Thursday, August 18, 2016

Metallica to release Self Destruct on November 18th

After two years of speculation, legendary heavy metal band Metallica have finally announced the release of their next studio album. The album, Self-Destruct, is not only the band's eleventh studio album but also their first studio album since 2008's Death Magnetic. The album is scheduled to be released on November 18 on a variety of formats including CD, vinyl and deluxe editions galore. Producing the album is Greg Fidelman, who has previously worked with the band as a engineer and mixer. Fidelman also produced Lulu, the controversial collaboration Metallica released in 2011 with the late Lou Reed.  Hardwired will also be a double album, consisting of 12 new tracks.

The song's title track is the album's first single, which the band have released a music video for- which is located below this article.

The tracking list is as follows...

Disc 1
1. Hardwired
2. Atlas, Rise!
3. Now That We're Dead
4. Moth Into the Flame
5. Am I Savage?
6. Halo on Fire

Disc 2
1. Confession
2. Dream No More
3. ManUNkind
4. Here Comes Revenge
5. Murder One
6. Spit Out the Bone

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Cliff Williams to retire after AC/DC's 2016 tour

AC/DC bassist Cliff Williams announced today that AC/DC's current Rock or Bust tour will be his last, retiring from the band after 38 years in the band. Williams, 66, has cited that the changes in the band's line-up has now made the band "a different animal" and that he feels it's the right thing to do, according to an article posted by Gulfshore Life. Williams joined AC/DC in 1978, replacing bassist Mark Evans. Williams' first album with the band was 1978's Powerage.

Since 2014, AC/DC have been seemingly cursed with bad luck- starting with the retirement of founding member Malcolm Young due to his dementia. Stevie Young, Malcolm and Angus' nephew, replaced him. Stevie was no stranger to AC/DC, having filled in for Malcolm during a 1988 tour while Malcolm was in rehab. In late 2014, drummer Phil Rudd was arrested for attempting to arrange a hit on someone. With that and other charges against him, Rudd was unable to tour with the band. In early 2015, Razor's Edge drummer Chris Slade rejoined the group just in time for the tour to promote AC/DC's 2014 studio album Rock or Bust. Earlier this year, the band postponed several tour dates- citing that singer Brian Johnson's hearing was at risk. After weeks of speculation, it was announced that Guns N Roses frontman Axl Rose would fill in as the guest lead singer for the rest of the tour. During those weeks, comedian Jim Bruer reported that Johnson was being left in the dark and wasn't aware of what the band was up to. In a way, it seems as if Johnson was unceremoniously fired from AC/DC after 36 years in the band.

This is crazy. While I respect Cliff's choice to retire, I'm afraid that Angus is going to keep AC/DC going with Stevie and Chris. Axl is only meant to be a guest singer, but I remember reading one report that said Angus was thinking long-term with Axl. I highly doubt it because Axl already has Guns N Roses. There's also a small chance of Brian coming back. Shortly after it was announced Axl would be the guest singer, a doctor posted an open video letter to Brian Johnson- showing that he has a device that might restore Brian's hearing. It has been reported that Brian and his wife invited the doctor over for dinner but I haven't heard anything since. Even if Brian were able to perform again, something tells me that Angus wouldn't be interested in having Brian come back. Again, I think it's time for AC/DC to call it a day. I mentioned before about my idea of a one-off farewell show but I don't think that's going to happen.

We'll have to wait and see.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Henry McCullough dead at 72

Henry Campbell Liken McCullough
July 21, 1943 - June 14, 2016

Guitarist Henry McCullough passed away this morning. According to a Twitter post from Maurice Jay, McCullough died at home with his wife Josie by his side. The cause of death is unknown at this time, although McCullough did suffer from a heart attack in November 2012- leaving him in critical condition for some time and with severe brain damage. 

McCullough is probably best known for his time as a member of Paul McCartney and Wings. Prior to joining Wings, the Ireland-born guitarist was in several bands throughout the 1960s. By 1969, McCullough had joined singer Joe Cocker's backing band- the Grease Band. With Cocker and the Grease Band, McCullough performed at the Woodstock Festival. McCullough was also a session musician. One of his credits is playing on the original cast recording of Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice's Jesus Christ Superstar. He was also one of the voices on Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon album. At the end of "Money," a montage of responses to the question "Were you in the right (the last time you were in a fight)?" can be heard. McCullough answered the question by saying "I don't know. I was really drunk at the time."

In 1972, McCullough joined Wings as a fifth member. Wings had originally formed in 1971. The band consisted of McCartney, his wife Linda on keyboards, former Moody Blues guitarist Denny Laine and drummer Denny Seiwell. The band already had one album under their belts with Wild Life- released in late 1971. With McCullough, the band were able to go on tour and release several singles- including the controversial "Give Ireland Back to the Irish," a cover of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and the banned drug themed rocker "Hi Hi Hi." In 1973, the band release their sophomore effort- Red Rose Speedway. The album included the hit single "My Love." In later years, McCartney gave credit to McCullough for coming up with the soaring guitar solo on the track. McCullough left the band only a few months after the album was released. According to McCartney, the band had set plans to record their next album (Band on the Run) in Lagos. McCullough and Seiwell had called the night before, saying they didn't want to go and were leaving the band. According to other sources, both McCullough and Seiwell had left the band for different reasons. With McCullough, he supposedly had an argument with McCartney so heated that McCullough left the recording studio- leaving the band the next day. Either way, McCullough was no longer in Wings by 1973.

After leaving Wings, McCullough went on with a solo career. His debut album, Mind Your Own Business, was released in 1975 on George Harrison's Dark Horse label. He also continued serving as a session musician on and off and continued to tour until his heart attack in 2012. He is also the third former Wings to pass away. He is predeceased by his replacement Jimmy McCulloch and Linda McCartney. McCulloch died in 1979 from a drug overdose at the age of 26 while Linda died in 1998 after a brave battle with breast cancer. 

It's very sad to hear of Henry McCullough's passing. He was a great guitarist. Even though his time in Wings was short, I still enjoy listening to his work with the band. 

Rest in peace, Henry. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Misfits to reunite with Glenn Danzig this fall

33 years after their last show together, the Misfits and Glenn Danzig will reunite in the fall. The reunion will take place at two different Riot Fests. The first- Riot Fest and Rodeo- will take place on September 2nd and 4th in Denver. The second- Riot Fest and Carnival- will take place in September 16th and 18th in Chicago. The gigs, billed as "the Original Misfits," will feature Danzig, bassist Jerry Only and his brother guitarist Doyle. No drummer has been announced. With this news comes the promotion of a new four-track EP Friday the 13th- which is fittingly due to be released tomorrow.

Formed in Lodi, NJ, the Misfits were originally formed by Danzig. About a month after their formation, Only joined the band. From 1977 to 1983, the Misfits would perform and record music- gaining a cult following amongst the punk rock crowd with their many EPs and singles. With the exception of Doyle joining the band in 1980, Danzig and Only stuck with the group through various different line-ups and members. The band broke up after their last show on October 29, 1983. Danzig went on to form Samhain and later on his namesake band- which leaned more towards a hard rock/heavy metal sound. In the 1990s, Danzig and Only found themselves in legal battles over use of the band's name. In 1995, an agreement was made- allowing Only and Doyle to reform the Misfits, with new lead singer Michael Graves. Although Graves and Doyle left at the beginning of the 2000s, Only has kept the band going through touring and merchandise. The latter was been a subject of controversy amongst fans- claiming Only sold out. Since 2006, Doyle has occasionally guested on guitar at the Danzig band's shows. As for Danzig and Only, the pair have not shared a stage since 1983. 

I'm pleasantly surprised to hear about this news. When I started listening to the Misfits some six to seven years ago, I tried to stay away from the newer stuff. For me, the Misfits has always been that small time span- a time span so influential that even the guys in Guns N Roses and Metallica praise them. Much like Axl and Slash reuniting, seeing Glenn and Jerry sharing a stage was something no one really saw coming. I would love to see something long term come out of this but we should be grateful for these shows are happening.  

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Ozzy and Sharon Osboune split after 33 years of marriage

Singer Ozzy Osbourne and his wife (as well as manager) Sharon Osbourne have confirmed that they've separated after 33 years of marriage. According to E! News, the split was mutual and Ozzy agreed to move out of their house. Several reports say Mrs. Osbourne left the 68-year-old Black Sabbath frontman after learning that her husband was supposedly having an affair with another woman. Over the last few years, Osbourne has struggled with his drug and alcohol addictions- having relapsed some 18 months ago.

The couple is said to have met sometime in the 1970s. Black Sabbath were originally managed by music mogul Don Arden, a man who had previously managed bands such as the Small Faces. Mrs. Osbourne was Arden's daughter and a secretary for her father. In his 2010 autobiography, Ozzy remembered seeing Sharon then- smiling at her and making her laugh. During his time in Black Sabbath, Osbourne was married to Thelma Riley. Married in 1971, the couple would have two children- Jessica (b. 1972) and Louis. Osbourne (b. 1975) also adopted Riley's son from a previous relationship, Elliot Kingsly (b. 1966). In 1979, Osbourne was fired from Black Sabbath and soon replaced by former Elf and Rainbow singer Ronnie James Dio. Osbourne would soon embark on a solo career, with Sharon serving as his manager. With Sharon's help, Osbourne's solo career took off with the releases of his first two albums Blizzard of Ozz (1980) and Diary of a Madman (1981).

While on tour, Ozzy and Sharon fell in love. After his divorce from Riley, Ozzy and Sharon married on July 4, 1982. Their marriage took place just four months after the tragic deaths of their friends- guitarist Randy Rhoads and band hairdresser Rachel Youngblood. Together, the couple would have three children: Aimee (b. 1983), Kelly (b. 1984) and Jack (b. 1985). In 2002, the family (sans Aimee, who chose to not take part) became celebrities with the MTV reality show The Osbournes. The show was an immediate hit and stayed on the air until 2005. During its run, the family went through significant events: Sharon's battle with breast cancer, Ozzy and Sharon renewing their vows on New Year's Eve 2002 and Ozzy's nearly fatal ATV accident. From the show, Mrs. Osbourne was able to become successful in her own right. She had a short lived talk show in 2003, was a judge on America's Got Talent from 2007-2012, a contestant on The Apprentice in 2010 and now the co-host of the CBS talk show The Talk since 2013.

I'm very surprised to hear about Ozzy and Sharon's split. In my opinion, they were the "it" couple in heavy metal. It seemed as if nothing could keep them apart- which is why I'm not believing all of this. Keep in mind that it has been reported that they've split, not divorce. If this truly is the end of their marriage, then this is truly sad.        

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Prince dead at 57

Prince Rogers Nelson
June 7, 1957 - April 21, 2016

Music icon Prince died Thursday morning at the age of 57. The cause of death is unknown. Last week on April 15 after performing a show in Illinois, his private plane made an emergency landing- rushing the singer to a hospital. After three hours, he was flown back home to Minneapolis- reportedly recovering from the flu. According to reports, sheriff's deputies were the ones who responded to a call placed by Paisley Park Studios in Chanhassen. There was an attempt at CPR but at 10:07 am- Prince was pronounced dead. An autopsy is scheduled for tomorrow while a police investigation in currently in progress.

For almost four decades, Prince was one of the most successful artists of all time. Born in Minneapolis to John L. Nelson (1916-2001) and Mattie Della Shaw (1933-2002), Prince became interested in music at a young age. Growing up, he developed an interest in R&B and funk music, along with rock music. Taking these genres of music, Prince was able to make a sound for himself. By 1976, his demo tape caught the attention of Owen Husney- who would go on to become Prince's manager. After signing to Warner Brothers Records, he released his debut For You in 1978.

It wasn't until the 1980s when Prince hit his peak. During the 1980s, Prince kept releasing hit after hit: "Little Red Corvette," "1999," "Delirious," "Kiss," "Uptown," "Sign O The Times" and many others. His most successful period would be in 1984 when he released the chart topping album Purple Rain. As the soundtrack to the movie of the same name staring Prince, the album featured hits such as "Let's Go Crazy," "When Doves Cry" and the title track. Prince was also a controversial figure, as his music was deemed very sexual. In fact, "Darling Nikki" from the Purple Rain album almost single-handedly inspired Tipper Gore to found the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC)- a group of wives in Washington who were able to get the Parental Advisory warning labels on records that were deemed offensive.

During the 1990s, Prince fought a public battle with Warner Brothers Records over artistic input and album sales. In 1993, he started using a symbol to substitute for his name. The symbol, which was a cross between the signs for male and female, was an unpronounceable name that fans would later refer to as the Love Symbol. The media ended up referring to him as "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince" until early 2000- when Prince announced he would start using his own name again (it was also around that time when he had parted with Warner Brothers).

In his career, Prince would release a total of 39 studio albums. As an artist, Prince believed in releasing as many albums as he could for total artistic freedom- which might explain why he released so many albums. His last release was earlier this year- HITnRUN Phase 2.

In his personal life, Prince was married twice. From 1996 to 1999, he was married to his back up singer Mayte Garcia. The couple would have one child, Boy Gregory, who died one week after being born with Pfeiffer syndrome. From 2001 to 2006, Prince was married to Manuela Testonlini. Prince is survived by a sister, Tika "Tyka" Evene Nelson.

Only a year or two ago, I started getting into Prince's music. Some people who know me might be surprised that I'm even writing this. Being into classic rock and heavy metal, I tried to stay away from pop music in any other forms. However as my tastes expanded, I was able to get into Michael Jackson and even Rick James. I remember watching VH1 Classic sometimes and after hearing a Prince song, I would think "I liked that." He was an incredibly talented musician and songwriter. When I read about him going to the hospital, I thought "Well at least he didn't die. Doesn't sound like anything serious." This is very sad to hear.

Rest in peace, Prince. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Dissecting Brian Johnson's statement about AC/DC and the future

Just three days after AC/DC released their statement on Axl Rose filling in for Brian Johnson, Brian Johnson has issued a statement of his own. For this blog post, I will dissect Brian's statement and give my opinion. After reading it once, I still don't think we have a clear answer to what's going to happen to AC/DC after this tour is over.

 "As many AC/DC fans know, the remaining shows for the 2016 AC/DC 'Rock Or Bust' world tour, including 10 postponed U.S. shows, are being rescheduled with a guest singer. I want personally to explain the reason because I don't believe the earlier press releases sufficiently set out what I wanted to say to our fans or the way in which I thought it should be presented."

What really sticks out here is that Brian remarks that he didn't like the press release that came out on Saturday. This is what we've been waiting for: did Brian agree to this statement or not? It looks like he didn't. 

"On March 7th, after a series of examinations by leading physicians in the field of hearing loss, I was advised that if I continue to perform at large venues, I risked total deafness. While I was horrified at the reality of the news that day, I had for a time become aware that my partial hearing loss was beginning to interfere with my performance on stage. I was having difficulty hearing the guitars on stage and because I was not able to hear the other musicians clearly, I feared the quality of my performance could be compromised. In all honesty, this was something I could not in good conscience allow. Our fans deserve my performance to be at the highest level, and if for any reason I can't deliver that level of performance, I will not disappoint our fans or embarrass the other members of AC/DC. I am not a quitter and I like to finish what I start. Nevertheless, the doctors made it clear to me and my bandmates that I had no choice but to stop performing on stage for the remaining shows and possibly beyond. That was the darkest day of my professional life."

Brian makes it known here that he really didn't want to bow out from the tour or the band. With something as serious as hearing loss and considering the man's job is singing for a rock band, the guy's hearing and health is more important. It must've been a very difficult decision for Brian to make. 

"Since that day, I have had several consultations with my doctors and it appears that, for the near future, I will be unable to perform on stage at arena- and stadium-size venues where the sound levels are beyond my current tolerance, without the risk of substantial hearing loss and possibly total deafness. Until that time, I tried as best as I could to continue despite the pain and hearing loss but it all became too much to bear and too much to risk."

From what it sounds like, the doctors are telling him that if he had to perform- he has to avoid arena and stadium shows. So what's the next level? It looks like Brian could still perform at small sized theaters and venues. However, that seems highly unlikely since AC/DC are the kind of band that plays only arena and stadium shows. I just don't see them going back to where they started. 

"I am personally crushed by this development more than anyone could ever imagine. The emotional experience I feel now is worse than anything I have ever in my life felt before. Being part of AC/DC, making records and performing for the millions of devoted fans this past 36 years has been my life's work. I cannot imagine going forward without being part of that, but for now I have no choice. The one thing for certain is that I will always be with AC/DC at every show in spirit, if not in person. Most importantly, I feel terrible having to disappoint the fans who bought tickets for the canceled shows and who have steadfastly supported me and AC/DC these many years."

This is pretty self-explanatory. With text and writing, it's hard to pick up on the tone sometimes when reading something. In this case, it's very clear that Brian is devastated.

"Words cannot express my deep gratitude and heartfelt thanks not just for the recent outpouring to me personally of kind words and good wishes, but also for the years of loyal support of AC/DC. My thanks also go to Angus and Cliff for their support."

Aww, we love you to Brian. But wait! Brian only thanks Angus Young and Cliff Williams for their support. Two things come to mind, the first being that Brian didn't mention Stevie Young or Chris Slade. However, Stevie and Chris have only been in the band for a year or so each since rejoining. The second thing that comes to mind is that Cliff might have a bigger role behind the scenes. However- until 2014, the two constant members of AC/DC were Malcolm and Angus. Almost 20 different people have been in the band. Aside from the Young brothers and Brian, Phil Rudd and Cliff have had the other longest tenures. With Malcolm and Phil no longer in the band, Brian is probably just being a gentleman and thanking Angus and Cliff for their 36 years together. This makes me think that Brian is no longer in the band. 

"Finally, I wish to assure our fans that I am not retiring. My doctors have told me that I can continue to record in studios and I intend to do that. For the moment, my entire focus is to continue medical treatment to improve my hearing. I am hoping that in time my hearing will improve and allow me to return to live concert performances. While the outcome is uncertain, my attitude is optimistic. Only time will tell.
Once again, my sincere best wishes and thanks to everyone for their support and understanding."
Okay, now I'm confused again: the guy isn't retiring and says he can still record in the studio. On top of that, he wants to go back and perform again. With AC/DC? If so, then how long will we have to wait? 

I've already shared my opinion about what I think AC/DC should do. In a nutshell, I think they should have a one-off concert with guest lead singers and Brian comes out at the end for a few songs. With that, the band can call it a day. However, I have a feeling that AC/DC will continue without Malcolm, Phil or Brian and instead with Angus, Stevie, Cliff and Chris. I highly doubt Axl will be a permanent member of the band. I'm also convinced that the band are going to continue because a report from Blabbermouth claims that Darren Caperna, singer for AC/DC tribute band Back in Black, was auditioned. With Caperna was guitarist Mike Mroz and according to Mroz, Angus told Mroz that Caperna had done a great job in his 21 song audition. Other reports say that the shows with Axl were "financially motivated." I'm thinking once these shows with Axl are complete, the band might consider taking Darren under their wing. 

Overall, I'm really surprised by the turn of events in the last two months or so. While people claim that Angus and Malcolm weren't nice to everybody, I'm still surprised. When Brian joined to take Bon's place, people weren't sure of what was going to happen. It turned out that Brian was the perfect choice and the band were able to continue. At this point, the band have been together for over 40 years. I don't see them going on for another 40. 

We'll just have to wait and see.