Saturday, April 23, 2011

Mick Box Interview/Q&A
Mick Box in 2008

There are only a few bands who can say they’ve been together for 40 years without breaking up. There might be even fewer people who can say that they were in that band since the beginning. Guitarist Mick Box would be one of those people. Box, 63, has been in the English progressive rock band Uriah Heep since their formation in 1969. Although the band tends to be more popular in Europe, Uriah Heep has been able to sell 30 million records worldwide. The band’s 23rd/22nd studio album, Into the Wild, was released on April 15 in Europe and will be released on May 3 in the US.
            Uriah Heep formed in 1969 and released their debut, Very ‘Eavy…Very ‘Umble, the following year. The band was probably at the peak of its career in the early 1970’s, releasing classic albums such as Look At Yourself, Demons And Wizards, and The Magician’s Birthday. The band also managed to have hit singles with “Easy Livin’” and “Stealin’” here in the US. Throughout their career, Uriah Heep has had 15 different line-up changes (with none of them reuniting).  Mick Box has seen it all. Although the band is somewhat unknown in the US, the band is still popular amongst avid rock music fans. Fans of Uriah Heep are often referred to as “Heepsters”.
            Uriah Heep is currently on tour and will be coming to Penn’s Peak in Jim Thorpe, PA on June 24. In this interview, Mick Box will be asked about Uriah Heep past and present.

1.      Uriah Heep will be releasing their 23rd studio album, Into the Wild, on April 15 in Europe and May 3 in the US. What was it like making the new album? I noticed that Mike Paxman is producing again as well. I’ve heard previews of the new album and it sounds just as powerful as Wake The Sleeper.

Mick: Into the Wild, is the natural successor to Wake the Sleeper for sure. It is more of a rock album, but it still has an epic song and a ballad. Mike Paxman was once again the producer, and he is inspirational to work with on many levels. He is always “up” and has many good ideas to offer. He does not sit in the control room when we do takes, but stands with a set of headphones on in the studio with us. We record as a band and do not do it piecemeal, as this gives it a great energy.

2.      What was the inspiration behind the album’s title, if any?

Mick: It was taken from the book and film of the same name. The title track though lyrically strays away from the storyline of the book and film. It is also a comment on how we finish an album, and then release it into the wild to see if anyone likes it.

3.      What can fellow Heepsters expect from this tour for the new album?

Mick: We will always do the classics songs we are known for like “July Morning”, “Gypsy”, “Easy Livin’” and “Lady in Black”, but we will intersperse these songs with some of the new ones. If we have a support band we put in 5 new songs in the 1hr 30 min set, but if we are on our own we do 7 new songs.

4.      Alright I’m now going to start asking questions about the past: When did you start playing guitar?

Mick: About age 14 years old. I was into jazz guitarists like Django Reinhardt, Barney Kessal, Tal Farlowe, Les Paul & Mary Ford. I then moved into the rock side when I heard people like Jeff Beck.

5.      You formed the band back in 1969. From what I’ve read, you and the late David Bryon were in a band called Spice before forming Uriah Heep. How did you meet David?

Mick: David used to come to our shows when we were called The Stalkers, and sit in on a couple of numbers once he had, had a few drinks. He was our drummer Roger Penlington’s cousin. When our singer left we held auditions at Rogers house and David was there, and he joined.

6.      How did keyboardist Ken Hensley come into the line-up?

Mick: We recorded a lot of our first album as the band Spice. This was a four piece but when we heard our original songs back in the studio we felt the need to add keyboards as a colour. I was a big fan of the Vanilla Fudge and thought that the Hammond Organ would be the perfect keyboard to have. Our bass player Paul Newton had worked with Ken in a band called the Gods and he played a Hammond Organ, and so suggested him. He came to the studio and loved what he heard, and joined.

7.      Uriah Heep were and are known as a hard rock/progressive rock band. What artists and/or bands influenced the band’s sound?

Mick: Vanilla Fudge

8.      One thing I’ve noticed is that over the years, Uriah Heep have had many line-up changes (I’m counting 15, including the current line-up). Your most stable line-up was the one before Russell Gilbrook joined the band. What do you think makes a band line-up stay intact?

Mick: It helped that I managed the band for many years and this gave us stability. We now have a manager called Martin Darvill who we are very happy with.

9.      I own many of Uriah Heep’s albums, the majority of them from iTunes. I would’ve made the debut my first purchase but when iTunes didn’t have it, I picked Salisbury. I must ask you about the self-titled track! What was it like recording that song? I can imagine it wasn’t easy.

Mick: It all happened naturally as we were in the frame of mind that we did not want to be restricted with our music to 3-4 minutes. So when we were writing we let the song dictate where it should go, hence the track Salisbury. Then we decided that some of the driving parts would benefit from a 27 piece brass section. Once this was added it became a very powerful and unique track.

10.  In the band’s four decade history, you’ve had a total number of six lead singers. Was there one person well known that almost got the job? I think I remember reading in the history section of the official website, David Coverdale auditioned?

Mick: Yes David Coverdale came down for a jam but he was offered the chance to form Whitesnake, which of course he took.

11.  Of the members in your band, two of them have passed: Gary Thain and David Byron. Do you have any favorite memories or stories of David and Gary?

Mick: There are many but you will have to read them in a book, if I ever get around to writing it.
12.  I’m from the US and I’ve noticed there are a large amount of people who don’t remember Uriah Heep back in the day. How successful do you think the band is/was in different countries? Do you think the band gets the respect or recognition they deserve? Do you think Uriah Heep has a cult following?

Mick: I think that after selling over 30 million albums, and playing concerts in over 53 countries, we cannot really call ourselves much of a cult band. Respect and recognition is given to you, and is not something you can demand. You have to earn it. For some of us it is harder than others, but it does not really bother me or even enter my head. As long as you do the best you can, and continue to keep the quality of what you do high, that is all you really think about in that department.

13.  I’ve just read that it was back in July 2010 that the band performed the Demons And Wizards album in its entirety (I must say that’s my personal favorite Heep album). Do you think the band would do that again or maybe even play another entire album live?

Mick: It is not something we plan to do, but that was a bit of fun. There is only so much looking back that you can do.

14.  Uriah Heep have released 22 studio albums (as of now, not including Into the Wild). Of them, do you have a favorite or favorites?

Mick: Not really as they all have a place in my heart.

15.  What song or songs do you enjoy playing live? Are there any obscure songs from the band’s catalogue that you’d like to play live?

Mick: I think we have visited most of them, but “July Morning” is always a good song live.

16.  Are there any former members of the band you keep in touch with?

Mick: (Drummer) Lee Kerslake & (singer) John Lawton mostly.

17.  Random question concerning the Celebration album from 2009: I didn’t get it because I thought I read that it was a compilation with two new songs. Then I found out that it’s an album of re-recorded hits (now I’ll have to pick it up!). Besides it being the band’s fortieth anniversary, what made you want re-record older material?

Mick: It was to celebrate our 40 years in the music business. It was never an exercise to better the original tracks as you can never do that, but it was to show everyone we still had the same passion and energy for what we do, as we ever had. We also included 2 new tracks to show we are proud of our history, but we are moving forward all of the time. This CD is a good calling card to the band as it is today if you have never heard of us.

18.  What do you like about touring?

Mick: Playing live is what we live for. This is where we are the happiest, and I always say a working band is a happy band.

Thanks again, Mick!

Pulsating to the Back Beat: The Ramones' debut is 35

 Ramones - Ramones
The Ramones
Ratings: **** or **** 1/2 (a very high ****)

The origins of punk rock music are always in discussion: who started it all? Punk rock may've gotten a kick start in the late 1960's and early 1970's with bands like the Velvet Underground, the Stooges, the MC5, and the New York Dolls. However today, critics alike think of those bands as "proto-punk". If there was one band who could be called the first flat out punk rock band, it would probably be the Ramones. On April 23, 1976, the band released their self-titled debut album. For many, the album is almost like a blueprint for punk rock music itself and how it should be done. 35 years after its release, the Ramones are probably more popular now than they were back in the day. 

The Ramones were formed in 1974 in New York. The band had come together little by little. Most of the members had been brought up in Forest Hills, not far from Queens. Guitarist John Cummings and drummer Thomas Erdelyi had met in school. They were in a high school garage band that only lasted for a year. The two later met bassist Douglas Colvin. It was Cummings and Colvin who formed the Ramones in 1974. However their drummer was a guy named Jeff Hyman. It was at that time Colvin decided to change his name to Dee Dee Ramone, the surname Ramone coming from what Paul McCartney called himself when the Beatles were on tour as the Silver Beetles (Paul Ramon). Dee Dee suggested to the other guys to change their names and also change their last names to Ramone. Jeff Hyman became Joey Ramone and John Cummings became Johnny Ramone. At that point, Dee Dee was also singing as well as playing the bass. This combination proved to be hard for Dee Dee. It was Erdelyi who encouraged Joey to be the lead singer, since Joey had a pretty good voice. Joey became the singer and Erdelyi joined the band, changing his name to Tommy Ramone. The band's first gig was on March 30, 1974 at Performance Studios. The band were also one of the many bands that played at CBGB's. Seymour Stein, president of Sire Records, signed the band around 1976.

The album starts off by kicking into "Blitzkrieg Bop", the band's most popular song. While the song might be seen as overrated and over used, there's no denying that this is indeed a great song. The lyrics pretty much describe fans of punk music and the calls of "Hey ho! Let's go!" are great. "Beat on the Brat" showcases the band's sense of humor. Not too many people know but the Ramones had a wacky sense of humor. A lyric like "Beat on the brat/Beat on the brat/Beat on the brat with a baseball bat" is dumb but at the same time genius. "Judy Is A Punk" is another classic. The "Oh yeah's" are very much like the Beatles or any Phil Spector-produced group. "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" is different from the previous three songs. The song, written by Tommy, sounds like something the Bay City Rollers would've done except this being done by a punk band. When performed live, the band sometimes got pelted with things by the audience. Early on, you can see that the Ramones had a thing for using songs that started with "I Don't Wanna". This album is no exception: "I Don't Wanna Go Down To The Basement" (an ode to horror films. Also the longest song off the album, clocking at two minute and forty seconds) and "I Don't Wanna Walk Around With You". A song like "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue" is a bit different: with so many "I Don't Wanna" songs, "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue" is one of their more "positive" songs (Johnny said this himself back then)! My personal favorite off this album is Dee Dee's "53rd and 3rd". It's slower than the other songs off the album and it sounds different from the others. The song is semi-autobiographical: in New York, there was a 53rd and 3rd. It was an intersection people would go to and pick up male prostitutes. This song is about someone who is "trying to turn a trick" and ends up killing someone in the end. It's a bizarre subject for a song but still, isn't a great subject? The album's 14th and last song, "Today Your Love, Tomorrow The World", is an interesting song. First off, it's a great way to end the album. Also, the record execs weren't so comfortable with lyrics like "I'm a shocker trooper in a stupor/Yes I am/I'm a Nazi schatze/Y'know I fight for the fatherland". The Ramones' debut album is done after 14 songs. The album's length: under a half hour.

Chart wise, Ramones didn't do well in sales. However, the band had an underground following in New York and I think it's safe to say the people who bought a copy of the album back then later went out to form a punk rock band. The Ramones continued their career until their break-up in 1996. At the beginning of the 21st century Joey, Dee Dee, and Johnny were dead (2001, 2002, and 2004 retrospectively). In 2002, the band were inducted in the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. Earlier this year, the band were awarded with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. This just comes to show that 35 years later, the Ramones' music is still relevant.  

Friday, April 22, 2011

Couldn't Drag Me Away: The Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers is 40

 The Rolling Stones - Sticky Fingers
The Rolling Stones
Sticky Fingers
Rating: **** 1/2

By the end of the 1960’s, the Rolling Stones were one of the biggest rock bands in the world. Despite the loss of founding member Brian Jones, the band was standing strong and touring. In 1971, the band released their ninth UK studio album and their eleventh US studio album Sticky Fingers. It marked the third time the band worked with producer Jimmy Miller and the first full length studio album to feature guitarist Mick Taylor. Today, Sticky Fingers is still praised as not only one of the band’s best albums but one of the best albums ever made by anybody. For me, Sticky Fingers sits at #9 on my list of favorite albums. Since it’s a top ten album, I’ll give it the track-by-track treatment.
            In 1971, the Rolling Stones consisted of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Mick Taylor, Bill Wyman, and Charlie Watts. The band had already started working on the songs for Sticky Fingers in 1969. This is seen in the 1970 documentary Gimme Shelter, where the band got to hear early versions of “Brown Sugar” and “Wild Horses”. The album was recorded mainly in two places: Muscle Shoal Sounds Studios in Alabama and Olympic Studios in the UK.  By this time, the band had ended their contract with Decca Records. The band, with the help of Atlantic Records, created their own record label: Rolling Stones Records. Sticky Fingers was the first album to be released on the new label.

Track-by track review

1.      “Brown Sugar”- The opening guitar riff for “Brown Sugar” has become a classic rock radio staple itself. It’s one of those that when you hear the riff, you know what song is coming up. The lyrics for “Brown Sugar” deal with slavery. However, it’s not just about slaves: it’s about white guys having sex with black girls. Isn’t it obvious: “Brown sugar/How come you taste so good now/Brown sugar/Just like a young (or) black girl should now”. The saxophone solo, played by Bobby Keys, is wonderful. The end part of “I said yeah, yeah, yeah, woo!” is fun to hear live. Sessions for “Brown Sugar” began in December 1969. In the Gimme Shelter movie, we see Mick and Keith moving about to a rough finished cut of the song. Originally, Mick was going to call the song “Black P***y” but he thought it was too direct. Mick did the right thing: it’s a Stones classic.

2.      “Sway”- Of the ten songs on the album, “Sway” is one of the more forgotten ones. Still, it’s a solid rock song with an opening, according to Mick Taylor, requires two guitars to play. However, sources show that Keith Richards didn’t play on this song. He’s on backing vocals with Pete Townshend, Ronnie Lane, and Billy Nicholls. Jagger and Taylor are playing guitars and Nicky Hopkins in on the piano. It’s a nice slow rocker that seems to center around “demon life” and having it get you in its “sway”. Mick’s vocals are really great here. When he sings “One day I woke…”, the microphone couldn’t pick up his loud voice! “Sway” remained not played for decades until the band’s 2005-2007 world tour, which meant that every song on Sticky Fingers had been played live at least once.

3.      “Wild Horses”- “Wild Horses” is, without a doubt” one of the Stones’ greatest songs. The song is somewhat of a ballad. The lyrics sound as if the person in the song is going through a hard time in their life and thinks that childhood living was easy to do. There is some speculation that the song was written about Marianne Faithful, the former girlfriend of Mick Jagger. Jagger disagreed with this in 1993, saying that the relationship “was all well over by then”. Jagger does say, however, that he was very emotionally into this song. There is a lot of emotion in this song. The chorus is just beautiful. Keith Richards was actually the one who came up with the phrase of “Wild Horses”. This was recorded in 1969 and like “Brown Sugar”, it can be heard in the Gimme Shelter documentary.

4.      “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking”- This bluesy track opens up with a rough and tough guitar lick. “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” is a pretty underrated song but seeing how critics and fans have come to love the song over the years, using it in movies and even video games (Guitar Hero II), it’s also a Stones classic. The lyrics to the song are either about one of two things. In the first two lines, Mick sings about a person who has “satin shoes” and “plastic boots”. Mick could be talking about a hooker. But then in the next two lines, we learn they got “cocaine eyes” and “speed freak jive”. A hooker/drug dealer? This song has the credentials to be a Lou Reed song! The person might be begging for another shag or some drugs. The highlight of this song is, of course, the jazz fusion instrumental break. Bobby Keys does his work once again on the saxophone, while Billy Preston is on the organ and Rocky Dijon is on the congas. It’s noted that Mick Taylor is the one playing the guitar solo. Also, Charlie Watts gets to show off his ability to be a jazz drummer. Overall, a classic…and it took the band until 2002 to play this one live!

5.      “You Gotta Move”- If “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” wasn’t bluesy enough for you, “You Gotta Move” should do it for you. This delta blues number, written by Fred McDowell, is the only song on the album that’s a cover. In this song, there aren’t any additional musicians: it’s just the Stones themselves (Mick, Keith, Mick T, Bill, and Charlie). Mick’s vocals on this song are quite impressive. Mick has the ability to change his voice to different styles of music. Keith is playing slide acoustic guitar and Bill Wyman is playing electric piano! An interesting track, for sure.

6.      “Bitch”- I don’t mean to sound like I’m repeating myself but “Bitch” has one of the catchiest openers of any song by the Stones. That guitar lick from Keith and the bass line from Bill are absolutely killer. It’s probably one of the greatest sex songs ever written by the Stones, as well as one of the dirtiest. From the lyrics, we can tell that this guy wants to get laid…badly. When the lyric of “I’m feeling hungry, can’t see the reason/Just had a horse meat pie” comes up, you know what you’re in for. Also who can’t love the chorus: “Yeah when you call my name/I salivate like a Pavlov dog/Yeah when you lay me out/my heart is beating louder than a big bass drum, all right!” This is easily one of the best songs off the album. One of my favorites too.  Keys is on sax again while Jim Price is on the trumpet.

7.      “I Got the Blues”- It should come as no surprise that this song is, well, bluesy. It come as a surprise that “I Got The Blues” actually has some soul music in it. This is definitely one of the most underrated songs off the album and maybe forgotten. About some two minutes in, there’s this outrageous organ solo from the late Billy Preston that just adds more to the feeling of the song. It’s short but sweet. A nice song, with more sax and trumpet work from Keys and Price.

8.      “Sister Morphine”- Of the ten songs on this album I have to say that “Sister Morphine” is my favorite song off the album. Much to my surprise, the song was actually recorded in March of 1969. This was after Brian Jones had left or been fired and before the band found Mick Taylor (also before Brian died in July of 1969). Keith can be heard on acoustic guitar while Ry Cooder is playing slide guitar on this dark and haunting song about morphine and a person who probably overdosed and is in the hospital. Personally, I love the lyric of “Why does the doctor have no face?” The song picks up speed when the drums kick in. Also, Jack Nitzsche is playing the haunting echoing piano on this song. I’ve always loved the sound of this song and how it’s dark and mysterious. While the song is a Jagger/Richards composition, Marianne Faithful gets co-writing credit for the song as well.

9.      “Dead Flowers”- I’ve probably said it more than once: this is another Stones classic. At first, it doesn’t sound like something the band would’ve done but in the end they did it. The song is very country-tinged and has some more great vocals from Mick. I really like how Mick can disguise his voice with different accents (for a much more hilarious example, check out “Far Away Eyes” from Some Girls). “Dead Flowers” is an example: Mick sings with this Southern twang in his voice in the verses. The chorus is awesome and memorable. It’s almost like this song was meant to sing-a-long to. The song’s lyrics get a bit heavy at this point: “I’ll be in my basement/With a needle and a spoon”. Obviously, there’s the heroin reference that comes out of nowhere. The late great Ian Stewart (aka Stu, the sixth Stone) plays piano on this wonderful song. The band took the longest time in not playing this live. 1976 marked the last time the band played the song until 1989 when the band finally got it back in the set list.

10.  “Moonlight Mile”- Sticky Fingers ends with this ballad of some sort. It’s a slow one, for sure, but it’s still a nice little song to close the album with. According to sources, the song was actually recorded in Mick Jagger’s home in Newbury, England using the Rolling Stones Mobile Unit (the band’s own mobile recording studio that had their name on it. Other bands such as Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin would use it as well). Another thing that’s noted is that Keith Richards is not playing on the song for some reason. Mick Taylor is playing electric guitar and Mick Jagger is play acoustic guitar. The song seems to be written about life on the road and how one would feel about being away from home. The lyrics do point out that the one thing connecting the person and home is the moon. A very unique way to end the album.    

Sticky Fingers was another hit album for the Rolling Stones. The cover for the album, however, was a whole other story. Renowned artist Andy Warhol designed the album’s famous cover. Warhol was no stranger to making album art: he created the album artwork for the Velvet Underground’s debut album in 1967 (remember the banana peel?). Warhol was pushing the envelope once again: the cover depicts a person wearing black jeans from the waist down. The model was Warhol’s friend Joe Dallesandro (remember Lou Reed’s “Walk On The Wild Side”? Little Joe?) despite rumors that it was Mick Jagger who was the model.  At the zipper, there was an actual zipper right there on the cover. To prevent any damage of the vinyl record, a gatefold of a picture of the model wearing nothing but underwear. When Sticky Fingers hit the shelves in April 1971, the cover was deemed as too risqué. In Spain, the cover was rejected and replaced with a picture of a can of sawed off fingers! This just comes to show the Rolling Stones were doing the right thing: pissing people off. It was great.
With the success of Sticky Fingers, the band was able to continue until they were broke…seriously. The band moved to France and recorded their next album in Keith’s house. That album became 1972’s Exile On Main Street. It was also their fourth time working with producer Jimmy Miller. Miller’s last album with the band was 1973’s Goats’ Head Soup. A year or two later, Mick Taylor left the band. Today, the Stones are still rolling. In 2012, the band will reach a milestone that very few bands ever get to reach: 50 years in the music business. Sticky Fingers should be looked upon as a classic album from and great rock n roll band. Even 40 years later, it’s still great. Maybe even better.

Sources: My wonderful memory (or so what people tell me) and a huge thank you to the wonderful Stones site, Time Is On Our Side. I think I can safely say that it’s the best Stones site on the web. If you’re doing research on the band, you have to check out this site.  

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

K.K. Downing announces retirement from Judas Priest, replacement in place

This supposed farewell tour of Judas Priest has just gotten more bizarre: Founding member and guitarist K.K. Downing has announced that he will be leaving Judas Priest before the band is set to go on their Epitaph Tour is year. Back in December of 2010, it was announced that Judas Priest would embark on their farewell tour. When the news got out, a majority of the fans figured that with this tour the band would call it a day. Nope. Just a couple of weeks later, guitarist Glenn Tipton said on his website that the band will continue to record music but as for tours, this would probably be their last major tour. Right, Glenn. With Downing leaving, this means he will NOT be going on tour with the band for the Epitaph Tour. Replacing Downing will be 31 year old British guitarist Richie Faulkner. Singer Rob Halford, guitarist Glenn Tipton, bassist Ian Hill, and drummer Scott Travis are all still in the band. The band are also working on a new studio album that is due for release next year.

Well, this sucks. Really sucks. This then prompts me to ask the following: Por K.K? Seriously. History shows that Judas Priest were formed in 1968. Downing and bassist Ian Hill were in the band since the beginning. Glenn Tipton and Rob Halford joined in 1974. So with Downing out, Hill is the only original member left in the band. I'm very surprised by the news. What makes me angry is that K.K. couldn't just do one more tour and then retire. Still, if the band does come to town I'll try my best to see them. However, the fans are going to miss K.K. for sure.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Bill Wyman reunites with the Rolling Stones for Ian Stewart tribute album

Former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman has recently reunited with his old band. The band recorded a cover of Bob Dylan's "Watching A River Flow" for the album Boogie 4 Stu, a tribute album which honors the late great Ian Stewart. Stewart was one of the original members of the Rolling Stones, playing keyboards. However the band's manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, thought Stewart didn't fit in with the band and Stewart was made the band's road manager (meaning he wasn't an official member of the band at that point). Still Stuart, or rather Stu (his nickname), stayed with the Stones as their keyboardist and friend until December 12, 1985 when he suddenly died from a heart attack. Stones fans lovingly refer to Stu as the "sixth Stone".

  Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, and Charlie Watts are playing on the song with  Bill Wyman.  This song makes it the first time Wyman has recorded with the band since 1992 when he left the band. Wyman, 74, left the Rolling Stones for a few different reasons. Wood said in his 2007 autobiography that Wyman hated flying on planes. Also, Wyman was in the band since 1962 (the year the band formed) and thought 30 years was enough. According to the Telegraph, Jagger and Richards recorded their parts for this song separately. Wyman also played with Wood, Watts, and former guitarist Mick Taylor for a tribute concert for Stewart in London last month.

This is pretty cool news and the song is great (I'll put a link down below to Rolling Stone where you can hear the song). I think it's nice that Bill joined the band for something like this. Obviously, Stu meant a lot to the Stones. As for Mick and Keith, this is coming from the Telegraph from the UK. I've read some of their articles before and many of them had inaccuracies. I wouldn't be surprised if the Glimmer Twins recorded their parts in separate places. What has me worried is if a feud or rift will ruin the possibility of a 50th anniversary tour for next year.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Arthur Lee and Love's "Black Beauty" album to be released, exclusive download

Apparently, this news is from a month ago but I think this clip has just been revealed by Rolling Stone magazine. So...

It was announced back in March that Love's lost and unreleased album, Black Beauty, would be released. According to Rolling Stone's website today, the album is set for release on June 7 and will be released on High Moon Records. Black Beauty was originally recorded in 1973 by Arthur Lee and the then line-up of Love (according to the Arthur Lee website, the line-up was guitarist Melvan Whittington, bassist Robert Rozelle, and drummer Joe Blocker). Love were originally formed in 1965 as a psychedelic rock band. The band released three albums from 1966 to 1967: Love, Da Capo, and the masterpiece Forever Changes. In 1968, everyone in the band but Arthur Lee left the band. Lee was forced to find new musicians and released three more albums until 1970. The band split in 1974 and reunited various times until Lee's death in 2006. This will mark the second posthumous release from Arthur Lee and Love, the last being 2009's Love Lost which was another unreleased album but from 1971.

This is pretty cool. I only own the first three Love albums and now I got to get the others. From what I hear, the Love after Forever Changes is much more blues-oriented and a bit heavier than the original line-up. It's hard to find information on the band post Forever Changes. Otherwise, I would share more information (a new Deep Bands entry, possibly?). I haven't picked up Love Lost either. I really like Arthur Lee and the music of Love so I'll be getting more soon! I got Forever Changes off of iTunes in 2006. It took a couple of listens and it was then I realized that its one of the greatest albums ever made by anybody. Expect a review of Black Beauty in June!

Today, Rolling Stone have uploaded a full length song off Black Beauty. It's one of the ten songs off the album. The song, "Midnight Sun", is very Hendrix-like and pretty heavy. If you'd like to listen to the song, go to the link below and it'll lead you to the article on Rolling Stone where you can listen to the song. Enjoy!

Gary Moore's estate: worth more than $3 million

According to a recent article in the Belfast Telegraph and Blabbermouth, the late Gary Moore's estate is worth over 2 million pounds. In USD, that's about $3.23 million. The former Thin Lizzy guitarist, who died earlier this year on February 6, was shown in records that his estate was worth 2.077 million pounds ($3.36 million) but was reduced to $1.65 million USD after liabilities. Moore was laid to rest on February 23 in a small village outside Brighton England, according to the Irish Independent. According to sources, Gary Moore had four children. One of them, Lily, spoke of her father at the funeral as "a man with rather colorful shirts" as well as "the kind of person you could never forget".
It looks as if Gary Moore won't be making the list of the richest dead musicians, sadly. I mean, $3 million is still a lot. I'm sure now that now he has passed, there'll probably be more money coming. The reason why I chose to put this up is because I found it interesting. Also, it shows that this man did have a career although some people may have never heard of him before. Does anybody think we'll be seeing some posthumous releases? Aside from all this, Gary is still missed by his family, friends, and his fans.

Rest in peace, Gary. We still miss you!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Rush's 2112 turns 35

 Rush - 2112
Rating: ****

In 1976, Rush were a Canadian progressive rock power trio just trying to find an audience. The band, formed around 1968, consisted of bassist/singer Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson, and drummer Neil Peart (who joined in 1974, replacing original drummer John Rustey). The band had three studio albums under their belt: Rush, Fly By Night, and Caress of Steel. The band only had a minor hit with "Working Man" from their debut album and were touring with Kiss. The record label told the band that this album had to sell or else Rush was done. On April 1 1976, Rush released 2112

2112 opens with the self-titled 20 minute epic track. Back then, the song took up the entire first side of the vinyl record. It was a very risky move to make on Rush's part but they must've been confident there! The band really worked on this song. "2112" is almost like an mini-opera of sorts. It was written mainly by Neil Peart, who was inspired by author Ayn Rand (who gets credit as "the genius of Ayn Rand"). The song takes place in the future, where the planets are under the rule of the Red Star of the Solar Federation. The world is controlled by the Priests of the Temples of Syrinx, who determine whether things get out or not like readings or pictures. Somewhere, a man finds a strange instrument in a cave: a guitar. He starts to pluck the strings and turn the knobs. He decides to present the guitar to the Priests. The Priests, however, don't accept the instrument saying "It doesn't fit the plan". The man then returns to the cave and is led by an oracle and learns of the Elder Race and how they've had to hide from the priests. In the end, the man becomes depressed and decides he can't live in this world anymore. So he kills himself and as he dies, another war breaks out. The song ends with the message "Attention all planets of the Solar Federation: We have assumed control". If you find yourself confused by any of this, I don't blame you! Still, this is a great song and the musicianship in this song is incredible. 

The second side of the album is not related to the self-titled track. They are five different songs. The first of them, "A Passage to Bangkok", is a wonderful song. One may think the song is about going to Bangkok but they are totally wrong. The song is about traveling around the world while smoking marijuana. How can you not like this song?! "Twilight Zone" actually is based off the TV show of the same name. It's based off of two episodes from the show (go and look up the names). The thing that sticks out on this song is Alex Lifeson's guitar playing and how it sounds. I love that echo going on there. "Lessons" is a nice song with great vocals from Geddy Lee. "Tears" is the slowest song off the album but still, it's good. The album does however end the album off rocking. 

2112 was Rush's first successful album. Now 35 years after its release, the band is still together with the same line-up in place. Without 2112, I don't think Rush would've survived any longer. 2112 is significant for two reasons: it allowed the band to continue making music and the music on it is fantastic, especially the epic self-titled track. It should be celebrated, fore sure.