Thursday, October 9, 2014

Rock N Roll Hall of Fame 2015 Nominees- My Thoughts

The nominees for the 2015 Rock N Roll Hall of Fame have been announced today. As with the past few years, 15 acts were nominated. Personally, I feel this year's list is weak. There are too many R&B/Soul acts and not enough actual ROCK bands on here. I'm pretty surprised by this list. Still, the Hall is allowing the public to vote but we all know that the public vote means nothing.

So here we go...

PUT EM IN: My Ballot
Lou Reed- Many predicted that Lou would be nominated for his solo career, given he passed away in late October of last year. This is Lou's third time being nominated as a solo artist. The Velvet Underground were inducted in 1996 so at least Lou lived to see that. Hell, he even attended with John Cale and Maureen Tucker! If Lou doesn't get in this year, I will be pissed.

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts- Like Lou, many predicted Joan would get a nod. I've always liked Joan and think that she's one of the greatest women in rock. I think I said during the first time she was nominated that it was strange that she was getting a nod before the Runaways did. It's pretty clear now: the Hall wants Joan in. The Runaways might get in one day.

Stevie Ray Vaughn- I can't say I'm a fan of his music. I don't think it's bad, mind you. It's just that I haven't really gotten into the guitarist/songwriter category he falls under. Still, the fact that he's been eligible since 2008 and wasn't given a nod once is a joke. He should be in already.

The Smiths- I've been wanting to get into the Smiths for some time. I've recently heard their debut album and I really like them. The Smiths are definitely influential and have an immense cult following in the indie rock crowd. Morriessey recently announced his cancer diagnosis, but hopefully he'll be able to attend the ceremony if the band gets in...or not. From what I know about the Smiths, it's very unlikely the band will reunite for a one-off performance.

The Paul Butterfield Blues Band- Why not?


Wouldn't Mind
War
Kraftwerk 
Nine Inch Nails
Sting

These bands are all pretty cool. Again, I can't say I'm a fan of them. Kraftwerk should be in there for their Krautrock and electronic influences alone while War are worthy enough. It might surprise many of you that I'm okay with Nine Inch Nails. I think Trent Reznor is a creative guy and I've heard a few of their songs. I think their cool. It might be too soon for them to get in compared to all the other bands that need to be in but I wouldn't mind seeing them in there. Some may think of Sting's solo work as too mainstream or not cool but compared to the others on the list, he's looking good now.

Um...
The Marvelettes
Chic
The Spinners
Bill Withers

That's an awful lot of R&B acts. The first three have all been nominated before and they never get in. I sometimes like to joke that Chic are almost like the Ron Paul of the Hall, as this is their ninth time being nominated. I don't really care what happens here. What makes me mad is that these acts keep getting nods and they never get in. It's a spot wasted in a way.

Whatever. They'll get in anyway.
Green Day- Earlier this year, I was surprised to find out that Green Day would be eligible for this year's list. I don't know if I've ever said it on this blog but I absolutely cannot stand Green Day. I think Billie Joe Armstrong has good musical tastes but I always thought Dookie was their debut. It isn't. That's their third album. Their first album came out in 1990 on an indie label, but their first release (an EP) was released in 1989. That's 25 years ago so that makes them okay to nominate. This pissed me off. I understand the rules and whatnot but to me, Green Day weren't really known until the early 1990's. I'd even argue that there was a better reason to induct Nirvana last year and I don't care about them either. I did say that Bleach wasn't as popular as their next two albums but at least that album had some relevance and hell, it was an actual ALBUM. With Green Day, the Hall just waited until that one moment. It's almost like someone going "Hey, I just found a cassette Kanye West made when he was a toddler. Let's put him in!!!" NO! Just no.


PISS OFF!
NWA

I hate rap music. I don't want it in the Hall but it's already too late. If they wanted rap in the Hall so badly, then they should wait until you induct some actual ROCK bands.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

AC/DC announce new studio album and Malcolm Young's retirement

Today, AC/DC gave their fans some good news and some bad news. The good news is that the band have officially announced the release of their new studio album. The album, Rock Or Bust, will be released on December 2. The album was recorded earlier this year, reportedly in an impressive ten days. However, the band has some bad news: rhythm guitarist and co-founding member Malcolm Young will not be returning to the band as he has retired. Earlier this year, it was reported that Young was taking a break from the band due to an illness. The band has not revealed the illness in question but during the week of April 13, it was reported that Young had suffered from a stroke three weeks earlier. With Young's retirement, Rock Or Bust will be the first AC/DC album to not feature Malcolm Young. This makes his brother, Angus, the sole original member. The band have announced that they will tour for the album in 2015, with the Young brothers' nephew Stevie replacing Malcolm. Stevie is no stranger to AC/DC, as he filled in for his Uncle Malcolm in the late 1980's while Malcolm was in rehab. It has also been confirmed that Turner Sports will preview one of the tracks from the new album, "Play Ball," for the 2014 Major League Baseball Postseason. 

I'm happy to hear that we will have a new AC/DC album soon. This will be the band's first album in six years, their last one being 2008's Black Ice. It's a bummer that Malcolm had to retire but I'm sure he's happy that the band aren't stopping because of him. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Rock Recap: Pink Floyd and the Rolling Stones

It seems that there is a lack of news this month or it's just that I haven't found anything worth writing about in greater detail. So I'm going to give an overview of a few things that have happened this month, which I may or may not have mentioned before here or on the Facebook page.

Pink Floyd
It was announced back in July that there will soon be a new Pink Floyd studio album. The album, The Endless River, will be the band's first studio album since 1994's The Division Bell. While this is all exciting, it should be noted that the material on the album was recorded around the time that the band were recording The Division Bell. This wasn't meant to be a Pink Floyd album but rather a separate project, with the sessions dubbed as The Big Spliff. These sessions will be released but with newly recorded music from David Gilmour and Nick Mason. The album will also feature some of the late Richard Wright's final work. The Endless River will be released November 10. As with most releases day, there are many different versions of the album to choose from Click here to pre-order the standard single disc edition.

Tracking list

1. Things Left Unsaid
2. It's What We Do
3. Ebb and Flow
4. Sum
5. Skins
6. Unsung
7. Anisina
8. The Lost Art of Conversation
9. On Noodle Street
10. Night Light
11. Allons-y (1)
12. Autumn '68
13. Allons-y (2)
14. Talkin' Hawkin
15. Calling
16. Eyes to Pearls
17. Surfacing
18. Louder Than Words


The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones will be releasing two filmed concerts in November. While I originally posted on Facebook that there would one concert, it turns out there'll be another. The two concerts in question are Hampton Coliseum and L.A. Friday (now L.A. Forum for the DVD), which were the second and third entries of the Stones Archive/Bootleg Collection- all of which were released on the band's own site and Google Play. Hampton Coliseum will be released on November 4 while L.A. Forum will be released on November 18. The concerts will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray, along with the optional CD and vinyl bundles of the shows.

I reviewed both concerts when they were up on Google Play in 2012. They still are for just  $4.99, which I'm sure is much cheaper than the price you'll pay for the DVDs. I'll probably get both concerts on DVD only.

Click here to read the reviews on the shows.

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
Accept
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...