Posts Tagged ‘Rock


songs everyone should own: pond – moth wings

Catchy, harmonic rock from some of the members of Tame Impala.  Grab it now while it’s free!



van halen – 1984

There is just so much wuss rock out there these days that I feel like I need a jolt of good old fashioned misogynistic, lustful, drunken, hard living rock to remind me that real rock does still exist.  I mean, I often wonder whether or not these young kids even drink beer.

But you know who did drink beer? Van Halen.  And they drank a lot if it my friend.

Formed in 1972, the band of Eddie and Alex Van Halen originally only hired David Lee Roth to save money as they were renting his sound system. Michael Anthony was  brought in  to replace their original drummer  Mark Stone in 1974.  By the mid seventies they were a fixture in the Los Angeles club scene where they impressed folks like Rodney Bingenheimer and Gene Simmons enough to get an demo made.  In 1977 Warner Brothers was impressed enough to sign them to a deal and they released their self titled debut soon after.  Their sound was a unique fusion of hard rock, heavy metal and party rock and the resulting sound was infectious.  But as good as their first five albums were, the band’s sound truly hit its zenith with the release of 1984 in the year of it’s title.

1984 has an infectious amount of energy and no shortage of the kind catchy guitar licks that made Eddie Van Halen a household name.  Alex’s crisp, massive drum’s kept a relentless beat throughout the album, and Anthony’s bass kept the rhythm flowing under David Lee Roth’s flamboyant vocals.  You will be hard pressed to find an album this good that is this much fun at the same time, and the addition of synthesizer really helped evolve their sound into something that would become very 80’s friendly.

But 1984 also marked the end of what is known as the David Lee Roth era.   Rising tensions over band image and direction would lead to Roth’s departure and the eventual rebirth of the band with Sammy Hagar at the microphone.  But no matter who they had singing, or what changes the Van Halen brothers made to the line up, the band never quite regained that magic that they had with the original group.  Apparently they came to the same conclusion because after many years Roth is back in as lead singer.

You got to give the people what they want, and what they want is David Lee Roth Van Halen…and the dream of another album that rocks as hard as 1984.

Listen to the entire album here!

Available on Amazon for cheap HERE!

…or slightly more expensive for no reason on Itunes HERE.


fishbone – fishbone ep & truth and soul

So if I never mentioned it…I’m going to cooking school.

Le Cordon Bleu to be specific, but before you get all excited let me just reveal that it’s their online course for restaurant management.   So…no exciting cooking classes or hands on demonstrations or anything.  When I began, it was a six week semester and then a week long break.  Now it’s a 12 week double semester with no break between.

Right now I’m really missing the break part.

But, moving right along to another great album…

Before there was No Doubt, before the Red Hot Chili Peppers hit the scene or  Living Colour dropped their first album…there was Fishbone. An unlikely combination of weirdos from a junior high school in South Central Los Angeles, Fishbone didn’t look or sound like anyone else at the time…and that suited them just fine.  The original line up of Angelo Moore, John Norwood Fisher, “Dirty” Walter A. Kibby II,Kendall Jones,Chris Dowd and Philip “Fish” Fisher refused to fit the stereotype of South Central at the time…either sartorially or musically, and began making waves with their live shows and developing a sound that would go on to influence much of the music o the next two decades.

Originally their sound was pure joyful Ska, the energetic cousin of reggae, but would soon blossom into a radical mix of punk, funk, jazz and rock.  I am aware that some will point out that Truth and Soul was Fishbone’s greatest album…and you know what, I am going to go along with that too.  But for that “opening shot of the revolution”…the one where you weren’t sure what would happen next, but couldn’t wait to find out, the original Fishbone EP was the shit.  With infectious tunes like “Party at Ground Zero” and”UGLY, ” it was THE party album of it’s time and brought Ska and Reggae to the main stream.

Then we jump ahead almost ten years and Fishbone drops Truth and Soul…the album that spawned a million t shirts, and for good reason.  For the hardcore Fishbone fan, this was the deepest shit there was, and a far cry from the sound of their first EP.  Darker, grittier and funkier…even more socially conscious , but still with an upbeat ska feel.  Truth and Soul forged new ground with a sound that no one had heard before, but many would imitate after. From it’s opening cover of the Curtis Mayfield classic “Freddie’s Dead, to deeper cuts like “Ghetto Soundwave” and “Bonin in the Boneyard” it made for a wonderful listening experience.

But Fishbone is still around and going strong, and I implore you to go see a live show for a taste of the musical energy I can only poorly describe here.

Both albums can be got for cheap on Amazon!  HERE and HERE!


songs everyone should own: grand funk railroad – i’m your captain & closer to home

This is probably one of my favorite Grand Funk tracks of all time…and grossly under appreciated.

Sure it’s 10 minutes long, but it rocks so who gives a shit.  It’s a rock epic.

And the one thing this world could always use is another solid rock epic.



The Arcade Fire – Neon Bible

Every now and then someone asks me where I get my music from.  I have to say multiple sources.  Vinyl, CDs, friends and sometimes the internets.

For the most part I purchase music through legal channels because it’s the right thing to do.  But sometimes I’m just forced to do things through not so legal channels for the simple reason that the proper channels don’t have what I want.

Case in point.  A few years back my boss and I went to India on business and were horrified that we were going to miss the new episode of Lost.

“No Biggie!” I said “We’ll just watch the stream on the ABC website!”

Wrong.  When we tried, all we got was a message informing us that ABC’s streaming media was not available in our host country.   My boss was disappointed, but I said “Wait!  We can download it off iTunes! Problem solved! Yay!!!”

Wrong again.  Different website, same discouraging message as before: Service not available in your country.  Fuck.

But do you know what service was available in my country? Bit Torrent.  And an hour later we were gathered around the warm blue glow of my laptop watching Lost.  My point is, we made every effort to give money to the right people and go through the proper channels…but in the end only piracy gave us what we wanted when we wanted it.  The day the media fully embraces that concept will be a great day indeed.

Another great day was the day Montreal’s  The Arcade Fire dropped their sophomore effort “Neon Bible” on the world.

Although I’m somewhat annoyed that once again a non-American rock band has out-rocked us again, I can’t help but love their sound.  That’s just the way things go sometimes.

Originally formed at Phillips Exeter Acadamy by brothers Win and William Butler, the band lineup went through a lot of changes before finally solidifying in 2003 around Butler and his new wife Régine Chassagne.  In it’s early incarnations, the group sold copies of the now unavailable “Us Kids Know EP” while playing local shows.  If anyone has a copy of this, let me know cause I need it.

Their first full length album, “Funeral” was released in late 2004 after a recording session plagued by the deaths of several bandmate’s relatives (Thus the title. ) They garnered the attention of David Bowie who loved their sound, but it was the internets that really made The Arcade Fire into stars.  The band’s mini tour was rapidly expanded into a mega tour, large venues replaced small venues and the band soon sold out of it’s stockpile of self released albums.

It was around this time I first heard the band and was happily surprised that the hype wasn’t exaggerated.  They have a lovely indie baroque sound that I could say was close to The Killers, but a lot dreamier.  If you don’t have “Funeral,” consider that your extra credit if you like “Neon Bible.”

After the success of “Funeral” the band purchased a defunct old church outside of Montreal and spent the first half of 2006 converting it into a recording studio.  The band also made some great decisions like trying out new instruments and sounds, and deciding to self produce their new album.

I think “Neon Bible” should have been 2007 album of the year.  Why it wasn’t was a mystery to me.  Maybe because it was a sophomore effort. But regardless this album will move you…emotionally or even physically to shake your ass.  Which to me is what a good album does.

You can hear how much work went into making the album, and how much attention to detail was put into each song.  That’s a rare feeling in most of today’s music.  And while their music is kind of hard to categorize, the quality isn’t.

BONUS: You know it’s good when Spike Jones uses a song for his trailer for “Where The Wild Things Are.”  Lets hope the movie is as good.


Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run


The problem with growing old is that the older you get the faster time seems to speed up.  Today my girlfriend commented that the first decade of the new millennium was almost over, and I had to pause a second before I realized that she was right.

How in the hell did that happen?  It seems like the Bush-9/11 years went by in such a rush…not that I’ll miss them. I remember when I was young and a night could last indefinitely, a year as a lifetime and a decade was forever.

It makes you wonder if it’s time that’s changing or merely our perception of it, although I’ll  put my money on the latter…and no other artist that  I know of has been able to capture that feeling of expanded time quite like Bruce Springsteen did in his 1975 masterpiece, “Born to Run.”

Born in 1949 in New Jersey, Bruce had a hard time relating in school, but like most music legends of the time he heard Elvis Presley and knew he had to rock…getting his first guitar at age 13 for a whopping $18.  Three years later his mother would take out a loan to buy him a $60 Kent.  He languished in High School…never really fitting in to the point that he skipped his own graduation.  He spent some time in community college before deciding that school wasn’t for him and dropping out.  In 1965 he went to a local couple with a reputation for sponsoring new young bands, Tex and Marion Vinyard, who got him his first gig as head of a group called The Castiles where he was lead guitar…and soon became lead singer as well.

BY the late 60’s he was making waves with a power rock trio called Earth, where he earned his nickname “The Boss” for being the guy in charge of getting the bands money from the club owners and distributing it to the band.  Let it be noted that Bruce hates this nickname, so if you run into him try and refrain from calling him “The Boss” since he hates bosses. From 1969 to 1970 he played with a band called Steel Mill which included many future members of the E Street Band, but despite great reviews and a cult following in New Jersey Bruce was not satisfied.  He was a man in search of a sound who wouldn’t stop till he found it.

For the next few years he formed a number of bands as he hunted the sound and formed his core band…groups like Dr Zoom and the Sonic Boom, the Sundance Blues Band, and The Bruce Springsteen Band.  As word of his talent grew, he garnered the attention of Columbia records who signed him in 1972.

In the studio, Springsteen brought out the still yet to be named E Street Band to help record his debut album “Greetings From Ashbury Park, NJ” The album was a critical success, but was easily dismissed by many to be just another Dylan or Van Morrison knock off.  In 1973 he released his next album “The Wild, The Innocent and The E Street Shuffle” with the songs getting bigger and better and the band hitting a more soulful R&B vibe.  But as much critical acclaim as he was gathering…commercial viability still alluded Bruce and it was slowly draining him.

But in early 1974 Bruce found a new ally in music critic Jon Landau, who after seeing the band perform declared “I saw the future of rock and roll, and it’s name is Bruce Springsteen.”  Landau became Bruce’s new manger and the producer who would help him finish his last chance album “Born to Run.”  Bruce was given a huge budget but had gotten bogged down in the studio searching for the Phil Spector “Wall of Sound” feel. It took 14 months to record the album, with six of those months devoted to the title track alone.  A release of an early mix of the album to progressive rock stations was already beginning to grow the buzz, and Bruce was determined to get it right…becoming angry and frustrated by the fact he couldn’t translate the sounds in his head to the recording.  Steven Van Zandt came in the nick of time to help Springsteen polish his sound and get some of the sounds in his head on tape, but even the finished product didn’t please Bruce who chucked the album into an alley.

Luckily it didn’t stay there.  On August 13th, 1975 Bruce and the E Street Band began a five night ten show run at the Bottom Line Club in New York.  Broadcast on FM radio, the shows silenced any detractors once and for all and let everyone know that Bruce Springsteen was the real thing.  When the album dropped a few weeks later, the commercial success he had been searching for finally arrived with it.

I always knew I liked Springsteen, I just didn’t know much about him growing up because my sisters really didn’t listen to him and that was my only influx of modern music in the house.  Now after years of listening I feel safe pointing all non believers in the direction of this album because it’s such a pure example of  rock and roll.  I defy you to listen to it and not feel good.  Some may say “Darkness on the Edge of Town” was a better album, and I’d be inclined to agree with them…but it just doesn’t make you feel like “Born to Run.”

BTW: These videos are from Bruce’s performance at the Hammersmith Odeon Theater from November of 1975.  You should own that too.

I’m just sayin.


Joe Cocker – Mad Dogs and Englishmen


I really wish more bands would learn a few cover songs to add to their repertoire.

When you go see The Rolling Stones, they obviously don’t need to ’cause they have 50 some odd years of material to play with…but with the newer bands out there it would really help.  It’s really disappointing to go see a hot new band and all they can play is the songs off their only album. I’ve sat through a couple of shows that ended like this:

“Sorry, that’s all the songs we know!  Goodnight!”

And I’m sitting there in the audience thinking “Really?!?! What kind of musicians are you???  You only know ten songs???” It’s at this point that the concept of the cover song becomes necessary.

So, if you are a musician in a band that is touring, learn some extra material.  Not only will it help stretch out your set and show your range, but it also gives you an encore when your album set is over. It’s such a no brainer that I have a hard time figuring out why more bands don’t do it.

And no one understood the concept of covering a song better than Joe Cocker.

Born in Sheffield in 1944, he made his first public performance on stage at age 12 with his brother’s skiffle band.(Is it just me, or was every UK musician required to be in a skiffle band at the time?)  A few years after, Joe formed his own band, The Cavaliers, but broke it up after a year when Cocker left school to pursue music full time.

By 1961, Cocker had taken on a new stage name and was playing local venues under the moniker of Vance Arnold and the Avengers…mostly doing covers of Chuck Berry and such. They reached their apex in 1963 when they opened for The Rolling Stones at a concert at City Hall.  Cocker was soon signed to Decca Records and released his first single, a cover of The Beatles ‘I’ll Cry Instead,’ but despite a huge promotional push by the label,  the single fell flat and he was dropped. This led to Joe’s dropping of the Vance Arnold name and forming a new band, Joe Cocker’s Big Blues…but after a tour of France, that band too was disbanded for lack of funds.  Cocker decided to take some time off from the music scene.

By this point Cockerwas well known for his gravelly vocals and high energy performances, and in 1966 he formed The Grease Band with friend Chris Stainton. After a string of local Sheffield performances, The Grease Band caught the attention of Procol Harem producer Denny Cordell, who brought a solo Cocker into the studio to record another single, ‘Marjorine.’ Soon the Grease Band was disbanded and Cocker and Stainton had moved to London where they would soon have a residency at the Marquee Club.

‘Marjorine’ proved to be a modest success, but Cocker soon hit paydirt with his classic rendition of the Beatles ‘With a Little Help from My Friends’ which featured Jimmy Page on guitar and Steve Winwood on drums.  I’ll say this much, when Joe Cockercovers a song, he covers a song. The band went on tour with The Who in 1968, and after a early 69 tour With Gene Pitney, Joe and his band headed to the states for a tour of their own. His album “With a Little Help From My Friends” was released around the same time and soon went gold.

While on the tour, Cocker and his new Grease Band hit some big name shows like the Denver Pop and the Newport Rock Festivals, and so they were likely candidates to play at Woodstock. When the band arrived, they had to be flown in by helicopter due to the crowds, and played a legendary set that culminated in a rainstorm.

Cocker was on a roll.  Almost immediately after Woodstock he released his second album “Joe Cocker!”   His work on “Friends” won him fans like George Harrison and Paul McCartney who were happy to let him use ‘She Came in Through the Bathroom Window’ and ‘Something’ for his latest work. He hit the TV circuit and soon cemented his reputation as a dynamic performer…but by the end of 1969 Joe was burnt out.  Not wanting to do another tour, he dissolved the Grease Band again.

Unfortunately for Joe, a US tour had already been booked and He had only days to get a band together. Luckily, Leon Russell heard of his plight and offered to help put the group together.  By days end they had a band of ten people…including Russell and Stainton.  After four grueling days of twelve hour rehearsals and the addition of eleven back-up singers, someone suggested they film the tour.  The result was “Mad Dogs and Englishmen.”

Filmed on March 27th and 28th at the legendary Fillmore in 1970, the album captures not only Cocker’s energy, but the feel of the merry band of 43 musicians, family, and crew that made up the group as a whole.  This is the way Joe Cocker was meant to be heard.  You get all the hit’s: The Beatles covers, ‘Delta Lady’ and ‘The Letter’… but also quieter pieces like “Bird on a Wire’ and the Russell song ‘Girl From The North Country.’

The group disbanded two months later…as tensions in the band and Joe’s drinking began to get out of hand.  It’s a fitting close to the Woodsstock era…but the album captures that brief moment in time when it seems like it was all going to be alright.

The album is a must…and so is the DVD if you’re into that sort of thing.



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