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.

NEW ALBUMS

  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
Rise
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
Free
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
WHO
Rating: ****

FAVORITE ALBUM OF THE YEAR

            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


RANK

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?

REISSUES

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.

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

For my review on this set, click here.


RIP
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).  

Sunday, September 15, 2019

In Memoriam: Eddie Money (1949-2019) and Ric Ocasek (1944/9-2019)

This weekend has seen the passing of two classic rock icons. I've decided to put them here in one blog post.


Edward Joseph Mahoney (aka Eddie Money)
March 21, 1949 - September 13, 2019

Singer Eddie Money died on Friday morning at his house in Los Angeles, California. As for the cause of death, Money is said to have died from complications of a recent heart valve replacement. Just several weeks ago, it had been announced that Money was diagnosed with stage 4 esophageal cancer. Money is said to have received the diagnosis in the fall of 2018, which was shown in an episode of Money's reality show Real Money on AXS TV the night before he passed. Money was 70 years old. 

Born Edward Mahoney, Money found success during the late 1970s and most of the 1980s. His self titled debut, released in 1977, featured the hit singles "Two Tickets to Paradise" and "Baby Hold On." With the launch of MTV in the early 1980s, Money's music videos for hits such as "Shakin'," "I Think I'm In Love" and "Take Me Home Tonight" were in constant rotation. For years, Money struggled with drug and alcohol addictions. In 2001, Money is said to have joined a 12-steps-program. By 2003, he was clean and sober. However, Money was a long-time smoker- which likely contributed to his cancer diagnosis. 

Money was married to Laurie Harris. The two wed in 1989 and would have five children- Zachary, Jessica, Joseph, Desmond and Julian. In recent years, Money had Jessica, Desmond and Julian members of his touring band. Just last year, the Money family started their own reality show Real Money. At this point in time, the show is currently in its second season. AXS TV have announced that they will continue to air the remaining two episodes in the season for the rest of September. 


Richard Theodore Otcasek
March 23, 1944/1949 - September 15, 2019

Musician Ric Ocasek, best known as the singer/rhythm guitarist for the Cars, was found dead in his home in New York City. NYPD officers are said to have responded to a 911 call at around 3 pm ET for an unconscious and unresponsive male. Ocasek was pronounced dead at the scene. At this time, the cause of death is unknown. Ocasek was 70, although other reports are claiming he was 75. 

Ocasek was one fifth of new wave rockers the Cars. Formed originally in Boston in 1976, the band consisted of Ocasek, guitarist Elliot Easton, bassist Benjamin Orr, drummer David Robinson and keyboardist Gregg Hawkes. The band's 1978 self-titled debut album catapulted the band to stardom- featuring hits such as "Just What I Needed," "Good Times Roll," and "You're All I've Got Tonight." In 1980s, the band's popularity increased with the launch of MTV. With this, the band scored several hits such as "Let's Go," "Shake It Up," "Drive" and "You Might Think" just to name a few. The band would release six studio albums before they split in 1987. Despite Orr's death in 2000, the band reunited in 2010- which resulted in the reunion album Move Like This in 2011. Along with his career with the Cars, Ocasek had a fairly successful solo career. In 1986, he scored a solo hit with "Emotions in Motion." In 2018, the Cars were inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame- marking the last time the band would perform together. 

In his life, Ocasek was married three times. He was married briefly to his first wife during the 1960s. He married his second wife, Suzanne, in 1971. In 1989, Ocasek married for a third time to model Paulia Porizkova- a woman he had first met on the set of the music video for the Cars' "Drive" in 1984. They were married until 2018- when Porizkova announced that they had separated.  Ocasek had six sons- two with each of his wives: Christopher (b. 1964), Adam (b. 1970), Eron (b. 1973), Derek (b. 1981), Jonathan (b. 1993) and Oliver (b. 1999).  

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Philomena Lynott dead at 88

Philomena Lynott
October 22, 1930 - June 12, 2019


Philomena Lynott, mother of Thin Lizzy frontman Phil Lynott, died this morning after a long battle with cancer. In late 2017, Ms. Lynott announced that she was deciding to not receive any further treatment for her illness. She was 88 years old. 

Born in the Crumlin district of Dublin, Ms. Lynott was the fourth of nine children. Leaving school at 13, she soon went to work in a senior home before becoming a nurse. Sometime in 1949, she began a relationship with a man named Cecil Parris. Soon enough, Ms. Lynott became pregnant. When most of her peers were having abortions, Ms. Lynott chose to keep her baby. On August 20th, 1949, she gave birth to her son Philip Parris Lynott. Raising Phil, Ms. Lynott faced prejudice given Phil was mixed race- with his father being black. With it becoming increasingly difficult to raise her son, Ms. Lynott left Phil in the care of her parents. However, Ms. Lynott would give birth to two more children- a girl and a boy. Although she put them up for adoption, she remained in contact with them. The knowledge of Phil's sibling was unknown to the public until 2011 in a revised edition of her autobiography My Boy. Though they only saw each other every now and then, mother and son would remain close. 

Starting in 1964, Ms. Lynott was in a relationship with Dennis Keeley. Together, the two took over as managers of the Clifton Grange Hotel in Whalley Range, Manchester. For the next 14 years, the hotel became well known- especially after Phil's success with Thin Lizzy. For every gig the band had in the area in the 1970s, Ms. Lynott would accommodate her son's band.  Aside from Thin Lizzy, the hotel would be occupied with the show business trade. Ms. Lynott also holds the distinction of being the only hotel manager that would accommodate the Sex Pistol during their 1976 tour. 

On January 4, 1986, Ms. Lynott faced the devastating loss of Phil- who died after years of drug abuse. Prior to this, Ms. Lynott was unaware of her son's addictions. Despite the passing of her son, Ms. Lynott stayed strong and carried on keeping her son's memory alive. In 1995, she published an autobiography, My Boy- a book documenting her life with Phil. For years, she attended the annual tribute show for her son- Vibe for Philo. She also had a bronze statue constructed of Phil in 2005, which has since then become a popular spot in Dublin for fans to make their pilgrimages. 

Tributes have been pouring out on social media, including from the official Thin Lizzy social media pages. On Thin Lizzy's Facebook account, a statement from guitarist Scott Gorham was posted:

"It is with great sadness that we learned today that Philip's mom, Philomena Lynott, has passed away. She was always a great supporter of Thin Lizzy from the early days, throughout the band's existence and beyond. She always did her best to keep Phil's flame alive over the years, opening up her home to thousands of fans from around the world who paid her a visit. RIP Phyllis- we'll miss you."

Friday, May 31, 2019

Roky Erickson dead at 71

Roger "Roky" Kynard Erickson
July 7, 1947 - May 31, 2019

Texan singer/songwriter Roky Erickson, guitarist of the 13th Floor Elevators, died today at the age of 71. The news was confirmed by Austin360, who reported that the news of Erickson's death broke on social media. Erickson's brother Sumner said in a statement "The world has lost a huge light an incredible soul. Wasn't the easiest life, but he's free of all that now."

Born in Austin, Texas, Erickson began playing music when he was very young. Starting piano at age 5 and guitar at age 10, Erickson had already established his career path. Erickson dropped out of Travis High School in 1965 after refusing to cut his hair to fit the school's dress code. Despite this, Erickson would soon form his own band- the 13th Floor Elevators with musician Tommy Hall. Signed to International Records, the band released their debut The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators in October 1966. The band released two more studio albums- Easter Everywhere in 1967 and Bull of the Woods  in 1969- the latter of which Erickson is said to have barely played on. Tensions within the band and management lead to group's split in 1968. 

After the split of the Elevators, the next few years of Erickson's life were rough. After speaking gibberish during a 1968 concert, Erickson was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. He was went to a psychiatric hospital in Houston, where he was involuntarily given shock therapy. An arrest for drug possession the following year, which he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Erickson was sent to Austin State Hospital and then Rusk State Hospital- where he received more shock therapy after attempted escapes. When Erickson was released in 1972, he went back to making music- forming several different bands. By 1979, he had formed Roky Erickson and the Aliens. Compared to the psychedelia of the Elevators, Erickson's new music was more hard rock based- with an obsession for horror movie creatures and UFOs. Former Creedence Clearwater Revival bassist Stu Cook would end up producing Erickson's first solo effort The Evil One, which was released in 1981. 

Demos and outtakes of Erickson's music would continue to be released on small labels throughout the 1980s and 1990s. In 2005, he was the subject of You're Gonna Miss Me,  a documentary about his life and battle with schizophrenia. During the film of the movie (c. 2001), Erickson's younger brother Sumner gained legal custody of him. With Sumner's help, Erickson went through different treatments and eventually after the movie's release- Erickson was performing again. His last album was 2010's True Love Cast Out All Evil. In 2015, Erickson reunited for a one-off gig with the 13th Floor Elevators- which included former members Tommy Hall, John Ike Walton and Ronnie Leatherman, along with guitarist Fred Mitchim and Roky's son Jegar. 

At this point in time, no further details have been revealed about Erickson's passing.