Thursday, October 5, 2017

Rock N Roll Hall of Fame 2018 Nominees- My Thoughts

The Rock N Roll Hall of Fame have announced the nominees have been announced today and much to my surprise, this isn't a bad list of nominees. It still has its problems but there are some good names here. Once again, I'll break it down into different categories and give my thoughts along the way.

Let 'em in: My Ballot
Kate Bush
Judas Priest
The Moody Blues
The Zombies

The Zombies and the MC5 have been nominated once again while Kate Bush, Judas Priest and the Moody Blues are all receiving their first nominations. I'm particularly impressed by Kate Bush's nod as she's not too famous here in the US. I think we can thank Steve Miller for ripping the Hall a new one when he called them out for not having enough women in the Hall. So if she's there just because of that- bravo.

Why not?
The Cars
Depeche Mode
Dire Straits
J. Geils Band
Link Wray
Nina Simone

A few other artists here are seeing their first nominations. I'm not really a fan of any of these ats here but I wouldn't mind seeing them inducted. For the J. Geils Band, this nomination comes just months after the death of J. Geils. That's something to keep in mind because the Hall has been known to induct acts after a member dies. With Link Wray, the guy has been on the ballot for years. I would have no problem with him being inducted. I know next to nothing about Nina Simone but I think that documentary from Netfix a few years ago might be helping her.

Bon Jovi
Rage Against the Machine
Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Bon Jovi are one of the few bands (if not, only) that I've gone from liking to disliking. I liked their 80s stuff but now as the years go on, I just can't stand them. To think these guys were considered glam metal at one point in their career is weird. Like Springsteen, maybe it's because they're from my home state and I find them to be overrated. As for Radiohead and Rage, they're probably going to get inducted in a heartbeat. I don't really have any opinion about either band, although I do like Tom Morello since the guy has been outspoken about Kiss and the MC5.  As for Sister Rosetta Tharpe, I don't know what to say.

Wasted spots
Rufus featuring Chaka Khan
The Meters

The Hall has chosen two previous nominees once again. Luckily, the Hall has not nominated Chic- given Nile Rodgers' induction last year. I think these two are the new Chic: they probably won't get in and keep getting nominated until the Hall gets tired.

LL Cool J

Don't really need to keep repeating myself. For those new to my blog: I hate rap.


Monday, October 2, 2017

Tom Petty dead at 66

Thomas Earl Petty
October 20, 1950 - October 2, 2017
(photo credit- click here)

Legendary singer/songwriter Tom Petty died today after suffering from complications of cardiac arrest. Petty was found unconscious in full cardiac arrest early on Monday morning in his home in Malibu, after which he was rushed to UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica. Earlier in the day, CBS News had prematurely announced the singer's death- leading to a surge of social media posts. The story was denied hours later after the LAPD announced that Petty had not passed and was still in critical condition- having been taken off life support. Petty's manager Tony Dimitriades confirmed the news just hours later, saying in a statement to the press that the singer died "peacefully at 8:40 pm PST surrounded by family, his bandmates and friends. Petty was 66 years old.

Born in Gainesville, Florida, Tom Petty was only ten years old when he met Elvis Presley on the set of Presley's movie Follow That Dream. After seeing the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show, Petty knew he wanted to become a musician. By 1970, Petty and guitarist Tom Leadon formed Mudcrutch. Along with Petty and Leadon was singer Jim Lenehan, guitarist Mike Campbell and drummer Randall March. During their original run together, the band didn't release any albums- although the band would reunite nearly three decades later in 2007.

After Mudcrutch's split in 1975, Petty brought in ex-Mudcrutch members Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench. Together, they would end up forming Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Petty and the band would go on the achieve commercial success with hit songs such as "American Girl," "Breakdown," "Refugee," "Don't Do Me Like That," and "Don't Come Around Here No More." Petty was also able to achieve success with a solo album or two, his most popular being 1989's Full Moon Fever- which featured classic rock radio staples such as "Free Fallin'," "I Won't Back Down," and "Runnin' Down a Dream." One year prior to the album's release, Petty joined the Traveling Wilburys supergroup with Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne and Roy Orbison. The band's debut, Volume 1, was a commercial success- featuring hits such as "Handle With Care" and "End of the Line." Despite the passing of Roy Orbison shortly after the album's release, the band made another album in 1990 confusingly titled Volume 3.

In his career, Petty released thirteen studio albums with the Heartbreakers and three solo albums. In his life, Petty was married twice. From 1974 to 1996, Petty was married to Jane Benyo. Together, the couple had two daughters- Adria and Anna Kim. In 2001, Petty married Dana York. Through her, Petty had a stepson Dylan- York's son from her previous marriage.

The full statement from Tony Dimitriades was posted on Twitter. Below is the full text:

"On behalf of the Tom Petty family, we are devastated to announce the untimely death of our father, husband, brother, leader and friend, Tom Petty.

"He suffered cardiac arrest at his home in Malibu in the early hours of this morning and was taken to UCLA Medical Center but could not be revived. He died peacefully at 8:40 PM PST surrounded by family, his bandmates, and his friends."

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Walter Becker dead at 67

Walter Carl Becker
February 20, 1950 - September 3, 2017

Walter Becker, musician and co-founder of Steely Dan, died today. Becker's death was announced on his official website. Becker was 67. At this time, the cause of death is unknown. 

Becker was born in Queens, New York. Having graduated from high school in 1967, Becker pursued a career in music. Originally starting on saxophone, he switched to guitar and was shown by fellow musician and future Spirit guitarist Randy California how to play the blues. While attending Bard College in Annadale-on-Hudson, New York, Becker met musician Donald Fagen. Together, Becker and Fagen were in several groups before finally forming Steely Dan around 1971. From 1972 to 1981, Steely Dan became one of the most commercially successful bands of all time. Their combination of rock and jazz music made them stand out compared to their peers. The band would have hits with "Reelin' in the Years," "Do It Again," "Dirty Work," "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" and "Hey Nineteen." The band broke up in 1981 but Fagen and Becker would reunite in 1993 and release another two studio albums in 2000 and 2003. Becker also managed to release two solo albums,  11 Tracks of Wack in 1994 and Circus Money in 2008.

Becker is survived by his wife and two children. 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Accept- The Rise of Chaos album review

 Accept - The Rise of Chaos
The Rise of Chaos
Rating: *** 1/2

When Accept reunited with former TT Quick lead singer Mark Tornillo in 2009, many fans didn’t think it would work. Without original singer Udo Dirkscheider, it seemed as if this reunion was pointless.  Accept made those people eat those words in 2010 with the release of Blood of the Nations, the band’s first album with Tornillo. Much to the surprise of many people, Blood of the Nations was a great album and Tornillo was accepted as the band’s lead singer. The band were able to follow this up with 2012’s Stalingrad and 2014’s Blind Rage- both of which received fairly positive reviews as well. The band’s latest album, The Rise of Chaos, is their fourth album with Tornillo. As much as it pains me to say this, The Rise of Chaos is just okay. Don’t get me wrong: the music on here is another brutal onslaught heavy tunes delivered by the German metal band.  Still, it feels like it’s missing something that the three previous albums had. While the weakest of the four Tornillo albums, The Rise of Chaos still manages to have some decent tunes.

While not up to par with the previous openers, “Die by the Sword” is still a decent tune: it has a killer guitar riff and the lyrics are relevant to today- as they question what has become of humanity.  The title track continues the apocalyptic theme (with the focus now on survival) while the hard hitting “No Regrets” features some impressive drumming from Christopher Williams. As far as the weaker songs go, there are two in particular that stick out. The first of them is “Koolaid,” a song that (sadly) isn’t about the flavored drink mix but instead a biographical song about Jim Jones and the 1978 Jonestown massacre. While the story fits with the album’s theme, it’s hard to take seriously when you hear the chorus of “Don’t drink the Koolaid.”  The second clunker is “Analog Man,” an anthem for the generation who can’t buy into today’s technology. The lyrics are extremely cringe-worthy, with Tornillo sings such lyrics as “My cell phone is smart than me” and “Don’t need no Wi-Fi/Just want my Hi-Fi.” The last few songs, however, balance the album out. “Worlds Colliding” is pleasantly melodic while “Carry the Weight” just might be my favorite song from the album lyrically. “Don’t carry the weight of world on your shoulders” warns Tornillo, as he sings about the world as it stands today- with mentions of global warming, bombings and earthquakes.

Overall, The Rise of Chaos is a very average album from Accept. If this review is too short for any reason, it’s because I don’t think there’s anything here to review. It isn’t a bad album but then again, it isn’t a classic. It’s just another album from Accept and that’s all. It’s worth at a listen at least. Personally, I don’t see myself coming back to this album all that much. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Alice Cooper- Paranormal album review

 Alice Cooper - Paranormal
Alice Cooper
Rating: *** 1/2

This review was originally posted on Pop Culture Beast on July 30th, 2017. 

It’s been a while since Alice Cooper has released no frills, non-conceptual hard rock album. Alice’s last two projects, 2015’s Hollywood Vampires and 2011’s Welcome 2 My Nightmare, were both albums with a concept or a theme- with the former being an all star covers album and the latter being a sequel to Alice’s 1975 solo debut. Alice’s latest album, Paranormal, sees the shock rock icon going back to basics. While it isn’t a perfect album, Paranormal still features some kick ass rock music.

            There are twelve new studio tracks on Paranormal. Some of the songs on here are infused with 1970s classic rock. This can be found on songs such as the organ-heavy “Fireball” and the glam rock hooks of “Private Public Breakdown.” The album’s lead single, “Paranoiac Personality,” is also worth noting- as it’s a sinister sounding rock tune with a killer plodding bass line. While Alice is known for writing some down-right scary tunes, the man’s sense of humor must also be acknowledged. Over the years, Alice has written some funny songs. The bluesy “Fallen in Love” can now be added to that list, as Alice exclaims “I’ve fallen in love and I can’t get up!”

            Paranormal isn’t without its weaknesses. While long-time producer Bob Ezrin was at the helm for this album, the production here isn’t the best- which is to be expected with modern day audio mastering. There’s also this religious overtone/theme on a few songs, some of which I think are the weakest tracks on here. This includes the Southern rock influenced “Dynamite Road” and the jazzy “Holy Water.” Still, the album closes out nicely with three new songs featuring the surviving members of the original Alice Cooper band. The band shows off their chops on the guitar heavy rocker “Rats” and the anthem-driven “You And All of Your Friends.” Strangely enough, my favorite of these songs is the R&B/doo-wop inspired “Genuine American Girl.” Not only is it my favorite of the songs featuring the original band but it’s also my favorite song on the album. This is yet another funny song from Alice, as he describes himself in all of his feminine glory. “I’m only 30 out of 50 shades of grey” sings Alice. “What do you say?”

            For what it is, Paranormal is a decent album. It might not be one of his most consistent albums but you have to give Alice credit for trying to go back to basics. The album also comes with six live bonus tracks recorded last year in Columbus, Ohio. Speaking of touring, Alice will be on the road in support of the album. Alice has also stated that he will begin work next year on an all originals second album with the Hollywood Vampires super group.  For time being, fans can listen to Paranormal.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Alice Cooper's "Welcome to My Nightmare" DVD set for release in September

Alice Cooper's 1976 concert film Welcome to My Nightmare will be re-released on DVD on September 8. Not only will this new DVD release feature the movie but it will also feature the 1975 ABC TV Special Alice Cooper: The Nightmare- which is seeing its debut release on DVD. 

Released in 1975 after the split of the original Alice Cooper band, Welcome to My Nightmare served as Alice's first album as a solo artist. The album, produced by Bob Ezrin, revolves around the concept of the nightmares of a boy named Steven- a character that would later go on to appear on some of Alice's other albums. The album was a hit when released in 1975, featuring classics such as the title track, "The Black Widow" and "Only Women Bleed." The success of the album lead to the 1975 TV special and the 1976 concert film. 

Alice Cooper: The Nightmare first aired on April 25, 1975 on ABC. The special plays out as a visual representation of the album, as Alice goes from one musical number to another. Legendary actor Vincent Price is also in the special, as he was also featured as a guest on the album- giving the narration leading into "The Black Widow." The special was last released in 1983 on VHS and Betamax. Prior to the upcoming DVD release, the special had been widely bootlegged amongst fans. 

The 1976 concert film was shot during Alice's tour in support of the album- with the shows coming from performances at the Wembley Arena on September 11-12, 1975. The movie was a failure at the box office but found a second life as a midnight movie years later. Unlike The Nightmare, the concert film was released on DVD back in 2002 but that release has since then gone out of print. 

The tracking lists for both releases are as follows: 

Welcome to My Nightmare (1976 concert film)
1. The Awakening
2. Welcome to My Nightmare
3. Years Ago
4. No More Mr. Nice Guy
5. I'm Eighteen
6. Some Folks
7. Cold Ethyl 
8. Only Women Bleed
9. Billion Dollar Babies
10. Devil's Food
11. The Black Widow
12. Steven
13. Escape 
14. School's Out
15. Department of Youth

Run time: 84 minutes

Alice Cooper: The Nightmare (1975 TV special)
1. Welcome to My Nightmare
2. Devil's Food
3. Some Folks
4. Only Women Bleed
5. Cold Ethyl
6. The Black Widow
7. Years Ago
8. Department of Youth 
9. Years Ago (Reprise)
10. Steven
11. The Awakening
12. Ballad of Dwight Fry
13. Escape
14. The Awakening (Reprise)

Run time: 66 minutes

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Anita Pallenberg dead at 73

Anita Pallenberg
January 25, 1944 - June 13, 2017

Italian-German actress/model Anita Pallenberg, former partner to Brian Jones and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, died today. At this moment in time, the cause of death is unknown. Pallenberg was 73.  

Born in Rome in 1944, Pallenberg started her career as a model at 16 after being expelled from school. During this time, she lived in Rome, Germany and New York. It was during her time in New York City at she was seen with the people from Andy Warhol's Factory. In her life, Pallenberg appeared in some dozen films. Her best known movies including the 1968 Roger Vadim sci-fi flick Barbarella and the 1970  Donald Cammell-Nicols Roeg mind-bending crime drama Performance. The former starred Jane Fonda while the latter was Mick Jagger's acting debut. Over the years, both of these movies became cult favorites.    

In the music world, Pallenberg is perhaps best known for her association with the Rolling Stones. She first met the band in 1965 when they were touring in Munich while Pallenberg was on a modelling assignment. Around that time, Pallenberg started a relationship with guitarist Brian Jones. The couple were together until 1967 when Jones was said to have been violent towards Pallenberg while on vacation in Morocco. Soon after her split with Jones, Pallenberg started a relationship with guitarist Keith Richards. From 1967 to 1979, Richards and Pallenberg were together. Though they never married, Pallenberg gave birth to three of Richards' children: Marlon (born 1969), Dandelion Angela (born 1972, who goes by her middle name) and Tara Jo Jo Gunne- who died ten weeks after his birth. Tara's death is said to have been from either SIDS or pneumonia. Even after their split, Richards and Pallenberg were still close. Richards would later marry model Patti Hansen, who he has been married to since 1983.

After her relationship with Richards ended, Pallenberg struggled with drug and alcohol addiction. She stopped drinking in 1987 (with the exception of a relapse in 2004 after a second hip surgery) and was able to stay sober from drugs around 2000.  Prior to her death, Pallenberg was suffering from Hepatitis C. Despite her health struggles, Pallenberg was able to appear a few more movies in the late 2000s. 

Pallenberg is survived by two children (Marlon and Angela) and five grandchildren. 

It's sad to hear of Ms. Pallenberg's death. Performance is one of my favorite movies, which she's fairly good in. I can't say I've seen any of her other movies but it's just sad to hear that someone in the Stones camp has died. 

Rest in peace, Anita.