Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Davy Jones dead at 66

David Thomas "Davy" Jones
December 30, 1945- February 29, 2012

Actor/Singer Davy Jones, who was one fourth of the Monkees, died today after suffering from what seems to be a heart attack. Jones was 66 years old. Jones had been complaining about chest pains last night and was admitted to a hospital in Florida this morning. 

Davy Jones may have rose to fame thanks to the hit TV show, The Monkees, and being in the band of the same name but he'd gotten his start in 1964. Jones was in Oliver! and just happened to be on the Ed Sullivan Show when the Beatles had made their debut in the US. The Monkees premiered in September 1966 on NBC. The show was the idea of Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider when the Beatles' movies of A Hard Day's Night and Help! had become successful movies. Along with Jones was guitarist Michael Nesmith, bassist Peter Tork, and drummer Mickey Dolenz. The show last for two seasons, each episode chronicling the shenanigans of the rock n roll band. When the show was canceled in March 1968, the band had already begun to branch out and wanting to become a real band rather than a fictional band on TV. The band released several albums during and after the show's time on the air. In 1968, the band starred in the movie Head. In 1969, Tork left and the band continued as a three-piece band until Nesmith quit in 1970. Jones and Dolenz released on more album as the Monkees in 1970 before splitting up the same year. Jones continued his career has both a singer and an actor. Jones made a memorable guest star appearance on The Brady Bunch in their third season as himself. The Monkees would reunite towards the end of the 1980's and in the mid 1990's. The band attempted a reunion tour in 2011 with just Jones, Dolenz, and Tork but the tour ended up being canceled. Last Friday, Jones had been interviewed via telephone on February 24 for the Beatle Edd Fab Four Hour show on 88.5 WRKC in Wilkes Barre, PA. 

I was never a huge Monkees fan but I do really like the music. I had meant to pick up an album or two at some point and now seems like the perfect time. This is very sad news and at the same time, very strange. I mentioned about the interview for the radio show is because this is the station which I have my radio show on. It's also the radio station for King's College, which is the college I go to. I did get to hear the interview the next day and Davy sounded as if he were rushing the interview. According to him, he was going to dinner with his family. From what I'm reading, Davy's passing was not expected and was very sudden. It's just really weird with how many music-related deaths have happened in the first two months of 2012 (and not just rock music): Mark Reale, Don Cornelius, Whitney Houston, Bob Weston, Etta James, and Michael Davis. This is too weird. 

RIP Davy.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Zappa bassist Roy Estrada sentenced to prison for child molestation

Former Frank Zappa/Mothers of Invention bassist Roy Estrada has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for molesting a female child younger than 14 years old "over an extended period of time", according to the Tarrant County district attorney's office. Estrada, 68, had abused a female family member after he had been released from a prison in California. It was on December 9, 1994 when Estrada was convicted in Orange County, California for committing a lewd act with a child. Estrada served six years in prison and returned to his family in Texas. The new charge was indicted in March 2008. Estrada will not be eligible for parole. Estrada was the bassist for the Mothers of Invention from 1964 till their first break up in 1969. Estrada did participate and contribute to Frank Zappa's other work up until 1975. Estrada was also a member of the band, Little Feat.

This is news to me: I had no idea Roy was convicted at all. This story really sickens me. Roy was a funny guy, like all the other members in the Mothers. One person in the comment section of the story on RollingStone.com said it best: the lyric of "She's only thirteen and she knows how to nasty" from "Brown Shoes Don't Make It" have now become a reality. I think Roy is getting what he deserves. A man his age should NEVER touch a child. If you want me to be completely honest, this guy is a sick puppy.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

MC5 bassist Michael Davis dead at 68

Michael Davis
June 5, 1943- February 17, 2012

Bassist of the MC5, Michael Davis, died on Friday from liver failure. Davis was 68 years old. Davis was one fifth of rock legends the MC5. The band consisted of Davis, singer Rob Tyner, guitarists Wayne Kramer and Fred 'Sonic' Smith, and drummer Dennis Thompson. The rose to fame with the release of their recorded live debut album, Kick Out The Jams, in 1969. The band released two more albums, Back In The USA and High Time, before breaking up in 1972. Before the band could reunite, Tyner died in 1991 from a heart attack and Smith died from heart failure in 1994. In 2003, the MC5 reformed with Davis, Kramer, Thompson, and Dictators singer Handsome Dick Manitoba. Since then, the band had been performing. In 2006, Davis was in a motorcycle accident. Davis injured his back but continued performing. According to his wife, Davis had been in Enloe Medical Center for a month. Davis is survived by his wife, their three sons, and a daughter from a previous marriage.
It is sad to hear about Michael's passing. Michael may not have been a big name but the MC5 were one of those bands that were responsible for what later became punk rock music. 

Rest in peace, Michael.

*Note: Michael wasn't the original bassist- it was a guy named Pat Burrows. Michael replaced him.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Quiet Riot's US Festival Performance to be released

Shout! Factory has announced the release of a very cool live album from Quiet Riot. The band's legendary performance at the 1983 US Festival will be released on a two-disc CD/DVD set on March 27. The performance took place on May 29, 1983. Quiet Riot had released their debut American release Metal Health in March 1983. The band were the first to perform on the US Festival's "Heavy Metal Day" line-up along with Judas Priest, Motley Crue, Ozzy Osbourne, the Scorpions and Van Halen. The band played at 12:10 pm to a crowd of 400,000 people.
As a Quiet Riot fan, this is a very cool release. I've seen bits and pieces of the performance on YouTube but it's great that it will be coming to both CD and DVD together. I'll be pre-ordering this, for sure!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Van Halen "A Different Kind of Truth" review

 Van Halen - A Different Kind of Truth
Van Halen
A Different Kind of Truth
Rating: ****

14 years have passed since Van Halen released a full length studio album. That last album, 1998’s Van Halen III, didn’t go over well with the fans or the critics. It was also the band’s first and only album with singer Gary Cherone. In those 14 years, Van Halen have been active and inactive. In 2007, the band reunited with original singer David Lee Roth for a reunion tour. However, long-time bassist Michael Anthony had been fired and replaced by Eddie Van Halen’s son, Wolfgang. Rumors of a new studio album have been flying back and forth since then. Finally after 14 years, Van Halen has released their twelfth studio album. The album, A Different Kind of Truth, is also the band’s first album with Roth since 1984’s 1984. While this is a new Van Halen album, a majority of these songs were written back in the 1970’s when the band first started out. Some may see it as a lack of originality but I see it as an attempt at going back to the old Van Halen sound, which they have certainly done. Despite the firing of Anthony and several other things, it’s safe to say that Van Halen are back!
            The album opens with the lead single, “Tattoo”, which already sounds like a blast from the past. Roth’s voice is in pretty good shape, the song is catchy, and Eddie’s guitar playing is just superb. While “Tattoo” is a great song, it (along with many of the other songs) lacks the wonderful backing vocals of former bassist Michael Anthony. Anthony could certainly hit the high notes and with Roth’s lead vocals, the voices blended so perfectly. Anthony’s backing vocals were also a vital point to Van Halen’s sound that made them famous.  The lyrics are also a bit weak but still, “Tattoo” is great. “She’s The Woman” is also another strong track. It sounds very much like a song that could have been on the debut album. Another thing I’m impressed by is Wolfie’s bass playing. Many fans, including me, have been giving Wolfie a hard time since he replaced Michael Anthony. On this song (as well as the entire album), Wolfie proves himself worthy as a member of Van Halen. “You And Your Blues” is a little bit slower than the other tracks but is a good example of Van Halen’s mash up of clean cut sound with heavier sounds. Roth does really great job on the vocals and the harmonies are actually really great. The band gets to show off their hard rock sound with full blown rockers like the fast pace “China Town” and energetic rush of “Bullethead”. The latter’s lyrics is where the album get its title.  The album is full of rockers but there’s also the anthem-driven “Blood and Fire”, the fittingly “big” sounding “Big River” and “Stay Frosty” could quite possibly be the offspring of “Ice Cream Man” from the debut album.
            If you are a fan of the original Van Halen, you should check out A Different Kind of Truth. It is a bit over polished but it is very much in the vein of the material off the first six albums Van Halen made with Roth. Van Halen should be very proud of themselves: they made a very good album. It’s official: Van Halen have returned!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Paul McCartney's Kisses on the Bottom review

 Paul McCartney - Kisses on the Bottom
Paul McCartney
Kisses on the Bottom
Rating: *** 1/2

Paul McCartney will turn 70 years old in June of this year. In those 70 years, he has spent 50 years in the music business. This includes being a member of the Beatles, a member of Wings, and a solo artist. The average music listener will know McCartney as a great singer/songwriter not only in rock music but in music in general. McCartney has also attempted classical music (i.e.: Thrillington and Ocean’s Kingdom) and even experimental music (i.e.: McCartney II and the Fireman albums). For McCartney’s new album, Kisses on the Bottom, sees McCartney going back to the music that his parents listened to. This is also some of the music McCartney would play and sing with his father, who was a musician himself. Much like Rod Stewart, McCartney has dabbled in the American songbook but has picked some little lesser known songs. Kisses On The Bottom is another one of Paul’s “different” albums but it’s one that he’s wanted to make for years. While it may not be the Paul McCartney we’re all familiar with, Kisses on the Bottom is still a very unique album.
             “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter” is a very good way to open the album. Right from the start, you know this is going to be a strange album. Basically, all of the songs may sound the same probably because of the bass and drums. The opening track is actually really nice and Paul’s vocals are good. Personally, I enjoy Paul’s rendition of “It’s Only a Paper Moon”. Paul hasn’t really added anything to the song except maybe slowing things down a bit. Speaking of which, the songs are all pretty slow but it’s not as bad as it sounds. In fact, there are a few songs pick up tempo. An example of this would be “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive”, which is very upbeat and Paul’s singing is really good again. At nearly 70 years old, Paul’s voice nowadays isn’t the same as it used to be but don’t get me wrong: he can still sing. Just listen to the track “My Valentine”, which also happens to be only one of the two tracks that is an original composition (the other being “Only Our Hearts”). Paul’s vocals are just pure and upfront to the listener. Eric Clapton is also playing guitar on “My Valentine”, which does spice the track up. It’s smart on Paul’s part that this is the lead single because I think it’s the best song from the album. Other highlights include “The Glory of Love”, the somewhat silly “My Very Good Friend The Milkman”, and Paul’s rendition of “The Inchworm” from Hans Christian Andersen.
            Overall, Kisses on the Bottom is a very good album from Paul. I think it may be one of those albums that gets better with every listen. Luckily, Paul said he won’t be doing again or do any overkill like Rod Stewart did. I would like to hear another regular Paul McCartney album sometime soon. His last great one, in my opinion, was 2005’s Chaos and Creation In the Backyard. Still, this will do for now. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Lou Kouvaris Interview

I was fortunate enough to interview former Riot guitarist Lou LA Kouvaris on the phone on February 7. I talk to Lou about his time with Riot, his music career, and of course the late great Mark Reale. Here is the full length audio recording. Enjoy and thank you again Lou!

You can learn more about Lou on his website at www.lakouvaris.com

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Ringo Starr's "Ringo 2012" review

 Ringo Starr - Ringo 2012
Ringo Starr
Ringo 2012
Rating: ***

Former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr has released another album, his first in just two years. This album, Ringo 2012, serves as the follow up to 2010's Y Not. Now, listen: not much is expected from Ringo's solo albums and this album is no different. Still, Ringo 2012 manages to be an enjoyable little album to listen to. 

"Anthem" opens the album and it's a great way to open the album. Still, the song is a bit corny. "This is an anthem" Ringo sings "Of peace and love". I'm guessing this one didn't take long to write (sorry, Ringo. Peace and love!). "Anthem" is in no way a classic but it's a decent song still. One thing that's interesting about this album is that Ringo has decided to re-record two songs from back in the 1970's. However, the songs aren't "Photograph", "It Don't Come Easy", or "Oh My My". Strangely enough, Ringo chose to re-record "Wings" from the Ringo the 4th album and "Step Lightly" from the 1973 Ringo album. "Wings" is a very cool sounding track and just might be a slight improvement over the original. The same can't exactly be said for "Step Lightly" but the thing I love is that it doesn't sound like the original from 1973. The original 1973 track off Ringo is a vaudeville-esque track but on this album, "Step Lightly" has been modernized almost (and no, I don't mean Ringo uses Autotune or whatnot) to a normal sounding song. Kudos to Ringo for changing it. There are also two cover songs on here: Buddy Holly's "Think It Over" and "Rock Island Line". Both are just okay. "Samba" is a nice track while "Wonderful" is probably my personal favorite off the album. I don't know, really. It's just has this very refreshing sound to it, complete with the sounds of guitars and backing vocals. "In Liverpool" is yet another song paying tribute to Ringo's hometown. It makes me laugh at the fact that on the last two albums by Ringo have had songs about Liverpool: there was the self-titled track off Liverpool 8 and then"The Other Side of Liverpool" off Y Not. Has the trilogy been complete? The album ends with "Slow Down", which isn't a cover but an original song written by Ringo and his brother in-law Joe Walsh.

While not a classic, Ringo 2012 is a enjoyable album to listen to. It does feel like it was rushed as the album clocks in at only 28 minutes. Still, how can you not love Ringo? It makes me happy to see Ringo still performing and still making music. At 71 years old, Ringo is a pretty cool guy.