Errols Weekly Music Update.

November 30, 2012

Review of “Rebel Soul” by Kid Rock released on Nov. 19, 2012

Review of “Rebel” by Kid Rock released on November 19, 2012

Rebel Soul

Mention the words- “Kid Rock”- and the reaction is swift- in one corner there are those who love him and others will tell you to go sit in a corner – akin to giving a child a “time out.” There is no in-between, right? The Kid has released his ninth album (yes you read it correctly, his ninth) and if one scours the internet or I-Tunes (is there anyone else wondering why this in’t a big story- try and find it on the internet, there is nothing about it), the reviews are split right down the middle: love and hate. I often wonder if much of the criticism leveled is directed at him personally and not towards the music he makes because in my opinion, if given a chance, his musicianship and vocals are actually credible. Are there “chorus driven” songs? Yes but ask Springsteen fans to not sing along for three hours and see the reaction you’d get. “Rebel Soul” is all about the Kid and in my opinion is his “break-out” album especially after doing his “Rubin”-controlled “Born Free” which tried to change what Kid Rock is all about. You can’t contain what for him comes naturally- rockin’ & rappin’- and making music that moves him. Oh yes- he wants you to join the party but even if no one showed up, he’d have his Twisted Brown Trucker band-mates and jam to the music that embodies his rebel soul.

“Chickens in The Pen” starts off with a slow funky blues driven groove that makes you want to close your eyes and slowly dance around the room- the tune seeps into your bloodstream and before you know it you are belting out- “And do it again now…and do it again now.” (the only thing I could have done without is the autotune towards the end of the song-isn’t that dead yet?). “Let’s Ride” is the arena driven song dedicated to the troops and one has to admit the hook is undeniable and you will be singing along in no time with the thousands of fans at his next show. He adds the “Uh uh uh oh ooh wo” for additional emphasis- sort of like when Van Halen fans raise their fists and sing- “Hey-Hey-Hey” in the classic “Ain’t talking About Love” song.“3 CATT Boogie” is probably my favorite song on the album- it sounds like a party in the background and I can just picture the recording room when they cut this track, it had to be a blast. This song has the infamous “hand-claps” so you know it is just pure fun. “I bought a chevy in Idaho…Hey where I’m headed.. I don’t know.” Listen to the way he pronounces the word situation- “and Wall Street is stirring up the whole sit-chee-A-tion.” I love it!! If this song doesn’t move you, then you don’t have any rebel soul. “Detroit, Michigan”- I know is there any album that he records that doesn’t make a reference to his hometown? But again-“if it’s real, you’ll feel it” and one has to feel this tune. Come on, this has to get you out of your seat and clap your hands- who cares if you are dancing like an older relative that people make fun of when they are a wedding sitting in their seats waiting for the cold coffee and dessert. Did you see him perform this at the half-time at the Detroit Lions home game on Thanksgiving? When George Clinton came out and joined them in the dance fest I fell over and said to my boys- “who is cooler than Kid Rock??!”

The title track has that Bob Seger feel to it and at first it really didn’t hit me but after a few turns it has grown on me to the point where I can picture being in a muscle car with the top down headed to the beach singing- “Rebel Soul.” I like the bridge where the tune takes a turn sort of like a piece of paper being blown up in the air by a strong burst of wind- the kid can sing- listen to this track and you’ll see (hear) what I’m talking about. The beginning guitar riffs for “God Save Rock and Roll” reminds me of the Kiss song- “Let me go, rock and roll.” The Kid is giving Kiss and AC/DC a run for their money in using the words “rock and roll” in his song titles. The tune starts off a bit slow but turns into a foot stomping, hand clapping country laced rock and roll fun time song but watch out for the “out of the blue” F-bomb towards the end. (While you are dancing head over to the kids and hold their ears). The middle of the album takes a slight turn as the songs become less memorable than the first half of the disc. “Happy New Year” is a song that almost made me hit the next button but again after a few turns it will grow on you. “Celebrate” is a good song with a catchy groove but you’ll wonder if you have heard it already. “The Mirror” in my opinion, is the least desirable song on the album-I’m not sure why Kid used the “auto-tune” to mask his vocals- it’s like this should have been used on his first few albums when people didn’t think he could sing. He can and this track takes a step backwards. Track 9- “Mr. Rock and Roll” will get you out of your seat and you’ll be “air-guitaring” and “air-piano-ing” in no time.

The album ends on a strong note with the final four songs- “Cucci Galore” could be my second favorite song on the album- I know what you’re thinking- you like this song? No, I love it- the groove is so silky smooth and it has loud guitars- what’s not to like? I can’t get the chorus out of my head. The female singer on this track is “off the hook”- love it. But again- be aware of the big “F-bomb” and other curses- not for the faint of heart. The country rock comes flying right back with –“Redneck Paradise”- and I’ll just say one thing- I wish I could sing it like Mr. Rock- this is way too cool. You’ll feel like you are in a saloon ordering up a Jim Beam in no time. “Cocaine and Gin” could possibly be the best Kid Rock song he has recorded. I know what you are thinking- how could a song containing the words cocaine and gin be a good tune? If you give it a chance and let it sink in you’ll be amazed- this is a “wrap your arms around the ones you love” and sway back and forth and let the music take you away. Way to go Kid- this is a masterpiece in my opinion. The album ends on a high note with ‘Midnight Ferry’- I don’t want to get too crazy but this could be the second best song that Kid Rock has ever recorded. This is “old school” style with an addictive chorus that will have you clapping your hands with the beat and then clapping for applause when it ends- this song is awesome!!!

“Rebel Soul” gets back to what Kid Rock is all about- you can’t contain him- you can’t box him in to one genre. I find it amazing that the critics want him to be what they want him to be. He likes all kind of music and pulls in these influences and turns into his own- what’s not to like? I like rock and roll, country, soul, rap and totally get where Kid Rock is coming from and believe me I am staying on this ride wherever it takes me. Put another quarter in the juke box and turn it up!!!

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April 4, 2012

Album Review: “Amaryllis” by Shinedown released on March 27, 2012

Amaryllis

Expectations always run high for a follow up album after the previous one basically catapulted this band into another stratosphere with its devouring pulsating power filled with raw emotion and highlighted by stunning ballads which basically added a whole new legion of fans to its following. Shinedown’s highly successful “Sound of Madness” caught the attention of many rock fans across the world who still didn’t know who they were even after their first two album releases while also picking up what I would call – the “Z-100” crowd, who basically think that “Second Chance” is their only great song. I don’t mean to polarize the different factions in such an extreme measure but I think you know where I’m coming from. Many fans were clamoring for a follow up and were wondering what was taking so long but I completely understood where they were coming from. They needed to ride the wave of “Madness” to the point they did because every single song on that album was a “hit.” But with success, expectations run high. Now Shinedown did release extra singles to “Madness” so it was not like we didn’t get some new songs from them over the last couple of years- “Junkies for Fame” and “Diamond Eyes” quickly come to mind but the anticipation for the March 27, 2012 release of “Amaryllis” was even more maddening because this date was given to all the fans at the beginning of the year and we had to wait almost another four months.

So now it’s here and you ask what I think? “Amaryllis” is a very good album- I would say 3.5 stars out of the ceiling of 5 stars. I think Shinedown (and most likely their label) realized that they picked up many more fans and set out to make this album to make sure that they maintained the interest of “both factions” by continuing with the same ingredients that went into the recipe for “Sound of Maddness.” In my opinion, it is missing that raw energy that was served up so well in “Madness” and this production is much more “polished” with many songs headed straight to “Z-100.” But there are songs that will grab you by the throat and not let go (see “Enemies” or “Nowhere Kids”) to make sure that the rock fan gets his/her fix while tunes like “Miracle” and the title track will ultimately draw in more of the general public. (This should make the record company happy because more of the general public means more profits for everyone). Ultimately for their next album, they will have to veer off down a new path so as to not become too predictable because settling into a crowded space with “today’s rock bands” that have that similar genre nailed down instead of staying ahead of the pack, would be a shame because I think this band has the talent to blaze its own trail. I feel now that are at a cross-road- I understand riding the “Madness” formula but just like when Soundgarden made their blockbuster- “Superunknown”- the follow up-“Down on The Upside” was too much like the former and ultimately led to their demise. I am not saying this is happening or will happen but you all know that I sit in the camp of having less of their songs headed to “Z-100.”

The album starts off in a blaze with the highly aggressive- “Adrenaline”- and right off the bat it is off to the races as this song is an instant wake up call as all the juices in your body are in motion trying to keep up with the pace of the guitars and drums. Brent Smith is the best rock singer out there today-period end of story- and he takes the bull by the horns in the very first song to let everyone out there know that he is taking no prisoners. Who has more passion than Brent? Again- he makes you feel part of every song. This track hits you over the head and my only request would be that they give the lead guitarist more time for a solo. “Bully” is going to be one of their classic’s-yes it has grown on me to the point that when I hear the opening notes, it already seems like it has been out for years. Not only does it serve an area that needs so much attention, the music behind it is stellar. The best part of the song comes at the 2:50 mark when Brent takes his vocals to another level and professes that –“it’s 8:00 a.m…the hell I’m in…your voice is strong…now right the wrrroooonnngggg!!!!.” I have never understood the mindset of a bully and hopefully this song will help be part of the awareness (and ultimately a stop to this cruel treatment of human beings) that is sorely needed. I love the children’s choir in the background- perfect touch. The title track is a mesmerizing song that puts me in a park lying in the grass as I watch the birds fly freely in the beautiful blue sky backdrop. This band has a way of making some of the most “chaotic” songs and then transition into a tranquil setting where you look around and say “what just happened?” Now for the die-hard rock fan it’s probably frowned upon but I love it. I know it’s the formula but I am drinking the cool aid right now and for the first three tracks I am thinking they have another “Madness” on their hands.

Track # 4- “Unity”- is destined for stardom and I can picture this becoming a staple of their upcoming live shows as there will be many hands up in the air swaying back and forth as there is a clear message from Brent and the boys about loving each other as they want all of us to live in harmony. And who doesn’t want that? I have to say that I do like the song but it just may be too much for my sweet tooth to take-sort of like when I was a kid and there was this candy where there was a stick like that was used to sweep up this grinded sweetness that was so sour when I put it in my mouth it made my eyes tear but for some reason I kept eating it. Do you know what I mean? I think the band realized that it was getting too sweet and track #5 goes back to the anger just to keep the original fan of this band from running out the door with the powerful –“Enemies.” The beginning of the song sounds a lot like something that Nickelback would do and the pace is heavy as the head-banging is back in full force. I love the chorus-“who do you think you are?…tearing us all apart…where did you think you could go…cause every one already knows it’s 20 to 1.” The drumming is excellent is this song and at one part it sounds like he is playing on top of garbage cans (now you can stop criticizing Lars for “St. Anger.”). “I’m Not Alright” takes it back down again and could be the best track on the entire album. It starts off with a feel like a marching band that takes the lead at a parade, it flows nicely mixing in what sounds like electric bagpipes- if there was such a thing- with a sing out loud chorus- “I like to stare at the sun and think about what I’ve done…I lie awake in my great escape…I like crossing the lines…maybe it’s me, I’m just crazy.” I think we have all said that at some point(s) in our life. The lyrics on this entire album run deep and again that points to the passion that Mr. Smith embodies- he makes you feel every word.

“Nowhere Kids” kick it back into fifth gear as that familiar sound like “Devour” rumbles into your headset with sheer power but parents beware- the “F” bomb is loud and clear on this track. (Not sure why the parental warning was not stickered on to this CD). This will get the “mosh-pit” spinning in circles looking for bodies to hit- for some reason I can picturea 21st century “Peanuts gang” (who dance with their necks and nose pointed to the ground) bouncing their chests into each other while Snoopy shoots down the Red Baron with renewed vigor. This will be a fun song to hear at their live shows, the crowd is going to go wild. Then at the drop of a dime, the album turns back to the “feel-good-arm-waving-swaying from side to side” as “Miracle” is destined for stardom, a la “Second Chance” and will be on Z-100 in no time. I kind of think the song sounds a lot like “I Own You” from “Madness” albeit with a different chorus but the verses are a slowed down version of this tune, at least in my opinion. It is a little too “commercial” for me but again if the formula works. “I Will Follow You” is the most unique song on the album and actually has an “R&B” feel to it- I almost feel like Brent should have just sung along with just the piano. This song tells me that they have the ability to change up the formula in the future although this production is “majestic” and maybe just a bit too big. But there is no denying that the song is good and Brent shines brightly with his unbelievable vocal prowess. In my opinion, the next two songs near the end of the album doesn’t really end on a high note as they sort of feel like- dare I say- “fillers?” “For My Sake” is a good song but being honest it doesn’t stand out, sort of blends in with the album and could be one that I might skip over. “My Name [Wearing Me Out]” is another good song but again it doesn’t make me stand up and pay attention. You know I love this band but I have to be honest, it doesn’t take away from their talent. The album ends on a high note with the stunning “Through The Ghost” which pulled me back in and it felt like a breath of fresh air. When Shinedown takes it down, there aren’t too many other bands out there that can compete with them and with no offense to the members of the band but it has to do with Brent Smith’s vocals. He will put you in a trance and make you put your hands over your heart as you lip sync to his every words as your face will squint with the passion that is injected by Mr. Smith. This is the perfect way to end the album.

“Amaryllis” is a very good album which many will say is their best effort to date and others will wonder what road Shinedown will take after this work because in my opinion, they are at a cross-road in their career where “commercialism” may take over and alienate their original fan base. For every rock band it is a double edge sword- you want more fans and sometimes that means grabbing more of the “general” public and ultimately more publicity but on the other hand sometimes a band loses sight of what brought in their original fans and this could lead to many leaving the flock. This album has some great songs that makes it a “buy” in my book but I will put a buyer beware to it- there are also some highly polished commercialized songs that pulls them back to the middle of the pack, instead of leading the charge. I do feel they are in this for the long haul and right now they are coasting nicely from the success of “Madness” but we all know that going to the well one too many times could temper things, no?

March 2, 2012

Concert Review – Van Halen at Madison Square Garden Thurs. Mar. 1, 2012

Concert Review – Van Halen at Madison Square Garden on Thurs. Mar. 1, 2012

“The Way Rock and Roll Is Supposed to Be”

Van Halen conquered Madison Square Garden for the second time this week as they brought down the house last night with a combination of tight explosive musicianship from the Van Halen trio and if there is a better showman than David Lee Roth, someone needs to let me in on that ultimately kept secret. Mixing in some of their new songs from their solid album-“A Different Kind of Truth”- along with what Diamond Dave stated-“we’re pulling out the classics tonight” the Garden faithful were treated to a journey down memory lane with some deep cuts but were also reminded that this version of Van Halen still has a lot left in the tank as some of the new songs seem to take the audience by surprise and even though many did not know the words to the new offerings, there was no denying that classic Van Halen sound that we all have become accustomed to and love. As my son’s and I (yes another one of my dreams was fulfilled last night) were leaving the Mecca last night there were many “wow’s” from the audience members as we trickled down the staircase that never seemed to end while someone else was overheard stating that “they were even better than I expected.” That brought a huge smile to my face as I looked over to my boys and they were just as blown away as the rest of the fans despite my “pre-game” hype which started in early January after purchasing the tickets. I could have done damage by building up the excitement on a daily basis by basically counting down the days, hours and minutes (like I do in our household for Christmas) until the gates of our destiny opened but despite my zaniness, my younger son asked as soon as the show was over- “Can we go see them again?” Van Halen showed everyone how rock and roll is supposed to be and from the looks on many of the young faces around (no doubt offspring from the original Van Halen fans) who experienced both a drum solo and guitar solo probably for the first time in their concert going experience picked up a whole new fan base who can now say they have seen the best live band in the history of hard rock.

For anyone who knows me and my love of Van Halen, my vote would have been to make this week a National holiday season to celebrate their coming to their “second” home at the Mecca known as Madison Square Garden (found out earlier this year that Dave grew up near Indianapolis and of course the Van Halen’s are from California). Like I mentioned my two son’s were going-they had no choice- and I informed my wife that even though it was a school night-they were going, so basically after waiting patiently (yeah right) for them to complete their homework right after school we embarked on our journey to New York. Of course I had two self made CD’s that contained 42 Van Halen songs from each of their seven albums blasting for most of the car ride into the city. We did our pre-game ritual of attending the best pizza place in New York-“Freddie’s and Peppers”- and then jumped on the #2 train to enter the land of Oz. Of course you know we were there at 6:30 p.m. despite the fact that Kool & Gang were set to be the openers at 7:30 p.m. Yes that’s right- Kool & The Gang and you know what? They were fantastic and even though the genre’s are different I think the one thing that struck me which they share with Van Halen is their love of music and they performed like they were playing in their garage and it didn’t matter to them if it were 10 people watching or 10,000 in the audience, the music is in them and it shined brightly. Their mixture of R&B, funk, pop and pure dance music made for a most entertaining set and despite initial reservations from my kids, they were pleasantly surprised on how good these guys were. And everyone in the world knows at least one Kool & The Gang song, right? C’mon- “Ladies Night” or “Celebration?” The band worked it, there was a surprising guitar solo, they had the horn sections, two drummers, keyboardist and a bass guitarist, along with singing and dancing that just put a smile on your face.

As Kool & Gang exited and asked the crowd if they were ready for Van Halen and David Lee Roth, I could feel my skin crawling. It was getting closer and I couldn’t take it any more, I wanted Van Halen. The 35-45 minute break to set up the stage seemed like an eternity to me. I watched as the roadies set up the stage, they applied and seemingly nailed in an approximate 17 foot piece of hardwood floor about 7 feet wide like someone forcing in a piece of a puzzle to make it fit. The focus of the crew was this piece of wood as the middle of the stage up a few feet held Alex Van Halen’s massive drum set with black and white speaker stacked two and half high were lined up about 5 sets on both sides of his drums. Set behind these speakers were more powerful and there was this huge black screen behind the stage that (as Dave mentioned) was like those old “drive-in” places that used to show movies outdoors. As it started to get closer to 9:00 p.m. I noticed one of the roadies applying what looked like baby powder sprinkling it very carefully over this plywood floor. Then the lights went out except towards the front of the stage and I thought it’s going to happen now but maybe done purposely we waited with bated breath as the annoying song (it could have been good but I wanted it done) continued to play the instrumental composition. I grabbed my younger son’s head with my hand like I was palming a basketball (which I can not do) and squeezed and said I want it!! Then it happened I saw a figure dart across the stage headed up to the drum set and I saw the sun glasses and knew it was Alex. He was getting in the driver’s seat and turned on the switch to start the engine known as Van Halen as the ever popular-“Unchained”- begins. I see Wolf dart across the stage and stands to the right of his uncle up a few steps to get closer as the oil that churns this machine awaits the gas to ignite the engine into overdrive. There they are- Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth take a leisurely stroll up the steps and on to the stage as the huge riffs to “Unchained” are blaring from every orifice of The Garden. Right off the bat all you see are smiles, Eddie is smiling Dave is well just Dave. Is there anyone cooler than Mr. Roth? I look over at my boy’s and they are air-guitaring just like me- “You say… I can not get there from here baby…then I don’t care where I’m going”- the crowd in unison helps out Dave right off the bat (and yes there were times that he needed a little assistance from the audience and yes he also received superb assistance from Wolf and Eddie on background vocals- they sounded great). As the first song came to an end I felt like I was having an outer body experience as I could not believe that I was there with my own son’s watching the same band that I did when I was my oldest son’s age-17. I watched in amazement as Dave walked around on stage looking around the entire Garden while taking in the huge hug from the entire building.

As “Running with the Devil” begins I am waiting to hear Wolf’s bass part which is so deep and pulsating that one could feel their own chest thumping with every strum of his guitar. He has arrived and like I said he must be practicing on his singing because the background vocals were spot on and at one point during the show Dave walked over to him and said “I told you it would be better the second time around.” As “She’s the Woman” begins the audience is rocking out but don’t really recognize the tune-of course my boys and I know it because their new album has been playing since its release in our house, car or wherever a noise can come out and we are rocking out in unison like ZZ Top with a third leg. Eddie is lights out and Alex and Wolf are there every step of the way and as the song comes to a crashing halt I knew right there that this was going to be another night of pure ecstasy- the party was on and there was no letting up. Then they pull out the next to last song on “Diver Down” with the deep cut-“The Full Bug”- I couldn’t believe my ears, I nearly jumped to the top of the Garden roof (we weren’t that far the top so believe me I might have had a shot-no matter we were in the building). Eddie’s guitar was ablazing as Dave blared out-“Ah precious sweetheart…woman all you want is good as it can get” and I felt like I was back in my bedroom as a teenager with this song blasting so all the neighbors could hear it and now I had 16,000 neighbors jamming with me.

Then the song I was waiting for-“Tattoo”- yes that song again. By the end of the song even my youngest son who scoffed at the recording said that seeing it live made it better. Folks, it was so good to see them up there having fun while singing-“Swap meet Sally…Tramp stamp tat…mousewife to momshell in the time it took to get that new tattoo…tattoo…tattoo.” Eddie’s solo was off the charts as he was the entire night, I was so glad that my boys were able to witness one of the greatest guitarists of all time and he was so on. Then it was my oldest son’s opinion to be changed as he was not a big fan of “Everybody Wants Some” but after seeing it live, he said his was impressed with the song- now coming from him, that’s big so again I was happy. Now I remember the days when Dave would go on and on while the rest of the band would basically take an at least 20 minute break and this time around, unlike in 2007, the Diamond man did talk more to the audience but it was a more mature and condensed version of his story telling ability. As the evening progressed I was taken back more than a few times to the early 1980’s as such classics as “Somebody Get Me a Doctor” and the not too often heard “Hear About It Later.”

Without question as with every one of their shows one of the highlights are the solos by both Alex and Eddie. Alex did this amazing skit with a twist of “latin-tinged” almost jazz like solo that displayed another side to his massive talent as being one of the best drummers to have ever walked this planet. What else can be said about Eddie? Some call him a magician and you would not hear any arguments from me, I know nothing about playing guitar but I know it’s something special when ever he is on. So what were the other highlights of the show you ask? Basically from “Hot For Teacher” until the end of the show every song was a “show stopper” with audience participation coming from every section of the Garden whether it was head-banging, air-guitaring or singing along to some of the best songs ever recorded. And I definitely agree with Dave’s statement that the ending of “Hot For Teacher” has to be the best endings to a song in the history of rock music, it’s hard to argue against it. They performed “Women In Love” so unbelievably good that I thought the original recording was on, so please no more about the back-ground vocals, OK? Then I think I came out of my skin as the beginning riffs to “Outta Love Again” took off- can you believe that? “Outta Love?” – Are you kidding me? I was so high above the clouds while Wolf was playing that classic bass line that I never wanted the moment to end and even my oldest son took notice as he keenly pointed out that even Eddie’s solo was played with such precision, it was jaw-dropping. There was a break in the action as the Van Halen’s left the stage and Dave came out with a acoustic guitar as the backdrop screen depicted a dog first rounding up some sheep and then some cattle as he informed the audience that the dog was his and he loved the outdoors. As I looked to my right I could not see my oldest son so I looked down and there he was –almost sitting down- my heart almost stopped as I picked him up from his shirt and stood him up- there will be no sitting down on the job. After the short story on dogs, Dave strummed the familiar chords to “Ice Cream Man” while singing about summertime. We all knew what was coming- the audience could see the Van Halen’s entering the stage-almost like when a basketball coach sends in replacements to the court-as they stood and sat and waited and then there it was the electrifying engine of Van Halen as they ripped through one of their best covers ever. My youngest was mesmerized and couldn’t believe how good they were performing it. By this time, one of my long dreams had been fulfilled as I could see the same expressions on their face that I had some 30 years ago.

“Panama” -always a crowd pleaser did not disappoint as usual as the pitch of the crowd was at an all-time high and you could feel it-I don’t know how to describe it-but you have to feel it. During the song the overhead lights flashed at unbelievable speed which had the effect of feeling like a spaceship was making its landing on the stage as we could barely make out the four figures on stage which for me took the show to another level. There would be no leaving the stage and coming back for encores as the band just stayed on to play their staple-“Ain’t Talking About Love”- which pushed the excitement to a level that can’t be topped by many bands out there today. This is “old school” at its best and I couldn’t wait for my boys to see the entire Garden raise their fists up to the sky and in unison push three times into the air while everyone screaming- “Hey, Hey, Hey!!!” There it was- the bright lights shined upon the audience and I was close to tears, this moment couldn’t be topped. The night ended with the now loved “Jump” as confetti was skyrocketed into the air and the band was completely covered. Dave came up from the back of the stage with this huge flag that is used for car races and as he struggled to wave the checkered flag I could sense a source of accomplishment on his part. There were no words to be spoken, that moment signified to me just how far this band has come. Again just the moment needed to be treasured especially from a Van Halen fan like myself who waited nearly a quarter of a century to see them the first time in 2007 and now in 2012 to see it with my own two son’s has to make it the best night that I have ever seen Van Halen. This is a night I will remember for the rest of my life. Thank you Eddie, Alex, Dave and Wolf, you all made a dream come true and I am looking forward to the next chapter. Hey I have a young nephew that needs to see the dream. Keep rockin’ fellas!!!!

Set List

1. Unchained – (Fair Warning)

2. Running With The Devil – (VH I)

3. She’s The Woman – (A Different Kind of Truth)

4. The Full Bug – (Diver Down)

5. Tattoo – (A Different Kind of Truth)

6. Everybody Wants Some – (Women and Children First)

7. Somebody Get Me a Doctor – (VH II)

8. China Town – (A Different Kind of Truth)

9. Hear About It Later – (Fair Warning)

10. Oh Pretty Woman – (Diver Down)

11. Alex Drum Solo

12. You Really Got Me – (VH I)

13. The Trouble With Never – (A Different Kind of Truth)

14. Dance The Night Away – (VH II)

15. I’ll Wait – (1984)

16. Hot For Teacher – (1984)

17. Women In Love – (VH II)

18. Outta Love Again – (VH II)

19. Beautiful Girls – (VH II)

20. Ice Cream Man – (VH I)

21. Panama – (1984)

22. Eddie’s Guitar Solo

23. Ain’t Talking About Love – (VH I)

24. Jump – (1984)

February 10, 2012

Album Review: A Different Kind of Truth By Van Halen

Album Review: “A Different Kind of Truth” by Van Halen released on Feb. 7, 2012.

A Different Kind of Truth

“Yes We Did Miss You and You’ll Never Realize How Much…Thank You For Coming Back! (And Yes, We Really Mean It)”

Update: I want to take the opportunity to say that in no way did I mean to disparage Michael Anthony’s contributions to Van Halen- just the opposite- his vocals and bass playing were second to none. I guess I let my frustration about people not getting on board with this version of Van Halen because the backing vocals were not as good now, I totally get it. But again, this is as close to the version that the die-hard Van Halen fan knows is the only one that they want. I love the Hagar years as well but there is something about the Diamond Dave years (and hopefully years to come) that  is the most special. So admittedly the backing vocals do take a hit but again I think more from a live perspective than anything else.

Van Halen is back and yes there has been some shuffling of the members but if you were a fan of this Hall of Fame band back in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s like I was, then you know that this is what Van Halen is supposed to be. Ok, yes it does seem unfair that Michael Anthony is not here with his “brothers,”- I get it. However, they “kept it in the family” and brought in their son/nephew –“Wolfie”-and now the already powerful steam engine of Eddie and Alex has received a new sparkplug. Can you find me a family trio who posses more musical talent than the Van Halen’s? Let me ask you this- have you ever heard of a family asking a non-relative tenant to move from its apartment because the landlord’s “kin folk” needs a place to live? (I thought so) Now with respect to Diamond Dave- again if you are a core Van Halen fan- there is no one better suited to be the vocalist than him and we all know it. I’ll ask another question- has anyone out there ever been in a squabble with a family member? (I thought so). So now this revised unit has put forth its best effort to release “A Different Kind of Truth” and maybe it’s me but a lot of what I have seen so far is negative comments coming in every direction from the professional “critic” down to the surly I-Tune reviewers who probably have only listened to the one minute and thirty second sample of the songs and easily dismiss the effort. Hence, I am hear to address the complaints on behalf of “generation X’ers” who probably don’t even know these criticism’s exist (nor do they probably care) and probably wouldn’t take to the web like I am to defend (can’t believe I just said that) this legendary band.

First, I will refer you to this notion that a band can’t use riffs or licks that may have been done a while back but never made it out of the vault. Hmmm… is it me or has there been multiple releases of Tupac material since his unfortunate death or “new” Beatle songs despite both John and George not being around? Name one band or artist that sounds totally different from one album to the next? It’s hard to do, isn’t it?

Second, I need to address the perception that the background vocals have taken a huge hit since Michael is no longer in the band. Seriously? With all the technological advances that the music industry has made for making most anyone’s voice sound professional, (see Milli Vanilli) don’t you think they can make the same type of vocal sound which appeared on every Roth led album prior to this effort? I defy you to point out Michael Anthony’s vocals in any of their first six records that he was on and tell me you hear a difference on “Different Kind of Truth.” It’s probably more apparent at the live shows than on recordings. Anyways, if that’s your beef then you are just picking at straws.

Third, David Lee Roth’s vocals are not as good as it was before. Well yeah what do you expect 28 years later? However, we are not talking a huge drop-off-admittedly he can’t hit the same high notes/screeches as he did when he was in his 20’s but can Brian Johnson from AC/DC reach the same tone now as he did on “Back in Black?” What the Diamond man brings to the table as a showman more than makes up for the moderate range decline and he just flat-out exudes “coolness!” Is there anyone more comfortable in his shoes than Mr. Roth? He interjects his naturally timed “talking moments” inside so many songs (see “As Is”) like no other rock singer has ever done. And for someone who is now closing in on his 60th birthday, I guarantee you he is in better shape than most who are at least 25 years younger. His moves are effortless and to this day there has never been a more acrobatic front man.

Lastly, I need to address all the negativity surrounding the release of their first single- “Tattoo.” I’ve seen conspiracy theories written – one that said that the Van Halen clan purposely released this song first to make David Lee Roth look bad- what? Really? Aren’t all their names and input on every song on the album? I’ve read that this song is so terrible and it shouldn’t have been included on the album. Am I the only one on the planet that loves this song? Call it cheesy and all I have to say is that cheese is made from milk and is a necessary part of nearly everyone’s diet. Of all the “cheesy” songs on the radio these days this is the one that you are going to attack? Let me ask one question- do any of them have a blistering guitar solo from the genius named Eddie Van Halen? (I thought so). Is it any more pop than “Jump?” Hey -there is not one note from a piano, organ or synthesizer on the entire album and yet there are still cat calls from the balcony? What do you want? The song is pure fun and when you see the video you can’t tell me they aren’t having fun. I want to have fun! Metallica can have “Until it Bleeds” (which I like) and you’re complaining about “Tattoo?”

Now with all that out of the way (there is more but I need to move on) I will say that “A Different Kind of Truth” is a good album- I would give it a three-star rating out of the typical ceiling of five stars. The more you turn it over, the more it will grow on you. The first thing that will instantly hit you is the incredible guitar playing by Eddie- he hasn’t lost a thing- there are so many blistering moments here that I believe there will be some who will think (and they wouldn’t be wrong) that this is his heaviest moment ever in Van Halen, any rendition of Van Halen. At every step of the way is his brother matching his brother’s scorching riffs with his thunderous pounding of the skins (always seems like there are at least two other drummers on the recordings helping him make that sound) which solidifies his position as one of the all-time great drummers in modern rock history. Then on to Wolfie- if you learn from the best don’t you think he is going to be great? I guarantee you that even though he is young, he pushes his father and uncle to another level and not just because of the excitement of having your own offspring in the same band but because of his talent he possesses already (and you know will only get better as he gets older). Finally what else can I say about David Lee Roth? Like I said, his screams are not as high as they were on “VH II” but again he more than makes up for it with his experience. I would equate it to like being Randy Johnson, the former major league pitcher, who in his younger days could sling it faster than most anyone on the planet and when he “seasoned” he learned how to pitch. That’s what Dave does here- he may not be able to blow you away with his fastball but he can definitely put it under your chin and make you stand up and take notice. It’s impossible to not know when David Lee Roth is in a room and he is all over the room on this album- it is the “truth.” There are some “instant classics” on this album (see “Outta Space” and “Big River”) which is worth the price of admission. Now I’m not going to sit here and tell you that it’s as good as their debut or VH II but for those out there who scoff at Diver Down, then maybe this is your album.

Ok well you already know how I feel about Tattoo, it’s really not as bad as everyone is making it seem- I love the chorus- “swap meet Sally…tramp stamp tat.” Moving on. Track # 2-“She’s The Woman”- picks up the edge and pace while conjuring up images of the early 1980’s when this band was at the top of the world. There really can’t be any complaints here, right? I love the line-“Got a door bell sign says bring it or don’t ring it!” Listen carefully to Eddie throughout his rollercoaster ride with the way the guitar works the entire thrill while Alex is letting the world know that he means business. The song is short but packs a powerful punch. “You and Your Blues” actually starts off like a Hagar led song but quickly turns back to Roth leading the party. I will point you in the direction of the background vocals on this track and tell me you hear something really missing. This is a bluesy type of track with glimpses of muscle guitar while the groove accelerates at certain points but then comes back down to the calm of a spring morning. “China Town” starts off with a guitar sound similar to Skrillex and then quickly turns into a head-banging affair with Alex, Wolf and Eddie leading the charge as the engine starts to roar. As I listen I am kind of shocked at the heaviness of the song and when Eddie bursts into his solo it is the equivalent to someone knocking down a closed door with a massive kick. Wow the first four songs have blown by and the door is already off the hinges.

“Blood and Fire” takes it down a bit and admittedly it may not be one of their best efforts but at the 2:27 mark is what I love best-“I told you I was coming back…Say you missed me”- and Eddie’s guitar solo makes up for the song’s shortcomings. “Bullethead” brings everyone back to the mosh-pit and the head-banging comes back with breakneck results as the family engine drives this truck through the barricades (like when Rambo does in First Blood). Eddie blazes his way yet through another impressive solo and one wonders what this band would have been if it always had Roth, it seems Diamond pushes Eddie to another level, for whatever reason(s). “As Is” is definitely one of the highlights of the album and if you are a tried and true Van Halen fan this song has to put a smile on your face. It has everything you were used to- Roth antics with his talking points, great background vocals and of course the Van Halen clan thrashing away like no other family band can. As Diamond says- “little more volume”- turn it up and bang your head, it’s the only way. “Honeybabysweetiedoll”- OK it’s a silly name as Eddie brings back that Skrillex sound (or did Skrillex get it from Eddie?) and I am still not sure if I totally love this track, it definitely keeps my interest throughout but I’m still trying to decide which road I’m leaning towards. I do know that if no one is around and I put the volume up as loud as it can get, I like it a whole lot more. Eddie is all over this tune and it’s almost like a psychedelic out of space song where I waiting for the “danger” word to be spoken. I totally love the dog bark towards the end of the song, very cool touch. “The Trouble With Never” is a total kick in the pants track where Eddie’s work has to make you stand up and pay attention even if you don’t like Diamond Dave’s “talking points.” When I hear songs like this it further solidifies his legacy as an accomplished guitarist but at the same time you wonder what they have been doing for the past ten years or so. This song was just a warm up as the blazing “Outta Space” takes you away like those old Warner Brother cartoons where the coyote would somehow get himself tied up to a rocket that would blast off to space while the roadrunner disappeared into the desert. All I have to say is “Wow”-if you don’t think this song is worthy to be on their set list for their upcoming tour, then I give up. Eddie is on another level while Alex makes me want to dance around in circles for hours- are you looking for a workout song? Look no further, I can picture the recently departed Joe Frazier with a set of headphones on pounding away on the punching bag quickly becoming a Van Halen fan-who knows maybe he was? Phew, you will be sweating after you rewind this track a few times but it’s worth it!!! \m/ \m/

Now with “Stay Frosty” most will probably head to hit the “skip” or “next” button on whatever system they listen to this album, but give it a chance. I know the beginning is tough and if you can get by all the “uhh ahh uhh’s” by Diamond Dave and focus on the groove after it picks up you will be blown away again by Eddie’s expertise on the guitar-just incredible. My wife said she didn’t know what “stay frosty” means and I had no answer for her, anyway the musicianship is so friggin’ tight and you will be air-guitaring in no time. “Big River” is an instant classic in my opinion as this incorporates every aspect of that “vintage Van Halen” that we all have grown to love. The bridge where Dave says –“look both ways now”- kicks it into overdrive as Eddie takes the wheel and the smoke coming from underneath the screeching tires will leave a mark as the blazing guitar riffs are spellbinding. This could have appeared on VH1 or VH2, ‘nuff said!! The album ends on a decent track called –“Beats Workin’”- it sort of reminds me of “Somebody Get Me a Doctor” (but not as good as that track). Dave seems to be trying too hard on this one as he seems to be screaming throughout much of the song and tries to stay at a high tone pitch that he could have easily hit years ago. The rest of the Van Halen’s musicianship keeps you holding on and again not a bad song but not one of their best efforts.

“A Different Kind of Truth” is like a classic 1970’s Ford Mustang car that sits with a perfectly fitted cover in the garage for the most part but any time you take it out for a ride the shiny chrome grabs the attention of car lover’s and even those who are not. The car can still kick it into gear every once in a while and “spin-out” at the end of a vacant street and you think “wow what a car” but maybe stalls at the next Stop sign but no one is there to witness that occurrence; so you jump out and clear out the cob webs from underneath the hood and slam the it down for extra coolness and pray that it starts up again. Not surprisingly you make it home and before you put it back in the garage you wax it down for all the neighbors to see before you put that cover back on it. And just like that old neighbor would say to you-“Get away from that car”- because it’s a classic. Same with Van Halen- you know it’s a classic and there’s no reason to nit pick when the majority of the body of work is extraordinary. My advice is to take “A Different Kind of Truth” out for a spin every now and then. You and your neighbors will have a grin from ear to ear.

October 28, 2011

Weekly Update – Rocktober 28, 2011

Phish at Madison Square Garden on Wed. Dec. 28. Tickets on sale tomorrow at noon. $73.90

Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds at United Palace theater on Fri. Nov. 18. tickets on sale this morning at 10:00 a.m. $148.25 (Wow that is a lot of money)

The Cure at the Beacon Theater from Fri. – Sun. Nov. 25-27. Tickets on sale Rocktober 31 at 10:00 a.m. $65 – $105.

Erykah Badu at the Best Buy Theater on Sun. Dec. 4. Tickets on sale tomorrow at noon. $59.50 – $65.
Cyndi Lauper at the Beacon Theater on Sun. Dec. 4 for “Home for The Holidays” Tour. Tickets on sale this morning at 10:00 a.m. $48.25; $63.65; $170.05; $530.60

Devo at Irving Plaza on Tues. Dec. 13. Tickets on sale this morning at 10:00 a.m. $79.75.

Cheap Trick at the Paramount Theater in Huntington NY on Thurs. Dec. 8. Tickets on sale this morning at 10:00 a.m. $62.50 and $116.

Barry Manilow at Radio City Music Hall on Tues. Feb. 14, 2011. Pre-sale tickets on sale now if you have an American Express card until this Sunday night Rocktober 30 at 10:00 p.m. General public tickets on sale Mon. Rocktober 31 at 10:00 a.m. $63.90 and $326. (Again it is shameful that ticket prices are now like this with this huge gap in-between low and high).

Mavis Staples at the Beacon Theater on Mon. Dec. 5 for the 7th annual “Holiday Cheer for FUV.” Tickets on sale today at noon. $68.25, $93.85 and $174.70.

David Cook at Irving Plaza on Fri. Dec. 9. Tickets on sale this morning at 10:00 a.m. $38.50

Other items:

Rumor of the week: Tony Iommi and the boys have been reportedly rehearsing together-and they are actually speaking to each other again- and the spark has been struck-there might be a Black Sabbath reunion with the four original members. Great news to take the month of Rocktober out-keep your fingers crossed.

Michael Buble has released a full length Christmas album which just came out this past Tuesday and even though it is many of the same songs you have heard in the past-it is an absolute stunner. I’m already listening to it and Halloween is not even here yet. Folks, run-don’t walk- to wherever it is you go to get your music-you will not be disappointed, especially if you love that “classic” sound. This is the 2000 version of Bing Crosby. Wait until you hear-“Jingle Bells”- with the Puppini Sisters-you will think it is 1940 all over again and it’s Bing with the Andrew Sisters. The duet with Shaina Twain is “off the hook.” You just need to own it. This is an “instant classic” that you will be listening to for decades.

My favorite country band-Little Big Town– has put their spin on the Maroon 5 song with Christina Aguilera-“Move Like Jagger”- and I have to say they do a solid job on it. It is raw, it looks like they are in a hallway of a grammar school scrunched comfortably with an acoustic flavor. This band can sing and sing they do-if this doesn’t move you-then I give up. Go here to view: http://littlebigtown.com/home

Sad news to hear about the official cause of death for Amy Winehouse and I hope now her family and friends can be finally be at peace. Rest in peace Amy.

Here’s to a speedy recovery for Stephen Tyler who had a violent fall in the bathroom at his hotel in Paraguay last weekend. He appeared on the ‘Today’ show earlier this week to explain that it was his second show in South America and explained it was food poisoning. He passed out in the shower after he felt nauseous. He denies that drugs or alcohol was involved.

Best wishes for another speedy recovery as Paul Stanley of KISS had surgery on his vocal chords earlier this week but don’t fret, his publicist says that he will be back in no time. Yes a new album in 2012 and another tour!!!

Slash is back in the studio recording his next solo album and this time it is with the band that he took out with him to tour to support his first solo album last year. Myles Kennedy (Alter Bridge) will handle the vocals which I think is an excellent move on Slash’s part- I can’t wait to hear what’s next.

Rocktober Juke-box: 1979

Rock On 1979

Since it is “Rocktober” (my most favorite month of the year) I decided to bring back the rock and roll juke-box and the theme this week is the music from 1979. As I think back to that year, I can remember buying so many quality albums, in my opinion, and spending endless hours lying in front of my stereo listening to them while expanding my tastes, just a bit. If I wasn’t playing baseball during every season but the winter (football took its place in the winter) or studying for tests during the school year, then every other free moment I had was discovering new music. I was 14-years old and my world was opening up just like when a small stream rolls into a huge body of lake water and eventually the ocean. This was the beginning of my journey, which I am still on, and it will never end because music is in my blood stream-a necessity for me to breathe.

I really can’t remember a better year of music –for my taste in music- than 1979. (I often wonder if the Smashing Pumpkin song-“1979”- was written because of all the great music that came out that year). Quickly off the top of my head there was The Cars “Candy-O”-pound-for-pound arguably their best album ever; The Police’s-“Regatta De Blanc”- a super solid follow-up to their debut; “Head Games” by Foreigner-such an under-rated album by all the critics (fans know better); “Look Sharp” and “I’m The Man” by Joe Jackson (yes boys and girls two albums in one year); “Fear of Music” by Talking Heads (the one and only album I own of theirs-besides the “greatest hits”); The B-52’s debut (yes it deserves to be mentioned); “Live at Budokan” by Cheap Trick (yes this has to be here despite the fact there are no new songs); “Freedom at Point Zero” by Jefferson Starship (when Mickey Thomas joined in on vocals-great album in my opinion); “VHII”by Van Halen; “Breakfast in America” by Supertramp; “Cornerstone” by Styx (again my taste); “Flirtin’ With Disaster” by Molly Hatchett and ‘The Long Run” by The Eagles. Now I know I am missing more but this is what I quickly think of. And also in 1979, there was arguably the greatest “one hit wonder”-“My Sharona”- by The Knack off of their debut-“Get The Knack.” So here it is folks the last week of Rocktober and I want to go out with a bang, so throw a few quarters in the juke-box and make the following selections, in no particular order:

On Any Other Day” – The Police – This is when The Police were The Police-you know that expression-“scary good”-this is immediately what comes to mind whenever I hear this song. Their first two albums are incredible and even “goofy” songs like this grab your attention because this trio is so talented. Sting was a beast on bass and vocals; Andy kept the train rolling with his complete guitar playing and Stuart still has to be considered amongst the greatest drummers still alive today

Since I Held You” – The Cars – I know what you’re thinking-the Cars again?- why yes…why not? This band deserves its spot in the Hall of Fame and songs like this are “exhibit A.” From the opening lick by Elliot Easton to the last drum beats by Greg Robinson it is something different from the normal rock you were used to listening to-was it-“new wave”-Ok call it what you want but Ocasek’s vocals are stunning and the arrangement of this song (and the entire album) are beyond words in my opinion. “I really love the way you talk…I don’t mind saying so…and ooh I love it when you dance…so silky slow…oh baby please don’t go.”-love it!!!

Borrowed Time” – Styx – “Don’t look now but here comes the ‘80’s”- boy do I remember that, the 1970’s was coming to an end and who knew what to expect in the upcoming decade. “I had my car and made the scene and didn’t give a damn about no gasoline”-funny how the theme still applies today with gas prices seemingly stuck near the $4 per gallon mark. (Imagine if that were the price back in 1979?) Styx is a good band and again-“Cornerstone”- is my most favorite album by these guys and this song takes me back to my bedroom and I put the speakers up in the window so the rest of my neighbors could hear this awesome song.-yes there is a big guitar hook-did you expect anything else?

Outta Love Again” – Van Halen – This is also “scary good”- C’mon folks some 32 years later, this song still sounds fresh as it did back then. Eddie was a young buck solidifying his legend while defining that legendary sound which many were influenced by and if I sang like Diamond Dave while possessing the skills he had, I may have been just as cocky. Alex and Michael are also scary good as you can feel the bass and drums all over this track. This groove is so “funk-a-fied” with the stop and go movements and once Eddie blasts in with the solo, well you can just start to bow to the Masters. The “young” Van Halen were so hungry, so raw that in my opinion-VH II- is their best album ever.

Brand New Cadillac” – The Clash – 1979 was also the year that The Clash released-“London Calling”- and I bet there weren’t too many teenagers back then who did not own it-this is by far my most favorite song on that album. This song rocks Rocktober like no other- it is a short power blast of a song that will knock your socks off-so friggin’ good. “Baby, baby…won’t you hear my plea…” I bet you Billie Armstrong heard this song as a kid and set him on his way to one day form Green Day. This is raucous rock and roll at its best. \m/ \m/

I’ll Get Even With You” – Foreigner – Listen to Lou Gramm’s vocals and tell me he wasn’t the best? Again “Head Games” is so under-rated in my opinion and I can listen to it from top to bottom. This is the fourth song on side one and is a stellar song in my opinion-it’s not too heavy but not too soft. You can feel Lou’s passion and if I was the intended person that this song was written about, I’d be nervous because one can tell by Lou’s voice that the hunt is on. This is the last album with all six members as the record company kind of forced their hand and eventually they would become four. Enjoy the mastery of all six on this tune.

Tusk” – Fleetwood Mac – After “Rumours” the whole world awaited with bated breath on what Fleetwood Mac’s next album was going to sound like and to be quite honest with you, I did not like this song when it was first released in 1979 (Steve and I said the same thing this week). It was only years later that I finally “got it” and it has become one of my favorite Fleetwood Mac songs (just not in my top 5). There is a lot going on in this song and it does make for a good party song-I could see some sort of line dancing forming. Ok, nerdy-well that’s me.

Freedom At Point Zero” – Jefferson Starship – I wore out the album sleeve on this album, so many great songs including the title track which will rock you out. I know every word to this song (and there are a lot of words) and could do it at a karaoke party and completely nail it. I say what a perfect way to end an album as this was the last song on side two-it has everything that you want in a song-fast moving and loud but then the pitch and tone comes down at other moments while all along you can’t help but sing along. “steady as steel I want to take the wheel and drive you like a rock and roller…freedom at point zero and rock and roll isn’t over”- that’s right rock and roll will never die. This song is so good I can’t explain it, I have always loved it and always will. I threw this on a Spin CD for Megan way back when and she loved it-perfect exercise song.

Heaven” – Talking Heads –Thanks to my uncle who turned me on to the “new” music of the late 1970’s and it included the Talking Heads and B-52’s and at the time, their music was “weird” and it took me a few turns of the “Fear of Music” for me to get it. This song is a good time to grab your partner at the party and go to the dance floor to dance cheek to cheek. It’s a “psychedelic power ballad” –if there is such a thing- David Byrne’s vocals are powerful. This is a super solid tune-check it out.

Dance This Mess Around” – B-52’s – Talk about weird? I can’t decide which album is more strange-“Fear of Music” by the Talking Heads or The B-52’s debut. Now this is by far the strangest song on this list and I will understand if some of you out there will feel like you have wasted a quarter but if you can get by her screaming into the microphone, the song is actually very good. Believe me, it took me a while to get used to this whole album, never mind this song but once I “got it” I was hooked. “yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah” C’mon “Do the Aqua velva!!!”- Doesn’t that make you feel much better-some weird stuff here folks but its only a quarter, right?

Throw It Away” – Joe Jackson – Yes this song is what 1979 was all about- a mixture of “new wave” and “punk” but with rock and roll at its core. Joe Jackson was the man in 1979 and it was because of songs like this. This is raw, raucous rock and roll-don’t you just love the piano work? Boy how I wish he would stop ignoring the beginning of his career and get the boys back together to let their hair down-Ok maybe the hair is gone but you know what I mean. Please Joe, don’t “throw it away!!!”

Good Rockin’” – Molly Hatchett – I love the album “Flirtin’” and it’s because of songs like this. Folks this is some good stuff right here-it’s like walking into the kitchen of someone you know who really can cook during the holiday season and you get that warm feelin’- do you feel it? Do you smell it? That’s how good this song is- you can smell it. Molly Hatchett was the real deal back in 1979- get your south home jukin’ fix right here. This totally rocks!!! \m/ \m/

A Gallon of Gas” – The Kinks – I absolutely love the Kinks-“Low Budget”- album and also wore out the album sleeve on this bad boy. In my opinion, this is the most rocking album the Kinks ever made. And again even though this was made 32 years ago, the song is still relevant because we are paying through the nose for a gallon of gas. “Who needs a car and a 747 when you can’t buy a gallon of gas?” –couldn’t have said it better myself

Do Anything You Want to Do” – Thin Lizzy – The opening track on what many consider their best album ever-“Black Rose: A Rock Legend”- (I know my friend John thinks so, he has a huge picture of the album hanging in his house). Again for those of you who think they are a one-hit wonder-boy you are so wrong- Thin Lizzy belongs in the Hall-it’s enough already. How can Phil Lynott be in the Hall of Fame? Listen to his bass line on “Waiting for An Alibi” which is also on Black Rose and talk about singing- he had one of the greatest rock voices in history-it’s enough already.

Run Like Hell” – Pink Floyd – Even though I am not the biggest Floyd fan, I do own “The Wall” and besides the B-52’s and Talking Heads, this was also the strangest album I had ever come across. I understood the “concept” album but this “double” blast of work was too “psychedelic” for me if you get my drift. However, there are some quality songs from this work and I can’t deny that I do not change the dial when I hear this song. Have to give credit where credit is due.

Shot Down In Flames ” – AC/DC – How freaking good is Bon Scott? A sad day indeed when the world lost this incredibly talented singer. I will never understand how anyone can not like AC/DC-especially if they love rock and roll- it’s damn near impossible and in my opinion is worthy of a fine-not jail time-but yes a fine. Angus’s solo is righteous and “Highway to Hell” is arguably their finest work during the Scott era.

Cars” – Gary Numan – This arguably could be the best song to come out of 1979-how many times was this played on the radio and like I said 1979 was the year of “new wave” with all of this psychedelic music. I know I instantly loved it and still listen with the same curiosity that I did when I was a kid. Maybe a one hit wonder but worth the price of admission.

Nuggets

30th Anniversary Box Set

It was the late 1980’s and my taste in music was starting to get “heavy” and it was only a few years before I dove head-first into “The Black album” by Metallica and I was then on my way. Now I guess the early fans of Metallica can blame Bob Rock and Motley Crue for Metallica going down the “pop” highway in their minds (I don’t care what anyone says- The Black album is heavy) because once Lars heard the 1989 release of “Dr. Feelgood”-he wanted that sound and despite relinquishing much of the control of making their own music, the black album came to fruition. And much to the dismay of the early Metallica fans, the world of metal spread to more of the general public, including me. Now by the time “Dr. Feelgood” came out I was entrenched into the world of Motley Crue and a big reason for it was due to a friend of mine-Audrey- who lent me their first album-“Too Fast For Love.” I thought that I loved “Shout Out The Devil” and “Girls, Girls, Girls” but when I put this album on, it struck a chord and to this day I think that this is their best work that they have ever done. So then why is it in the golden “nuggets” section of the page you ask? Because…there are songs that I skip over…yes again I said it- I know it is “sac-religious” to say that but if I am not honest, then what? Anyway, I was a huge fan of The Crue back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s and went to see them a few times in their hey-day including the “Girls, Girls, Girls” and “Dr. Feelgood” tours.

After grunge took over in the 1990’s and the band broke-up, I lost contact but when they did their 2005 reunion tour I went with my younger brother to see them and it was a solid overall performance (but not like the “old” days like the 1980’s and 1990’s). I was never really a fanatic of a fan for the band and was always kind of turned-off by Vince Neil, especially after seeing the “Behind The Music” documentary on the band where he came off as a spoiled rocker, in my opinion. Then when one of my new favorite bands-Godsmack- had written a song about him after Smack had toured with them on one of those “tent” summer tours, the lyrics depicted the same kind of “star” that he had been before their break-up. You’d figure that after their time away, he’d be a little more humble but…(I know there are two sides to the story but I am leaning with Sully on this one). I wouldn’t say he is as bad as Axl Rose but he has that “Axl” in him where if things don’t go his way, he seemingly pouts. Anyway, I digress-I can say that all these years later I am still a fan of The Crue, especially their debut-“Too Fast For Love”- which is solid and worthy of your attention. Here are some of the golden “nuggets” from this album, in no particular order:

Take Me To The Top – This is raw hard-rock head-banging at its best-you can feel their hunger throughout this entire debut album. Tommy Lee is one of the best drummers in the hard-rock/metal scene and most people nowadays seem to forget that because he has so much more going on around him but this album takes you back to the basics-he is all over this track. Now obviously this is a much younger Vince on vocals as the pitch throughout the album could be used to “break-glass” and is higher than a young Brian Johnson from AC/DC if you can believe that. It’s an ironic song title considering they did get there and remained in that position for a long-time but along with the fame came the fortune and misfortune. This is quality hard-rock right here folks and Nikki and Mick keep the engine flowing with a righteous groove, Mick has a nasty solo in the middle.

On With The Show – If one had to pick a song that defined the “sound” of Motley Crue-many might point to this song as it was a prelude to the types of songs that were to come in their future albums. It is not too “heavy”, has a “anthem” type melody that would get a rile out of a huge crowd and my guess if they pulled this one out in their future shows, the audience would freak. “Going on the show…oh my, my, my…no, no, no.” Mick Mars has always been and always will be the perfect lead-guitarist for this band, no “ifs,” “ands” and “buts” about it.

Come On and Dance – This could be my most favorite song on the album and I recently put it on a mix that I used for a long car ride and haven’t been able to stop singing it for the past two weeks. My youngest son knew right away who it was (my oldest was stumped) and I exhaled because I thought I had failed in my ability to spread the work of good hard rock. I love the guitar riff by Mars and I have to hand it to Vince as his vocal prowess is perfect for the genre called hard-rock/metal. If you “search” the meaning of that phrase-you just might see a reference to this song. It has the “cow-bell” so how can it not be good? Vince’s screams are primal.

Too Fast For Love – I don’t know folks, the title track just may be the best song on the album. This is perfect for your next work-out whether it is Spin, boot camp, kick-boxing or a run. You will not be able to stop singing-“too fast…too fast…too fast for love”- as you pick up the pace of your work-out-it will come naturally as the groove in this track has to get the juices flowing. Again Tommy makes you move with his smashing beats-you can feel his energy bleeding through the speakers. Vince is raw-as the rest of the band is-and you have to appreciate the feel of this song because I bet they couldn’t wait to record this (or perform it live) for everyone to hear because they knew they had something good. This is some good stuff right here folks. \m/ \m/

Public Enemy #1 – “You and me we’re gonna escape tonight… on the run under the moonlight…” Rebellious and defying, right? These guys had that raucous ways about them (just like Guns & Roses but they came before Guns) and this song exemplifies that sentiment with the music as well as the lyrics. They lived the life of being the public enemy #1-maybe this is the song that defines them, right? Perfect jam!!! \m/ \m/

Merry-Go-Round – I will caution you before you listen to this song-if you do NOT want to repeat the same phrase all day long and you will not be able to get it out of your head- do not listen to this track because you will not be able to stop singing- “merry-go-round…merry-go-round…merry-go-round and round…merry-go-round and round.” On the other hand if you like singing along to seemingly only three words in this track-then this song is for you. Mick has a sweet guitar solo in the middle and again Tommy is all over this song.

Piece of Your Action – Many would argue that this is the best song on the album and for the most part I wouldn’t disagree with that sentiment. As most of you know the focus for me is typically on the music and not so much the lyrics, so you know I am pretty uncomfortable talking about the meaning of this track, especially with the “youngin’s” in the room, so I will say that I love this song and only from the musical standpoint, especially when Tommy is hitting the “high-hat” throughout most-this is hard-rocking head-banging at its best.

Top Ten (By Artists You Are Scared To Admit You Like)

Sadly the month of Rocktober is coming to its end but it usually goes out with a bang because of Halloween and since it is next Monday-what better way to celebrate than with two of the “scariest” artists to have ever hit the rock scene in the last forty years or so- Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson. Now for those of you who were born in the 1980’s or later- you are probably making a face about Mr. Cooper. “Wasn’t that guy just voted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?”-why yes, that is a correct statement. Could the same happen to Marilyn Manson? Betting money screams no way. But stranger things have happened and if they vote on Halloween night in the future, he just may have a chance. But I get the feeling Manson wouldn’t want to be voted in. With respect to Alice Cooper I can’t sit here and tell you that first off that I am his biggest fan-far from it-there are way more fanatical fans that could do a much better top ten list (or in this case top five) because my focus will be on the low hanging fruit. Secondly, I was a youngster myself when he “hit it big” and I never really followed his career, like I said- he is an artist I am familiar with and have some knowledge and overall I like his sound. But what I do know is that he was “scary” and at the time he was pushing the envelope like no one else of his generation. He may be the guy now that you share a round of golf with but back then he’d have the 10-foot long snake hanging around his neck spit the golf ball out of its mouth to you for the next hole. He had the make-up, the blood and whatever else it took to scare any sponsors away from him-the ultimate “devil” rebel who loved rock and roll.

Fast-forward about 25 – 30 years after Alice’s ground breaking presence and in walks someone who decided to take his band name from a selection of two categories- a) beautiful models and b) serial killers. Ok “part b” is all you need to know that he is so far off the ranch that I bet many people don’t want to listen to anything he has to say just because of the fact that he took a name of a “psycho-killer.” I acknowledge that even mentioning his name in a conversation is taking a risk (or writing about him on a blog) and I want to make abundantly clear that I do not share in any of his beliefs or agree with what he spouts off about but I will admit that I have a fair share of his songs on my I-pod. He is by far the “scariest” rock star in our modern history and I’m not just talking about his physical appearance. I have always maintained that it has been about the music for me and in this case it really is but I recognize that it is super-hard to ignore most of his lyrics. Now being a father, I have to thank Tipper, because the “warning” label was invented with him in mind and I encourage all you parents out there to keep a close eye (ear) on what your children are listening to, especially Marilyn, it could have an effect, especially if they are not mature enough. But I will get off my soap-box and this is the reaction that Marilyn wants, right? He succeeded again I guess.

Like I said, admitting to like Marilyn Manson in a public setting is something that can’t be good for you, right? People will automatically make assumptions about you- “I thought I knew him…what the hell?” (You see even your reaction causes a “cuss” word). Well it was back in 1998 or so that his album-“Mechanical Animals”- had come out and most of his die-hard fans thought the album was “soft.” That was my cue- I typically jump in once I know everyone is out of the water- and even though I was scared I bought the album. And the more I listened, the more I liked- yes I know he lured me in to his crazy world but maybe it was that album but I actually found his music melodic-for all the “heaviness,” “zany-ness” and “crazy-ness”- I was impressed with the overall musicianship of the band. I even lent the CD to one of my colleagues at the time (I will leave his name out to protect the innocent, if you get my drift) and he even admitted he liked it but he said had a wife and two children. Believe me, I understood and wondered why I couldn’t walk away.

As I followed his career, I changed jobs and went to work at MBIA, where if you wore a red tie people would look at you like you broke a rule, never mind admitting that you listened to Marilyn Manson. So I kept it to myself but then had another friend who listened to lots of rock and he mentioned that he was intrigued by MM and would definitely be interested in seeing him in concert. (again I am withholding names to protect the innocent). My other friend was totally out and the two of us headed to Hammerstein Ballroom to see him live and to our surprise the concert “go-ers” were not as outrageous as we thought were going to be. Actually there were more people dressed like us than not. And to boot, Marilyn did not take his soap box that night and just played straight-up rock, with an edge and I was thoroughly impressed. Then my friend made the unbelievable gaffe, in my opinion, by letting our boss know who we had gone to see. Hey, I have a wife and two children, are you crazy letting anyone in the “normal” society that I went to a Marilyn Manson concert. People may never look at you the same again, right? As I became a gym rat and made work-out CD’s for the classes I put Marilyn’s music in there and you had to see the people’s reaction- priceless. But you know what, by the time I left MBIA, there were women who were singing “Doll-Dagga Buzz-Buzz Ziggety-Zag.”

I hung on for more than a couple of years but his work became too dark for me and eventually I purchased his‘greatest hits’ collection but never really dove into his work like I have with other bands or artists. So I guess you could say that I am in the ‘novice’ category when it comes to know what he is all about. Is it all an act? I can’t really see it as an act, especially when you read his lyrics. I like ‘dark’ music but he takes it to another level but the funny thing is like I said I have a fair share of his songs on my I-Pod. As we celebrate the ending of Rocktober and with Halloween on the horizon, what better way to celebrate with some spooky fellows, who have pushed the envelope to an unbelievable level. I am on an island and have been informed that I can only have five songs each from Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson. “These Are Them:”

Alice Cooper

From the Inside

5.     Feed My Frankenstein-Funny thing is I can picture a few different artists/bands covering this tune-Motley Crue and Rob Zombie- immediately come to mind and this tells you what an influence Alice has been to the world of hard-rock and heavy metal. There is a sweet guitar solo in the middle that will get your Frankenstein moving. What better way to celebrate Halloween than with Frankenstein. Love the lyrics-“I’m a hungry man but I don’t want pizza…I’ll blow down your house…and then I’m gonna eat ya…bring you to a simmer…”This song rocks. \m/ \m/

4.     School’s Out – Even though this song has become a “seasonal” song (sort of like the holiday songs) and it is always played on the radio during the month of June than any other time of the year, I can still turn up the volume whenever I hear it. When it comes on my I-Pod shuffle I have an immediate smile. “No more pencils…no more books…no more teacher’s dirty looks…school’s out forever” – you see what I am talking about? Love the children singing in the background-perfect touch for perfect song.

3.     Under My Wheels – If one looked up the phrase “rock and roll” in the dictionary-this song just might be included as a reference point. C’mon it even has a horn in the tune. The guitar solo is righteous and this “throw-back” of a song gives you a glimpse of the influences that Alice had while growing up and I would venture to say that Chuck Berry is almost certain to be one of them. This is sweet rock and roll right here folks-no need to be scared of this-jump in and join the fun.

2.     Stolen Prayers – Wow who would have ever thought that Alice Cooper would make a power-ballad that knocks you off your feet? I recently discovered this song and was blown away on how good it was and not only because Chris Cornell helps out on the tune as well as those “children” again. You know how singers/actors from England are able to sing in “American English” but when they talk, their accent is so present that you scratch your head? I get the same effect here because when I think of Alice Cooper I think of heavy, outrageous and raucous rock and roll but then this song comes on and part of my perception is wiped away and to my surprise it is one of my favorites from him.

1.     No More Mr. Nice Guy – This song by far is my most favorite song by Alice Cooper and I could listen to this tune 24 hours a day, it is that good and has to be considered one of the best rock and roll songs ever recorded, in my opinion. I will never forget the last time I went to see Tesla, the “pre-game” festivities included this song in the set-list and as I looked around the room most everyone was singing the track word-for-word. I love that, I love when a whole bunch of people get psyched up and that certain “energy” overtakes their system when a song like this comes on and takes them to that special place that has no distractions and serves as a “release” from the everyday worries. How many great lines are in this tune-“I opened doors for little old ladies…I helped the blind to see,” or “my dog bit me on the leg today… my cat clawed my eyes,” or “The Reverend Smitty, he recognized me and punched me in the nose.” I love to sing along to this song-“Mr. Clee-hee-hee-eeen” or “your ob-see-hee-hee-een.” You have to own this song, no?

Marilyn Manson

Image of Marilyn Manson

5.     Disposable Teens – Trying to narrow it down to five songs was actually hard for me to do, I could have done ten songs but I will stick to the program. This song actually rocks so freaking good that once I hear the beginning riffs I am polarized and waiting for his message (I’m teasing), no really folks when I talk about the musicianship this is one of the songs I would point to-this band is super tight and this is great head-banging “nu-metal”-or whatever label you want to put on it. Now keep this song (and almost everyone of his) away from the kids because the lyrics, as usual, are very pointed and “blunt.” (And of course there is typically an “F” bomb in his songs and it is in this one-just a point of reference-he uses the word s**t in his songs, like others would use the word “love”-that word is in a lot of his songs as well). In the middle of the song, the drums sound like “Beautiful People.” This is an aggressive fast paced song that I would definitely include on a set-list prior to any band coming out to perform a concert. If you never heard this song before you might think that it was the work of Trent Reznor with his band- Nine Inch Nails.

4.     Doll-Dagga Buzz-Buzz Ziggety-Zag – I will never forget the first time that the rest of the gym rats at MBIA’s boot class heard this song when I put it on one of my CD’s for the class. Just picture this- it’s about 6:00 a.m. and after a few songs this power-house of a song comes on and I know that I am the only person at the whole company that has heard this song (never mind the six or seven members of the boot camp class)-I couldn’t wait for the reaction of those in the class room but for also those who were “out on the floor”. If I to pick one word for the reaction it was –“fear”- and I just went about my business like I didn’t even know what was going on. Hey you know that didn’t last-I started to laugh like crazy and screamed at the class to have an open mind. The song was perfect for boot-camp because it has a lot of “giddy-up.” After a few months, the girls (or should I say “Ladies”) in the class actually started to like the song. Not that anyone could sing the words because who knows what he is saying-the song flat out rocks. “go…go…go…you lolli-gaggers…you’re one of us!!!” \m/ \m/

3.     MobsceneAnother song that rips the cover right off the ball-a total knock-out that rips just like a hot knife slicing a cold piece of butter (don’t you just hate cold sticks of butter but you can’t leave it out like my mother did while I was growing up because it does affect you… take my word). It is songs like these that keeps me a little hooked in to see if he would make songs like this in the future, I would sign up again if he would make songs like this. Folks, the groove in this track is so infectious-if you like it heavy-and the best part are the background vocals being sung by some ladies and the funniest sight you will ever come across is if you go to see him perform live and plays this tune, it’s like Tony Orlando & Dawn-only the “Nightmare on Elm Street” version. It was so weird to see these women up on stage on both sides of him singing back-ground vocals so nicely to this demonic song-but I love it!!!!

2.     Coma White – There is something about this song that grips me-remember those old ‘Bugs Bunny’ cartoons where he would become hypnotized by the aroma of the carrot? Well this is exactly what happens to me. I remember many a train ride home on NJ Transit (when I lived in Ringwood) where the world was swiftly rushing beneath me as I drifted off looking at the window and I felt like I was in another world. Can this be Marilyn Manson I thought? I’m not supposed to like this-remember I have a wife and two kids-but I was completely drawn in and to this day it remains one of my favorite tunes. “A pill to make you numb… a pill to make you dumb…a pill to make you anybody else.” Good stuff right here folks.

1.     Beautiful People– I know, I know- putting this song at this spot was too predictable and it could be one of those tracks that could be on the list of tunes banned from radio for next ten years because of constant airplay- but when you think about it-how many radio stations really play this? I know the best rock radio station in America does-WCCC 106.9 on your FM dial out of Hartford CT (or www.wccc.com for those unfortunate ones who live outside the CT area). I had to put this song here because I think that this is his most ground-breaking song, a tune that “put him on the map” so to speak. It crossed into the main-stream and I know my brother-in-law loves this track and he is not the biggest “rock” fan going and especially not in MM’s fan club, but there is an electrifying quality to this song that grabs you by the neck and slams you to the ground. And sometimes we all need that. The funny thing is that most of you out there probably resist the urge to like it because of him-there’s no way you could like this, right? Try it. See if you are just as polarized by this song like I am. This is some good stuff right here folks- beware of the “MF” bombs though.

Trivia Questions

Answers from last week:

1.     False- Tom Petty asked him

2.     What’s Love Got To Do With It

3.     Robert Palmer

4.     Live

This week’s trivia (Random)-

1.     I started out in a singing and dancing group back in the 1990’s and slowly emerged as one of the guys who could make it on their own. I exploded on the scene as a solo artist and everyone wanted to work with me. My singing career appears to be secondary now as I have now become an actor, appearing in some “big-time” movies. Who am I?

2.     We are a two person outfit that many consider the best two person band to have come out in the past ten years. Our music is eclectic mixed with a fusion of rock and blues. Many consider our band-“old school.” Who are we?

3.     Our band has been around since the late 1960’s and we are still going strong today touring throughout most of the year, albeit with some change in personnel over the years. For some reason, the doors to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame have remained closed for our entrance, which many consider should have a long time ago. Our band had so many hits, too numerous to count and we are searchin’ so long for the keys to the door to let us in the hall of fame. Who are we?

4.     During the late 1970’s our band hit its stride and became one of the biggest acts in the world, selling out major concert venues with ease. One of our members wanted to bring “theatrics” to the forefront of our being while the rest of us wanted to rock on. Who are we and who is the member now on the outside?

Name That Tune

Answers from last week:

1.     Iron Man – Black Sabbath

2.     All I Do Is Dream of You – Michael Buble

3.     Nobody Knows – Billy Squier

4.     Bridge Over Troubled Water – Simon & Garfunkel

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

1.     “…the trouble with the maples…and they’re quite convinced they’re right…they say the oaks are just too lofty…”

2.     “…people say I’m crazy…doing what I’m doing…well they give me all kinds of warnings…”

3.     “…tell me what you want…I want a brand new house on an episode of Cribs and a bathroom I can play baseball in…”

4.     “…how can I just let you walk away…just let you leave without a trace …”

Back on this Day

Back on this day in 1958, Buddy Holly made his final TV appearance when he appeared on ‘American Bandstand’ and lip synced –‘It’s So Easy’- and- ‘Heartbeat.’

Back on this day in 1967, Buffalo Springfield appeared as guests on TV’s “Mannix.”

Back on this day in 1972, The Who’s -“Join Together”- became the official song for the U.S. Council for World Affairs.

Back on this day in 1975, Elton John’s “Island Girl” hit number one on the Billboard charts.

Back on this day in 1977, Steve Perry made his debut as lead singer for Journey as he came out and performed the encore on the last night of a three-night gig in San Francisco.

Back on this day in 1978, Queen kicked off national tour in support of “Jazz” in Dallas, Texas at the Convention Center.

Back on this day in 1989, Don Henley made his first appearance on ‘Saturday Night Live’ performing-“The Boys of Summer” and “Last Worthless Evening.”

Back on this day in 2003, Chris Cornell jumped up on stage to perform with Pearl Jam in Santa Barbara, CA to perform a couple of “Temple of the Dog” hits-“Hunger Strike” and “Reach Down.” Now how cool must have that been?

If it is your birthday today, you share the same birth date with Ben Harper, Telma Hopkins (Tony Orlando & Dawn) and Charlie Daniels.

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