Friday, April 23, 2010

Breaking news: Bret Michaels in critical condition

Bret Michaels, singer of rock band Poison, is in critical condition after suffering from a brain hemorrhage. Doctors have diagnosed Michaels with a massive subarachnoid hemorrhage, which means bleeding of the base of the brain stem. A source from People has stated that it'll be "touch and go" for the next few days while he is under observation.

Here's hoping that Bret makes it! If you are reading, please keep Bret in your prayers and hope he gets out of this fast!


UPDATE 4/24/2010: Bret's father has stated he has spoken to his son. He says Bret sounds fine, although heavily sedated. Any report that says Bret or his daughter have died are BOGUS. Bret's manager has said facts have gotten mixed up. If you want my opinion, I think we should just all hope for a miracle. Keep on praying, people! A few months ago last year, Ronnie James Dio had stomach cancer. Look at him now: he's going to be playing gigs with Heaven & Hell soon. If Ronnie can do it, so can Bret!

UPDATE 5/4/2010: Bret has been released from the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Judas Priest's British Steel turns 30

Judas Priest - British Steel
Judas Priest
British Steel
1980
Rating: ****

Judas Priest had been one of the most successful metal bands in the late 1970's. With five albums under their belt, the band was rocking out and they were hell bent for leather. With 1980's British Steel, it would make the band metal superstars and give the band a good rise in popularity for the 1980's. The album also marked the debut of drummer Dave Holland, who would be the band's drummer for the next ten years (which was rare for Priest as in the early days, the drummer was always changing). British Steel was recorded in two months in Ascot, England at Tittenhurst Park, a house that used to belong to John Lennon years earlier (you can see the house in Lennon's video for "Imagine" and several shots of it in the last photo sessions of the Beatles).

British Steel starts off with the fast paced "Rapid Fire", which has some impressive guitar playing from KK Downing and Glenn Tipton. "Metal Gods", however, is a classic metal track. The band actually used the silverware in Lennon's house to create some of the machine-like sounds. The song's title has also earned both singer Rob Halford and the band a nickname. Next is one of the album's hits "Breaking the Law", which has more impressive guitar work from Downing and Tipton. "Grinder" is an interesting one for singer Rob Halford as he growls the lyrics while "United" is a good attempt at an anthem. "You Don't Have To Be Old To Be Wise" is a bit filler but "Living After Midnight" is another hit off the album. The song was a hit in the US and fittingly so as the song has a "party-hardy" vibe to it. "The Rage" sees bassist Ian Hill dominating in this combination of reggae and metal. The album ends with the rapid "Steeler".

Of 200 albums on my Top Albums list, British Steel currently sits at #116. In total, the band appears four times on my Top Albums list. The band continued their streak in the 1980's with Point of Entry and in 1982, Screaming for Vengeance, which is sometimes cited as the band's strongest album. While the band enjoyed a nice run in the 1980's, British Steel started it all.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Beatles: The Reunion That Never Happened

It was on April 10, 1970 when Paul McCartney filed a lawsuit to end his partnership with the Beatles and announced the band was no more. By the end of the year, the Beatles were no more. Ever since that day, people have wanted them to reunite. It would’ve been the biggest reunion in music history. However there’s a problem now: two of the four Beatles are no longer around. How could it happen? In this article, I will go into the times the Beatles got together after breaking up.

When Paul left the Beatles in 1970, his debut album McCartney was released as well. One story goes that when John, George, and Ringo found out about the news John drove up to the McCartneys’ house and threw a rock at one of their front windows. For the first part of 1970, the Beatles stayed busy with their solo careers. John and his wife, Yoko Ono, worked together on each other’s albums. For both albums, Ringo was the drummer. One source says that on Yoko’s Plastic Ono Band album John, George, and Ringo are all playing on the song “Greenfield Morning I Pushed an Empty Baby Carriage All over the City”. In 1971, George Harrison played on John’s Imagine album. This footage can be seen in the 1988 Imagine documnetary. Notably, George plays guitar on the infamous “How Do You Sleep?”, which was John’s anti-Paul song. Also, George and Ringo played together at the Concert for Bangladesh that year. If you look at the history of the Beatles after they broke up, all the Beatles wanted to help out Ringo. His 1973 Ringo album is the closest thing people got to a Beatles reunion as all four Beatles put something into the record. John and George can be heard on the album’s opener “I’m The Greatest”.

The most talked about reunion was the one between John and Paul. There are various stories to when this happened. One bootleg circulates around called A Toot and a Snore in ’74, which consists of outtakes for Harry Nilsson’s Pussy Cats album which John was producing. Paul is said to have come down then. There is a rumored last time of when the two last met. It was either in 1975 or 1976. The 2001 TV movie Two of Us shows what may’ve happened. In 1976, Lorne Michaels offered on Saturday Night Live for the Beatles to reunite. In a 1980 interview, John says that he and Paul were watching this together when it came on. They actually thought about going down to the studio but were too tired. Paul has said the last time he talked to John was in 1980 over the phone. John was working on Double Fantasy at the time. Paul remembers that John said he wanted his career back. One site says that during this time, a letter had been sent to all four of the Beatles. This letter was to bring the Beatles back together and talk about future projects. However on December 8, 1980 all hopes for a Beatles reunion were gone after John Lennon was murdered outside his apartment. There could never be a Beatles reunion now…or could there?

In 1984, John’s oldest son Julian Lennon released his debut album Valotte. The album was a commercial success and became a hit thanks to the single “Too Late For Goodbyes”. Julian was a very talented young man and it didn’t take long for rumors to circulate that the Beatles would reunite with Julian taking his father’s place. Julian denied the rumor during an interview with David Letterman. In 1994, the Beatles finally reunited…kind of. Paul, George, and Ringo got back together to record music to three (later two) songs John had recorded. This later became part of the Anthology mini-series. While this kept fans happy, there were still fans thinking a reunion was possible. On November 29, 2001 George Harrison loss his battle with cancer. Since then, the idea of a reunion hasn’t been brought. There have been a few times where people have thought that if the Beatles were to have a reunion it should be Julian, Paul, Ringo and George’s son Dhani. However, fans should be glad that Paul and Ringo still get together on occasion. Just this year, Paul appeared on Ringo’s Y Not album for two songs.

Had there been a Beatles reunion, it would have made music history. The Beatles were and probably still are the greatest band of all time. For some ten year, they made some of the greatest music ever created by man. It was a great thing. Sometimes, good things have to come to an end. The greatest reunion that never happened would certainly be the Beatles.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Beatles- The Lost Album

While the Beatles had successful solo careers, there’s always that question: what if they stayed together? This is a simple tracking list for a supposed album. I’m not saying it’s real. This is a list of solo career songs that were recorded and rehearsed when the Beatles were still together. My source for information comes from the fablous The Unreleased Beatles by Richie Unterberger. All the songs are in order by year recorded.

1. “Junk”

Recorded: 1968 during sessions for The White Album

Later Appeared on: McCartney (1970)- Paul McCartney

Notes: On Anthology 3, there is a demo recording of “Junk”.

2. “Circles”

Recorded: 1968 during sessions for The White Album

Later Appeared on: Gone Troppo (1982)- George Harrison

Notes: The Unreleased Beatles notes that the lyrics to the version from 1968 differ from the 1982 version.

3. “Not Guilty”

Recorded: 1968 during sessions for The White Album

Later Appeared on: George Harrison (1979)- George Harrison

Notes: An electric version of this song can be found Anthology 3.

4. “Oh My Love”

Recorded: Late 1968

Later Appeared on: Imagine (1971)- John Lennon

Notes:

5. “All Things Must Pass”

Recorded: 1969 during sessions for the Get Back/Let It Be sessions

Later Appeared on: All Things Must Pass (1970)- George Harrison

Notes: An edited version appears on Anthology 3.

6. “Jealous Guy”

Recorded: 1968 and 1969 during sessions for the Get Back/Let It Be sessions

Later Appeared on: Imagine (1971)- John Lennon

Notes: The song was originally called “Child of Nature”.

7. “Gimme Some Truth”

Recorded: 1969 during sessions for the Get Back/Let It Be sessions

Later Appeared on: Imagine (1971)- John Lennon

Notes: The song was originally called “Give Me Some Truth”.

8. “Hear Me Lord”

Recorded: 1969 during sessions for the Get Back/Let It Be sessions

Later Appeared on: All Things Must Pass (1970)- George Harrison

Notes:

9. “Another Day”

Recorded: 1969 during sessions for the Get Back/Let It Be sessions

Later Appeared on: 1971 single by Paul McCartney

Notes:

10. “Teddy Boy”

Recorded: 1969 during sessions for the Get Back/Let It Be sessions

Later Appeared on: McCartney (1970)

Notes: A silly outtake of this song can be found on Anthology 3.

11. “Every Night”

Recorded: 1969 during sessions for the Get Back/Let It Be sessions

Later Appeared on: McCartney (1970)

Notes:

12. “Let It Down”

Recorded: 1969 during sessions for the Get Back/Let It Be sessions

Later Appeared on: All Things Must Pass (1970)- George Harrison

Notes:

13. “Hot As Sun/Glasses”

Recorded: 1969 during sessions for the Get Back/Let It Be sessions

Later Appeared on: McCartney (1970)

Notes:

14. “The Back Seat of My Car”

Recorded: 1969 during sessions for the Get Back/Let It Be sessions

Later Appeared on: Ram (1971)- Paul McCartney

Notes:

15. “Isn’t It A Pity”

Recorded: 1969 during sessions for the Get Back/Let It Be sessions

Later Appeared on: All Things Must Pass (1970)- George Harrison

Notes:

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Slash- Slash

Slash - Slash
Slash
Slash
Rating: *** 1/2

Former Guns N Roses guitarist Slash has released his first solo album. However, he didn’t do it alone. He made his new album, simply titled Slash, with some of his best friends in music. The album also has all the members of the classic line-up of Guns N Roses, minus Axl Rose. The idea for the album was first brought up in Slash’s 2007 autobiography and now in 2010, it’s out for people to buy.

The album starts with “Ghost”, which features Cult singer Ian Astbury. The song has a fittingly haunted feel to it. Ozzy Osbourne sings the Black Sabbath-like “Crucify the Dead”. Slash’s album also features current artists. Examples would include “Beautiful Dangerous” with Fergie on lead vocals and Myles Kennedy (Alter Bridge) sings on “Back from Cali” and “Starlight”. “By the Sword” is the blusey single off the album that features Andrew Stockdale of Wolfmother. Lemmy (Motorhead) sings on the rocker “Doctor Alibi” while Dave Grohl and Duff McKagan rock out with Slash on the instrumental “Watch This”. The album also features songs from Chris Cornell, Adam Levine, Kid Rock, M. Shadows, Rocco DeLuca, and Iggy Pop.

Slash can be bought from any music store, as well as iTunes. Slash will be on a summer tour promoting his new album. Tour dates have yet to be announced but Slash will have Myles Kennedy as his lead singer. Slash’s backing band will play songs by Guns N Roses, Velvet Revolver, Slash’s Snakepit (Slash’s super-group), along with other material.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Deep Bands- Thin Lizzy


This installment of Deep Bands will be different. I will go more into the line-ups and music rather than what went on in the line-ups. I’ve tried my best to make it good.

Thin Lizzy are one of the most influential hard rock bands of all time. However, they weren’t very popular. Still, their fans are some of the most loyal out there and people still remember the band’s leader Phil Lynott.

Phil Lynott was born on August 20, 1949 in Dublin, Ireland. His mother, Philomena, was only seventeen years old. His father was unknown. All that is known of Lynott’s father is that he was Brazilian. Therefore, Lynott’s skin color was black. At a young age, Lynott listened to rock n roll. He liked the blues as well and looked up to other black musicians. Lynott learned to play guitar and later joined a few bands. One of them was Skid Row (who have no relation to the American band of the same name). When Lynott was fired from Skid Row, one of the members taught Lynott how to play bass. It was one night in December 1969 when Thin Lizzy came together. Lynott would be the singer and bassist, childhood friend Brian Downey was the drummer, Eric Bell was the guitarist, and Eric Wrixon was the keyboardist. The band got their name from the comic book character, Tin Lizzie. Wrixon dropped out of the band quickly after the release of a single, leaving the band a trio in 1970. The band focused on rock and folk music. By the end of the year, Thin Lizzy were signed to Decca Records. Their self-titled debut album was released in 1971. Radio DJs such as John Peel were fond of the album but other than that, it didn’t chart in the UK. Thin Lizzy were thrown back in the studio to record their second album. The resulting album, Shades of a Blue Orphanage, didn’t sell. However the band would get luck after Decca released a single of the band covering the traditional Irish folk song, “Whiskey in the Jar” in 1972. The band weren’t happy about the release as they thought it didn’t represent them correctly. The single, however, became a hit back home and landed the band on Top of the Pops.

Vagabonds of the Western World was released in 1973 to positive reviews. Like other Thin Lizzy albums, it didn’t chart. Suddenly at the end of the year, Eric Bell left the band during the tour. Lynott quickly replaced him with former Skid Row bandmate Gary Moore. Moore finished up the tour for the band and even recorded a little with them. By 1974, Thin Lizzy were left down to two members. An eighteen year-old Scottish guitarist named Brian “Robbo” Robertson got the job as the new guitarist. However, Lynott wanted another lead guitarist. Of those who auditioned, American guitarist Scott Gorham was hired. The band then went to work on their fourth album Nightlife, which was released in 1974 on Vertigo Records. The band had a hard time recording the album as the producer, Ron Nevison, was difficult to work with.

In 1975, Thin Lizzy toured the US for the first time. That same year, the band released the self-produced Fighting. The album included a cover of the Bob Seger song “Rosalie”. 1976 turned out to be the year for Thin Lizzy when they released Jailbreak. The album actually became a hit and even had a hit single in the US (and other places in the world) with “The Boys Are Back in Town”. The album also featured the self-titled track and “Cowboy Song”. The band toured with bands such as Aerosmith, Rush, and REO Speedwagon. The band planned to tour again in the summer but when Lynott fell ill with hepatitis, the tour was canceled. When sick, Lynott wrote most of the band’s next album, Johnny the Fox. The album was released in 1976 and featured the hit single, “Don’t Believe a Word”. The band went on a successful tour afterwards.

Late in 1976, the band ran into a problem with Robertson. Robertson had suffered a hand injury when trying to protect a friend. Lynott was fed up and replaced him with Gary Moore for a tour of the US. When the band went to Canada to record their next album, the band was left as a three-piece band. With T.Rex and David Bowie producer Tony Visconti, the band made Bad Reputation which was released in 1977. Although Lynott, Gorham, and Downey were the members on the cover, Brian Robertson returned to add some guitar for two songs. Bad Repuatation went to #4 in the UK and earned the band a hit single with “Dancing in the Moonlight”. For the last two tours, Thin Lizzy had their shows recorded. In 1978, Visconti produced the band’s first live album Live and Dangerous. There is speculation into how much of the album was overdubbed. Visconti stated once that the album was 75% recorded in the studio. Members of the band disagree and say the album was live, with the exception of a few guitar overdubs. Nevertheless, the album is considered a classic live album and probably one of the greatest ever made. After the album’s release, Robertson offically left the band.

Gary Moore returned to Thin Lizzy once again in 1979, this time as a full member. With Moore, the band made Black Rose: A Rock Legend. The album went to #2 in the UK and had the hit singles “Do Anything You Want To Do” and “Waiting for an Alibi”. The tour followed but Moore decided he wanted out in the middle of the US tour. With this, Lynott brough in Midge Ure to replace Moore for the tour, along with Dave Flett on other tour dates. In 1980, Snowy White joined the band replacing Moore. Lynott also added seventeen year-old keyboardist Darren Wharton. This line-up made Chinatown, which had the hit “Killer on the Loose”. Lynott also released an album of his own called Solo In Soho. In 1981, the band released Renegade. The album only reached #38 in the UK and did even worse in the US at #157. The single, “Hollywood (Down On Your Luck)”, was a failure. After Lynott’s solo tour for his second album (The Phillip Lynott Album), White left the band as he was more of a blues guitarist (which is also why Gary Moore left in 1979). White was replaced by guitarist John Sykes. Sykes heavy playing influenced the band’s last studio album, Thunder and Lightning. However, the band weren’t as popular anymore. In 1983, the tour for Thunder and Lightning was decided to be the band’s farewell tour. The end of the shows on this tour had the band playing one more time with Brian Robertson, Gary Moore, and Eric Bell. The shows were recored live for the live album, Life Live. In September 1983, Thin Lizzy was over.

In 1983, Phil Lynott formed a new band calle Grand Slam. The band fialed to get signed to any label and broke up by 1985. Lynott was very ill in 1985 and was suffering from a number of illnesses. On Christmas of 1985 when his mother found him lying on the floor in his home, Lynott was taken to the hospital. On January 4, 1986, Lynott died from what was said to be a heart attack. Lynott’s addiction to heroin was what really killed him. In the early 1990’s, Thin Lizzy reformed with Scott Gorham and John Sykes leading. The band reformed as a tribute to the music of Phil Lynott. Lynott was given a bronze satue in 2005 in Dublin and his grave is still visited by many. His memory lives on with his mother and his two daughters.

Recommended albums: Jailbreak, Johnny the Fox, Bad Reputation, Live and Dangerous, Black Rose

Personal thoughs on albums: That may sound like a lot but I think those five albums are when Thin Lizzy were at their peak. Thunder and Lightning and Fighting are also worth a listen or two.

Recommened songs: Whiskey in the Jar, The Rocker, Still in Love with You, Rosalie, Wild One The Boys Are Back In Town, Jailbreak, Cowboy Song, Don’t Believe a Word, Bad Reputation, Dancing in the Moonlight, Do Anything You Want To Do, Waiting For An Alibi, Killer on the Loose, Renegade, Cold Sweat

Recommened compilations: Dedication has a great song selection but if you’re in a store, the best you’ll probably find is The Definative Collection which has a great song selection as well.