The Cult: Hidden City Live, Kansas City

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Editor’s Note: While blogging about drinking and rock and roll is OK, blogging while drinking and listening to rock and roll isn’t always great… We’ll try to restrain Mr. B&V from his drunken, ecstatic post-concert ramblings, like those below, but we can’t guarantee anything…

Man, what a shitty week I was having… and then live rock n roll happens and everything is ok…

I took the Rock Chick out tonight to see the Cult on what was our second show on the “Alive In The Hidden City Tour” tonight… our first show was in Chicago back in, I believe April or maybe March. What a difference 5 months can prove to be. Many of the same songs were played, but in a much different order and with a lot looser approach. Noticeably missing was “Dark Energy” which is the first song on “Hidden City” and was the opening song in Chicago…

We stood next to a couple of guys, Sean and Terence who hadn’t seen the Cult since the “Sonic Temple” tour, many years ago. It was great to meet two guys who were inspired by Billy Duffy to pick up the guitar and start a band. I may have had way too much vodka tonight but as I write this I’m pretty sure I’m still going to be impressed by all of this in the morning. Wow, what a healing experience a concert is. All the tension I was feeling is gone now.

The Cult were loose and clearly having fun. This was the first show I’d seen them from up in a balcony, instead of down on the floor amongst the masses. The difference in viewpoint was startling. Billy Duffy was just man-handling the guitar tonight and I mean that in a good way. From my elevated view point I could see Ian Astbury and the joyous dancing he was doing. He was more animated than I’d seen him since the “Beyond Good and Evil” tour when I first saw these guys live. Tonight’s show may have even topped that first Cult show on “BGE” but that may be the vodka talking.

Highlights for me tonight were “Deeply Ordered Chaos” and “GOAT” (the first encore tune) from the new album. These are tunes that they should play in every show from now on. I also liked the loose, jammy version of “Sweet Soul Sister” they played, but I should mention the Rock Chick doesn’t like that sort of thing, and was vocal about Ian’s loose approach tonight. I thought it was great, but hey, I’m full of Ketel One…. “Fire Woman” was the crowd pleaser it always is. “Rain” is another personal favorite of mine, as is “Phoenix” both from the “Love” album.

Ian, at one point, asked if we had a “rock station” in KC…and further pondered why they wouldn’t play the new Cult album. I have to ask the same question… He said he was as depraved and debauched as anybody else, why not play the Cult’s “Hidden City?” Again, I have to ask the same question. It’s great to hear hard rock played live, why not play some of that music on the damn radio…

If you haven’t already done so, pick up “Hidden City” on vinyl, CD or iTunes, and turn it up loud…

Cheers!

 

BourbonAndVinyl List of Bands Who Sadly, Should Call It Quits

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In a post a few weeks ago I mused about a proposed SuperGroup comprised of members of famous bands who were left out of some of these big reunion tours. I cited GnR and Black Sabbath just to name a few. In one of the comments back to me, Moutly58 commented that I should do a post on bands that should call it quits. I chuckled but the comment did inspire quite a bit of thought. Nothing like a provocative comment and a tumbler of bourbon to send me into brooding mode…

This blog was founded on the idea that, other than telling funny drinking stories, I would talk about older, more mature bands and artists who were putting out new music. There are so many great artists putting out music that have been largely ignored by radio and the public, I felt the market was underserved. Tom Petty, both with the Heartbreakers and Mudcrutch, has put out some great music over the last decade that you’re not likely to hear on your local rock stations. You’re lucky if you catch them on satellite radio. I’m more likely to hear “Born To Run” by Springsteen on the radio again (for the billionth time) than anything from his last LP, “High Hopes.”

But Moulty58’s comment made me put my love of those classic bands aside for a moment. I couldn’t help but think, are there bands that ought to call it quits? Are there bands who have stayed at the party too long (which coincidentally is something the Rock Chick accuses me of all the time)? The answer is, inevitably, yes. There are just certain bands that need to hang it up. In many cases it’s due to the tragic loss of a key band member. In some cases these bands are carrying on without key members. Never underestimate the magic chemistry of the right four or five guys in a room. In many of these cases these artists have just lost something, call it a creative spark…. Without further adieu, here are the B&V bands who need to hang it up:

Aerosmith: These guys haven’t done anything listenable since “Permanent Vacation.” Steven Tyler has some of the worst LSD in the history of rock music. I’m so sick of Tyler and Joe Perry bickering, they make the Stones look like a happy family. Tyler betrayed his blues rock roots and went on a TV show and then recorded a weird country-esque solo album that was crap. These guys can’t even get in the studio to record new music any more. They’ve announced a farewell tour, but we’ve all seen that before. Go away Steven, go away.

 AC/DC: These poor bastards. Founding rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young sadly succumbs to dementia. Drummer Phil Rudd becomes a meth dealing moronic thug. Bass player Cliff Williams has announced his retirement. Lead singer Brian Johnson has hearing damage so severe they had to bring in Axl Rose…. I mean,  you’re running on fumes if you have to turn to rock and roll’s most mercurial undependable front man to help you finish your tour. I feel for Angus Young, lead guitarist and lone founding member left. I hear Axl is inspiring Angus to write new music. If so, and he works with Axl again, call it something else, not AC/DC. Parts are falling off of this band faster than my high school car running down the highway.

Eric Clapton: When was the last time Eric Clapton recorded a song that didn’t sound like your grandfather sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch. When you’re known for playing guitar and refuse to do big solo’s… perhaps you’ve lost your way.

Bob Seger: I applaud Bob for putting out a couple of albums of new music over the last few years. He’s always said, when his voice goes, it’s time for him to go… I’ve got bad news for you Bob, your voice has gone. Seger’s voice sounds like a fork caught in a garbage disposal. It’s time to give up the rasping and turn to his vast, unreleased archives. I’d settle for releases of “Seven” and “Back In ’72.”

The Moody Blues: I don’t even think these guys are still around, I just can’t stand the fucking Moody Blues so I included them just in case.

Any Band Missing Key Founding Members; This is sort of a catch all for those late 70’s to early 80’s (think ’75 to ’85) bands who keep hanging around with only 1 or 2 original members. I’m talking to you Styx, REO Speedwagon, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Foreigner (currently touring without Lou Gramm) and most of all, Journey (no Steve Perry?) Give it up guys, you’re not Menudo with interchangeable members. I mean, sure Styx still has James “J.Y.” Young and Tommy Shaw in the band but I can never forgive those guys for letting Dennis DeYoung do that whole “Mr. Roboto” thing. They should be banished forever for that…

Sting: Every time Sting actually moves toward rock and roll the critics herald it as a return to his “Police sound.” I’ve heard his new song, “I Can’t Stop Thinking About You.” Having heard it, I can certainly stop thinking about Sting. After a jazz-lite solo career, he careened into Christmas music and then did a Broadway play. Now I’m supposed to believe he’s going to rock? I doubt it. Time for rock’s most Pretentious Man to slowly fade away.

Billy Joel: It’s hard for me to believe that the last album of new material Joel put out was “River of Dreams” in 1995. The guy has loads of talent but has shut down on writing or creating new music. I think that contributes to the alcoholism but I’m no doctor. He’s an amazing concert draw, but when you stop creating as an artist don’t you die? Record something new Billy so I can take you off this list.

The Who: I saw the Who this last April and they were great. Zak Starkey does a great Keith Moon imitation. Pino Palladino, who Townshend said was “too cool for jazz” did a nice job filling in for John Entwistle. Pete seemed to be having fun despite himself. Roger was Roger. They did have a cadre of musicians on stage to augment their sound, never a good sign. The Who haven’t recorded anything since “Endless Wire.” I don’t know why these guys can’t get themselves into a studio, they killed it live. Townshend continues to say how “done” with the Who he is and yet he continues to tour, likely to placate Daltrey. I love these guys, but again, without moving forward creatively I have to question, why?

Did I miss any bands you think should hang it up? If I did, please add your thoughts in the comments.

Fall is finally here, my favorite season, indeed it’s the high, Holy season for Bourbon drinkers. Pour something dark and murky, put on some great rock and roll and enjoy the crisp weather and changing leaves.

Cheers!

Bruce Springsteen: Sixty-Seven But On A Roll!

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I have to say a big, belated Happy Birthday to Mr. Bruce Springsteen. The man turned 67 yesterday and shows no signs of slowing down. Having seen Bruce with the “legendary” E Street Band in April, I’m stunned he’s 67. Only Mick Jagger seems to defy age more than Bruce Springsteen. And you have to think in Mick’s case, he’s tethered to Keith Richards who hasn’t aged as… gracefully, but I digress. Springsteen is on a huge roll right now. He’s got a lot going on so I thought I’d catch everybody up.

First and foremost was his 2016 “The River” Tour, one of the year’s highest grossing tours. It was done in support of the excellent box set celebrating “The River” entitled “The Ties That Bind.” The box set had the double LP as released in 1979, the original single LP version of the album that Bruce submitted to Columbia but withdrew, entitled like the box set “The Ties That Bind,” and a disc of outttakes. “The Ties That Bind” was very similar to the great box set celebrating “Darkness On The Edge of Town,” named “The Promise,” after one of the great outtakes from those sessions. “Meet Me In The City” from the outtakes is a great, great Springsteen song. I will say , half of the outtakes had already been released on the previous treasure trove box set, “Tracks.” but I’m splitting hairs here. You need to hear all the tracks together to really frame the artistic period surrounding “The River.”

On the first American leg of “The River” tour, which is when I saw Bruce last, the band played the “River” album in it’s entirety, start to finish. It’s a dicey enterprise playing an entire album in concert. It either goes very well, like when I saw the Cult do “Love” or “Electric” or poorly like when I saw Motley Crue do “Dr. Feelgood.” It’s all about the album’s pacing. “Love” and “Electric” were non stop hard rock albums that held up very well in concert. I’m still baffled as to why “Dr Feelgood” didn’t translate as well live. There are some of my favorite Crue songs on that record, but the pacing seemed to lag on what would be side 2. The Rock Chick gave up on seeing Motley live after that, much to my chagrin… The Rock Chick’s likes and dislikes can be very mercurial… I wonder how long she’s going to let me stick around, but that’s another post… and I intend to stick for the long haul but I digress again. Must be all this traveling I’m doing… can’t stay focused.

“The River,” played straight through actually held up very well live. The album is paced well and highlights everything the E Street Band does well. There are barrel-house rockers and light-touch ballads. Springsteen’s intent when recording “The River” was to recreate the energy the band put off during live shows, so it makes sense that “The River” live would be fantastic. After the album was over, they played what Bruce was calling the “concert after the concert” which varied almost every night. I was pleased to finally see “Rosalita” performed live after all these years of attending Springsteen shows. That set after the album seemed to really spark the excitement in the band. I downloaded the free “Chicago” show and it’s a very strong live album. I began to realize the band was doing some of their finest live work in their career.

When the E Street Band got over to the European leg of the tour, the strictures of playing the entire “River” LP every night had gotten old and so they cast that aside. The sets he started playing in Europe were as varied and career spanning as I’ve ever seen. By the time they got back to the US, Springsteen was setting records for his longest shows and then breaking them on the next night of the tour. The set lists on these shows are staggering in their breadth and depth. What’s better still is that you can buy any or all of these great shows on brucespringsteen.net any time you want.

I picked up the August 30, Metlife Stadium show in New Jersey and it ranks amongst the best bootlegs I’ve ever heard of Springsteen. He opens with the obscure chestnut, “New York City Serenade.” Springsteen fans will all realize how special that song is, I don’t think it’s been performed since the 70s, but I’m no historian. He then went through a quasi chronological tour through his entire career. He only played two songs from “The River” and neither was the actual song, “The River” which is odd considering the name of the tour but hey, he’s the Boss. He even dug into his “solo” period and played “Living Proof” which was a surprising highlight. I highly recommend checking out any of the shows on the tour after he’s returned to the US. I will warn you, the 8/30 date is over 4 hours, so strap in for a long listening experience but it’s worth every minute. He does most of “The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle,” my favorite album by Bruce. You can even purchase all three New Jersey shows as one special package, but even I shy away from 12 hours of music from anybody… Do yourself a favor and check out these live recordings, it will reward you.

On top of all that activity, Bruce’s autobiography, aptly named “Born To Run” came out on Friday. I read a great interview with Bruce in Vanity Fair and it sounds like Bruce plumbs the depth of some of his battles with depression. It’s been described as being like one of his concerts: sprawling, ecstatic and epic. Here’s my problem. The rock and roll autobiography kind of got ruined for me by Keith Richards. I love Keith to death but his arcane writing about the different guitar tunings he used on certain songs was too much for even me. And he went on to comment on Mick’s penis… C’mon man, nobody wants you to go there. Someone gave me Pete Townshend’s autobiography but after Keith’s “Life,” I couldn’t bring myself to even open it. I’m on the fence about Springsteen’s book, because I think he’d be a better writer, but man, it’s a huge commitment.

The treat for me around this whole autobiography thing was that Bruce released a “companion” disc of tunes to go with the book. Two-thirds of these songs have been released on various albums and greatest hits so why bother? Well, he’s released five tunes from his pre-fame career. Two songs are by his first band, The Castiles. One song is from his outfit named Steel Mill. I’m not going to lie to you. The sound quality of these tunes is not great. These songs are for you completists out there – you know who you are – but I can’t recommend them. They’re solid, meat-and-potatos 50’s style rock. Nothing terribly revelatory there.

The two songs I would recommend are a solo song “Henry Boy” and a song credited to The Bruce Springsteen Band (his pre E Street configuration) named “The Ballad of Jesse James.” I really liked “Henry Boy.” It sounds like a left over from “Greetings From Asbury Park.” It’s all rapidly strummed acoustic guitar with words spilling out of Springsteen almost as fast as he can sing them. It’s a really nice addition to the catalog. The gem here, the song I absolutely love and consider a must-have for any Springsteen fan is “The Ballad of Jesse James.” That song is all pure 70’s rock. It opens with a giant slab of a riff and then Bruce hits you with a squealing almost slide guitar sound that kills. There are back up singers. The sound of this song is very much “of it’s time,” the 70s. It sounds like a song Gregg Allman could have recorded on one of his solo albums. The guitar solo is worth the $1.29 for the song alone. I have to wonder, where the hell did this sound go? He didn’t play guitar like this again until “Darkness On the Edge of Town.” The chorus, which I love, asks the question “Don’t you wanna be an outlaw?” The answer, as any B&V enthusiast must know by now, is yes, yes I do. Again, the sound quality is a little rough, we’re all used to highly polished, digitized music these days, but the sound of this one harkens back to hearing a vinyl record on a loud PA system at a bar having a drink-and-drowned night, all the beer you can drink for $5 and who doesn’t miss those days?

Put “The Ballad of Jesse James” on the stereo, slip on your old bell bottoms and dance around like you ain’t got no brains and celebrate Bruce’s Birthday. Happy Birthday Bruce, and many more to come. Here’s mud in your eye! Cheers !

On The Mellow End: Norah Jones & Van Morrison Release New Singles, LPs On The Way

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I’m as much of a “Hard Rock” person as anybody, but every now and then you need to turn it down a bit. Actually I’m just a fan of music in general, I just mostly talk about the rockers. There are a couple of new songs, preceding albums, that have come out lately that I feel necessary to comment on… These aren’t party songs, or hard rock songs, these are late night songs. These are tumbler full of Blanton’s bourbon, sitting on the porch songs. These are get your belt off and hold me close songs… Putting on either of these songs could lead you anywhere…

First and foremost is Norah Jones’ new tune “Carry On” from her upcoming album, “Day Breaks.” This is a return to her early, earthy, jazzy style of “Come Away With Me.” It’s as sexy as Hell. This woman could sing the phone book and make it sound great. If you can’t get laid with Norah Jones on the stereo, you can’t get laid… More to come on this as the LP comes out….This song is all piano and brilliant vocal. It’s the closest thing she’s done to her first album in a long time. I think this is a great return to her early sound. I will admit, I’ve loved everything she’s done, experimentally and other wise…. Check out the Little Willies, her great, country side project.

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What to think about Van Morrison…We’d all love to think he’s got another “Moondance” or even a “Tupelo Honey” left in him, but who knows. He hit a hot streak starting with the “Down The Road” album and kept it going through “Magic Time.” Then he phoned it in with “Keep It Simple.” He followed up with the fabulous “Astral Weeks: Live At the Hollywood Bowl” which was simply transcendent. Yes, he was revisiting an old album, but the passion of that performance was almost as great as the original LP. His last two albums, oddly named, left me cold… although the duet, “Streets of Arklow” with Mick Hucknell might be one of the greatest duets ever, and it slowly restored my faith…

I have no idea what his new LP “Keep Me Singing” will bring, but for some odd reason, I remain hopeful. The lead single, “Too Late” has me very optimistic. It’s an oddly hopeful, “it’s not too late” mid tempo, train-tempo-chugging tune that I really like. It’s the first Van tune that I thought might signal he’s trying since “Magic Time.” I get it, he did two or three great albums and no one noticed, why try… but it appears he’s coming back with a very strong album. These are the type of albums that B&V were founded on, strong albums in the later careers of great artists…I’m not sure if this will be a great album, but it’s a great first single…

Again, these aren’t great party songs… but if you’re having a night cap and someone is in their underwear, this might just tweak the mood in your favor… and if you’re like me, you can always use that help…

Cheers!

Metallica’s “Hardwired…To Self-Destruct” Bonus Tracks: They piss me off again

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I was a huge fan of Metallica’s “Death Magnetic” but in a strange move the band compressed the music so much, in order to increase the volume, it sometimes make my speakers crack. I wasn’t as pissed as the general public, but it was annoying. When you “compress” the music, in layman’s terms, you digitally compact the music so you can push it up in the sound spectrum so it’s physically louder. It was completely unnecessary and provided less than optimal sound. I still love the album, but Jesus guys. Use your heads.

When I saw that “Hardwired…To Self Destruct” was coming out, I quickly learned that there were two versions, a standard one and a “Deluxe” version. Now, I’m a scrupulous buyer of LPs… If there are bonus tracks to be had, I investigate and there is a high likelihood that I’ll buy the deluxe version of any album – if the bonus tracks are worth it. If they’re early demos, or the dreaded “remixes” then I’m likely not interested. Sometimes the bonus tracks are better than some of the deeper album cuts. The Rolling Stones, on the LP “A Bigger Bang,” issued a deluxe version that had video version of two songs, one of which, “Under the Radar” is the greatest Stones tune you’ve never heard.

When “Hardwired…” first came out, I looked at both versions. It appeared the bonus disc was collection of demos. There was one completed tune, “Lords Of Summer.” Metallica’s creative process is not unlike that of many bands… they jam at soundchecks and rehearsal spaces and record it all. Later they go through all the stuff and if they hear certain riffs or passages they like, they build those into songs. So with titles on the bonus disc like: “Plow (Riff origins)” and “Tin Shot (Riff Origins)” my reaction was, no thanks. I get that completists will want all the tracks, nobody understands that more than your dedicated, obsessive-compulsive B&V writer. I also understand how the “Riff” early versions of these songs would be of interest to those curious about Metallica’s creative process.

In my case, I wasn’t interested. I purchased the first single off the standard version, figuring I would buy that version when it came out and go back and purchase “Lords Of Summer” from the deluxe version and I’d be whole. But then, at this late hour, the chuckleheads in Metallica change their fucking mind. They’ve decided to completely change the bonus tracks. Gone are the “Riff Origins” versions of these tunes and now they’re releasing a bunch of live stuff and cover tunes they’ve recorded since “Death Magnetic.”

It’s like they realized, “Hey, nobody wants to hear us noodling, we have all these extra tracks, let’s do that instead.” Normally I’d be thrilled to see this track listing but I already committed to the standard version. I know, I know, it’s only $1.29, I shouldn’t be bitching and this will teach me to be patient and wait for the vinyl version anyway, but I like to hear new tunes as soon as they’re available and that’s typically an MP3. It’s just the principle of the thing that pisses me off. These guys do some of the stupidest shit I’ve ever seen. I thought since Hetfield sobered up maybe somebody was actually steering this battleship who might be a tad more… thoughtful.

OK, enough of my rant. Now, the good news. These bonus tunes do look awesome. The bonus disc now looks like a mini- “Garage Inc.” a heavy metal cover album that I just loved. There are covers by Dio, Iron Maiden and a Deep Purple obscurity. They’ve also packed what looks like some great live versions of older tunes. Stuff they recorded on their Record Store Day show at a small LP shop and some tracks from their recent Minneapolis concert. All this looks like great bonus material… if only they’d released it like this to begin with.

We all have that one friend who leaves us scratching our heads, wondering, WTF did he do that for. It appears in my rock and roll universe that friend is Metallica. Stupid moves aside, like that WTF friend, I still love his band. I guess in the end, Metallica, I just can’t stay mad at you. I’m very excited to hear what I believe is going to be a pummeling heavy metal attack.

Cheers!

LP Review: The Beatles, “Live At The Hollywood Bowl”

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Long before BourbonAndVinyl, long before I collected hundreds of albums and CDs, long before my music obsession, there was my brother’s stereo… I had an old black-and-white TV in my room, and a clock radio but I only turned the clock radio on if I was listening to the Royals or the Chiefs. I never listened to music. I was a sports guy, not a music guy. My brother, who I’ve mentioned in these very pages as the polar opposite of me, didn’t have a TV but he did have a stereo. It was one of those turntable/tape deck/receiver all in one jobs. I couldn’t understand what he was doing spending all of his spare money on those albums, it made no sense to me. Be careful what you make fun of, it eventually takes you over.

I would walk by his closed door on the way to my own room and I’d hear all these… sounds… coming from his room. What the hell was going on in there. More often than not those “sounds” were the Beatles. They say you can tell a lot about a person by which Beatle they favor… My brother was a George guy. I’m more of a John guy. I’ll let Beatle-0logists decipher the meaning of that. Maybe if our family dentist had dosed my brother and I with LSD like John and George, we’d have been closer as kids, but that time has passed. I eventually knocked on the closed door and after being admitted entrance to my brother’s inner sanctum, plopped down on the floor to listen to these Beatles he was so fond of. It took the Stones to put out “Some Girls” to completely turn me onto music, but my brother’s vast Beatles LP collection certainly pushed me onto that path. Its odd that on so many things my younger brother led the way…

Like I was to eventually become, my brother was nothing if not a completist. He’d buy a greatest hits album if it had an unreleased single on it even if he owned all the other tunes already. One of the albums he seemed to play a lot was the Beatles’ “Live at the Hollywood Bowl.” It sounded like a bunch of girls screaming like a cat in a blender to me but my brother loved that record. I remember the liner notes, printed on the back of the album sleeve. George Martin, who had been asked to put the album together in 1977, long after the Beatles’ break up, wrote the essay printed on the back. If I recall correctly, he said he was only convinced to put the Live LP together after his granddaughter (or maybe it was his daughter) had asked him if the Beatles had been “as big as” or “as exciting as the Bay City Rollers.” I’d say he proved the point. Game, set and match to Mr. Martin.

I sort of forgot about “Live at the Hollywood Bowl” until I got to college. One of my roommates, Drew would sit and listen to that album and laugh his ass off when the Beatles would speak between songs. It was so obvious they were mocking the entire Beatlemania thing. Before “Hard Days Night” John Lennon says, “we made two movies, one in color and one in black and white…” He sounds like a game show host. That was after my conversion to “music junkie” and it was the first time I gave that album a serious listen.

The Beatles famously quit touring in 1966. After that they became studio wizards. The breadth and depth of the music they recorded is amazing. Every album seemed to create two or three sub genre’s of music. It’s easy to think of them as composers like Mozart or Bach and it’s sometimes easy to forget that they were a working band, since after ’66 they only played live once on the roof of the Apple offices in London for the “Let It Be” album. That’s why this document of them as a touring, live band is so important.

In anticipation of hearing this album again, I started listening to the “Live at the BBC” album. It’s a great document of what was, what we tend to forget, a great band. It’s like they’ve turned the BBC studios into their own Hamburg club. They play a lot of their own music, but so many great covers that they never got around to recording and releasing in the studio. The only thing the “BBC” album leaves out is a studio audience. There’s nobody to react to the performances except the jolly BBC DJ. It’s a bit of a sterile live experience. Still, it’s a pleasure to hear these guys playing live together.

Which all leads me to the newly remastered “Live at the Hollywood Bowl.” I kept wondering if they’d ever get around to releasing this album. With every new remastered version, box set, “Live at the Hollywood Bowl” was always left out. I can’t confirm this without flying to Houston and having my brother put the old vinyl on the stereo, but it sounds like they’ve boosted the music up in the mix and turned down the screaming fans. Have no doubt about it, this is a great album. It’s so fun to actually put some flesh and blood on the legends. Taken with the “BBC” live album it helps round out a fuller picture of the Beatles. You see those old films of them performing at stadiums in the 60s and its a little like watching old-timey films of baseball players one hundred years ago. A crude document of history being made.

“Hollywood Bowl” is a fun, fun listen. The chemistry of the Beatles on stage is just amazing. You have to remember with the crude equipment they were using, they likely couldn’t even hear each other. It’s kind of hard to play as a band if you can’t hear the other guys. They bash away with a hearty gusto. I have to say, Ringo takes a lot of shit for not being a very good drummer, but he’s really bashing away on this record. Paul McCartney’s bass sounds like Flea. He lays down the most amazing bass lines. How these guys harmonize with all the screaming is just a miracle.

I love that they open with “Twist And Shout,” as if the rabid teenage girls at the Hollywood Bowl weren’t frothy enough, they start with one of their biggest jams. They play a lot of their early, classic hits, up through “Help!” but its great to hear them tear through some of those older cover tunes that they’d probably been playing since Hamburg: “Long Tall Sally,” “Dizzy Miss Lizzy,” and even “Roll Over Beethoven.” They even let Ringo have a turn at the mic with “Boys.” Despite all the harrowing stories of their touring, it does sound like they’re having a good time on stage.

“Ticket to Ride,” “Things We Said Today,” and “She’s a Woman” all near the front of the album are a toss up for my favorite. These guys could do no wrong with a song. They add four additional “bonus” tracks that weren’t on the original vinyl LP at the end. They’re all very good songs and for those of us who know the original album, it’s almost like they’ve come back for an encore.

This is not only a great album, and a definite recommended buy from B&V, I would go so far as to say this is essential listening, not only for Beatles fans, but for fans of rock and roll in general.

Play this one loud. And as Ringo would probably say, Peace and Love, people. Cheers!

My Proposed Supergroup: Those Band Members Left Out of Big Time Reunions

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Hmmm… Isn’t someone missing here? Oh, yeah Bill Ward

 I was reading on-line the other day, one of those “lists” that rock and roll websites are so fond of these days (and yes, I’m guilty of that too). On the site, it listed something like, “bands who are touring without any original members.” Talk about a rip off. It’s like a ponzi scheme. I mean, I get it, I hate my family reunions and haven’t attended one in years, but no original members? That’s like going to someone else’s family reunion… someone who you don’t even know. My buddy Storm told me that Foreigner is out on the road these days without Lou Gramm… That seems useless. He also told me they filed an injunction and Lou Gramm can’t even sing the songs he cowrote with Foreigner on his solo tour. Jeez. I even remember, around the time of the Beatles’ “Anthology” LP releases, before George Harrison’s tragic demise, the suggestion that the Beatles re-unite with Julian Lennon pinch hitting for his father John. That’s like asking me to pinch hit for Pavarotti… and uh, I don’t sing, let alone opera.

It seems an all too familiar trend these days when a band makes a huge reunion tour announcement I find out after the fact they’ve left somebody out. Van Halen famously got back together with David Lee Roth, something the entire universe was rooting for, but they left out Michael Anthony on bass. Eddie brought in his son Wolfgang on as the bass player. Sigh. One of the more egregious of these “leave outs” was Bill Ward on the Black Sabbath “The End” tour. The root of all of this seems to be money. Izzy Stradlin recently tweeted that the only reason he’s not on the current Guns N Roses tour is “they didn’t want to split the loot evenly.” I mean, Richard Fortus was great, but Izzy and Slash’s guitar sound just belongs together. Izzy co wrote many of their great tunes and sings on one of my favorites “Dust and Bones.” And to think we missed that moment on the GnR tour because of money? How much do these guys need?

The only circumstance that merits a reunion without all members is in the sad case where someone has passed. I get that the Faces reunited without Ronnie Lane or Ian McLagan because they’ve both passed. Thin Lizzy continues to go on without charismatic front man/bassist Phil Lynott, though one must ask the question, why? I do respect the whole “soldiering on” sentiment when a member of a band dies in some unfortunate way. I respect any band who keeps going after such a tragedy. What I’m talking about here is the big time reunions.

I began to think about all these guys that had been left out of these reunions lately and realized they’d actually make a pretty good “Supergroup.” They could call themselves “The Left Outs” or perhaps “The Leftovers.” I think I like the Left Outs better. This is my supergroup based on guys that by all rights should be included in these massive tours and yes, split the loot. I actually would pay money to see this line up… I think these guys might rock.

Drums: Bill Ward of Black Sabbath. Ward was apparently offered to join “The End” tour as a contract player without being offered a full split of the tour profits. Ward’s drum sound was essential to those early Sabbath albums. He and Ozzy have been feuding about this since the tour started.

Bass: Michael Anthony of Van Halen. Michael Anthony was summarily dismissed from Van Halen apparently for the sin of staying friends with Sammy Hagar. Eddie even came out in the press and slagged Anthony, claiming that it was actually him, Eddie, playing all the bass parts on the LPs. He even went so far as to claim it wasn’t Anthony doing the harmony vocals. Jeez, Eddie, you’re great, we get it, no need to pad the resume.

Rhythm Guitar: Izzy Stradlin of Guns n Roses. Izzy should be on this current tour. He was an integral part of their sound and wrote and sang some of their best songs. I saw him with the JuJu Hounds in a tiny bar with my buddy Stormin and the guy is awesome.

Lead Guitar: Don Felder of the Eagles. I know, I know, he doesn’t really fit the mold of the rest of these guys but lets remember the awesome guitar he played on his lone hit, “Heavy Metal (Takin’ a Ride)” from the soundtrack of that great animated movie from the 70s. The guy is a hell of a guitar player. I guess you could always opt for Gary Richrath from REO Speedwagon who left that group years ago, but I like the Felder choice better…

Lead Vocals: David Lee Roth of Van Halen. I really debated on this one. At first I considered Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins or Courtney Love of Hole, since those guys have actually done reunion tours where they were the only actual original members of their bands. I thought that would be ironic. I like the choice of Roth because he’s been kicked out of Van Halen, not once, not twice, but three times. And, yes, their live album sounded, as Dr Rock described it to me, “like a pet store, full of animals, burning to the ground,” but I think he’d be fun to watch without the behavioral governors Eddie put on him on the last tour. I want to see the old Jack Daniels swigging, karate-on-stage David Lee Roth.

Call me crazy, but that’s a band I’d go see. Have I left anybody out? If so, please comment and we can add them to the list.

Football is back this weekend folks. Pour something strong and put on some loud music… Be careful out there and as always, Cheers!

The Mark of Cain: When Brothers Form Bands

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Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”

From fistfights on stage to international multi-platinum success to ugly break ups and what I can only imagine to be awkward Christmas dinners, is there anything more entertaining than brothers who form bands? The chemistry of every band is different. For every band like Rush or U2 who appear to exist in perfect harmony you have your Van Halen or the Who where the internal conflict is part of the creative process. You take a sibling rivalry and drop that into the crucible of being in a band and it can make for some fabulous music and explosive interpersonal conflict.

Brothers are a tricky lot. Dating all the way back to when Cain slayed Abel, if you believe in that sort of thing, brothers have had a rocky relationship. I’ve got friends who are extremely close to their brothers and claim their brothers are their best friends. I have some friends who haven’t spoken to their brothers in decades. My relationship with my lone sibling is more complicated than that. Yes, I love my brother and would do anything for him, but I don’t think he and I would ever work well together in a band. I’m talentless with a musical instrument so, that makes it a difficult proposition to begin with. Being the opposite of me, he plays exquisite acoustic guitar so I’m the drag on the whole band idea.

My mother is fond of telling the story of when they first moved my brother out of the nursery to share my bedroom. She says we were both so happy we laughed and laughed. So, at least we started in a good place. Over the years however, our personalities diverged so much that we never developed that closeness that some brothers do. My brother and I are just polar opposites. He’s quiet, I can’t stop talking. He liked the Beatles, I was a Stones guy. He is basically a tea-totaller now and well, I like bourbon. Our differences were so pronounced growing up, I’d open the fridge and ask my mother whether my brother liked a certain dish of leftovers or not, knowing that if he did, I likely wouldn’t enjoy it. I was rarely wrong.

I can remember going to have dinner at a sub shop with him when he was still in college. “Civil War” by Guns N Roses came on, and it was only the second time I’d heard it. I was gyrating in my chair and I’m embarrassed to admit I started air-guitaring. My brother was sitting across from me, just sort of staring at me, blank faced. “Don’t you just love this, I mean, man you looked bored?” He pushed his glasses back up  his nose and said, in his most sanctimonious voice, “Yes, I like this song, but I can listen to it without acting like an  idiot.” I didn’t talk to him for 20 years after that. Luckily time has been kind to us. I’ve mellowed out on the whole “big brother as an asshole” act. Social media, texting and emails have opened up avenues of conversation. My relationship with my brother is now cordial if not close. And I think he’d do anything for me if I needed help.

I say all that, because I can’t imagine being in a band where all of that history and antipathy lurks under the surface… usually only to break through to the surface in very public ways. Flea and Anthony, Mick and Keith, they can all say they’re like brothers, but there’s nothing like a brother. I started thinking about all the bands I like who have brothers in their ranks. It’s a pretty awful history. I began to wonder if maybe bands with brothers are cursed, like Cain. Sure, they may have some success, world wide fame and make a ton of money, but there’s a lot of bad things that have happened. Here are my favorite bands of brohters:

  1. The Kinks – these guys may be the original hateful brothers in a band together. The Kinks are one of the greatest if not under appreciated bands in history. Dave Davies, the guitarist and younger brother has always claimed that Ray, the lead singer, stole the band from him. Ray basically took it over apparently. They fight about everything including who wrote what song. They make Mick and Keith look cordial. So while they did well I think they chronically underachieved in terms of success because of the conflict at the inner core of the band. Dave had a stroke a few years ago but they still grumble about having a reunion tour… I think it best to let sleeping dogs lie…
  2. Oasis – Are there a stupider couple of siblings than the Brothers Gallagher? These guys had it all, world wide fame, they were the biggest band in the world and they blew it. They couldn’t resist getting into fights on stage. Their rants about each other are the thing of British press legend. Liam recently said, after they split up, he’d rather vomit than work with Noel again. I think that says it all. The Rock Chick loves these guys and we went and saw them in the front row at Red Rocks. I lapsed into that old habit of air-guitaring… legs together, bending only at the knee, the white-man’s overbite, the whole ugly act… and while I’m not proud of that, Liam saw me and actually mocked me from the stage. Yeah, not a high point for me. I’m definitely on team Noel here.
  3. The Black Crowes – Chris and Rich Robinson’s band, the Black Crowes burst onto the rock scene about the time Guns N Roses came out. I saw these guys several times. You could feel the conflict between the lead singer, Chris and guitarist, Rich. They’re like a mini-Oasis. They squabble in the press and have had the usual fist fights on stage. They keep getting back together but they eventually morphed from a rock band to a jam band… Is there any worse thing in rock than a jam band? I blame Chris… I should have put him on my “Greatest LSD” list.
  4. The Stooges – When Iggy formed the Stooges in Detroit with the Asheton brothers they basically created the punk rock blue print. While they never had the success they deserved, the pressures inside the band were equally as great. After firing the original bass player, they demoted Ron Asheton from guitar to bass. His brother Scott just let it happen. They say the tension in the studio when they were recording “Raw Power” with a new guitarist was palpable. They split soon after that and I don’t think anybody talked to each other for 30 years. I wonder what the ol’ Asheton Thanksgiving dinners were like.
  5. Van Halen – While Edward and Alex Van Halen seem to get along pretty well together, I don’t think their parents taught them how to play well with others. Oh sure, Van Halen is awesome, and I love their music, but these guys are just assholes. They ran off David Lee Roth at the peak of their popularity (now I’m the first to admit Dave was probably more at fault here) but also succeeded in recently running him off a second time. These guys even managed to piss off Sammy Hagar, one of rock’s most happy-go-lucky tequila soaked guys out there. Sammy’s even recently suggested he misses their friendship. I don’t know why, Van Halen “mountain” seems like a pretty arrogant place.
  6. Credence Clearwater Revival – formed with John and Tom Fogerty both guitar and John on lead vocals. John was so controlling and dictatorial, Tom finally got fed up and left the band at the height of their popularity. I don’t think they ever spoke again until right before Tom passed in 1990. Sad ending to a great band. John and the remaining members in the band have been locked in a decades long feud that has included law suits and a Hall of Fame ceremony performance snub when John refused to share the stage with the original rhythm section. Cursed? I think so.
  7. The Allman Brothers – Finally a band named after the theme of this article. While the Allman Brothers, Gregg (keyboards) and Duane (lead guitar) got along, my curse theory jumps into high gear with them. As they began to get really big, Duane died in a tragic motorcycle crash. A year later Barry Oakley the bass player dies the same way. Gregg eventually alienated the rest of the band by testifying against their road manager in a drug case. When they finally got it back together in the 90s they ended up having to fire Dickey Betts for all sorts of misdeeds. I think I sense the mark of Cain here…
  8. AC/DC – AC/DC’s Young brothers are some of my favorite people in rock and roll. But you have to wonder about their being cursed a little bit. Just as “Highway To Hell” poises them for world domination, the lead singer Bon Scott chokes on his own vomit, which is the way true rock stars should go, in my opinion. Brian Johnson joins and history is made. Their popularity waned but about the time of “Razor’s Edge” they pulled it back together and started making great hard rock again. Then Malcolm Young, the rhythm guitarist fell victim to dementia. Brian Johnson has gone deaf and has been replaced by Axl Rose of all people. Worse yet, Phil Rudd their intrepid drummer has become a meth dealing thug. I just heard he may have had a heart attack. Heavy weighs the crown of the hard rock world.
  9. The Wailers – as in, Bob Marley and the Wailers. The Wailers were originally formed as a vocal trio, like a doo-wop group. Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer got together to sing and harmonize together. Eventually they morphed into an actual band and around 1970, they recruited Lee Perry’s rhythm section, brothers drummer Carlton Barrett and bass player Ashton “Family Man” Barrett. After making reggae a world wide phenomenon, Tosh and Bunny both quit. Bob carried on until he succumbed to brain cancer. Peter Tosh was shot and killed. Sadly, drummer Carlton Barrett suffered the same fate, when he was shot by an unknown gunman in his front yard. That’s a pretty awful story. Babylon system indeed.
  10. INXS – I loved INXS, Michael Hutchence and the Farriss brothers, from Australia almost from the first. With Hutchence good looks they were the darling of early MTV. The three Farriss brothers were pretty goofy looking side kicks but they could play. Sadly, the curse of brother bands struck them when Hutchence either committed suicide or died of auto-erotic asphyxiation, a phrase that I never would have imagined would exist. Sure, INXS was on the downward slide at the time, but you never know when the come back is right around the corner. Many of us had to cringe as the Farriss brothers used a reality TV show to recruit a new singer. You don’t replace a messianic lead singer like Michael Hutchence with a TV show. They should have changed their name…

As the sun sets tonight… my advice as always, is to pour something strong and murky, perhaps a nice Blanton’s and call your brother. He probably hasn’t heard from you in a while and it’d be nice if he did.

Cheers!

LP Review: The Dead Daises, “Make Some Noise”

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Maybe it was the release of Metallica’s hard, heavy metal single, “Hardwired” that put me in a hard rock/heavy metal mood, but all weekend long I found myself searching out something loud to listen to. I needed some “rawk!” Maybe something a little less punishingly hard than the excellent “Hardwired…” I needed some 80’s style metal. Luckily, my friend Drummer Blake reached out and mentioned a band to me that I’ve been hearing about lately, the Dead Daisies. I had some vague ideas that they were a hard rock band but wasn’t sure what to expect. Drummer Blake assured me, “all members (of the Dead Daisies) are monster players.” Man, he wasn’t kidding.

The Dead Daisies are almost more of a musical collective than a band, sort of like the Queens of the Stone Age. They have some members who seem more or less permanent but they’ve had quite a few folks revolve in and out during their brief history. Members past and present have played with Motley Crue, Whitesnake, GnR, Thin Lizzy, INXS, the Cult and even some of the backing members of the Rolling Stones and Xpensive Winos. That’s quite a pedigree, if I do say so myself.

Is it possible for a band to be a “Supergroup” if its members all come from bigger bands, but no one has ever heard of these particular musicians? The most well known guy currently in the band is John Corabi who is most known for his one LP stint as lead singer of Motley Crue… and here I thought Corabi was a rock and roll footnote… boy, was I wrong. Doug Aldrich is the lead guitarist (who actually came in to replace Richard Fortus who left with Dizzy Reed to rejoin GnR on their spectacular reunion tour). Aldrich apparently played guitar with Whitesnake and Dio and the guy can shred. The line up is filled out by Marco Mendoza (Thin Lizzy) on bass, Brian Tichy (Whitesnake) drums and David Lowy on rhythm guitar.

“Make Some Noise,” their current album, which came out on August 5th is a hard rock party. I really had a lot of fun listening to this album this weekend. The music reminds me of Slash’s last solo album with Myles Kennedy, “World On Fire.” That’s not to say Aldrich is as good as Slash, nobody is as good on lead as Slash but Aldrich can play. The tunes on this album have a similar sound. “Long Way To Go” kicks the album off like a cannon shot. It may be my favorite song on here. But there are many stand outs here – “Last Time I Saw the Sun,” “Mainline,” and “Freedom” are all kick ass, upbeat hard rock tunes. These guys rock like it’s 1987 again and I mean that as a compliment. In one tune I even heard somebody mention cocaine… ah, the 80’s.

The band does two really great covers, CCR’s “Fortunate Son” in what may be the most muscular, rocking version of that song ever done, and The Who’s “Join Together” to end the album. Full disclosure: I love both of those songs, so I’m prejudiced, but those covers are perfect for this band. I especially like to turn up the volume on “Fortunate Son.” The title track, “Make Some Noise” is a shout along stomper that could have been lifted from a Quiet Riot album… Ah, the flashbacks…Needless today, there are no ballads here…If you rock this well, who needs to slow it down for the chicks.

I’m not seeing a lot about these guys in the music press or hearing any of this great rock and roll on the radio, terrestrial or satellite, but if you dig hard rock, do yourself a favor and check out “Make Some Noise.” I found myself smiling all weekend while I listened to this album. Pour yourself something strong and that smile might even cross your face too!

Double Devil Horns to all of you!

Cheers!

Metallica’s New Single: “Hardwired,” a Breakneck Badass Return

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 Ah, Metallica. Is there a band who inspired so much loyalty in their early days and so much ire in their later career? I wasn’t in the first wave of Metallica fans who flocked to the band’s anger and alienation over the course of their brilliant first four albums: “Kill ‘Em All,” “Ride the Lightning,” “Master of Puppets,” and “…And Justice For All.” It was quite a creative run over those first four albums. It could be argued they set the template for all hard rock/heavy metal going forward. What they were doing ran counter to everything that was going on in metal during the 80s: big hair, make up, songs about sex, and lycra. Metallica was just raw, angry emotion set to hard, loud guitar played as fast as possible. “Louder, faster” was their mantra. Those first wave of fans were fucking rabid. I remember my friend’s little brother’s roommate. who tattoo’d “Metallica” on his inner arm. He was in med school. Could you imagine some little old lady in an ER being treated by this guy in scrubs who happens to see the Dr’s bicep with “Metallica” tattoo’d on it… heart attack cart, stat!

I got in on Metallica around the time of the “Metallica” album, aka “The Black Album.” For some reason their turn toward shorter, more “riff-driven” songs was seen as a sellout. You can only take the 10-minute epic metal tunes so far, folks. I saw them on the Lollapalooza tour and I was impressed by “Ain’t My Bitch.” I was going through some things, anyway, I liked that tune a lot. I bought the “Black Album” and then worked my way backwards through the four early masterpieces. My fandom was shaken a bit during that whole “Load”/”Reload” period. It was hit and miss for me – I still despise the song “Fuel.” I did like the covers album “Garage Inc.” I had basically drifted away from Metallica as each successive album took longer and longer to appear. When suddenly, four years ago, “Death Magnetic” came out.

I really liked that album. It wasn’t a rehash of their old stuff, but it seemed to be a modern update of that long, epic song pattern they’d created on those early albums. It was a true return to form, as they say. Suddenly I found myself back at the turntable putting on “Ride the Lightning” and air-guitaring to “The Call of the Ktulu” while head banging with such intensity my cat would run and hide and believe me, that cat loved me. RIP, Merlin.

It took four more long years, but Metallica have finally returned with a new single “Hardwired,” basically the title track of their new album due in November, “Hardwired… To Self-Destruct.” And I must say, if they were thinking they were going to get any airplay on terrestrial radio with the chorus, “we’re so fucked, shit out of luck…” I’d say they were pretty accurate on that whole “self-destruct” thing. I’m trying to imagine that meeting with the record company, “Ok, it’s been four years guys, but the new single is going to be unplayable on the radio, yeah fuck radio, we’re Metallica!” Ah, Hetfield, always thinking ahead.

This new tune, “Hardwired” is hard rock played at breakneck speed. It’s fast and dirty. And I mean it’s sleazy dirty, and that’s a good thing. It’s also fast, like they all said, “Ok, meet me at the finish line guys…go!” From a sonic palette, it sounds very much akin to the sound of “Death Magnetic” but this tune clocks in at barely over 3 minutes, something unthinkable on that last album. The gaps between the tunes were longer than the length of “Hardwired” on the last LP, “Death Magnetic.” The song hits so hard and goes by so fast there’s almost a punk ethos here. Lar’s drums are manic, like a heart beating so fast it’s about to explode. Kirk Hammett’s guitar solo, while brief, is as melodic and intense (and quickly played) as anything he’s done. Kirk is truly one of the great lead guitarists and I don’t think he gets enough credit. Hetfield is the usual Hetfield, he just barks out the lyrics with unbridled enthusiasm.

This song absolutely “RAWKS” and should be checked out by anybody into metal, Metallica or just plain good fucking heavy metal.

Double “Devil Horns” to all of you, Cheers!