Friday, August 21, 2020

Frankie Banali dead at 68

 Frankie Banali
November 14, 1951 - August 20, 2020

Frankie Banali, longtime drummer for Quiet Riot, died last night after an eighteen month battle with pancreatic cancer. Banali is said to have passed at around 7 pm- with his wife Regina and his daughter Ashley by his side. Banali was diagnosed in April 2019 but didn't reveal this until October of last year. 

Born in Queens, New York, Banali was inspired to play the drums after seeing the Beatles perform on Ed Sullivan. Prior to Quiet Riot, Banali had been in several different bands- including Steppenwolf. In the 1980s, Banali would meet singer Kevin DuBrow- who was the singer for LA rockers Quiet Riot. At that point in time, Quiet Riot had split after guitarist Randy Rhoads had left the band to join Ozzy Osbourne's solo band. From 1980 to 1982, DuBrow had his own namesake band- which featured a revolving door of musician, with some being from Quiet Riot. By 1982 prior to Rhoads' untimely passing- he had given DuBrow the blessing in using the Quiet Riot name again. At the time the band changed their name, the band consisted of DuBrow, Banali, guitarist Carlos Cavazon and bassist Chuck Wright. While the band were eventually signed to Pasha Record, Wright had left the band. Wright would be replaced by former Quiet Riot bassist Rudy Sarzo, who had just come off his tour with Ozzy Osbourne- a gig that Rhoads had helped Sarzo get. After the shock of Rhoads' death, Sarzo felt back at home with the new Quiet Riot. With that, he was in the band. In March 1983, Quiet Riot would release Metal Health- an album that featured hit singles such as the title track and "Cum On Feel the Noize"- with the latter being a cover of a song originally by glam rockers Slade. Just a few months later, Metal Health reached #1 in the Billboard charts- becoming the first metal album to do so. 

Sadly, the band's popularity started to decline after the release of 1984's Condition Critical. Sarzo would leave shortly after while DuBrow was fired in 1987 after 1986's flop QR III. Cavazo and Banali tried once more with new singer Paul Shortino for 1988's QR, which sold poorly. After a brief tour in Japan, Quiet Riot were no more. After the band's split, Banali would join shock rockers W.A.S.P. In 1989, the band released their fourth album The Headless Children- which was a turning point in W.A.S.P.'s career given the album's subject matters of politics and society. Banali would also play as a session musician for many recordings- including Billy Idol's hit "Mony Mony." In 1993, Banali renewed his friendship with Kevin DuBrow and rejoined the reunited Quiet Riot just in time for the band's comeback album Terrified. The classic Metal Health line up would reunite in 1997 and would last until 2003. The band would reunite the following hear- with DuBrow and Banali at the helm. The band would continue to tour until November 2007. Shortly after Thanksgiving of that year, DuBrow was found dead in his house- with the cause of death later being revealed to have been from a cocaine overdose. In early 2008, Frankie Banali announced the Quiet Riot were no more. 

In 2010, Banali decided to reform Quiet Riot- bring back the surviving members of the band's last touring line-up- which included Banali, Chuck Wright and guitarist Alex Grossi. For the next ten years, this reunited version of Quiet Riot would tour all over the world with an almost revolving door of lead singers: Mark Huff (2010-11), Scott Vodkun (2012-13), Jizzy Pearl (2013-16, 2019-present), Sean Niccols (2017) and James Durbin (2017-19). The band's revival from 2010-12 was documented for the 2014 documentary feature Well Now You're Here There's No Way Back- which premiered on Showtime the following yearThe band released new material in 2014 with Pearl on the half studio-half live effort 10.  For full-length studio albums, the band would release two with Durbin on lead vocals- Road Rage (2017) and Hollywood Cowboys (2019). Prior to the latter's release, Durbin left the band- with Jizzy Pearl rejoining the band in his place. For several shows in 2019, many were surprised to not see Banali present. In October 2019, Banali revealed that he had been diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer. Despite his diagnosis, Banali performed with Quiet Riot whenever possible. 

In his life, Banali was married twice. In 1994, he married his first wife Karen. The couple would have a daughter, Ashley, on February 17, 1997. Nearly a year and a half after Kevin DuBrow's passing, Karen Banali died on April 14, 2009 from heart failure at the age of 40. As documented in Well Now You're Here, Banali devoted himself to raising Ashley as a single parent. On November 11, 2015, Banali would marry Regina Russell- who directed and produced Well Now You're Here.  

According to Mrs. Banali, further details on Frankie's funeral and the fate of Quiet Riot will all be revealed at some point in the future. 

Banali is the fourth member of Quiet Riot to have passed away. He is pre-deceased by guitarist Randy Rhoads (1956-1982), Terrified era bassist Kenny Hillery (1965-1996) and singer Kevin DuBrow (1955-2007)

Monday, July 27, 2020

So it's been a while

Hey there, readers! Or whoever looks at this blog anymore. I don't know. I still get hits for this thing.

As you might've noticed, I haven't been posting a lot on this blog in recent years. Prior to my obit on Peter Green, I had only posted here once about Neil Peart. There's several reasons why I'm not posting here as much as I used to but I'm still writing. So let's break this down into several parts.

1. Lack of material- in the early years of my blog, I was posting things here like crazy- keeping you all informed about what was going on in the music world. I also used this for ways to promote myself as a writer. As the years have gone by, I've gotten a little lazier or feel that I've posted about my favorite albums and musicians oh so many times. I gave up on anniversary articles because I wasn't getting the hits and because of the amount of work it required. So without those, the blog has become a place for me to review new things and post about when musicians pass away.

2. My other writing job- I've been a volunteer writer for Pop Culture Beast since 2017 after discovering the Rock Solid podcast (hosted by Pat Francis) after Survivor contestant David Wright appeared on an episode. With PCB, I'm able to get thing from the record label to review. Ideally, I'd like to have my reviews posted here too but I'm always afraid to post one article in two places- as WordPress might pick up on it being plagiarism. I figured maybe I could review new things on PCB and come back here to share my thoughts on what's going on in the music world. However, I just never get around to it or feel that once someone posts it somewhere- it isn't worth it.

3. My podcast- since September of last year, I been hard at work with Albums Uncovered, a revamp of my pre-recorded college radio show in which I discussed classic albums celebrating anniversaries. I've really been enjoying it but it's a lot of work.

So that's the easiest way I can explain why I don't post here as much. Though let me get this straight: I'll keep posting stuff here. Perhaps every few months, I can share the links to my posts on PCB or episodes of AU.  I  also want to keep doing the Year in Review write ups as well.

While most of this post has been me rambling about stuff, I just want anyone who happens to stop by here and wonder why the decrease in activity- this is why.

For now, I'll lend you all a few links to things I've written so far this year related to music- along with the URL to AU.

Melody Makers Movie/App Review
Harry Nilsson's The Point Blu Ray Review
Peter Green- The End of the Game Reissue Review
Sir Lord Baltimore- The Complete Studio Recordings Review
X- First Four Albums on Vinyl Review
Bob Dylan- Rough and Rowdy Ways Album Review
The Residents- Metal, Meat and Bone Album Review

Albums Uncovered Libsyn Website

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Peter Green dead at 73

Peter Allen Greenbaum
October 29, 1946 - July 25, 2020

Peter Green, guitarist and co-founding member of Fleetwood Mac, died yesterday at the age of 73. A statement released yesterday says that Green passed away peacefully in his sleep. 

Born in a Jewish family in Peckham, London, England, Green started playing guitar professional by the age of 15. After playing in and out of bands throughout the 1960s, he landed a spot in John Mayall's Bluesbreakers- replacing Eric Clapton in October 1965. By 1967, Green left to form his own blues band- with Bluesbreaker bandmate drummer Mick Fleetwood joining him. Along with guitarist Jeremy Spencer and bassist John McVie, Fleetwood Mac were formed- with Green taking the name from the band's rhythm section of Fleetwood and McVie (although at the time of their formation, McVie wasn't ready to join just yet- technically making bassist Bob Brunning the original bassist). 

Shortly after the release of their debut album, the band brought in a third guitarist Danny Kirwan. As a five piece band with three guitarists, Fleetwood Mac stood out amongst their peers. As a musician, Green would write several of the band's early hits such as "Oh Well," "Albatross", "The Green Manalishi" and "Black Magic Woman"- with those last two later being covered by Judas Priest and Santana respectively. However, Green would leave the band in May 1970. In March of that year, the band were on tour in Europe. While in Munich, it's been said that Green attended a party at a commune- where he took LSD. Many see this point as Green's decline in mental health. Soon after leaving the band, Green would released an instrumental debut album The End of the Game in 1970.  In the years after leaving Fleetwood Mac, Green found himself in psychiatric hospitals. There was also an incident where Green held his accountant David Simmons at gunpoint.  In the late 1970s, Green was diagnosed with schizophrenia and underwent electroconvulsive therapy. 

In 1979, Green went back recording- starting with In The Skies. In the late 1990s, Green would form the Peter Green Splinter Group- with some help from musicians Nigel Watson and Cozy Powell. The band would perform and record from 1997 to 2004. For the rest of his life, Green kept a low profile while also agreeing to the occasional interview. 

In his life, Green was married once to Jane Samuels from 1978 to 1979. They would have one daughter, Rosebud- who was born in 1978. 

Friday, January 10, 2020

Neil Peart dead at 67

Neil Ellwood Peart
September 12, 1952 - January 7, 2020

Neil Peart, drummer for Canadian power trio Rush, passed away earlier this week on Tuesday. The news was confirmed by spokesman Elliot Mintz- who is also known for his association with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. According to Mintz, Peart died after a private three and a half year battle with brain cancer. Peart was 67. 

Peart was born in Hamilton, Ontario to Glen and Betty Peart. He was the first of four children- with Peart's siblings being Danny, Judy and Nancy. At a young age, Peart had an interest in music. When Peart was 13, his parents bought him a pair of drumsticks- with Peart's parents promising their son a drum kit if he was still practicing after one year. By age 14, Peart had earned his first drum kit. Peart struggled in finding any success in his first few years as a drummer. At 18, he moved to London for a year and a half but with no luck. In 1974, Peart was asked by a friend of his to audition for a band called Rush. Their original drummer, John Rutsey, had just left the band and they were looking for a replacement. Peart auditioned for future bandmates bassist Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson. In the end, Lee and Lifeson decided to hire Peart- officially joining the band on July 29, 1974. For the next four decades, this line-up would stick together. In Rush, Peart contributed his top-notch drumming skills to complicated pieces such as "2112," "Tom Sawyer," and "YYZ" just to name a few. Peart also served as a lyricist for the band, with his influences coming from the work of philosopher/author Ayn Rand and science fiction. 

While Rush's classic line up would stay together until 2015, there was brief hiatus between 1997 to 2001. In 1997 shortly after the band's Test For Echo tour had concluded in August 1997, Peart's 19-year-old daughter Selena was killed in a single-car accident. Just ten months later in June 1998, Peart's common-law wife Jackie Taylor succumbed to her battle with cancer. Given his tragedy, Peart took a sabbatical and traveled around America for a long time- which was documented in his book Ghost Rider: Travel on the Healing Road. By 2002, Rush were back with their next album Vapor Trails. The band would continue to tour until 2015 when the band quietly retired. 

Peart is survived by his wife of 19 years Carrie Nuttall and their daughter Olivia (born 2009). 

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Top 30 Favorite Albums of the 2010s

This is a simple post just to bump this year's total number of blog posts to 10.

With this being the end of a decade, I decided to rank my favorite album in the 2010s. I used the website Topsters2 to make the picture. Enjoy.

1. David Bowie- Blackstar
2. Bob Dylan- Tempest
3. David Bowie- The Next Day
4. Iggy Pop- Post Pop Depression
5. Judas Priest- Firepower
6. Accept- Blood of the Nations
7. Uriah Heep- Into the Wild
8. Van Halen- A Different Kind of Truth
9. Rush- Clockwork Angels
10. Paul McCartney- New
11. Judas Priest- Redeemer of Souls
12. Riot- Immortal Soul
13. Uriah Heep- Living the Dream
14. Iron Maiden- The Book of Souls
15. Black Star Riders- All Hell Breaks Loose
16. Alice Cooper- Welcome 2 My Nightmare
17. Riot V- Unleash the Fire
18. Kiss- Monster
19. Accept- Blind Rage
20. Riot V- Armor of Light
21. Scorpion Child- Scorpion Child
22. Black Star Riders- The Killer Instinct
23. Scorpion Child- Acid Roulette
24. The Who- WHO
25. Slash- Slash
26. Black Star Riders- Heavy Fire
27. W.A.S.P.- Golgotha
28. Black Star Riders- Another State of Grace
29. Lucifer's Friend- Black Moon
30. Paul McCartney- Egypt Station

2019: Year In Review

2019 Year in Review

Even though my blog is now ten years old, I haven’t been posting here as much as I used to. I’m posting more on Pop Culture Beast, which I like. I’ve been kind of busy this year, I guess. However, I love posting my Year in Review articles and here’s the next one. Overall, this was an okay year for new releases.


  Lucifer's Friend - Black Moon

Lucifer’s Friend
Black Moon
Rating: ****

            Now four years since reuniting, German hard rockers Lucifer’s Friend released Black Moon this year. Serving as the follow up to 2016’s Too Late to HateBlack Moon is a superior album in both production and variety of songs. While Too Late to Hate wasn’t a bad album, it wasn’t a perfect album. With their second reunion album, the band came up with a new batch of tunes- going through their variety of styles during their original incarnation. With that, Black Moon makes for an enjoyable nostalgic trip.

Highlights: Call the Captain, Black Moon, Freedom, Palace of Fools, Black Moon

  Hollywood Vampires - Rise

Hollywood Vampires
Rating: ***

            Following up their self-titled debut album from 2015, supergroup Hollywood Vampires released their sophomore effort. Whereas their debut was almost all cover tunes, Rise is a mostly all originals. While the debut was an album filled will faithful renditions of classic rock tunes, at least there was a concept and theme for it. With Rise, the tunes aren’t bad but they aren’t very memorable. While I respect what Alice, Joe and Johnny are doing- this was mediocre at best.

Highlights: Who’s Laughing Now, Rise, People Who Died

  Black Star Riders - Another State of Grace

Black Star Riders
Another State of Grace
Rating: ****

            Serving as the follow up to 2017’s Heavy FireAnother State of Grace is yet another killer album from Black Star Riders. The Thin Lizzy spin off band have made yet another great album- jam packed will ten new hard rockers. This album is a little more similar to The Killer Instinct in that the band seems to be drifting away from the Lizzy sound. Musically, it sounds like a Lizzy album but there’s some diversity here with the instruments used and lyrical content.

Highlights: Tonight the Moonlight, Another State of Grace, In the Shadow of the War Machine, Poisoned Heart

 Iggy Pop - Free
Iggy Pop
Rating: *** ½

            While nowhere near as good as 2016’s Post Pop Depression, Iggy Pop’s latest album sees him experimenting with jazz. Pop’s voice sounds great and suites the music extremely well. Still, it isn’t a perfect album as it does fizzle out towards the end. While I personally prefer Post Pop Depression, I can appreciate Free for not being a retread of it.

Highlights: James Bond, Sonali, Glow in the Dark

 Ringo - What's My Name

Ringo Starr
What’s My Name?
Rating: ***

            With each of Ringo’s album, he follows a very simple formula. While not a bad album, What’s My Name is no different than Ringo’s previous albums in the last ten or twenty years. Still, you got to give the men kudos for still making music all these years later.

Highlights: Grow Old With Me

 The Who - Who

The Who
Rating: ****


            13 years after the somewhat underwhelming Endless Wire, the Who released a brand new studio album. The album, simply titled WHO, is a surprisingly consistent batch of songs. While Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend are the only members left in the band, the two veteran rockers still deliver a great album- which range from hard rockers to ballads. As with modern day albums, the production is too loud. Still, this is an all-around good album from the Who.

Highlights: All of this Music, Ball and Chain, Detour, Break the News, I Don’t Wanna Get Wise


1.     The Who- WHO
2.     Black Star Riders- Another State of Grace
3.     Lucifer’s Friend- Black Moon
4.     Iggy Pop- Free
5.     Hollywood Vampires- Rise
6.     Ringo Starr- What’s My Name?


The Residents
pREServed Edition Series

The Residents continued their pREServed Edition Series this year with a plethora of new entries. Below are the releases that came out and the hyperlinks will lead you to my reviews on Pop Culture Beast.

Eskimo Deconstructed (not part of the series)

Iggy Pop
Zombie Birdhouse
Rating: ****

            Iggy’s long out-of-print 1982 effort was finally given a reissue on CD for the first time since 2003. After being dropped by Arista Records, Iggy was given one last chance on Chris Stein’s Animal Records Label. The album did nothing and Iggy wouldn’t record again until 1986. As a result, Zombie Birdhouse is a forgotten album. Now this isn’t The Idiot or Lust For Life. Nevertheless, this is a neat batch of tunes and an underrated album.

Highlights: Run Like a Villain, Life of Work, The Villagers, Bulldozer, The Horse Song

The Beatles
Abbey Road
Original Album rating: *****
Remix rating: ***
Session tracks: ****

            Following up the White Album box set from last year, Abbey Road was next to be reissued. While my all time favortie album by any artist, the super deluxe edition of this album is okay at best. The new remix offers nothing new and doesn’t sound too different from the original mix. The bonus discs of studio outtakes save the set from being a bust, along with the informative hardback book.

Mick Ronson
Only After Dark: The MainMan Years
Rating (for all albums): ****

For my review on this set, click here.

The Official Bootleg Box Set Vol. 3
Rating: ****

For my review on this set, click here.

Peter Tork- bassist for the Monkees
Scott Walker- singer/songwriter
Paul Raymond- keyboardist for UFO
Roky Erickson- singer/songwriter (13th Floor Elevators)
Philomena Lynott- mother of Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott
Eddie Money- singer
Ric Ocasek- guitarist/singer for the Cars
Ginger Baker- drummer for Cream
Neil Innes- comedian/musician (Rutles)

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Ginger Baker dead at 80

Peter Edward "Ginger" Baker
August 19, 1939 - October 6, 2019

Drummer Ginger Baker, best known as one third of Cream, died today. The news comes one week after Baker's family announced that the drummer was "critically ill" in the hospital. While it was reported that Baker was "hold his own" days later, Baker eventually passed away. Baker was 80 years old. 

Born in Lewisham, South London, Baker earned his nickname Ginger given the red color of his hair. While athletic as a child, Baker took up drumming when he was 15 years old- taking lessons from British jazz drummer Phil Seamen. By 1963, he was a member of the Graham Bond Organisation- an R&B/jazz/rock band.  The bassist for GBO was Jack Bruce. In 1966, Baker and Bruce left the band- joining up with former Yardbirds guitarist Eric Clapton. Together, the three musicians formed Cream- with the name referring to the fact that they were the "cream of the crop." In their two years together, Cream would released four albums- Fresh Cream (1966), Disraeli Gears (1967), Wheels of Fire (1968) and Goodbye (1969). The band would have hits with songs such as "I Feel Free," "Sunshine of Your Love," "Strange Brew" and "White Room." While the band would split in 1968, the trio would reunite in 1993 for the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame induction and in May 2005 for a series of four shows at the Royal Albert Hall. This was followed by three gigs at the Madison Square Garden in October of that year. 

Following Cream, Baker was involved in various different projects. In 1969, he and Clapton joined up with Traffic's Steve Winwood and Family's Ric Grech. This became the short lived supergroup Blind Faith, who released only one album in August 1969. In the early 1970s, Baker formed another short lived band- Ginger Baker's Air Force. During the early1970s, Baker stayed away from rock music. Instead, Baker experimented with jazz fusion and Afrobeat. From 1971-73,  Baker spent time is Africa- which is documented in the Tony Palmer directed movie Ginger Baker in Africa. He would also collaborate with Nigerian musician Fela Kuti during this time. 

By the mid 1970s, Baker returned to rock music- join brothers Adrian and Paul Gurvitz- best known for their work with short lived bands such as Gun and Three Man Army. With Baker, the Baker Gurvitz Army was formed. From 1974 to 1976, the band release three albums- with the band splitting after their manager died in a plane crash. In the early 1980s, Baker was briefly a member in space rock legends Hawkwind. 

While respected as a musician, Baker was notorious for his temper- which is shown in the 2012 documentary Beware of Mr. Baker. In recent years, Baker's health declined. In 2013, he was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease- coming from his years of smoking. In 2016, it was announced that Baker was recovering from open heart surgery. In his life, Baker was married four times. He is survived by three children- two daughters, Nettie and Leda (born  1960 and 1968) and a son, Kofi (born 1969).