Errols Weekly Music Update.

October 29, 2010

Concert Review: Styx at The Beacon Theater on Oct. 28, 2010

Concert Review: Styx at the Beacon Theater on Thurs. Rocktober 28, 2010

When is the last time that you went “back in time?” Traveling back to a place-where you didn’t know it at the time- that defined a part of your existence. Back to a period when things were simpler, when life seemed to be less chaotic than it is today. Sometimes in life you never know how much you miss something until you come face to face with the person, place or thing and the same magic you had experienced in your younger years is right there in front of you for the taking. Folks, I am here to tell you that I did not let this magic moment pass me by as I went with my heart and took a journey down memory lane-which happened to be at the Beacon Theater-to see one of my favorite bands-Styx. There were instances last night where I felt like I was back in my room of my parent’s house as a teenager getting up to “flip over” the album side so as to sail away to a place that only music can take you. And yes there was some “new” faces on the stage but the sweet sounds that you had grown accustomed to did not change much, especially from Mr. Tommy Shaw-who seems to be my generation’s Dick Clark-as he looks as youthful as ever and more importantly still sings like it is 1977- and James Young (always the heart, soul and glue of Styx) who also plays guitar while singing like it is 1977 as well. The keyboards and rhythm section has changed with some new members but the original bass player –Chuck Pannozo- still accompanies when they tour and saves his special appearances for some of their most popular songs.I don’t want to focus on Dennis DeYoung but have to admit I was curious to see how Lawrence Gowan would pull off the songs made famous by Dennis and you know what? He made it his own and at times the songs sounded exactly the same but for the most part, he did a phenomenal job of singing his way and was electrifying behind the keyboards. I also have to state that the pulsating bass playing by Ricky Phillips kept the train moving along and the drumming performed by Todd Sucherman was astounding throughout the entire show and I agree with Tommy’s assessment when he stated that his playing felt like a freight train moving up behind them the whole night. Sometimes you can go back in time and relive the glory years-to a time where movies were out for more than a week or when you made sure you didn’t get your fingertips on your favorite vinyl album as you carefully put the needle on the record-and for that one moment, that one moment- you don’t have to say that “youth is wasted on the young” because now as an older and wiser being, you just experienced, treasured and will no longer take for granted that magic moment which had been tucked away in your heart for some time, yes folks I was there last night and I can tell you that you can go back in time.

The day started with me listening again to “Grand Illusion” and “Pieces of Eight” on the car ride down from CT to NYC, gearing up for the same albums to be performed in their entirety by Styx. The whole day at work I was stoked and couldn’t wait to head up to the Beacon Theater. Of course I had my pre-concert ritual for the Beacon shows as I went to the best pizza parlor in all of NYC-Freddy & Peppers. I knew there was no opener and the show was slated for 7:30 p.m. sharp. I made my way to my seat at 7:15 p.m. (yes I was by myself) and sat anxiously waiting for my time warp. (Turns out that the two people next to me also made the trek themselves, so we all bonded with our mutual admiration for Styx). As I looked up at the stage, it is nice and clean-very simple setting with 7-8 foot tall rectangular speakers to my left and there was the same height of speakers on the right but they were squared shaped with two rows of sound. The drums were elevated a bit and there were a staircase on both sides of the drums with about ten steps each. The lights go down at 7:50 p.m. and there is a huge screen behind the stage and instantly as the message comes on the screen you can tell it is from the movie “Star Wars.” How cool is this? Then this young dude is rifling through some of his albums and pulls out “Grand Illusion” on puts on side one. As he puts the needle on the spinning record, Styx is already on stage and the lights hit them as they start the opening notes to the title track. Even though we are supposed to be back in time, today’s technology assisted them a bit in making it somewhat contemporary. The first thing I notice is the assortment of various colors and how clear everything is, almost like watching them on high definition TV. As Lawrence belts out-“Welcome to the Grand Illusion”- the crowd is off its feet and helping him sing the lyrics. There he is-“JY”- roaming the stage with his larger than life presence, decked out in all black outfit with a skinny brown tie (hey it’s supposed to be 1977, right?). To my right is Tommy with his shoulder length rock and roll hairdo looking very happy to be where he was destined to be-on stage playing guitar in front of an appreciative audience. Ricky stayed close to the powerful pounding drum set for most of the night. JY and Tommy both show their incredible skills on guitar as they take the solos with such ease, the band is super tight but look so much at ease. Chuck comes out for “Fooling yourself” as Lawrence plays the keyboards exactly as it was originally recorded. Chuck looks comfortable as he coolly plays along as Tommy grabbed his acoustic guitar. Here it is, my first chance in over 20 years to see if Tommy still sounds the same. As the opening lines are sung-“You see the world through your cynical eyes”- I am completely blown away-it’s as if the album is still covered in plastic and never opened. Right then and there, I knew it was again going to be a magical night. I don’t know how you feel but in my opinion, Styx has created some of the best “sing along” songs in rock history and this has to rank up there as one of the best. You could feel the crowd just completely letting go of all their daily troubles as they belted out-“Get Up… Come On” and for emphasis, those words were plastered on the screen. When the song slows down and you just hear the bass, Chuck and Ricky made your chest pulverize but you didn’t mind-this is rock and roll baby!!! JY introduces the next song and tells the audience that this is one song that they never performed live before this current tour. Tommy’s vocals takes you to another place as I felt like I was being lifted off the ground.

One of the many highlights, was when the piano started playing the opening notes to “Come Sail Away”-the place erupted and I could see some fans wrapping their arms around each other as we all awaited Lawrence to break in and sing “I’m sailing away.” Talk about a moment? Lawrence completely nailed the vocals and his passion was evident around the entire room as everyone fed off it and I could see people going back in time as the poignant lyrics seem to hit everyone right in the heart. Then when the loud guitars burst in while Todd was wailing on the drums, I was really sailing away and wanted to jump up on stage to air-guitar or something. Did I say what a moment this was? “I thought that they were angels, but much to my surprise…” From now on, every time I hear this song I will be back in the Beacon Theater reliving this dream come true. As the song ends, a picture of the dude getting up to turn over to the other side as Tommy asks the audience what to do. “Flip it Over!!!” James does a stellar job with “Miss America” as his guitar work is flawless. Then in my opinion, one of the best songs performed all night, Tommy took the helm for his “Man in the Wilderness.” He spoke about becoming a rock star and how unbelievably his life changed forever once JY asked him to join the band and also mentioned opening up for Kansas and telling the audience how great they were when you see them perform the songs live. Tommy was perfect and when it came to his guitar solo, I was blown away on how skillful he is on guitar-the man does not only sing. I was air-guitaring and by this time I was completely in a zone where I thought I was by myself watching these guys. “Sometimes I feel like a man in the wilderness…sometimes it makes no sense at all.” The last two songs of side two were played to perfection.

After a twenty minute break, the same dude puts on a different album-this time “Pieces of Eight”- and as the needle lands on the album, Todd again is playing out of his mind and behind him is the screen depicting a boxer headed into a ring. This is James baby and he is rocking with such fierceness that you can’t help yourself; you just start “shadow boxing” as the pace is fast and furious. James and Lawrence trade solos and right off the bat, I know they are going to blow the cover off of this album as well. After a fun version of “I’m OK” the song that I have been waiting to hear my entire life was finally here-“Sing for the Day”- and Tommy again was immaculate. Again I was in my own world and did not sit down as I thought I heard cat calls for “down in front.” At that moment I was back on my bedroom floor lying on my back with the speakers at my ears as loud as I could take it-maybe that “down in front” was my parents telling me to turn it down-not tonight baby, we are on a trip!!! As side two is turned over, I couldn’t wait to hear some of my all-time favorite songs ever. As the organ plays the opening notes for “Blue Collar Man” everyone leaped out of their seats and it was pure bliss- everyone singing word for word- “I’m not a charity case… I’ll take those long nights..” Can it get any better? As I look around at the lower orchestra section, I know I will bottle this up with me for the rest of my life- as Tommy explodes with his guitar solo, I am at a loss for words. The other highlight for me was-“Queen of Spades.” Now for those who don’t know this song-you need to become acquainted real soon. Lawrence did a masterful job and I felt like it was the original recording. The beginning starts off almost “church like” and I saw some people start to sit down but I knew better- I knew the blazing guitars and exploding drums were right around the corner and they would be right back out of their seats. Lawrence left his spot behind the keyboards and stood towards the front stage in between Tommy and JY and was wailing with such fervor, I think this was the best song of the night!!! But wait, there is still “Renegade” coming up, this can’t be the best, right? It is dark and everyone knows what is coming but yet like opening a gift on Christmas morning, you still can’t wait. The place erupts again as you hear Tommy singing a cappella “Oh mama I’m in fear for my life from the long arm of the law.” Now it’s a party (not that it wasn’t before) but as I looked around I felt like we were part of the biggest celebration, like on New Year’s Eve where everyone is just filled with joy and happiness. I think there might have been a record set for the most people playing “air-guitar” on Tommy’s solo. Folks I can’t tell you how great this was, you had to be there. The entire audience was singing as loud as they could and no one wanted the song to end.

As side two came to an end, we knew it could not be the end of the show-they had to come out and do some encores, right? Of course they did and the first was a cover of the Beatles classic-“I am the Walrus”- which appears on their “Big Bang Theory” album. Lawrence was phenomenal as were the rest of the band as their talents meshed together is something to behold. I have heard very few bands try to cover the Beatles but I’m telling you this cover is spectacular. The crowd wanted more and they delivered one last song-“Too Much Time on My Hands”- and they performed it perfectly. The audience were out of their mind by this time and again Tommy didn’t even have to sing, we could have taken over. The best part of the song though was the audience participation as we all clapped “twice” during the chorus and you could see the smile come across Tommy’s face as he nodded in appreciation. As the confetti was falling over the orchestra seats, I looked up to the falling colors and knew this was going to be a night I will never forget. Like I said, you can go back home. Thank you Gentlemen, as I will now forever have this and will be able to go back in time any time I want. \m/ \m/

Set List

Grand Illusion

Side One

1.       The Grand Illusion

2.       Fooling Yourself

3.       Superstars

4.       Come Sail Away

Side Two

5.       Miss America

6.       Man in the Wilderness

7.       Castle Walls

8.       Grand Finale

Pieces of Eight

Side One

9.       Great White Hope

10.     I’m Ok

11.     Sing for the Day

12.     The Message

13.     Lord of the Rings

Side Two

14.     Blue Collar Man

15.     Queen of Spades

16.     Renegade

17.     Pieces of Eight

18.     Aku Aku

Encore

19.     I Am The Walrus

20.     Too Much Time on My Hands

Weekly Update – Rocktober 29, 2010

Prince (“Welcome 2 America” Tour) at the Izod Center on Tues., Wed. & Fri. Dec. 14, 15 & 17. Also appearing at Madison Square Garden on Sat. Dec. 18 and Wed. Dec. 29. Pre-sale tickets for the Izod Center begins this morning at 10:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. and the passcode is: Purple. For the Garden there is a BET/Apollo Presale that also begins at 10:00 a.m.Password for the Dec. 29 show: Lights. General public tickets on sale tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m.. Izod: $26.65 – $173.55; MSG: $31.40 – $200.70.

Bon Jovi will be at Madison Square Garden on Thurs. & Fri. Feb. 24 & 25, 2011. Ticket info to come or go to their website for further information www.bonjovi.com It looks like pre-sale tickets for fan club members start this Mon. Nov. 1, so tickets should be coming soon.

John Mellencamp has added a second night at Radio City Music Hall and it is Sat. Feb. 19, 2011. Tickets on sale this morning at 10:00 a.m. $61.25 – $148.25.

The Goo Goo Dolls at Roseland Ballroom on Wed. Dec. 1. Tickets on sale today at noon. $50.

Jeff Tweedy at the Bowery Ballroom on Sat. Dec. 4. Tickets on sale today at noon. $45.

Fab Faux at Terminal 5 on Sat. Dec. 11 performing “The White Album” in its entirety. Tickets on sale today at noon. $35 ($40 day of show).

The Roots at Brooklyn Bowl on New Year’s Eve. Tickets on sale today at noon. $85.

The 70’s Soul Jam Valentine’s Day Concert at the Beacon Theater on Sat. Feb. 12. Tickets on sale this morning at 10:00 a.m.$57.50 – $92.50

Other items:

My apologies to the folks who read this page religiously, believe me it killed part of me that I couldn’t write the updates in my very favorite month-Rocktober-but the more important stuff like my profession has taken over my existence and has limited my ability to do what I love-music. No, I have not stopped listening to it but I was having a hard time finding time to write about it. And yes I did go to a show this month- Godsmack – on Rocktober 5th with my “brother”-Slats- and I’m telling you folks-Godsmack is one of the best-if not the best- live bands out there today. The energy and the vibe from the audience “smack”-ed me right across the face-it was freaking phenomenal. Sully and the boys were dominant. I needed a “release” and writing this week’s page was actually very therapeutic for me and I had to have at least one write-up for the month of ROCKTOBER!!!- Rock on my friends. I will do my best to do as much as I can in the coming months, so if it is not weekly, at least you know why.

Caught the new premiere episode of “That Metal Show” last Saturday (I know it’s a repeat) on VH1 classic and the show was a tribute to Ronnie James Dio. You can see it here http://www.vh1.com/video/that-metal-show/full-episodes/tribute-to-ronnie-james-dio/1650436/playlist.jhtmlFirst off, I love this show and would love to be on it –either in the audience- or somehow work with those guys on the show- Eddie Trunk, Don Jamieson and Jim Florentine. And what a show-this is one of the best tribute shows that I have seen. Ronnie’s wife- Wendy- was a guest as well as members of his solo band and Black Sabbath. After watching this show, I can see why he was loved so much-he just seemed like a person who cared about his family, friends and especially the fans. Wendy’s interview was touching and Geezer Butler was genuine and you could feel his pain. Simon Wright, drummer, also had some cool insight the man named Dio. Rob Halford and Tom Morello also joined in the tribute with Halford being the lone voice in picking Rainbow as Dio’s best band. Morello had a cool fan’s approach as he gushed about how much he loved the song-“The Mob Rules”- which a freaking awesome tune and a song I always loved to. That resonated with me because it is fun to share the same music or songs with people, especially a rock star. One of the things I learned is that there will be a new album- “Dio at Donnigton” a live selection released on November 9th. As they said on this show-if you don’t buy this you are not a Metal fan. It has songs from Dio, Rainbow and Black Sabbath. I am definitely buying it. And the number one message from his wife is that guys don’t get things checked out until it is too late and they mentioned that if Ronnie had gone to the doctor for annual check-ups and of course doing tests, he would have beaten his cancer. Scary and makes you think- go to the doctor so that you will be able to rock on.

Rumor of the week: The original members of The Cars, including Ric Ocasek, have reportedly reunited. Like that saying goes- “Don’t Tease Me.” They will release a new studio album (first one in 23 years) and also tour. A song-“Blue Tip”- was posted on their official Facebook page. I’m in!!!

Thanks to my oldest son, I now have the best “free” offer that I-Tunes has ever tendered- a video none-the-less- of the “Big Four”- Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer & Anthrax– joining in an “all hands on deck” cover of the Diamond Head song-“Am I Evil?” As Mr. Hetfield rightly states-“That was a Metal Moment”-folks even if you are not a metal fan you need to own this-just to say that you do. I can’t tell you how much I love this video-talk about getting your adrenaline going? If this doesn’t psyche you up, nothing ever will. This is by far the best video of 2010 and could be the best video ever. Friggin’ phenomenal!!! “Am I Evil??!!!”

If you have noticed that Keith Richards sort of seems to be everywhere recently (cover of Rolling Stone, many TV appearances, etc) it is because he has written a book –“Life”- and the NY Times gave a raving review. This could be a good stocking stuffer for the upcoming holiday season.

Hackers took down two Gene Simmons sites after Gene had said that the music industry was asleep at the wheel and should have sued every college kid who illegally downloaded music for free and said the industry died right then & there, with so many people losing jobs. Gene promises to find the people responsible.

My favorite song of the week is “Smoke on The Water” from the new Santana album-“Guitar Heaven”- with Jacoby Shaddix-lead singer for Papa Roach. Jacoby treats the song with respect and does a phenomenal job at the helm and what else can you say about Santana-listen to him tear through this song-jaw dropping.

You know I love Rocktober and I was planning something this month like I did last year but as you know I was not able to do the blog this month, so in a condensed version-this is what I had in mind-listing albums from an artist that were in my opinion their best work and then following it with the second best, third best, etc. So again in a “summary” basis here is what I was thinking:

Van Halen –(With Diamond Dave)

1.     Van Halen II

2.     Van Halen I

3.     Women & Children First

4.      Fair Warning

5.      Diver Down

6.      1984

The Beatles– (everything after “Help”)

1.      The Beatles (aka “The White Album”)

2.      Revolver

3.      Abbey Road

4.      Let It Be

5.      Rubber Soul

6.      Sgt. Pepper’s

The Mighty Led Zeppelin (everything before Graffitti)

1.      Physical Graffitti

2.      Led Zeppelin II

3.      Led Zeppelin

4.      Led Zeppelin IV

5.      Led Zeppelin III

6.      Houses of the Holy

Hands All Over” by Maroon 5 released on September 21, 2010

Hands All Over

I can remember the first time that I heard-“Harder to Breathe”- by this band called Maroon 5 back in 2002 and thinking that this was very different from what was out at that time. There was a certain raw energy that captivated me and I immediately purchased “Songs about Jane.” To this day, I think this song is an anomaly out of their entire library. It’s like it was purposely planted to draw you in, thinking that there was this new rock band out there that was going to fuse pop and rock with a new purpose. In some ways I think it was a trick because once the door slammed behind you, there was this polished world of pop awaiting you with a splash of “dance” and every time you started to head for the exit, you couldn’t because the quality of their songs were so good. So when “It Won’t Be Soon Before Long” is released, there you are again wondering if you should head for the back door and leave this band for the general public who listen to Z-100 or WPLJ everyday (not there is anything wrong with that, just trying to make a point) but “Makes Me Wonder” brings out that John Travolta dancing days as in Saturday Night Fever and you put your hands over your head, clap and dance your way back into the thick of the party-the song is so good you forget where you are and you can swear the Bee Gees are in the same room swaying along with you as everyone dances away to the “disco” celebration. Clearly the influence of The Police was stepping aside for their other influence-Prince- as their sound was unmistakably headed for the “pop”-sicle aisle in the supermarket of all kinds of music genres. But you know what? I followed them and I know there are many others who followed along to, even though they wouldn’t admit it publicly-sort of like the head-bangers who know they like a song or two by Poison but again in public, scoff at Poison like…they were actually…well, real poison.

So now the rumors are swirling that Robert “Mutt” Lange will produce their third studio album. Mr. “Mutt”-the same “hard rock” producer who brought us “Back in Black” by AC/DC-arguably one of the best albums in music history, never mind in rock history. He produced for Def Leppard when Leppard was “def” as in “Pyromania”-another friggin’ classic. I know it’s been a while since he has been behind the wheel of guiding a rock band-he went Country for a while as he produced his former wife Shaina Twain’s albums but more recently he “got back on the horse” as he steered Nickelback with their “Dark Horse.” So I’m thinking maybe it will become “harder to breathe” again as the Mutt will put the rock back into the outfit known as Maroon 5. But folks I’m here to tell you that it is not the case. Maybe Mr. Lange is pulling a Rick Rubin as he seems to morph into the genre of whatever artist he works with-that makes sense, right? I don’t know why I was thinking that he was going to turn Maroon 5 into AC/DC. That doesn’t make sense, I know… but I was thinking that there would be some sort of “hard rock” candy in his bag full of tricks but just the opposite has happened. Mr. Lange has helped dig a deeper path into the world of pop/dance music- a la Madonna like- and has sprayed the “Pledge” all over the place as they have become the most polished pop act since Madonna. In a strange way, they have become so popular and so big that early buzz on their “new” sound is now a distant memory as the pressure of “staying on top” while making money for the big record executives in this dying business took precedent on this album as there is no going outside the “formula” that “currently sells” for this “zero attention span” society as the songs are super tight, so squeaky clean and not one song longer than four minutes (I don’t count the “bonus” tracks). And who knows, maybe this is the path the Maroon 5 wanted to take; who is to say that it is all “the system’s” fault? But the weird thing is overall I have to say that the album is good- I would say three stars out of five if I had to give it a rating. Now I will also say that some of the songs sound like “everything else” that is out there today and for me personally, they have fallen a notch in my book but the one thing I cannot dispute-this band is super talented and deserve all the attention from the “masses,” as this album will surely infiltrate more of the “general” public.

The album starts off with “Misery” and right away I feel like I am on the dance floor in a club as the party is really kicking into gear as the confetti is swirling all around the dancers as the smiles on everyone’s face is the number one indicator that this song is “the bomb.” I could see Justin Timberlake doing something like this, so yes that are now entering his territory. The fun continues with “Give a Little More” and while you are dancing around the room you may stop like I did and say “Mutt” Lange produced a song like this?… but it’s a new time and I guess a new Mutt…anyway I can clearly picture Michael Jackson helping them out on this song if he were still around as it is right up his alley with pure energy. Track #3-“Shutter”- is one of the best songs on the album. The “hook” in the song is addictive and you will not be able to get the chorus out of your head. The song has this funky groove that will make you move parts of your body that you never knew could move. Pure fun is what this song is all about, I can picture a whole bunch of people forming a “football huddle” and dancing with their shoulders into each other and then wave their arms over their heads like the audience in “American Idol.” Now for me the next two songs are almost “filler” like in my opinion as they just have that vibe the first three songs had. “Don’t Know Nothing” starts off with “mechanical” feel to it that turns into a finger snapping affair but I’m not feeling it, sorry. “Never Gonna Leave this Bed” is something that One Republic could sing. I like One Republic don’t get me wrong but this song is “just like many of the songs you hear on pop radio” today and sometimes I like it and sometimes I don’t. I’m not saying I don’t like it but I could see myself pushing the “next” button. Track # 6-“ I Can’t Lie” reminds me of something Amy Winehouse would do because the beginning has this sort of updated classic R&B sound. This was the first song I picked off of this album when I made a mix of songs for a recent road trip (every trip for us is a road trip because we live near the end of the earth) and it is very “catchy.’ You will find yourself closing your eyes and snapping your fingers as the memories of the classic sixties R&B will resonate within you.

The title track actually has a little guitar in it and without a doubt I could see Joe Elliott and Def Leppard performing this track-if you listen closely you can definitely pick up hints of “Pour Some Sugar on Me” as the chorus is “Put Your Hands All Over Me.” You will also hear the song-“Rock On”- made famous by David Essex and later covered by Leppard on their cover album “Yeah!” Cool song, I like it. Track # 8-“How”- is destined to be on the radio for a long time as this is a fast ballad and something of their signature sound. This also ranks up there as one of the best songs on the album. You can hear the Police’s influence (the “Every Breath You Take” Police) as it sort of has that feel to it. Mr. Levine’s vocals are top notch. “Get Back in My Life” gets you back out on the disco floor as the pulsating beats will have you bouncing in no time. Look to your left, here comes John Travolta moving his hands in a circle as he slides across the colorful floor-is this Mutt Lange? What???!!! Ok forget it and just enjoy the music. “Just a Feeling” slows it down a whole bunch and the song is crystal clear as Adam shines brightly with his vocals-this will be on Z-100 in no time. Talk about a pop power ballad? Whew…where is that “hard candy?” Track # 10-“Runaway”- is another song that will be on the radio but here is where I think the ship seems to be going down the same path. It’s almost like-“Didn’t I just hear this song?”-again not a criticism on the song itself because it is good but you may ask yourself if you have heard it already. The last song -“Out of Goodbyes”- gets some help from Lady Antebellum and the result is spectacular. You may think they sort of sing in that same “pitch” but their voices blended together actually sound very good. When they all sing at the same time that is when the song is at its best. Take a listen and tell me it doesn’t put you into that “dreamy” state. Nice job!!

So as you can tell from what I have written, there are some super solid songs on this third studio album but also some songs that just don’t do it for me. Now as you all know, my music taste varies and most people don’t have Dean Martin to Megadeth on their I-Pod shuffle-but that is me-but you also know that I normally don’t gravitate to the deep world of pop and what is popular-yes there is still some of that “teenager” in me- but I have come a long way (because you all know that there is no way I would have kept this album when I was 16 or so-remember I dropped both The Cars and The Police once they hit the general public). So what I am trying to say is that I am still on board the band wagon called Maroon 5 but my foot has slipped off the back of that wagon as I try to gain my balance. Let’s see where this ride takes me. Either way I now have three albums (Ok two and a half) from this super talented band. Mr. Lange, we need to talk…..

“Nuggets”:

Crimes of Passion

Since it is Rocktober, what better way to rock than with Pat Benatar? This woman put the edge back into rock when she first hit the scene. C’mon what better song to introduce herself to the music scene than “Heartbreaker?” If this song doesn’t move you, well then you better check for a pulse right now. The rock world needed a shot in the arm and she was there to deliver the transfusion that was needed to get it back on its feet. Anyways, I am always looking on how to publicize her work or do a “shot out” on her library and I think I have found another way through this concept of golden “nuggets.” Let’s take her second album for example-“Crimes of Passion”- which was released in the summer of 1980 and by that time you could already see clones of her around most high schools and colleges across America. Now I like this album very much but don’t consider it a “classic” throughout, nor do I consider either side of the album-“perfect”- but again it does not take away from the landmark songs that appear on her sophomore effort. Now some bands go through their career and never have “landmark” songs but yet they have a long sustaining life (doesn’t mean the band or artist is not good-again just making a point). And yes one of those songs were not written by her or her team (actually by The Rascals) but she made it more famous (in my opinion) than the original composers and oh by the way-it was the second video ever aired by MTV-yes I’m talking about –“You Better Run.” So pick up this album or at the very least you should own the following nuggets from “Crimes of Passion:”

Hell is For Children”- Talk about a landmark song? Wow??!!! In only her second studio effort she met head-on a very real and sensitive topic which nobody ever seems (or seemed) to want to talk about it. There is always one line that gets me every time I listen to it-“…and you shouldn’t have to pay for your love with your bones and your flesh…” Whew, think about that line for a second, especially if you have children. Or how about-“…tell grandma you fell off the swing…” These are eye openers and punches right to the gut. I pray for all the children who go through this terrible tragedy every day. I wish I could protect them all. And what about the music? Freaking phenomenal, that’s all I have to say. I absolutely love the way that Pat screams with such a passion, she blows the cover right off the ball. Find me a better song?

Treat Me Right”- How fantastic is the groove in this song? It actually lifts me off my feet as I feel like I could fly. “Do you think I’m a fool?…well you better think twice…” I love it-she comes right at you and the players behind her deliver a wallop of a punch. Musically, this is one of her best efforts ever. Then Neil, her husband, has a tight guitar solo that will have you “air-guitaring” in no time. “I’m losing my patience…you’re nearing the end!!!” You better watch out and treat her right!!

You Better Run”- Now I mean no disrespect to Felix Cavaliere and the Rascals but she put this song on the map. Her scowl and fervor put the fear into every guy out there-you know it. Again, the musicianship behind her words is stellar and puts emphasis where it is needed. Neil has another blazing guitar solo, albeit a bit short. I love it when Benatar grimaces-“I said go away…and leave me alone…I can’t stand you no maaw…” The drumming is super solid on this tune, listen carefully and follow his every drum beat. Whew this song rocks!!! \m/ \m/

Hit Me With Your Best Shot”- Do you see (hear) a theme here? Wow talk about tough? It just seemed she had a chip on her shoulder and dared you to knock it off. She commanded respect and she backed it up with great songs like this one. C’mon you know you have dared someone to “hit you with their best shot” while you were singing it to them, right? I know I have-again just foolin’ around. Songs like these will forever be etched in your system-some one steps up to you and what is the first thing you want to say is-“go ahead hit me with your best shot.” Right? Musically, this song is righteous. ‘Nuff said.

“TOP TEN”:

Image of Soundgarden

There are certain dates that will forever remained etched into your memory whether they are happy or sad events. Most of the time when it comes to musicians or artists those dates are associated with an unfortunate passing of one of the members or a solo artist that cause you to go back in time and you know exactly where you were at that moment. Take the morning of Dec. 9, 1980, I was a 15-year old paper boy getting my papers ready for delivery, it was a Tuesday morning and since I was a sports fanatic I always started with the “back of the paper” looking to read about the Monday night football game that had taken place the night before. Then I turned the paper over and instantly was frozen in time as I saw a picture of John Lennon on the front cover indicating that he had been killed. Then last year on June 25th, I came home from umpiring a baseball game and was heating up my dinner and I thought I heard a TV announcer for one of those “Entertainment Tonight” type of shows state that Michael Jackson had passed. What?? Could this be real? So now before I make an analogy please be aware that in no way am I comparing the death of a person to be the same as a band breaking up. That is not my intention- again it is the date and where you were when something that has affected your life or something that you wouldn’t forget. So here it is April 9, 1997, I am riding in my car coming home from somewhere and I hear on the radio that Soundgarden had decided to disband. Poof just like that, it is over. At that time I had recently joined their fan club so as to be able to get “pree-mo” seats for their shows and they were actually scheduled to tour in 1997 and poof-just like that, it is over.

It took me some time to jump on the Soundgarden bandwagon, I was not there with them when they jumped out of the gate (remember I was still smarting from the “grunge” movement that took out all of my “hair bands”-yes I will always admit I was a fan of the “hair” movement) and it took some time to get use to all the “dark” movement but once I “got it,” I was in. I guess the reason I gravitated to this Seattle act more than Nirvana or even Alice In Chains is their music seem to incorporate the Mighty Led Zepppelin sound or just “classic” rock in general and when I first heard-“Outshined”- I knew I had to have it, so I rushed out to buy “Badmotorfinger.” But even then, the “other” songs on that album was so different from what I was normally used to listening to. The songs were weird to me (like most all the Layne Staley only songs on “Dirt”). So I kept them in that “junk draw” that everyone has in their house-you know what I mean- afraid to throw something out because you know within that mess there just might be that “jewel” you will come across one day. So yes I moved on a bit but then comes 1994 and the “buzz” on the street is their “Superunknown” album which is getting rave reviews from just about everyone involved in the music scene. So I take a ride in my town-Ringwood N.J.- and this dude had opened a music store (didn’t last too long but I loved it and tried to keep his business flowing by buying stuff) right down from “The Forge.” I walk in and ask him about the album and he says he didn’t listen to it but “people” kept commenting on how good it was. I decided to buy it and I ran home to throw into the stereo. I remember thinking that the first two songs rocked but then the next few songs were just too weird again for me, and I skipped to the next song with each song seemingly more “psychedelic” than the next-so again I put them back in the “junk” draw.

Then it happens, all of a sudden “Spoonman” explodes on the radio and MTV and the song is everywhere. I said to myself-“I think that song is on that album that I threw to the back of the pile”-maybe I should give it another chance. Now it is almost a full six months later and here am I giving “Superunknown” another chance. Folks it was like the morning rays of sunshine breaking through your window as you are first waking up. I finally “got it” and never looked back- I became obsessed with this band and they quickly rose to being one of my favorites. Now the next thing I needed to do was see them live. I think it was the spring/summer of 1996 and I remember being so stoked to be finally seeing this band live. Of course they are Soundgarden and have to do things differently, so they have this show in an old military warehouse on the lower east side of New York Citywhich basically stores airplanes and other war equipment, it hasn’t been “functional” in over 20 years. I can also clearly remember being so excited that members of the S&P women’s softball team which I used to manage asked me who I was going to see that made me so stoked. Now since I am in the “corporate” world, sometimes I think people get the wrong idea when I tell them the bands I listen to, so I was very hesitant to let folks know who I am going to see. I figured I would let them know and when I mentioned Soudgarden, only one person had heard of them but of course the expression that I had feared came roaring out. “Aren’t they a very heavy band? I am surprised that you would like a band like that?” Oh well, even Richie Cunningham can like a little hard rock/metal. Anyway, I go to this “basement” with absolutely no windows and the air in this “dungeon” feels like it had been stuck in the place since the 1950’s. To give you an idea how hot it was-just picture the NYC subway system on a scorching hot day in August- are you feeling the sweat already? Well this same subway system was like a refrigerator compared to the place that Soundgarden played in that night. But it’s rock and roll, so I can do this right? I am by myself (yes no one else wanted to go) and I bunker in to find a good spot but it is right next to the large speaker but it is so crowded that I can not move. Soundgarden hasn’t even come out yet and I am literally gasping for air and I am already drenched in sweat. As the night wore on I thought I was becoming delirious from the heat but wouldn’t leave because Soundgarden was putting on a scorching set. I almost “body surfed” but figured I would go down like a sack of potatoes (plus I had a small child with another on the way) and my senses took over and I just listened to their set. A year later I watched them again as one of the headliners (with Metallica) at Randall’s Island in the Bronx for the last Lalapoolooza tour. (My only one because the line-up had the rockers as opposed to the usual “alternative” line-up).

When “Down on The Upside” was released I was again totally ready to follow this band every where they went. Then poof-just like that, it was over. So now that they have reunited, I figured I would write down my favorite top ten songs by the machine called Soundgarden. Now since it has been more than 13 years since they last played together, some of the “novelty” has worn off for me. But maybe if they make some new material again, I could come back in full force. I would like to think this reunion is more than a “money” play. More recently, my oldest son has engulfed himself into the “grunge” world and probably knows more than me at this point. He favors Nirvana and Alice In Chains but has come to find Soundgarden’s library worthy of his time. He has asked to join in on the fray and I welcome it. So here it is, we are both on an island and have been told that we can only have 10 songs by the band named Soundgarden-“These are Them:”(Now believe me I could put down the entire album of “Superunknown” as all the ten songs and more but I will try to include other material) (By the way, they will be appearing on the new Conan O’Brien show on TBS, I believe  Wednesday Nov. 11th) (If I could have 11 songs, number eleven would be “Head Down”). My son is in blue and I am the red:

10.     Burden In My Hand– When I hear the beginning of this song with Chris singing “Follow me into the desert, as thirsty as you are” and the acoustic guitars ringing I can’t help but form a smile.This tune sounds like it could have been on “Led Zeppelin III” with the acoustic Led Zeppelin type sound. This song really impressed me the first time I heard it, the song sounds so perfectly made. The acoustic and electric guitars compliment Chris Cornell’s voice a lot in this song especially when just the acoustic guitar is playing. Despite the lyrics the music is very “feel good” which is rare in a Soundgarden song. That’s probably why I like it so much though.

10.     Overfloater– Chris Cornell was my favorite singer from his days in Soundgarden and I followed him into his solo career (Wasn’t a huge fan of Audioslave but they made some solid songs) and on this song from “Down on The Upside,” he is at his best. Now I know they tried to follow the same formula as “Superunknown” on the “Upside” and the results were less than spectacular but there are some phenomenal songs on the “Upside”-and this is one of them. Like many of their later songs, it has a slow trudging “blues” type of vibe to it and I readily admit that their music is an “acquired” taste-especially songs like this but once you “get it”- you will want more and even though their songs are typically more than five minutes- you want the song to just continue on and on. No matter how many times I lined this song up with others from their library, it kept winning out and ended up at number ten.

9.     Rhinosaur – This short little rocking song from the band’s final album somehow snuck its way onto my top ten. I was never fond of this song but having listened to “Down On the Upside” a lot the past few days I have come to appreciate this song much more.It has a great riff plus I’m a sucker for a good guitar solo and you have to admit this song has a pretty awesome solo.

9.     Drawing Flies – This is “earlier” Soundgarden and unbelievably this song is less than three minutes long but it will rock your socks off. It even includes a “horn” section (I don’t recall Nirvana or AIC ever doing that) which adds to the flavor of this powerful blast of rock, blues and grunge fused together that will have you salivating for more. It was songs like these that first drew me into this band-they have the ability to rock like no one else. Listen to what I am talking about.

8.     Mailman– My dad introduced me to this song and even before I was a Soundgarden fan I always liked this song. There just something about it that just gets me going, it has a great riff and spot on vocals from Chris. I love the parts when Chris starts screaming especially the end of the song when he goes all out with his voice.

8.     No Attention-Here is another hidden gem from “Upside”-this is filled with heavy guitar riffs laden with smashing drums and the first half is a very fast moving, almost in a crazed like state which includes an awesome guitar solo. But then the song shifts gears and slows down a bit with a crushing slower groove with just about 1:50 left in the song and you will bang your head up and down while shouting-“I’ll pay no attention, I’ll pay no attention…” And don’t you just love the rebel lyrics-“they are going to tell you where to walk…when to smile…and just what to say…and I’ll pay no attention.”

7.     Outshined – Without a doubt this is the highlight of the spotty “Badmotorfinger.” I love everything about this song!  This cool thing about this song is the variation between the verses and the chorus, it sounds like two spate songs. However the best part about this song is without a doubt Mr. Cornell’s vocal power.His wails and screams are just so crazy and raw it has to get you head banging. His vocals combined with fantastic guitar, bass, and drums, make this song one of their greatest accomplishments as a group.

7.     Just Like Suicide-I really didn’t want to pick this song because of the title and I hate songs about suicide. Now I know Cornell is going to say it is about living and that’s why he wrote it but the whole vibe of the song does not exude sunshine and happiness. (C’mon to think of it, I couldn’t name one Soundgarden song that does exude sunshine and happiness). But on the other hand, the musical composition is outstanding and it is hard to ignore as one of their best songs ever arranged. In addition, Chris’ vocals are outstanding-he has that “squeal” working so well, again it is hard to ignore. And to top it off, Kim Thayil has one of the best guitar solos you are ever going to hear. He kind of gets easily dismissed or ignored as a good guitarist and on songs like this, well he just blows the cover off the ball. “She lived like a mother…how she flies so sweetly…” Begrudgingly I have to admit this is one of their best songs but again the topic is dismal.

6.     Black Hole Sun– Usually when I make a top ten list for a band I refrain from picks a band’s major hits but this song was just inevitable. I didn’t even fight myself about putting this on the list because I knew it was of no use. This is song is often hailed as Soundgarden’s best song and while it may not be THE best one it is certainly a masterpiece in every sense of the word. After I hear the guitar intro immediately I get lost in the music. This song has fantastic lyrics and has one of the best guitar solos that Kim Thayil ever played. Not to mention amazing drumming by Matt Cameron. It’s easy to see why this is their biggest hits, simply because it’s such a perfectly made song.

6.     Room A Thousand Miles Wide – Soundgarden songs have this way of creeping up on you as there is always a part of their songs that play the same part over and over again (do you know what I mean?) And in this song, it is that “alarm” sound that just follows Cornell’s vocals. I feel like it is a fly buzzing around one of those electric zappers that a country house has hanging outside on its porch on a hot summer night with extreme humidity and I always wait for that “zap” but it does not come-the alarm just continues to sound off. And then what about a saxophone solo in a Soundgarden song? Sounds weird, right?… but there it is for the last minute or so just blowing up the place as Cornell is screaming his lungs out. Of course the heavy bass line is what draws me in as I can feel the pulsating vibes in my chest as I try to put the volume up as loud as my ears can take it (Children be aware-do not do this- I’m like one of those TV commercials that have to put out the obvious warning- Do Not Attempt This!!!).

5.     Superunknown– The title track from the monumental album of the same name is such a hidden gem. This powerful rocking song definitely should have been released as a single. It just has so much energy you have to turn the volume up as high as possible. Again all instruments are flawless (including a great guitar solo) and Cornell’s voice is so fantastic especially when he wails “First it steals your mind and then it steals your…soul!!”When he screams the word soul you really start to realize what an amazing singer he is.

5.     Let Me Drown – Again the title kills me and the lyrics as well but tell me this is not one of the best lead off songs in the history of music? It feels like there is so much going on here but yet at the same time it’s hard to find a tighter song with all the musicians playing at their absolute best. Love the part where the song shifts gears a bit and then it sounds like Cornell’s vocals are in a silo (listen in your headphones, its spectacular)-“I see you turn aroud…I feel the hurt surround me…” Thayil has a blazing guitar solo and Matt Cameron’s drumming is freaking phenomenal-controlled chaos is the expression I would have to say if I had to describe this song. You have to own this song!!! \m/ \m/

4.     Like Suicide – There couldn’t have been a better song to end Soundgarden’s magnum opus “Superunknown”. This ballad is the perfect closer to the album and has always been one of my favorites from the album. The lyrics are very powerful and Cornell sings them with such a passion. Mr. Thayil provides another excellent guitar solo to add to the already phenomenal track.

4.     Tighter and Tighter – As a Dad I try to pass down my musical taste on to my boys (or should I say –“force”- especially bands like Foreigner and The Cars-they will like them someday-at least that is what I tell myself) and sometimes I purposely wait to introduce a band or a song because as they get older their tastes have matured and there is less of a chance that they easily dismiss what I am trying to show them. Take this song (and this album) for instance, I kept this in my back pocket for a long time but I knew it was time to put it into the car rotation. So when I picked up my oldest son last week from his dance, this song just “happened” to come on. I didn’t tell him who it was but he knew it was Cornell and Soundgarden. He didn’t say “put the radio on” right away, so I knew I had a chance. As we both listened to the brilliance of this song, I could tell he liked it and he did. Then the next day I had to drive my younger son from his entrance exam for high school and again this song “happened” to be on. As the song progressed I could see he was loving it and when Thayil’s guitar solo was over, he looked over in amazement and said “how do people say he is not one of the better guitarists’?” So I was two for two. Anyway, this could easily be one of their best compositions they have ever recorded. The song is over six minutes long but when I listen to it, I never want it to end, I could listen to Cornell say “Sleep tight for me…I’m gone” for days at a time. “Cause I feel I’m going…cause I feel I’m slowing down..” One of the best endings to a song as well.

3.     Fell On Black Days – Yes I know this is a popular song but I have always loved this amazing song. I think the reason I like it so much is because lyrically it is one of the “grungiest” songs from Soundgarden. I guess one I was never into Soundgarden as much as I was into bands like Nirvana, Alice In Chains, and Pearl Jam because Soundgarden never wrote lyrics that were up to par with the other grunge bands. But eventually I took a liking toward Soundgarden and this song was one of the reasons that I gave them a chance.  It showed me that Soundgarden was capable of writing lyrics that people could relate to.So I’m glad I discovered this song because it led me to another fantastic band from the 1990’s.

3.     Black Hole Sun – I know, I know-the song titles are so depressing.. anyway how great is this song? I can remember when the video was playing incessantly on MTV and yes it is a weird video-what do expect from a song titled “Black Hole Sun?” But the one thing I noticed is that this song attracted the general public and I recall one of my co-workers at that time-who was a bit older than me- who said he really liked the song. Really? You do? Now again being a bit older than a teenager, I did not abandon them when he said that. I was actually happy that their name was getting out there and reaching more people. This song is addicting, there is no way to deny this fact. Again it creeps up on you and before long you will be holding the word –“cooooooooooommmmmmmmmeeeeeeee” -(“won’t you come”) for as long as Cornell does. Whatever happens in the future with this band, you can’t take this classic away from them. Nice job fellas.

2.     Tighter & Tighter– I think I will always remember the first time hearing this epic song.My dad and I were driving late at night with the volume pretty loud and he had this song playing and I was completely blown away. Everything just completely shocked me, the guitar riff, the magnificent guitar solo, drums, bass, and Cornell’s fantastic vocals. I couldn’t believe I had never heard the song before, it honestly impressed me more than any other Soundgarden song I’ve ever heard. If you are just a casual fan and don’t know this song I don’t know how much I can stress that you need to listen to this song. Simply one of the best and most underrated songs by the band.

2.     Burden in My Hand – I remember the first time I ever heard this song, I knew instantaneously that this was going to be my favorite song on “Down on the Upside” and I knew it was going to either be my number one or number two song by them. There is something about this song that seems to be as fresh as it was when it was released in 1997. Thirteen years later I still get the same feeling throughout my entire body as I did when I first listened to it. I could do this in a karaoke bar and would completely nail it-but you know no one would have this song in their library. “Follow me into the desert…as thirsty as you are…crack a smile and cut your mouth…and drown in alcohol…” This could be the best song that Chris Cornell has ever recorded vocally, he is flawless, like on many other songs as well but this one is special. I love this tune!!!

1.     Let Me Drown – Want to hear Soundgarden at its best?Put this song on and prepare yourself for one heck of a ride. This song is pure energy and gets me pumped up every time I hear it. You need to blast this song as loud as possible and just enjoy it. Talk about a flawless song, the guitar has such a great riff and has fantastic solo work, the drums are like a power machine they make me “air drum” the entire song, and the bass and vocals are great as always. This song also has great lyrics so overall it has everything anyone could want in a song. Just listen and enjoy.

1.     Mailman – Ok now if you know Soundgarden and you know this song you are probably scratching your head and saying “What??!!!” Yes I know this is the slowest, most unattractive song and even I couldn’t listen to it when I first bought the album (see above). But the more I listened to it, I became obsessed with the tune and there is only one song that I remember them playing in that “dungeon” in the military warehouse on the lower East Side of NY and this song was it!! “I know I’m headed for the bottom…I know I’m headed for the bottom…but I’m riding you all the way…” Give it a chance… close your eyes and let Cornell take you into another stratosphere. Love the way he emphasizes the word “riding” as his high pitch comes into being like never before.

(Close cuts for my son: “Limo Wreck”, “The Day I Tried to Live”, “Rusty Cage”, and “No Attention”)

Trivia Questions

Answers from last week:

1.     The Cars

2.     Foreigner

3.     Ace Frehley

4.     Eminem

This week’s trivia (Random)-

1.     I am a young female artist who has the blues inside of me since I can remember. I have toured with BB King and Buddy Guy and many other blues artists. I exploded on the scene in the late 1990’s and am still recording albums. My husband plays in the Allman Brothers Band. Who am I?

2.     Our band lived at CBGB’s for a few years before we hit it big. We exploded on the scene with a monster hit that is still played on the classic rock radio format. Mick Jagger helped us pen another song and he helped us become popular. We fizzled out a bit and went our separate ways, including our lead singer performing on Broadway. Recently we reformed and have been touring. Who are we?

3.     I had a one hit wonder and basically fell off the face of the earth. I am what I am. I created a big buzz with this hit but never really had another one. I also married a member of one of the most popular duos in music history, who started in the 1960’s, created some of the best American songs ever. They split and “reunionize” every ten years or so. Who am I?

4.     I had a successful solo career before joining this monster band in the 1970’s. I am an accomplished guitarist and a good singer but most people say I’m crazy but I have a good time. I used to go to parties, sometimes until four and it was hard to leave when you couldn’t find the door. Those days are over now; the drummer would have no part of it. Who am I?

Name That Tune

Answers from last week:

1.     Second Hand News – Fleetwood Mac

2.     Slow Ride-Foghat

3.     Rock Me Baby- George McRae

4.     Rich Girl– Hall & Oates

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

1.     “…the moment I know she loves me…cause when I look in her eyes I realize…I need her sharing the world beside me…”

2.     “…you don’t know me…but I’m your brother…I was raised here in this living hell…you don’t know my kind in your world…”

3.     “…it’s been too hard living…but I’m afraid to die…cause I don’t know what’s up there…beyond the sky…”

4.     “…people…keep on learning…soldiers…keep on warrin’…world…keep on turnin’ …”

Back on this Day

Sadly back on this day in 1971, Duane Allman was killed in a motorcycle accident in Macon GA. He was only 24 years old. Again, the question always remains- “What If?”

Back on this day in 1957, Bobby Helms recorded one of the most famous and popular holiday songs ever-“Jingle Bell Rock.”

Back on this day in 1977, Meatloaf’s ‘Bat Out of Hell” entered the Billboard 200 and spent 82 weeks on the charts and peaked at number 14. It sold over 14 million in the U.S. alone.

Back on this day in 1983, Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” spent its 491st week on the Billboard 200, making it the longest listed album on their chart history.

Back on this day in 1996, Axl Rose sent Slash a fax informing him that he was no longer the guitarist for Guns & Roses.

Back on this day in 2001, U2 made its first appearance on the David Letterman show and performed “Stuck in a Moment.”

If it is your birthday today you share the same birth date with the late Kevin Dubrow (Quiet Riot) Denny Laine (Wings & Moody Blues) and Peter Green (Fleetwood Mac).

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