Tuesday, December 29, 2015

John Cale to re-release Music For a New Society, along with re-recorded version

Former Velvet Underground member John Cale will be re-releasing his 1982 album Music For a New Society on CD and vinyl on January 22. Along with the re-release of the 1982 album will be an album entitled M: FANS, a "visceral new reworking" of Music For a New Society that will "re-contextualizes the original songs into radical new forms to resonate with the digital age"  - according to his official website. Cale has also remastered the original 1982 album, which will feature several bonus tracks that will be available via download card. The album had been released on CD some two decades ago but that version has since gone out of print, with used copies selling for $40 to $50. The re-recorded album will be included as a second disc. The vinyl will be released as two separate albums, although buy can be purchased in a bundle. The albums can be pre-ordered through Cale's website and/or Amazon.com.

The tracking lists for the albums are as follows..

Music For a New Society (original album)
1. Taking Your Life In Your Hands
2. Thoughtless Kind
3. Sanctus (Sanities)
4. If You Were Still Around
5. Close Watch
6. Broken Bird
7. Chinese Envoy
8. Changes Made
9. Damn Life
10. Rise, Sam and Rimsky Korsakov
11. Library of Force (previously unreleased)- download
12. Chinese Envoy (outtakes)- download
13. Thoughtless Kind (outtakes)- download

M: FANS (new album)
1. Prelude
2. If You Were Still Around
3. Taking Your Life In Your Hands
4. Thoughtless Kind
5. Sanctus (Sanities Mix)
6. Broken Bird
7. Chinese Enoy
8. Changes Made
9. Library of Force
10. Close Watch
11. If You Were Still Around (Choir Reprise)
12. Back to the End

Monday, December 28, 2015

Lemmy Kilmister dead at 70

Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister
December 24, 1945-December 28, 2015

Lemmy Kilmister, legendary lead singer and frontman for metal band Motorhead, passed away earlier today. He was 70 years old. The news was confirmed by the surviving members of Motorhead, citing the bassist/singer had died after a short battle with "an extremely aggressive cancer." Earlier in August of this year, Motorhead had to cut a show short as Lemmy was having breathing problems. According to the band's statement, Lemmy had only known about his cancer since Saturday. The news of Lemmy's death was first reported by radio personality and That Metal Show host Eddie Trunk. 

Born on Christmas Eve of 1945, Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister lived a life full of sex, drugs and rock n roll. Before become a famous musician, Lemmy was already active in music. From seeing the Beatles at the Cavern Club to even being a roadie for Jimi Hendrix, Lemmy was beginning to establish his place in rock. Eventually, he found himself playing bass for space rockers Hawkwind. From 1972 to 1975, Lemmy was in Hawkwind. During his time in the band, he played on the band's live classic Space Ritual and the band's best known song "Silver Machine," the latter of which he sang lead vocals on. After a drug bust during a North American tour in 1975, Lemmy was fired from Hawkwind. Not too long after being sacked from Hawkwind, Lemmy formed his own band- Motorhead, named after one of the last songs he wrote and performed with Hawkwind. With Motorhead, Lemmy was able to achieve success. Throughout the band's four decade career, Lemmy was the sole original member of the band. With hits such as "Ace of Spades," "Overkill," "Killed By Death" and "Iron Fist"- Motorhead were extremely influential with their combination of heavy metal and punk rock. The band released a total of 22 studio album, their last being this year's Bad Magic

It is devastating to hear of Lemmy's passing. If this obituary is seems to short, it's because I'm still trying to process this. It was well known that Lemmy was not healthy for some time in recent years, to the point where he couldn't perform any more. The guy had no plans to retire and I think that's something to admire: the guy kept going until the day he died. 

If you are reading this, I want you to immediately listen to some Motorhead... and make sure to play it LOUD. Loud enough so that Lemmy can hear you. 

Rest in peace, Lemmy. 


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

2015: Year in Review

2015 has been another interesting year for classic rock and heavy metal music. Some good albums and even good movies have been released this year. As I have done in the past, I will review each music related thing I’ve purchased from this year of 2015.


New albums

 Black Star Riders - The Killer Instinct
Black Star Riders
The Killer Instinct
Rating: ****

            Black Star Riders came back this year with their sophomore effort, The Killer Instinct. While their name may not sound familiar, the band’s origins should be as this is the reunited Thin Lizzy under a different name (although of the five members, guitarist Scott Gorham is the only one who was in the Phil Lynott-led Lizzy). While I personally enjoy All Hell Breaks Loose more, that doesn’t make The Killer Instinct a bad album at all. It is a very strong effort from the band. Listening to this album, it sounds like the guy are trying to drift away from making Lizzy sounding songs and are now trying make a name for themselves. Even though some of these songs may not sound like Thin Lizzy songs, it has a lot heart. It’s safe to say Mr. Lynott would be proud.

Highlights: The Killer Instinct, Soldierstown, Finest Hour


  Ringo - Postcards From Paradise
Ringo Starr
Postcard from Paradise
Rating: *** ½

            Earlier this year, Ringo Starr was inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame for “musical excellence.” While many have been scratching their heads over this, Ringo deserves it. While his solo career isn’t up to par with his bandmates’, Ringo is a trailblazer as he is still touring and making new music. What really matters is that he’s having fun.  Postcards from Paradise proves this point. Personally, I feel this is Ringo’s most consistent since Liverpool 8. The album has a strong reggae vibe, which I like. While the album isn’t an instant classic, it’s just a fun album.

Highlights: You Bring the Party Down, Island in the Sun, Rory and the Hurricanes



  Iron Maiden - The Book of Souls
Iron Maiden
The Book of Souls
Rating: ****

FAVORITE ALBUM OF THE YEAR

            Iron Maiden came back this year with not only their first studio album in five years but their first ever double album. I have to admit I was skeptical about this, given I wasn’t too crazy about The Final Frontier. However, I gave this a listen and I was pleasantly surprised. Maiden are in fine form on this album. Each of the album’s 11 tracks have something different to offer, each tackling different themes. Musically, it’s a splendid 90 minute journey. 35 years after the release of their self-titled debut, Maiden still have it.

Highlights: Tears of a Clown, The Red and the Black, Speed of Light, Empire of the Clouds


 Hollywood Vampires - Hollywood Vampires
Alice Cooper/Hollywood Vampires
Hollywood Vampires
Rating: *** ½ (3.75-ish)

            Albums consisting only of cover tunes aren’t original. Alice Cooper, however, take on the covers album in a clever way. Hollywood Vampires is an album that’s dedicated to the deceased members of the drinking club of the same name, as well as other fallen comrades of Alice. While most of the songs on here are faithful to the originals, there’s something about this album that makes it appealing. The album boasts a slew of guests, including Paul McCartney, Joe Perry, Joe Walsh, Dave Grohl, Slash and even actor Johnny Depp. Listening to this album, you can tell a lot of work went into it and it really is a labor of love.

Highlights: Itchycoo Park, Come and Get It, Raise the Dead, Dead Drunk Friends


  Keith Richards - Crosseyed Heart
Keith Richards
Crosseyed Heart
Rating: ***

            It has been ten years since the Rolling Stones have released a new studio album. While the band have confirmed they’re working on a new album, the band’s guitarist and co-founding member Keith Richards decided to release his third studio album. Released 23 years after Main Offender, Crosseyed Heart is a fun bluesy rock n roll album. While the album isn’t bad, it isn’t anything special. Richards sounds good and there are some good songs on here. The other thing worth noting is that this is the last album that Stones saxophonist Bobby Keys played on, as Keys passed away in December of last year.

Highlights: Trouble, Amenisa, Goodnight Irene


 W.A.S.P. - Golgotha
W.A.S.P.
Golgotha
Rating: ****

            Six years after their last album, W.A.S.P. are back with a brand new studio album. The album, Golgotha, is a natural sounding heavy W.A.S.P. album- featuring songs dealing with religious imagery. It’s no secret that lead singer Blackie Lawless is a born again Christian and has made this known throughout the last few years. Some fans are turned off by this. Personally, I don’t mind it. I think this is a great album and you can tell a lot of work went into this. It’s well worth listening to.

Highlights: Last Runaway, Miss You, Fallen Under, Golgotha

Rankings

1.      Iron Maiden- The Book of Souls
2.      Black Star Riders- The Killer Instinct
3.      W.A.S.P.- Golgotha
4.      Hollywood Vampires- Hollywood Vampires
5.      Ringo Starr- Postcards from Paradise
6.      Keith Richards- Crosseyed Heart

Archival releases/reissues

 The Doors - Other Voices + Full Circle
The Doors
Other Voices and Full Circle
Other Voices rating: *** ½
Full Circle rating: ***

            After years and years of waiting, diehard Doors fans can finally own legit CD copies of the band’s two albums made after Jim Morrison died. The albums have been newly remastered by longtime Doors producer/engineer Bruce Botnick and the booklet includes new liner notes from Rolling Stone’s David Fricke. There’s only one bonus track- “Tree Trunk,” which was released as the B-side to “Get Up and Dance” from Full Circle. While these two albums are certainly not as good as the first six with Morrison, they are honest efforts from the then three surviving members of the Doors. After owning vinyl rips for a couple of years, I’m happy to see these out.

Other Voices highlights: Eye of the Sun, Tightrope Ride, I’m Horny I’m Stoned, Hang On To Your Life
Full Circle highlights: Get Up and Dance, Verdilac, The Mosquito, Piano Bird


 Paul McCartney - Tug of War
 Paul McCartney - Pipes of Peace
Paul McCartney
Tug of War and Pipes of Piece
TOW rating: ****
TOW remix: ***
TOW bonus disc: ***
POP rating: *** ½
POP bonus disc: ***

            The Paul McCartney Archive Collection continued this year with the reissues of 1982’s Tug of War and 1983’s Pipes of Peace. Both albums were remastered and given a second disc of bonus tracks. For Tug of War, McCartney decided to remix the album. To make things more frustrating, the original mix is only included with the pricey deluxe edition. So with Tug of War, you’re getting a new mix of the album and the bonus disc in the standard edition. Personally, I prefer the original mix. After pre-ordering mine from Amazon, I was given a free MP3 version of the 1993 remaster- which is now replacing my copy of the 1988 CD issue. The original mix is warmer while the remix is too loud, with McCartney’s voice up front. The remastering on the remix is top notch but I don’t feel like it adds anything new. The bonus disc is nothing special as it consists of mostly demos that don’t sound too different from the versions on the album. Surprisingly, I find Pipes of Peace to be the better reissue. While I’m not crazy about this album, I do have a new appreciation for it after listening to the new remaster. Tug of War is the better album but I feel that of the two reissues, Pipes of Peace has more to offer: the remastering is strong and some of the material on the bonus disc is worth checking out.

 Frank Zappa & The Mothers - Roxy: The Movie
Frank Zappa
The Roxy Movie
Rating: ****

FAVORITE ARCHIVAL RELEASE OF THE YEAR

            Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention were scheduled to play a couple of shows at the Roxy Theater in December 1973. The band were being recorded for a future live album and concert film TV special. The album, Roxy & Elsewhere, was released in 1974. The concert film, however, remained in the Zappa vault for years. Minutes into recording, there were technical difficulties in the filming of the concert. As a result, the audio and the video were not synchronized. While Zappa’s team had filmed all of the shows, it was too pricey and time consuming to edit it properly. Four decades later, the Zappa Family Trust has finally released what Zappa fans have considered to be the holy grail of Zappa on film: The Roxy Movie. Is it any good? It sure is. However, the camera angels in the movie are sometimes too close and the picture is blurry in other cases. Still, this is a wonderful concert film. Considering the circumstances, this is damn good.

Also included with the DVD is a CD of the movie’s audio mix, which is nice to have.


Movies

Well Now You’re Here, There’s No Way Back: The Quiet Riot Story
Rating: ****

            In 1983, Quiet Riot had hit it big time when they released their best-selling album Metal Health. Only three years after the passing of singer Kevin DuBrow, drummer Frankie Banali decides to reform Quiet Riot with their last line-up and a new lead singer. What unfolds is a series of events- some flat out hilarious. Well Now You’re Here was a Kickstarter funded documentary and I’m a backer myself. I’m impressed with the final product. While this doesn’t cover everything about Quiet Riot, it should be enough to spark interest in the band.  


Keith Richards: Under the Influence
Rating: ****

            Keith Richards is arguably one of the greatest rock stars to have ever set foot on this planet. From his drug busts to his antics, many believe that Richards is lucky to be alive. Richards’ story has been told many times before. So what makes this documentary different? While it does give us insight to his life and career, the documentary dives deep into Richards’ musical influences and heroes. This documentary was filmed around the same time Richards recorded his studio album from this year, Crosseyed Heart. It is fun to listen to Richards speak and crack a joke here and there. He truly is a unique character.  

If you subscribe to Netflix Instant, you can stream it from there as it is considered a Netflix original.


RIP
Kim Fowley- singer/songwriter and manager of the Runaways
Sam Andrew- Big Brother and the Holding Company guitarist
Daevid Allen- founder and leader of Gong
Andy Fraser- bassist of Free
AJ Pero- drummer for Twisted Sister
Cynthia Lennon- first wife of John Lennon
Chris Squire- bassist and co-founding member of Yes
Gail Zappa- wife and later widow of Frank Zappa
Steve Mackay- saxophonist for the Stooges
Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor- drummer for Motorhead

Scott Weiland- singer for Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Rock N Roll Hall of Fame- Class of 2016

The Rock N Roll Hall of Fame inductees for 2016 were announced today. With the exception of one artist, the Class of 2016 has a great roster. Still, there are some problems here. I'll go down the list and give my take.


Cheap Trick- I'm pleasantly surprised to see that they made it in the Hall! This was their first time being nominated. They should've been a couple of years ago but now is a pretty good time. I really like Cheap Trick: they perfectly border along the lines of power pop and hard rock. My guess is the classic line-up of Robin Zander, Rick Nielsen, Tom Petersson and Bun E. Carlos will get in. However, Carlos hasn't been touring with the band for a while now- with Nielsen's son Daxx filling in. So if they do perform at the ceremony, I'm not sure if they'll have the original line-up there.

Chicago- I've never been a fan of their music (I do like some of it though. They aren't a bad band at all). but I'm happy to hear that they are finally in the Hall. They should've been in there a long time ago. These guys won the public vote and that doesn't surprise me at all.

Deep Purple- This is the band I was pulling for the most. While the guys in the band don't seem to care, I'm happy for them because they should've been in a long time ago (like before Jon Lord died in 2012). These guys were up there with Led Zeppelin as one of the greatest hard rock bands of the 1970's. While the band may not have a discography as consistent as Zeppelin's, they are influential nevertheless.

Much to my surprise, the Hall is inducting other members of the band. I thought they'd only induct the Mach II line-up but they're inducting many of the guys from the band. The list includes: Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Paice, Jon Lord, Rod Evans, Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes. Now if you're a Purple fan, you'll notice there are some names missing there: Nick Simper, Tommy Bolin, Joe Lynn Turner, Steve Morse and Don Airey (I'm not including Joe Satriani given he was really a fill-in for Blackmore during the 1993-4 tour). Turner, Morse and Airey weren't in the band's original run from 1968 to 1976. Simper and Bolin, however, were. In fact, Simper was the original bassist for the band and played on the first three albums- just like Rod Evans, the original singer- who IS getting the induction. This is strange. I think all of the members from the band's original run should be inducted.

Steve Miller- I can't say I'm a fan but he deserves it. I'm not sure why it's being credited to just him and not his band but I'm good with this.

UPDATE (12/23): I looked at the Wikipedia page on the Steve Miller Band and they've had A LOT of members. I think it's safe to just induct Miller only.

NWA- This is the one exception. I don't care how much you try and break it down: NWA is NOT Rock n Roll. They are a hip hop group. This really pisses me off. If they were to have named the place the Music Hall of Fame, they would've gotten away with it. It's no surprise that they got in, given a critically acclaimed biopic on their career was released earlier this year.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Scott Weiland dead at 48

Scott Richard Weiland
October 27, 1967-December 3, 2015


Scott Weiland, best known as the singer for Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver, was found dead last night in his tour bus. Weiland was 48 years old. The news broke late last night, reporting that the former Stone Temple Pilots singer was found dead in his tour bus at around 9 pm after going into cardiac arrest. Weiland was currently on tour with his band, the Wildabouts. Weiland was supposed to be perform at the Medina Entertainment Center in Medina, Minnesota. It has been reported that a small bag of cocaine belonging to Wildabouts bassist Tommy Black was found in the bedroom of the tour bus. Black has been arrested for suspected possession. 

Weiland was born Scott Richard Kline on October 27, 1967. His surname was changed after his stepfather adopted him when Weiland was five years old. In 1989, Weiland became one of the four founding members of Stone Temple Pilots along with brothers Robert and Dean DeLeo and drummer Eric Kretz. The band would release five studio albums from 1992 to 2001, spawning hit singles such as "Sex Type Thing," "Plush," Vasoline," and "Interstate Love Song." The band split in 2001. Three years later, Weiland reemerged as the singer for super group- Velvet Revolver. Weiland was joined by Dave Kushner, Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum- the latter three all being former members of Gun N Roses. The band released two albums: Contraband in 2004 and Libertad  in 2007. Weiland left the band in 2008, leaving Velvet Revolver on the back burner. Velvet Revolver did reunite for a one-off gig in 2012 with Weiland but have been inactive since then. Stone Temple Pilots reunited in 2008 and released a self-titled studio album two years later. Weiland was fired from the band in 2013 and was replaced by Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington. Aside from STP and Velvet Revolver, Weiland did release four solo albums- his last being Blaster, which was released earlier this year. 
He even published an autobiography (co-written with  in 2011 entitled Not Dead & Not For Sale.

Weiland was married three times: Janina Castaneda (1994-2000), Mary Forsberg (2000-02) and Jamie Wachtel (since 2013). With Forberg, Weiland had two children: Noah (born 2000) and Lucy (born 2002). 

It is sad to here of Scott Weiland's passing. This was very sudden. I'm afraid the cause of death will probably be drug related. Based on what I've read about him, Scott struggled with substance abuse. Whatever the case may be, this is a tragic loss. 48 is just too young. 

Rest in peace, Scott.