Saturday, August 30, 2014

Glenn Cornick dead at 67

Glenn Cornick
April 23, 1947-August 29, 2014

Original Jethro Tull bassist Glenn Cornick passed away on Thursday at his home in Hilo, Hawaii from congestive heart failure. Cornick was 67 years old. Cornick was one of the founding members of Jethro Tull, along with singer/flutist Ian Anderson, guitarist Mick Abrahams and drummer Clive Bunker. Cornick played on the band's first three albums, This Was, Stand Up and Benefit before leaving in 1970. After leaving Tull, Cornick formed his own group Wild Turkey.  In the mid 1970s, he and former Fleetwood Mac guitarist formed the supergroup Paris. Before his death, Cornick was receiving hospice care according to his son Drew. Cornick is survived by his wife Briggette, his sons Drew and Alex, and his daughter Molly. 

I'm saddened to hear of Glenn's passing. Those first three Tull albums are great classic rock albums, especially Stand Up. I'm also a fan of the first Paris album. 

Rest in peace, Glenn. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Accept- Blind Rage review

 Accept - Blind Rage
Blind Rage
Rating: ****

Five years after their rebirth, German metal band Accept are back with another studio album. The new album, Blind Rage, is the band’s fourteenth studio album. It’s also the band’s third album since reforming with new singer Mark Tornillo, following 2010’s Blood of the Nations and 2012’s Stalingrad. Like the first two Tornillo albums, Blind Rage is another gloriously heavy album for Accept fans to sink their teeth into.

            The album fittingly opens with the vicious “Stampede.” The song starts off with a slow introduction before the band transitions to their hard and heavy sound. With the guitar work of Wolf Hoffman and Herman Frank and the drumming of Stefan Schwartzman, the song sounds like a stampede itself. This is followed by the chugging sounds “Dying Breed.” Lyrically, the song is clever as it name drops bands that have come before and after them by song titles. “Here’s to the rocking warriors/Here’s to our heroes and friends” sings Tornillo. “And those who have gone before us/We’re loyal straight to the end.”

            One of the most interesting things about Blind Rage is that the band goes back to the sound they had on their earlier albums. Sure, the entire album sounds like an old school Accept album but there are a few tracks in particular that do truly have a feel for the early albums. “Dark Side of My Heart” sounds like it would’ve fit on Balls to the Wall, with Tornillo’s bellowing vocal. However, the chorus has the catchy hooks that the songs on Metal Heart had. “The Curse” is another example, which features the lyrics: “It’s all about losers and winners/Not about who’s right and who’s wrong.”

            Accept show their love for history in the sludge sounds of “Fall of the Empire” and the fast-paced “Trail of Tears.” The band also delivers in anthems such as “Wanna Be Free” and “From the Ashes We Rise.” The former has some solid bass work from Peter Baltes while the latter has a strong chorus. “We’ve been knocked down; we’ll get up/From the ashes we rise” sings Tornillo and the band. “We’ve been kicked around; sure enough/We will survive.”

            Blind Rage is another great album from Accept. Personally, I think I might have enjoyed this one a little more than Stalingrad. The band is still in fine form and I wouldn’t mind seeing another album from these guys in the near future. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Dick Wagner dead at 71

Richard Allen "Dick" Wagner
December 14, 1942-July 30, 2014

Guitarist Dick Wagner, best known for his work with Alice Cooper and Lou Reed, died Wednesday July 30 from respiratory failure. He was 71 year old. Just two weeks before his death, Wagner had undergone heart surgery to unblock an artery. After the surgery, Wagner contracted a lung infection. 

Wagner, born in Iowa, started out playing in several bands before being asked by producer Bob Ezrin to perform on Lou Reed's 1973 concept album Berlin. Along with performing on the album, Wagner toured with Reed during this time. One of the Reed's shows that year was captured on the 1974 live release Rock N Roll Animal. In 1975, Wagner played on Alice Cooper's debut solo album Welcome to My Nightmare. As he had done with Reed, Wagner performed in Cooper's solo band for Nightmare's lavish tour. During the show, Wagner and guitarist Steve Hunter would have a guitar duel during "The Black Widow." This, as well as the rest of Cooper's Nightmare tour, were filmed for the 1975 concert film of the same name. 

With Cooper, Wagner contributed to most of his early work as a solo artist. Together, the two wrote several songs including a series of chart topping ballads: "Only Women Bleed" from Welcome to My Nightmare, "I Never Cry" from Alice Cooper Goes to Hell and "You and Me" from Lace and Whiskey. Other highlights in Wagner's career include guesting on Aerosmith's rendition of "Train Kept A' Rollin" and performing on Kiss' Destroyer, when guitarist Ace Frehley didn't show up. 

I'm sad to hear of Dick's passing. I did know before that he was sick and would undergo surgery. It isn't too much of a surprise but it is indeed a significant loss in the world of rock music. I wish he got more recognition because he did deserve it. 

Rest in peace, Dick. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Mama Cass Elliot (1941-1974)- 40 years later

"Mama" Cass Elliot
September 19, 1941-July 29, 1974

Singer Cass Elliot, one fourth of the folk rock group the Mamas and the Papas, died on July 29, 1974- 40 years ago today- at the age of 32. Elliot was well known for her high range singing voice, which allowed her to embark on a short but successful solo career.

            Cass Elliot was born Ellen Naomi Cohen on September 19, 1941 in Baltimore, Maryland. Referred to her friends as Cass, she attended George Washington High School where she became known for acting and performing in most of the school’s plays and musicals. It wasn’t until she began attending American University when she pursued a career in singer. Sometime in the early 1960’s, she would meet musician Tim Rose. She, Rose and musician James Hendricks would later form the folk group the Big 3. After only a few years together, the Big 3 fell apart when Rose left. Elliot and Hendricks, who were married in 1963, formed a new group called the Mugwumps with Zal Yanovasky (future member of the Lovin’ Spoonful) and Denny Doherty. After only one album together, the Mugwumps split in 1964. Along with the group’s split, Elliot and Hendricks divorced.

            Even though the Mugwumps fell apart quickly, Denny Doherty kept in touch with Elliot as they had become close friends. Doherty soon joined a folk group named the New Journeymen, with guitarist John Phillips and his wife Michelle. While in the Virgin Islands, the group met up with Elliot. Doherty tried many times to convince Phillips that Elliot should join the group, but Phillips was reluctant as he didn’t think Elliot could hit the high notes the group needed. Legend has it that soon after this, Elliot was struck in the head with a lead pipe that fell from the ceiling of the bar she was working at, as there was construction work being done nearby. Soon after the incident, Elliot was able to hit the high notes Phillips wanted. With that, Elliot was in the newly named group the Mamas and the Papas in 1965.

            Dunhill Records signed the Mamas and the Papas in 1965. From 1965 to 1968, the group would release four studio albums. Hit singles came from songs such as “California Dreamin’,” “Monday, Monday,” “I Saw Her Again,” “Creeque Alley,” and “Dedicated to the One I Love.” The group split in 1968, aside from reuniting briefly to record a reunion album in 1971. Elliot gained a head start to her solo career with “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” a song that was from the Mamas and the Papas 1968 album The Papas and the Mamas but the record label decided to release it as a Mama Cass single. In her solo career, Elliot made five studio albums and dozens of television appearances- easily making her the most successful member of the Mamas and the Papas after their split.

            On the evening of July 28, 1974, Cass Elliot was in a flat that was on loan from singer Harry Nilsson- London, No. 12 at 9 Curzon Place, Shepherd Market, Mayfair. For the last two weeks, she had performed a series of sold-out concerts at the London Palladium. She decided to call former band mate Michelle Phillips, overjoyed that she received standing ovations every night. After this, she retired for the night. On the evening of July 29, 1974, Cass Elliot died in her sleep. The official cause of death was said to be a heart attack, although urban legend says that Elliot died after choking to death on a ham sandwich. This urban legend is said to have started after early reports of the discovery of Elliot’s body had been made. Police did indeed find a half-eaten ham sandwich on a plate. The urban legend was deemed false as the autopsy later proved that there was no food found in her windpipe. Further research would show that Elliot had lost 80 pounds in eight months, as she was on her own “one meal a week” diet. At the time of her death, Elliot was survived by her parents, sister and daughter Owen Vanessa (the identity of father had never been revealed to the public, although Michelle Phillips has said she helped Owen find her biological father years later). Four years after Elliot's death, Keith Moon, drummer for the Who, died in the same flat. 

            Now four decades after her death, the music of Cass Elliot is still celebrated today- whether it be her music with the Mamas and the Papas or the music she made during her solo career. It’s hard to imagine what Elliot would be doing today if she were still alive. Would the Mamas and the Papas have ever reunited with the original line-up? It’s hard to say. Sadly in 2001, John Phillips lost his battle with cancer. Nearly six years later, Denny Doherty passed away. This leaves Michelle Phillips the sole-surviving member of the group. While the Mamas and the Papas might not be around, they left behind an impressive collection of music. I think it’s safe to say that no one will ever forget Mama Cass.

Rest in peace, Cass...

Paul McCartney to reissue "Venus and Mars" and "Wings At The Speed of Sound" Sept. 23

Paul McCartney fans have known for a while that the next two entries in the Paul McCartney Archive Collection will be two albums he recorded with Wings: 1975's Venus and Mars and 1976's Wings At the Speed of Sound. Today, a press release has revealed that both albums will be reissued on September 23rd in various formats.

Both albums will be given separate standard two-disc packaging, with the first disc being the original albums newly remastered and the second disc being bonus tracks. As with the previous entries in the collection, the albums will also receive three-disc editions with a hardback book filled with rare photos, ticket and poster replicas and new interviews with McCartney. The third discs for the box sets will be a DVD, including video footage from the time the albums were released.

Below are details (via Rolling on each release.

Venus and Mars 

Disc One (original album)
1. Venus and Mars
2. Rock Show
3. Love In Song
4. You Gave Me The Answer
5. Magneto and Titanium Man
6. Letting Go
7. Venus and Mars- Reprise
8. Spirits of Ancient Egypt
9. Medicine Jar
10. Call Me Back Again
11. Listen to What the Man Said
12. Treat Her Gently- Lonely Old People
13. Crossroads

Disc Two (bonus tracks)
1. Junior's Farm
2. Sally G
3. Walking in the Park With Eloise
4. Bridge on the River Suite
5. My Carnival
6. Going to New Orleans (My Carnival)
7. Hey Diddle (Ernie Winfrey Mix)
8. Let's Love
9. Soily (From One Hand Clapping)
10. Baby Face (From One Hand Clapping)
11. Lunch Box/Odd Sox
12. 4th of July
13. Rock Show (Old Version)
14. Letting Go (Single Edit)

Disc Three (DVD- only with the box set)
1. Recording "My Carnival"
2. Bon Voyaguer
3. Wings at Elstree
4. Venus and Mars TV Ad

Wings At the Speed of Sound

Disc One (original album)
1. Let 'Em In
2. The Note You Never Wrote
3. She's My Baby
4. Beware My Love
5. Wino Junko
6. Silly Love Songs
7. Cook of the House
8. Time to Hide
9. Must Do Something About It
10. San Ferry Anne
11. Warm and Beautiful

Disc Two (bonus tracks)
1. Silly Love Songs (Demo)
2. She's My Baby (Demo)
3. Message to Joe
4. Beware My Love (John Bonham Version)
5. Must Do Something About It (Paul's Version)
6. Let 'Em In (Demo)
7. Warm and Beautiful (Instrumental Demo)

Disc Three (DVD- only with the box set)
1. "Silly Love Songs" music video
2. Wings Over Wembley
3. Wings in Venice 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Riot V to release Unleash the Fire in October

Riot V have officially announced the release of their new album. The album, Unleash the Fire, will be the first album released under the Riot V name. Although not popular in their homeland of the US, the original Riot band are well known amongst hardcore hard rock and heavy metal fans. The band were formed in New York by guitarist Mark Reale in 1975. The band cranked out three studio albums with original singer, Guy Speranza and another two with Speranza's replacement, Rhett Forrester. Reale gave the band new life in 1988 when he revamped the band with the power metal sounding Thundersteel. The band kept going until early 2012, when Reale died after a life-long battle with Crohn's Disease. The band carried on, changing their name to Riot V, as it represents the "fifth phase" of the band. The new band have been on tour since early this year.

The band currently consists of...

Todd Michael Hall- vocals
Mike Flynz- guitar
Nick Lee- guitar
Donnie Van Stavern- bass
Frank Gilchreist- drums

The album will be released sometime in late August on SPV/Steamhammer.

Tracking list
1. Ride Hard Live Free
2. Metal Warrior
3. Fall From the Sky
4. Bring the Hammer Down
5. Unleash the Fire
6. Land of the Rising Sun
7. Kill To Survive
8. Return of the Outlaw
9. Immortal
10. Take Me Back
11. Fight Fight Fight
12. Until We Meet Again
13. Thundersteel (bonus track)

UPDATE: Riot's Facebook page confirms that the new album will be released October 27 in Europe and October 28 in North America.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Johnny Winter dead at 70

John Dawson Winter
February 23, 1943-July 16, 2014

Legendary blues guitarist Johnny Winter died yesterday in Zurich, Germany. He was 70 years old. The guitarist was found dead in his hotel room, as he had been on tour. It was already known before he passed that Winter was in poor health. 

Winter rose to fame in the late 1960's as a talented guitarist. Winter struck out for his bluesy style of playing and his long white hair, as he (as well as his brother Edgar) was born with albinism. He was discovered by session musician Mike Bloomfield, which then led to Winter getting signed to Columbia Records. In August 1969, Winter was one of the many musicians who played at the original Woodstock Music Festival. Throughout his career, Winter released some 20 studio albums. In terms of commercial success, Winter did originally record "Rock N Roll, Hoochie Coo," which was later made a hit by Rick Derringer. In the late 1970's, Winter was able to produce a series of comeback albums for Muddy Waters. Before his death, Winter had already planned for a new album for release. That album, Step Back, will be released posthumously on September 2. 

It's very sad to hear of Johnny Winter's passing. I can't say I was a fan of his work but I can say he was a very talent musician. It's sad to know that a person like him is no long with us. 

Rest in peace, Johnny.