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 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?" 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 clich├ęd 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 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)