Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announce 2011 nominees

Today at 10:30 am, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced the nominees for the 2011 induction ceremony. This year, the Hall have picked 15 acts. Of them, five will be inducted. Compared to last year, last year was so much better. Still, this year's list does have a few surprises. I will put the 15 acts into different categories to show who I want in, who I don't want in, and the ones I don't give a crap about.

PUT THEM IN!

Alice Cooper- Of the 15 acts, I'm the most excited about Alice. It's about freakin' time! As we all know, Alice and his band have made classic albums and set the standards for the theatrics in rock n roll. The Alice Cooper band made seven albums before breaking up in 1975. Alice, however, had changed his name legally to Alice Cooper and started a solo career. Today, Alice is still touring and has his own syndicated radio show "Nights With Alice Cooper". My concern is if Alice is inducted, does that mean he and the four members of the Alice Cooper band get inducted too? This would include guitarists Michael Bruce and Glenn Buxton (R.I.P.), bassist Dennis Dunaway, and drummer Neal Smith. If Alice doesn't get in and LL Cool J or the Beastie Boys do, I'll kill the pricks who won't let him in.
Number of times nominated: first time

Bon Jovi- The New Jersey hard rockers would make a wonderful addition to the Hall of Shame. Since they formed in 1983, Bon Jovi are one of the most successful "hair metal" or "glam metal" bands ever. The band have hit songs such as "Runaway" and "Livin' On A Prayer" and hit albums such as Slippery When Wet and New Jersey. Recently, the band hasn't been very much a hard rock band and have been more of a pop-rock band. I think the current line-up will get in along with former bassist John Alec Such.
Number of times nominated: first time

Donovan- It's about time this folk-rock "Hurdy Gurdy Man" get nominated. I'll be honest: I don't own anything by Donovan but being that he's from one of my favorite eras in rock music, I want him to get in.
Number of times nominated: first time

Dr. John- Like Donovan, I own nothing by him but I think he too is a theatric guy and is also a very influential musician in blues music. He did write "I Walked On Gilded Splinters", which Humble Pie did an excellent 22 minute live cover of!
Number of times nominated: first time (?)

J. Geils Band- I don't own anything by them but being that they are a classic rock band, I want them in.
Number of times nominated: 2 (2005 and 2006)

Meh, whatever. But...

Tom Waits- Tom Waits is an experimental musician. He's much like Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart. His most famous album is probably Rain Dogs. I have to get some stuff by him. I'd be okay with him getting in but at the same time, this isn't right. Captain Beefheart needs to be inducted first then Tom Waits can get in. Zappa has been in for some 15 years so yeah...
Number of times nominated: first time

Neil Diamond- It's very shocking that this guy hasn't even been nominated once. I'd be okay with him getting in, though I can't say I'm a fan.
Number of times nominated: first time


WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE?!

Chic, Darlene Love, Joe Tex, Laura Nyro, Chuck Willis- Okay honestly I have heard the names of these people. As for their music, I don't know any of it nor do I really care. Most of these people are pretty old and I just don't care about them being inducted.

HELL NO!

Beastie Boys and LL Cool J- WHY ARE THESE GUYS NOMINATED?! They aren't rock at all, no matter how much you dumb it down with genre politics and roots. They belong to the WORST genre in music of all time: rap. Sadly, the Hall has already put in Grandmaster Flash and Run DMC. If any of these two get in instead of Alice Cooper or Bon Jovi or any of my five picks, I will kill the people who let them in.

Donna Summer- I have a bad feeling she'll get in. I don't want any disco in the Hall. At all.

The inductees will be announced in December. The ceremony is said to take place on March 14, 2011.


Monday, September 27, 2010

That Metal Show: Season 6 information revealed

According to Blabbermouth, That Metal Show will start filming for its sixth season. Like the previous season, the show will be filmed in Los Angeles. That Metal Show is a talk-show on VH1 Classic that is hosted by Eddie Trunk, Jim Florentine, and Don Jamieson. This is no ordinary talk-show: the hosts, along with the week's special guest, will talked about nothing but hard rock and heavy metal. The show started in 2008 and has featured some of the biggest names in metal. The only change in the show known so far is the length, which has been expanded to an hour instead of 30 minutes. The first episode of this season will be a special tribute to Ronnie James Dio, who passed on May 16 from stomach cancer. According to Blabbermouth, the guests for this episode will include:

Vinny Appice (drummer of Black Sabbath, Dio, and Heaven & Hell)
Geezer Butler (bassist of Black Sabbath and Heaven & Hell)
Simon Wright (drummer of AC/DC and Dio)
Craig Goldy (guitarist of Dio)
Wendy Dio (wife/widow and manager of Ronnie)
Rob Halford (singer of Judas Priest)
Tom Morello (guitarist of Rage Against the Machine)

The article has also confirmed that the guests for this season will include (unknown if this is in order by episode or not):

Jason Bonham (son of Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, also drummer for Bonham, Foreigner, and UFO. Also fills in as drummer for Zeppelin reunions, last time in 2007)

Bill Ward (drummer of Black Sabbath)
Richie Kotzen (guitarist of Poison and Mr. Big)
Phil Collen (guitarist of Def Leppard)
Frankie Banali (drummer of Quiet Riot and W.A.S.P.)
Tesla
Chuck Billy (singer of Testament)
Tracii Guns (guitarist of L.A. Guns)
Michael Anthony (bassist of Van Halen and Chickenfoot)
Slash (guitarist of Guns N Roses and Velvet Revolver)
George Lynch (guitarist of Dokken and Lynch Mob)
Philip Anselmo (singer of Pantera and Down)

I'm a fan of That Metal Show. I particularly like the segment Stump the Trunk, where the audience asks Eddie Trunk questions about hard rock and heavy metal. Most of the time, I get them right and love how it tests my knowledge in the genres. The guest line up looks great. I'm looking most forward to Frankie Banali.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

John Bonham (1948-1980)- 30 Years Later



John Bonham
May 31, 1948- September 25, 1980


Today marks the 30th anniversary of the death of Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham. Nicknamed Bonzo, Bonham was certainly on of the greatest drummers of all-time. Since the formation of Led Zeppelin in 1968, Bonham had been beating the skins for many years. Some of his drum solos were famous, including the amazing instrumental "Moby Dick". When performed live, Bonham would usually play for well over 20 minutes. Bonham died on September 25, 1980 at the house of Jimmy Page after a long night of drinking. The band were saddened by Bonham's death and the question of going on was a hard one to answer. One source claims the band thought about replacing Bonham with drummer Cozy Powell. In December, Led Zeppelin announced they would split up. The band did reunite on a few occasions, most recently in 2007. In the of these performances, Bonham was replaced by his son Jason. Jason is now on tour playing his father's music in honor of is memory.

Crank up some Zeppelin!

Rest in peace, Bonzo!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

It's Official: Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez are the new American Idol judges

After months of speculation, it has finally been announced officially that singers Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez will be the two new judges for Season 10 for American Idol. The Fox Channel hit will start Season 10 on January 12, 2011. However, Tyler and Lopez may not start their run as judges until the show's Hollywood week. American Idol has been through many changes since the end of their seventh season. At the beginning of Season 8 in 2009, a fourth judge named Kara DioGuardi joined the original judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson. After Season 8, Abdul left and was replaced by comedian Ellen DeGeneres. Season 9, which aired earlier this year, was already going to be Simon Cowell's last season as he is now focusing on an American version of the hit UK reality-competition show The X Factor which is due sometime next year. In late July, DeGeneres announced she was leaving claiming that she wasn't the right fit. Then in August, DioGuardi announced she was also leaving the show. This left Jackson only judge left until now.
I find it very interesting that the show chose Steven Tyler to be a judge. I'm not sure how this'll go over with Aerosmith fans, like me. Personally, I'm okay with it. All I'm waiting for from Aerosmith is a new album in the vein of Toys in the Attic or Rocks. As for Lopez, at least they chose someone related to music. I'm going to be completely honest: American Idol has been a guilty pleasure since their second or third season. Idol has had their share of so-called rockers. I gave up watching after Season 8 in 2009, which was just horrible. The only singer worth watching was Adam Lambert. As a fan of glam rock and glam metal, I really liked Lambert because he has a great set of pipes. After he loss against Kris Allen, I gave up watching. When I heard DeGeneres was joining, I decided to see what it was like. After a few episodes of Season 9, I just gave up. None of the contestants were good and I just gave up. I think the show has already died without Cowell there. I'm really surprised they've decided to continue but I have a feeling this is it for the show. Just out of curiosity, I'll watch the show for a second just to see what Tyler is like. Otherwise, I don't care what happens.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Freddie Mercury biopic in the works starring Sacha Baron Cohen

According to various sources, a new biopic on the life of Freddie Mercury is in the works. The person slated to play the charasmatic lead singer of Queen is actor Sacha Baron Cohen. Cohen is best known for playing the title character in the hit comedies Borat and Bruno. The movie, which is set to begin production in 2011, will focus on Mercury's life from the beginning to his performance at Live Aid in 1985. Mercury's death in 1991 to AIDS, however, will not be mentioned in the movie. The script will be written by Peter Morgan, who's best known for his work in Frost/Nixon and The Last King of Scotland. It's unknown if Cohen will be singing in the movie or if he'll lip sync to the original music of Queen.
I find this very interesting. I love Queen and their music. Freddie Mercury, in my opinion, probably had the finest voice in rock. I'm not familiar with Cohen. I've not seen Borat or Bruno but I may have to just so I can get a feel for how Cohen is going to pull off the role. From what I've heard surviving Queen members Brian May, John Deacon, and Roger Taylor are all backing this project up. It should be good.

Ozzy Osbourne's Blizzard of Ozz turns 30

Ozzy Osbourne - Blizzard of Ozz
Ozzy Osbourne
Blizzard of Ozz
Rating: ****

In 1979, Ozzy Osbourne was no longer a member of Black Sabbath. When he was fired from Sabbath, Osbourne had no intentions of doing something of his own. According to his autobiography, he would stay in a hotel room all day and experiment with drugs. Black Sabbath's manager, Don Arden, was a bit worried about Osbourne. However, it was Arden's daughter Sharon that got Osbourne motivated to pursue a solo career. Sharon helped Osbourne by recruiting a backing band. The band included bassist Bob Daisley, former Uriah Heep drummer Lee Kerslake, and a young virtuoso guitarist named Randy Rhoads. Rhoads was formerly of the rock band Quiet Riot, who had split after Rhoads took the job to play for Osbourne in 1980. With this line-up, Osbourne and his new band hit the studio to record what would become his debut album.
Blizzard of Ozz kicks off like a blizzard with Rhoads' guitar blazing in the opening track "I Don't Know". The band sounds great as does Ozzy. The album's big hit has to be "Crazy Train", which probably has one of the most memorable opening guitar riffs in metal. The lyrics are brilliant as is Rhoads, who plays an incredible solo in the song. The next song "Goodbye to Romance" is very different from the last two tracks. The song is very melodic and could possible show how much of a Beatles fan Ozzy was (and still is. Osbourne is a huge Beatles fan). Ozzy's vocals sound wonderful and Rhoads, once again, shines with his brilliant guitar work. The guitar playing is pretty heavy for a song that slow. The next song, "Dee", is a sweet instrumental from Rhoads which he dedicated to his mother (who was and still is living). "Dee" is actually his mother's name or nickname. This song is followed by the heavy "Suicide Solution". The song's lyrics may suggest that suicide is good but that wasn't Osbourne's intention at all. Osbourne supposedly wrote the song as a tribute to his friend Bon Scott, lead singer of AC/DC. Scott had died earlier that year from alcohol abuse. What Osbourne and Daisly were trying to say was that alcohol was the solution. A few years later, two teenagers (in two different cases) took the song the wrong way and committed suicide. "Mr. Crowley" is a great dark track that deals with the occultist Aleister Crowley. Rhoads, once again, works his magic with the guitar. "No Bone Movies" is another odd track off the album. According to sources, the song is actually about pornographic movies. "Revelation (Mother Earth)" could be easily mistaken as a Sabbath song as it has dark imagery and lyrics. The song goes right into the final track "Steal Away (The Night)" which ends the album rocking all the way.


Blizzard of Ozz went gold quickly and put Osbourne back on the metal scene. Ozzy's band would follow up the album with 1981's Diary of a Madman. Before the album's release, Osbourne fired Daisley and Kerslake. They were replaced by bassist Rudy Sarzo (Rhoads' old Quiet Riot bandmate, who suggested Sarzo to Ozzy and Sharon) and drummer Tommy Aldridge. This line-up toured until March 19, 1982 when Rhoads was killed in a jet plane accident along with the pilot and the band's hairdresser. Still, Ozzy kept going with numerous line up changes and he also married Sharon along the way. In 1995, all of Ozzy's albums were reissued and remastered. When the albums were reissued again in 2002, fans were surprised to read in the CD booklet that the bass and drums for Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman had been re-recorded. This was because Osbourne's former bandmates Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake would not stop filing lawsuits against the Osbournes, claiming they weren't getting any royalties from those albums. According to Ozzy in his autobiography, it was Sharon's idea to have the bass and drums re-recorded by Ozzy's then-bassist and drummer Robert Trujillo and Mike Bordin. Rhoads' guitar playing, luckily, was kept in the mix along with Ozzy's vocals. Still, Blizzard of Ozz is a classic heavy metal album and is important for starting the successful solo career of Ozzy Osbourne.

Note: If you want to buy Blizzard of Ozz, please don't get the copies they sell in stores or online. Get the original recording. How can you tell the difference? The 1995 reissues have on the cover a small picture of the album artwork in the center and then somewhere on the side it should be "Ozzy" in big letters. This is the one to get. This goes for Diary of a Madman as well. Both can be found on iTunes and Amazon's MP3 store as well as used CD stores. If you find a copy with red lettering on the spine of the CD case, those are okay to get. They just aren't remastered.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Neil Young's After the Gold Rush is 40

Neil Young - After the Gold Rush
Neil Young
After the Gold Rush
Rating: **** or even **** 1/2

Note: Wikipedia, I could've sworn, said the album was released September 19.
As of now, it says August 31. However, RateYourMusic says the album was released
September 19. I'm still writing this because it's one of
my all time favorite albums.


For a short amount of time, Canadian rocker Neil Young was in the band Buffalo Springfield. when the band split around 1968. Young decided to pursue a solo career. His self-titled debut album, released in 1968, was met with mixed reviews. Young improved with his second album, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. The album contained some of Young's best material such as "Cinnamon Girl", "Down by the River", and "Cowgirl in the Sand". In 1970, Young joined Crosby, Stills, and Nash (which changed their name to Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young). For Young's third album After the Gold Rush, he became more of a singer/songwriter. Some people still believe that After the Gold Rush is Young's best album.

The album opens with "Tell Me Why", which is a great opener for the album It sets the mood for what is to come for the album. The lyric of "Is it hard to make arrangements with yourself?" sounds very melodic and true. The self-titled track could be either annoying or amusing for the listener at first due to Young's falsetto vocals throughout the entire song. After a few listens, there's no denying that this is a beautiful song and has wonderful lyrics that talk about the environment. "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" sees Young still singing falsetto to this somewhat depressing song. It has been said that Young wrote the song for Graham Nash after his split with Joni Mitchell. "Southern Man" is a rocker and a stand out track for sure. The song is said to be about racism and about how the South treated their slaves. Notably, Lynyrd Skynyrd wrote their response to this song with the hit "Sweet Home Alabama" which mentions Young in the lyrics (which Young later was quoted to saying he was proud to be mentioned in the song). "Till The Morning Comes" is short and sweet while "Oh Lonesome Me" is a folksy/blusey cover of a Don Gibson song. While the original and many other versions are upbeat, Young changed it around and made the song sound "lonesome" in some way. Just listen to the original and Young's version back to back. You'll hear the difference. "Don't Let It Bring You Down" is another good album-only track while "Birds" is mainly piano-oriented. "When You Dance I Can Really Love" is another one of my favorites off the album. It's upbeat and pretty rocking. "I Believe in You" is another heart-felt number with a great chorus. The album ends with another short and sweet track, "Cripple Creek Ferry" which has this sort of bounce to it that ends thee album perfectly.

After the Gold Rush is certainly one of my favorite album of all time. Currently on my Top 200 list, it sits at #33. This makes it my favorite Neil Young album. After the Gold Rush did a lot for Young's solo career. He was able to record more albums including Harvest, which is his best selling album ever mainly due to the fact that it caught the attention of country listeners. Of Young's 40 (!) some studio albums, After the Gold Rush is certainly my favorite.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Jimi Hendrix (1942-1970)- 40 years later

Jimi Hendrix
November 27, 1942- September 18, 1970


Today marks the fortieth anniversary of the death of Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix had started his career playing in small bands and eventually playing for people like Little Richard. In 1966, Hendrix went to London and formed the Jimi Hendrix Experience with bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchel. The band released three albums: Are You Experienced?, Axis: As Bold As Love, and Electric Ladyland. The band split in 1968 and Hendrix would soon form another band. His next band had all-black members with Billy Cox on bass and Buddy Miles on drums. They called themselves Band of Gypsys and released a self-titled live album in 1970. Hendrix soon reformed the Experience only Redding was replaced by Cox. Hendrix played his final gig on September 6, 1970.

In the early hours of September 18, 1970, Jimi Hendrix was pronounced dead. Hendrix was discovered passed out by his girlfriend Monkia Dannemann in her London flat. Unknown to Dannemann, Hendrix had taken nine of her Vesprerax sleeping pills. The normal dose was only half a tablet but Hendrix wasn't familiar with the drug. Doctors also saw that Hendrix had been drinking (red wine, notably) and caused him to asphyxiate on his own vomit. When news broke out that Hendrix had died, there was some shock and plenty of shock. Hendrix was only 27 years old, just like his friend Brian Jones before him. Janis Joplin would join him less than a month later and as would Jim Morrison. Both Joplin and Morrison were also 27 years old.

Although Hendrix died too soon, his legacy has managed to live on for the last forty years. Since his death, there have been countless of posthumous releases. Today a family owned company called Experience Hendrix, which is ran by Janie Hendrix, Jimi's half-sister. With the reissue of Hendrix's albums and the release of yet another album called Valleys of Neptune, Hendrix's legacy could probably live on forever and enjoyed by generations to come.

Black Sabbath's Paranoid is 40

Black Sabbath - Paranoid
Black Sabbath
Paranoid
Rating: **** 1/2


Black Sabbath are widely considered to be one of the pioneering heavy metal bands. Their second album, Paranoid, is sometimes referred to as the band’s best album. Also, Paranoid is perhaps one of the most impressive heavy metal albums ever made.

Black Sabbath had released their self-titled debut album in February 1970. The album did okay chart wise and got the band on the road. However, critics were harsh on the album and dismissed it of being relevant. The band was also constantly writing material while on the road. Black Sabbath consisted of singer Ozzy Osbourne, guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler, and drummer Bill Ward. Of the members, it was Butler cranking out the lyrics and Iommi writing the guitar riffs. The band was aware of what was happening in the world. The war was one thing that influenced many of the band’s songs. The band entered the studio again in June and finished recording the album in only a few days. The album’s title was originally War Pigs. However, Warner Brothers didn’t like the title and thought that people would find that offensive as the Vietnam War was still going on. After listening to the song “Paranoid”, the label chose it as the single and the album’s title. This would explain the story behind the album’s cover, which depicts a trippy picture of a soldier. As a result, the album’s cover is sometimes considered to be one of the worst album covers ever made, as it has nothing to do with paranoia.

Paranoid starts off with “War Pigs”, which begins with a “doom-like” opener. The song picks up pace about 50 seconds in. Ozzy sings about war and destruction, complete with eerie images of the war (“In the fields a body’s burning/As the war machine keeps turning”). After Ozzy yells “Oh, lodger!” the song is rocking. The lyrics in “War Pigs” are very powerful. A favorite of mine: “Time will tell their powered minds/Making war just for fun/Treating people just like pawns in chess/Wait till the judgment day comes”. Black Sabbath were telling the truth and reality of the war in their lyrics, as seen in those lyrics. The self-titled track has, without a doubt, one of the most memorable opening guitar riffs in heavy metal music. Members of the band say the song took only a few minutes to write and record. Although “Paranoid” is a bit radio friendly, there’s no denying of the song’s heaviness and rawness. A lyric like “Can you help me occupy my brain?” is so dark and maybe even poetic in some way. “Planet Caravan” is very different from any of the songs on the album. The song has a hippy-like feel to it. Ozzy’s vocals sound spacey while Bill is playing percussion. Still, the song feels dark. “Iron Man”, like “Paranoid”, has one of the most memorable opening guitar riffs. The song tells the story of a man who travels in time and comes back and kills the people he once saved. “Iron Man” is also somewhat of an anthem in a way. “Electric Funeral” tells the grim possibilities of a nuclear war. The song is slow in the beginning but then, out of nowhere, picks up speed with Iommi showing off some impressive guitar work. “Hand of Doom” is probably my personal favorite off the album. The song is about using heroin, specifically soldiers in the war. The song is heavy and dark with chilling lyrics such as “You push the needle in”. About two minutes in, the song gets faster which could make the song into a mini-epic. “Rat Salad” is a bizarre instrumental that still, somehow, fits on the album. The drumming from Bill is very impressive, almost jazz-like. The album’s closer, “Fairies Wear Boots”, is another classic. However, not too many people are sure what the song is about. In his autobiography, Ozzy states that doesn’t know what the song is about. However in the Classic Albums episode on the album, the band and others believe the song is about skin-heads or gangs in England. Still, Paranoid ends on rocking note.

Paranoid became Black Sabbath’s real first hit album. The success of the album and its single, “Paranoid”, put the band on the map. While the band’s debut album started their career, Paranoid catapulted the band to superstardom and made them one of the first popular heavy metal bands. It also allowed the band to make more music, including 1971’s Master of Reality. Today, Black Sabbath remains inactive. Iommi and Butler, along with singer Ronnie James Dio and drummer Vinny Apiece, were performing as Heaven and Hell up until last year when Dio was diagnosed with stomach cancer. Sadly on May 16, Dio lost his battle at the age of 67. In July, Heaven and Hell played their last gig as a tribute to Dio. Ward hasn’t been doing much while Osbourne released a new album in June entitled Scream. The lawsuit filed by Osbourne last year against his band mates was dropped sometime this year. When asked about a reunion of the original Sabbath, Osbourne answered “I never say never”. Hopefully, Black Sabbath will get back together and start touring soon. For now, let’s celebrate the 40 years of Paranoid. In my list of top 200 albums, Paranoid sits at #11 on my list. For me, Paranoid is my favorite heavy metal album released by anybody. In its fortieth year, metal fans salute this classic album for its timelessness.

Note: If you’d like to learn more about Black Sabbath and the Paranoid album, go out and find the new Classic Albums episode on the album on DVD and Blu-Ray. Sadly, I’m afraid you can’t find the DVD on Netflix. If you love Sabbath, just get it. It’s a really good documentary. If you don’t feel like buying it, wait for it to air on VH1 Classic or something like that. The DVD can be found on Amazon or FYE stores.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Quiet Riot have reunited, plan US tour soon

According to BlabberMouth today, Quiet Riot have reunited. The band is choosing to reform without original singer Kevin DuBrow. DuBrow suddenly passed away in November 2007 from a cocaine overdose. In January 2008, drummer Frankie Banali announced on his official website that Quiet Riot was no more. Earlier this year, Banali announced he would be making a Quiet Riot documentary and asked fans to donate money to make it happen. The project met its goal before the deadline. According to the article on Blabbermouth, Quiet Riot has now reunited all together due to a "spark ignited" in Banali to go on. In the line-up is Banali, guitarist Alex Grossi, bassist Chuck Wright, and filling in the shoes of DuBrow is singer Mark Huff. Huff caught Banali's attention when Huff was fronting a Van Halen tribute band, dedicated to playing material from the Sammy Hagar era. After a "cattle call" audition and the blessing from DuBrow's mother to go on, the new Quiet Riot is set. The band are currently making plans to tour the US.
I'm in shock, really. I really thought that when Kevin died back in 2007, that was it for the band. There was no way out of that one. If you look at the band's history, Kevin was one of the founding members of the original Quiet Riot with Randy Rhoads. While Banali has been involved with Quiet Riot since 1982, DuBrow had been the band before then. I'm not sure what to say about this sudden reunion. I mean, there have been many bands that've reunited without a special member whether they are dead or alive (example: New York Dolls, The Doors, Plastic Ono Band, etc). I'm not sure what to think of Mark Huff. He does have a good voice but I really have to see the band play live and decide. For now, I guess I support the new Quiet Riot without Kevin. I'm aware that Quiet Riot did for sometime have Paul Shortino as the singer replacing Kevin, who'd been fired or left. Chuck has been associated with the band since Metal Health, Alex has been in the band since 2005 and Frankie has been in the band forever. If the band does come to town, I'll try my best to go and see them. In terms of keeping the music alive and Kevin's memory alive, I support this reunion.

If you'd like to hear Mark Huff sing, please go to the link below. It's just one song that has Mark singing to the original tracks (w/o Kevin's voice) of "Cum On Feel The Noize", "Metal Health", and "Slick Black Cadillac". Decide for yourself: Is Mark Huff any good?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here turns 35

Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here
Pink Floyd
Wish You Were Here
Rating: **** or **** 1/2

In 1973, Pink Floyd did something quite shocking: they had a hit album. Their eighth release, Dark Side Of The Moon, sold in the millions and made the band superstars. After touring for the album, the band were ready to make the follow-up album. Wish You Were Here is often referred to as a concept album. If there is a concept, it's very loose. Some believe the songs either have to do with bassist Roger Waters' feelings at the time or about the music business. Two songs on the album, however, are clearly about the band's lost former band mate Syd Barrett. Ironically enough when the band was recording the album on June 5, 1975, a man with a shaved head and shaved eyebrows walked into the studio. He also had a toothbrush in his pocket, which he would take out periodically to brush his teeth. The band was shocked to see that this man was indeed Syd Barrett. Drummer Nick Mason took a picture of Syd that day, which can now be seen in his autobiography from 2005. It was the last time the band saw him until his death in 2006.

The album starts off with "Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V)", which has this keyboard and/or synth drone going on for almost four and a half minutes. Finally, the music kicks in at that time but it isn't until the eighth minute mark that the lyrics start. This song is clearly about Barrett, remembering him fondly ("Remember when you were young/You shone like the sun"), then in horror ("Now there's a look in your eyes/Like black holes in the sky"), and finally in sorrow ("You reached for the secret too soon/You cried for the moon"). Without a doubt, this is one of Floyd's best songs ever, despite how sad it is. "Welcome to the Machine" is a song that deals with the music industry. One could think of the industry as a machine. The song is perhaps one of the most spacey songs ever done by the band. "Have A Cigar" follows. This is yet another song about the music industry, except this time the song is a bit more straight-forward hard rock. The lyric of "Oh by the way, which one's Pink?" could refer to the clueless reporters who didn't know whether Pink Floyd was a person or a group of people. The song segues into the self titled track, which once again focuses on Barrett. David Gilmour sings "So you think you can tell/Heaven from hell". The chorus of "How I wish, how I wish you were here/We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl/Year after year" is a powerful one. The album closes with "Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts VI-IX)", which isn't much different from the first track.

Wish You Were Here is indeed a strong follow-up to Dark Side of the Moon. David Gilmour and Rick Wright (before he died, of course) have both cited Wish You Were Here as their favorite Pink Floyd album. For me, it's another one of my top 200 favorite album. Wish You Were Here sits at #26 on my list, making it my second favorite Pink Floyd album but very close to the album after Wish You Were Here, Animals which is at # 29.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Kiss' Alive! turns 35

KISS - Alive!
Kiss
Alive!
Rating: ****


In 1973, Kiss were a new rock band that was doing something different. Their shows were theatrical as there was pyrotechnics and explosions. The band consisted of bassist Gene Simmons, guitarists Paul Stanley and Ace Frehley, and drummer Peter Criss. Each member also wore full-on make-up and each had their own persona, along with wearing costumes. By 1975, the band had three studio albums under their belts (Kiss, Hotter Than Hell, and Dressed To Kill) but neither of them did anything. The band were staying alive by touring and wowing audiences with their amazing stage shows. However in 1975, Kiss learned that their record label Casablanca Records were on the verge of bankruptcy. Kiss had to release an album that would sell and that people would buy. Since Kiss were known for their shows, the idea of doing a double live album seemed to be the way to go. However, live albums were known not to sell a lot of copies. Still, Kiss gave it a shot. The first series of shows recorded were at a sold out show at the Cobo Hall in Detroit, Michigan. When the band heard the tapes that producer Eddie Kramer had recorded, they were horrified: the audience was too loud and you couldn't even hear the singing. Like many live albums before and after it, Alive! had to be overdubbed in the recording studio. According to Kramer, only the drums are live. There is still dispute over which songs are live and aren't. Still with fake bomb explosions and audience cheer, Alive! still gave the listener what a Kiss show was like then.

Alive! feels like you are at the actual concert. Before the age of VHS', DVDs, or even YouTube, live records were the closest thing to being at the actual show. Once you hear the introduction to "Deuce", you know you're in for a good live album. "Strutter" follows. One other great thing about Alive! is that it captures the on-stage banter of Paul Stanley in between songs. His introduction to "Cold Gin": "I was talking to somebody backstage before and he told me there's a lot of you people who like to drink vodka and orange juice! Alright!" How can you not love this stuff? There are some performances of songs that are far better than the studio version. For example, "100,000 Years" goes on for 12 minutes. This includes a drum solo from Criss and Stanley pumping up the crowd. My personal favorite Kiss song "Black Diamond" sounds absolutely perfect and heavier than the studio version. "Rock And Roll All Nite" is a bit longer than the studio version and actually earned the band their first hit single. From start to finish, Alive! is an amazing live album by anybody.

Alive!, to the band's surprise, reached gold status very quickly. Unlike the previous Kiss albums, Alive! was an album that sold millions of copies. The album also catapulted Kiss into rock n roll super-stardom and allowed the band to make more fantastic albums and songs. 35 years after the release of Alive!, Kiss is still going on strong. Although Frehley and Criss are absent Simmons, Stanley, guitarist Tommy Thayer, and drummer Eric Singer are still touring and keeping this great music alive and kicking. Alive! is one of my all time favorite albums and ranks at #102 on my list of 200 top albums. This may not sound like much but Alive! did something that no other album had done before: it got me into live albums and the fun they can be when one listens to a live album. For relevance, Alive! should be celebrated as one of the greatest live recording ever made.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Jim Jarmusch reveals information on new Stooges documentary

Indie movie maker Jim Jarmusch has revealed in an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine's website that he'll be working on a documentary on the Stooges. According to Jarmusch, Iggy Pop had asked him a few year ago to do it knowing that Jarmusch was a big Stooges fan. Jarmusch revealed in the video interview that they are working hard to find archival footage. Jarmusch already has eight hours of footage of Pop talking all about the Stooges. Jarmusch also says that the documentary will use unreleased music made by Ron and Scott Asheton, which was recorded before Ron Asheton passed away in January 2009. Jarmusch has made a few films since 1980. His only documentary is 1997's Year of the Horse, which is about Neil Young. He has also directed a few music videos, two of them by Tom Waits.
This is pretty cool news. I would love to see a documentary on the Stooges. I feel their story hasn't been told correctly before in print or in video. There are some music specials on Iggy Pop, which do mention the Stooges. This movie will not talk about Pop's solo career, from what I've read. It'll just be about the Stooges. I'm looking forward to this very much.