Sunday, September 14, 2014
Rock Ain't Near Dead....not even close, not as long as there's new records like this.
In which, Spike of The Quireboys goes solo with a set of never before heard Frankie Miller compositions with guests such as Ronnie Wood, Bonnie Tyler, Ian Hunter, one of God's rhythm sections in Free's Simon Kirke and Andy Fraser, Luke Morley, and a list of other UK rock luminaries, which will most likely end up on a great many year's end top tens.
In the end it all comes down to the songs - there's no filler to be found, in fact, there's a glut of great musical moments to be found on every track of this magnificent bastard of an album. Spike is the MC, and as he wraps his edgy, soulful vocal cords around every note you've got every musician playing as if their very souls depended on honoring one of the greatest songwriters that rock has ever had the privilege of knowing. I wish I had a film of Frankie Miller hearing this album for the first time - no one was ever done more justice, nor done with more obvious love. I assume you know who Frankie Miller is, right?
I've been on about records that sound good lately, and 100% Pure Frankie Miller sounds great. I'm sure Andy Fraser and Simon Kirke have long grown tired of hearing that there should be a Free reformation/reunion, but when you hear the opening track, The Brooklyn Bridge, that will be the first thing that crosses your mind, as it was mine. Kirke lays down a very slow, very heavy beat in that swinging way that could only be his, and Andy Fraser plays a stupendous groove that occasionally gets very, very melodic and brings it all back home as someone (sorry, no liner notes) lays down some thick, chunky, guitar while Spike does his magic over the top of it all. A stinging guitar solo moves things along until Spike and some sultry backing singers take it on home. Bad assery, folks - straight, pure, brilliant bad assery.
Spike sounds like he's pouring every ounce of his soul into this record, because when you're singing Frankie Miller's songs, and you're thinking of the beauty of Frankie's voice, what else could you do, right? Cocaine features Tyla, the rhythm section of Kirke and Fraser, and the guitar work of Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood, and it's great track number two. There's nothing better than a great piece of songwriting performed by inspired players, and this one may be an instant classic. Repeated playing is called for.
I'm Losing You is a love ballad that does precisely what these things are meant to do. Ronnie's back on board, along with Stuart Emerson on some lovely piano, and a vocal from Spike that drips with passion. To think that these songs have been sitting on a shelf for over twenty years, it dawns upon me that this is a perfect record at a perfect time. It's tough times for the rock world, but this is surely proof that while things are in transition, they are far from lost, and there is no end in sight. Life affirming, joy giving, this is beautiful music.
Luke Morley brings some brawny guitar to Intensive Care, and the rock side of Frankie Miller's writing pokes its head out. Great swagger on this one, and it's a classic R&B lyric that will have you moving for certain. Most acts and writers work their whole lives trying to have a track rock like this, and make it sound perfectly natural - Frankie popped them out with frightening regularity, and we're blessed that these have come off the shelf.
Fortune features Bonnie Tyler duetting with Spike - they sound like the male/female mirror images of one another, and it's quite brilliant. This whole thing sounds like a long lost greatest hits album, and all I hope is that these songs get a chance to be played on the stage at some point. Paul Guerin lays down layer upon layer of tasty guitars, and Peter Weir's keyboards are sublime on this one.
Spike wraps his voice around these tunes and he owns them - it's a tremendous job of interpretation, the likes of which I can't recall in the recent past. It's rare these days to hear a singer singing the works of a single outside writer, and this might be the finest case of such since Roger Daltrey came out with a first solo album comprised of Leo Sayer tunes over forty years ago - yeah, it's that good. Amsterdam Woman is another that just grabs you and doesn't let go.
The Other Side Of Time reminds me of an old unnameable Elton John classic with its melodic piano flourishes, and a soulful song that winds its way around it. It's stunning just how musical this entire album has turned out to be. Words like fate and destiny come to mind.
Barrel house boogie jumps out on Cheap Hotel, a tune that might not be a epic and lovely as most on display, but it's a great bit of rock 'n' roll.
Cold, Cold Nights highlights the soulful country western side of Frankie's pen, as does the song that follows, Did You Ever Want To Go Home. Classier examples of the genre really don't exist. Played perfectly, sung righteously, you wonder just how many more chestnuts may remain - is there more in this vein to be mined? The timeless beauty of these songs is truly astounding. Maybe the best record I've heard this year, and there have been some great ones. I keep hearing people compare this record to Rod, but I'll have this, thanks.
Ronnie Wood shows up again on Keepin' It All For You, and it's another slice of country heaven - it'll bring a tear to your eye, and this should do the job of getting people to go back and look closely at the Frankie Miller catalogue, which is filled with similarly brilliant writing and singing.
Bottle Of Whisky rather appropriately wraps things up, and the chiming mandolin frames it all so well. Tyla, and Pat McManus (Momma's Boys) guest here, and once again, the bottle of whisky wins. What a great way to wrap up what just might be my favorite album of 2014. A glorious revisiting of a past we didn't know existed, like reminiscing with a stranger.
Spike - goddamn, you nailed this so righteously that I must think it was on your soul's bucket list of things to accomplish during your visit to this orb.
Monday, September 8, 2014
"I think the skepticism that some people might have, or have had was just a testament to how passionate they are about the band, you know? There was a healthy amount of skepticism that comes from that passion, and I think that's a healthy thing. That's a testament to the fans. And thanks to the fans for trusting in the band, buying tickets, coming down to the show. Within 30 seconds, man - they had their hands up in the air, and they're screaming along. It was just instant really, so a big hat's off to them for doing that." ~ Richie Faulkner on Judas Priest's fans.Richie Faulkner is still the new guy in Judas Priest, though he's been with the group for over three years. He made his debut in front of tens of millions of viewers on an episode of American Idol, he's played well over a hundred shows with the band, and he's now written and recorded the band's highest charting debut on the Billboard charts (#6) - but, he's still the new guy, and nobody gets what that means more than Mr. Faulkner. He's remarkably respectful to the band's history, legacy, and fans - he understands that the job he's taken is a revered position, and that no one would be stamped as approved without thoroughly having their mettle tested. After the last three years, it's extremely clear to see that the band made the proper choice when they hired him.
I'll admit that I was pretty disappointed to not see Foreigner main-man Mick Jones when the band took the stage last Friday night, but about three songs into the set, I realized that his absence did not prevent his band from putting on an absolute top shelf arena rock, greatest hits show.
Let's get a few points out of the way - this iteration of Foreigner has been together nearly ten years, and at least on tour, this is a greatest hits show (and they've had a bunch). Now, the whole classic rock band doing greatest hits tours thing can go a couple of ways. At it's worst, you've got bands filled with non-original members who have been hired for the lowest wage to crank out an uninspired show that exists only to milk fans for what they're worth. I've seen a lot of this, and I don't have to name names, but that's just the worst case scenario. At its best, you have an act like Foreigner - one original member (who did write the lion's share of their catalog), Mick Jones, who has assembled a cast of talented and inspired musicians who can play and perform not just as well as, but arguably even better than the original band.
Thursday, August 28, 2014
Slash has perhaps made his most powerful statement since walking onto the world stage with Guns 'N' Roses Appetite For Destruction way back in 1987. He's finally once again put the whole package together, and he's got the perfect team on World On Fire helping him to put it all across.
In a world reduced to mp3 files and ear buds, it's good to hear that some bands and acts are still doing it right, and making records that sound great. Slash has raised the bar another notch higher with his new album, World On Fire. Teaming up again with Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators, and bringing on for production duties longtime Kennedy collaborator Michael "Elvis" Baskette, everyone's favorite top hat has blessed us with an album filled with great guitars (excellent riffs, solos, and songs), state of the art vocals, and a throbbing rhythm section. This record is jumping out of my ancient studio monitors, and they're howling and thumbing like a Marshall 4X12 - and that's exactly how it should be.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
"Neil (Young) looked me dead in the eye, and he said, 'If you're gonna do a new album, don't do the same old shit and call it a new album."
"Kevin Shirley said to me, 'If I'm going to produce you, you have to promise me one thing. That you will do everything I say, you will not interfere, and you'll keep your mouth shut.'Randy Bachman has sold over 40,000,000 records. He's played before millions of adoring fans. He's been in two of classic rock's most enduring bands (The Guess Who, and Bachman Turner Overdrive), and he's done it his way, every step of the way. So, while it may seem unusual for me to start this interview with him quoting two rock icons, I think it's instructive - in spite of unquestionable and unflagging success, Bachman still knows how to listen, and how to take heed of wise and good counsel.
Red Zone Rider's first album is a solid success - great playing, great singing, inspired songwriting, and much promise. It may even end up in my year end Top 10.
It's somewhat apropos that this album was produced by Northern California's original metal guru, Mike Varney for Magna Carta Records, because it brings to mind many memories of NorCal giants such as Montrose, early Journey, and Y&T. Soulful, bluesy hard rock can be found here in spades, and this album is a great combination of inspired writing and stellar performances. Kelly Keeling, Vinnie Moore, and Scot Coogan have collaborated to create an excellent first effort, and a fine platform from which to build - a super solid album that has even more promise in terms of what the future may hold.
Friday, August 22, 2014
Mr. Big hits the nail right on the head with ...The Stories We Could Tell, the band's eighth studio outing, an album that stands proudly beside anything from their days as a platinum selling act, and might just be their best yet.
I'm not sure why, but the band sounds like they're a little hungrier on this record, and they've come out firing on all cylinders. Not that they ever fail to do yeoman like work, their last album, 2011's What If... was filled with great songs and performances, but the record sounded a bit rushed and more canned. You put on ...The Stories We Could Tell, and it sounds a lot like a band in a room looking to make things happen. Very direct, very hungry, and as always filled to the brim with great individual performances by four of rock's sharpest shooters.
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
ZZ Top/Jeff Beck
The Mountain Winery
August 12, 2014
Jeff Beck started it, ZZ Top proved it, and then they consummated the marriage - the blues did have a baby, and they called it rock 'n' roll.
The sense of awe and joy was palpable in the arena. Whether it was Jeff Beck's great band smiling ear to ear at the gift of being onstage with their boss and hero, or Billy Gibbons looks of unabashed glee at having the legendarily nimble fingered Beck as his lead guitarist for his band's encores, or Beck looking incredibly proud of his young band, and also quite chuffed to be sharing the stage with classic rock's greatest 'lil old band from Texas, it was a perfect night of guitar driven rock 'n' roll.
Friday, August 8, 2014
Thanks, Paul - your new record is seriously, seriously fun.
It sounds as if, in his never ending quest to marry melody with mind-blowing chops, Paul Gilbert has allowed us into the workstation of his mind. Stone Pushing Uphill Man is his new solo instrumental record, and it's filled with familiar tunes re-done Paul-style.
Thursday, August 7, 2014
Randy Bachman is one of those guys we all know, whether we know him, or not. His guitar, voice, and songs have been heard by countless millions of rock 'n' roll fans for coming on 50 years. First, he wrote four million selling singles with The Guess Who, then he went on to win four Juno Awards and sell millions of records with the seventies concert favorites, Bachman-Turner Overdrive. He's sold over 40 million records. He's been satirized by Homer Simpson, covered by Lenny Kravitz, and his surname was even adapted as a nom de plume by author Stephen King (Richard Bachman). Yeah, that Randy Bachman (pronounced Back-man).
If you don't know the name, you know the songs - American Woman, Takin' Care Of Business, These Eyes, You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet, No Sugar Tonight, Let It Ride, Laughing, and others are all etched in your musical memories, and Bachman has followed in the footsteps of such songwriting heavyweights as Ray Davies and Greg Lake to present his history in storyteller form with his new DVD/CD package, Vinyl Tap Tour - Every Song Tells A Story.
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
|Photo by Jeff Katz|
In the interim he did what he's always done - he took care of business. He wrote and recorded a new album, The Blues Came Callin', co-wrote with Henry Yates a new biography, Rescued From Reality: The Life and Times of Walter Trout, he's the subject of an in progress documentary film, and he has even managed to keep his longtime band on the road and working. He may not play a single gig this year, but he still has more than enough to keep someone quite busy, all while fighting a life threatening liver failure.
Sunday, August 3, 2014
Calfornia Breed - Bonham Out, Joey Castillo In - Bonham: "I wasn't going to be bullied into touring"
Last Friday morning an ominous post showed up upon the official Facebook Page of California Breed - it stated that Joey Castillo would be appearing with the band for all announced dates.
Soon after, the band's website displayed two lineups, one with Joey Castille as the band's 'live' lineup drummer, and a second with Jason Bonham as the group's 'studio' drummer. However, by the end of the day it had unraveled, and it now appears that Bonham is clearly out, and Castillo is the new stickman for California Breed.
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
I'm saddened today by the death of Dick Wagner - best known as the guitarist who co-wrote Only Women Bleed with shock rock king Alice Cooper, Wagner was one of the greatest unknown guitarists of his era. He was 71.
Monday, July 28, 2014
Ace Frehley - a guy with a point to prove, and boy has he proved it. Space Invader is the fun rock record of the Summer of 2014. Endless riffs, stinging solos that say 'Ace,' and maybe the best sound I've heard on a hard rock mix this year. The album could have easily been called Kiss This. It's the best album out of the KISS camp since the seventies.
Before I get into this album, I gotta say that this makes my mouth drool for what could have been. If only KISS had been able to play in their original iteration at the RRHoF, the band could have called it a day that night, and been revered for the next hundred years. Sober for over seven years, Frehley is playing better than ever, and it sounds like he's having a fantastic time while he's at it. Whatever the reasons, they sure weren't about musical abilities. We'll always be the less for this tremendous missed opportunity.
That Metal Show Presents: Anthrax, Living Colour, Corey Taylor - Gig Review - Thunder Valley Casino, Northern California
|Frank Bello, Corey Glover, Scott Ian|
Classic rock and metal are alive and well in the burgeoning world of gambling and gaming. Where once these genres filled arenas and theaters, time has marched on and many great bands and shows have been relegated to being draws for casinos. The downside is the fact that like it or not, time marches on and no great music stays in the mainstream forever - the upside is that these casinos have better sound, stages, lights, and facilities than their counterparts ever had, they keep these acts earning, and they provide a place for people to see some great entertainment by some very viable bands.
Thursday, July 24, 2014
Judas Priest gives a shit. They show up, they suit up, and they bring it - 40 years later they are still delivering the goods. Redeemer Of Souls is a proud testament to a band that has never rested on its laurels, and while I hope it's not their last, if it were it would be a grand way in which to go.
There's a great set of bookends happening here - frontman of frontmen Rob Halford pours his soul into every moment in an effort to prove he is still the king, and he's joined by new kid on the block Richie Faulkner, who proves his mettle by faithfully filling the metal shoes of one of the genre's legends, the now departed K.K. Downing. As one man is approaching the end of a long and unquestionably brilliant career, another has appeared to carry the torch into the future. This is a passing on of a tremendous legacy, and both men have done their best, and it's damned glorious.
Monday, July 21, 2014
Blues Pills have been simmering for a few years, and now with the release of their debut long player they have achieved a full boil. The nascent band of youngsters from Sweden consistently write and play beyond their years, and there's no weak links to be found - in fact, this goes straight into my top five for 2014 at this point.
No plodding blues rock to be found here, this is bluesy rock all right, but it swings and moves in a glorious manner that only makes singing sensation Elin Larsson and guitar star Dorian Sorriaux shine all the more. These two toss the spotlight back and forth like no duo in recent times, and when they riff together it's heaven. People tend to refer to new bands in old terms, and I'm OK with that, but this bunch would sound great in any era that I've lived through. Unquestionably, this is one of the most powerful debut releases in the last decade.
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Overlooked/Underappreciated: 354 Recordings That Demand Your Attention by Greg Prato - A Great Reminder!
They say you should write what you know, and again and again, Greg Prato has done just that. His work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Classic Rock Magazine, and he's just released his twelfth book, Overlooked/Underappreciated: 354 Records That Demand Your Attention, a loving look at 354 undervalued albums that have left an indelible impression on the author's mind.
Greg has an very comfortable conversational manner of writing, electing to go for the direct approach, as opposed to the pseudo-intellectual, 'I'm so clever and erudite' path that so many scribes choose to meander down. This is a fun, entertaining, and educational read that will well serve those who just want good information and a little direction.
Monday, July 7, 2014
|Photo by Marco van Rooijen|
Talk about your Cinderella stories - just months ago, things seemed pretty bleak in the tale of Danny Bryant and his mentor and friend, Walter Trout. The pair have been friends for twenty years, and they had hoped to tour America together in 2014, but Walter Trout's liver had other ideas, and the blues guitar legend found himself in an induced coma as his body waited on the possibility of a donor organ being found before his old liver completely surrendered. Touring wasn't even on the menu as Trout's mortal coil seemed in peril.
Well, the world wasn't quite through with Walter Trout, and Walter Trout certainly isn't through with this world. The circumstances have turned around very nicely - a donor liver was found, fans, friends and family have contributed over $240,000 to help defray the tremendous financial burdens, the surgery was a success, Walter is on the road to recovery, and now British guitar wiz Danny Bryant is coming to America for the first time to headline a month of shows fronting Walter's longtime band, and it would seem that from the ashes of what could have been a sad ending there has risen a new day's dawn.
Monday, June 30, 2014
There's a lot to be saying for being the last guy standing. This theory is put paid by Howard Kaylan's incredibly entertaining memoir, Shell Shocked. It would appear that Turtles don't move fast, but they are in for the duration.
Jim Hendrix, John Lennon, Marc Bolan, Frank Zappa, Harry Nilsson, and many other friends and associates of Kaylan's may have left us too soon, but the voice of Happy Together is still here and going strong, and we are the beneficiaries. Shell Shocked joins autobiographical treatments by such classic rockers as guitar legend Dick Wagner, and Humble Pie's Jerry Shirley as books by names you might not know, but who all helped write the book we call the history of rock 'n' roll.
Friday, June 27, 2014
As always, it began innocently enough. We were working behind the counter at the Guitar Center in Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard. We had just moved the store into its new mega-location from the low rent ghetto of a store I hired into, and we were getting ready for our grand opening.
I had gone off to the warehouse to count some stock, and when I returned one of my co-workers, a GIT student with silver blonde hair that was stacked to the moon and frozen in place with simple syrup was arguing with a gentleman over some pricing on a few guitar effects pedals. The man said that they were just some toys for his 'git-ar.'
Sunburst is definitely a book to own, but it makes me pine for something more. If you've been interested in guitars for more than ten minutes, I'm sure you are familiar with Tony Bacon's works, and this is more of the same. Essential, but not exceptional. If I sound like I'm of two minds here, I most definitely am. Please read on....
Bacon is nothing if not consistent - his books are unerringly accurate, and he knows how to layout a story, but they also lend themselves to a 'just the facts, ma'am,' conclusion. He is an aggregator - there's not much here that will be revelatory, but it's a great primer and one that should be on every guitar buff's book shelf. The stories are all here, they're all accurate, and there's enough technical information in his Reference List to make this essential material for every guitar shop.
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Influence is the best record of Philip Sayce's career, edging out even last season's impeccably rocking Steamroller. Putting paid the notion that you can keep a good man down, Sayce may not have gotten the breaks with his last outing, but he's kept his nose to the grindstone, and he's combined with his producer and friend Dave Cobb to make yet another brilliant record.
Half covers/half original tunes penned by Sayce and Cobb (who also adds tasteful bass to the tracks), Influence is a brilliant production - it's sonically sensational, the arrangements are just that, and when they went to the library they scoured the shelves for rare nuggets and eschewed the temptation to rest on other hit maker's laurels. If this album doesn't make Sayce a star I'll eat my hat.
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
|Photo by Matthew Sturtevant|
"It was a long process, and I was very adamant that I had the opportunity to use it in the studio, and a lot of gigs to make sure it worked equally well in each situation, because I think if you spend that much money on an amplifier, it ought to be useful live, and in the studio, and that has not always been the case with amps in the past." ~ David Grissom on his signature series PRS amplifiersDavid Grissom truly lives the guitar life. He's played with Joe Ely, John Mellencamp, The Dixie Chicks, sessioned for the likes of Ringo Starr, Robben Ford, Chris Isaak, written hits for Trish Yearwood, Lee Ann Womack and others. He also has a solid solo career with four long players under his belt, including his latest, the excellent, How It Feels To Fly, which is a must hear that includes a half hour live set from his residency at Austin's legendary Saxon Pub, that includes a fabulous cover of ZZ Top's Funky Dogs And Nasty Kings, and a wickedly cool nine minute workout of the Allman Brothers' Jessica - oh yeah, did I mention he once subbed for Dickey Betts with the brothers?
As if that wasn't enough he's also designer of top flight gear in conjunction with Paul Reed Smith Guitars and Amps, doing almost ground-up work on his signature series DGT guitars, and the new DG Custom 30 and 50 watt powerhouse amps. He'll claim to not be a very technical guy, but by the time you're through reading you'll have a fine appreciation for his attention to the smallest details, and his innate ability to know what he wants to feel and hear from his equipment onstage, and in the studio. I've seen too many signature model instruments that just had a different finish and the star's name emblazoned upon them - it's refreshing to learn so much from someone who took the time to really make his signature models something very special.
Thursday, June 19, 2014
The Dagger is a side project that appears to be becoming much more than that for this group of Swedish death metal all stars. They've been writing together for several years, all the while looking for the right voice to present their thoughtful reflection on the sounds of classic '80s metal, and in Jani Kataja, they've obviously found the right guy.
Their self titled long player is a great listen, and I hope they've only begun. Guitarist David Blomqvist is a stunner, and he worships at the alter of Blackmore, Roth, and Murray, and his riff writing is top notch, especially when one takes into consideration just how tough it is to write in a genre which has been on tap for over 30 years. Sure, he completely apes the guitar/keyboard solo from a Rainbow classic on their very first track, but it's old enough so that only a few of us dinosaurs will recollect it, and some kids will hear a ripping good musical interlude.
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Who'd have thunk? Bloody brilliant. Not feral, as The Who once was, but stunningly beautiful. Daltrey is on fire, and this is the perfect document for the greatness of Peter Townshend's right hand. Holy shit good....If you ever dug The Who, even for a moment, buy this.
I love having my mind blown. Especially when I don't expect it. I had recently been sent a trailer type clip which impressed me tremendously, but I was still unprepared for the sheer breadth of this document. This past month started off well enough with the release of the new Zeppelin remasters/nuggets collection, and this is just icing on the cake. It's most telling that two of rock's original wonders are putting out the most exciting and vibrant packages that are crossing my desk. If you're one of the twelve people who have never figured out the genius of Pete Townshend and The Who, I implore you to check this one out.
Monday, June 9, 2014
Live In Antwerp
Nuclear Blast Records
Kadavar serves themselves well with the excellent live set, and set the stag for where this German band of rockers goes next.
As I often do, when confronted with a newer band's offerings that suggest a strong connection to rock's long distance past, I'll A/B them next to the actual artifacts of the past to see how they stand up. I put Kadavar's latest, Live In Antwerp, up next to The Who's Live At Leeds, Blue Cheer, and Black Sabbath, and I think it makes the case for rock being quite alive and well.
Friday, June 6, 2014
"I think we kind of have a point to prove here. We want to get away from the twelve day thing, just to see what we can do given the chance to go in and make a proper album - the way we were used to making albums, right?" ~ Scott Gorham on recording the next Black Star Riders album in the Fall with Def Leppard's Joe ElliottAt a very young 63 years old, Scott Gorham still has things to prove. While many of his contemporaries have decided to pack in making records, and doing anything but greatest hits shows on the road, this California native is in for all intents and purposes new band, writing songs for a new album, and touring America under a brand new banner.
Friday, May 30, 2014
Rock 'N' Roll is alive and well. I went to the mountain, got the sermon, and I am here to spread the gospel. I saw the history of British rock played out with an American twist as Glenn Hughes returned victoriously to the stage of the Whisky A Go Go in West Hollywood after a 44 year absence, and he brought with him, Jason Bonham, the son of the greatest hard rock drummer in history, who is currently state of the art at his art, and they brought with them the new messiah of rock, 23 year old wunderkind Andrew Watt, who played and looked the part of the second coming of the rock star circa 2014. They tore the joint up, and love was in the air.
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
The Last Hombres were the only band Levon Helm ever joined as a member after the end of The Band, and that speaks volumes. The band also worked with Rick Danko, but the fact that they were revered by key members of maybe the best roots music ensemble ever is just my way of drawing you in - what's germane is the band's excellent new record, Odd Fellows Rest, which you will thank me for pointing out later.
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Rival Sons continue to mine gold on Great Western Valkyrie, their fifth long player with producer Dave Cobb, making meaningful rock in the heart of a country music wasteland called Nashville.
To review this record, I attempted to time travel in my mind, back to 1970, where I imagine placing Rival Sons right in the middle of The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Free, to see how they would have fared. These seem to be the points I see struck by most writers, so I figure those are the glasses I'll put on to look into the distant past to see how the present stands up.
Monday, May 19, 2014
PGP 2 finds Pinnick Gales Pridgen back again, and perhaps they've not only beaten the sophomore jinx, maybe they've beaten even their superb first effort.
In a time in which many are saying that even to consider making an album is a misguided move fraught with danger, dUg Pinnick puts out four records that stand proudly beside anything in his catalogue. People say the guitar is a tired and dying instrument, but somehow Eric Gales makes music sound undiscovered and beautiful every time he picks up his axe. Drums have been a thing of the past ever since rap raised its head, yet Thomas Pridgen remains inventive and vital in a host of various genres and bands. Rock Ain't Near Dead - and it was never proven with more aplomb than on PGP 2, the second effort by Pinnick Gales Pridgen. The Left Hand Gang is back, and they are bad.
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Joe Satriani sails into summer with a great package that should satisfy both the loyal and the neophyte Satch fan. Whether you've been there since the first EP like I have, or you're just getting into the realm of shred's smartest head, this package is all you'll need until Joe returns to the studio. The book is an encyclopedic look at Joe Satriani's catalogue by the master himself, and The Complete Studio Collection, re-mastered in 24-bit/96kHz High Resolution-Audio by longtime Satriani studio partner John Cuniberti and overseen by Joe himself, speaks for itself - even the less than expected mp3 files that Sony sees fit to dump on reviewers they obviously have less than love for sound great (more on that later).
Scott Gorham has a point to prove, and he's proving it. And, he just might be the best rhythm guitar player in the world on any stage, on any given night.
It's a small club, and the stage is smaller yet. The band has half their gear onstage, their soundman is not their own, and it's a Monday night crowd. This could discourage a lesser band, but Black Star Riders performed as if it was the biggest arena in the world and this was the only audience that ever mattered. I've not often seen a band so intent, so committed to their performance - Black Star Riders came and conquered.
Monday, May 12, 2014
Glenn Hughes is excited about California Breed. Glenn Hughes is very excited about California Breed.
Coming on the heels of the musically successful, but born to lose Black Country Communion, his new band is set to launch their debut album and their inaugural shows, and his excitement is well deserved. In the face of the possibility of restarting the failed supergroup, he looked away from an incredible A-list of world class guitarists offering to be the next in line, and instead took the road less traveled with a virtually unknown kid, the 23 year old Andrew Watt. The results are spectacular - this band sounds dangerous.
Sunday, April 20, 2014
Lemmy Kilminster led his team to the battlefield once more, and rode away victorious. Long live Lemmy.
The sold-out crowd at San Francisco's Warfield Theater is an experienced, well-dressed rock audience. Everyone here is here for the music, the sights, the sounds, and the lights, and they too walk away victorious. No one knew exactly what to expect from Motorhead, what with their hard living leader reported to be unwell, and having many unfortunate cancellations behind them from the last year. What we got was an amazing performance from start to finish, and a reaffirmation of all that's right with rock.
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Surya Namaskar is destined to be a fusion classic. Dewa Budjana brings together tremendous guitar playing skills and equally impressive talent as a composer - add two fusion superstars (Vinnie Colaiuta and Jimmy Johnson) to the mix, throw in mix master Robert Feist (he engineered Allan Holdsworth's greatest records), and you have the perfect ingredients for success, and succeed this troop has.
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Nita Strauss has been a figure on the West Coast guitar scene for years - when not channeling Dave Murray's sound, style, and licks onstage with The Iron Maidens, she might be found recording rocking classical renditions of various video games with Critical Hit, or maybe even on the road playing some hard funk with Jermaine Jackson. She is definitely not one to let grass grow under her feet - she even finds time to work with her co-guitarist and longtime friend/roommate Courtney Cox in not just the Maidens, but also Lorraine Lewis's reformed Femme Fatale who hit the waves between March 29-April 2 for the incredible (and sold out) Monsters of Rock Cruise, in which they'll be showing off both FF, and The Maidens.
Monday, March 17, 2014
Rock Ain't Near Dead - that's been my mantra for a while, and I am now more convinced than ever. California Breed is a fantastic album by a fantastic band. It's new breed, if you will - it doesn't sound like Deep Purple, Black Country Communion, or anything that preceded it. Hughes and Bonham have done some of their best work yet, and the avenue of guitar heroes has a new kid on the block in Andrew Watt.
Thursday, March 13, 2014
Friday, March 7, 2014
Korn + King's X + Lynch Mob = KXM = synergy.
syn-er-gy: noun 1. the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce combined effect greater than the sum of their separate parts.In my old age, I'm learning to not be too quick to judge, to not shoot from the hip without looking closely at what I'm shooting. And in this case, that concept has served me very well.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
|Photo by Neil Kitson|
Nalle Colt is the band's guitarist, and writer of some of the sharpest dressed rock to find its way into the public consciousness in ages. He explained to me recently how the band's hard work, and the guidance of maybe the best management team on the planet (McGhee Entertainment) has led them to their next chapter and their second album, and perhaps a date with the unlikely, but incredibly impressive pairing of Jack White and Don Was. Nalle also told me how he came to the Les Paul, Revival Amps, and he delivered a great message on the power of hard work and gratitude.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Philip Morgan Lewis returns with a new single, The Whistleblower, and it is already getting serious airplay here in the States, and in his UK homeland. The message is certainly one that many are thinking these days, in which the good guys have been put on the run by the powers that be.
Lewis is a regular one man band, playing everything here with the exception of Clive "B" Smart's excellent as always slide guitars, and some nice background vocals by Little A and VICK E. Lewis produced the record, played the instruments, and produced and edited the video. And, that's him on the skateboard in the video!
I was big on Morgan Lewis' Karma Comedown EP last year, and it appears there's no slowing down now. Karma Comedown received great press and airplay last year, and it seems that his bold, bluesy style has caught more than a few ears.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Jon Herington - Much More Than Just Steely Dan's 'Go To' Guitarist - The Rock Guitar Daily Interview
"I found out that one of the most amazing opportunities anyone can have in a musical career is this repeat chance, years and years in a row, again and again, to play the same music with a top notch band. Music with room to improvise, and to play it at high stakes, where an audience is expecting a high caliber of musicianship night after night, year after year. It's amazing what you can accumulate over the years if you are working consciously to get better at it." ~ Jon Herington on touring with Steely Dan
Jon Herington is certainly best known for being a guitarist for Steely Dan, and various Dan related solo projects and off-shoot bands for nigh on fifteen years, but he's also led his own band for over twenty years and five albums, including a record (2012's Time On My Hands) that Vintage Guitar Magazine called, 'One of the best albums of the year, but of the past decade,' and rightfully so.
Monday, February 24, 2014
I'm jumping on the bandwagon on this one, something I rarely do, but I may as well say my piece. The fact that KISS is not playing their own induction into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame with the original lineup is a crime against their fans, and a great opportunity missed.
Keith St. John saved the night. A last minute addition to Lynch's mob, St. John stepped in and did a great job in an otherwise extremely lackluster night at The Boardwalk in Sacramento.
In what seems to have become a recurring theme George Lynch again found himself without a lead singer on the eve of a tour. Whether Tad Gonzales walked, or was shown the door, no one seems to know, but regardless of the details, it certainly doesn't look good, and it doesn't make for great rock and roll. It wasn't that long ago that original Lynch Mob vocalist Oni Logan bailed on the band just hours before a flight, and had to be replaced by LA veteran Chaz West. It begs a few questions, but first, some praise for Keith St. John.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
"Keith explained the unconventional origins of "Paint It, Black" and how it came together: "Mick wrote it. I wrote the music, he did the words. Get a single together. What's amazing about that one for me is the sitar. Also, the fact that we cut it as a comedy tack. Bill was playing an organ, doing a takeoff of our first manager (Eric Easton), who started off his career in show business as an organist in a cinema pit. We were doing it with funky rhythms, and it hadn't worked, and he started playing it like this and everybody got behind it. It's a two-beat, very strange. Brian playing the sitar makes it a whole other thing." ~ Chapter 6 - page 221
Of course, then Bill Wyman goes on to tell a quite different story completely concerning the organ part, the story of the sitar use is fleshed out superbly, we read about the acoustic guitars that Brian and Keith used (Gibson Hummingbirds, with Keith using a Guild Freshman M-65 for his lead), we find out who played what rhythm instrument, all adding up to, "a great sound... like a Hungarian polka."