I guess I officially have to regretfully declare that I am on a hiatus. Life has been so busy lately that I have not been able to find the time to regularly update my blog. And it’s too bad too, because I love doing it. Over the last few months I have moved from a teaching position to an administration one at my school, I am trying to look out to a youth hockey program, we purchased a new business and still have some lingering family illnesses to contend with. Life has sure been busy, and most of the things listed have been fun. But I do miss blogging. As I said, I only consider this to be a hiatus, and when time permits I hope to be back on a regular basis once again. I will at least try to get back with my Alice Cooper concert review later next week. All the best out there everyone and rock on!!
I passed on an opportunity to see Sir Elton John last week. Elton John played two solo sold out shows within an earshot of here for a cool $150. The ticket price is not what kept me away. I would shell out that kind of money if it were someone I really wanted to see, but I never really considered myself a huge fan of Elton John.
Don't get me wrong, from a classic rock perspective he has recorded some great tracks. Well known songs such as Tiny Dancer, Rocket Man and Levon are just a few that make my favorites list. And being an 80's child, I can also tolerate songs like Sad Songs and Nikita. But now I find myself considering Elton a Disney recording Vegas diva. However, after some thought, maybe I have been too hard on the performer.
There is no denying his accomplishments, and from what I heard of his two performances in my home province, he did not disappoint. Apparently, Elton wowed the audience with his playing, vocals and stage presence. He was not stingy on time either, the total show lasted nearly three hours. Also, on the break before the encore, rather then head back stage, he walked out to the first several rows to sign autographs. This goes totally against my impression of the singer, who I assumed was one of those hands off kind of Diva personalities who you would never get near.
If I had my time back I think I may have shelled out the 150 and took the opportunity to see the legendary performer. I don't think the opportunity will ever come by again. It is unlikely he will come through Atlantic Canada a second time, and I still don't see myself making travel plans around him.
I have been curious about this one for a while and a couple of weeks ago I finally got around to picking it up. Manraze is a trio that features Phil Collen of Def Leppard, Simon Laffy (formerly of the 70’s band Girl, which also featured Collen) and Paul Cook (formerly of the Sex Pistols).
The three of these musicians, for the most part, offer us some straight up in-your-face rock and roll. Gone are the overproduced and slick sounds that we are accustomed to hearing from Phil Collen in Def Leppard, this is raw material. And although it’s all fine rock and roll, there are a variety of different styles and influences coming through here.
It opens fast and furious with a great track titled This Is It. From here it moves into the first single, another catchy rock and roll track called Turn It Up. Twenty years ago this would have likely been a huge hit. From here the track Runnin’ Me Up offers a bit of a reggae and groovy feel and it’s also a great song. The next track changes gears again and brings us a smoother pop song called Every Second of Every Day. And that’s what this album is like, different styles coming through on each track, but all in all, three guys giving us great music.
One of the things I like about this album the most is Phil Collen handling the lead vocals as well as lead guitar. He does a great job on both. As for Def Leppard, throughout the album there are times when comparisons can be made. Every now and again a chorus or Collen’s vocals are unmistakably ‘Def Leppard’ish’. But it’s only at times, and this is not Def Leppard 2. Manraze are playing their own sound, and as I said before, it’s far less produced than what would be heard on a Def Leppard album.
Overall, a very solid effort, and from what I have been gathering, it has been getting a lot of great reviews. I’ve always loved Def Leppard and hope to hear a few more albums from them. But I hope Phil Collen can also continue to find the time to do both, because I would love to hear more albums from Manraze too. Grade B+.
Favorite tracks: This Is It, Turn It Up, Skin Crawl, Runnin’ Me Up
My two passions come together in one. Def Leppard have teamed up with the NHL and will be playing a concert in Detroit as the Red Wings’ Stanley Cup championship banner is raised to the rafters at the team’s home opener. Hockey is also a favorite past time of mine, and Def Lepaard is one of my all time favorite bands. To add additional flavor to the event only one person from my native Newfoundland and Labrador have ever been on a Stanley Cup winning team. And that person is Dan Clearly of this current Detroit championship team. So it seems like an event I really should be at, but….I won’t.
Speaking of Def Leppard, I have been listening to their guitarist’s Phil Collen’s side project, Man Raze’s debut CD. A more detailed review is forthcoming.
I came so close to booking flights and tickets for a weekend in Boston that would have included a Celtics’ game on Friday night, a Bruins’ game on Saturday night, and more importantly an ACDC concert on Sunday night. The timing just wasn’t right, but now ACDC has suddenly moved to the top of the list of concerts I want to see. There are a lot of bands I would like to check out, but right now for the rock spectacle atmosphere there may be no better fit than ACDC.
Speaking of concerts I am less than a month away from seeing Alice Cooper perform live. I have never seen Cooper perform and I am hoping I am in for a treat. This one is titled the Psycho Drama Tour. I am wondering what type of antics and drama we will see unfold on stage. But I am keeping the promise to myself and I am not checking out detailed reviews or YouTube until after the show.
Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham has a new solo CD, titled Gift of Screws that has me intrigued. I have always like Buckingham and this effort is described as a return to rock. Watching Buckingham perform solo is impressive, especially his rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s Big Love from the Seven Wonders album. He does this alone with only an acoustic guitar and I’ve seen footage of it from a couple different concerts. It blew me away each time. Buckingham also confirmed in Rolling Stone that there were some talks of Sheryl Crowe joining Fleetwood Mac for a tour to take Christine McVie’s place. They decided against it saying that bringing someone in just to do McVie’s parts would reduce the band to a lounge act. I don’t know, over a long career most bands have to face lineup changes, just like any sports team or place of business. Crowe is an established artist and bringing her in would have made for an interesting mix and tour I think.
That’s all for now. Hope you are all enjoying your weekend. In my part of the world the weather is awesome today, so I think it’s time to get out and enjoy it before winter creeps in faster than I’d like think.
I found this list difficult to put together. I am not a huge fan of ballads, and I think I may be cheating a little here. So someone can feel free to set me straight. Some of the songs on my list may not be true ballads. In rock and roll circles ballads, other than being slowed down, usually have themes of relationships and romance. Some of these songs do not fit that criteria, but there are many definitions of ballads out there. In any event, these are slower songs by rock bands and here are 5 of my favorites.
5. Ride On, ACDC. Question for you. Has ACDC ever recorded another slow song? I love this one. It's unmistakably ACDC, but still so different than most everything else they ever recorded. This slow song perfectly suits the mood if you are tired, wore out, haggard, and just want to crash out for a while.
4. Every Rose Has its Throne, Poison. An eighties classic ballad. I can’t count how many parties I have been at where someone strummed this one out on an acoustic guitar and everyone sang along. Pretty simple stuff too, I’ve seen non-guitar players learn this one in no time. My favorite memory of this song is from the movie Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey. When Bill and Ted were asked the meaning of life, they looked at each dumbfounded for a moment and then proclaimed “Every rose has its throne, just like every night has its dawn…..”. Their answer was deemed acceptable. This song was a huge hit for Poison and reached number one. It seemed for a while the thing to do for a hard rock band in the eighties was to release an acoustically driven ballad. Many of them didn’t work for me, but for some reason this one did.
3. Wanted Dead or Alive, Bon Jovi. First question I will ask put forth to you all is this considered a ballad? It’s a slow rocker, but not a romantic one. It’s actually one of my all time favorite songs. Back in the day I loved the video and the lyrics. I still think the song is great.
2. Wheat Kings, The Tragically Hip. The Tragically Hip are known for their hard rock alternative music, but they have put out a few slower numbers that I have enjoyed (Long Time Running, Fiddler’s Green, Pigeon Camera, Scared, Ahead By a Century), but this one tops my list. It tells the true story of a man wrongfully convicted of murder. After twenty years in jail the verdict was overturned and he was released. As a teacher of English, I have often used this one with my students for an example of narrative poetry and the imagery throughout.
1. Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town, Pearl Jam. And the award for the longest song title goes to….Pearl Jam. As a side note does anyone know a song title longer than this one? I lost interest in many of the alternative bands that burst onto the scene in the early nineties, but I did stick with Pearl Jam. From their second release comes this slow haunting acoustic track about….well, an elderly women behind the counter of a small town. Every now and again a song hits you and you can instantly relate to it. Growing up in a smaller town as a child I often visited a small convenience store to buy candy, hockey cards, etc. The same lady served me for years until I left town for the big city and college life. Years later I returned as an adult, only to find the same person serving me. We stared at each other, but didn’t really talk. This song describes that moment to me.
I have put forth a few questions throughout this post, please feel free to answer any of them or share your favorite ballads.
Thanks to the Internet and my inability to stop snooping around on it, every concert I have attended in the last few years has little to no element of surprise. I remember going to concerts with my friends and fellow rock and roll enthusiasts back in the days before cyberspace. We would spend hours speculating about what the opening number would be, what surprises might occur on the set list and what would be played for the finishing songs and encore.
Now-a-days is a different story. It’s no one’s fault but my own, but every time I go to a concert I know the complete set list and often in the order it will occur. Thanks to YouTube I even know those great little concert surprises, such as a certain song played acoustically or an extended solo. In some ways, it can provide a little more excitement to the show. Before I saw Def Leppard this past summer I checked out the show’s intro on YouTube on a few occasions. It looked great and it built up some great anticipation leading up to seeing it up close and personal. I also knew the set list from start to finish. Although, it was a predicable set list anyway, there would have been a few surprises in there. I would have never guessed they would have played Switch 625, an instrumental song from the High N’ Dry album. I love this song and although I was excited knowing it was coming, it would have also been a great surprise.
So I have resolved that for the next few concerts I attend, I am not seeking out any set lists or any YouTube footage, just as an experiment, to see which experience I enjoy more. I’ll let you know how it works out…if I can keep this promise to myself.
What do you think? Would you prefer/enjoy knowing the details going in or would you rather have the element of surprise?
ACDC’s latest tour is about to get rolling and I want to see it. I thought my traveling for at least the rest of this calendar year was done, but I can’t stop thinking about the possibility of going and seeing this tour. To top it all off I have some friends approaching me about going. I live a very middle class life style and so far this year I’ve traveled and completed major renovations to my house. I am not sure if I can afford to hop on a plane again and head to Toronto or Boston (the two cities we are thinking about seeing them in). But then again, it’s ACDC!!!
As I write I am listening to their new single, Rock N' Roll Train. It sounds like every other song they ever put out…and it’s fantastic. Is there another band out there that has changed the least and remained as popular? To pull this off ACDC must be doing something right!!
Anyone out there planning on seeing them this time round or has seen them in the past?
I shall head back to torturing myslef over this decision. In the meantime, for those about to rock....I salute you!
I could keep this review short and sweet by saying, simply put, this album kicks ass! But allow me to elaborate somewhat.
Metallica was the band that first turned me on to metal, and it was their album, And Justice For All, that really did it for me. This recording takes me back to those days. It’s all there, from James Hetfield’s guitar riffs, to Lars Ulrich’s unmistakable drums, all blended together into a collection well crafted epic metal masterpieces. In fact, a lot of these songs are hovering around the 8 minute mark or longer.
The album starts off with an awesome track, That Was Just Your Life. In true metal fashion it starts off with a slow guitar riff, but soon plunges full steam ahead and sets the tone for the rest of the ride. I could go into a detailed description of every song on this one, as they are all great.
I will briefly mention the track, Suicide and Redemption, a great instrumental track clocking in at over nine minutes! I’ve always loved it when bands throw in an instrumental number, and this one delivers!
I will also mention the first single from the record, The Day That Never Comes. I started to hear about this one prior to the album’s release and it has been compared to the song One from And Justice For All. Although I think One may always remain my favorite Metallica song, or one of my favorite songs period, I won’t dismiss The Day That Never Comes either. It is one of the album's ten great tracks!
One of my favorite tracks is All Nightmare Long. It’s another epic masterpiece that hits just under eight minutes. In fact, one of the things I love about this record is the length of the songs. Of the 10 songs here, only one song can be considered short, My Apocalypse, and is in the 5 minute range, but it’s also a decent track.
Metallica fell under a lot of critisim the last number of years, but I was never so hard on them. However, something about this new release just feels right, which makes some of their previous releases feel a bit wrong. On this album Metallica are back, as good, or better than they ever were before. Grade A+
Favorite tracks: The Day That Never Comes, Judas Kiss, All Nightmare Long, Suicide and Redemption
Pictured above is a shirt my wife bought me for my birthday a couple of weeks ago. She knows me so well!
Well, life sure has taken a busy turn lately. My updates on here have been scattered as a result. I have my hands on the new Metallica album and have only managed one complete listen from start to finish so far. I usually like to give a few good listens before writing a review, but my early impressions are fantastic. I hope to write more on it sooner than later.
I am also hoping to pick up a copy of Manraze’s Surreal album. This is Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen’s side project, which features drummer Paul Cook formerly of the Sex Pistols and base guitarist Simon Laffy formerly of 70’s glam band Girl, which also featured Phil Collen. The single Turn it Up sounds great and I can’t wait to hear the rest. Hopefully, time will allow me to do so soon.
I have a few other things that I have been putting together and hope to post soon. I have been attempting to put together a list of my favorite rock ballads. I am finding this quite challenging because I never really enjoyed ballads. There are a few that I gave into over the years, and admittedly a lot of them are the cheesy ones from the glory days of hair metal.
So, I’ll be back soon. Thanks to everyone for continuing to drop by. Despite the busy schedule lately, I still plan on keeping this blog alive.
I don’t want to like it. I am trying to resist it. But…can’t…..fight…..it……any…..longer. I may as well give into that Kid Rock song, All Summer Long. It is so darn catchy and it seems everywhere I turn and hear it, and now I am finally starting to uncontrollably tap my foot to it. I have finally given in to it, I leave it on the radio, turn it up and listen. But still, there is something about it I don't want to like.
As soon as I get my hands on the new Metallica album, Death Magnetic, I’ll be listening and reviewing it here. A lot of buzz about this one and I have been looking forward to it. I’ve mellowed out a little lately and I am in need of a heavy dose of metal!!
Speaking of metal, if you are a fan of the genre, have you ever visited Metal Rules? It’s a great website, one of my favorites on the world of metal.
That’s all for now, will be back later this week with hopefully my thoughts on the new Metallica. Have a good one!
I hesitated to do a post like this. I am never one to criticize anyone for the type of music they like, just because it’s not my thing, doesn’t mean it can’t be yours. Whatever you like, then enjoy it and don’t defend it. Actually one of my pet peeves is when someone doesn’t like a certain song or type of music and make it their mission to try and convince those who do like it why they shouldn’t. Hey, if you don’t like, don’t listen and let those who do crank it loud.
So this post is just meant to be good hearted fun. We all have certain songs our there that for whatever reason make us cringe every time we hear them. Maybe it’s past experience that has mentally blocked you from ever caring to hear them again. Just as there are some timeless classics that will never grow old for you, there are some you can barely stand to stay in the same room while they are being played.
Here are five that I just cannot, never did, and likely never will enjoy. There are some great rock songs on the list, some very popular ones, from some talented artists, but these particular songs do not work for me. I’d be curious to hear from any of you out there with what songs make your list.
Boy I am putting myself out there for some criticism now, but remember, it’s just for fun. Here goes:
Paradise by the Dashboard Light, Meat Loaf. I was never really a fan of any of Meat Loaf’s music to be honest. I am not sure why, it sure is catchy. I can tolerate some of the songs, but not really this one, arguably his signature hit. Where I come from this is a wedding favorite and on many occasions I get nabbed into dancing with someone I don’t want to dance with, to a song I don’t like. And it’s so long!! Oh the horrible memories. How many times have I been in such a situation just waiting for Meat Loaf to “hurry up and decide” because “if I have to spend another minute with him I don’t think I could really survive”. I will give Meat Loaf some credit. I did see him perform as part of a festival and he put off a great live performance!! And yes, for the 60 plus minutes he performed, I may have even been a bit of a fan.
Old Time Rock and Roll, Bob Seger. I like Bob Seger and think he has put out some great rock songs. This one ever stirs memories of a classic scene in a great movie, Risky Business. But it’s one of these old cliché songs for me. You know the more I think about it, the more I realize how much weddings have ruined a lot of music for me. This is another wedding staple. Hmmmm…..maybe this post should have been called wedding music I hate. But then it would also be filled with Celine Dion songs.
Stairway to Heaven, Led Zeppelin. Whoa, if there are any Zeppelin fans reading they are probably wondering what on earth is wrong with me. Don’t get me wrong, I do like Zeppelin, but I am afraid this classic has to make my list. Sometimes a song simply gets worn out for you. I remember learning to play this one on guitar as a teenager. For days on end I would play this over and over thinking “wow, this is great, I can play Zeppelin”. I recall one day while playing thinking to myself – “why am I playing this all the time, I don’t think I even like this song very much”. From that moment on I started to like the song less and less. I always felt it was one of those songs that you are not allowed to hate, which makes me dislike it even more. But fear not Zeppelin fans, they do rock!!!
Hotel California, Eagles. I have to sadly admit that the Eagles were never for me. Again, I don’t dislike them, but I don’t really like them either. I can appreciate why people like their songs and on occasion have played some of them on acoustic guitar myself. However, I would never bother to put on an Eagles song to listen to on my own time. If it’s on the radio I can tolerate it, with the exception of this song. I recall a few weeks back Mike at Mr. Mike’s Media Madness told a story from his youth of an obsessive John Mellencamp fan that he had to endure. I had a similar experience with an obsessive Eagles fan. He wasn’t really a friend, but more of just an acquaintance. He would show up at our parties armed with his Eagles greatest hits cassette and blast it all night. He was one of those types that was oblivious to everyone else around him and didn’t seem the least bit bothered that the rest of us probably didn’t want to listen to this all night. When Hotel California came on he would almost zone out in a trance like state and sing along to this song with his eyes closed as if this was the greatest thing ever written in the history of music. I hate that song because of that guy. And I probably can’t appreciate the Eagles because of him too.
Mony, Mony, Billy Idol or Tommy James and the Shondells. Not much to say here that hasn’t been said above. It is yet another wedding favorite. Picture dancing with your 80 year old Aunt while everyone on the dance floor screams “hey Mother yada yada yada”. It just doesn’t work and creates long lasting detrimental effects that cause me to have unexplainable cold shivers every time I hear this song. However, I did have a positive Mony Mony experience at a Billy Idol concert this summer. Watching Billy Idol roam around the audience passing off the mic to people getting them to sing “the line” was priceless. But that’s it, not the song can go away again.
Barenaked Ladies are back with a brand new…..Children’s album! This new collection of songs called Snacktime probably won’t interest any of you out there unless you have children, and maybe it won’t interest you then. My kids’ one and only uncle dropped by to see them a couple of weeks ago and as he usually does, gives them a little something. This time it was this CD.
On a recent outing we brought this one along in the car and much to the delight of the whole family it was an enjoyable experience. The kids got a kick out of the songs and so did we. Some of the CD’s 24 songs are not that far off a regular Barenaked Ladies lighted hearted tune.
I like Barenaked Ladies for the same reasons I like Great Big Sea, as I mentioned in my previous post. It is pop music they way I think it should be played, by songwriters, using real instruments, with great melodies and vocal harmonies. Barenaked Ladies got their break in Canada when they recorded a version of Bruce Cockburn’s Lovers in a Dangerous Time. At the time, they were not signed to a record label, but the song started to get major airplay across the country. The band toured extensively and quickly gained a reputation for a great live show.
I was still in college at the time and was at the campus bar one Friday afternoon after classes. Waiting for my friends to arrive I decided to have a game of pinball. When I finished the person waiting behind me to play was Tyler Stewart, drummer for the Barenaked Ladies who were in town for a show. I recognized him from the video for the Bruce Cockburn song, which was also getting a lot of play. I struck up a conversation telling him that I really liked their version of the song. He thanked me and asked me if I was going to their show that night to which I replied that I certainly was.
Truth be told, I didn’t even have a ticket and didn’t plan on attending. But when my friends showed up I convinced them that we should check it out and we were lucky enough to get tickets for the second of two shows that weekend for all of nine bucks a piece. We had a great time; the band sounded awesome, were humorous and energetic. I have followed their career ever since.
Of course they went on to a record deal and ten releases later including a Christmas CD, live recordings and the most recent Children’s album. They have been in the news most recently for Steven Paige’s arrest for cocaine possession, ironically on the heels of the Children’s music. I wish Paige all the best and hope the band and gets back with a new recording for us adults and a tour to follow in the future.
Their on stage humor is often reflected in many of their songs, but they do range of music, both serious and funny. Here are my top 10 Barenaked Ladies’ songs:
10. *This is me in Grade Nine. From the album Gordon. A funny little number that takes me back to when I was in grade nine. Especially, the line “I guess I shouldn’t tell them that I like Duran Duran”. At the time a metal head like myself would never admit to liking some of their songs.
9. One Week, Their biggest hit from their biggest selling album, Stunt.
8. Who Needs Sleep? Also from Stunt. Finally, a song about something I have struggled with my whole life - insomnia.
7. Light Up My Room. Although One Week was the huge hit from the album Stunt, there were other great songs on this record, including this one.
6. *Jane. The lead off track from 1994’s Maybe You Should Drive.
5. *The Old Apartment. From 1996’s Born On a Pirate Ship. Moving around from apartment to apartment in my college years, this one was easy to relate to.
4. *What a Good Boy. Another one from Gordon. Barenaked Ladies show off their serious side here with this slow song.
3. *When I Fall. Another great serious slow song. This one from the Born on a Pirate Ship album.
2. Lovers in a Dangerous Time. The Bruce Cockburn cover that really put these guys on the map. It is a great song and one of my favorites to this day.
1. *Brian Wilson, From their first full length recording, Gordon. A great song, but my favorite version is the live version on the album Rock Spectacle.
* More than half of these songs above can all be found on my favorite Barenaked Ladies’ album, a live recording called Rock Spectacle. Although, I’ve indicated This is me in Grade Nine to be there, it is not listed on the track list. They do break into it for a few moments during the song If I Had a Million Dollars. The Rock Spectacle album captures the band at their best and the versions of the songs here are as good or better than the originals.
Great Big Sea's latest release, Fortune's Favour, is their most rockin' to date.
Hailing from Canada’s most easterly province, the beautiful Newfoundland and Labrador, come Great Big Sea, a great folk/rock band that are difficult to resist. Great Big Sea got their start playing traditional Irish sea shanties in what is known as a Newfoundland kitchen party, and from there moved in to local bars. Great Big Sea became known for their upbeat lively spins on the traditional music they were performing and quickly began winning over audiences. It wasn’t long before their audience expanded across Canada and recording deal was struck with Warner Music.
Although their recordings consist of traditional music, it also contains many original pop songs. It is hear, in my opinion that the band really shines. It is pop music as it should be, no techo beats, but played with guitars, base, drums and in Great Big Sea’s case, a multitude of accompanying instruments including tin whistle, violin/fiddle, accordion, piano, among others, not to mention their great vocal harmonies.
Over the years the band has released nine studio albums and 2 live recordings, many have which went gold and multi-platinum. But if you truly want to experience and appreciate Great Big Sea, you need to see a live performance. The band is known for their energetic concerts and their connection with their audiences. I’ve had the opportunity to see the band perform in small clubs and large sold out arenas. I can honestly say that of the many acts I have seen, I have not witnessed anyone connect to the audience like Great Big Sea. If you ever get a chance to see them live, even if you are not familiar with their music, I highly recommend it.
Their latest release, Fortune’s Favour, offers more rock/pop songs than traditional music. It is a fantastic album and really shows off the band’s musical and song writing abilities. Other albums have more of a traditional flavor with some originals mixed throughout. Only one of their recordings, The Hard and the Easy, contains all traditional music, which paid homage to the music of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Alan Doyle, one of the group’s front men, has become an accomplished producer and composer outside of the band as well. He has composed music for Canadian television and film and produced recordings of other local bands. However, most notably he produced and co-wrote songs for a recording by film star Russell Crowe. Apparently, Crowe was filming a movie and Great Big Sea was performing a concert close by. Crowe decided to check out the show and after the performance he became a huge fan and got in contact with Doyle when he set to record an album himself.
So go and see Great Big Sea if they are performing in your neck of the woods. They tour extensively through Canada, the United States and Europe. The size of the venue will likely depend on what part of the world you are seeing them in and how well known they are. But it doesn’t matter; you are likely in for a treat either way. If anyone out there does check them out for the first time, I’d love to hear their impressions. Also check them out on their official website: http://www.greatbigsea.com/
Here is my current top 10 list of Great Big Sea songs:
10. When I am King, (from the album Something Beautiful). Great Big Sea mostly use acoustic guitars, but they drive this one with the electric for a rock song about all of the things that would be different if “I were king”.
9. Goin’ Up (from the album Up). An original song with a traditional flavor. It is a great party song that captures the essence of what is known as a Newfoundland kitchen party.
8. Ordinary Day (from the album Play). Another great original and feel good upbeat song.
7. Consequence Free (from the album Turn). A great original that sings about something we have all wanted to be at some point in time – free of consequences.
6. Old Brown’s Daughter (from the album Turn). Over the years Great Big Sea have done some great a cappella numbers showing off their ability to harmonize. These songs usually come from the traditional/Irish/Newfoundland genre. I have fond memories of singing my two children to sleep to this song when they were babies. My vocals are not nearly as impressive as the boys of Great Big Sea, but it got my kids to sleep.
5. Old Black Rum. (From the album Up) Another fantastic Great Big Sea spin on a traditional tune. It is possibly the ultimate party tune.
4. Here and Now (from the album Fortune’s Favour). A great rock effort from their latest release that sings of the importance of living life in the present.
3. General Taylor (from the Play album). Another fantastic traditional a cappella song. They do a great live version of this and it’s been a standard in their set list for many years.
2. Feel it Turn (from the album Turn). Not a sappy ballad, but a beautiful original slow acoustically driven pop song.
1. Straight to Hell (from the album Fortune’s Favour). This is a new one and a great rock and roll tune. Great Big Sea use far more electric guitars on this album than any other. I couldn’t get enough of this song over the last few months.
This third album from Bon Jovi was a massive hit and put them on the map to stay over 20 years ago.
My wife is a huge Bon Jovi fan. I’ve always liked the band, and although they never topped my list of favorites, I have enjoyed them over the years. I have seem them perform on two occasions, my wife zero. Both my concert experiences were before our marriage and both were amazing shows. We have to make an effort to see them sometime in the next couple of years for my wife’s sake, and I am sure I won’t be disappointed in the concert either.
I have begun to respect Bon Jovi more as a band over the years. There is no questioning their lasting power and their ability to release solid records and put off great live shows to large audiences. They have changed, but never in a sudden and drastic way. They have evolved, but are still Bon Jovi.
The first time I saw Bon Jovi was towards the end of their tour supporting the Keep the Faith album. I thought this was a strong recording and offered at least 4 or 5 radio friendly popular singles, all of which were played that night. The show I saw would have been one of the last base guitarist Alec John Such played with the band. There have been reports that the rest of the band was displeased with his performance and he was dismissed of his duties. One thing that has always annoyed me is that they have never officially replaced him. I think Hugh Macdonald has been playing base with them ever since. However, he is never listed as an official member of the band, he is always listed as “with Hugh Macdonald”. I like a band to be a band, a complete unit, and if there has to be a lineup change, then so be it.
Bon Jovi started the concert that night with the lead off track from the Keep the Faith album, I Believe. In addition to their singles from that record, they played all the hits from New Jersey and Slippery When Wet. Jon, by himself, played one from his first solo release and the band accompanied him for Blaze of Glory from the same album. They played a couple from their earlier efforts, Runaway and In And Out of Love, and because the show was in December, a holiday song was added to the setlist. There was no denying that it was a very entertaining show.
I don’t own every Bon Jovi recording, but in any event here are my top 10 Bon Jovi songs.
10. I Believe. This song from the Keep the Faith recording is, for the most part, what I like my Bon Jovi songs to be, just fun easy optimistic songs.
9. Livin’ on a Prayer. This song and You Give Love a Bad Name were massive hits from the Slippery When Wet album. I prefer this one.
8. Lay Your Hands on Me. It’s a great arena rocker from the New Jersey album. Sounded great both times I saw them live.
7. Have a Nice Day. I never owned this album of the same name, but I loved this single.
6. Keep the Faith. A bit of a different song for them. I was surprised it was released as a single. I really liked it and it was nice to hear them put out something that wasn’t as radio friendly for a change.
5. Raise Your Hands. One of my favorite rockin’ tracks from their breakout Slippery When Wet album.
4. Who Says You Can’t Go Home, Another single from the Have a Nice Day album. A great feel good happy song.
3. Lost Highway. A nice mid tempo title track from their latest release of the same name. Strangely enough I was hearing this song a lot during a rather dark period in my life when dealing with a serious family illness. During the many drives to and from the hospital this song somehow seemed just right.
2. Summertime. A great upbeat feel good happy song. Probably the “happiest” song on the Lost Highway album.
1. Wanted Dead or Alive. I have always loved this song. Love to play it on guitar too. A great slow rock anthem.
One thing I love about music is the memories associated with it; a song or an album can instantly take you back to a certain time and place. Often when I hear a particular track I will instantly remember a certain time and what was going on in my life.
One of the funniest examples for me was during the holiday season. My friend and I were just teenagers and at the time really into Def Leppard’s Hysteria album, and during the break from school we were really stuck on the song Armageddon It. That season we listened to that song over and over to the point that we starting calling it a Christmas song. Now, over 20 years later, anytime I hear that song I think of the holidays. In fact, it stirs up more festive feelings in me than most traditional holiday music.
As this summer winds down I (I hate to say that), any of the songs below may remind me of the previous few months.
10. Take Me Home, Danko Jones. I wasn’t a big fan of the album it came from, Never Too Loud, but this song stuck with me a little. If I was ever on a short drive by myself, and wanted to listen to one or two songs, I often played this one.
9. Never Walk Away, Journey. This double CD set surprised me. The lead off track from the disc containing new songs in the set is another I may have played on short drives. Journey delivered on this release, a lot of the songs were fun summertime music.
8. Cheap Champagne, Sloan. This song comes from their album titled Parallel Play. It is a fun summer sounding album all round. This is one of my favorite tracks on it.
7. The Pretender, Foo Fighters. I was a little late getting the Foo Fighter’s latest release, Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace. This is one great album start to finish and throughout the summer I have listened to it a lot. The lead off song here is just the first of many great ones on the record.
6. Longest Days, John Mellencamp. This is another album that surprised me. I played the entire disc through many times over the last couple of months. When we were camping during those quiet moments at night when the kids were sleeping, it sounded great. This lead off track is one of my favorites on the album.
5. Go, Def Leppard. Finally, one of my long time favorite bands come back with a great album of original songs. And as fate would have it, Joe Elliot got sick back in April and had to reschedule Def Leppard’s Ottawa show for August. As luck would have it I was planning on visiting this city in that same month. The song Go is the lead off track, and apparently they added it their set list the night before I saw them. I love the track and was delighted to hear it live.
4. Summertime, Bon Jovi This one came along for me in the early summer phases. We have a tradition here at my home; every July 1st we celebrate Canada Day with great food, drinks and good times with 50 plus guests. I always make a mix of music for the event and this track was included. I recall standing in front of the BBQ, with the sun shining down, a cold beverage in hand while surrounded by many good friends and family as Jon Bon Jovi declared, “Feels something like summertime!” It was a near perfect moment.
3. Runnin Wild, Airbourne. This is one of many great songs from their album of the same name. I played this CD a lot in July, especially in my car. Be warned: This album may cause speeding!!
2. Straight to Hell, Great Big Sea. For readers who are not aware of Great Big Sea, they are a great Canadian traditional/folk/rock band. Their latest release Fortune's Favour is probably their most rockin' effort to date. The final track on it is a great rock song that tells the story of someone who makes a deal with the devil and exhanges their soul for a great life of partying first. It is humorous and a lot of fun, and it does rock. A full post on Great Big Sea is something I am planning on doing.
1. Vengeance is Mine, Alice Cooper. If Airbourne’s Running Wild was the album of July for me, then Alice Cooper’s Along Came a Spider was the album of August. I love this album and every song on it. Vengeance is Mine is the second track on it. Once I am listening to this one, I know I want to let it play through to the end, and often do.
What about you? What were you listening to this summer? Speaking of summer, enjoy the rest of it!
Some cover songs stay true to the original and some totally reinvent the song. There are some that are far better than the original and some are much worse. Here are ten that stood out to me.
10. Pour Some Sugar on Me, Cover by Emm Gryner. Original by Def Leppard. Emm Gryner is a Canadian signer-songwriter, but on her album Girl Versions she covers a variety of rock and heavy metal songs. Pour Some Sugar On Me never sounded so sexy as she slows it down and sings it accompanied by a piano. It is probably the most interesting and different cover on the list.
9. Like a Rolling Stone. Cover by the Rolling Stones. Original by Bob Dylan. It was fate that The Rolling Stones would eventually cover this song. Although I also love Bob Dylan’s original version of this classic, I also like how the Stones liven it up. Mick Jagger sings through the songs many lyrics very well.
8. Turn the Page. Cover by Metallica. Original by Bob Segar. Not too different than the original, but the guitars are more powerful. The song is about the frustrations from being on the road, and Metallica makes it sound angrier, as it should. I can feel the emotion more from this cover version.
7. Signs, Cover by Tesla. Original by Five Man Electrical Band. I have fond memories of this song and the album it came from, Five Man Acoustical Jam. I recall being a teenager playing this one often on my old acoustic guitar while everyone else sang along. I definitely liked Tesla’s version better than the original.
6. Rock On. Cover by Def Leppard. Original by David Essex. I don’t like the original version of this song. And I didn’t like Michael Damian’s version of this song in the 80’s. I shuddered when I heard Def Leppard were adding this one to their cover album. However, this version of the song finally won me over. About half way through the guitars hit loud and heavy and I think it finally sounds like it should. This song went over well and sounded fantastic at a recent Def Leppard concert I attended.
5. Smooth Criminal. Cover by Alien Ant Farm. Original by Michael Jackson. A Michael Jackson song never sounded so cool. I found this cover hard to resist and fun to listen to every time.
4. Whiskey in the Jar. Cover by Metallica. The original is an old Irish song but probably best known by Thin Lizzy who made it famous in the 70’s. Metallica’s version of this song is not overly heavy for them, but it is the heaviest version of the song I ever heard. Coming from the east coast of Canada, it is common to hear this song sung as a sea shanty, so I loved the change in pace with the heavy metal version.
3. The Zoo. Cover by Bruce Dickinson. Original by The Scorpions. These two versions are not overly different. Bruce Dickinson makes it sound fantastic. Come to think of it, he makes everything sound great. Have I ever mentioned I love Iron Maiden?
2. Boys of Summer. Cover by The Ataris. Original by Don Henley. I enjoyed Don Henley’s original version of this hit in the 80’s and remember it well when it came out. However, add some powerful guitar to suit my taste and I like this one even more than the original.
1. Hurt. Cover by Johnny Cash. Original by Nine Inch Nails. Occasionally, I like to step outside the world of rock. This Nine Inch Nails cover was truly haunting. The rest of the album, American IV: The Man Comes Around was great too.
You know I am sure there are many great covers over the years that I am forgetting. What are your favorites? Or what was worst cover version of a song you ever heard?
Alice Cooper is back with a brand new concept album titled Along Came a Spider. The concept here presents all songs from the point of view of a serial killer who goes by the name of Spider.
The biggest surprise I found after listening to this one a few times is how much I liked it. I didn’t really know what to expect here, I thought I would enjoy it on some level, but not nearly as much as I do. As I played this one through for the first time I thought, this is not bad, but I began to like it more and more after each listen.
Most of the songs are catchy, the guitars sound awesome, and I love the raw sounding drums as Alice’s scratchy voice takes us through the life of Spider. The whole the album has kind of a raw sound; nothing overproduced or too polished. It sounds like a young band on the verge of a great career. As usual, the theme of the concept album is secondary; this album sells itself to me on great rock and roll. However, for a concept album, the theme itself is mildly entertaining.
The album starts with a couple great tracks, I Know Where You Live and Vengeance is Mine, but it doesn’t slow down for me there, and in fact some of my favorite tracks come later in the disc. There are even a couple great ballads on here in the songs Killed by Love and Salvation.
I have tickets to see Alice perform live later this fall. I am sure his set will consist of mostly classics, but whatever he decides to give us from this latest release will be fine with me. Grade B+.
Favorite Tracks: Vengeance is Mine, (In Touch With) Your Feminine Side, Killed by Love, Salvation
I finally got around to watching Martin Scorsese’s Rolling Stones’ movie Shine a Light this summer. I misunderstood the gist of this film. For some reason I thought this was more of a documentary with a behind the scenes look at a recent string of Rolling Stones concerts, with some live footage throughout. However, this is basically just a concert film, shot over two nights in New York City’s Beacon Theater.
At the beginning, this movie does look like a documentary. There is some footage of the designing of the set, a meet and greet before the show with Bill Clinton and company, and lot of Scorsese desperately trying to get a set list from the band before he begins filming the concert. But once the first song of the night is played, Jumpin’ Jack Flash, it turns almost exclusively into a concert film. There is some old interview footage throughout, mostly with members of the band commenting on how long they think they will be doing this. The old footage contains some humorous moments, but nothing really new.
The Stones performance is impressive. Mick Jagger is his usual energetic self as he dances and struts around the stage and the rest of the band also sound just fine. A lot of the Rolling Stone staples are there and a few lesser known numbers as well. One of my favourite parts of the performance is when Keith Richards takes lead vocals for a couple of numbers. Addressing the crowd while smoking a cigarette he proclaims “It’s good to see you…it’s good to see anyone really”. The concert also contains three duets with Buddy Guy, Jack White and Christina Aguilera.
The Stones, now in their 60’s, continue to impress. One might think they should not be doing this at this point in their lives, let alone doing it so well as they do. They strut around the stage, smoke cigarettes, and dirty dance with Aguilera. Jack Black’s character from School of Rock would be proud. They are probably the ultimate “stick it to the man” band.
As a movie however, this by no means a definitive rock film. I didn’t love it, but I did like it. The concert itself is worth watching. Scorsese does a great job capturing a great performance by a great band.
Billy Idol gets the crowd going at Scotiabank Place.
Although Billy Idol was billed as a supporting act for Def Leppard on this evening, there were no doubt many in attendance just as excited to see this 80’s icon perform. Billy Idol performed for a little over and hour to a full house and had the crowd on their feet for much of the performance, so rather than simply mention him as an opening act in my Def Leppard concert review, I thought he was worthy of an individual post.
At some concerts the supporting act does not play to a full capacity, but everyone was seated on this night in time to watch both bands perform. The lights dimmed and somewhere from behind the stage Idol screamed a “Hello Ottawa, Billy Idol is coming and all hell is coming with me!” The crowd cheered as his band appeared, including his long time guitarist Steve Stevens, and they began to play Rock the Cradle of Love. Idol appeared to a large ovation and got the night going. Once everyone applauded and cheered Idol’s appearance, the opening number didn’t do much to excite the crowd. This was one of Idol’s post 80’s singles, and no doubt had far less nostalgic appeal than what was yet to come. The second number of the night, Dancing With Myself, got the crowd moving and singing along instantly.
Billy Idol played mostly familiar music much to the delight of the crowd. Included were hits White Wedding, Flesh for Fantasy, Eyes Without a Face, Rebel Yell and covers Mony Mony and LA Woman. He did throw in a few less familiar numbers throughout the night including John Wayne, from his newest greatest hits package and Ready, Set, Go from his days a part of Generation X. Although, I believe this song has been a part of his set list for some time and the crowd responded well to it.
The song I was looking forward to the least probably had the most entertainment value of the evening. Oh how I dreaded hearing Mony Mony. I never liked this song thanks to many weddings I have been to and have been forced to dance with Great Aunt So-and-So as everyone screamed Hey Mother……you know the line. However, when this song was performed the crowd was on their feet and singing along. Idol left the stage and went into the crowd. It went like this, Billy sang, “Here she comes now singing Mony Mony” – passed his mic to a member of the audience who then sang the infamous unofficial line of the song. He kept walking around the audience doing this for the rest of the song, all of which could be viewed on two of the large screens suspended above. It made for some very funny moments and a great part of the show.
Another show highlight was the performance of White Wedding. We were treated to a stripped down acoustic version of this song with just Idol and Steve Stevens on the stage. But fear not for those who wanted to hear the rockin’ version of this hit, about half way through Stevens traded his acoustic for an electric and the rest of the band joined in to proceed with the song as we remembered it in the 80s.
Idol has not changed much over the years. He has aged a little (just a little), but he looked to be in great shape and can still hold his own on the vocals. He had the crowd into that night and gave an awesome performance.
Def Leppard performing at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, Ontario.
Ottawa, Ontario and a sold out capacity crowd at Scotiabank Place was the scene for this stop on Def Leppard’s current tour. A crowd of a reported 13 000 eagerly awaited for the lads as the crew put the final touches on Def Leappard’s stage after supporter Billy Idol finished his set. The stage had a catwalk on the front that extended through the first several rows and a large catwalk elevated behind with Rick Allen’s drums in the center. There were several mics placed around the set allowing the band to move all over the large stage, which they did energetically throughout the night.
The house lights faded and a large screen, which stretched the entire length of the set from behind the stage, worked through an impressive visual display of images from the band’s early career up to the current Songs from the Sparkle Lounge release. All the while a guitar solo played through until the images ceased, and after brief moment of silence, a spotlight fell on vocalist Joe Elliot, and he simply proclaimed - “guitars”. At that point a power chord from Phil Collin was struck and it was back to Joe to declare - “drums”. That cued Rick Allen and within moments the band were belting out the first number of the night, Rocket, from the Hysteria album. The large screen continued to flash between various visually appeasing images, as well as the boys themselves as they energetically moved around the stage. An extensive light show also ensued and continued throughout the night. The tone was pretty much set for the evening.
The band, as expected, gave the crowd what they wanted. All the well known numbers from Hysteria and Pyromania, their two most successful albums, were there. The band has been known for being steady on performing these songs over the years and continuingly giving the people what they want. However, I was hoping to also hear some tracks from their latest release, their best effort in years in my opinion. And they did not disappoint in this department either giving three tracks in total from the new album. First up was the current single from the new album, C’mon C’cmon. It was met with a decent response as Joe did manage to get the crowd singing along in parts of the chorus. Shortly after the band played the lead off track from the new disc, Go, which did not get a great response from the crowd. Perhaps the best received new song of the night was Bad Actress, their first encore number. It went over well and sounded great performed live. Notably missing was the first single from the new album, Nine Lives.
One of the highlights occured midway through the night when the band performed a brief acoustic set performing Two Steps Behind and Brining on the Heart Break. Another highlight for me was the performance of Switch 625. For those unfamiliar, this is a great rockin’ instrumental number from their second release, High and Dry. I always loved this track and it was awesome to hear it live.
The show did not disappoint, the band once again looked like they were having a great time on stage and they sounded fantastic. Joe’s vocals held up through the show. He did appear to have some trouble with the highs on some songs, but he sounded just fine on more. The most impressive of the night were guitarists Phil Collin and Vivian Campbell. Their playing was tight and they looked as cool as ever on stage.
My only two slight criticisms of the show were as follows. At times I felt the sound was a bit too heavy on the base. However, it was only slight, and did not take away from the performance for me. Secondly, although Joe Elliot displayed about as much energy as he had 20 years ago and was as impressive as ever on stage, he did not interact with crowd much in between numbers. Like my first Def Leppard concert in ’92, for the most it was one song after another. I always enjoy a story or two from the band in between the music. It creates a kind of personal connection with the artists that you cannot get from a recording.
The band has been known for the live performance over the years and on this night it was easy to why. A 30 to 40’ish year old crowd sang along, danced and cheered loudly through the night. It was a great performance and fantastic night all round.
Here was the setlist in order: Rocket, Animal, C’mon, C’mon, Foolin’, Make Love Like a Man, Go, Love Bites, Rock On, Two Steps Behind, Brining on the Heartbreak, Switch 625, Hysteria Armageddon It, Pour Some Sugar on Me, Rock of Ages. Two encore numbers were Bad Actress and Let’s Get Rocked.
Hey everyone! I am heading off for a brief vacation, so no blog updates until the middle of next week. But thanks to everyone for visiting, I am really enjoying doing this and hearing from anyone who has left comments or emailed. A vacation wouldn’t be a vacation without some music in there somewhere. I’ll get the opportunity to check out Def Leppard this weekend and when I get back will have a post on the show. In the meantime I’ll sign out with a few notes, which may, or may not, interest you.
On the list of cool things to do I if you have the money and the time is the Pink Floyd cruise, being called the Great Gig in the Sea, setting sail to the Bahamas in May 2009. It will not feature any actual members of the band, but nightly performances from Think Floyd, the number one Pink Floyd production company in the United States. The cruise will also feature screenings of The Wall, trivia, games and more. Check out the Great Gig in the Sea website for details.
On the list of things to read is Steven Tyler’s autobiography, which he is set to pen. Rolling Stone reports that it will be the story of Steven’s career comeback. I guess he has to focus on the comeback because he probably can’t remember much about the early stages of his career. It should be an entertaining read.
On the list of upcoming things to watch is a new concert DVD from Bon Jovi set to be released by the end of 2008. My wife is the biggest Bon Jovi fan and I am guessing this one is going to be released just in time for the holiday season. Which also means I already know one item I will be purchasing for her. The DVD will feature footage from their last two nights of the Lost Highway tour at Madison Square Garden. We almost attended one of these shows, but our vacation plans had to be pushed back to August. So instead we will be catching Def Leppard, which is actually my preference. Lucky me!
Canadian rockers Danko Jones are back with their newest release titled Never Too Loud. I was looking forward to this one, as I had come to like the sounds of this band over the last few years. For those who may be unfamiliar, they are a hard rock trio from Canada who formed in the mid 90’s and have been flirting with mid level success ever since. Their music is hard-hitting, no-nonsense and fun rock. They sing about girls, relationships, being on the road and are a great party band. Not a party band in the sense of Poison, but a party band with more of a heavier edge.
After playing their newest recording off and on for about a month now, I can now safely say that I am a little disappointed. The album starts off with some great tracks. Code of the Road, City Streets and Still in High School all work for me in typical Danko Jones’ fashion. The next track on the disc is a bit of a departure from the rest and is an acoustically driven upbeat fun song called Take Me Home, which I also enjoy. However, somewhere close to the middle of the record, I start to lose interest. The songs all kind of blend together for me and nothing stands out. They are mediocre tracks at best and I don’t see myself having the desire to play this one from start to finish anymore.
However, I still recommend checking this band out if you are unfamiliar with their music. Perhaps start with some of their previous releases, such as Sleep is the Enemy, We Sweat Blood or Born a Lion. And there are also at least a few tracks on this one worth checking out. Grade C+.
Favorite Tracks: Code of the Road, City Streets, Still in High School, Take Me Home
This self titled Van Halen debut remains my favorite of their many recordings.
Van Halen is up there on my list of favorite bands. But not so much the Sammy Hagar Van Halen, it was the David Lee Roth years that I enjoyed the most. To me, the band never recorded a great amount of strong material during the Sammy Hagar years. I did think their first effort with Sammy, 5150, was a great album, but after that I didn’t embrace their other releases. And I tried; I had them all and wanted to love it. All the albums had their moments, but none were raised to the level of my affection of their previous material.
I also found the solo releases of David Lee Roth to be the same. They all had some tracks I enjoyed, but didn’t come close to the original Van Halen albums.
I paid least attention to Van Halen during the brief Gary Cherone era. I remember when news broke that the former Extreme lead singer would be joining the band. I thought Extreme had released some good albums and Gary’s vocals were solid. However, when this Van Halen album came out, titled Van Halen III, it seemed to pass everyone by without much notice. I owned it, but found myself not really even giving it a chance or listening to it very much.
Finally, the much talked about reunion happened and Dave rejoined the rest of the clan for a very successful tour. Well, the rest of the clan minus bass player Michael Anthony who was replaced by Eddie Van Halen’s son, Wolfgang. There have reports of a rift between Eddie and Michael since the Van Halen III recording session. Although many die hard Van Halen fans would have liked to have seen the original lineup together again, apparently young Wolfgang held his own just fine keeping up with his Dad and company.
The David Lee Roth reunion was a great success, their highest grossing tour to date. Still, what I would love to see is Michael back in the band, a new album recorded and a world tour to boot. Hey, how about a tour with both Hagar and Roth, where the band performs a set with each. Well, that would be dreaming for most Van Halen fans and probably one of the most unlikely things to ever happen in rock. I'll take another tour with Dave that hopefully I can get a chance to see next time round.
While we’re on the subject, here are my top 10 favorite Van Halen songs:
10. Jamie’s Crying, from the very successful self titled debut 9. Best of Both Worlds, from Sammy’s debut with the band, 5150 8. 5150, title track off Sammy’s debut 7. Runnin’ With the Devil, Great lead off track from their debut album 6. Ain’t Talking bout Love, Like so many Van Halen songs, hooks you in with a great riff. Also from their fantastic debut album 5. Drop Dead Legs, Great song from the wildly successful 1984 album. This album was also David Lee Roth’s last full length recording with the band. 4. Panama, One of 1984’s popular singles. 3. The Cradle will Rock, Great lead off track from the album Women and Children First. 2. Hot For Teacher, The lead in drum intro, the guitar and Dave all sound great on this one. It’s another single from 1984. 1. Unchained, A solid heavy rocker from the album Fair Warning, which was actually one of their least successful releases with David Lee Roth.
Unfortunately, I did not see Van Halen’s most recent tour with David Lee Roth and Wolfgang Van Halen, but would love to hear from anyone who has.
Wow – lots up upcoming releases that I am looking forward to listening to and reviewing. Much of the information below comes from my own daily readings from various websites, magazines, etc. In some cases, I’ve picked up info from some of the excellent blogs listed to the right, be sure to check them out. Credit is given in each of those cases.
In any event, here are some CDs that I look forward to spinning.
ACDC Sometime before the end of the year, the much anticipated new ACDC album should be on the shelves. They have been recording in Vancouver and it will be their first release since Stiff Upper Lip back in 2000. It sounds strange to say ‘back in 2000’ doesn’t it? According to Rolling Stone the new single titled Rock and Roll Train should hit the airwaves later this summer. Even more exciting than the new album, Rolling Stone also reports that ACDC will kick off a massive 18 month world tour on Halloween in Chicago. Perhaps somewhere during their travels and mine, I will get the opportunity to take in the show.
Metallica This fall Metallica’s latest release, titled Death Magnetic will be available. It is said to be a return to a heavier and speed metal style. I enjoyed Metallica’s ‘less heavy’ records, but am looking forward to this return to speed too. The album is set to be released in September. There is a lot of hype surrounding it, and a lot of anticipation from various sources claiming it is their best work in years. Apparently, the lead off single can be compared to the song One from the And Justice For All album. One is my favorite Metallica song and the track that got me into to metal in the first place. Can’t wait to hear it!
Queen and Paul Rodgers This collaboration has been happening live for a few years, but now the former Free and Bad Company singer and the legendary Queen are set to release a new studio album in October. It will be interesting to see what type of new songs this merger will bring.
U2 Another chapter to the legendary band’s career will begin in November with the release of their new album. I am sure another world blockbuster tour will follow, and another one I would like to see. Thanks to Layla’s Classic Rock Faves for this tip.
Tesla Thanks to Night Watcher’s House of Rock for the tip that these 80’s rockers will be releasing a new album later this fall. Tesla have made a bit of resurgence in the new millennium. They had a couple good rockin’ recordings in the 80’s that I enjoyed, The Mechanical Resonance and The Great Radio Controversy. They have also often been credited with starting the whole unplugged phenomena with their 1990 release The Five Man Acoustical Jam. Their newest effort will be available in November.
Guns N’ Roses?? I put a question mark on the end of this new Guns N’ Roses release, titled Chinese Democracy, because I am not sure what the latest is on the saga of this much talked about recording. There has been much speculation and anticipation surrounding this album. Not the original lineup of Guns N’ Roses, but Axl Rose and his current band apparently have this one in the books. There have been reports that the album, that has been a long time in the works, has reached production costs of upwards of 13 million dollars! After several reported attempts, for one reason or another, its release keeps getting delayed. After Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction, which I thought was fantastic, I paid little attention and didn’t think too much of their other recordings. But I must admit, with all the drama having played out here, I am looking forward to seeing what Axl has in store for us on Chinese Democracy.
Slash Speaking of Guns N’ Roses, their former lead guitarist, Slash, is working on his first ever solo album. His current band, Velvet Revolver, is searching for a new lead singer. In the mean time, Slash is working on the solo project. Should be very interesting to see what Slash has to offer here.
I love Heavy Metal, but I was a little late embracing this genre. Through the 80’s I was into the glam metal and the hair bands, but didn’t discover my love of true heavy metal until the latter part of the decade. I purchased Metallicia’s And Justice For All in 1988 and fell in love with the album. From there I started venturing out in to Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Helloween, among others. I still listened to all the other forms of music I had previously enjoyed, but added Heavy Metal to the list of musical styles that suited my personal taste.
I often have to defend metal more than other genres. There are those I have encountered who just can’t understand my fascination with this form of music. I try to explain that I love the energy, the lyrics and the unpredictability of a metal song. When listening to a metal song, you are often not sure what direction it will take, as it often doesn’t follow the formula of a ‘normal’ rock song. Sometimes, the number of riffs could be removed from one good metal song to make 3 or 4 rock songs.
Here are my five favorite metal bands.
5. Edguy Hailing from Germany, they are the newest band on my list. They do borderline metal/hard rock and even have a touch of hair band sound in them. However, I clearly rank them as a metal band. They have lots of energy, great lyrics and big choruses. Perhaps the reason why I like them so much is because they sound like such a great blend of all my favorite musical styles.
Favorite Album: Rocket Ride. If you heard this album only, you would likely classify Edguy as a hard rock band. A close second for me is Hellfire Club. Their newest disc is due out in November.
4. Gamma Ray Guitarist, vocalist and songwriter left an awesome metal band, Helloween, in the late 80’s to form another awesome metal band, Gamma Ray. They first appeared on the scene in the early 90’s when I was really embracing metal as hair bands were fading fast. Grunge was taking over, and although I bought into it somewhat, I still preferred the sounds of such bands as Metallica and Megadeath at the time. Gamma Ray came along at just the right time for me and has released a string of great albums since.
Favorite Album: No World Order released in 2001 is my favorite Gamma Ray effort from start to finish.
3. Metallica These guys were the first for me. They have a wealth of great material. They have received some criticism from metal fanatics for becoming too commercial over the years. I am not so hard on them, even if the music was a little more commercial, it was still metal and Metallica moved it right into the mainstream. Favorite Album: And Justice For All is still my favorite. Contains the great song One, which has a great music video, which is based on a great book called Johnny Got His Gun.
2. Judas Priest: They have been called metal gods and are one of the most influential acts of the genre. Few bands do it better, and many would argue that no one does. Famed singer Rob Halford had a lengthy hiatus from the band in which they continued to record and tour. However, with Halford’s return in recent years, the band is back as great as they ever were.
Favorite Album: Angel of Retribution. With the many fantastic albums they have put out over the years, I am putting this 2005 release at the top. It marked Halford’s return and one of the best metal albums I have heard from start to finish in a long time.
1. Iron Maiden One of my all time favorite bands - period. They embrace everything I think is wonderful about Heavy Metal. I enjoy every Iron Maiden album; there is not one that I would give a poor rating. Famed vocalist Bruce Dickinson has also released some strong solo efforts too, all of which I think are great. I even like Dickinson’s first solo album Tattooed Millionaire, which was criticized for being a departure from metal. The band continues to thrive and perform in front of large crowds worldwide. And they are on top of my list of concerts I want to attend.
Favorite Album: It is tough for me to pick a favorite Maiden album, but I’ll go with Number of the Beast.
The great music keeps rolling along. Here are two quick reviews of a couple albums I have been listening to this week.
Foo Fighters’ Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace was out in 2007. I didn’t get around to picking it up until a couple of months after its release, and didn’t get to give a few good start to end spins until a couple of months after that. What wasted time it was because this is one great record. The Foo Fighters continue to display their talents as musicians and songwriters, as well as their show off their diversity. The album has great melodic rockers, slow and mid tempo acoustic numbers and even some sultry piano. I can’t say there is a weak track on here. Grade A+
Favorite Tracks: The Pretender, Let it Die, Stranger Things Have Happened, Summers End, The Ballad of the Beaconsfield Miners
Hailing from Canada’s east coast come alternative rockers Sloan. Not sure how many readers outside of Canada are aware of this band, but they have been recording and touring in the great white north since the early 90’s. Their most recent release is titled Parallel Play and simply put is one great fun summer record. There are many times during this album that I can picture 5 people in a convertible, swaying their heads back and forth in unison as they drive to the beach. But to clarify for those not familiar with their work, this is not the Beach Boys. This is for the most part uplifting alternative rock and roll. Grade B+.
Favorite Tracks: Believe in Me, Cheap Champagne, The Dogs, Living the Dream
I’ll be seeing Def Leppard perform in a little over a week and will be reviewing that show right here of course. So I thought what a great time to reflect upon my first Def Leppard concert back in 1992. I have written about this show briefly before, but here’s a more thorough review, as well as my memory serves me.
I grew up with Def Leppard since the Pyromania days and I was pumped to have the chance to see my teenage idols perform live. They were towards the end of the tour supporting the Adrenalize album, and a huge crowd gathered for this outdoor concert. They were the headliners that evening for a show that also included April Wine, Ugly Kid Joe and Meat Loaf.
I was not overly interested in any of the other performers, but watched them all. Briefly, my thoughts on the supporting acts were as follows. April Wine did not put off a good performance and the sound left much to be desired. Ugly Kid Joe had a few moments and were mildly entertaining. I did have their America’s Least Wanted album, and thought it was ‘OK’ at best. ‘OK’ best described their set that night too. Next up was Meat Loaf. I am not, and never was, a fan of Meat Loaf’s music. However, for the 60 plus minutes he performed that evening, he was very entertaining. He displayed great stage presence, got the audience into it and sounded spot on. This was an outdoor concert, and during Meat Loaf’s set I politely edged my way forward. By the time the crew were setting up for Def Leppard there was nothing in front of me but the stage.
It was just dark by the time Def Leppard hit the stage, which served well for the laser lights that danced through the air during the show. The band walked out and the first two notes of Rock Rock ‘Til You Drop (from Pyromania) were struck. A strobe light flashed in the darkness as Joe Elliot literally jumped up and down over and over again while the song’s intro was played. Once the stage was fully lit Joe grabbed the mic while wearing a plain white t-shit with the word ‘Slut’ right across it’s front.
Watching this concert was very similar to watching their ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ and ‘Armageddon It’ concert videos. They looked and often acted the same. But if they were just going through the motions that night, you certainly couldn’t tell. The band had plenty of energy and fantastic stage presence. Base player Rick Savage seemed to do the most to connect with those of us in front, as he spent most of his time in between songs passing out high fives to us all. Joe did speak to the crowd on a few occasions throughout the show, but for the most it was one song after another.
The setlist that night was as follows. They opened with Rock Rock Til You Drop, Women was second, and Another Hit and Run (from High and Dry) was third. From here I can’t recall the exact order but they performed Rocket, Animal, Pour Some Sugar On Me, Armageddon It, Hysteria, Foolin’, Two Steps Behind, Make Love Like a Man, and Bringin’ on the Heartbreak. They closed the set with Do You Wanna Get Rocked? After a brief intermission they played two numbers for the encore, first Love Bites and then ended the night with Rock of Ages. The band sounded great as they performed all of these songs. One criticism the band has met over the years is that Joe Elliot’s vocals can be shaky at times. Not the case for this show, as good a singer as Joe can be, he was this evening. There was a lengthy ovation after the final number of the night.
I can’t say much negative about this concert. It would have been nice if they played a little longer, but it was an outdoor concert in the middle of a city and didn’t start until dark. Also, they didn’t play one of their signature songs from Pyromania, Photograph. Apparently, that song has found its way back into their set list. So how will Def Leppard 1992 compare to Def Leppard 2008? Stayed tuned, in less than two weeks I should have a full review of the new show posted.
There have been many memorable movies centered around the world of rock and other musical genres. Here is my personal top 10. I haven’t included musicals or documentaries (real ones anyway). Enjoy.
10. Rock Star I was really looking forward to this one after seeing the trailers, but it didn’t live up to the hype for me. However, I did enjoy the idea of a regular guy, who could be any one of us who loves music, getting the chance to become the new lead singer of his all time favorite band. Also, the band in the movie, Steel Dragon, could have easily been one of several hair bands I listened to back in the 80’s. For those reasons, it makes my list.
9. High Fidelity Although this movie’s plot centers around the main character’s breakup with his girlfriend and his other five most memorable splits, it is the conversations in the record store where most of the movie is set that gets it on my list. The banter between actor’s Jack Black and Todd Louiso and the customers in the store as they show off their musical knowledge and create their top 5 lists, make this one worth the price of admission.
8. The Doors It’s been a while since I seen this movie. But what I remember most about the film is Val Kilmer’s haunting portrayal of Jim Morrison. Oliver Stone directs this movie that covers the rise and fall of the famous band and lead singer.
7. The Commitments Set in Ireland, it follows a group of unemployed people who form a band. It also features great performances, both acting and musical. The Commitments, containing at least some of the actors in the film, are now a real touring band.
6. Walk the Line Great acting, great singing, great story, this movie had it all. The Johnny Cash biopic was popular with critics and audiences alike, and it was easy to see why.
5. School of Rock I just loved Jack Black in this movie as he portrayed a man obsessed with rock music and refusing to let it go even in the slightest way. Jack Black’s rants on the real and true purpose of rock and roll – stickin’ it to the man, are priceless. Apparently there is a School of Rock 2 in the works.
4. Wayne’s World If there was a character I ever related to in the movies it was Wayne Campbell. For a few years in my life, I was very similar to Wayne, including his musical interests, and fashion choices (hat, hair, t-shit and jeans). I saw this one on opening night and the theatre was full of enthusiasts. There were moments of applause and cheers; it was almost like being at a rock concert. The sequel was not as strong, but also provided a lot of laughs and was a memorable film as well.
3. Almost Famous I loved this movie. The plot covers the adventures of a teenage boy who gets a chance to write a story for Rolling Stone on an up and coming band, Stillwater. It is a coming of age movie, but it’s also fun to watch the portrayal of the band, and the boy’s interaction with them and their crew. It features a great scene when everyone on the tour bus, tired and haggard from the road, breaks into Elton John’s Tiny Dancer.
2. Hard Core Logo This is a fantastic Canadian movie. It is a mock documentary that follows the trials of a punk rock band called Hard Core Logo. The movie is a dark and tragic tale, and stars Hugh Dillon as the band’s troubled lead singer. Dillon is also known for fronting the Canadian band The Headstones, who had some success in the 90’s. An awesome movie!!
1. Spinal Tap This is not only my favorite movie on this list, but possibly my favorite of all time. I have seen this movie many many times. If I see it on TV, my initial reaction is – oh no, not this again. But after I watch for 30 seconds I am hooked and usually finish it right to the end. It is hilarious and contains one classic scene and line after another. I actually had the chance to see Spinal Tap perform in the early 90’s and they sounded great and were as funny as ever.
Journey is back with another new singer, a new album, and some old stuff repackaged and re-recorded all in a two CD set called Revelation. I never considered myself a big Journey fan. My memories of Journey mainly consist of a greatest hits cassette that one of my friends owned and insisted on playing in the car on a few college road trips, much to the dismay of the rest of us. Every time the cassette was inserted I used to shudder at the thought of hearing Don’t Stop Believing one more time. However, despite of this, there was a time or two we could have created one of those classic movie scenes where everyone breaks into song, similar to Bohemian Rhapsody in Wayne’s World or Elton John’s Tiny Dancer in Almost Famous. Picture five guys crammed into a Chevy Cavalier with bad moustaches and bad mullets wailing Don’t Stop Believing to the top of our lungs. I digress.
I am not sure if there is a lot of buzz about this latest Journey offering or not, but it seemed like everywhere I turned, I was reading something about the new album. Curiosity got the better of me and echoes of Don’t Stop Believing from days gone by would not stop running through my head, so I made the purchase. It contains a CD of brand new material and a second CD of all the old hits. But it’s just not the old hits digitally re-mastered and put into a new case, they actually went into the studio and re-recorded them all with their new lead singer, Arnel Pineda. Take that Steve Perry.
No mistake, the new material makes for a fun album. Listening to it made me feel like I was in the early to mid 80’s again. The guitars, keyboards and high-pitched vocals are all unmistakably Journey. There is a good mixture of upbeat tunes with the classic sounding Journey ballads. Towards the end of the disc, I find it starts to wear a little thin for me, but before it’s done there is an interesting instrumental track called The Journey (Revelation) that I like. If you are a fan of Journey, I don’t think you will be disappointed here.
The second CD contains all the songs that you would want to hear at a Journey concert, Don’t Stop Believing, Faithfully, Open Arms, Anyway You Want It, etc. In re-recording these hits they’ve stayed very true to the originals, but the sound quality has naturally improved and they have a bit of a fresh feel to them. Arnel Pineda does them all justice, and many times it sounds as if Steve Perry himself is still on vocals. It makes for another very fun disc.
Overall, a strong offering and it was better than what I ever expected it to be. This one will definitely get some playing time from me. I even attempted to serenade my wife in the car with the new version of Don’t Stop Believing in the background. Steve Perry or Arnel Pineda I was not, but at least my moustache and mullet are gone. I give the album a grade of a strong B.
Favorite Tracks: Never Walk Away, Like a Sunshower, Change for the Better, The Journey (Revelation) and yes…Don’t Stop Believing.
Wow!! That was my first reaction to this latest recording from John Mellencamp, Life, Death, Love and Freedom. I haven’t paid much attention to Mellencamp since I last owned The Lonesome Jubilee in the late 80’s. I’ve heard all the singles since, and some of the other songs, but never really embraced any of it. However, I was in the mood for something a little different, and picked up this one on a whim after reading the review over at Layla’s Classic Rock Faves.
This album is truly unique and if I had to pick only one word to describe it, it would be haunting. Gone are the pop radio friendly singles and what’s left is a folk rock collection of powerful, emotional and raw songs. The opening track, Longest Days, is a stripped down acoustic gem. It sets the somber and dark tone that follows right through to the end of the album. In some earlier posts I talked of my affection for Blue Rodeo and Neil Young. For the same reasons I like those artists, I like this recording. For the rest of the summer, it will be this CD that I listen to when I am sitting on the deck as dusk turns to dark and relinquish in the peacefulness of the quiet evenings that I enjoy so much this time of year.
If you are looking for something to put on at a party or have a sing-a-long to in the same vein as R.O.C.K in the USA, Jack and Diane, Pink Houses, or the many other popular Mellencamp tracks, then forget about this one. But if you want to sit back and be taken away in the melancholy of some great music and lyrics, then purchase this disc. For what it is, it is a near masterpiece. Grade A+
Favorite Tracks: Longest Days, Young Without Lovers, Jena, Mean
In 1994 Our Lady Peace were just starting to make some noise and touring in support of their debut release, Naveed. The night I saw them was not in a large arena, but in a campus gymnasium with about 1000 others crammed into this small venue. I had owned their debut album and liked it very much and hoped I was in for a treat that night. A band full of energy and anger walked out on stage ready to put off a show. Over the years, the angry side of the band has waned, but that’s ok to my taste. The band was also very loud, something I rarely complain about at a concert. But it was not a good loud, the sound was often distorted and muffled. Perhaps this was not the fault of the band so much as it was the venue they were playing in. Throughout the night the crowd got livelier and livelier with the amount of alcohol being consumed no doubt playing a role. This was on campus after all, and at times there were as many people in front of the bar as there was in front of the stage. It wasn’t long before the body surfing began and the bouncers decided, or were ordered, to remove those involved from the premises. At this point the music stopped and lead vocalist Raine Maida screams into the microphone that those guys bought a ticket like everyone else and they had to come back. He said the band would not play another note until they returned. The band just kind of stood on the stage, did nothing and waited. The bouncers, for a few moments, did the same thing on the floor. They looked at each other and wondered what to do. It didn’t take long for someone to realize that the band was serious, the removed patrons were soon returned and the show continued. There was no music for about 10 minutes at least. As the band played on we heard just about the entire Naveed CD, but the sound still left much to be desired. All in all, it was an interesting night, but overall, not a great concert. I am sure Our Lady Peace put off many great shows over the years, and the many great songs they now have to draw from must help. In fact I have seen some great live footage of them over the years, but this one show early in their career did not work for me.
There has been no shortage of great rock produced by Canadian talent. Although there are many, here is my personal top five.
5. Our Lady Peace. I got to see this band play live in their early days and although the show had some interesting moments, I wasn’t wowed. I plan on sharing this show’s experience with everyone at a later time when I write about other past concert experiences. Over the years Our Lady Peace won me over as they continued to produce good music that I started to like more and more. They have no one album that I can say is super, but they are all at very least good. I have pulled tracks from each disc and made up my own Our Lady Peace compilation. If you are new to their music, check out their greatest hits package called A Decade. It also contains a DVD featuring some great concert footage, unlike my experience.
Favorite Album: Clumsy. A great effort containing mostly all strong songs.
4. Neil Young To be honest, I debated even putting Neil Young on this list. One may question that, but this is a list of personal favorites only. I can go months and months without even listening to Neil Young, or ever wanting to. Many people either love or hate Young’s music. But there have been periods in my life where I have listened to a lot of his music and enjoyed it thoroughly. Some nights, when sitting and relaxing on the deck on a clear and quiet summer’s evening, there is nothing else that should be played other than a Neil Young album. There is no question of his uniqueness as an artist, ability as a songwriter and influence on many other musicians. Because there were periods in my life when I thought Neil Young was the best thing to happen to music, he has to go on my list.
Favorite Album: Harvest Moon. My favorite simply because I listened to this one the most on many an evening as described above.
3. Blue Rodeo They might not seem to fit with most of the other bands on this blog, as they do cross over into country and folk-rock. However, when listening through Blue Rodeo’s body of work you can also hear influences of Neil Young, The Band and when that organ gets going at times, it even sounds like the Doors. They are one of those bands with the ability to take you away with a haunting song, stir up some old emotions and take you back to a certain time in your life, as if a song was written just for you. Jim Cuddy and Geoff Keelor are crafty songwriters and storytellers. I have a mix CD comprised of my favorite Blue Rode songs, and when the mood is right, it’s just about the most perfect thing I can play.
Favorite Album: Five Days in May. Captures those haunting and emotional songs at their best.
2. Rush It’s also hard to describe in words Rush’s musical style. They are often labeled as a progressive rock band, although over their thirty plus years in the business there is evidence of other styles and influences as well. I simply classify them as a great rock band, and one of Canada’s longest and most well known success stories. I first started listening to Rush in the 1980’s when Hold Your Fire was released. The track Time Stands Still on that album remains one of my favorite Rush songs to this day. Rush, of course, is also known for their famous and one of the world’s greatest drummers, Neil Peart. Rush continues to tour successfully and record and I am just waiting for them to come round these parts to see the show.
Favorite Album: Moving Pictures. Their biggest selling and I agree with the masses on this one.
1. Tragically Hip My favorite Canadian band bar none. I own every Hip CD and they all rank from very good to awesome. There is the odd song that I could leave or take, but I can’t say this band has put out anything that deserves to be permanently shelved. The band has reached superstar and legendary status in Canada, but never found that same level of success elsewhere. Back in the mid 90’s they did appear on Saturday Night Live and were introduced by fellow Canadian, Dan Ackroyd, as the next big thing. However, it didn’t happen in the US. In Canada, despite the fact of being a much smaller market, their popularity did not wane, and they continue to thrive. If you like hard, but not heavy, alternative rock and great lyrics, you can't go wrong with The Hip.
Favorite Album: Road Apples. Although Fully Completely is regarded by many as their best, for me is a close second. Road Apples sounds more raw compared to the production value Fully Completely and all the songs are great.