Saturday, June 23, 2018

Vinnie Paul dead at 54

Vincent Paul Abbott
March 11, 1964 - June 22, 2018

Vinnie Paul, drummer and co-founder of Texas metal band Pantera, died late Friday night. No further details were provided in the statement posted to Pantera's Facebook page, which also asked for fans to respect the privacy of Paul's family during this time. Since the statement's post, the cause of death is still unknown. Paul was 54. 

Born Vincent Paul Abbott in Abliene, Texas, Paul and his younger brother "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott grew up listening to hard rock and heavy metal music. Music was already in the Abbott family as their father, Jerry, was a country singer. Come 1981, the Abbott brothers formed Pantera. It took a while for the brothers to find a stable line-up but by 1983, the band consisted of the Abbott brothers, bassist Rex Brown and singer Terry Glaze. The band released a few albums in the 1980s, all of which were glam metal efforts that sold little to nothing. By 1990, Glaze had left the band and was replaced by Phil Anselmo. With the release of their fifth album, Cowboys from Hell, the band had completely rebranded themselves with a heavier sound and image. Released in 1990, Cowboys from Hell was the band's breakthrough. It has since then been certified Gold and Platinum. Pantera were able to continue their success, making them one of the most popular metal bands of the 1990s. The band would release other hit albums such as Vulgar Display of Power (1992), Far Beyond Driven (1994) and The Great Southern Trendkill (1996). The band would stick together until their split in 2003. 

After the split of Pantera, the Abbott brothers formed a new band called Damageplan. The band's debut, New Found Glory, was released in early 2004. Sadly, tragedy struck the band on December 8, 2004 during a gig in Columbus, Ohio at the Alrosa Villa when Dimebag Darrell Abbott was murdered. Barely into the first song in the set, a 25 year old man named Nathan Gale walked up onto the stage and shot Darrell. Gale proceeded to fire 15 shots in total, killing three more people and injuring seven others, before Officer James Niggemeyer shot Gale from the other side of the stage. A fan and paramedics tried to revive Darrell but were unsuccessful. As a result of the tragedy, Damageplan ceased to be. 

After the death of his brother, Paul started his own record label- Big Vin Records- in 2006. Paul was hesitant about performing again but soon enough, Paul had joined the supergroup HellYeah that same year. For the next decade, HellYeah toured and recorded several albums. Their latest album is 2016's Unden!able. According to sources, the band had started recording their sixth album in November of last year. Whether or not the album was completed before Paul's death is unknown. 

This post will be updated and/or followed up once any additional information about Paul's passing has been revealed. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Paul McCartney to release Egypt Station in September

After a week or so of hints, it has been officially announced that Paul McCartney will release a new studio album in the fall. The album, Egypt Station, will be the former Beatle's first album since 2013's New. McCartney has already released two songs from the album as the first two singles- "I Don't Know" and "Come On To Me."

In the meantime, Beatles fans can look forward to the re-release of Yellow Submarine in theaters next month for its 50th. Fans can also expect a deluxe edition reissue of The White Album later in the year, which is being done for the iconic album's 50th anniversary. No word as to the content of the re-release but it should serve as a follow up to the campaign for Sgt. Pepper's 50th last year.

Egypt Station will be released on September 7 on Capitol Records.

Listen to the two new songs right here.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Danny Kirwan dead at 68

Daniel David Kirwan
May 13, 1950 - June 8, 2018

Former Fleetwood Mac guitarist Danny Kirwan died yesterday at the age of 68. The news broke late last night via Fleetwood Mac's Facebook page, with a statement from drummer Mick Fleetwood. In the statement, Fleetwood  described Kirwan as a "huge force" in the band's early years.

Born in Brixton, London, Kirwan started his musical career when he was only 16 years old- joining the band Boilerhouse in 1966. It was during his time in Boilerhouse that he met producer Mike Vernon. At that time, Vernon was Fleetwood Mac's producer. After watching Kirwan rehearse with Boilerhouse, Vernon passed this on to Fleetwood Mac guitarist/founder Peter Green. Green was impressed by the young Kirwan's playing. The two became friends as Boilerhouse would open for Fleetwood Mac in London venues. 

Come 1968, Green became interested in managing Boilerhouse professionally. When bassist Trevor Stevens and drummer Dave Terrey showed no interest, Green tried to find a rhythm section to accompany Kirwan. After several auditions, Green couldn't find the right people. By August 1968, the 18-year-old Kirwan had joined Fleetwood Mac as a fifth member. With Kirwan in the group, the band had another songwriter. Kirwan's first album with the band was 1969's Then Play On. Kirwan wrote half of the songs on the album- including "Coming Your Way" and "One Sunny Day." However, Then Play On would be the band's last with Green as he left the band shortly afterwards. The band decided to continue without Green. During this time, there were more changes to the band's line up. Kirwan would stay in the band until 1972, playing on the following albums:

Kiln House (1970)- the band's first with Peter Green and their last with guitarist Jeremy Spencer
Future Games (1971)- the band's first with Bob Welch and Christine McVie
Bare Trees (1972)

In his last years with Fleetwood Mac, Kirwan struggled with alcoholism and, according to some sources, would go days without eating. Kirwan's bizarre behavior came to a head in 1972 while on tour in the US. Kirwan got into an argument with guitarist Bob Welch that was so intense, Kirwan proceeded to bang his head and fists against the wall. He then proceeded to smash his guitar, after which he refused to go on stage. Kirwan was fired as a result.  

After his time in Fleetwood Mac, Kirwan embarked on a solo career. He would release three studio albums between 1975 and 1979. During the late 1970s, Kirwan struggled with mental issues. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Kirwan was homeless. According to an article from the Independent from 1993, Kirwan had been living in St. Mungo's Hostel for the homeless in London since 1989. In an interview in 2014 with Nightwatcher's House of Rock , former Fleetwood Mac guitarist Jeremy Spencer stated that he last saw Kirwan in 2001 for a morning meal in London- with Spencer's wife, Kirwan's ex-wife and Danny's son Dominic in attendance. Spencer also stated that Kirwan wasn't living "like a down and out tramp"- citing that Kirwan still played guitar and read. 

Below is the full statement from Mick Fleetwood:
"Today was greeted by the sad news of the passing of Danny Kirwan in London, England. Danny was a huge force in our early years. His love for the Blues led him to being asked to join Fleetwood Mac in 1968, where he made his musical home for many years. Danny’s true legacy, in my mind, will forever live on in the music he wrote and played so beautifully as a part of the foundation of Fleetwood Mac, that has now endured for over fifty years. Thank you, Danny Kirwan. You will forever be missed!"
~Mick Fleetwood and Fleetwood Mac

Monday, March 12, 2018

Judas Priest- Firepower album review

 Judas Priest - Firepower
Judas Priest
Rating: ****

As they slowly approach their 50th anniversary, Judas Priest have released a brand new studio album. The album, Firepower, is the band’s first album since 2014’s Redeemer of Souls and their eighteenth studio album overall. On the production side, the band worked with producer Andy Sneap and even Tom Allom, who produced Priest’s studio work in the 1980s. From top to bottom, Firepower is a strong album and a worthy follow up to Redeemer of Souls.

            The album opens fittingly firing on all cylinders with the title track. Right from the start, it’s a brutal throwdown of heavy metal- complete with gallops, chugs and twin guitar harmonies from guitarists Ritchie Faulkner and Glenn Tipton. Singer Rob Halford shrieks his way through the song, as well as the entire album. Even at 66 years old, Halford’s voice still sounds solid. Some listeners might be impressed by Halford’s ability to hit those high notes, especially on songs such as the hard-hitting “Lightning Strikes” and the rapid fire “Flame Thrower.” The former is the lead single for the album while the latter has some top notch drumming from Scott Travis. With a title like Firepower, you would expect the songs from such an album to live up to that title. The album certainly does live up to its title with massive onslaughts of heavy metal delivered through songs such as the menacing “Evil Never Dies” and the guitar-driven “Traitors Gate.” While a heavy album throughout its near one hour runtime, the band are able to present different variations to the Judas Priest sound. Songs such as the militant “Rising from Ruins” and the hypnotic “Spectre” demonstrate the band’s ability in composing slower tunes while maintaining a heavy sound. Other songs on here sound as if the band are taking inspiration from their peers. The psychedelic “Children of the Sun” and the doom-ridden “Lone Wolf” both sound like songs Black Sabbath could’ve churned out back in the day. Like Redeemer of Souls, Firepower ends with a ballad- “Sea of Red.” While I prefer “Beginning of the End,” “Sea of Red” ends the album on a good note.

            Simply put, Firepower is another great album from Judas Priest. After four listens, I’m now finding myself preferring this over Redeemer of Souls. I still like Redeemer of Souls but I feel that Firepower is a more consistent album. With a new album out, the band will be touring in support of it. Prior to the album’s release, it was sadly announced that longtime guitarist Glenn Tipton would be retiring from live performing given his diagnosis with Parkinson ’s disease  ten years prior. While Andy Sneap will be filling in for him, Tipton will remain a member of Judas Priest. For the first time since their early years, Judas Priest will be touring without the twin guitar duo of KK Downing and Glenn Tipton- which is a massive loss. With an album as strong as Firepower, this would be a good album to go out with. Some fans are even asking for the band to hang it up. For the time being, I think we should just sit back and enjoy this new album.   

Monday, January 22, 2018

Dave Holland dead at 69

David Holland
April 5, 1948 - January 16, 2018

Dave Holland, former drummer for heavy metal legends Judas Priest, died last Tuesday at Hospital Unversitario Lucas Augusti in Lugo, Spain. The news was confirmed by the Spanish newspaper El Progreso. The cause of death is unknown at this point but the newspaper has revealed that Holland's body has already been cremated. Holland was 69 year old. 

Before becoming a drummer, Holland began his musical career at the age of six taking piano lessons. By the age of 14, Holland was performing in the Drumbeats. Holland's recording career started in 1966 when he played on Pinkerton's Assorted Colours' single "Mirror Mirror." By 1968, Holland was in a band called Finders Keepers. It was in Finders Keepers that Holland met guitarist Mel Galley and bassist/singer Glenn Hughes. These three men would go on to form the band Trapeze in 1969 with  multi-instrumentalist Terry Rowley and trumpeter John Jones. The band signed to the Moody Blues'  label Threshold Records and released their self-titled debut in 1970. Jones and Rowley left following the first album, leaving the band a trio. Just months after releasing their debut, this trio would release the follow up Medusa, an album that would go on to be regarded as an overlooked hard rock gem. Hughes would leave the band in 1973 while Holland stayed until 1979. 

In 1979, Holland joined Judas Priest- replacing drummer Les Binks. For the next ten years, Holland would serve as Judas Priest's drummer. Together, the band churned out classic albums such as British Steel, Screaming for Vengeance and Defenders of the Faith. Holland left the band in 1989 an was replaced by Scott Travis, who remains the band's drummer to this day. Going into the 1990s, Holland participated in two reunions of Trapeze- first in 1991 and then in 1993. Throughout the 1990s, Holland participated playing in different bands and even giving private drumming lessons. The last 15 years of Holland's life were perhaps his most difficult. In 2004, Holland was accused of several counts of sexual assault and an attempted rape against a 17 year old learning-disabled male student of Holland's. Holland, who came out as bisexual during this time, was found guilty and sentenced to eight years in prison. This lead Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi to remove Holland from a collaborative effort with Glenn Hughes- The 1996 DEP Sessions- which was released in 2004. By June 2012, Holland was released from prison and according to the BlabberMouth, Holland had been living in Lugo, Spain ever since then. Until his death, Holland always maintained his innocence of the 2004 incident. For the rest of his life, Holland lived in Spain and kept a low profile. 

At this time, no statement has been made by the members of Judas Priest. 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Fast Eddie Clarke dead at 67

Edward Allan Clarke
October 5, 1950 - January 10, 2018

Former Motorhead guitarist "Fast" Eddie Clarke has died. According to sources, Clarke passed away yesterday in a hospital after a battle with pneumonia. The news of Clarke's death was confirmed by Motorhead's Facebook page in a post, also adding that Clarke passed away peacefully. Clarke was 67. 

Clarke's career began at the age of fifteen, playing in several local bands. Prior to joining Motorhead, Clarke was in and out of several bands including Curtis Knight's Zeus and Blue Goose. With each of these bands, Clarke recorded an album or two with each of them from 1974 to 1975. Clark eventually joined Motorhead in 1976 after meeting drummer Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor. The two are said to have met when Clarke was working on refitting a houseboat. Taylor introduced Clarke to Motorhead's bassist and frontman, Lemmy Kilmister. With that, Clarke was in the group. From 1976 to 1982, this line-up of Motorhead would go on to create the band's first five studio albums (Motorhead, Overkill, Bomber, Ace of Spades and Iron Fist). Many fans consider this line-up of Lemmy, Taylor and Clarke to be the band's classic line-up.

Clarke left Motorhead in 1982 following the release of Iron Fist. The following year, Clarke joined Fastway- a supergroup originally formed by him and UFO bassist Pete Way. Rounding out the line-up was former Humble Pie drummer Jerry Shirley and future Flogging Molly singer Dave King. Despite the band's revolving door of members, Clarke stuck with the group until their split in 1990. Fastway would reunite in 1997 and 2007. The band's last album was 2011's Dog Eat Dog, which featured singer Toby Jepson. Clarke's last album was his one and only solo effort- 2014's Make My Day-Back to the Blues. While Clarke kept busy throughout his career, he still found time to reunite with Motorhead for one-off performances over the years.

Clarke is the fourth former member of Motorhead to pass away. He his predeceased by guitarist Wurzel (2011) and his bandmates- Phil Taylor and Lemmy Kilmister (both 2015). 

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Ray Thomas dead at 76

Raymond Thomas
December 29, 1941 - January 4, 2018

Ray Thomas, co-founding member of prog rock legends the Moody Blues, has died. The news was confirmed by Thomas' label Cherry Red Records, who said the former Moody Blues flutist/singer passed away suddenly last Thursday in his home in Surrey after a long battle with prostate cancer- which Thomas had been diagnosed with since 2014. Thomas was 76 years old. 

Thomas began his career in music by joining the Birmingham Youth Choir sometime n the 1960s. Prior to the formation of the Moody Blues, Thomas was in several soul and blues groups. By 1963, Thomas was in El Riot and the Rebels with bassist John Lodge and keyboardist Mike Pinder.  The following year, The Moody Blues were formed- with Thomas, Pinder, drummer Graeme  Edge, guitarist Denny Laine and bassist Clint Warwick. The group would go through several line-up changes until 1967- when the group had found their classic line-up of Thomas, Pinder, Edge, Lodge and guitarist Justin Hayward. From 1967 to 1972, the band were at their peak with classic albums such as Days of Future Passed, In Search of the Lost Chord and To Our Children's Children's Children. The band were even able to nab hit singles with "Nights in White Satin" and "Question." The classic line-up came to an end in 1978 when Pinder left the band. Thomas would stay with the group until 2002 when he decided to retire due to his declinging health. Aside from his music with the Moody Blues, Thomas released two solo albums: From Mighty Oaks in 1975 and Hopes, Wishes and Dreams in 1976. Shortly before his death, it was announced that the Moody Blues would be inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame for the Class of 2018. 

Thomas is survived by his wife Lee, who he married in 2009.