The BourbonAndVinyl List of Groups Overdue for an LP Release

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 Album releases have become quite “the thing” these days. It appears that now, releasing an album that no one expects is the hipster thing to do. The surprise album “drop” like Beyonce or better yet, David Bowie (“The Next Day”) is in vogue. U2 even gave their last album away, much to many people’s consternation. People just woke up and “Songs of Innocence” was on their iPhone… very Big Brother if you ask me. In the old days, bands wanted all the hype they could get before their record came out. Usually a single or two would be released to stoke excitement. Shit, to hype a new album the Stones once set up their equipment on the back of a flatbed truck and drove around New York City playing their new music from “Some Girls” (or was it “Black and Blue,” I forget) to the bewildered pedestrians and traffic around them. Ronnie Wood almost fell off the truck. I suspect illegal substances were being used… but that’s just Ronnie.

Album releases are tricky to predict. It’s not like the movies, where there’s a “summer blockbuster” season or a Christmas movie season. I can remember driving a giant one-ton construction truck home from my summer job, my car was broke down, to have lunch and hearing Springsteen’s “Born In the USA” for the first time. I almost had to pull the rig over. I knew the album was coming out, but hadn’t known it was coming out on that day. As soon as I clocked off, I headed straight to the mall to buy the album. For a long time, to game the album charts, record companies would release albums on Tuesday to give a record all 7 days of sales to push the record as high on the charts as they could. Now records come out on Friday.

Lately I’ve noticed there seems to be a  dearth of new music coming out. Bands I know and love who are still out there touring just don’t seem to be releasing new music. Or if they are releasing new music they’re taking years and years to get it released. I get it, there doesn’t seem to be a market for older act’s music any more. They certainly aren’t getting played on terrestrial radio and barely on satellite radio. Sammy Hagar has refused to go back in the studio with Chickenfoot because as he said recently, “I don’t want to work for six months on music no one is going to hear.” I hear ya, Sammy.

The Beatles between 1963 and 1970, a span of 7 years, released 13 albums and one was a  double album. That’s a new album almost every six months. That doesn’t include the myriad number of singles they put out, enough to fill a double LP in and of themselves. That’s a pretty intense schedule. Now we sit and wait and wait for new stuff to come out. There are a number of bands that I’ve noticed are way overdue for a new record. If I’ve missed somebody, please add them in the comments. These bands need to get off their ass and get some new music out. Nobody likes a nostalgia trip… tours take on more meaning when there’s new music to be heard.

In order to help make my case, I will list the band name, their last record and it’s release year…

  1. The Rolling Stones – A Bigger Bang, 2005 – I have never mentioned this in B&V but the Stones are the pinnacle of rock and roll for me. “Some Girls” was the first album I ever bought with my own money. I love the Stones and will travel about anywhere to see them. My buddy Steve helped me see them in New Jersey on their 50th Anniversary Tour, an event I will never be able to repay him for. I can’t believe it’s been over a decade since the Stones put out the awesome late career gem, “A Bigger Bang.” That record was so strong I hoped it would spark a new creative period for the Stones but alas, no. I hear they’re in the studio, but then I heard over the course of a week in December or January they banged out an entire album of blues classics and they might release that. I say, keep working on the new stuff, release the blues thing and we get the best of both worlds.
  2. Steely Dan – Everything Must Go, 2003 – I know these guys have  more music in them. Donald Fagan released a very strong solo album a few years ago, “Sunken Condos” but it’s time Walter Becker joins him in the studio.
  3. The Who – The Endless Wire, 2006 – I just saw the Who live and they still have the fire… It’s been a decade Pete, c’mon. “The Endless Wire” even had a mini-rock opera, “Steel and Glass.” Daltrey did a great album, “Going Back Home” with Wilko Johnson a few years back proving he’s still got the passion in his voice. I’d love a little more Who, I mean, who wouldn’t?
  4. Metallica – Death Magnetic, 2008 – These guys have been promising a new album for a couple of years now. I’ll believe it when I’m  holding it in my hands. “Death Magnetic” was a fantastic return to form for this band. I hear the new stuff will be more like the “Black Album” but they are taking forever.
  5. Guns N Roses – Chinese Democracy, 2008 – Am I nuts to think Slash, Duff and Axl will end up in the studio after their triumphant reunion tour. I can still dream can’t I? It’s been 8 years since Axl’s magnum opus “Chinese Democracy,” surely he’s got something new?
  6. Green Day – Uno, Dos, Tre, 2012 – I can’t believe it’s been four years since Green Day went nuts and released three albums at time, and then Billie Joe Armstrong had his meltdown. There was probably one classic record hidden amongst these three albums. I was glad to see them drop the rock opera thing and just cut songs. Billie Joe did a duet album of Everly Brothers songs with Norah Jones, which was solid, quiet little album in 2013 but nothing since…
  7. Norah Jones – Little Broken Hearts, 2012 – Speaking of Norah Jones it’s been 4 years since her last solo record (“Foreverly” w/ Billie Joe Armstrong, aside). I know, I know, she’s not rock and roll per se, but she sings like an angel. Whenever I hear her voice I stop what I’m doing and just stare at the stereo. If I die and hear her voice, I’ll know I’m in Heaven. If I hear country music, I’ll know I’ve been a very, very bad man.
  8. Randy Newman – Harps and Angels, 2008 – Many people hate Randy Newman. I am not one of them. “Short People” was a joke, folks. He was being satirical and trying to make a statement about bigotry. “Harps and Angels” had some wonderful political satire and God knows, America could use some of that right now. And, the song “Potholes” is one of the funniest fucking songs he’s ever done.
  9. Depeche Mode – Delta Machine, 2013 – I loved this oddly bluesy album. Depeche has been on a hot streak of late. I also loved Dave Gahan’s record with the Soulsavers, “Angels and Ghosts.” I’m ready for some more Mode!
  10. Fleetwood Mac – Say You Will, 2003 – Christine McVie is back in the fold. Lindsey is releasing more music these days than he’s ever done. Likely the problem is Stevie Nicks who keeps thinking she’s going to regain her “Bella Donna” era fame… Stevie has released a couple of great solo albums of late, but it’s time for a Mac Attack.
  11. Paul McCartney – New, 2013 – Sure, it’s only been 3 years, but this was a guy who was in the Beatles who released music every six months… He seems to spend all his time in the studio or on the road. “New” was the last in a succession of great LP’s that McCartney has been releasing that began with “Flaming Pie.” His late period albums have been really great, quite like Bob Dylan. Do yourself a favor and explore his later catalog. “New” was so good, I”m ready for more.
  12. No Doubt – Push And Shove, 2012 – I never liked No Doubt until I saw them live. They were loud and they rawked! Gwen Stefani, when she’s not fucking about on her solo crap, is a charismatic and energetic front woman. I know she’s off doing her solo stuff now, which I despise, while her former band mates are carrying on with another singer. Let’s settle this little rift and get back together kids. Come home, Gwen, all is forgiven.
  13. Gregg Allman – Low Country Blues, 2011 – The Allman Brothers are now defunct, sadly. Gregg’s last solo album, “Low Country Blues” was a great T Bone Burnett produced album of blues classics. I’d like to see Gregg write some stuff, let T Bone produce, but can we bring the organ sound back up in the mix a little this time? “Laid Back,” Gregg’s first solo album is one of my all time favorites. He’s sober, he’s been touring so his voice is likely strong… now is the time!
  14. Bruce Springsteen – High Hopes, 2014 (really it’s Wrecking Ball, 2012) – Sure, Springsteen released the strong “High Hopes” in 2014 but it was a group of songs that were left over from his previous two or three records. So, his last actual album of new stuff was 2012’s “Wrecking Ball.” I wasn’t crazy about “Wrecking Ball,” it was ok, but I liked “High Hopes.” I just read Springsteen is putting out a companion disc with his biography of “greatest hits”and a few unreleased early tracks but I’m ready for a full album of new stuff. I hear he’s got a solo record in the can, but I’d rather hear him with the E Street Band… we’ve already lost Clarence and Danny, how much time can Bruce afford to waste here? The band sounds great on the River Tour, lets take that energy into the studio.
  15. The Faces – Ooh La La, 1974 – OK, as everybody whose read B&V knows, I’m obsessed with Rod Stewart reuniting with the Faces. I know Kenny Jones and Ronnie Wood are the only remaining members (besides Rod) left but Goddammit I love the Faces. How kick ass would it be to see those guys put out an album. The songwriting team of Stewart-Wood put out some of my favorite tunes. This is more of an inside joke than anything, but like GnR, I can dare to dream….

Cheers!!

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#SupportLocalArtists – Go See A Band This Weekend; Salina’s Rockgarden

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I can remember in college there were several kind of bars. There were pubs or taverns where you’d go to drink, talk loud and maybe shoot pool. These bars generally had juke boxes of varying quality. There were also “clubs” which typically had a dance floor, expensive drinks and music I considered awful. The third type of bar when I was younger, was a place with a stage or at least a cleared out part of the floor where a band could set up a drum kit and a few amps. The bands were like the juke boxes in the taverns, varying in quality, but I always loved going out to see a live band in a bar. My favorite type of bar in those days was probably a tie between the taverns with the juke boxes and the bars with live bands. Naturally most of the chicks were in the “clubs” dancing with sweaty dudes in polo shirts and a lot of Drakar Noir. At least I heard better music during this strange period of self-imposed celibacy.

As I’ve gotten older, I find myself drifting more toward dive bars with crusty bartenders, dark murky fluids and classic rock on the juke box or the house stereo. I’m not sure when it happened but I stopped going out for the express purpose of seeing a band. I’m not sure how this happened. I can still remember being on a road trip in college and walking into a bar just as the trio in the corner launched into “The Ocean” by Led Zeppelin. I can tell you that’s not a tune you’re going to hear very often by a bar band. These guys nailed it. My friends and I just plopped down at the bar, drank all the beer they had (or at least tried to), and didn’t leave til the band did.

I spent my summer after college in Boston working in a liquor store, where the employees taught me that summah was for drinking with your friends. There was a rough and tumble, heavy metal bar close to where we lived, named (if memory serves me) Bunratty’s (or maybe Bonratty’s, the accent always threw me off). We’d put on our shittiest clothes, and head down to hear whoever that night’s headbangers happened to be. You had to be careful at Bunratty’s… we’d heard a guy had been stabbed there, which I still think is a story the Boston-ites told us Midwest guys to freak us out. I remember seeing a few bands there and thinking, I’m going to see these guys in arenas some day. I’m still not sure any of them made it, but it was summer and I was drinking beer with friends… my judgement can’t be trusted.

After I returned from my Arkansas exile, back to Kansas City, the blues became central to my evenings out. There was a legendary blues bar downtown, the Grand Emporium. They had a poster on the wall of a July 4th concert that Stevie Ray Vaughn had played there and the ticket price was like, $4. Had I only known. I saw Koko Taylor there one night, Blues Royalty. I think it was Wednesday nights when the Grand Emporium held “Reggae Night” and you could go down and see the best reggae north of Jamaica. I seem to remember being especially impressed by a group named The Bone Daddys. Nice name, guys. I even saw the famous Chicago blues harmonica player Sugar Blue there…but I might be confusing that with Kingston Mines in Chicago.

Before I met the Rock Chick I used to spend my Saturday afternoons in a bar named Harlings, that smelled like they had a plumbing problem, but they had a blues jam hosted by Big Mama Ray, a woman who could be 40 or could be 90… too hard to tell behind those Marlboro 100s. After the blues jam was over we’d wander down to the Hurricane and catch the locally famous Bon Ton Soul Accordion Band. I won’t even begin to attempt to describe the cajun gumbo of sounds those guys made. I was lucky if I made it to 10 pm on those nights…

Those days have quietly faded away. I don’t remember the last time I’d gone out in KC to expressly see a live band, which is weird because we have a great live music scene here, mostly blues based. Usually when I’m traveling with the Rock Chick we’ll end up in some bar listening to a band. We recently traveled to Austin with my friend Stormin and his lovely wife. We ended up in a blues bar for most the evening listening to a band that was fair. Finally the ladies had had enough and went back to the hotel and Stormin and I ducked into an Irish pub that had a 70s Glam Rock cover band and holy crap were they good. I wish I remembered the name of that band. They played Bowie and if memory serves a great Kiss cover. These guys all had make up on, they were truly committed to their genre. It was awesome. My only regret is we hadn’t checked that earlier, the Rock Chick would have loved that band.

I had the good fortune of meeting the drummer of a great regional band, Rockgarden, at a Black Sabbath concert last winter. As fate would have it, Rockgarden came to KC and played a show this weekend. I was pretty fried by the end of a long week of work and being over served bourbon the night before, but in deference to my newly minted friend, the Rock Chick and I hooked up with my pal The General, and headed out to the bar. Man, am I glad I did. Rockgarden plays a mix of great 90’s rock: the Red Hot Chili Peppers (Aeroplane, a personal fav), Lenny Kravitz, Foo Fighters and to my delight some Rage Against the Machine. If you get a chance and live around here, go see Rockgarden, they kick  ass. But this isn’t a review of Rockgarden, I have to recuse myself as I know the drummer. This is about the forgotten joys of seeing a band live in a bar.

There is nothing like hearing the crack of the cymbal, the squealing feedback of a guitar while you watch the guys on stage play. When a band, like Rockgarden, lock into a groove, it’s simply magical. There was a chick celebrating something, I think a birthday, she had a tiara on and her and her friends were clearly having a blast. That spirit was infectious in the bar. Having once again been over served vodka, even I got swept up during the Rage cover, “Bulls On Parade” and attempted to create a pogo’ing mosh pit. Alas, due to the vodka I fear I looked more like I was doing off balance jumping jacks and nobody joined me on the dance floor. The Rock Chick was amused, so I get points there. That’s the magic of live music folks, even a guy like me who is usually rooted to the bar stool finds himself in the middle of the dance floor jumping up and down.

Wherever you live there is probably, within walking distance or a short cab/Uber ride, a bar that has on the marquee or website the words “Featuring Live Music,” or something like that. Maybe you live in a rural community and there’s a street fair going on. In Kansas City the KC Blues Society has a calendar of where and when certain blues acts are playing. I have to think that something like that exists anywhere in any town or hamlet. And if you’re like me, and you’ve let the joy of seeing a band in an intimate setting like a bar slip by, or if you only go see big name acts in arenas (and believe me, there’s nothing wrong with that!) do yourself a favor and find a band to see this weekend. It’s critically important that you support local bands and local artists. Your help could foster a whole “scene” and who knows, before you know it your town is the Seattle of the 90s. There is something quasi-mystical about convening in a dark room, surrounded by friends holding strong drink and listening to the sounds of a band play live. No matter what you’re into – blues, jazz, madrigals (yes, Richie Blackmore), country, metal, reggae, folk music – do yourself a favor and gather some friends and go out and support a local artist. I’m not saying you have to buy a CD after the show, just have a drink or two and if you feel inspired, get up and move your body around. It will do you good!! Trust me, it did me good after a long and awful week.

Cheers!

LP Review: Lenny Kravitz, “Strut” – How’d I Miss This Sexy Album?

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One of the funnest parts of being married to The Rock Chick is all the great music she has brought to me over the years. I must admit that I never know what new project she’ll be undertaking when I walk in the door. My life is full of surprises. Sometimes I find her spontaneously painting the spare bedroom. Sometimes I find her in the midst of a colossal baking project, which is the best kind of project to walk in on if you ask me. The other day I walked in to find her drinking a glass of prosecco and watching the excellent Lenny Kravitz documentary, “Just Let Go.” Over the sexy beats and rocking guitar I couldn’t help but think, hmmm where is this going to go…

“Just Let Go” which features concert performances from Paris and interviews with Lenny and his superb backing band is a great rockumentary. Lenny tells a great story about touring with Robert Plant as his opening act. I’m not sure how in this universe that could happen but apparently Plant actually opened for Lenny. Plant barged into Lenny’s dressing room at the end of a show and read him the riot act for being a control freak. Lenny decided he needed to “just let go” and enjoy the ride. Lenny’s band is truly diverse: men/women, black/white, it’s a fantastic blend of talented musicians. His drummer, Cindy Blackman, is the coolest drummer in the world. They remind me of a latter day Sly and the Family Stone, only with better music or at the very least music I like better.

Ah, Lenny Kravitz. I can’t remember how many futons I woke up on in the 90s with my temporary hostess playing Lenny Kravitz… “Let Love Rule” was always the morning jam of choice with it’s groovy hippy themes. Maybe I was just drawn to groovy hippy chicks. But, inevitably I got on the Kravitz bandwagon, claims of his music being derivative be damned.  “Are You Gonna Go My Way” was his artistic high point and I played the crap out of that album. I even liked the dark, rocking follow up LP “Circus” which was much maligned by the critics. But around the time of “5” Lenny lost me. I figured he’d fade into obscurity. He started acting and I just lost track of him. When I get into an artist I’m typically a catalog type of fan – meaning I buy the artist’s entire catalog. I usually don’t lose track of artists I like. But I totally lost track of Lenny. So it’s always a delightful treat when I stumble across a new album, later in the career of an artist I liked. It’s like getting an email from an old friend you haven’t seen in a while. And that is exactly the case with 2014’s “Strut” from Lenny Kravitz.

I’m not sure how I missed it (I blame shitty terrestrial radio), but “Strut” is a really strong album despite the Rock Chick saying “it has a few too many ballads for my taste…” But that’s typically her response on any album with more than one ballad… I mean, she is the Rock Chick. “Strut” is all riffing guitars, over sexy drums and on many of the songs, horns. This is a party album, an album to, as we used to say, “get down” to. “The Chamber” rides a slinky beat and great riff and happens to be the Rock Chick’s new “jam” whatever that means. “New York City” is another high point and a great ode to a great city. “Sex,” “Dirty Boots,” and “Strut” are all upbeat funky rock songs that set the tone for the record. “I’m A Believer” with its dirty guitar, hand claps and sing along backing vocals is almost a funky punk song. From now on I’m playing Lenny’s “Happy Birthday” instead of the Beatles’ “Birthday” on my birthday. It’s just a great song on a great album.

Of the ballads, my favorite is “She’s a Beast” with strummed acoustic guitars. You can almost imagine musicians sitting around in a circle in an apartment writing that one. “The Pleasure and the Pain” is another stand out ballad. I even like the tune entitled “Frankenstein.” The only tune that loses me is a Smokey Robinson cover, “Oo Baby Baby.” You have to be careful if you’re going to cover Smokey… I mean, Smokey’s voice is like an angel singing…

Needless to say, this LP gets a “must have” vote from BourbonAndVinyl. It’s a fun listen and a great return to form from a an artist I thought was done. His career may have been a little up and down, but whose hasn’t. Lenny and his band have really come together on an album only he could put together – it’s as diverse as the members of his band.

Pour something strong, put this LP on, take your shirt off and dance around… and don’t say I didn’t warn you…

Cheers!

Sammy Hagar’s Other Bands: Montrose And Chickenfoot

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*Yes, that’s Sammy Hagar in the back, on the right. Shirts on guys… jeez.

 I went for my morning walk in the park today… I usually like to run, which is painful for others to watch, but I somehow hobbled myself with a lingering calf injury a few weeks ago. I suspect it was caused by standing for 2 and half hours at the Guns N Roses concert which means it was totally worth it. As I was walking along, I saw a guy complete his jog and immediately fire up a Marlboro Red, because nothing says physical fitness like strong tobacco. Hey, we don’t judge anybody’s vices here at B&V and I was surprised at my less than generous reaction to this guy. I’ve been in an edgy mood all week, likely caused by pressures my corporate overlords have been applying of late… There’s only one thing that will cure this mood. There are just times in life I need to hear some good old fashion, hard rock. Played loudly.

There’s a time for introspection. There’s a time for listening to well thought out, intricate lyrics. There’s a time for Dylan’s early protest songs. And then there’s a time for screaming, tortured guitar and drums that crash like Boston traffic on that weird corner on Comm Ave. There are many options for hard rock when I’m in this mood, but I need some good time music. In this troubled time, I need some Sammy Hagar.

There are generally two groups of Hagar fans. There are those of us who were on the bandwagon when he emerged on his solo career as the Red Rocker. His career didn’t really take off until his magnum opus, “Standing Hampton.” That album still sounds great today. I can’t hear “Baby’s On Fire” and not flash back to a girl I knew high school… but those records are sealed until 25 years after I’m dead. The “Three Lock Box” and “VOA” LPs followed up “Standing Hampton” and Hagar was on a roll. He was a staple on early MTV and his song “I Can’t Drive 55” became an anthem for those of us challenged by speed limits. I’ve always viewed them as more of a guideline really… except in school zones. Let’s protect the kiddo’s. Hagar was a consistent, hard rock, no nonsense guy. I really liked him as a solo artist.

The second type of Hagar fan, are those who know him from his time in Van Halen. No one was more surprised than I was when Sammy joined Eddie and the boys in what we all called Van Hagar. Well, I’m guessing David Lee Roth might have been more surprised than I was. The Rock Chick didn’t like Van Hagar and while she put together an excellent Van Halen playlist for my car, there is nary a Van Hagar song on the list. What can I say, she’s a purist. My buddy, the General (name obscured to protect the guilty), always complained about Sammy being in Van Halen, “Roth used to do kung fu on stage, Sammy shows up in capri pants and does aerobics.” He sorta had a point now that I look back on it. While I never thought Van Hagar was as good as the original line up in Van Halen I still thought it was a solid band. It was just different. Like the RHCP’s without Frusciante, the basic DNA of the band had changed. But I still think songs like “Summer Nights,” “Best of Both Worlds,” “Black And Blue,” and “Don’t Tell Me What Love Can Do” were kick ass tunes. These guys put out a solid set of LPs.

Both of these Hagar camps tend to overlook the fact that Sammy has been in a couple of other bands. Hagar’s career started when he joined the band Montrose as lead singer. I don’t know why but Montrose is one of those seemingly forgotten bands. Later in his career Sammy formed the “supergroup” Chickenfoot with guitar wizard Joe Satriani which is an extraordinarily overlooked band in my opinion. Say what you want about Sammy Hagar, he certainly knows how to pick lead guitarists to work with. It’s a Hall of Fame line up: Ronnie Montrose, Eddie Van Halen, Joe Satriani. All he’s missing is Hendrix… So today I want to quickly look back at these two forgotten bands because when you need some good, solid hard rock, these are two bands you can turn to.

Montrose, 1973-1974

Ronnie Montrose who had been mostly a session guitarist formed Montrose in 1973. He recruited fellow session man Bill Church to play bass and Denny Carmassi on drums. Sammy knew Denny and he was in. While this line-up only put out two albums, they were amazing records. You can’t hear Montrose’s loud guitar on their self titled first album without scratching your head over the fact that he’d played guitar on “Tupelo Honey” for Van Morrison. The guitar work on “Montrose” is heavy, heavy. Big fat chords and soaring solos. That first album was hugely influential. Oddly I never heard the great song “Bad Motor Scooter” until I got satellite radio. It never got played on the radio in KC, which is criminal.  “Rock The Nation” is a fabulous rock n roll call to arms. “Rock Candy” is a giant slab of hard rock. “One Thing On My Mind” despite it’s simpleton lyrics has a great guitar riff and a fabulous solo from Montrose. These guys even pull off a harder rocking version of Elvis’ “Good Rockin’ Tonight.” There was a moment in the early 70s when there was a break between the mostly British, heavy blues acts like Zeppelin and Cream and a new, non-bluesy, straight ahead, harder rock sound. I think this album may be the key to that leap. It’s what Jeff Beck called, “heavy  music.” This is a must have album.

“Paper Money” was the difficult second album. There are so many groups that have trouble on the sophomore album, call it the sophomore slump. “Paper Money” is no exception. It seems like Montrose wanted to go in a different direction creatively. There are acoustic guitars, like on the great Stones cover “Connection” and keyboard textures. Even the drum sound is different. That’s not to say this isn’t a good solid album. The title track and the great songs “The Dreamer” and “I Got The Fire” which sound more like the first album, are first rate tunes. “Underground,” the first track on the album is great, but you immediately pick up on the different sound Montrose were striving for. It wasn’t as hard as the first record. But alas, you can tell they were struggling to come up with enough material (like the old saying goes, “you have your whole life to write the first album, you have 2 months to write the second”) as filler like the trippy instrumental “Starliner” proves. On their European tour to support “Paper Money” Hagar and Montrose started to fight, probably over creative direction, and Hagar split. Carmassi and Church soon followed to join Hagar’s solo band. I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if they’d just stayed together. Like GnR I feel like there was an opportunity missed here.

Chickenfoot, 2009-2011

When I heard Hagar had formed a band with Joe Satriani on guitar, Michael Anthony of VH fame on bass and Chad Smith from the RHCP’s on drums, I admit, I was skeptical. I read early reviews and they complained that Satriani’s cool precision was ill-matched with Sammy’s sloppy, party guy approach. Both Smith and Anthony were the weaker links in their respective rhythm sections (Flea’s bass being more dominating and Alex Van Halen’s drumming being similarly more dominant). In essence the critics claimed the sum was less than it’s parts. Luckily I’m not a pasty, black turtleneck-in-the-summer, musical-intellectual critic from NY. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I like to consider myself a tad more… sanguine.

While I remained skeptical about Chickenfoot, a buddy of mine slipped me a copy of their first album, “Chickenfoot” and I was hooked. Again, this wasn’t like hearing “Led Zeppelin II” for the first time, but it was solid, meat-and-potatoes rock and roll. Satriani is truly the star on this first record. He sounds like he’s having a blast while tearing out solo’s that will melt your face off. “Sexy Little Thing,” “Turnin’ Left,” and “My Kind of Girl” will bore into your brain. I even like the ending, epic ballad, “Future In the Past.” You can’t go wrong popping this record on the stereo.

The ironically named second album, “III” is just as solid. I do not understand why this album was universally ignored. I never heard any of this record on the radio, satellite or otherwise. I read the other day Satriani was ready to do some more new music but Sammy said, “I don’t want to work that hard for six months to create music no one will hear.” These are the kind of records B&V was started for… “Last Temptation” starts the record on with a  great rock song. Hagar told Satriani to listen to the Black Keys before they did this record as he wanted that kind of sound. I don’t hear that connection but what a great place to start. “Alright Alright” has silly lyrics but is still a great rock song (lyrically you have to remember it was Hagar who wrote the stupidest lyric ever: “only time will tell if we stand the test of time,” read that over a few times). “Dubai Blues” is a great, dirty-blues rocker. I really like the tune “Come Closer” and I even dig the mid tempo ballad “Something Going Wrong.” That one might be my favorite. Alas now Satriani is back doing solo stuff and Hagar is on to his next band project with Anthony, the Circle, which features Jason Bonham on drums. They already put out a live album and Hagar says he digs their vibe and wants to get them in the studio. With Chad Smith on tour supporting the weak new RHCPs album, it looks like we’ll be waiting for that third Chickenfoot album which will likely be called “VI” because why not….

Do yourself a favor if you have a hankering for some great hard rock. Check out Montrose and Chickenfoot. Me, I’m considering pouring a nice, brown murky fluid into a tumbler and putting “Standing Hampton” on the turntable… “Baby’s On Fire” has me inspired in ways the Rock Chick will likely abhor…heh heh…. Rock Out, people. It’s all we can do in these troubled times…

Cheers!

BourbonAndVinyl Turns 1 Year Old: Thank You!

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Yesterday, July 11th, BourbonAndVinyl.net turned 1 year old… Happy Birthday to us! I just wanted to pause and thank all of you who have stopped their busy days to take some time to read B&V. When I started this music blog with my Mission Statement a year ago, I never thought anybody would actually read this. It was just something to do in between drinking and putting albums on the stereo. My goal was to entertain. I’m not sure if I’ve accomplished that or not, but over 2,000 people have visited us over the last year. Well, it’s either 2,000 different people or my mother has just logged on 2,000 times… My Sainted Mother is very supportive… Anyway, thank you to all of you who have read B&V. I appreciate all the support and comments. I hope you’ll continue checking us out from time to time. If you like something we post, please tell a friend.

Thank you!!!

BourbonAndVinyl Eclectic Summer/Sun/Beach Playlist

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“Summer, summer, summer, it turns me upside down…” The Cars, “Magic”

Ah, summer…. when I was kid it held so much promise. It could never arrive fast enough especially when I was in school as it signaled the end of the term. “School’s out for summer!” as Alice Cooper so famously sang. And, along with taking forever to arrive, summer was always like a great party, it always ended too soon.

When summer arrived girls started wearing short-shorts, cut-off shorts and even better, bikinis. It was all tan skin, buttery lotion and slick bronzing oil. It was like Earth had transformed into Eden. You had all summer to sleep late, play outside and best of all – go to the pool and see the aforementioned girls in their bikinis. By middle school, the public pool had become “lame” and the goal was to find the private pool or apartment complex pool where the pretty girls were all hanging out like Sirens from Greek mythology luring me toward sweet destruction. Unlocking the mystery of where the pretty girls were led to all sorts of untoward treasure. Someone always had a radio or a “boom box” and music would be blasting. I can remember standing in a pool with a beer in my hand with a bronzed beauty draped over my back and Van Halen’s “Diver Down” blaring…Sorry, the rest of that story has been redacted out of respect for the guilty, including me. Let’s just say I’m glad I was waste-deep in cold water.

Even later when I started mowing lawns and doing light construction work during the summer, you still had summer nights to look forward to, “drinking beer in soft summer rain,” if you will. And while those outside jobs were dirty, hot and arduous, at least it was an honest day’s work. Working outside had the advantage of earning money while getting tan. Nobody on a job site was using sun screen in my day, which was likely a mistake in retrospect. After work and a quick shower, it was out to some patio bar, where all the women were in short skirts and the beer was cold as ice.

Of course nowadays, my corporate overlords have taken a bit of the luster off of summer. There is no longer a beautiful two month summer break. At the end of a long hot summer day, I emerge from my air conditioned office pasty, looking like an extra from “The Walking Dead,” a corporate zombie. I wish I lived in Europe where everybody takes August off, but it wasn’t in the cards. One thing I can still do is head down to the neighborhood pool on Saturday or Sunday and relive those glory days of summer, basking in the burning sun. Although now that I’m an adult, living in a neighborhood surrounded by families, I have to suffer the presence of small children. Not that there’s anything wrong with loud, screaming, thrashing little kids but… “I just sort of feel better when they’re not around…”  The only remedy I have been able to find is my headphones. I slip the headphones on and hit the volume on my iPod and suddenly I’m back in that illicit apartment pool, surrounded by memories and ghosts alike…the workaday week slipping slowly off my shoulders…

As time has passed, I started to gravitate toward certain songs to listen to on sunny, summer days. I even listen to them when I’m lucky enough to occasionally vacation on a beach. The beach is like permanent summer. I finally decided to put these tunes all together on one playlist and shuffle through them. It’s about a 2 hour playlist so I know that half way through, it’s time to roll over and get a little sun on my back. Now, I’ll be the first to admit, the Rock Chick is the ultimate creator of playlists. I used to make “mix tapes” back in the day with the focus of John Cusack in the movie “High Fidelity,” and I truly believe it’s an art form. I curated the shit out of those mix tapes. But with the advent of MP3 players, the playlists can get longer and I can indulge my bizarre, ever expanding eclectic tastes. The Rock Chick always has laser focus on her playlists – her alternative rock playlist is always requested at any party we have and invariably someone stumbles up to me to ask me, “what song is this, this is awesome…” When I put on my playlists, typically someone asks for the Rock Chick’s music. She beats me at Scrabble too, and I’m supposedly the wordsmith in the family…such is life. My Summer/Sun Playlist is more of a headphones experience than something to put on the loud speaker for a pool party. This is for escape, typically from the McKean triplets (monsters, I assure you, and I know they pee in the pool), but I digress. As usual with my playlists I go from loud to quiet, rock to reggae. I’m all over the board. But with my headphones on and a beautiful Citron vodka and lemonade secured in my hand, the music takes me right where I wanna go…. So with all that in mind, here is the BourbonAndVinyl Summer/Sun Playlist (in no particular order, and I alway hit shuffle anyway):

  1. The Doors, “Waiting For the Sun” – trippy rock
  2. Steely Dan, “Blues Beach” – “drinking at the Manatee Bar…”
  3. Neil Young, “Sunny Inside” – I still love the Blue Notes
  4. Beck, “Girl” – “my summer girl…” takes me back to high school
  5. Bob Dylan, “Summer Days” – “I’m standing on a chair making a toast to the King”
  6. Kid Rock, “All Summer Long” – Lynyrd Skynyrd meets Warren Zevon meets Bob Seger
  7. Oasis, “Turn Up the Sun” – excellent late period Oasis, sadly ignored
  8. The Cult, “Sun King” – “I’m a sun king baby, won’t you share my throne?”
  9. The Faces, “Behind The Sun (Outtake) – excellent outtake from last year’s box set
  10. Bob Seger, “Sunspot Baby” – the classic detective mystery of a woman who steals your credit card and hops from vacation spot to vacation spot. Why he chooses to follow her instead of canceling the credit card is the real mystery. Great riff, though.
  11. John Mellencamp, “Summer of Love” – “it’s the summer of love, least ways, I’m hoping it is”
  12. The Cars, “Magic” – “summer, summer, summer, it turns me upside down”
  13. The Dirty Heads, “Cabin By the Sea” – a little something for you herbal enthusiasts
  14. Zwan, “El Sol” – “a little sunshine, just to butter my toast,” a pop rock confection from Billy Corgan.
  15. The Rolling Stones, “Summer Romance” – Mick singing about breaking up with his summer girlfriend who apparently had to return to high school when fall term came. I think this is illegal now…
  16. Bruce Springsteen, “Girls In Their Summer Clothes” – see the aforementioned comments about cut off shorts…
  17. The Beatles, “Here Comes the Sun” – beautiful George Harrison song
  18. Eddie Vedder, “Hard Sun”- Great solo Vedder
  19. Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Behind the Sun” – classic from “Uplift Mofo Party Plan”
  20. David Lee Roth, “Goin’ Crazy” – “from the heat…” Roth may be the King of Summer
  21. The Beatles, “Good Day Sunshine” – midtempo, perfect for a lazy, sunny day
  22. Van Halen, “Ice Cream Man” – “let me cool you one time, you’ll be my regular stop,” who doesn’t like ice cream on a hot day?
  23. The Firemen, “Sun Is Shining” – excellent example of an older artist (McCartney) doing trippy, experimental music. Check out this whole excellent album, “Electric Arguments”
  24. Van Halen, “Summer Nights” – something for the Van Hagar contingent. This was supposedly written on their first jam together when Hagar was trying out for the band.
  25. Bruce Springsteen, “Seaside Bar Song” – great beach/pool song
  26. Jimi Hendrix Experience, “Long Hot Summer Night” – because Hendrix is always appropriate
  27. Van Halen, “Beautiful Girls” – “I’ve got my toes in the sand and a drink in my hand…” and aren’t beautiful girls the only reason for summer?
  28. The Kinks, “Sunny Afternoon” – “accused of drunkenness and cruelty”
  29. Cream, “Sunshine of Your Love” – what a riff for a summer day
  30. The Who, “Summertime Blues” – many have covered it but let’s face it, the Who own this song

There you have it folks. Music to drink vodka lemonades to by the pool. Slip the Beats headphones on, turn it up loud, take a long pull from your drink, and hopefully with your shades on, glance around the pool at those wonderful bodies and maybe not so wonderful bodies out there! If I missed any great summer/sun songs, please suggest additions in the Comments section, I always appreciate new ideas. Enjoy!

Cheers!

The BourbonAndVinyl Worst Cases of LSD – Lead Singer Disease

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David Lee Roth in New York City on January 7, 1985. (Photo by Ebet Roberts/Redferns)

I remember the dark summer when it was announced that David Lee Roth had left Van Halen. My buddy Matthew was up in summer school at Kansas State University and he drew a VH flag at half staff on his chalk board. It was the end of an era. Perhaps it was the end of innocence, the end of the good times. It was our first “big” band break up. I mean, we were too young for the Beatles and while the Stones bickered they were smart enough to not “officially” break up. It’s important to always leave the door open, and the Stones knew that. We should have seen this VH split coming. After all, Roth had put out the miserable EP “Crazy From The Heat” and had done a series of “wacky” videos. This was hubris like we’d never seen before in a singer. Rod Stewart had had a solo career with the Faces, but even he balanced it better than Roth had. When the announcement of Roth’s departure was made, Eddie Van Halen was quoted as saying something like, “Yeah, Dave just had the worst case of LSD so we parted ways.” At first I thought Roth was doing acid, which would explain a lot but then I found out that LSD was “Lead Singer Disease,” a malady which is sadly very prevalent in rock and roll.

I looked up LSD in the Urban Dictionary, and I think it sums it up pretty well:

“The tendency for the lead singer of a rock band to become egotistical and impossible to work (with).  

There are a number of factors that can contribute to the onset of LSD including; a natural tendency in the singer to act like a prima donna and treat other people like shit, the level of fame and fortune the band manages to achieve (whether deserved or not), how quickly the band goes from being dirt poor and unknown to filthy rich and overly famous, and whether or not other members of the band have enough talent to compete with the singer for the public and the media’s attention. 

LSD is often fatal… …for the band. Once a singer develops LSD there is very little hope of them ever recovering from it. 

PLAIN ENGLISH VERSION: Lead singer’s disease is what happens when a lead singer lets the success of their band go to their head, starts acting like he or she is god and begins to demand that everything be done their way. If they don’t get their way their inflated ego makes them think that they don’t need the other band members and the band splits up.”

 Having seen Guns N Roses this week with Axl Rose, it naturally led my thoughts to LSD again. Often times the press focuses so much attention on the lead singer of a band the megalomania that sets in is simply unavoidable. How could you not think of yourself as “a golden God” when the rest of the world treats you as such. I can’t imagine how big these guys percentage of groupie action is… but I assume it’s high and that always clouds your judgement. What all these guys seem to forget, which was so eloquently put by Joe Strummer of the Clash who said, “Never underestimate the chemistry of four guys alone in a room.” That was four guys people, not one guy with a fucking microphone.
So without further adieu, here is the B&V selection of the Top 10 Victims of LSD. There are, sadly, many more examples, but these are the most egregious.
1. Axl Rose, Guns N Roses – Axl will always hold the crown for LSD. Even his recent triumphant reunion shows won’t blot out his crimes. The guy took what might have been one of the greatest bands of all times and smashed it to pieces. Who would run off Slash? Slash is not only talented as fuck but he’s a laid back guy. This band should have stayed together for ages and saved rock and roll but instead Axl fired everybody, got fat and went insane. Or, insaner.
2. David Lee Roth, Van Halen – Dave, Dave, what went wrong? Roth looks like someone pithed him now. He’s dead behind the eyes. So many years spent in the wilderness that didn’t have to go down that way. VH was the perfect rock band, the heirs of Led Zeppelin when Dave’s ego took over. It’s probably the saddest case of LSD on here. Even a couple of solo albums with the virtuoso guitarist Steve Vai can’t erase all of this.
3. Steven Tyler, Aerosmith – WTF happened to Steven Tyler. He went on reality TV and now he’s doing a country album, which is a worse sin in my book. Joe Perry would be justified to brain him with is guitar.
4. Vince Neil, Motley Crue – At the height of their popularity, right after Dr. Feelgood, Vince decides he’s the star. He didn’t write any of their music, so I’m unclear as to what the thought process was there… of course this was the 80s and cocaine was pretty prevalent… it must have been pretty powerful stuff. He released his crappy first solo album, and he even had a decent song, “You’re Invited But Your Friends Can’t Come” but then he shows up in the video with see-through mesh pants on and a shirt that looked like a dress… the horror, the horror.
5. Roger Waters, Pink Floyd – Technically Waters wasn’t really the lead singer of Pink Floyd. I’d give that tag to David Gilmour. But Waters was such a titanic asshole, and wanted to be the lead singer so badly, to prove he was the genius, he gets on the list. He wanted complete creative control and then fired Rick Wright, the keyboardist, because he wasn’t contributing enough. Which way do you want it Roger? His hubris was such that he thought when he quit the band would end. Gilmour and the rest of the guys carried on without him and Waters sued them earning himself a spot in the douche bag Hall of Fame.
6. Sting, The Police – If you were to look up megalomania in the dictionary, it’s likely you’ll see Sting’s picture. Either megalomania or “pretentious” either word applies. I knew this guy was done as soon as he got the nose job and took a part in the movie “Dune.” He ditches the Police and recorded a series of shitty jazz-influenced albums. I’m not smart enough for jazz but neither is Sting.
7. Bono, U2 -I love U2 and Bono…and he didn’t cause a break up, but his attempts to save the world, while admirable, have hurt the creativity of the band. It doesn’t take a genius to solve U2’s problems – “Uh, Edge, turn up the guitar…” If only Bono was paying attention…All politics are local… focus on the band Bono…
8. Stevie Nicks, Fleetwood Mac – After ending her relationship with Lindsey Buckingham, and becoming “The Mistress Of a Generation,” (my title for her as she worked her way through several bands including Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles and possibly the Heartbreakers) Stevie decided to strike out on a solo career. Again, I must ask, have we learned nothing from Rod Stewart on how to juggle this? Her ego got so big she made Fleetwood Mac do a country song on “Mirage.” These days the Mac are poised for a return with Christine McVie but Stevie is so focused on reviving her solo career she can’t be bothered.
9. TIE: Billy Corgan, Smashing Pumpkins and Courtney Love, Hole: Both these seminal 90s Grunge Rockers turned into Axl Rose-like control freaks. They fired everybody else in the band yet continue on as the Smashing Pumpkins and Hole… it’s more like they’re glorified tribute bands. You can’t get rid of everybody and still be the same band.
10. Robert Plant, Led Zeppelin – I’m not putting Plant on this list because of anything he did during Led Zeppelin’s reign on top the rock world. I’m putting him on this list because he steadfastly refuses to get back together with Page and J.P. Jones. Even Pete Townshend said, “Robert would make a lot of people happy if he’d do it…” Jesus, Robert, throw us a bone. Led Zeppelin ’17… fuck yes, I’m down for that tour!
If you’re out there in a rock band somewhere, and you’re lucky enough to have the talent and balls to find yourself with the microphone, remember it’s the guys behind you that are more important than the crowd in front of you…
Cheers!