Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Black Heartbeat (aka: rip it out, throw it away)

Another gem from 2014.  It seems Seether and Anti-Mortem were in sync that year.  More of the same; inner-turmoil at its best.  But music heals.

Anti-Mortem - Black Heartbeat

Used and abused, heart-breaking news
To live a lie and watch you die
Choking on your words
It's safe to say it's over now
At least until you call
Sometimes I've wondered why I cared
Or loved you at all
Go on and pretend that it's not your fault
Your cold black heartbeat has come to a halt

So use me, abuse me
To get what you need
Confuse me, lie to me
Your damage has been done
You can't take advantage
Of my love anymore
No trust
No honesty
Then just walk out the door

When I see you out, I keep my pace
My cold black eyes wipe that smile right off your face
You know that it hurts 'cuz you made me this way
But if you died tomorrow well I'd spit on your grave
Go on and pretend that it's not your fault
Your cold black heartbeat has come to a halt

So use me, abuse me
To get what you need
Confuse me, lie to me
Your damage has been done

You can't take advantage
Of my love anymore
No trust
No honesty
Then just walk out the door

So use me, abuse me
To get what you need
Confuse me, lie to me
Your damage is done

So use me, abuse me
To get what you need
Confuse me, lie to me
Your damage has been done

You can't take advantage
Of my love anymore
No trust
No honesty
Then just walk out the door
No trust
No honesty

Same Damn Life (aka: why the same damn life?)

Three years later and this song still holds a lot of meaning.  Most of which is inner-turmoil.  As they say, read between the lines and the truth shall unfold. I'm trying......

Seether - Same Damn Life

Come smoke a cigarette and let your hair down
Then pray for the rain to go away
I'm trying to forget I let us both down
Then pray for the sun to come again

I never thought I could feel so small
But you're the one that can't live without attention
I never thought I would lose this all
But you're the one who needs the fucking intervention

Now I'm reliving my whole damn life
And it's a shame that I can't remember
And now I'm living the same damn lie
It's a shame, but nothing's forever

With every new regret I start to wear down
Then pray for the pain to go away
I need an amulet, I need a new sound
I know everything remains the same

I never thought I could feel so small
I'm the one who will suffer this detention
I never thought I would lose this all
But I accept this is my new education

Now I'm reliving my whole damn life
And it's a shame that I can't remember
And now I'm living the same damn lie
It's a shame, but nothing's forever

Saturday, April 1, 2017

life lessons when staring in the mirror... (aka: and so it goes)

It's funny; life rolls along and always knows how to throw curve balls without any warning or reason for it whatsoever.  That’s life, right?  It’s a quick jab to current life or a swift kick to the family jewels regarding the past.  Either way, its things that require 100% attention or it becomes a slippery slope of sorts.

I will never be capable of grasping everything in life, but there are many times I feel disconnected to what I want to do in life.  As I grow older, I still maintain the energy and excitement inside as if I were still eighteen years old.  There’s so much I want to do on a daily basis, but restricted due to commitment to my current job.  I have the luxury of working from home instead of having to go into an office.  Moreover, business travel comes into play often, which places me in either familiar or unfamiliar locations.  No problems with that for the most part but experience most everything alone.  I should be used to it after so many years, but it does weigh on me more often.

I’ve done a lot over the years, whether it be my career or in my personal life.  I’ve had a lot of fun. My happy/fun factor hasn’t been at the level where I’d like it, and that’s a problem.  First world problem, yes.  Maybe all this has something to do with turning fifty recently, I’m not sure.  I want to squeeze so much more out of life and balance that out with my job (which is its own balancing act; feast or famine in my line of work).   

I did a damn good job of balancing things last year and made a couple of trips to San Diego to see my daughter.  We went to Universal Studios, attended a baseball game at Dodger Stadium May ’16, and visited West Hollywood for the first time in years.  Had a few drinks at the infamous Rainbow on the Sunset Strip, visited Amoeba (best damn music shop in the world), and went to the beach a couple times.  Went back out to SD in Aug ’16 to catch the Guns N’ Roses show at Qualcomm Stadium (phenomenal) and took in not one but two MLB baseball games.  Also ventured out to Las Vegas to attend a couple shows (Black Sabbath in Feb ’16 and Metal Church/Armored Saint June ’16).  See, no complaints here.

Then in mid-July ’16, I was engaged in a lot of business travel, which lasted until December.  The first week of Jan 2017 I was hit with an anti immune disorder which horribly affected my skin and sidelined me from work travel. So aside from the SD trip in Aug, all I saw was airports, hotel rooms, conference rooms and work…work…work.  That line from Stephen King’s book “The Shining” comes to mind, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”  Not in a ‘woes me’ way, because I don’t feel as though I’m looking for a ‘pity party’.  However, I want to improve my quality of life now.  Not when I’m too old to enjoy it (or afford it).

Also for some reason, I’ve been listening to a lot of Ed Sheeran.  Been a fan for about six years and enjoy his music, but I seem to have gravitated to his music even more over the last couple months.

I just need to figure out the means.  Where there’s a will there’s a way.

Ed Sheeran - Happier

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Remembering Brad Delp - 10 Years (aka: the man with the golden voice)

Celebrating iconic vocalist Brad Delp today (Mar 09, 2007). Can't believe he's been gone for ten years. His death came as such a surprise. I saw Boston in concert four times prior to his death. 

And even though he was losing a bit of his range, he still belted out 'More Than A Feeling', 'Don't Look Back', 'Rock And Roll Band', 'Smokin', 'Piece Of Mind'...the list goes on. Loved this guy and he lives on through the music.

Brad Delp - 'More Than A Feeling' [Vocals Only]

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Getting closer.....just walk. (aka: c'mon dave....show me a sign)

For the very first time
Don't you pay no mind?
Set me free again
You keep alive a moment at a time
But still inside a whisper to a riot
To sacrifice but knowing to survive
The first decline another state of mind
I'm on my knees, I'm praying for a sign
Forever, whenever
I never wanna die
I never wanna die
I never wanna die
I'm on my knees
I never wanna die
I'm dancing on my grave
I'm running through the fire
Forever, whatever
I never wanna die
I never wanna leave
I'll never say goodbye
Forever, whatever
Forever, whatever......"

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Miiidliiiife Criiiisis (aka: holy ashtray! fifty is looming overhead)

The big 5-0 is approaching.

<my mantra>It's just a number.....It's just a number.....It's just a number.....

"A midlife crisis is a transition of identity and self-confidence that can occur in middle aged individuals. It's a psychological and behavioral observation that commonly occurs with individuals between the ages 45–64."

Monday, March 6, 2017

Closer to 50 (aka: shit! closer to 50!)

When it gets closer to my birthday, I always play Elton John, Paul McCartney, Fleetwood Mac, and Billy Joel.

"And I think it's gonna be a long, long, time
'Til touchdown brings me 'round again to find
I'm not the man they think I am at home
Oh, no no no
I'm a rocket man
Rocket man
Burnin' out this fuse
Up here alone....."

"But oh how it feels so real
Lying here with no one near
Only you and you can hear me
When I say softly, slowly...."

"Maybe I'm a man and maybe I'm a lonely man
Who's in the middle of something
That he doesn't really understand..."

"Like a heartbeat... drives you mad...
In the stillness of remembering what you had...
And what you lost...
And what you had...
And what you lost..."

"I would not leave you in times of trouble
We never could have come this far
I took the good times, I'll take the bad times
I'll take you just the way you are..."

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Yngwie J. Malmsteen’s 'Rising Force' released 33 years ago today + '85 concert (aka: neo-classical shredder sets bar into stratosphere).

First time I heard Swede-shredder Yngwie Malmsteen was on Steeler's debut album (w/Ron Keel on vocals) and Alcatrazz ‘No Parole From Rock and Roll' (both released in '83). But man, first time I heard Yngwie's three-and-a-half-minute intro to Steeler's "Hot On Your Heels" I was absolutely floored.  I'd always admired Ritchie Blackmore's  neo-classical guitar style for years, but this neo-classical shredding was an absolute game changer and set another guitar playing style/technique bar very high.  And the 1984 Alcatrazz release 'Live Sentence' proved to me what Yngwie was capable of in a live setting.

When Yngwie released this '84 debut I knew it would be great, but I had no idea it would blow the doors off all three of the previously released albums (in my humble opinion).  I was familiar with 'Evil Eye' from the 'Live Sentence' album, but the studio version was so much better.  I enjoy every track, but two favorites will always be 'Icarus' Dream Suite Op. 4' and 'Far Beyond The Sun'.  Upon first listen though, I was surprised a vocalist was used at all. I became a fan of vocalist Jeff Scott Soto due to this album. Plus, having an opportunity to see him perform live made me realize he'd become more popular as time went on (never imagined he'd join Journey down the road). My brother and I listened to this album all the time. We played it frontward, backward, upside down. We played along to every friggin’ note….on air guitar of course.

Some fifteen months after this release, the local concert gods came through and Yngwie was coming to town June 19, 1985 (it was booked at the same dance club venue where I had seen Metallica three months prior - Graham Central Station). And as a HUGE added bonus, Talas (bass god Billy Sheehan's band) was providing support.  I already owned Talas' first two studio albums and "Live Speed On Ice" (another all-time favorite live album). I witnessed greatness that evening - one on guitar and the other on bass.  I remained up front for both sets have the highlights etched in my brain for life.  Both bands played as though they were performing in front of a sold out stadium of 50,000 fans. My jaw was sore from the many times it hit the ground during both Talas and Yngwie's sets. Remarkable musicianship and I never saw a concert quite like it ever again.

By the way, I can still play this album......note for air guitar note.

Sidebar: I always got a kick out of the ‘J’ he had added to his name. I get the classical connection, seriously, I get it…but I joked about that the most back in the day. Kinda went like this, “You have to listen to the new Ingvay Jaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay Malmsteen album!"

Photos from my personal collection (original Polydor label):

Yngwie Malmsteen - Icarus' Dream Suite Op.4 (1984)

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Ian Gillan - 'Gillan's Inn' 2006/2007 (aka: oh, nothing to see here.....just Ian Gillan, Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi, Joe Satriani, Deep Purple and a few others).

Hopefully Ian Gillan's 'Gillan's Inn' didn't go unnoticed by too many people.  It was first released in 2006.  Then he went out and performed some shows to support it, re-released in 2007 as 'Tour Edition' and added bonus audio/video from that tour. 

It's an incredible little package because it's primarily Deep Purple classics, Ian's own solo material, and a few cover tunes. And I don't know, a few of his friends dropped by <insert sarcasm>....people you may have heard of....Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi, Joe Satriani, Jeff Healey, Uli Jon Roth, Janick Gers, and his Deep Purple partners in crime. I had purchased this ten years ago because I've always enjoyed Ian Gillan's voice (DP and solo) and it included Ronnie James Dio and Tony Iommi...period.  

Not only does Ronnie give a fantastic vocal performance on 'A Day Late and A Dollar Short', but the behind-the-scenes videos are worth the price alone. Very candid moments. There's also bootleg footage of Joe Satriani performing with Deep Purple (A Blind Man Cries & Speed King) in June 1994 after Blackmore bailed on the band (again). 

Also, the original 2006 release featured Tony, Ian, Roger Glover and Ian Paice's version of Sabbath's 'Trashed'.  That was released as its own compilation album in 2012 entitled, 'Who Cares', but originated from this collection. Ian is a proprietor of British Hard Rock and definitely knows how to build on a good thing when opportunity knocks. I enjoy this one quite a bit.

Ian Gillan / Ronnie James Dio / Uli Jon Roth - "Day Late And A Dollar Short"

Friday, March 3, 2017

Master Of Puppets turns 31 today + RTL concert 32 years to the day (aka: my mini metallica overload - you've been warned.)

This just in from the "holy shit I'm old" department.
My original Metallica "Master Of Puppets" cassette
Couple of Metallica anniversaries today:
  1. Attended Metallica/Armored Saint concert 32 years ago today [Mar 03, 1985].
  2. Metallica released "Master of Puppets" 31 years ago today [Mar 03, 1986].
I saw Metallica perform at a local club in Albuquerque, NM 32 years ago today at a local dance club/bar called Graham Central Station (complete with the multicolored dance floor straight out of 1977's Saturday Night Fever) and one year prior to "Master of Puppets" being released upon the masses.  Who knew that a musical juggernaut the size of the moon would be hurled at us in a years time down the road.  But before I go there, I have to reflect on this "Ride The Lightning" concert event of a lifetime.
My ticket stub from Metallica/Armored Saint - Albuquerque, NM  03-03-85
Prior to the concert (same day), Metallica did an in-store appearance at a local record store (Sound Warehouse) and the place was MOBBED.  The parking lot was.....well...a human parking lot. As spacious as Sound Warehouse was, it wasn't large enough for this crowd. And we're talking 1985, Metallica was not on the radio, not on MTV, and yet they had an underground following that was growing larger by the minute (maybe every half minute). 

After waiting in line for two hours, I walked up to a small platform (maybe three steps) where James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, and Cliff Fuckin' Burton were seated.  I had my "Kill 'Em All", "Ride The Lightning" albums with me.  Walked up to James, nervously shook his hand, handed him both albums to sign and told him how much I loved the music.  He flashed that shit eating grin, thanked me for being a fan, signed the albums; scratched out "lightning" on RTL album cover with his black Sharpie and wrote "bar tab" over it. Next....haha.  Lars and Kirk were in their own world, but both signed the albums.  Then there was Cliff.  I was more nervous about meeting him than I was James. Cliff was kicking back on the end, talking to a few girls, smiling, laughing, just enjoying it all.  Then I walk up and he's super cool. We did the "bro handshake" [sideways, cupped palms] and talked about Kill 'Em All, Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Misfits for a minute. He signed my stuff, stood up and gave me a "bro hug". Patted me on the back and sat back down to greet the next person (who happened to be my brother - who was still chatting away with Kirk and holding up the line....haha....people were pissed - but fuck 'em all). 

Concert time. Line was ridiculous to get in, but once in it looked so damn empty.  There were more people at the damn in-store than there were at the show - WTF?! Ticket's were $6.75....that's it!  If I had to guess, I'd say there were maybe 100 people at the concert - 150 tops.  Armored Saint opened (they were touring behind their debut "March of the Saint") and blew the power out after playing for 10 minutes.  Vocalist John Bush informed the crowd they were going to kick our asses harder once the power was restored - and they did. They played as though they were the headliners.  Love that band to this day.

Metallica hit the stage and it's complete anarchy on the floor. Mosh pits in full force. One big one, then two smaller ones. I was up front for the first two songs with my brother, then got the hell outta dodge.  Plus, I was recording the show (shhhhhh.....) on my micro cassette recorder and there was no way I was going to lose that.  The show was far beyond my expectations. I was blown away by the power, strength, and energy radiating from the stage. The guys played with extreme conviction proving their musical abilities not only to shred, but to kick everyone's collective ass. Of the hundreds of shows I've attended, that concert remains at the top of my all-time favorite list.  And I'll post photos of the signed albums once I dig them out of the archives (I've been digging through it lately anyway). They're both on the Megaforce label (prior to signing with Elektra Records and being re-released).

The setlist from the '85 gig:
+++++++++++++++++++++++I N T E R M I S S I O N+++++++++++++++++++++++

*******ACT II - Master Of Puppets is released*******

I was still on my 'Ride The Lightning' high in '86, I wasn't prepared for 'Tallica's next aural assault (I said 'aural').  "Master Of Puppets" split things wide open and set the music/album bar so damn high for every Thrash/Metal band in the world to try and match.  This band didn't make videos (yet) to cater to the MTV minions. They didn't wear spandex, tease their hair, or wear makeup. They wore their street clothes, drank from the bottle, killed it onstage, and flat out delivered the goods.

For a band with ZERO radio/MTV airplay, they did pretty damn good reaching the masses and building a global fan base.  The seeds were already planted with 'Kill 'Em All' and 'Ride', but 'Master of Puppets' and opening for Ozzy on the "Ultimate Sin" tour set things in motion....then it snowballed into something more massive.  

I was home sick the day 'Master Of Puppets' was released.  My brother picked up a cassette copy for me (see above photo - it's the original one he purchased - still have it) and left on my front doorstep. I had no idea he did that until later in the afternoon when I opened the front door to get the mail.  Forgot about the mail, picked up the cassette and made a bee line to my room.  Popped it into my stereo and it was life changing for this teenager.

"Battery" opened with a majestic acoustic guitar, then segued into ripping riffs in a matter of seconds. Then "Master Of Puppets" set a precedence not many songs can compete with to this day.  I probably listened to this song six times straight before moving onto the next track.  Those were the best 8 minutes and 36 seconds ever. 'Master Of Puppets' is my generation's "Stairway To Heaven". It's as simple as that. And how could this album continue to get better?  Then "The Thing That Should Not Be" kicked in.....just so colossal.  I couldn't get over the absolute heaviness of this song. "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" was next. It was the perfect balance of chaos, serenity, and melody.  I was then decimated by not one, but two devastating tracks ("Disposable Heroes" & "Leper Messiah") which had contained so many time changes and chugging riffs, I thought, "Who else can play like this?"  Pffft...no one. Then the almighty Cliff Burton laid his greatness upon us with "Orion".  Not that '(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth' wasn't already phenomenal, but 'Orion' is just gargantuan.  It gave me goosebumps when I first heard it and has the same effect on me to this day (as I'm sure it does for so many others).  The final track, "Damage, Inc." closes this masterpiece going a jillion miles an hour...

"Fuck it all and fucking no regrets
Never happy ending on these dark sets
All's fair for Damage Inc. you see

Step a little closer if you please...."


Metallica then toured with Ozzy on the 'Ultimate Sin' tour.  I caught their show in May '86 and the place went totally off-the-hook during their set. Holy shit.  Biggest mosh pit ever. Judging by the number of people who attended this concert, most were there to see Metallica because more than half cleared out after their set ended.  True story.

Also, for many, 'Master' signaled the end of an era after Cliff died. Who knows how things would've turned out musically had Cliff lived.  There's no telling.  But he put his stamp on this and helped make it what it is and will always remain; a masterpiece.

Photos of my original MOP cassette [purchased Mar 03, 1986]:

The rust from the screws that hold the cassette together are visible on the inlay card.

And one of these days I'll crack this open.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Spinal Tap still holds up 33 years later [released 33 yrs ago today] (aka: real life for many musicians - don't laugh...OK, laugh)

Rob Reiner’s classic, “This is Spinal Tap” is the seminal Rock-mockumentary since being released 33 years ago today [March 2nd 1984].

The story of a British heavy metal band’s comeback tour across the U.S. is the BEST rock satires ever. It hits home for so many musicians and remains the ultimate of all inside jokes as this serves as a reminder of the many ‘spinal tap moments’ in their own careers.
You may think a film from the early 80s would have become stale over the years, but that's not the case. I never get tired of watching this. Even if it's on TV, I stop and watch it until it ends. This wasn’t a huge success when initially released across movie theaters, but has become an enormous cult classic over the years. There are so many unfortunate and unforgettable scenes; guitar amp volume that goes to '11', the band getting lost in the hallway of an area on their way to the stage, the mini Stonehenge...the list goes on. 

The eleven song soundtrack (eleven tracks on purpose, right?) is just as epic as the movie. The music and lyrics captured the wit and charm of the movie, "Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You Tonight", "Hell Hole", "Stonehenge", "Sex Farm" and the many clichéd guitar riffs that go along with them.

Here we are thirty-three years later, it still feels as funny, fresh, and still holds up.

“These go to eleven”


Spinal Tap trailer (1984)

DVD Edition

Blu-ray Edition

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Aerosmith “Get Your Wings” turns 43 today (aka: sheer ignorance parts I-III)

Today marks the 43rd anniversary of Aerosmith's “Get Your Wings” [Released Mar 01, 1974]. An album I didn’t even know about until 1979.

[Rush sharing in on the celebration too since their self-titled debut was also released on this day in 1974. Had to - I'm a Rush geek.]

I knew Aerosmith from what I heard on the radio (“Dream On”, “Sweet Emotion”, “Last Child”, “Walk This Way” and “Draw The Line”) and nothing else because KISS was still my universe and no other band existed to me. I didn’t get into this band until after I moved from New Jersey to New Mexico. The local Rock radio station (94 Rock) in Albuquerque would play “Train Kept A Rollin” almost every hour on the hour. And I could never understand why a live version of the song ALWAYS followed the studio version.

I also thought it was cool how they mentioned "Albuquerque" in the song (“Well, we made a stop in Albuquerque“). And I had NO CLUE that was always part of the song. I had NO CLUE Tiny Bradshaw existed. And finally, NO CLUE the Yardbirds had covered this one either. Yes, I was a clueless dude for a bit. Regardless, I was 100% into this live version and had to have it. I was on a mission. I would call the radio station to request only the “live version”. I was either met with the dial tone soon after or, “Yeah..haha…yeah...sure...we can try and do that for ya kid”. I was never told the studio and live version of “Train” was one track (vinyl: side two - track two).

Hang on, it gets better.

After I placed my request, I grabbed a blank cassette (an old no-name cassette that had been recorded over countless times. So thin from wear that I could see through it. I had scotch tape over the top missing tabs so I could record, labels removed and replaced with masking tape....so much preparation.  As usual, I popped the trusty cassette into my Radio Shack tape recorder, placed it next to my portable radio’s speaker and waited for the song to play.

And as Murphy’s Law would have it, when you sit and wait for a song to play, it’s not gonna happen until you give up after two hours, get up and walk away for 10 seconds only to come back and hear it playing. I always requested songs and just pressed 'record' until the tape ran out. Then flipped it over until I had the songs I wanted. I finally captured “Train Kept A Rollin” and edited it myself keeping only the live version and adding it to an “already in progress” mixed tape (which also included “Iron Man”, “The Zoo”, “Lights Out”, “Boys Are Back In Town”, and “Cat Scratch Fever”).

Sheer Ignorance Part I:
After a few weeks I figured it was time to own “Get Your Wings” because if the other songs on the album were just as good as “Train” then I’d be in heaven. I went to the local record store and found “Get Your Wings” on vinyl, 8-Track and cassette, but none of them included the live version. Couldn’t find it anywhere! Again, had someone told me (hello 94 Rock DJ) it was on the album then I wouldn’t have been so ignorant.

Sheer Ignorance Part II:
I walk up to the record store counter with the album in hand and ask the guy where I can find the live version of “Train Kept A Rollin”. He asks me, “Are you looking for the Tiny Bradshaw, The Yardbirds or the Aerosmith version?” Wait…what?? I thought it was an Aerosmith song. So I hesitated a little bit because I had no idea there were other versions and told him, “Aerosmith”. He told me it was on “Get Your Wings”. I grabbed a copy, looked at the back cover again and didn’t see it listed.

Sheer Ignorance Part III:
I make my way back to the counter with record in hand and tell him (again) that I want the live version of “Train”. He points to the record. I tell him it only has the studio version. <pause> Yeah, he laughed and made sure to grab a few of the other guys who worked there to get in on it at my expense. When I sheepishly asked what was so funny, they grabbed a copy from behind the counter and put it on the turntable…side two, track two. I stood there listening to the studio version and made my case again telling them I didn’t want that version. More laughing ensued. Just as the song ended, I could hear the live audience swell and the live version of “Train” blaring out of the store’s sound system. What the…?? I asked the guys, “It’s recorded like that on the record?” All of them still laughing. <insert sound of pain when Lucy pulls the football away from Charlie Brown as he runs in to kick it and falls flat on his ass>

Needless to say, I tried to ignore the embarrassment, plunked down the money and bought the album. Once they calmed down, they told me it was cool that I even knew who Aerosmith still was at all. I had no idea what they meant at that time because I didn’t keep up on the music magazines (Hit Parader, Circus, Creem, and Rolling Stone – didn’t enter my life until 1980 – that’s another story). But I was so damn happy to have found this (my holy grail) and a better sounding copy of “Train” over my cassette version. I went on to appreciate the rest of the album as well (“Same Old Song and Dance”, “Seasons of Wither”, Lord of the Thighs” and “Pandora’s Box”). Every time I think of this album it will always remind me of “Train Kept A Rollin” and my journey in finding the live version.

Aerosmith - Train Kept A Rollin' [aka" Side 2 Track 2]

Tiny Bradshaw - Train Kept A Rollin' (1951)

The Yardbirds - Train Kept A Rollin' (1966)

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Cygnus and the Sea Monsters - One Night In Chicago 2005 (aka: Rush covers + old 70s children show = small masterpiece and a tear to my eye)

I have professed my love for the band Rush for most my life (late teens actually).  I'm not always onboard with bands performing cover songs of bands I hold in high regard (Rush being the biggest of them all). But there are two CDs which are exceptions to my rule;  Working Man (1996) which includes George Lynch, Jake E. Lee, James Murphy, Billy Sheehan and a slew of others....AND...this live show; Cygnus and the Sea Monsters - "One Night in Chicago".  I purchased the CD/DVD off Portnoy's website eleven years ago.  Time flies - crazy.  Looks like it's still available here: http://www.mikeportnoy.com/productcart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=25 and Amazon too https://www.amazon.com/One-Night-Chicago-CYGNUS-MONSTERS/dp/B001156MXW

This was recorded and filmed (there is a DVD version and of course it's posted via YouTube - I posted the video below) back in 2005.  It consists of Mike Portnoy (I'm sure you know who he is) on drums, Paul Gilbert (Racer X) on guitar, Sean Malone (Cynic) on bass and Jason McMaster (Dangerous Toys, Watchtower, Broken Teeth, Ignition) on vocals.  This hour long set is nothing short of incredible. The band blazes through 2112, Cygnus X-1, Hemispheres, and YYZ as if they were just warming up.  Mike, Paul and Sean are consummate pros and have more talent in the dirt on their fingernails than most people have at all.  The only low-light to this is Jason.  I love the work this guy does in his other bands, but his screeching and almost screaming/screeching until he's breathless did not fit this otherwise killer set.  There's more music than vocals, so another reason why I'm okay with this one.

It's a blast to listen to (and watch) the guys play pretty much note-for-note and not cringing hoping they'll do the songs justice, because they do them all justice and then some. And also capable of throwing in improv portions as well.  In showcase settings such as this (Drum Pad's 20th Anniversary) normally one person has the spotlight.  Even though Mike gets in a drum solo, it's not just the "Mike Portnoy Show".  I've been a fan of Paul's since the first Racer X was released in '86. He can play anything and proves how well versed he is in Rush and the styles of Alex Lifeson.  Same goes for Mike and his adaptation of Neil Peart.  NOBODY can play like Peart, but Mike does a fine job replicating many aspects of the songs. And Sean, who is an accomplished bass player and does an impeccable job nailing the songs.  No keyboards and that's okay because it would've taken away the rawness.

Note: I was pretty ecstatic over the fact Mike incorporated my beloved Sid & Marty Krofft 70s children show "Sigmund and the Sea Monsters".  I've included a video clip of the show's opening song at the very bottom. Ahhh, the 70s.

Cygnus And The Sea Monsters - One Night In Chicago (2005)

Scans of my physical CD:

Sigmund and the Sea Monsters opening song (1973-1975) - posted for good measure.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Almonds + Anthrax + Tesla = Almond Joy (aka: music with nuts but without coconut)

Busy work day always includes the best almonds EVER (https://wildsoilalmonds.com/)
 Some kick ass old-school music courtesy of Anthrax......
 ......and Tesla - Rare physical CD of their live Albuquerque, NM appearance opening for the Scorpions June 14, 2012.  These CDs were recorded day of concert and sold after their set at the onsite merch locations for $10.  I wish all bands did this.  Metallica and Pearl Jam are the only two I know of today who record their shows and offer them to their fans for a small price. 
Tesla - "Signs" LIVE - Albuquerque, NM June 14, 2012 [opening for the Scorpions]

Sunday, February 26, 2017

3 Legged Dogg "Frozen Summer" (aka: not the dog on Alice In Chains's self-titled album or aka: yes, there's an extra "g" in "dog" on purpose)

Not sure how many people are familiar with the band 3 Legged Dogg, but it's an album worthy of more attention than it received.  The band was <deep breath>:  Vinny Appice on drums, the late great Jimmy Bain on bass, ex-Quiet Riot/current Ratt guitarist Carlos Cavazo, ex David Lee Roth/Beau Nasty guitarist Brian Young, and vocalist Chas West (ex-Lynch Mob/Tribe Of Gypsies/Foreigner; currently fronting Resurrection King - which is a great band that includes Craig Goldy and Vinny Appice).  <exhale>

Every musician on here gives it their all.  I bought this when it was released in 2006 because I was a fan of each one of these guys.  I didn't know what to expect and was relieved that the entire album is ass-kicking hard rock and NOT middle of the road or average by any means.  I've never heard Vinny's drums recorded this loud before.  He always pounds the shit out of his kit, but it seems there was more at stake here.  These songs rip and I can never just pinpoint only one song when there are many that highlight this disc. Take you pick, "Give and Take Away" (a radio hit that never came to be - ugh), "Wasted Life", "One Good Reason", and "Long Way Back From Hell" highlight the entire band's tenacity and power.  But again, every song here is very well structured.  The guys came together and created some heavy-groove-melodic oriented tunes.

This group more-or-less fell apart because Vinny was called up by Ronnie James Dio because the Dio Sabbath group was getting back together [NOTE: 3 Legged Dogg debut was released Oct 2006 and Black Sabbath - The Dio Years was released April 2007].  Not a bad reason.

And who knows if this really would've gone anywhere in this shitty musical climate that began to get much worse in the 2000s. And so many musicians (normally well-known) are offered a sizable chunk of money by certain labels to get together and churn out an album hoping to hit paydirt.  Who knows what could've been.

3 Legged Dogg - Frozen Summer (2006) [Full Album]

3 Legged Dogg - Promo Clip (2006)

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Lemmy: The Definitive Biography (aka: wrong dickhead, trick question; Lemmy is god)

I finally got my hands on British music journalist/rock biographer Mick Walls' book  "Lemmy: The Definitive Biography".  It was released April 2016 and it took me until a couple weeks ago to land a copy of my own.  I was hoping for the hardcover edition, but I'm fine with the paperback.  What I didn't want was to read the Kindle version.  I read books on Kindle, but there are certain books that I want to read where I have to HOLD the physical book.  This is one of those books.

I'm a huge fan of music related biographies.  Have been since the early 80s and its only become worse since everyone and they're brother/sister is offered a book deal and spew their memoirs.  There are so many good ones out there.  Hook, line and sinker for me - so I'm not complaining.  TAKE MY MONEY!

I know there are many Lemmy books littering the market (pre/post his death), but this one is way above average.  Especially since it's a collection of interviews Mick had with Lemmy over the years; starting in the early 90s. And coincidentally, Mick worked as Motörhead’s publicist for a short period of time. This book started to take shape when Lem's health took a turn.  I believe Mick had a ton of tapes he had to transcribe.  He had Lemmy's blessing of course and dove into piecing this together using the words of the man himself.  I wouldn't go so far to call this extremely in-depth.  But, if you're familiar with the 2002 book "White Line Fever" (by Lemmy and Janiss Garza) then it does fill in some gaps left in that one. Plus there are friends/musicians who are brought in as well.

It does get hard to read towards the end of the book since this includes Lem's passing. So I spent the last portion of the book just gearing up for the inevitable.  It's like knowing the ending to a movie you've watched a hundred times. You know the ending but you still immerse yourself into it and become attached for a moment in time.

I wouldn't call this "definitive" because Mick does gloss over many areas/years, including Lem's side band The Head Cat (Google that band if you're unfamiliar - classic stuff).  So I wasn't too happy about that being left out entirely.

There are many gaps here too, but what this book does is it captures Lemmy’s own unique philosophy of life.  His life and the life which surrounded him.

From the 1994 movie "Airheads"
"Wrong dickhead, trick question; Lemmy is god....."

Weekend is now (aka: Metallica In Your Cup - this ain't no Folgers)

The weekend is upon us............

Go forth and consume.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Music Vids - Prt I (aka: this ain't your parents' MTV - but now I'm too old to say that)

Aside from the music, I love finding music videos that are hilarious, fucked up, and/or completely out in left field (all of the above is always a plus). And concert/studio footage/behind the scenes always peak my interest.  If I just flat out enjoy the song then that'll find its way here as well.

New band, old band, Metal, Rock, Punk, Thrash, Hard Rock, Gothic.....doesn't matter.

If it's here then I dig the band, the music, the video...it goes on...and on....and on....it's.....

Life Of Agony - This Time [Been into this band since 1989.]

Overkill - Goddamn Trouble [Their new album "The Grinding Wheel" is one of their best.]

Dimmu Borgir - Progenies of The Great Apocalypse [Classic Dimmu]

The Charm The Fury - Down On The Ropes [New album drops Mar 17th.]

Gojira - The Cell [These guys don't know how to suck at all. They're getting more popular these days.]

Misfits - Riotfest - Denver, CO Sep 4, 2016 [Misfits FINALLY reform and it's insane!]

Carcass - Unfit For Human Consumption [Always have and always will love this band. So melodic and heavy.]

Death Dealer - Hammer Down [ex-Manowar guitarist Ross the Boss still shredding.]

Ghost - Year Zero (Censored)  [The uncensored version was removed from YouTube].

Me And That Man - My Church Is Black  >> Great new band ft. Adam Darski [Behemoth]

Black Sabbath "Live at Hammersmith Odeon" (aka: the Sabbath bully album that beats Live Evil's ass)

"Sing me a song, you're a singer"
"Do me a wrong, you're a bringer of evil........"

I remember purchasing this one on the Rhino/Warner Bros. website in 2007.  It was a series called "Rhino Handmade" and it was limited to 5000 copies. I made a conscious effort to purchase two copies for a few reasons; they're limited edition, numbered, and I wanted to keep one factory sealed so I could open the other.  Normally my plan of attack as long as the item I'm purchasing isn't too expensive. If I remember correctly, these were $15 a piece.  And Rhino/Warner Bros. had just released "Black Sabbath - The Dio Years" a month prior to this one.  Knowing the Dio Sabbath lineup was back in business and ready to roll as Heaven & Hell made my year. Sweetening the pot with this collector's item was just icing (molten metal) on the cake.

Having been a Ronnie James Dio fan since his Rainbow days (I didn't know about Elf until the late 70s) and LOVING "Heaven and Hell" and "Mob Rules", buying this was a definite no-brainer. First and foremost, this was an unreleased concert from the Mob Rules tour. I did own (still do) a bootleg CD-R/silver copy; but the sound was pretty horrid.  I knew this mastered copy would sound incredible and probably better than the atrocious "Live Evil" quiet/no balls version (which wound up being true). I had only one gripe when I saw the track listing prior to buying it, "Where is "Sign of the Southern Cross"?!" But upon further inspection I saw two tracks not included on "Live Evil"; "Country Girl" and "Slipping Away", so that made up for it.  Threw my money at Rhino/Warner Bros., bought two copies and waited for them to arrive....patiently.

OK, not so patiently because I visited my favorite FLAC (Lossless audio) site and someone had already received their copy and uploaded it for the world to procure (one of my favorite words).  I couldn't help myself and had to hear it. So I procured the FLAC files, burned them to a CD-R, threw on some headphones and was blown away.  Yeah, this is way superior over "Live Evil"...no doubt about it.  You could actually hear all the instruments!  Holy shit!!  That crappy "Live Evil" had everything lost in the mix.  This one has Tony's guitar in your face, Geezer's bass slapping you in the head, Vinny's pounding his drums where you could feel it in your chest, and Ronnie singing his damn ass off and not mixed way up over everyone.  Finally!  Someone did this band justice and released a live album to be proud of for eons. Neon Knights, Black Sabbath, Slipping Away, The Mob Rules, Heaven and Hell, and Voodoo are all show stoppers here.  Yes, there's feedback and squelching going on during the show, but it doesn't take away from the performance at all.  No telling how many times I listened to this in one sitting (okay okay....five times).  One of my favorite live albums of all-time.....period.  And a hell of a nod to Ronnie who we lost in 2010 and keyboardist Geoff Nicholls who we lost this year (both to cancer).

Fast forward to delivery day.  They arrived!  When I removed them from the packing envelope I just sat there trying to figure out which one I should open and which to keep sealed.  They're both numbered, but the number is found INSIDE the packaging, not outside on the back insert like most. UGH! Such a dilemma for me. Then I started thinking about the newly burned CD-R I had just created.  I already know what it sounds like so should I even open these? My final decision?  Never opened them. They're both sealed to this day.  I have no clue what they're numbered.  Maybe I have #0001 or #5000...who knows. Or, maybe when I'm on my death bed I'll crack them both open.

Side note: "Mob Rules" was re-released in 2010 as a deluxe edition and includes this show as the bonus second CD.  I'm sure you can find it on YouTube if you haven't already gone that route.

I own this concert below and it's another favorite of mine. Tony's pre-Black Sabbath guitar interlude is nice and easy then he fuckin' riffs into the song.  Love it! Only one Tony Iommi.

Black Sabbath - Live Tokyo 1980 [Audio Only]

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Saxon "Unleash the Beast" (aka: unleash the denim & leather)

Where were you in '97 when Saxon unleashed the beast? < sung to "Denim and Leather" > Yeah, dorky, but that song popped into my head when I started typing.

Let me preface this by saying I'm a HUGE Saxon fan. Love the classic stuff from the 80s and everything leading up to "Battering Ram" (2015) and their 10th live album "Let Me Feel Your Power" (2016). 1997's "Unleash the Beast" is one of my favorite Saxon releases of all time (behind "Power and the Glory" which is my favorite).  Pretty bold, I know.  Especially since it was the first album without Graham Oliver (guitarist and one of the founding members).

New axe slinger Doug Scarratt was brought into the fold in '96 (his first appearance with the band was 1996's live album "The Eagle Has Landed Prt II") and that classic Saxon sound was nowhere to be found. Graham has his own sound and style which no one can replicate. Yes, a little devil's advocate here, but as I mentioned, this one is second to PATG.

Every song is incredibly melodic, in-sync with the next song, and pretty damn heavy (with the exception of "Absent Friends" - but heavy lyrically) and that's been missing in the Saxon repertoire from Rock The Nations (1986) through Dogs of War (1995).  Of course just my opinion, but I've listened to those albums a lot and they don't pack a punch like any of the tunes on this album.

Doug brought in some much needed ass kicking riffs and solos. Entire album is tops, but choosing some "listen to these now" songs I'd go with "The Thin Red Line, "Circle Of Light", "Cut Out The Disease" (written about Graham Oliver - ouch), "Ministry Of Fools", and the title track. That's half the album right there (Track 1 "Gothic Dreams" is a 90 second intro). The rhythm, back line, solos, Biff well, being Biff.....what's not to like?

I cannot begin to fathom that this album will be 20 years old this year on Oct 14th.  I had a golden opportunity to see Saxon on this tour March 22, 1998 at a local podunk country facility called Midnight Rodeo (full capacity was 1600).  Sold out day before the concert.  I was able to interview Biff and Doug (on camera) for a local public access cable show (cue Wayne's World - "We're not worthy!") which my buddy did once a week; from a studio, not his basement. Dream come true to finally meet the band - especially Biff (hence the signed CD booklet - they also signed my Power and the Glory, Crusader and Wheels of Steel too).

Interview went well. I was a tad nervous sitting next to Biff; a vocalist I've idolized since 1981. And I royally screwed up pronouncing Doug Scarratt's last name (sounds like 'carrot' with an 'S') and I mispronounced it....twice...on camera.  STOP TAPING! And proceeded to bury my face in my hands. Biff put his arm around me, laughed and said it couldn't get any worse from here. HA! Doug laughed as well.  At first he seemed annoyed, but he knew I was nervous and 100% fanboy.  Hell, I tried not to.  I've met a ton of bands in my life and always kept my cool, but Saxon was just one of those legendary bands - idols.

Got through the interview unscathed, took pictures, signed album covers, CD booklets, and off I went to stash the video camera (as in VHS - video tape recorder) so I could be up front for the show.  Of course back then, I bootlegged many concerts I attended with a cool little micro-cassette recorder that I could hide on me.  If the end product was being able to identify each song, then the cassette was a keeper.

The concert was two hours and they played most of Unleashed and of course the anthems that put them on the map: Wheels of Steel, Denim & Leather, Princess of the Night, 20,000 Feet, Dallas 1 PM, Motorcycle Man, Strong Arm of the Law, Power and the Glory and Crusader.  I'm sure I'm missing a few more.  But the guys were on fire and it was awesome to see them in such an intimate setting.  Saxon normally plays to 5,000-20,000 people in stadiums over in Europe.

That night I had the time of my life.  My bootleg recording came out okay too. There was so much shoving, crushing and shit going on up front (as usual), that the recorder mic was covered up too much in my pocket.  I didn't think to check on it because I was having way too much fun.  Normally I checked on the mic position, but not that night.

A moment in time I'll always remember.

Saxon - Munich, GER  May 20, 1998 (bootleg - AUDIO ONLY)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Saber Tiger "Project One" {aka: the heaviest album Keel never made)

Being a fan of Ron Keel (Steeler, Keel, and yes...even Iron Horse) I had to track this CD down. If you're a Keel fan, then this one should be on your list of lists. I guarantee it's the heaviest album he's ever made. 

I was always interested in Japanese metal bands in the 80s. I bought all the #Loudness #EZO #Anthem and #Lazy I could find. But when I read about guitarist Akihito Kinoshita's Saber Tiger with Ron Keel on vocals, Anthem founder Naoto Shibata on bass, and ex-Loudness/EZO Hirotsugu HonmaI on drums, I knew I had to find this one. Thorn in my side for too many years.

So, getting back to it, this is Saber Tiger's major debut Project One released in 1997. Some twenty years ago I had read about this in a metal 'zine, but I was never able to find a copy. Remember, this was back before the internet became the monster it is now. I could never locate the '97 release on Fandango Records, but I was able to locate a copy of the 2003 VAP release from a local store in Japan. 

Make no mistake, this album kicks MAJOR ass. This has the shredding, melodies galore, a huge fat bottom end, and the production is top notch. It's too damn bad this album went completely unnoticed outside Japan because it’s a phenomenal release. 

Saber Tiger - I'll Still Be Loving You (1997)