Errols Weekly Music Update.

August 27, 2010

Weekly Update – 08/27/2010

Godsmack at the Hammerstein Ballroom on Tues. Rocktober 5. Pre-sale tickets begin this morning at 10:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. tonight and the password is: flute. General public tickets on sale tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. $67.50 (floor seating) $57.50 for general admission, 1st and 2nd level balcony seats. How great is the month of Rocktober and what better way to kick it off with Godsmack? Who is in??!!

Mary J. Blige at Radio City Music Hall on Tues. Rocktober 12. Tickets on sale this coming Mon. Aug. 30 at 10:00 a.m. $65.75 – $165.75. This is shaping up to be some Rocktober, huh?

Elton John & Leon Russell at the Beacon Theater on Tues. Rocktober 19. Tickets on sale this morning at 10:00 a.m.$79 – $189

John Legend & The Roots at Terminal 5 on Thurs. Sept. 23. Pre-sale tickets for American Express cardholders on sale now until 10:00 p.m. tonight. General public tickets on sale this Mon. Aug. 30 at noon. $30 ($35 day of show)

Govt. Mule at the Beacon Theater on Thurs. & Fri. Dec. 30 & 31. Tickets on sale this morning at 11:00 a.m. $49.50 – $69.50.

LCD Soundsystem at the Wellmont Theater on Thurs. Sept. 23. Tickets on sale today at noon. $35.

Pete Yorn at Bowery Ballroom on Tues. Rocktober 5. Tickets on sale today at noon. $25.

Disturbed at Oakdale Theater in Wallingford CT on Wed. Rocktober 27. Tickets on sale this morning at 10:00 a.m.$33.

Bad Religion at Irving Plaza on Wed. Rocktober 20, Tues. Rocktober 26 and Wed. Rocktober 27. Tickets on sale tomorrow at noon. $27.50. (SRO, no seats)

Lifehouse at Roseland Ballroom on Sun. Rocktober 17. Tickets on sale tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. $35.

Soulfly at the Gramercy Theater (formerly “The Blender”) on Wed. Dec. 8. Tickets on sale today at noon. $26. (SRO, no seats).

The Hendrix Experience will do its second annual tour at the Beacon Theater on Wed. Nov. 10. Ticket info to follow. Features guitarists such as Robert Randolph, Steve Vai playing with Living Colour, Susan Tedeschi, Kenny Wayne Sheppard and many more.

Joe Satriani at Nokia Theater on Mon. Dec. 13. Tickets on sale today at noon. $37.50, $57.50 and $75.

Other items:

Sly Stone and George Clinton are recording a new album together which is supposed to be ready by December of this year. “It’s a funky family affair and I’m happy to just be on it” George was quoted as saying. Apparently Sly has plenty of recordings/music that has never released and send Clinton a whole bunch of stuff. They are jamming with both members of the Family band as well as members of P-Funk. This should be interesting to hear and this has to pump you up, no?

PBS will premiere a two hour document on John Lennon this coming Nov. 22 which will focus on the last decade of John’s life. This will include the birth of Sean, his battles with immigration and the recording of Double Fantasy. Unbelievably this year marks the 30th anniversary since he was gunned down in front of his home. It is the Monday during the Thanksgiving week.

A rare interview given by Mr. Rock and Roll himself-the legendary Chuck Berry– appears in this week’s issue of Rolling Stone magazine (the cover is filled with naked people with blood-what is going on with Rolling Stone the last six months? Are they kidding me? It could be a Playboy/Playgirl issue).Anyways, the article is riveting and you gain a glimpse of what Mr. Berry is all about. This is a must buy (despite the offensive cover).

Elton John & Leon Russell have released a new single-“If It Wasn’t for Bad”- and I have to tell you this is a great song. You need to own this now. These guys have been long time friends and if this song is any indication of how the entire album is going to be-then it is a must buy. Check it out.

Brandon Flowers has released a single-“Swallow It”- and I have to say I really like it. Sounds like the Killers but with a twist of R.E.M. Check this one out too.

My favorite “classic rock” song of the week is “Stormtrooping” by the Wang Tango man Mr. Ted Nugent. This is off his first solo album and this song rocks. Despite his raucous nature, he is a very talented guitarist and has made some classic rock songs. Love this one.

U2 and Jay-Z are planning a tour together of Australia and New Zealand this coming November. They last teamed up in 2009 and did a version of “Sunday Bloody Sunday” together. U2 say they plan to do some interesting things with Mr. Z. Sounds cool.

Rush will be featured on VH1 Classic for 24 Hours straight as part of a celebration of the Jewish New Year. “Rush Hashanah” will take place and the following pieces will be shown: “Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage” “Rush in Rio” with in depth looks at their classic albums “2112” and “Moving Pictures.” All the fun starts on Wed. Sept. 8 at 7:00 p.m.

Sammy Hagar has opened his restaurant called-“Sammy’s Beach Bar & Grill”- at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport in the British Airways Terminal #7. So the next time you are at JFK, check it out.

Album Review: “The Reason Why” by the Little Big Town released on August 24, 2010

The Reason Why

It seems like some of the bands that I really get into do not get as much notoriety or affection by the “average” person walking down the street.(See “Tesla”) I could just picture myself as a reporter with a microphone in my hand and asking a bunch of people walking down 5th Avenue in Manhattan-“Excuse me-Have you ever heard of a band called Little Big Town?” My assumption is that less than 20% of the random applicants that I stopped would have recognized this unbelievably vocally talented foursome despite being the best-in my opinion- harmonizing vocalist band in the country. And oh yes, they play “Country” music. This brings me to another point, from my standpoint they play beautiful Country music, but for some reason I get the feeling that they are sort of labeled as “Alternative Country.”-Whatever that means? Putting aside all the “labels” or “expectations” that are sometimes just not right- Little Big Town has delivered the goods once again on their new album-“The Reason Why.”

Their fan base will love it along with their other albums. Now I have to admit that the genre of “Country” has not usually been my forte so I am going on my knowledge of listening to rock and roll bands and I will state that I was expecting this to be a notch above “A Place to Land” and if I am being honest with myself, I would have to say that it is not. However this does not mean that I do not totally enjoy this album-I do- but I guess I was sort of looking for their-“Superunknown” (by Soundgarden-that’s the standard that I always use because in my opinion that was their best album). Like I said I am not too familiar with Country artists having that ascension towards their own “Sgt. Pepper’s.” Is it a solid album? Yes. Do you get spectacular harmonies on the upbeat songs? Yes. (as well as the slow ones) Do you get chills down the back of your spine on their heartfelt songs? Yes. They have this formula down pact. Will it expand their fan base? Maybe. I’m not sure what they have to do to get them over that hump of being named in the same breath as let’s say-“Rascal Flatts”- (whom they should have beaten in the category of best vocal Country band last year or maybe even earlier this year) or some of the other top artists in the Country genre but maybe until they get to that point, the people “in the know” will still have to spread the word, like myself, that this is one of the best bands-in any genre- to have come out in the last ten years.

The album starts off with the title track and it is very unassuming as there is a guitar playing some notes for about 10 seconds but then Karen Fairchild’s (I’m assuming it is her) amazing vocals kick in with-“I could love you…baby…if you want me to…”- and it is off to the clouds as she will have you floating in air. Then by the time, they all join in to sing-you have to hit the “stop” button and ask yourself-“what group sings better?” Jimi Westbrook (again I’m assuming) comes in with his part of the verse as he waits for everyone to then join the chorus. I think Little Big Town is at their best when they share vocal leads in their songs-and I would have liked to see (or hear) this much more often on this album than what is presented. The cool part about this song is the added benefit of a righteous guitar solo to supplement the amazing voices. “Runaway Train” is a raucous (for them) country rock and roll song that will have you dancing in no time (or head-banging-yes Country head-banging-you knew I was going to get that in there somehow, right?). This is Jimi’s baby and again the guitar work is awesome-this band is excellent when they take it up like this and honestly I would love to hear more songs like these because you can feel the “party” atmosphere. I really could picture Kid Rock doing this song with them up on stage. This song rocks!

The pace comes severely down with the exquisite “Kiss Goodbye.” Now I was all pumped up from the first two songs and then I fell but the weird thing is this is the same effect I usually get when I hit “shuffle” on my I-Pod-I can go from Metallica to Dean Martin in a second. Now the thing that gets me over the fact that I have “come down” is the beauty of this song. This is a perfect sing along song-especially the chorus when the three others help on vocals. This is a gut retching song as far as the lyrics, so if you have recently broke up with someone, you may want to skip over this one. “Shut Up Train” keeps the beauty moving along. (By the way- the words “train” and “station” are used often in this album-sort of reminds me of AC/DC using the word “rock” on their last album). This is another “heartache” song but the thing is no one sings these songs like Little Big Town; they seem to melt your heart a little faster with their vocals. I can picture looking out the window inside of a log cabin on a rainy night while that train that woke her up trudges by, a picturesque vision in many different ways. This one will touch your soul. “Why, Oh Why” has the feel of that old “bluegrass country” style music that will get your “twang” up. They modernize it with some really crisp guitar riffs and at points you will almost think this is a rock song as the pace and arrangement takes a turn down that avenue but the vocals keep it on the country road. Nice guitar work!! “Little White Church” was the first single released off the album and it has some kick in it as you will be snapping your fingers, clapping your hands and slamming your head up and down as you head out on to the dance floor. (just picture your aunts and uncles getting off their seats at a wedding as “You Should Be Dancing” comes over the DJ’s airwaves). “Mama warned me about your game…She don’t like you anyway”-a rough and tough comeback for the guy who is not being respectful to her beloved daughter. Guys watch out- you don’t want to mess with Karen or Kimberly Schlapman-they have some edge in them, even with a song that mentions the word-“church”- in it.

Track # 7 (or side “two” in my mind) slows down with a hearty country like tune called-“You Can’t Have Everything”- with Kimberly (I think) on lead vocals. This is a perfect song to sit around a campfire (or you back porch) and just lean back and listen to the splendor of the tune. As with many a Country song, this is a sad story of a love lost and hence you can’t have everything. “All The Way Down” will remind you of something that Fleetwood Mac might do (maybe that is why they are put in the category of “Alt Country”) and it is a nice song to dance to (but it’s not that slow) with that someone special in your life. “Rock me like a lullaby, roll me like a wheel…”-this is mainly the girls song but the boys chip in with some background vocals. “All Over Again” is a song that I can definitely see landing on the radio real soon. It has that certain feel to it that the general masses seem to go for, so who knows this may be the song that pulls in more fans. It has the feel of a pop song in the vain of Daughtry but with a Country twist. And it’s perfect for that certain couple who are thinking about getting back together again. “Rain on the Roof” takes the pace down again. Songs like these are great to sing along to but it might be a little overkill with the slower tempo songs- I like the more upbeat songs but again not a bad song. Track # 11- “Life Rolls On”- is my favorite track on the album. You see this is the type of song that LBT should do more of; it has the nice dance beat that has to put a smile on your face. I clap my hands as I dance to the circle of people on the dance floor singing “la,la,la, la, la life rolls on…” Makes you want to kick back and enjoy watching everyone having fun to this track-the electric guitar solo is “on” and makes “it easy to move your feet.” Now the last track-“Lean into It” is the perfect way to end the album even though it is a slow song again because sometimes there is that extra something that is contained in certain songs, and this tune has “it.” This could arguably be the best song on the album and could be one of the best songs that they have ever recorded but may be lost in the shuffle as some may skip over it because they feel like they have heard it before. And I think that is what they have to “change up” when they record their next album- sometimes you can’t “go to the well too many times.”

“The Reason Why” is an excellent album and is deserving of your attention. I love this band and enjoy almost every song that they have ever recorded but I believe for the next work they will be at a “crossroad” where they will have to decide what ingredients to add to their soup to spice things up a bit. My analogy would be like Green Day- before they did “American Idiot”- they had some really good songs on many different albums and then they did something that most didn’t think they could do-they wrote and performed songs that were longer than three minutes (you know what I mean). There was a “concept” and the result was a masterpiece. And I’m not saying LBT needs to do a “concept” album but in my opinion to draw more people in-they have to separate themselves from the rest of the pack to hit that next level. They already have the talent to do it. But again this new album is worth the price of admission-especially the $7.99 price tag. Definite “buy.”


Double Fantasy

Ok this week’s “Nuggets” comes from a duet album but in reality (with no offense to Yoko) I really only listen to the songs by the legendary John Lennon off of his “comeback” album-“Double Fantasy.”Talk about a weird dynamic of songs from Yoko to John’s tunes. Again with no offense to Yoko but her songs are just not my cup of tea, but I respect her. What else can be said about John Lennon-that five year period where he took off time to be with Yoko and Sean was just what he needed because his “new” stuff was a breath of fresh air filled with so much promise which always begs the question-“What if?” Right? I can’t even imagine what our lives would have been like if he was alive to do what he did best-make music. It was just in him, he could never really “walk away” from it all. Even if he made tapes just for himself-music was his passion (as well as Yoko and Sean). Here are the gems from that album from him in no particular order:

I’m Losing You – How great is this song? “Here in some stranger’s room…late in the afternoon..what am I doing here at all?”Do you feel that vibe? It grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let you go. The groove is so infectious as you rock out and John’s vocals are crystal clear. Songs like this blow me away and again I just keep going there-what if? This arguably could be the best song on “Double”-what do you think? The guitar work is so righteous. Phenomenal-“I know I hurt you then..but hell that was way back when..” Doesn’t get better than this folks.

Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy) – I summarized this song for all of you seven weeks ago when my younger brother and his wife had their first child- a beautiful boy. This is the ultimate “baby” song ever created. John’s lyrics capture the essence of being a father (and mother too) to a young child. Everyone who has ever had a child has to drift off into another zone as you listen to this masterpiece. This is John at his very best. ‘Nuff said.

Woman – I wanted this to be my wedding song. I wanted to sing this to my beautiful bride-this really was the first song that popped into my head when we were planning our wedding. But she felt it was just directed to the bride and respectfully declined. It is hard to put into words how one man can write lyrics like this that are universal to almost every man who has married (or lives with or just plain loves her). This is earth shattering stuff that brings tears to the eyes. Talk about love and passion? Absolutely, positively stunning music from this unbelievable talent. Thank you John for this song, it is truly a gift.

Watching the Wheels – The first person I think of is my best man-Johnny Boy- as he loves this song so much I can picture him singing along to this song with the same passion as Mr. Lennon evokes in so many people around the globe. This was John’s response to all those people who thought that he wasn’t happy being a husband and father-is there any better occupation? There was no anger in his voice just the plain truth-“I’m just sitting here doing time…” The arrangement of the song is spectacular and the next time you listen to this track, follow the bass lines-unreal. This is an epic.

(Just Like) Starting Over – Every time you hear that “triangular bell” ring, don’t you freeze? I know I do. This was the first single to be released from the album and weren’t you blown away? I know I was. This was such a quality song. I think he was so comfortable in his life and the prior five years before his untimely death were probably the best years of his life and it shows in these songs. You ever see those “mood rings” where if it turns deep purple one is “very happy” well the color of that ring immediately turned like a ripe plum because this is a joyous return to being the best. This song let everyone know-he was back.


Styx - Greatest Hits

I have been on a “Styx” kick the last couple of weeks and they brought back memories of a good friend, Cathy, as well as my mother so I figured it was time to list my favorite top ten songs by this once powerful outfit which is still going strong today, albeit without a certain core member which for whatever reason could not seem to work out his differences with the rest of the band. And just like Kiss, they decided to move forward after giving it numerous attempts to try and make it like it was in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s but sometimes you just can’t go back to the way things “used to be.” Now folks don’t kid yourself, this band was without a doubt one of the biggest bands during that time period and yes even though they moved away from the “progressive” genre to the pop side, there is no denying that shift resulted in some of the best “rock” songs along with a plethora of fans that would completely sell out the likes of Madison Square Garden for a few nights in a row. So to the true faithful Styx fan, please forgive me because I jumped on the bandwagon real late- their seventh album to be exact-“Grand Illusion” and coincidentally almost the same time that Tommy Shaw joined the fray and in my opinion helped ignite them to the top of the “rock arena” tours back in those days. Actually my first album by Styx was “Pieces of Eight” which was given to me by Cathy as she knew I was heavily getting into the rock music scene back in 1977. I was already into Kiss and Foreigner but as always- I was looking for more. Styx was right up my alley-blistering guitar riffs, awesome drumming, memorable choruses from some of the best songs released during the 1970’s and 1980’s as well containing the best harmonizing vocals which in my opinion has to rank them up there at the top of the best singing rock bands of all time.

Before the new decade of 1980 became a reality, Styx released my favorite album of theirs-“Cornerstone” in 1979 and by that time I couldn’t wait for their material to come out. I knew when it would be released and yes I purchased it the first day it came out. Yes Ok I acknowledge that “Babe” is the most popular song from that album and call it “pop,” “power ballad,” “sappy” or whatever you want to classify it as but I don’t care. You know what? I actually was happy this song came out because it landed in the top ten pretty quickly (I know then I should have dropped it like a hot potato because I was only 14 and that’s what I did at that age but something inside of myself allowed me to hang on to this band). And then when I heard this song on my father’s station-WCBS FM (the “oldies” station)- I couldn’t believe it. I should have smashed the album to pieces, right? But what happened was that I was actually proud that a song from a band that I listened to actually pierced the airwaves that my dad listened to. Believe me, this was big. Of course my dad would always say that because of this song it was the beginning of the end of WCBS because they didn’t stick to the true format of playing anything beyond 1963. And then when I used to listen to “Cornerstone” my mother would tell me to open my bedroom door so that she could listen to the album as well. My mom always had more of an open mind when it came to new music. Granted she didn’t like the heavier stuff that I morphed into but she was always a fan of good rock and roll, rock and music that moved her. Yes she liked “Babe” but she also enjoyed “Lights,” “Never Say Never” and she especially loved “Boat On a River.” (which is one of my favorites and since my mom is not with us anymore, this song takes on a whole new meaning, right?) As Styx grew in popularity, the next piece of work is always going to be tougher to top right? (ask…Guns & Roses…Meatloaf…Boston…shall I go on?). So enter-“Paradise Theater” and even though I bought it and enjoyed it for the most part, there was just too much “theatrics” added to it as well as their live shows and instead of “rocking” out, they became a “production.” Turns out it was Dennis DeYoung who wanted the “theatrical” feel to the band while the others wanted to rock out more. Believe me, if Dennis would have made more songs like “Come Sail Away” I’m pretty sure the rest of the boys would have not had a bit of a problem playing those type of songs but my gut tells me they did not want a “concept” album released every time. They also wanted songs like “Renegade” and “Blue Collar Man.” The part that confuses me the most is why one member (it seems like) always appears to want to control of a body of at least three or more members of the band with his or her type of music and the direction of the band. With no offense to Mr. DeYoung because I admire many of his contributions to the band, but I recently saw him on an interview show and I’m sorry but he was so full of himself and seemed to have that arrogance that it was all him who made Styx what they were back in the day. And forget it when they made “Mr. Roboto” then I dropped them like a hot potato-but still love their “popular” years. (and let me make clear that this is my assumption of what happened, I could be wrong). Then I’d say about five years ago, I came back to Styx and purchased “The Big Bang Theory”-(a record of covers of the band’s favorite songs-yes without Dennis DeYoung). I am headed to see them at the Beacon Theater in Rocktober and it will be the first time in more than 25 years that I have the chance to relive the “glory” years and relive my childhood-how could I not go to this show? And to boot they are playing “Grand Illusion” and “Pieces of Eight” in their entirety, I am so stoked. So here I am on an island and told that I can only have ten songs by the band Styx-“These are Them:” (If I could pick eleven-then # 11 would be-“Shooz”- a heavy head banging tune by Tommy and James).

10.     Rockin’ The Paradise– No matter how many times I told myself that I couldn’t have this song in my top ten, it just kept coming back and if I am honest with myself and I’m on an island, this song has to make my list because I have always loved it, although I would hardly admit it in public. This was the beginning of the end, right? But you know what? This song rocks!! Yes I could do without the theatrics but Tommy has a blistering guitar solo which knocks your socks off. It’s a fast pace song which incorporates some really cool piano parts. This song has to be good for your next Spin class, no?

9.     Lady– This is another song that no matter how many times I thought this would not land in my top ten, it kept beating out the other songs I had laid out in the competition. The only version to listen to is the original-which appears on Styx II- and not the re-recorded version (something to do with the record company, of course right?). This has to rank up there as one of the best songs that Dennis has written. It is a complete sing along tune from top to bottom. When is the last time you have heard this tune? Check it out, sounds as fresh as it did over 30 years ago.

8.     Crystal Ball – Ok this was really Tommy’s introduction to the band as the title track to this album was his first work with the band and he immediately made them a major force in the rock world. No offense to the prior members but once Tommy stepped in, he elevated this band to another level. This was his first song that he wrote by himself. Again the “signature” move by Styx was to be so soft and lull you into a sense of security but then batter down the doors with a huge guitar and keyboard crunch that really is unmatched in this genre. Add the fantastic background vocals and here you have that classic Styx sound. This is an unknown epic but make no mistake-it’s an epic tune!!

7.     Renegade– Don’t care how many times I have heard this; don’t care about any complaints about this song-call it what you will but for me this song pumps me up every time I hear it. Obviously when I was 13, this was the greatest song ever. The guitar solo by JY is blazing and then Tommy joins the fray and he is no slouch on the guitar (he is not just a great vocalist). The drumming by Mr. Panozzo (who unfortunately passed away many years ago) is something to behold. And yes this may get over played (just like “Carry On Wayward Son” by Kansas) but you have to ask yourself why songs like these get played over and over? Because they ROCK!!!! \m/ \m/

6.     Come Sail Away – Did you ever have a song that would evoke such happiness in your whole body that you could not contain yourself and you had to reach for the volume knob to turn it up to its highest point? And for some reason I never really heard this too much on rock radio (as much as maybe you have-who knows maybe I was “channeling surfing” while this was on another station) so when I did, I considered it a real treat. This song was “November Rain” before “November Rain.” It was an epic tale complete with that “Queen like” piano playing in the beginning that conjures up another great song in my mind that I also did not often hear on the radio-“Bohemian Rhapsody”- along with Dennis’ spectacular vocals. This could be the best song he has ever recorded (with no offense to his wife and his dedication to her with “Babe”). Every time this song came on the radio, I felt like I was part of the Styx “in-crowd”- I felt like I was part of something special because this song-in my mind-was their “Stairway to Heaven” and I wanted everyone to listen to its greatness. Sometimes when I am on the subway and a song like this comes on, I was I had the ability to blink and put an I-Pod into the ears of everyone so that they had to listen and become as pumped and psyched as I am to hear such a spectacular song. “Cause I’ve got to be free…free to face the life that’s ahead of me…”- brings chills to the back of my spine… or how about-“reflections in the waves spark my memory…some happy, some sad…I think of childhood friends and the dreams we had…live happily ever after, so the story goes…but some how we missed out on the pot of gold… but we’ll try, the best that we can… to carry on…”-is that nostalgic or what? Come Sail Away is a classic, ‘nuff said!!

5.     Lights – There was always something about this song that puts a smile on my face. I knew from the instant when I put “Cornerstone” on my record player that it was going to be a fantastic album just because of this song. As previously mentioned this song takes me back to my mother as she liked to listen to this album as well and always implored me to open my bedroom door so she could join in the fun. I love how the keyboards mesh with the acoustic and electric guitars- a fusion of splendor. “I heard the knock on my door…I heard the ring of the bell…I got the letter but I couldn’t go…” This instantaneously puts me back to Pershing Jr. high school in Sunset Brooklyn as I spent most of my childhood in that school yard playing every kind of ball-softball, football, basketball, stick-ball (“off the wall” in the “well” as well as the chalk filled square box which indicated a strike if your “spaldeen” had green coloring, assuming you wiped off the ball from the last pitch) and of course hand-ball. For those of you who live in the suburbs-hand ball is played on concrete with a concrete wall, sort of like tennis as it had boundaries. I’d play handball then lots of backgammon during those summer nights and this song takes me back to those moments when as a kid you didn’t know what lie ahead as a working adult. Sometimes I wish I could turn back the clock. I miss all those who played ball with me as well-Joe, Cheesy, Little Joe, Flip, Eugene, Jay. I’d always fly home as I was constantly late for mom’s dinner-which was served every night at 5:00 p.m. sharp-not 4:59 or 5:01… 5 o’clock… “Carry me away… carry me away…”

4.     Queen of Spades – One of the best things about Styx is that one never knew when they would break out with the loud guitars because some of their songs were so low key, almost “church like” that sometimes if you didn’t give it at least 30 seconds or so, one might have been tempted to skip the song. Case in point right here-the beginning of the song is so calm and sweet sounding that you may automatically think it is going to be a ballad. But then right about 1:50 into the song, Mr. James Young blazes in with his forceful sounding guitar riffs and just like that you are on the top of the first hill of the “cyclone” rollercoaster waiting for that first dramatic drop as the ride called “Styx” was about to begin with all the twists and turns of a coaster. “Luck is a lady whose smile is as cold as a stone…she’ll bring you things, many things you might never have known…”- how good is that? And the harmonizing background vocals are fantastic and when James breaks out into his solo, well “Pieces of Eight” is worth the price of admission just on this song alone!!! “Turn of the card… she’s theeeeerrrreeeee…”- Have to give Mr. DeYoung his props-he had some chords that could shatter glass (meant in a good way). I love the part where he says-“ Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha….You loooossseee!!!” I can picture myself lying on my back as a teenager in my bedroom with a pillow under my head listening between the two speakers as loud as I could take it (especially when no one was home)…ahh the memories… can’t wait to see them perform it live in Rocktober.

3.     Boat on a River – Now I know most of you out there are probably scratching your head on this call but Tommy Shaw’s vocals are paralyzing (in a good way-I don’t like to use that word but you know what I mean, right?). This is stripped down song that has a “simple” arrangement but it is powerful. I have to close my eyes every time as I try to match the pure greatness of Shaw’s vocals and I can see my mom sitting at the kitchen table swinging her head in appeasement for this beautiful track. “Oh the river is deep… the river it touches my life like the waves on the sand…” Don’t you just love the “accordion effect” that depicts images of “old time” music? If you listen carefully you can hear Dennis break in towards the end of the song and add the perfect blend of background vocals. Totally awesome song.

2.     Blue Collar Man – Another song that had me on the opening note. How freaking phenomenal is this song? And I don’t want to hear that this is corporate rock or juvenile rock because I’ll be a “corporate juvee” all day long. What’s wrong with still loving songs the way you did when you were 13? This song pumps me up like none other. I can never get enough of it as I have already played it back three times as I enjoy the blistering pace. Who says keyboards don’t belong in rock bands? They have not heard this song. “Give me a job…give me security…I’m just a poor soul on the unemployment line…” You know there are so many people out there who can so relate to those words-hey I was right there with them for a while and pray that things turn around for everyone out there!!! How about the phenomenal guitar solo(s) by James and Tommy-an absolute knockout!! “You don’t understand…I’ll take those long nights, impossible odds…keeping my eye on the keyhole…” Talk about an “air-guitar” song?

1.     Sing for the Day – Ok go ahead…bang your head against your computer… I’ll wait…there it is, the loud “thump”…try and pick yourself back up and hear me out. Now you’ve already seen what I wrote about Shaw’s vocals in “Boat in a River” right? So this is the main reason for why this is my all time favorite Styx song. This is-in my opinion- is his best vocal effort in anything he has ever recorded. The arrangement is spectacular and every time I hear this song I feel like I am listening to it for the first time. Call it sappy and call it a “minor” hit (I keep seeing that term-“minor”- well you know what I wish I could have written this absolute beauty). “Hannah you’re with me in spirit wherever I go…to the ends of the earth and all points between high and low…” I am “heaven” right now as it doesn’t get much better than this folks. This song, all by itself,  is what made me buy a ticket for their show in Rocktober at the Beacon. Now that I know that they are going to play this “classic” I can’t wait. (But at the same time I love the anticipation-like the days leading up to Christmas). “Hannah don’t fail me I need you like never before…Father Time is on my back…” I am so there!!!

Trivia Questions

Answers from last week:

1.     John Waite

2.     Barry Manilow

3.     Lionel Richie

4.     Ted Nugent

This week’s trivia (Random)-

1.     I made a bet with one of the most famous music artists’ of all time, that the song that we wrote together would shoot to number one and the result would be for him to join me on stage at Madison Square Garden to sing that song. I also have performed the most times at Madison Square Garden. Who am I?

2.     I recorded a duet in 1977 with a legendary singerwhose career spanned from the 1920’s through the 1970’s and most people couldn’t believe this odd pairing singing a holiday song together. Who am I?

3.     I first became popular in the 1980’s and always have “pushed the limits.” I have redefined myself in each decade since and I am the gold standard in pop/dance music. I married a famous actor but that didn’t work out so well. Who am I?

4.     I am one of the best-if not the best- R&B singers in the world today. I had a tough time of it earlier in my career before making it real big in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. I grew up in the Bronx and the writer of this blog thinks I am the coolest artist out today. Who am I?

Name That Tune

Answers from last week:

1.     Every Breath You Take – The Police

2.     Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey-The Beatles (way to go Chris-the longest titled Beatle song!)

3.     Everybody Hurts- R.E.M.

4.     Everybody Wants You – Billy Squier

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

1.     “…He was born a pauper to a pawn on a Christmas day…when the NY Times said God is dead…”

2.     “…take a look at the wrong man…beating up the wrong guy…oh well wonder if he’ll ever know…he’s in the best selling show…”

3.     “…just one day out of life…it would be… it would be so nice…”

4.     “…you know I love music…and every time I hear something hot…it makes me wanna move…”

Back on this Day .

Sadly back on this day in 1967, Brian Epstein, manager for the Beatles, died after an accidental overdose, he was only 32 at the time of his death. The Beatles were with Maharishi at the time.

Sadly back in this day in 1990, the world lost one of the best guitarist players ever-Stevie Ray Vaughn, was killed in a plane crash. I will never forget that day, I was coming home from a camping trip in North Lake with two of my best friends-Johnny and Slats when we heard it on the radio. It was so shocking and sad….still is. Rest in peace SRV.

Back on this day in 1965, The Beatles met with Elvis at the home of the King in CA. Paul offered Elvis some lessons to play the bass guitar. After leaving, John stated that if not for him, there would be no Beatles.

Back on this day in 1991, Pearl Jam released their debut album-“Ten”-which spawned “Jeremy,” “Evenflow” and “Alive” as staples of rock and roll forever.

Back on this day in 1992, the hand written lyrics to “A Day in the Life” by John Lennon was sold for $87,000 at Sotheby’s auction.

If it is your birthday today you share the same birth date with Alex Lifeson (Rush), Tim Bogert (Vanilla Fudge) and Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols) Daryl Dragon (The “Captain” in Capt. & Tennille)


1 Comment »

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    Comment by Holiday in Thailand — September 1, 2012 @ 8:51 pm

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