games. Tesla unleashes a passion from within me that I can not explain and Jeff Keith does a phenomenal job on vocals on this track as the backing musicians perform tremendously as I would state that this could be one of their best songs ever.

7.     Heaven Nine Eleven-Talk about passion? Listen to the lyrics in this track and tell me this isn’t filled with much affliction but also with a path of turning things around. (“..and change the way.. change the way of the world..”). I remember seeing these guys at the New York Fillmore in May 2004 when they performed this song and hearing it live for the first time, it almost brought tears to my eyes. This is such a sensitive topic for many and any time we are taken back to that most tragic event it’s hard to deal with but with this track I feel like the bond that they are asking for can be achieved, at least I can pray that it happens. What stands out to me most musically is the most addicting drum beats by Mr. Troy Lucketta, when he hits those skins eight times in a row before the chorus breaks in; I drift off playing air guitar as the heavy riffs of the guitar take control of the song.

6.     The Way It Is-Another fantastic song to witness live as the entire crowd takes over singing the song for Jeff (and I think he loves to hear and feel that). When I took my bride to see them while they were in the midst of their “Five Man Acoustical Jam” tour (again way back when) I remember her being amazed that so many people were singing this song and she had never heard it (yes I forced her to see the greatness of this band). Now the original version is on “Great Radio” and once you hear it, the next time it comes on you have to sing along, this song was made especially for that. “Do you believe? Can you believe?..” Then the great guitar solo comes in and at this point you have to ask yourself, “how did I ever not know this awesome band?” Go see them live and see what I am talking about.. “Yes it do…”

5.     Look @ Me– As I mentioned Tesla went on a hiatus for a while and it took ten years between “Bust a Nut” and “Into The Now.” “For everything in life, there is a reason…” think about those words for a second, you know you have. Mr. Keith went through some hard times and my guess is that he needed to get back to what he loved the most: being the lead singer for the band called Tesla. He references one of his occupations during that time when the band was not together with the words “spun around like I just got played” which depicted his time as a DJ at a gentlemen’s club. But as he says “that was then.. take a look at me now” and without a doubt he has come back (as well as the band) stronger than ever. They have made up for lost time as they have done extensive touring along with making lots of material in the last five years and in my opinion are more relevant now than they ever have been-totally erasing that “hair-band” label (again something I never accepted). Again Troy’s drumming hooks me right in as well as Jeff with his great vocals- look at them now-still rocking after all these years. \m/ \m/

4.     Song and Emotion-When I think of Tesla, I think of “song” and of course you get the “emotion.” What better way to put these two words together and dedicate it to one of their good friends, Mr. Steve Clarke-the guitarist for Def Leppard who unfortunately battled alcoholism and passed away at the very young age of 30 in 1991. The lyrics cut right to the bone-“ I see him there most every day a lonely man and his guitar..In his eyes I see the pain..” In more than a few songs that Tesla has recorded over the years, they seem to indicate that being a rock star isn’t always what it seems to be. We automatically think that it’s filled with glory, fame and money but as they say-“life at the top ain’t always what it seems.” And for one Steve Clark “somewhere, somehow, something was lost.” You can feel the entire bands pain as they play this song every time because they probably feel that this could have been anyone of them, not just Mr. Clarke. They show him so much respect on guitar because it eerily sounds like the way Steve played, they honed in on his style and just completely nailed it. Now if you listen to the entire track on “Psychotic Supper” the ending of the song sounds an awful lot like the beginning of “Mama’s Fool” which appears on “Bust a Nut.” This is an emotional draining song and every time I hear it-I immediately think of Steve-which is what Tesla wants us to think of when they recorded it. This is brilliance.

3.     What You Give-“It’s not what you got..but what you give..”I wish I could have written these seemingly simple words but yet think about the great meaning behind them. Think about how great this universe would be if every person in the entire world followed these simple words. Now I know this is a love song written for that someone special but yet it is deeper than that, I really believe they meant it for everyone to make this world a better place. You want to talk about a great concert song? Go to one of their shows and tell me you don’t get “goose bumps’ while they play this awe inspiring song. Ask my friend Sal what he thought when he saw them perform this live, I guarantee if there was one song that he remembers from all their shows we have attended-this would be near the top of his list-not just mine. This song resonates deep within me, I can feel it start from my soul as it works it way up towards my heart and practically brings tears to my eyes. As I tell you all the time, there are some songs that make such an impact in my life-so good that it brings tears to my eyes. This has been-and always will be-that kind of song. Raw emotion that you can feel.

2.     Only You– The first time I heard this song I froze.. I couldn’t move. This song is so tender, so sensitive, so “gut wretching” that I have to listen to it over and over again. If you have lost a loved one, please be aware that it may be too tough to listen to and of course you know I think of my mother always when I hear it. This time I shed tears because I miss her and this song tugs at my heart. “I only want you, not some picture on a shelf..” that gets me every time because that’s how I feel. “If only desperation could resurrect”-I know I thought about that as she was close to leaving us. Thank you Tesla for making such a powerful song. Beautiful and touching.

1.     Lady Luck-They had me on the opening guitar licks, when I hear them it brings me back to 1989 when I was just 24 and this became another song that I would use to pump me up before the many softball games that I had on my schedule as I played for nearly 7 teams that year. Every once in a while when I see Tesla perform live they break out this classic from “The Great Radio…” and I get so psyched I feel like I am going to jump right out of my skin. This is hard rock at its best-“there she stood in living color… and she said I don’t!!!”- Tesla is and always has been one of the hardest working “blue collar” bands this country will ever see. These guys know how to rock, what are you waiting for-jump in and turn Tesla on and they will return the favor. \m/ \m/.

Trivia Questions

Answers from last week:

1.     True, Jimmy Page played with Joe Cocker

2.     Schenker left Scorpions to play with UFO

3.     “I Can’t Explain”

4.     “Creep”

This week’s trivia (The Cars, Tesla)-

1.     What was the first song that put Tesla on the map?

2.     What “Bread” song does Tesla masterfully cover?

3.     What “Cars” song is featured in the classic “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” movie?

4.     Who sings lead vocals for the “New Cars” after Ocasek stated he would “never” be part of a Cars reunion?

Name That Tune

Answers from last week:

1.     “Only You”- The Platters

2.     “Only the Lonely”-Roy Orbison

3.      “Only the Good Die Young”-Billy Joel

4.     “Only God Knows Why”- Kid Rock

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

1.     “Got in a little hometown jam..so they put a rifle in my hand.. sent me off to a foreign land.. to go and kill the yellow man..”

2.     “I like smoke and lightning..heavy metal thunder..racing in the wind.. and the feeling that I’m under… ”

3.     “My heart beats like a drum (all night)..flesh to flesh, one to one (and its alright) and I’ll never let go.. there’s something I know deep inside …”

4.     “My mother cried.. when President Kennedy died..she said it was the communists.. but I knew better.. would they drop a bomb on us while we made love on the beach….”

Back on this Day

Back on this day in 1965, Jimmy Page released his first single-“She Justs Satisfies.” It failed to hit the charts and shortly after he joined the Yardbirds… then of course on to the Mighty Zep.

Back on this day in 1980 U2 received a contract with Island Records after talent scout Bill Stewart witnesses them play at the National Stadium in Dublin Ireland.

Back on this day in 1985, Chuck Berry received the “Lifetime Achievement Award” at the 27th Grammy Awards.

Back on this day in 1997, Rush received the “Order of Canada” which is the highest civilian award from the Canadian government for significant achievement in important fields of human endeavor.

If it is your birthday today, you share the same birth date with “heavy weights” in the music world including the legendary Fats Domino, the late great Johnny Cash, Mitch Ryder and Jonathan Cain (Journey).

February 19, 2010

Weekly Update – 02/19/2010

Trans-Siberian Orchestra at Radio City Music Hall on Thurs. Apr. 8. Tickets on sale this morning at 10:00 a.m. $48 – $70.

K’naan at the New York Fillmore on Wed. Mar. 31. Tickets on sale today at noon. $25.

New Kids on the Block have added another date at Radio City Hall and if you are an American Express cardholder you can purchase “pre-sale” tickets beginning this morning at 10:00 until 10:00 p.m. tonight for the Thurs. June 17 show. General public tickets on sale tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. $59.50 – $99.50.

Jeff Beck at the Wellmont Theater in Montclair NJ on Mon. June 14. Tickets on sale today at noon. $45, $75 and $95.

Buddy Guy at the Wellmont Theater on Thurs. May 20. Tickets on sale today at noon. $35 ($40 day of show).

The Flaming Lips at the Central Park Summerstage on Mon. July 26. Pre-sale tickets for American Express cardholders on now until 11:00 a.m. this morning. General public tickets on sale today at noon. $40.

Coheed & Cambria at the Central Park Summerstage on Wed. May 26. Tickets on sale tomorrow at noon. $32.50

Other items:

Thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Doug Fieger, lead singer for The Knack, who passed away at the very young age of 57 after a six year battle with cancer which also included two surgeries to remove tumors from his brain in 2006. Very sad. As you should all know- “My Sharona”- is arguably the best “one-hit” wonder song ever recorded in music history. Now I don’t want to offend the Knack or their fans by saying they only made one song, so I will reclassify my statement to the- “biggest pop/rock song” in the history of music. Rest in peace Doug.

Thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Dale Hawkins, who also passed away from cancer at the age of 73. He was a huge “rockabilly” star from Louisiana who in 1957 recorded the hit single “Suzie Q” which was later recorded by Creedence Clearwater Revival and countless other bands. Rest in peace Dale.

Contrary to the reports that The Killers have broken up, the reason for them recently cancelling shows in Australia was the result of the passing of Brandon Flower’s mother, Jean, from brain cancer. The band needed the time to spend with their families and friends, which anyone could understand. The boys will be back soon.

Courtney Love will make a comeback record-“Nobody’s Daughter”- which is set for release on April 27. The name of the band is still “Hole” but she is the only original member left which guitarist Eric Erlandson has a big problem with. Courtney received help from Billy Corgan and Linda Perry but they have since distanced themselves from the project.

Their will be a documentary-“When You’re a Stranger”- coming to PBS in May of this year depicting the career of The Doors. It is narrated by none other than Johnny Depp (he seems to be everywhere, no?). It will actually be released as a film for a very limited time in select cities beginning in April. The soundtrack-which will include studio and live versions of the Doors greatest hits-will be released on March 30. The documentary will have clips of the band that have never been seen before.

My favorite “old school” song of the week is “Jimmy Mack” by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas. This is classic R&B at its best and still sounds as fresh today as when it was recorded back in the 1960’s. This song reminds me of a real “Jimmy Mac” that I know from the Sunset Park area in Brooklyn. A real nice guy from a real nice family. Hope all is well Jimmy!!!

BB King/Buddy Guy Review

Last Friday-Feb. 12- I, along with my good friend Nick and his good friend Frank, trekked up to the United Palace Theater (175th and Broadway) to witness the two of America’s greatest living treasures, Mr. Buddy Guy and Mr. BB King. Now I’m telling you folks, if you have not ever attended a live show from either one of these legends you are truly missing out on something very special.(To have them play together is really like that Mike Tyson punch to the bearded dude in “Hangover’…just a flat out “knock-out”). I really believe these two gentlemen should be added to the phrase “Baseball, Mom, apple pie… and Buddy Guy & BB King.” Now I will say that over the past few years, BB has a tendency to talk a whole lot more during his shows more than he use to BUT since his is 84, he has a lot to offer the audience with his wisdom and experiences throughout his life, so keep that in mind if you plan to see him this year. To hear them play guitar so unbelievably tight and on the money makes you really want to do the Wayne’s World “We are not worthy” bow. You will thank your lucky stars that you had the opportunity to watch them do what comes naturally and what they love to do. You see that’s the thing folks, they would put the same effort into what they do if they were just jamming in their garage as they do performing for a theater that holds just about 3,200. Why?, because they both possess a pure and unconditional love of music, especially the blues.

Having never been to the United Palace Theater and also having never visited the Washington Heights area, I was unsure of how to get to the Theater, should I take mass transit or should I drive to the area and park in a local garage? Well I drove in the morning and parked at a garage on Broadway around 176st. Big mistake- so for all you Allman Brother fans planning on attending one or more of the many shows planned there for next month-take mass transit. I would suggest parking between 72ndand 96th streets in Upper Manhattan and jumping on the #1 train to 168th street and walk about seven blocks. (You could transfer for the “A” train at 168 and take that to 175th and walk up one avenue). The local area, in my opinion, is not equipped to handle the amount of people that are going to attend the shows planned there. The garage I parked in had only two floors and when the show ended, the wait for your car could take up to two hours. It may be cheaper but more painful. Now other than that, I have absolutely no other complaints. Nick, Frank and I ate at a great restaurant called “Coogans” located at 169th street and Broadway with the food and atmosphere being perfect. I did notice lots of other places to eat, so again for all you Allman fans, you should find some fine dining places as well as “watering holes.”

Now the United Palace Theater from the outside sort of looks like an Armory and there are no signs that display the words “United Palace Theater.” (I believe it is associated with a local church). But once you walk inside, you will lose your breath at the unbelievable architecture that was utilized to construct this beautiful theater. All three of us were amazed at the intimateness that it offers and imagined what it must have been like to visit during its “heyday.” There were ushers there to direct you to your seat and the atmosphere was very “laid back.” We were in the upper section and the first thing I noticed was the ceiling, the attention to detail when built is really spectacular. We were all set.

When Buddy and his band entered the stage, it reminded me of an old high school stage where there is stuff all over the place and to be honest it looked like there was stuff left over from the last show that was there. But I knew the stage didn’t matter, the band had the basics and that’s all they needed. There was a phenomenal keyboard player set up on the left of the stage. In the middle of the stage was the biggest drummer I have ever seen (no offense intended) and he hit those skins with such force. Buddy wandered wherever he wanted while the two other gentlemen-bassist and another lead stayed to the right of the stage most of the night from our vantage point. Now I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I have or know all Buddy Guy songs, I am not a “die-hard” but then again I make it a point to try and see him live because there is something special about his performances. There is such a bolt of energy that comes from him that is hard to explain unless you have already seen him perform live, if you have-then you know exactly what I’m talking about. Then when you add the level of skill that he possesses when he plays guitar, it is something to behold. The highlights of his set included everything that he and his band performed but what stood out the most for me was when he performed “Skin Deep”-the title song from his last studio album and also when he paid homage to Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. There was another song where the other lead guitarist had an unbelievable solo that was like an explosion, I don’t know his name but he was great as well. His set was kind of short in my opinion because they were so good and the hour or so flew by in a blink of an eye. Buddy paid homage to BB as well and told the crowd “If he is going to play then it’s my duty to listen.” As they exited the stage, a few roadies came aboard to set up the itinerary for Mr. King.

We decided to take a break and walked out to the “patio” where they were selling drinks. I looked to Frank-who is a musician- to get his feel on Buddy (I know my opinion was that he was awesome) and to my pleasant surprise he said the same thing. He also mentioned that the keyboardist (that is what he plays) was really good and coming from a musician just cements my opinion that everyone needs to see him live. As BB King was ready to take the stage, the other eight members of the band came out on stage first. They were all decked out in suits and tuxedo’s which complimented the classic architecture that surrounded them. These gentlemen each took time to showcase their massive talents by taking on solos while the rest of the band played behind them. One by one-the solos blazed from a trumpet, a saxophone, another trumpet, organ/keyboards and of course the guitar. The first fifteen minutes or so was just music from these guys and BB hadn’t even entered the fray, I looked over at Nick and said that I could listen to BB’s band the whole night-just imagine how much better it gets when BB hits the stage. Literally the “King” enters with a very well deserved introduction and he sits down on his throne (chair) and literally, “class begins.” BB starts to school the audience with his massive skills in those magical hands, which even from our seats, appeared larger than life. BB and his band banged out the best blues music out there today. Again I am not a “die-hard” fan but I love to see him perform live and love to hear the “blues” performed by such a talented team who have been together for a really long time. As we left the theater, I was thinking of how lucky I was to have seen these legends again so I implore you-if you have not seen either of these two gentlemen, please…please…GO!!!(By the way, the acoustics in the place was fine, I had read numerous complaints on line about the sound. No issues on my end).

Album Review: “OK Computer” by Radiohead; released on June 16, 1997.

OK Computer

This week my older son had off from school and I asked him if would like to write about an album that he recently got into and he said he wanted to review Radiohead’s “Ok Computer.” Now as you all know I have tried with this band but I probably will have to give it another chance now that my own flesh & blood is into it. Anyways, since this does not interfere with his school work (orders from Mom) here is his review:

Let me start off by saying that I have just recently become a fan of Radiohead. Before I became a fan I had heard so much about how great they were and about how they “saved rock and roll.” So a few weeks ago I decided for some reason to purchase a Radiohead album. I almost bought “Kid A” but decided not to and bought their other “legendary” album “OK Computer.” The first listen through the album my thoughts were mixed.I thought it was okay but I thought it was really strange music. I stopped listening to it for a while then something prompted me to give it one last try. I listened to it again- and it clicked.Something just happened that made me connect with the album it’s hard to describe but you will understand once you listen to it. After it clicked I really realized what an amazing record this is, and I now understand it legacy and why many call it one of the greatest albums ever recorded. I now own 4 Radiohead albums (“OK Computer”, “In Rainbows”, “Kid A”, and “The Bends”) and I think that the key to listening to any Radiohead album is connecting to it, something has to click. Since every album is different it may take time to connect to each one (I still haven’t connected to ‘In Rainbows’) but when the moment comes and you realize how great the record is it will have been worth the wait.

“OK Computer” starts off with awesome guitar riffs with a great drum beat in the background followed by Thom Yorke’s unique voice. This is of course the first track on the album, “Airbag.” This really is a fantastic opening song and whenever I hear it I get really excited to hear the rest of the album because I know that it gets even better.If you listen to the song you will hear how many guitars are in the song it’s really cool to hear all of the noises made by just guitars. The album is very guitar driven unlike their other masterpiece “Kid A” which is mostly electronic. The first single from the album “Paranoid Android” is the next song. This is a heavily Queen influenced song as it changes rhythm and speed a lot such as “Bohemian Rhapsody.” My favorite part of the song is when the beat changes to a fast pace and the guitars blast while Yorke wails “You don’t remember, you don’t remember, why don’t you remember my name?” One of my favorite Radiohead songs is next “Subterranean Homesick Alien.” The intro to this song is so fantastic, the guitars are really psychedelic. They can really put you in another world it’s pretty amazing. The guitars just make the song perfect for me. The following song, made for the film “Romeo + Juliet”, is my favorite Radiohead song ever, “Exit Music (For a Film)”. It’s really hard to describe this song, it fascinates me. It’s very simple yet very inspiring. I love at the end of the song Thom Yorke shows off his vocal talent and belts out “we are on” in such a powerful voice. This is definitely one of my all time favorite songs. “Exit Music” then goes right into another “Grade A” song “Let Down.” This is a really cool song; just listening to it lifts you up a little. The vocals are really impressive in this song. The hit single on the album “Karma Police” ends side 1 of the album. This piano driven song is one of the few radio hits on the album. It’s an excellent song that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys good music. I love the parts when Yorke sings “for a minute I lost myself, I lost myself…”A synthesizer outro ends the song as well as a magnificent first half of the album.

Unfortunately side 2 starts off pretty badly with the song “Fitter Happier.” Although some diehard fans will argue that this song has “intricate meaning” but to me it really doesn’t. This song is sung in auto tune and really is the only flaw the in the whole album. I know how can a masterpiece have a flaw? I still consider the album a masterpiece because the other songs make up for the 2 minutes of the robotic voice. The album continues with the guitar driven rock song “Electioneering.” This being one the fastest songs on the album it is like a breath of fresh air. After this song the album suddenly gets darker with the song “Climbing the Walls.” Just by listening to the melody and the fierce drum beats in the background you can tell this isn’t a happy song. Yorke uses some form of voice distortion on the song and I love when he screams into the synthesizer, it’s so cool! After that dark song the light ballad “No Surprises” comes on. This is probably one of the nicest sounding songs Radiohead has made;  it’s the closest thing you will get to a tradition ballad. This is a standout track on the album. “Lucky” is the 11th track on the record and is a song where vocals shine. Thom Yorke is really a gifted singer; he can hit such high notes and then without notice bring them down to low notes. This song the high vocals sound breath taking with the guitar ringing in the background. The whole album leads up the glorious ending which is “The Tourist.” This song is so unlike any other Radiohead song, it has a special feeling to it when you listen to it. The whole song has one message: to slow down. The song is very entrancing, if you just sit down, listen to this song, and forget everything on the outside world for a few minutes you will be in another world. The song ends with a simple “ding” from a bell and thus ends probably one of the most creative and important albums of the 90’s and possibly of all time.

Overall Opinion – Although “OK Computer” has one filler track (“Fitter Happier”) I do consider it a masterpiece. It is an album whose legacy won’t be forgotten. This is an album that should be listened to as a whole in order to get the full effect of the music. This is my 1st and favorite Radiohead album and I’m very glad I bought it; it introduced me to a band that uses an album to make art.

Key Tracks – I would recommend buying the whole album because it was meant to be heard as a whole but if you decided not to here are some key tracks: “Paranoid Android”, “Exit Music (For a Film)”, “Karma Police”, “Let Down”, and “No Surprises”.

“TOP TEN”:

20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Scorpions

This week I picked up my younger son from his friend’s house and on the way home in my car, we heard “Rock You Like a Hurricane” by The Scorpions and he said to me “I can’t believe the Scorpions are breaking up.” I explained to him that they were “retiring” and not breaking up, after all- this band has been playing together in some way shape or form since 1964. As we were both rocking out in the car it clicked right away that this week’s “top ten” should be songs by one of the most famous heavy metal/hard rock band from Germany. With no offense to the band and their fans, they really didn’t take off in the U.S. until this song which is off of the “Love at First Sting” (released in 1984). I know you’re saying well what about “No One Like You” which was off of their 1982 release-“Blackout”- OK you nailed me. Anyways, I saw these guys at Giants Stadium in 1986 for the “Monsters of Rock Tour” which featured Kingdom Come, Dokken, Metallica and the headliner was “Van-Haggar.” The Scorpions came on before Van Halen and I remember what a huge stage presence they had-even from my nose bleed seats. (I don’t recall those big screens they have these days for shows). And their loud guitar style filled up the Stadium which made their fans all more the rabid. As they prepare to say goodbye to their fans after the upcoming release of their final album-“Sting in the Tail” and then tour in support of that until almost 2012, I decided to list my favorite ten songs by The Scorpions:

10.     321-I remember when I first bought “Humanity Hour I” and this song came on I was immediately hooked by the big guitar riffs/chord sound that reminded me of their big sound that they exhibited during their live shows. I always put together “playlists” and at the time I threw this on during a long car ride to which both my boys with my wife were screaming to turn it off, so you know I only put it louder, right? Eventually my younger son-who is the “head-banger” came around and I believe this song is now on his I-Pod. My older son still says no, forget my wife you know the answer.

9.     Loving You Sunday Morning.-I love the drive and groove in this track. This is classic “guitar” rock that epitomizes the genre and features an outstanding melody that keeps me coming back for more. The complementary guitar solo in the middle is the icing on the cake and when Klaus comes back to sing again, well the song gets that much better. These guys can rock with the best of ‘em, don’t kid yourself.

8.     Cause I Love You– Following in the heavier footsteps of Peter Frampton, the guitar sound coming from the mouths and hands of the guitar player-Matthais Jabs- (you know how Frampton made his guitar talk?) highlights this song as the pulverizing riff really gets me pumped up. If you are at a bar that features heavy metal/hard rock songs for their karaoke night, then this is the song for you to perform-when you are not singing- you can wail on the air-guitar. You will impress your family and friends with your coolness. (wear a wig if you need to look the “rocker” part).

7.     Alien Nation-Does this song rock or what? I turned my younger son on to this song and he knows it better than me now. If you listen to this song with a great set of headphones you will recognize the extreme talent of this band. Nothing will psyche you up more than squeezing the headphones as tight as you can while turning up the volume to an uncomfortable notch. Towards the end of the song, the music will definitely make you think that there are aliens walking about, this song is totally cool and totally rocks!!! \m/ \m/

6.     Humanity-If the Scorpions did not record their latest album-“Sting in the Tail”- this track would have technically been the last studio song that we the fans would have been left with and I for one think it’s one of their best songs ever written. (So the pressure is on the boys for the last song on “Sting” to be as good as this track from “Humanity Hour I”). This song has it all- that “epic feel” to it, fantastic vocals, various rhythm changes which include “heavy” points as well as “poignant” moments, serious musicianship and even a little Spanish –“adios amigo”-what’s not to like? “Humanity… Humanity… Humanity… Goodbye… Goodbye…” Awesome track.

5.     Bad for Good– Love the bass line in this song, believe me you will stand there making believe you are a bass guitarist and either stand motionless (like many bassists) or move across the floor like a spider (a la Rob Trujillo style). This song moves and then slows down but picks up the pace again-this occurs throughout; the guitar solo will take you over the edge and you will wonder why you haven’t paid more attention to this band-it’s never too late-that’s what I say. I would have love to been in the recording studio when they recorded this track, I don’t know why but the sound most have been incredible. Totally rocks.

4.     Rock You Like a Hurricane– Ok is this a rock anthem or what? There is a reason why it is so popular..because it’s so freaking good. The entire arrangement should be a blue print for all hard rock bands who aspire to have a huge hit. First, the opening riffs pull you right in and make you “air-guitar” immediately. Then the huge banging of the drums to get the song rolling and just like that you take it down to almost a crawl like state but you keep a nice pace because you know you are going to come back with those big guitar riffs. The “chorus” must be addicting-check “yes”- “Here I am rocked you like a hurricane..” and most important the obligatory guitar solo-check “yes” for electrifying and satisfying-take it back down and make the drums louder-check “yes.” As you take the song to its end, keep repeating the chorus but add some really head-banging beats and end on an all inclusive note- vocal, guitar and drums. You now have the recipe for a monster hit. Switching gears, I know the lyrics are very explicit and I didn’t realize this (again for me its about the music) and a few years ago both my sons used to write for their school on a website about music. My youngest wrote about this song and posted the album cover on the site. A parent complained (not the kind of stuff you want on a Catholic school website, huh?) and they were both eventually tossed from writing about “popular” music. It was totally my fault, I should have been the responsible parent.

3.     No One Like You-Another classic rock song. Using the same ingredients that I described above in “Hurricane” the Scorpions catapulted their career by making songs like this.Just picture more than 40,000 fans in a stadium setting with the band playing this song. It really doesn’t get too much better than that. This song has one of the best guitar solos in hard rock history and yes I was “air-guitaring” along with the rest of the fans in Giants Stadium back in 1986. This song deserves the classic “Wayne’s World We Are Not Worthy” bow. Next time you hear this song on your car radio, pull over when the song ends and perform the aforementioned bow, please? It’s the right thing to do? Such greatness deserves such respect. Thank you. \m/ \m/

2.     Wind of Change– The time was December 1990 and I was living in Staten Island with my parents (I begrudgingly moved with them from Brooklyn earlier that year and did so mainly because of my younger brother, whom I did not want to leave and honestly as well as leaving my parents, especially my mom) and I had been dating my bride since 1987 and was coming to the point in the relationship where I needed to make that commitment. We decided that we were going to purchase a home instead of having a huge wedding as we knew we couldn’t afford both. Of course just like that in a “New York minute”-thanks to our good friend “99”, her mother, Mary, introduced us to the house that we would live in for nearly 9 years on the first day out ever looking for a house. You could imagine what my parents and other family members were thinking when we didn’t come back home until 11:30 that night. As soon as we walked through the door they all said in unison-“You bought a house, didn’t you??!! On your first day out?? Are you crazy???” We needed to let Mary know what we were going to do and as I rode the Staten Island ferry to make my trek back home, this song came on my CD player and right then and there I knew that I wanted to purchase that house. I was “listening to the wind of change.” A big “change” in my life was coming and I believe this song had something to do with it. Every time I hear this song, it takes me back to that moment. I have a hard time thinking of another song that made such an impact on my life. I was on the bottom level of the S.I. ferry with the wind blowing like crazy and the water hitting my face as the waves were very busy that day with this song in my ears, something I will never forget. As soon as I hear the whistle, I’m back on the ferry.

1.      Rhythm of Love-As mentioned these guys have the formula down pact and from the opening lick of this song I was hooked. Is it their most popular song?… probably not but I think it’s their best tune- I love the staggered drumming effect that I can never master while I’m air-drumming to this song. (You think by now after all these years I would have it nailed down… I’m close). This track is very melodic and for me it is most addicting. I remember being in the “Double Nickel”-(a local pub in Sunset Park Brookyln)-one night and the album from which this song resonates-“Savage Amusement”- was in the jukebox. I was so excited that I must have played it like 5 times that night and my friend Cheesy was pointing to me when others in the bar asked who kept playing this “rock crap.” I have already listened to the song four times as I wrote down my feelings for this song. Thank you Scorpions as you ride off into the sunset after this year, we the fans appreciate how you stayed true to yourselves and produced some of the best metal/hard rock ever. Rock on!!! \m/ \m/

Trivia Questions

Answers from last week:

1.     Abracadabra

2.     True, The Marksmen

3.     Steven Tyler and Joe Perry

4.     Keith Moon and John Entwistle suggested that a possible super group with Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck with Steve Winwood or Steve Marriot on vocals would go down like a “lead zeppelin.”

This week’s trivia (Scorpions, Radiohead, Random)-

1.     True or False: Jimmy Page was the guitarist on the Joe Cocker cover of the Beatles “With a Little Help from My Friends.”

2.     What band offered Michael Schenker (who was in the Scorpions) their lead guitarist role after touring with the Scorpions?

3.     What “Who” song does The Scorpions cover (and does a masterful job I must say)?”

4.     What “hit” song did Radiohead swear they would never play again at their shows?

Name That Tune

Answers from last week:

1.     “One”- U2

2.     “One”-Metallica

3.      “One”-Three Dog Night

4.     “One”- Creed

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

1.     “for its true.. you are my destiny.. when you hold my hand, I understand the magic that you do.. you’re my dream come true..”

2.     “there goes my baby.. there goes my heart.. they’re gone forever.. so far apart.. but… ”

3.     “Come out Virginia don’t let me wait.. You catholic girls start much too late.. aw but sooner or later it comes down to fate..I might as well be the one…”

4.     “I’ve been sitting here trying to find myself..I get behind myself..I need to rewind with myself..looking for the payback..listen for the playback….”

Back on this Day

Sadly back on this day in 1980, the hard rock scene lost one of its Icons when Bon Scott of AC/DC tragically passed away at the young age of 33. Boy when you think of the “what if’s” with Mr. Scott, can you imagine what might have been if he was still with us? When I see film clips of him I can’t help but think the he was the epitome of what rock and roll was all about, right?

Back on this day in 1972, Sammy Davis Jr. made a guest appearance on the TV sitcom “All in the Family” where he kissed Archie Bunker as a picture was snapped.

Back on this day in 1974, Kiss made their television debut on the Don Kirschner’s “Rock Concert” show. (Remember those?)

Back on this day in 1980, in a moment that Ozzy would probably want to forget- he was arrested for urinating on The Alamo in San Antonio Texas while wearing one of Sharon’s dresses. (Sharon was his manager at the time and later on became his wife).

Back on this day in 1997, a New York judge dismissed a $7M lawsuit against Motley Crue for hearing loss to a fan that attended one of their shows. The judge ruled that the fan knew the concert was going to be loud when he purchased the ticket.

If it is your birthday today, you share the same birth date with “heavy weights” in the music world including the legendary Smokey Robinson, Tony Iommi,(you should know) Paul Dean (Loverboy) and Francis Buchholz (The Scorpions).

February 11, 2010

Weekly Update – 02/12/2010

Filed under: CD Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , — ea0217 @ 10:07 pm

Elvis Costello at the United Palace Theater on Fri. Apr. 23. Pre-sale tickets on sale now for American Express cardholders until 10:00 p.m. tonight. General public on sale tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. $49, $59, $79 and $89.

Peter Gabriel at Radio City Music Hall on Sun. & Mon. May 2 & 3. Pre-sale tickets on sale now for American Express cardholders until Mon. Feb. 15 at 10:00 p.m. General public on sale is next Tues. Feb. 16 at 10:00 a.m. $54.50, $89.50, $129.50 and $199.50. ($200? Holy crap you have to be kidding me?!!)

Jeff Beck at the Paramount Theater in Asbury Park NJ on Tues. June 15. Tickets on sale now. $75 and $125.

Michael Buble at the Mohegan Sun on Sunday July 4. Tickets on sale today at 10:00 a.m. (Live Nation Event)

Dave Matthews Band at the Comcast Theater (Hartford CT) on Fri. & Sat. May 28 & 29. Tickets on sale Fri. Feb. 26 at 10:00 a.m. (Live Nation Event)

Ben Folds and a Piano at the Town Hall (acoustic only) on Mon. Apr. 12. Pre-sale tickets for American Express cardholders go on sale today at 10:00 a.m. and ends next Thurs. Feb. 18 at 10:00 p.m. General public tickets on sale next Fri. Feb. 19 at 10:00 a.m. $39 – $54.

Atlanta Rhythm Section at BB Kings on Mon. June 28. Tickets on sale next Mon. Feb. 15 at 10:00 a.m. $20 ($25 day of show).

The Whigs with The Band of Skulls at Bowery Ballroom on Wed. Mar. 31 and at Music Hall of Williamsburg on Thurs. Apr. 1. Tickets on sale tomorrow at noon. $15. (Can’t beat that price for some good new bands).

Ozomatli at the Highline Ballroom on Fri. Apr. 30. Tickets on sale today at noon. $22 ($25 day of show).

Corrine Bailey Rae at Webster Hall on Mon. May 3. Tickets on sale tomorrow at noon. $32.50 ($35 day of show).

The Whitest Boy Alive at the Bowery Ballroom on Tues. Apr. 20 and at Music Hall of Williamsburg on Wed. Apr. 21. Tickets on sale today at noon. $20.

The Dark Star Orchestra at the Wellmont Theater on Sat. May 22 and at Music Hall of Williamsburg on Thurs. June 3. Tickets on sale today at noon. $35 for Wellmont. $32.50 for Williamsburg ($35 day of show).

Josh Ritter at The Town Hall on Wed. May 19. Tickets on sale today at noon. $26, $30.

High on Fire at the Gramercy Theater on Fri. Apr. 9. Tickets on sale today at noon. (Live Nation Event).

For Parents: Cobra Starship/ 3OH! at the Roseland Ballroom on Wed. May 13. Pre-sale for Citi card members on sale now until tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. General public on sale tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. $28.50.

Other items:

ALERT: Axl Rose is residing in NYC for the next month or so and Thursday night they played a surprise concert at some book store in NY for about 200 lucky fans. G N R played many of the classic hits- “Paradise City”- and about three songs from “Chinese Democracy” so it was mostly the “old stuff.” Reports are that the show was amazing and rumor has it there are  going to be more surprise shows like these popping up around New York. Keep your ear to the ground. \m/ \m/

Mary J. Blige has teamed up with Steve Vai (lead guitar), Michael Jackson’s touring guitarist-Orianthi, Blink 182’s drummer-Travis Barker and American Idol’s Randy Jackson on bass to re-record the Mighty Led Zeppelin classic-“Stairway to Heaven.” Now you know how I feel about the Mighty Zep and sometimes there are songs that should never be “covered” and in my opinion this is one of those songs, BUT you all know that I think that Mary is the coolest female artist on the planet and she has my blessing (not that she needed or asked for my dumb opinion). I for one can’t wait to hear her version. It has to be good.

Slash will release his self titled debut album and the lineup of guests is staggering. The album is set to drop on April 6 and includes help on vocals from Adam Levine, Ozzy, Dave Grohl, Fergie, Chris Cornell, Iggy Pop, Kid Rock, Ian Astbury and Lemmy. I have to say that these lineup of singers has definitely grabbed my attention and I actually can’t wait for this to come out.

The original bassist for Megadeth-David Ellefson– is back with the band again and will join Mustaine and the boys on the “Endgame” tour. Welcome back Dave, we missed ya!!! If these two guys can get back together after all the bad blood the past 8 years, then any band that has had problems can get back together.

Godsmack’s new single “Crying Like a Bitch” is out and of course all the haters will have their usual complaints but being a fan of this band I have to say that I like it. Is it what the Godsmack fans are use to? Yes but if the formula works then I say stick with it. Admittedly I would like to see (hear) some change but for now I’ll take it-heavy riffs all over the place.

Two thirds of the “Dixie Chicks” have decided to make music (without lead singer Natalie Maines, who is still on a break) and the pair call themselves the Court Yard Hounds. It features the old style country music of Emily Robinson and her sister, fiddler Martie Maguire. Robinson takes over on lead vocals, look for the album release in May.

My favorite “old school” song of the week is “Smile a Little Smile for Me” by The Flying Machine. Yes this is bubble gum pop at its best but it’s a perfect love song if you know a “Rosemary” and very apropos for Valentine’s Day this weekend. However-do not purchase this from I-Tunes as it is not the original recording. They have some re-recorded junk.

Paul Rodgers has squashed the rumors that he is going to be the next singer for Aerosmith. He says he’d rather make new music than sing with a formed band (huh? Ahh Queen?) Anyways, like I said there is no other singer for Aerosmith than Steven Tyler. If they grab anyone to take his place it won’t be right. Form a new band and rename it because there ain’t no Aerosmith without Tyler-period end of story!!!

The Jimi Hendrix estate will be releasing a new album of never before released material from arguably the most talented guitarist this planet has ever seen or heard and it will contain covers as well as some of his songs, recorded differently from the final version you may be used to hearing. Look for “Valleys of Neptune” on Tues. Mar. 9.

My other favorite “old school” song of the week belongs to Chicago with the classic “Call on Me.” These guys were something else huh? I know they are still going strong but back in the day-boy there were not many bands who could do what these guys did. One of the best bands to add all the horns and they could rock with the best of them when Terry was around.

Tomorrow marks the 40th anniversary of the release of Black Sabbath. Many people say that is the day heavy metal was born. I’d have to agree so tomorrow I will be listening to the fathers of heavy metal. Black Sabbath-I salute you and hope you can settle your current disagreements. If the Stones can still tour, so can you.

There is a new metal band from Sweden- My Darling Dismay that has released a new video with the same name and I have to say that I like the sound. You can check it out on Blabbermouth.net.

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

Book of Dreams

Side 1 of “Book of Dreams” by The Steve Miller Band released in May 1977.

How many of you out there have Steve Miller’s “Greatest Hits 1974-1978” album? Well apparently 13 million of you have been buying it since its release back in November 1978 and it ranks as the 33rd best selling album of all time here in the U.S. Anyway my I-Pod shuffle landed on “Winter Time” (how apropos with all the cold and snow lately here on the east coast) and I remembered what a fantastic album “Book of Dreams” is; then I realized that side one is a perfect album side. Now the funny thing about the “Greatest Hits” album is that all but one song came from “Book of Dreams” and “The Joker.” “Book” was Steve’s tenth studio album and contained three “mega” hits with “Jet Airliner,” “Swingtown” and “Jungle Love.” (And for the “Everybody Loves Raymond” fan you know that “Jungle Love” was the opening tune used for their 7th season). My favorite song on the album is a much lesser known track-“True Fine Love”- followed quickly by “The Stake”-which is on side two. “Nobody loves you… like the way I do…” I digress, back to side one, now I really started to wear out the album sleeve of this album right around 1980 or so. I was only 12 when it was released, so it took me a couple of years to realize its greatness. (Does it really matter when you realize that something is fantastic? As long as you recognize, I always say).

So now I take you back to my bedroom in Sunset Park Brooklyn as I have lined up a long set of albums that will take me through more than a couple of hours of listening pleasure. I take the pillow from my bed and lay my back on the hard wood floor with the pillow under my head after I had gently picked up the needle on the record player to lay it down on the outside shiny vinyl-yes folks side one of “Book of Dreams” by The Steve Miller Band. (Every so often during the time I listen to the many albums my mother will yell to ask me to open the door so she can listen as well, so be prepared). The album starts off with the psychedelic “Threshold” and if you think back to the 1970’s there were many psychedelic noises (see “Pink Floyd”) coming from many different artists-that was the “In” thing. If you are a Steve Miller fan you know that he has many of these type of songs and this one especially provokes feelings of being on another planet. And the synthesizer or keyboards was one of the main attractions of his live shows. It’s amazing that a one minute song can get you psyched but I guess it’s because you know what lies ahead-“Jet Airliner”- and as “Threshold” ends you hear the familiar foot pedals hitting the bass drum as one of the best songs of the 1970’s hits your ears. “Leaving home out on the road…I’ve been down before.. riding along on this big ole jet plane.. I’ve been thinking about my home…” How great is that? I thought I was going to be all comfortable and I am already standing up and taking the needle off the record to constantly replay this part. (Eventually I will let it play through and lay back down). If there ever was a song that I can perform “karaoke” to without the words rolling up on the little TV that you look into when you’re up there singing to a room of friends and perfect strangers, this is it. I know every word, every “nook and cranny” of this tune and will perform this song for free at your next party. My head is in the pillow and I am rocking back and forth (doing my best impersonation of my brother Rich) singing with the same fervor as Mr. Miller and for all you parents out there, I will sing the “funky kicks” part instead of the cuss word. (We’ll leave the curse words to many of the performers/presenters/winners of “The Grammy Awards”-how ridiculous was that? I can’t watch it anymore). “Jet Airliner” has a infectious groove with an addicting chorus and I for one can listen to this track all day long.Track # 3-the aforementioned “Winter Time”- sort of starts off the same way as “Fly Like an Eagle” without the big guitar lick. It sounds like a snow storm, right? Then when the harmonica comes in, I feel like I am in front of a burning fire while camping and battling winter’s elements- cold & snow. Yes this is a mellow tune but very melodic and something that is very soothing to the ears. “I’m calling, hear me calling… in the winter time.” There is a nice guitar solo break during the middle of the tune which picks up the vibe of the song but after it ends, it is back to the very solemn pace. And just like that, three minutes and fourteen seconds have evaporated just like the autumn season in NY quickly turns into winter.

Track # 4-“Swingtown”- starts off quietly but begins it’s ascension into a pretty rocking tune with the familiar “high hat cymbal” sound from the drums. This is a foot-stomping track with great piano parts and of course Steve’s vocals, especially the “Ooh Woooo Ohh oh woo oh wooooo” part. “C’mon and dance!! C’mon and dance” Well c’mon folks get out of your seats already, I have jumped up out of my lying position and am dancing while “air-piano-ing.” The groove gets that much better when it switches gears as Steve bellows “we’ve been working so hard..” The obligatory guitar solo is a nice touch as the synthesizer takes the song to its end and again there is that “outta space” feel to his songs. Track 5-“True Fine Love”- is my favorite Steve Miller song, never mind for this album. This is rock and roll the way it was intended to be, it has that “rock-abilly” feel to it that I just love. This is my ultimate “karaoke” song but the DJ’s never seem to have this song on their party list. I guess I’m just going to have to start my own business of making party lists. Yes it is a simple, short but very sweet song that should be enjoyed to its fullest. “There’ll be no hesitatin’ cause I’m so tired of waitin’ for a true fine love… I have suddenly found I’m ready to settle down.” Love the guitar solo as well while the drums take this song to the hoop and slams it through for two points. And since the song is so short, you know I have to listen to it over and over again. (Hey I’m up so I might as well keep replaying it, right?). The last song on side one-“Wish Upon A Star”- settles me back to my pillow as I again drift off with the sweet melodic arrangement of this unheralded tune. The psychedelic feel is back with the very cool organ/synthesizer playing while Mr. Miller’s vocals are hypnotic. I feel like someone is swinging a pocket watch in front of me as I “close your eyes.. and let your dreams into your heart.” And it really doesn’t matter who you are-because I think we all at some point in our lives have “wished upon a star.” (And especially for the many people who are going through a tough time in this tough economic environment, there is no harm with wishing upon a star). The beginning of the song reminds me of the INXS song-“Listen Like Thieves”- yes a much faster song but for some reason I think of the INXS song when “Wish” starts off. (Yes I know, I’m weird).

“Book of Dreams” is required listening for the rock and roll fan, there is no denying this fact and you all know there is at least one Steve Miller song that you absolutely love. More times than not, it probably comes from “Book”…. Or “Fly Like an Eagle.” Now I mean no disrespect to the “die-hard” Steve Miller fan-I know and recognize that he has much more in his catalog…but you have to admit-this is probably his most “popular” album. (obviously besides the “greatest hits” collection-which I don’t count as an album). Side one is perfect and deserves your attention. Now I love the entire album- like I said earlier-“The Stake”- is such a phenomenal tune while “Jungle Love” is also a “knockout.” You can’t go wrong with the purchase of this staple of the 1970’s, what are you waiting for-run out and buy it if you don’t have it or if you do have it, take it out again and feel the magic all over again.

“TOP TEN”:

Image of Led Zeppelin

Ok none of you know this but I was purposely putting off trying to name my top ten songs by the Mighty Led Zeppelin. I kept asking myself, why do you want to go through the pain of doing this? Each week that went by, there was this little birdie that kept whispering in my ear- “you brag so much about these guys, now you are on an island and only get to choose 10 songs… well, what are they???!!!!!” I know I have done The Beatles top ten songs and I did the Rolling Stones with my youngest son. I have yet to do “The Who” but the Mighty Zep has been laying out there for some time now but just as one puts off something they know they “has to get done,” (“Procrastination” right?) I just kept coming up with different artists each week, letting them fall to the way side. Recently, I mentioned to a friend of mine when I come up with these top ten lists (or five in some cases) the first thing that I do is name the songs by the particular artist or band that I love right off the top of my head and write them down. Then I scour my library for that artist and usually come up with a- “Oh yes how could I forget that song?”- moment. I write those songs down. Now I immediately bold those songs that have to be in the top ten no matter what because I absolutely love these songs and they have made a huge impact on my life, then to come up with the remaining precious ten, I have a “battle” with myself as I put songs up against each other and then decide which falls off the list. Now just imagine my dilemma when I knew I wanted to pick almost every song on “Physical Graffitti”-which is a “double” album. (You see why I was putting this off?). Seriously folks I literally could pick my top ten songs from “Graffitti” but how could I ignore the rest of the classics? I really want to walk away from this right now. (In the immortal words of Jackie Gleason “I Gotta Biiigggg Mooouutthhh”).

Ok I can do this, I took a deep breath and this is what I have come up with. Now everyone knows-there’s no room for debate- it’s a fact-pure and simple- Led Zeppelin, excuse me- The Mighty Led Zeppelin is in the “top two” category for me, as one of the greatest rock bands ever in the history of music. Depending on my musical mood I flip back and forth between these guys and The Beatles. So I would say “1A and 1B” in the history of music. Again I respect so many hundreds of bands with each putting their “stamp” on the world of music but in the genre of “rock” these bands are the “top two.” So here are my ten for The Mighty Led Zeppelin:

10.      Out on the Tiles-Every time I went to try and get this song out of my top ten, I couldn’t do it, so I figured this had to be number 10. Believe me this beat out so many freakin’ phenomenal songs but I kept coming back to it. This is from the often picked on “Led Zeppelin III.” Most Zep fans would say that this is their least favorite (Ok “In Through the Out Door”) but when you go back and listen to “III” there are so many quality songs that it’s laughable that people think this is their worst. If it is, then you can imagine what the best sounds like? Now the groove in this song id so friggin’ cool and the inherent magic between Jimmy Page and John Bonham shines brightly on this track. You could feel the music just pouring out of them so naturally, so purely-it really is a thing of beauty. Love the way Robert just randomly “blurts” out these random words at different points of the song. And tell me Jack White didn’t steal his vocal style from this song? Listen to the part where Plant sings “nobody knows, honey nobody cares..” and tell me that doesn’t sound exactly like Jack White? Folks this is rock and roll at its best. Bonham is a master on drums. No one plays the drums like him, not now, not before and not ever.

9.     Babe I’m Gonna Leave You-How great is their debut album? Friggin’ phenomenal!! How the heck did I leave “Dazed and Confused” off of this top ten list? (There I said it for you…). Do you have those songs that reach down into your soul? No, I’m not talking about just tugging at your heart, I’m talking deeper… not yet… deeper… this is the reaction I get when I hear Robert Plant sing this song. This song has to move you. I don’t know why but I just picture walking along the beach (NJ or Cape Cod) on a hot summer day with headphones in my ears listening to this song, feeling the waves crashing down and at other points the water is tranquil. You can feel something there, maybe a lost loved one as you look at the “No Line on the Horizon.” Do you know what I’m talking about? Do you feel the vibe I’m trying to bring you? No… well put this song on, the fellas will take care of the rest. One of the most beautiful songs ever recorded and this was on their FIRST album.

8.     The Rain Song– Ok this really is a continuation in my mind from the song above to this one. This is one of the many masterpieces that the Mighty Led Zeppelin recorded that really distances themselves from the rest of the pack. Not only could rock with the best of them but they could also take it down like no other band. The song is so tranquil, so mesmerizing it’s hard to believe that this is a rock band. Now with this song I am in a log cabin on a cold November day looking at the window and seeing the droplets of rain falling down the glass, thinking of people like my Mother who is no longer with us. It’s a sad song yes but at the same time it’s so powerful and when the pace picks up I feel like Rocky running to the top of the steps. Folks, this is brilliance.

7.     Misty Mountain Hop-I remember as a teenager this song use to be played on WNEW-FM (and WPLJ before it went “pop”) all the time and I was really drawn to the way that Robert followed along with his vocals to the guitar playing of Mr. Page. I mean he shadows him so intensely that it’s as if they have the same voice. (Think of Ed McMahon as the shadow to Johnny Carson and I don’t mean that in a bad way, it’s like peanut butter and jelly-they just go together). And of course, Mr. Bonham is there to remind you that there is no one better. I love the part where Plant screeches “I was really out of my mind..” and then “to all get in line, get in line..”

6.     The Battle of Evermore-I wish I could have been part of this song in some shape or manner. Anything-writing, singing, playing the distinctive guitar part, being in the studio when they recorded it, anything I say. The harmonization brings tears to my eyes-that’s how good it is. This song is so relevant today as we are still stuck in this war and the song makes me think of all the men and women who are not with their families, I wish they were back home. This song strikes a chord in me, it mesmerizes me again. “Bring it back.. bring it back…Oh now Oh now Oh now…” This could be one of their greatest recordings ever.

5.     In My Time of Dying– Another masterpiece (think “Achilles Last Stand”). If you want to hear the greatest drumming ever in a song, then put this song on and hold on for the ride. It feels like your chest is getting hit by the sound that is created by John Bonham and this was recorded how many years ago? There is such furiousness that he employed that no drummer could ever match. Of course John Paul Jones and Page are there every step of the way but you can not help but notice the drumming on this track. It sounds like he was in a room all by himself with headphones on just making the song groove with his improvisation-so friggin’ incredible that I am pulling a Homer Simpson-(no this time I really am, there is saliva dripping out the side of my mouth). I am awestruck every time I hear this song.

4.     Nobody’s Fault But Mine– There is no other way to listen to this song but LOUD!!! This has to rank up there as one of the greatest rock/blues song ever recorded. This could be the best Page/Plant track where Plant sings along to the guitar. Jones is friggin’ awesome on bass while Bonham is well… just Bonham. Of course you all know by now that the part at the very end where Robert screeches “NNNNNN..NNNNN.No… nobody’s fault” is my favorite part. A few months back I played this song for my family and made them sit there for most of the track. I could see they weren’t as psyched as I was for the song, so I fast forwarded to the end and mimicked Plant with my eyes closed. They just stood there and shook their heads. I LOVE THIS FREAKIN’ SONG!!!!

3.     Night Flight-I have to personally thank my uncle Gary for turning me on to Physical Graffitti, this has brought me endless amount of joy since I was a teenager and I know it will continue to do so. This song reminds me of him and he may deny it today but he loved this song. I love when I see people get psyched up by songs that move them and this song used to move him. (again he may deny today but I saw it with my own two eyes). Now when I played this album, especially side 3, my mother would always tell me to open my door and let the music “free.” She also loved this track so you know this song means a lot. Now have I talked about the groove in this song? Whew-in the immortal words of the “Good Fellas”- “forget about it”- it’s a mixture of blues and pure rock and roll. I can picture Jimmy Page sitting on a tall stool while Robert is in the “isolation booth” (remember the “Honeymooners” episode- “The $64,000 Answer?” – In the isolation booth?) with the headphones squeezed tight over his long rocker hair, singing with all the grit and passion needed to make this one of their best songs. And you’re probably sick of me talking about Bonham but listen to his drumming on this track-I wish I could have been him for about a year at the height of their popularity.

2.     Black Country Woman– Now I know I have this “backwards” as on the album “Boogie With Stu” comes first and then Black Country Woman so I know it’s hard to do the reverse but let’s concentrate on this song first. Again Gary comes to mind because he used to say the part “Not Even” but if there is one song that my mother loved, this was the one. When she loved a tune, her eyes would squint and usually she would raise her right hand and “pound the air” while trying to match the fervor of the artist who is singing-in this case Robert Plant. The acoustic guitars are spectacular while the whole vibe of the song is total and utter- “coolness.” My mom would sit at the table, eyes squinted, her fingers snapping singing “Hey Hey Mama what’s the matter heeeerre??” She couldn’t wait for Bonham’s part with the foot pedal bass drum (which again felt like it was going through your chest) because she knew the tempo was about to increase. Her hand would rise higher and she would snap her head the way Elvis did and when Bonham comes in with the sticks-well I’m dancing all around in circles, not caring who is around. Love the big crashing cymbal part- BOOM-I can’t get enough of this track and I really feel like it is in my blood stream. Like water, I need this to survive.

1.     Boogie With Stu-Ok here it is and I know you’re like-“What song is this?”- Again don’t e-mail me to tell me that I like to point out the most obscure songs because I will have none of it. The Zep fans know this song-they may not agree with me-but they know this song. EVERY TIME I hear this song I feel like I’m on another stratosphere, not part of this earth. I am lifted up and taken to a place so far away for about 3.5 minutes. My mother and Gary loved this track as well. The melody is so fantastic, words can not describe the joy that it brings me. The drumming is so odd but yet so addicting, the piano work is flawless and when Jimmy breaks in with the acoustic guitar solo I want to scream to the top of my lungs that this is one of the best songs ever recorded, since man began making music. This is such a great fusion of all their talents it is actually breath taking. “Hey Babe, Hey Babe, Hey Babe, Hey Babe… I don’t want no tutti frutti.. no lollipop.. DISCO…” I have hit the rewind button three times already while I write. I have stopped so many times just to make believe I’m either playing the drums, guitar or piano as well as lip syncing. PURE GREATNESS!!!

(For the first time I will give you what songs I had before I dwindled them down to ten- I think it’s that important-Dazed and Confused;What is and What Should Never Be;“Hots on for Nowhere;” “Going to California;” “D’yer Mak’er;Rock And Roll;Kashmir;Achilles Last Stand;In The Light;The Rover and Ten Years Gone”).

Trivia Questions

Answers from last week:

1.     Jon Bon Jovi

2.     Your Mama Don’t Dance

3.     Nothing But a Good Time

4.     False- they averaged over 20,000 fans per show

This week’s trivia (Mighty Led Zep, Steve Miller)-

1.     What was Steve Miller’s last number one hit? (Hint- deals with magic)

2.     True or False: Boz Scaggs was a vocalist in a band with Steve Miller?

3.     Who inducted Led Zeppelin into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

4.     How did Led Zeppelin get its name?

Name That Tune

Answers from last week:

1.     “No Time”- The Guess Who

2.     “Time in a Bottle”-Jim Croce

3.      “Time is on My Side”-Rolling Stones

4.     “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is”- Chicago

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

1.     “Is it getting better.. or do you feel the same.. will it make it easier on you now.. you got someone to blame…”

2.     “darkness imprisoning me.. all that I see.. absolute horror.. I can not live.. I can not die.. trapped in myself… ”

3.     “No is the saddest experience you’ll ever know… Yes is the saddest experience you’ll ever know…”

4.     “I feel angry.. I feel helpless..Want to change the world..I feel violent.. I feel alone..Don’t try and change my world….”

Back on this Day

Sadly back on this day in 2005, Sammie Smith dies after a long illness. She had the popular hit song “Help Me Make It Through The Night.”

Sadly back on this day in 2000, Oliver passed away from cancer. Remember the song “Good Morning Starshine?” –that was him. His name was William Swofford, his middle name was Oliver.

Back on this day in 1968, Jimi Hendrix performed in his hometown of Seattle for his first live appearance and also received the key to the city and an honorary high school degree from the school he dropped out of at the age of 16.

Back on this day in 1968, John and Cynthia Phillips (Mamas and Papas)became parents to their only child together-Chynna.

Back on this day in 1970, John Lennon performed a pre-taped version of Instant Karma for the British show-“Top of the Pops” which made him the first to appear on the show since 1966.

Back on this day in 1981, Rush released “Moving Pictures” which went on to be their most commercially successful album in the U.S. It peaked at number three on the Billboard album chart and has sold over 4 million in the U.S. alone.

Believe it or not back on this day in 1989, Tiny Tim found out that he lost his bid in the election for mayor in New York City.

If it is your birthday today, you share the same birth date with Michael McDonald (Doobie Brothers), Ray Manzarek (Doors)and Joe Schermie (Three Dog Night).

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