Over the Thanksgiving break, I was re-organizing my CD collection, dusting off some old gems, and cataloging some new acquisitions. As I often do when browsing my collection, I pulled out some albums that I hadn’t listened to in a while and gave them a spin. Two of the discs I played featured London LeGrand on vocals, (Brides of Destruction’s debut and Souls Of We) and that found me pondering whatever happened to this guy?
When Brides Of Destruction released their debut album, Here Come The Brides, I was excited because it featured Nikki Sixx and Traci Guns. That was an interesting combination and I wanted to hear the album for those two alone. What blew me away on first listen were the vocals. A raspy, deep, rocking voice was singing and screaming some exceptional music and it made me an immediate fan. I wore that Brides CD out and I was happy to give it another listen (or six) just last week.
After a stellar debut, Nikki Sixx left the Brides and returned to Motley Crue full time. The Brides released a second CD, which was not even as close to awesome as their debut, but there were still a few gems, mostly due to London’s vocal prowess. After their second disc, the Brides split up and LeGrand went on to work with George Lynch for Souls Of We.
Once again it was the excitement of hearing an established musician (George Lynch) that attracted me to the album, but it was the vocals of London LeGrand that hooked me on the album. With superb songs like “Skeleton Key” and “Let The Truth Be Known,” Souls Of We put out a fantastic record with a strong vocalist that I could listen to again and again.
Souls Of We was reputed to be working on their follow up album in 2010, but everything has been quiet since that announcement. Lynch went on tour with Oni Logan and Lynch Mob and then released a solo album. He followed that up by forming Tooth And Nail with his former Dokken band mates (minus Don Dokken). LeGrand has been quiet since 2009, with the exception of a few guest appearances both live and on studio albums. Whether he’s waiting for Lynch to finish the new Souls of We, going back to being a hairstylist, or if he has other plans, is still unclear at this time.
What is clear is that London LeGrand should definitely be making more music. His voice is magnificent and perfect for glam/hard rock bands all over. There are several bands out there in need of a lead singer in which LeGrand would be a perfect fit (Britny Fox comes to mind immediately). He would also be a fantastic fit for Velvet Revolver should they ever want to get back together. Perhaps he could reach out to some contacts and form a super group all on his own. Think London LeGrand, CC Deville, Billy Childs, and Bobby Rock.
Whatever the decision, I just think it is a complete waste of talent that London LeGrand isn’t singing, performing, and otherwise making music. He is an exceptional talent that needs to be revived and back into the public eye. What about you? Love London? Hate him? Not sure who he is? Drop a line and let us know what your thoughts are.
I know this may be hard to believe, but writing for Hard Rock Hideout is not my primary job. I’m sure that if the site was making a fortune, Rob Rockitt, my esteemed editor, would pay me a mint to write more music reviews, interviews, podcasts, and implement a lot of other cool ideas for the site. Alas, that is not the case, and therefore I have a regular 9 to 5 job.
Unfortunately, said 9 to 5 job has been kicking me in the rectum lately with a plethora of work and an overload of extra hours. And since I am salaried, that means no extra money (I would love to know what politician came up with that idea). My 9 to 5 has been more 9 to 9 plus 2 either way. Basically, work has been hell and I am just doing my best to survive. With two huge program launches set to take place mid-December, the worst of it should be over in a few short weeks, but it until then, the nightmare continues.
Thankfully, instead of quitting or doing something equally foolish, I have turned to music to get me through this rough spot in life. As I often do when in times of sorrow or anger or despair, I look for the right music to help me with the mood. The proper songs can certainly help ease the pain of the day, both on the way to the office and the return home.
Most morning drives start with “Bitch” by Metallica. It serves a purpose in that a, my job is a bitch these days, and b, it is a hard rocker that pulses right through me when played at maximum volume. The ripping intro of pounding drums and shredding guitar set the mood and when the vocals kick in, I scream along at the top of my lungs.
“Bitch” is usually followed by Theory Of A Deadman’s “Hate My Life.” The verse about hating my job and boss are sung with particular emphasis. It’s another hard rocker that keeps the commute moving along and pushes the adrenaline through my system. Shinedown’s “Bully” usually follows, mostly for the line “It’s 8 AM, this hell I’m in.” And while “Bully” is more about surviving the school day, I’ve found ways to translate it to my current work situation. I feel like I’m being bullied by clients and bosses.
The ride home is usually filled with songs that manifest other people’s sorrow. These songs serve to remind me that no matter how bad it gets, there are others out there who are dealing with their own challenges. Foo Fighters tend to kick things off. I’ve been listening to “These Days” a lot. It’s a great song about pain and sorrow and unrequited love that takes me back to my teenage years. “Savior” by Rise Against comes next. This is a powerful punk song about relationships gone wrong. Rise Against is an outstanding band that I listen to in waves. They have gotten a lot of car play lately and singing along to “Savior” always seems to put a smile on my face.
The drive home medley seems to end with “Thrash Unreal” by Against Me! I’ve always thought that this song was perfect. The descriptions of middle aged agony and addiction are beautiful and the harmony throughout the song is exceptional. This is also a song that is sung along with so loud, my throat can be raw by the end of it, and most nights, it is. Feeling the torture of someone else trying to understand their place in the world really resonates with me, especially at times like this when I question what I do for a living and why I do it. “Thrash Unreal” helps me to remember clearly that there are others going through their share of pain and doubt as well.
What about you? Do you have particular songs that you blast in times of trouble or doubt? Does anyone know any songs that I should be checking out and adding to my morning or evening rotations? Drop a line in the comments and let us know!
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While rifling through my CD/record/cassette tape/mp3/music collection this past weekend, I happened upon the self-titled debut album from Britny Fox. I quickly decided to dust the cassette off and give it a whirl in the old tape deck. Yes, I still have a cassette deck, and yes, it still works…sometimes. Fortunately, this was one of those times that it worked.
Putting in Britny Fox plastered a smile across my face and brought back a wave of memories. From 1988 – 1990, I was as obsessed with Britny Fox as I am with Pop Evil today. I thought that Britny Fox was one of the greatest bands in rock with the potential to have a huge future. The first time that I heard “Long Way To Love” on MTV, I was hooked. I picked up their debut album not long after that. Packed with gems like “Girlschool,” “Save The Weak,” “In America,” and their magnificent cover of Slade’s “Gudbuy T’Jane,” that tape was fantastic.
The band released an exceptional follow up with 1989’s Boys In Heat. This album contained two of the band’s biggest hits in their cover of Nazareth’s “Hair Of The Dog,” and the ever popular “Dream On,” which spent weeks in the top ten of Dial MTV (which was how bands got their notoriety back then). With Boys In Heat doing so well, I just knew that Britny Fox was going to take over the world. Then something happened within the band, and Dean Davidson, the band’s cherished lead singer, left. He went on to form Blackeyed Susan, while Britny Fox went out to find a new singer in Tommy Paris.
I picked up a copy of Blackeyed Susan’s Electric Rattlebone not long after its release and I loved it. I still have that on cassette to this day and that still plays as well. It was a more southern sounding version of Britny Fox, less metal, more blues, and I liked it a lot. However, when Davidson left Britny Fox, I never went back to them. The band released Bite Down Hard in 1991, but without Davidson, I didn’t bother to pick up the album. Blackeyed Susan never released another record. Their follow up album Just A Taste was recorded, but never put out, which is a shame. So what happened to these guys? Where have they been? What have they been doing? Where are they now?
Dean Davidson – Lead Vocals
After leaving Britny Fox to form Blackeyed Susan, Dean Davidson released one album with that band and recorded a second. When the music genre shifted, Davidson went silent for a while and then reappeared in 1999 when 80s metal was having a resurgence. He would go on to record solo albums, and there were rumors in 2010 that he was getting back together with Britny Fox, but that never happened. These days, Davidson is working on a new country-tinged solo album that is due out in 2014.
Michael Kelly Smith – Lead Guitar
Guitarist Michael Kelly Smith stayed with Britny Fox until the end of their run (1993) when the music scene changed dramatically. In 2003 he performed with a band called Razamanaz and released one album. Smith was involved with the production of the greatest hits and live albums that Britny Fox released, but has not done much in the field of music since his days with them.
Billy Childs – Bass Guitar
Bassist Billy Childs bounced around a lot after 2003. There were a few different lineups of Britny Fox and he was involved in them all, most recently, the 2008 (and last) Britny Fox lineup, which played several club dates throughout the US. These days, Billy Childs is the bassist in a Led Zeppelin cover band called Get The Led Out. The band still tours nationally and they have some Northeast dates scheduled for this November and December.
Johnny Dee – Drums
Drummer Johnny Dee went on to play in Doro’s touring band after the demise of Britny Fox, where he remains to this day. Dee played drums on Doro’s last two albums, Fear No Evil and Raise Your Fist and toured all over Europe and the US with the band. Dee is currently out on the road in Europe for Doro’s 30th anniversary tour.
With festivals like M3 and Rocklahoma happening annually, it would be nice to think that Britny Fox could get back together for a small tour or at least some festival performances, but that is highly unlikely. It appears that Davidson and the rest of the band still don’t speak and it is doubtful that they would be willing to put aside their differences for even one tour. That’s unfortunate, because there are still a lot of fans out there who would love to see Britny Fox play live.
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This past Tuesday, Pearl Jam released their 10th studio album, Lightning Bolt. Prior to the release of the record, there was a lot of buzz and hype. The two singles that were released over the last three months, “Mind Your Manners” and “Sirens” had me excited that this new record could be their best album since the self-titled avocado release. Not only could it be their best album since then, Lightning Bolt could be their best album since Yield.
If you haven’t checked out Pearl Jam in a while, Lightning Bolt is a great place to get back on board with the band. They are currently on a fall tour of the U.S., and for anyone who has never seen them live, I say this: Pearl Jam is one band that you must see in concert before you die. Most of the shows for this fall tour still have tickets available for purchase, albeit not many and not the best seats. Key venues like Brooklyn and Seattle have been sold out since the minute tickets went on sale, so fans in that area (yep – that’s me) are out of luck unless they take a road trip. And if you’ve never seen the band live before, a road trip is worth the cost, time and effort. Pearl Jam is one of the greatest live acts I’ve ever witnessed.
It’s amazing to see that after 22 years, this band is still making solid, meaningful music. The latest single, “Sirens,” is the new “Black.” It is also the greatest Pearl Jam song ever recorded. Between the emotion with which lead vocalist Eddie Vedder sings, the brilliance of Mike McCready’s guitar solos and the haunting piano chords from Boom Gasper, “Sirens” hits every nerve in the soul of the listener. The lyrics are outstanding, highlighting Vedder’s skill in crafting a masterpiece with meaning. The song is also a perfect example of how well the band has aged over the years.
“Mind Your Manners” is reminiscent of “Spin The Black Circle” (from Vitalogy), but stronger and more enjoyable. “Lightning Bolt” is a phenomenal song that captures the Pearl Jam of today and includes another stupendous solo from McCready. Other notable tracks on the new album include “Let The Records Play” and the beautiful ballad, “Yellow Moon.”
Early era Pearl Jam is well represented on this album, although with a modern twist. Influences from Ten, Vs,, and Vitalogy can all be heard with clarity. Yet they are no longer singing about the youth movement and overtaking the world, Pearl Jam have now looked inward and are starting to feel the effects of aging and mortality. A lot of that emotion shows on Lightning Bolt, and is put to good use by the band. Themes of aging, doubt, uncertainty, and the end of life are all captured and exploited in a manner that only a magnificent veteran rock act like Pearl Jam could manage.
It’s been four years since Pearl Jam released their last studio album (Backspacer), but the long wait was well worth it. Lightning Bolt displays only the best of this storied band. Producer Brendan O’Brien worked closely with the group to ensure that only the highest quality was memorialized for this record. The hard work and long hours paid off, as Lightning Bolt is destined to be a number one album and help Pearl Jam reclaim the title of “most talked about rock band.” Although these days, it won’t be for their boycott of ticketing agencies, or their feuds with other famous musicians—this time it will be all about the performance.
In a couple of months when I am pouring over all of the new releases that I’ve heard this year, trying in earnest to pick my ten favorites of 2013, I can guarantee that Lightning Bolt will be battling for the top spot. If you get one new record this fall, Lightning Bolt should be it. And if you go to see one concert this autumn, Pearl Jam should be your concert of choice. And if you have an extra ticket and need a huge fan to keep you company, feel free to get in touch with me. I’d be happy to attend.
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With football season upon us, all of the gamblers are talking about odds. What are the odds for this game? What are the odds for that game? Well, I like to look at the odds too, but my thought pattern heads in a different direction—music. So instead of presenting the odds on Sunday’s big games, I thought I’d put together the odds on a few things that may happen in the world of hard rock music. I call this edition of Vie’s Verses, “Chances Are…” It’s easy to play and easy to follow along. So join me know as we look at the chances of certain things happening in the world of hard rock and heavy metal.
Black Sabbath Release One More Album With Bill Ward
During recent interviews, Ozzy Osbourne has stated that he would love to record one more Black Sabbath album with Bill Ward behind the drum kit. He’s been on record saying that if Ward could get his act together, they could do it. So, what are the chances that this would actually happen? Coming off of a very successful tour behind a brilliant studio album (13), the stars are aligned for Sabbath to return to the studio and make another record. However, with health concerns for Tony Iommi, the overall age of the band, and the weariness that being on the road brings, I don’t see Black Sabbath gathering to record another record anytime in the near future. In addition to all of that, Bill Ward would still need to work out financial terms with Sharon Osbourne, which can be a deal breaker as well. While I think the chances are decent that Black Sabbath will make another record, I think that they are much less than that to make a record with Bill Ward.
Chances: Slim (22%)
Lightning Bolt Goes Platinum
Next month, Pearl Jam will be releasing their 10th studio album, Lightning Bolt. I have high expectations for this record, especially based on lead single, “Mind Your Manners.” What I really what to know is how well will this record sell. The band has never released a record that went less than gold, but their last platinum album was 1998’s Yield. They haven’t had a multiplatinum album since Vitalogy, all the way back in 1994. That’s almost 20 years. And yet, the band continues to press on. Their Wrigley concert, held earlier this summer, sold out in minutes, and most of the dates for their fall tour are also sold out. There is still a rather large demand for Pearl Jam, but will that demand translate into record sales? Judging from their previous releases, the easy argument is no, but I have a feeling that Lightning Bolt is going to be a very special album.
Chances: Good (78%)
Motley Crue’s Next Tour Really Is Their Last
Every band says that their farewell tour really is the end. And then something inevitably happens and the band is touring again within five years. So is Motley Crue the next in line to claim it’s the end, only to be back out on the road in a few short years? I’ve read all the interviews with Vince Neil stating that this is really going to be it. The band doesn’t want to be on a forever farewell tour, they don’t want to be like other bands who claim it’s the end, only to come back, but again, every single band says that. It’s no secret that Crue has had difficulty selling out shows on recent tours. They haven’t released a new album since Saints Of Los Angeles in 2008 and while there is speculation that a new album will be released before the next tour, I am doubtful. I am also doubtful that this next tour will be their last. The band is probably going through some inner turmoil right now (nothing new to them) and just want to place an end date out there so they can say, “Okay, the end is in sight. I can get through this now.” Honestly though what else are they going to do? Yes, Nikki has SIXX:AM, but that is nowhere near the same as having Motley Crue. And while Mick Mars health may be the one piece that makes this “farewell” tour a reality, I am still doubtful.
Chances: Slim (24%)
Axl And Slash Bury The Hatchet And The Original Guns N Roses Reunites
By now most fans have given up the ghost and no longer holding out for an all original member reunion from one of the biggest rock bands ever, Guns N Roses. While Slash may be willing to bury the hatchet and go out on a final mega-tour, Axl will never allow this reunion to take place. There is still way too much anger inside of him, and for whatever reason, he still holds a lot of hatred toward Slash. I personally think that Axl is jealous of how loved Slash is by the GNR fans. Whatever the reason, Axl has stated that there is no way he would ever be on stage with Slash again. And while there was a sliver of hope about a year ago, I think that hope has died. The only way to see the original Guns N Roses on stage together is to watch it on video.
Chances: Absolutely None (0%)
Van Halen Records A New Album And Tours By 2015
All has been quiet in the Van Halen camp as of late. Rumors pop up from time to time that the band is in the studio, or planning a massive tour for next year, only to be quickly shot down by the band or their PR department. And while the demand for tickets is still there, the real question lies on whether this band can keep it together for an entire tour. Between infighting, unstableness, and huge egos, Van Halen is always at the center of some sort of controversy when they are on the road. Their last album was supposedly a bunch of reworked outtakes from the 70s, which leads to the question of whether there is any creative fuel left in the tank. David Lee Roth is always ready to record or head out on the road, but his musical partner, Eddie Van Halen, works at a much slower pace. With no new tour dates emerging, I think it is safe to say that it will be a long wait before we get a new Van Halen album.
Chances: Slim To None (17%)
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This past Saturday I had the pleasure of seeing the Carnival Of Madness tour with Hard Rock Hideout’s own Rob Rockitt. With some great bands on the bill and ticket prices being very reasonable, how could we say no? We got to witness: We As Human, In This Moment, Skillet, Papa Roach, and headliners Shinedown, for less than the price of a trip to the movies. Now that’s what I call bang for your buck!
And while all of the bands were exceptional in the live setting, headliners Shinedown really stood out for me. I had not seen Shinedown since 2004 when I watched them open for Van Halen as part of the Van-Hagar reunion. At the time, I barely knew who the band was, but I thought that they were good enough to learn more about. Flash forward almost ten years and I got to watch them as headliners for one amazing bill.
Shinedown’s current album, Amaryllis, is their best album yet and I ranked it as the 5th best hard rock album for 2012. And while their album is phenomenal, it is nothing compared to their live show. In short, Shinedown kicked my ass all over Cincinnati. From the opening notes of “I’m Not Alright” being played behind the curtain, I knew this was going to be a special night. When the curtain came crashing down, we were witness to a circus act of fire jugglers, some on stilts, some on unicycles, and some just walking. The flames lit up from the back of the stage and we could feel the heat in our seats. Rob and I simply started at each other slack jawed. It was one of the coolest openings to a concert I had ever experienced. And that was only the beginning.
Shinedown really worked hard to keep things upbeat and to keep the crowd involved. A huge video screen was the backdrop to their stage, and it frequently played all different sorts of videos as the band performed their hits. For “Enemies,” the band’s video to the song aired in the background, for “Adrenaline,” it was a whip riding drive through city streets at night, and for “Bully” it was the saddest and most touching moment of the night (more on that in a little bit).
Nothing but the hits were performed (and Shinedown has a lot of them), but it wasn’t just the hits that made their performance so memorable. It was the energy that the band performed them with. Every song they played came with an urgency like this was their only chance to win fans over permanently. There was no stopping Shinedown for this concert. Their passion, their energy, their desire, and their hunger were all evident and greatly appreciated.
When “Sound Of Madness” was performed as the first song of the encore, I was quite surprised. I was certain that it would have been the last song of the night. However, Shinedown saved that honor for “Bully.” The band’s performance of Bully was as strong and solid as the other 14 songs they played prior. However, it was the video on the screen that really jolted me and made me take notice.
I am not sure if anyone is familiar with the story of Amanda Todd (I certainly wasn’t). The quick rundown is that Amanda was a teenage girl who made the mistake of allowing herself to be seen topless online. From that moment on she was bullied and tormented by one disgusting man and several ignorant teenagers. Ultimately, it led to her suicide (after several attempts).
Prior to her suicide, she made a You Tube video, telling her story through handwritten cards that she then filmed. As Shinedown played Bully at maximum volume, the Amanda Todd video played on the screen. It was a touching, heart wrenching, amazing moment that left me breathless and near tears. It was Shinedown’s final act of a spectacular night. (If you would like to know more about Amanda Todd and her story, there is a Wikipedia page that you can check – just look up Amanda Todd on Wikipedia or Google).
I will admit that I am a little jaded with concerts in general. I attend a lot of them every year and tend to take some shows for granted, especially bands that I have seen several times. But every now and again, I see a band for the first time (or their first time headlining) and I am so amazed that I immediately want to see them again. That was the case this past Saturday with Shinedown. They immediately leaped to my top 10 bands list and I will be seeking them out in concert again. If Shinedown is heading to your town, I highly recommend that you purchase tickets for their show.
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It’s August. The dog days of summer. Baseball is waiting for September when the pennant races get exciting. Football is in pre-season that not many people pay attention too. Hockey and basketball are still weeks away from starting up. The movies are churning out the leftovers that weren’t good enough for early summer. And the summer concerts are winding down. Haven’t had a chance to take in a show this year? Worried that the season may have passed you by? Well, fear not. This edition of Vie’s Verses is dedicated to some great remaining concerts that you can still catch.
Kid Rock/ZZ Top
Want to see a show on the cheap? Do you plan on being in the Detroit area in August? Kid Rock has you covered. Rock is currently touring with ZZ Top and Uncle Kracker and they will take up a week long residence in Detroit, before heading out to other stops on the end of their summer trek. The great thing about the Kid Rock tour is that prices are intentionally low. Every ticket, regardless of where the seat is, is $20. That’s a pretty good price to see ZZ Top and Kid Rock. Rock puts on an energetic performance, and fans definitely get their money’s worth.
The Carnival Of Madness Tour is in full swing featuring Skillet, Papa Roach, and Shinedown as the headline act. This is a great package show that runs through mid-September and tickets are still available for most dates. Papa Roach is an incredible live act, Skillet’s new album is excellent, and Shinedown is a hard rocking band still touring in support of the magnificent Amaryllis. Tickets range between $33 to $85 and for a total of five solid bands (In This Moment and We As Human are also performing) this is a great value for a summer concert.
Alice In Chains/Jane’s Addiction
Two great bands, one great night. Alice In Chains has teamed up with Jane’s Addiction to head out on the road. Throw in Coheed and Cambria, Danko Jones, and Circa Survive and you have one heck of a festival concert. Both Alice In Chains and Jane’s Addiction have a deep catalog of hits to perform, and while I’ve never seen Alice In Chains in concert, I know that Jane’s Addiction puts on an exceptional show. I’ve also heard great things about Danko Jones’ live act. Tickets range between $30 and $128 for this package deal and the tour runs through September 15th.
Black Sabbath. The forefathers of heavy metal. One of the most notorious bands in the history of rock and roll. If you’ve never seen Black Sabbath live, now is the time to change that. Sabbath is one of those bands that have to be seen live before you (or they) die. And with the age of this band, who knows how many more (if any) tours they have in them? On their current tour, the band sounds great, they play a set list of hits, and some new songs are featured that are absolutely fabulous live in concert. Ozzy’s vocals are clean and crisp, Geezer Butler sounds great on the bass, and Tony Iommi has never played a better guitar. I was absolutely amazed by the talent this band can still bring to the stage. Tickets for this show range between $47 and $163.
Up the irons! Iron Maiden is doing a quick 7 show run through the US with Megadeth as the opening act. The band is hitting specific spots of the country, so some travel may be required, but if you have the time and the desire, Maiden makes for a great summer night live in concert. The band is still performing their Maiden England tour, which means there will be nothing but hits. It’s reliving the late 80s all over again. Words can’t even describe how incredible Iron Maiden is in concert, and if you’ve been longing for a superb summer concert, this is the one to see. Tickets range between $42 and $109. Having seen Maiden in concert several times, I can tell you that the price is worth it.
To see if any of these bands are coming near your town, visit Ticketmaster (www.ticketmaster.com). And if none of these shows are nearby, there is no need to worry. The fall will be here before you know it bringing a great many shows of its own.
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It’s been a while since you’ve heard me complain (or whine, if you prefer) about ticket prices. I haven’t recently dedicated a Vie’s Verses to it. I haven’t tweeted (@ryovie) about my disgust with ticket prices for a few months. And I haven’t commented via podcast about the climbing prices of concert tickets. Yet, with my upcoming attendance at the New Jersey Black Sabbath show, I thought that it was time to revisit ticket prices and even offer an idea that may change the way tickets are sold (at least, I can only hope).
For the Black Sabbath show, I am sitting on the lawn. The reason for this is that I just couldn’t justify the cost of $150 to see Black Sabbath. I know they are icons and probably worth the money, but they are old and I have never seen them before. What if Ozzy’s voice is shot? What if the show is horrendous? $50 is much easier to swallow on a bad concert than $150.
With the show coming up in less than two weeks, I started thinking about ticket prices once again. That prompted me to do a little research on the cost of current tours. I picked five concerts at random that I would either be interested in seeing, or have already purchased tickets for. Here is the price range that I discovered for each. (NOTE: All prices include the heinous fees).
Black Sabbath – $45.50 – $148
Bon Jovi – $38.05 – $599.00
Pearl Jam – $92.00
Shinedown (w/ Skillet and Papa Roach) – $60.85 -$71.10
Nine Inch Nails – $63.00 – $113.00
First off, $600 to see Bon Jovi? Really? Without Richie Sambora? Really? Bon Jovi have lost their minds. And yes, there are seats for $38.00 but they are way up high and there aren’t that many of them to begin with. Want to know why Bon Jovi is having trouble selling out his home stadium in New Jersey? The ticket prices are just way too high. Recently I attended a Barenaked Ladies concert (not hard rock, I know, but I have other tastes as well). Tickets ranged between $40 – $80. The amphitheater where I saw them perform was approximately ¾ full (and I am being generous). Why? $80 was just too much to pay.
I have to think that when tickets don’t sell well, bands, promoters, and venues are all losing money. Wouldn’t it make more sense to lower the prices slightly and sell out the venue instead of having a half empty arena? But what can be done? How can we, the fans, find a way to attend the show at an affordable rate? Mulling over this issue, I came up with an idea that I thought might be worth a trial basis at least. What if before a band went on tour, they took a poll to have the fans name the price? The band could set the minimum price (say $20 ala Kid Rock) and then fans could vote on what price they would pay. It works for Priceline, although I will be the first to admit that I know nothing about their business model. But why not a Priceline for concerts?
If Kiss sent a press release stating that they wanted fans to vote on the price of their upcoming tour, I am sure that they would have droves of people voting on the price. I know that I would. And then, based upon the price that fans wanted to pay, the band could decide if they wanted to go on tour or not. Bands, venues, and promoters, always claim that they have to charge high prices so that they don’t lose money on tours. This would give them the option of knowing how much money they would make, and whether it would be lucrative for them to tour. Sure, there would have to be plenty of logistics to work out, but overall, if thousands of fans vote that they would pay $40 to see Kiss, but no more, then the band would know what the fans feel is a fair price. This way, the band would have a pretty good idea that their concerts would sell out at a certain price. Using the above example, Kiss would know that their 25 show tour would sell out at $40 a ticket, but they may have a hard time moving tickets at $50 per ticket. And since every band claims that it is all about the fans, why wouldn’t they want to do this? (Kiss is charging $76 – $113 for their current tour. Floor seats are still available at most shows).
I know that we have to assume fans are going to select an honest price that they would pay and not just the lowest price they see, but even if they choose the lowest price, the band has the option to not tour. Personally, I would pay $50 to see Black Sabbath (I am), but not $150. Yet, I don’t feel that I should be relegated to the lawn because I want to save $100. Even the mighty Pearl Jam, who fought for years to keep ticket prices low, are charging almost $100 per ticket. I am a huge fan of the band, but I am not sure that I am willing to pay $100 to see them in concert.
What are your thoughts? Would you be interested in a “name your own price per tour” option? Would you enter an honest amount, or just opt for the lowest price polled? Drop a line in the comments section and let us know your thoughts.
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You probably remember hearing “The Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats or “Focus” by Hocus Pocus at some point in your life. Most likely you heard these songs and thought they were freaking amazing, even though they may have been about the oddest songs you’ve ever heard.”It’s safe to dance?” Really? I still remember the first time I heard “Focus.” The song was so odd, yet I could not bring myself to turn it off.
And then after it was finished, I immediately wanted to listen to it again. As weird as it was, the song was still magnificent in its own right. Rock and roll has a lot of songs like that. They are the strangest things we’ve ever listened to, yet they are so enjoyable that we want to hear them over and over again. I’ve decided to reminisce for this edition of Vie’s Verses. Take a stroll down memory lane with me as I try to recall the oddest hard rock songs that still rocked like no other.
David Lee Roth – Hot Dog And A Shake
After parting ways with Van Halen, Diamond Dave went out on his own and released a fantastic album in Eat ‘Em And Smile. He then followed that up with the brilliant Skyscraper. The addition of Billy Sheehan and Steve Vai as band members only added to the greatness of each of these records. And while not every song was a huge hit or an unforgettable anthem, there was always one song that stood out to me as a great tune that I never understood lyrically—“Hot Dog And A Shake.” According to Dave, that’s what you’re hungry for. And while the lyrics may be ultra-corny, the music was so fabulous, that I found myself singing along after just a few listens. Steve Vai’s solo is one of the greatest on the entire album and the riff just made this song so addicting. And yet, it’s about hot dogs and shakes. To this day, I still move my feet and sing along whenever I hear this tune. And yes, I know there are plenty of innuendos in this song. 13 year old me, did not, Okay?
Queen – Bicycle Race
When it comes to Queen, there are several songs that could be chosen as odd and yet still addicting. “Fat Bottomed Girls” came to mind immediately, and while that is a weird song, there are plenty of men with a fetish for big bottomed women. To me, “Bicycle Race” was always the strangest Queen song I had ever heard. And yet, I loved it as much as I loved “Another One Bites The Dust,” and “We Will Rock You.” All Freddie Mercury wants to do is ride his bicycle—yes he wants to ride his bike. “Bicycle Race” could lyrically be one of the dumbest songs in existence, and yet Queen made it a memorable hit that I still enjoy.
White Zombie – Thunder Kiss ’65
I think the biggest part of what makes this song so odd is the fact that without looking up the lyrics, I have no idea what Rob Zombie is singing. Whenever I hear the song I sing along as such: “Blah, blah, meh, meh… NINETEEN SIXTY FIVE…YEAH!!!” Looking at the lyrics to the song just makes me more confused. Pig sweat a million miles? I’ve got a heart atomic style? What the hell does all of that mean? Truthfully, it doesn’t really matter, because “Thunder Kiss ‘65” is one of the hardest rocking songs I’ve ever heard and I will always scream “NINETEEN SIXTY…FIVE…YEAH!” at the top of my lungs any time this song is played within my general vicinity. Zombie may be strange, but he’s a master when it comes to music (and horror movies).
I’m The Man – Anthrax
At the end of the 80s, rap and metal came together and in a creative outburst, “I’m The Man” was born. As a pre-teen, this was one of the coolest songs I had ever heard and it made me fall in love with Anthrax. As a well-seasoned hard rock loving adult, I think the song is just plain silly. And yet, secretly, I still listen to it every now and again to make sure that I remember the lyrics—don’t worry, I do. The song was meant to be campy and comical, and it certainly succeeded in that regard, but the song was also a great rocking tune. Everyone wanted to sing along when this song came on. Everyone. So we learned the lyrics and did our part. To this day I still know the sexual organ located in the lower abdominal area…..! No man, it’s, dick! Not! Not!
Baby Snakes – Hurricane
This is a song about a high school guy that fails miserably in trying to attract a girl he is lusting after, as told through telephone conversations and jaw dropping guitar solos. This song basically summed up my freshman year of high school, so naturally the first time I heard it I was in tears from laughing so hard. Jenny is the subject of the narrator’s lust interest, and as the song opens he is psyching himself up that today is his lucky day, he’s going to ask her to go out and she’s going to say yes. And in his nervous confused state, he dials the wrong number. Enter hard hitting drums by Jay Schellen and some amazing guitar riffs from Robert Sarzo. “Baby Snakes” takes off from there, documenting the failed attempts of the narrator continuing to call Jenny and annoy her to no end. Cleverly put together, “Baby Snakes” remains one of the oddest, yet coolest, rock songs that I have ever heard. If you’ve never heard the song, you need to seek it out. It’s worth the effort.
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Summer has officially arrived. School’s out, work is a little slower, and the days are much longer, giving us all time to enjoy the outdoors even more. And to me, nothing is more enjoyable in the outdoors then sitting on the deck with a cold beer, watching the sun set, and listening to some hard rock music to end the day. It’s also fun to roll down the windows of the car on the way to work and blast out the hard rock during the morning commute. And of course at barbeques and picnics, I like to have a little rock and roll playing out of the portable radio.
So, with all those opportunities to play some exceptional music, what are some of the best albums to rock out to this summer? Well, let me preface this edition of Vie’s Verses by stating that I have not yet purchased the new Black Sabbath album (as of this writing), but I hear it may be one of the best records of the summer. I have every intention of purchasing it soon, and when I do, I will be sure to tweet whether it is an album worth rocking out to this summer (you can follow me on twitter – @ryovie).
Without being able to rate 13, here are my picks for albums that will rock your summer, 2013 style. Some of them are brand new, some have been out for a little while, but all are relatively newer records, guaranteed to rock. Perhaps you missed one of them along the way. Now is a perfect opportunity to give them a listen.
Airbourne – Black Dog Barking
If you haven’t been following this Australian band, you need to. It would be a great summer gift to yourself. Airbourne is one of the hardest rocking bands to come out in a long while and their third disc, Black Dog Barking, is nothing short of spectacular. Jam packed with hard rocking, AC/DC style jams, Black Dog Barking is certain to show your ears a hell of a good time. Between the gems “No One Fits Me (Better Than You)” and “Back In The Game,” you have a solid, old school, foot stomping rock fest. Black Dog Barking is a great album to push out at maximum volume this summer.
Buckcherry – Confessions
The latest album from Buckcherry, Confessions, is another beauty by this exceptional band. I have been a huge fan of Buckcherry since their debut album was released almost 15 years ago. They rocked hard then and they rock hard now. Confessions is packed full of great songs that will make any summer road trip much more enjoyable. From the opening number “Gluttony,” straight through to “Dreamin’ Of You,” Confessions is a well thought out, well produced, well performed rock album. If you have the chance to add Buckcherry to your summer concert list, I would highly recommend doing it. If they aren’t playing a venue near you, then just keep on spinning Confessions. Your summer will thank you.
Kiss – Monster
Even though it came out this past autumn, Kiss’ Monster is certainly a summertime hit. One of the best Kiss albums to be released in a long time, and one of the best records of 2012, Monster is an enjoyable ride of fun rock and roll. Gene, Paul, Tommy, and Eric all take vocals on this disc and everyone provided nothing but the highest quality of music for Monster. This record packs a punch and is certainly a force to be reckoned with, which is why it still gets significant play months after its initial release. While you’re grilling up your favorite protein this summer and downing a delicious craft beer, pop in Kiss’ Monster and watch how quickly the grill becomes a headbanger’s paradise.
Pop Evil – Onyx
Heavy, dark, and certainly summer worthy, Pop Evil’s Onyx is a record that I waited a long time to hear and when it was finally released, it did not disappoint. Modern sound with a hard rock edge, Onyx is a spectacular record that demands attention this summer. Tracks like “Sick Sense,” “Beautiful,” and “Fly Away,” will be all over the radio as the summer rolls on. From FM to satellite, they will be practically unavoidable. On top of that, Pop Evil is constantly touring, so more than likely you will have a chance to see the band on the road this summer (which I highly recommend that you do). Pop Evil is everywhere and their commanding presence is only getting stronger.
Suicidal Tendencies – 13
Back after a long hiatus, Suicidal Tendencies returned with one of the greatest records I heard this year—13. Infectious grooves, excellent lyrics, and a whole lot of hard rocking, fun filled jazz infused music makes 13 such an amazing album. This record not only will get a ton of play this summer, but it will probably get a plethora of spins this fall as well. I can’t say enough good things about the latest from Suicidal Tendencies, but I can say this – if there is one album that you rock out to this summer, 13 should be it. The original hard rock funk masters are back and they mean business.
Whether you’re on vacation, on the grill, or on your daily commute, be sure to rock some excellent music this summer. Don’t think you’ll be rocking to the list above? Drop us a line and tell us what we should be rocking out to. Or feel free to send me a tweet (@ryovie).
As a reviewer at Hard Rock Hideout I am blessed. Any time that I get the itch to hear some new hard rock, I just dig around in the vaults and come out with some music to review. Sometimes that means I get the latest from a rising hot artist, and sometimes I get the new released from a well established hard rock band. Whatever the case may be, when I want to hear new hard rock music, the first place I think of is the review archives.
However, sometimes those are not always accessible. I may be on the road. I may be too tired to comb through the review choices. I may just want to have someone play something for me. That’s when I turn to the radio. Luckily for me, living on the border of Pennsylvania and Northern New Jersey, I have several great options to hear hard rock music. On top of that, I also have satellite radio which fills my needs from time to time. Here now is my homage to some of the great rock radio stations that I listen to when the desire for great hard rock strikes.
Ozzy’s Boneyard (Satellite Radio)
Ozzy’s Boneyard is great for classic hard rock cuts. Bands like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, Dio, and other classic metal acts are always featured. Add in Jim Norton and Jim Florentine with their own weekly programs and you have a station that is just a lot of fun for any hard rock fan. I also love listening to Luc Carl (who pulls double duty at another station that I listen to a lot).
Hair Nation (Satellite Radio)
When I’m in the mood for big hair, power ballads, and reliving the greatness of the 80s, I turn to Hair Nation. Luc Carl and Keith Roth are the dominant DJs on this station and they are both fantastic, spinning only the best of the hair metal years. From Motley Crue to Poison to Cinderlla, Hair Nation covers it all. They even bring back classics that I completely forgot about (London Quireboys, anyone?). All in all, if you want your hair metal fix, Hair Nation is the station for you.
WDHA FM (Northern New Jersey)
Every once in a great while I will turn on the regular radio just to make sure it still exists. When that happens, one of my default stations is WDHA FM. When I was a teenager, I used to listen to Eddie Trunk’s Saturday night rock show on this station. This was back when Trunk was just starting to make a name for himself as a respected DJ. Currently, the station format is a blend of classic and new rock. Sometimes I’ll get Kiss, sometimes I’ll get Buckcherry. Most times I’ll get good music. WDHA is the only New Jersey station that I still listen to.
The Bone (Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania)
Not only does the bone give me some of the best new hard rock that is out there, it also broadcasts every Yankees game for me to enjoy. And since I don’t have satellite radio in my house, this is the best option for me to listen to the Yankees while doing household chores. The Bone is an exceptional FM radio station out of Pennsylvania that always plays some great new rock. Everything from Pop Evil to Theory of a Deadman to Shinedown is played on the bone. They do throw in the occasional classics, but mostly this station sticks with modern rock, which is all right by me.
Octane (Satellite Radio)
Octane is very similar to the bone, only it’s on satellite radio and not FM. All the best modern rock acts are present and accounted for and they also play several new acts as well. Any time that I want to hear new music from a new band, I know that I need to switch the dial to Octane. From Rise Against to New Medicine to Halestorm, I heard them all first on Octane. I expect that I will continue to learn about a lot of new bands this way for many years to come.
That’s how I get my hard rock when I need it. What about you? What stations are in your area? Or did you make the full time switch to satellite radio? Drop a comment and let us know how you get your fix.
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We are less than a month away from this year’s M3 music festival. It’s the only festival that revisits all the best from the hair metal days and lets us party like a long lost rock star all weekend long! I really
enjoy the annual Hard Rock Hideout trip to Maryland for this festival and I think 2013 may be our best trip yet.
And while this year’s lineup doesn’t contain much to complain about (how can you complain when WASP, KIX, Jackyl, and Twisted Sister are all on the same bill?), there are a couple of bands missing that I
would really like to see. Perhaps M3 can keep them in mind for 2014.
Stryper got screwed at last year’s festival. They had a lousy time slot, they had to cut their set short due to poor scheduling and they weren’t even allowed to play one additional song despite strong demand
from fans. It does not surprise me that they are not going to be at this year’s M3 after what happened last year. However, they should be there and they should be given a prime slot. Stryper had one of the
best performances in 2012 and had they been allowed to play a little longer, they may have had the performance of the weekend. And while I think that WASP, Twisted Sister, Bret Michaels, and KIX are
all fine headliners, Stryper would fit that bill as well. If Bret Michaels went missing and Stryper took his place, I don’t think anyone would complain. And no, that’s not a knock on Bret, it’s more of a testament
For the love of all that is holy, when are Vito Bratta and Mike Tramp going to make up and get a full on White Lion reunion together? Could it be that hard for these two guys to talk to each other for one tour?
Vito Bratta is one of the greatest guitarists to ever perform in the 80s and I still can’t understand how we haven’t seen him at one of these nostalgic festivals. I don’t think that there is any band that I would
love to see perform at a festival like M3 more than White Lion. I missed them the first time around. I didn’t get to see them tour behind Big Game. So yes, I am being a little selfish here, but White Lion was
a terrific band. If nothing else couldn’t White Lion perform at least one show? How hard would that be to coordinate? It’s not like they have much else going on. Give your fans what they want already!
While they may not have huge, memorable, chart topping hits ala White Lion and Stryper, Vain is an exceptional sleaze metal band that got their start in the 80s. Recently the band released a brand new
album of material titled Enough Rope. It was another solid album from this great band. Yet, with all the fantastic music they’ve recorded, and despite the fact that I saw several Vain T-shirts at M3’s past, Vain
continues to be left off the bill. Now, I don’t know if it’s because the promoters contacted them and Vain is not interested, but I seriously doubt that. Maybe the money isn’t right, but I am only speculating.
I do not know the reason that Vain is not performing at this year’s M3 (or any year’s M3 for that matter),
I just know that they aren’t there. And that is a disappointment. Vain is definitely an act that should be
added to the roster.
Pretty Boy Floyd
Two years ago, Pretty Boy Floyd opened the second stage and put on what I feel is one of the best performances in M3 history. It is still one of my top 5 moments in festival attendance. So why the hell
hasn’t this band been back since? Not only should Pretty Boy Floyd have returned, they should be in a prime slot on the main stage. Perhaps not a headlining slot, but the slot just before that would be good
for this band. They give a solid performance and there is no reason why the fans wouldn’t love them. All of their songs weren’t huge hits, but that doesn’t really matter. Pretty Boy Floyd is so talented as a live
act, fans will love the entire performance by the time it is over, whether they know the songs or not. The only advice that I would have for the band is to make sure they kept copies of their album(s) on hand,
because after dominating the stage, fans would want to scoop them up. Alas, it won’t matter much, because the band is not on the 2013 bill. Again, I reiterate—why the hell not?
Can someone say headliner? M3 is always looking to mix up their headlining acts and bring in bands that will draw fans. Why not reach out to Europe and get them on the bill? The band released a new album
last year and they have plenty of well known, stateside hits that would bring the audience to their feet and leave them screaming for more. “Carrie,” “Superstitious,” “Rock The Night,” and of course, “The
Final Countdown” all qualify this band to be headliners, so why haven’t we seen them at an M3 yet? Warrant has been there. Cinderella has been there. Ratt was there last year. Even Nelson has made it
to the show. Why not Europe? What is it that could be holding them back? Promoters? Demand? Pay? I have no idea, but if M3 really wanted to blow us all away in 2014, they would announce that Europe is
going to be the closer for one of the two nights. Now, I will admit that I’ve never seen the band live and I don’t know how their current live performance is—perhaps it’s not headliner worthy. But, something
tells me that is just not the case.
Those are the missing bands that I think belong at this year’s M3 Festival. What about you? Which bands do you think should be there?
This April, (April 11th to be precise) will mark 25 years since Iron Maiden’s magnificent Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son was released. To some Iron Maiden fans it is the anniversary of another terrific Iron Maiden album. Others may remember the first time they listened to the big radio hit “Can I Play With Madness,” or heard the pulsating bass lines of “The Clairvoyant” with fond glee. And while those are wonderful memories to look back on, the release of Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son means a whole lot more to me. It marks 25 years since I became an Iron Maiden fan.
Certainly I had heard of the band prior to their 1988 record. I am sure that I heard “Number Of The Beast” or “Ace’s High” once or twice, but I never really paid much attention to them. Prior to 1988 I was still in junior high school thinking the Stray Cats were cool and believing that Van Halen was as heavy as metal music got. Then I entered high school. I discovered Manowar, Guns N Roses, and Iron Maiden. The first time I heard “Can I Play With Madness” on the local rock radio station (WDHA-FM), I was hooked. My jaw dropped. My heart pounded. What the heck was I hearing and who was the wonderful band singing “Can I play with matches?” I loved playing with matches! Yes, that’s a true story, I honestly believed the lyrics were “can I play with matches?”
Mixed up composition aside, I had fallen in love hard for this song and I had to have it. Soon after I got myself a copy of Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son and proceeded to play it until it warped. From “Moonchild” to “Only The Good Die Young,” I loved it all. Every song was a gem to me. It was all fresh and unknown. This was much better than Van Halen and light years away from The Stray Cats. Iron Maiden were masters of rock to me and on the same plateau as the legendary Kiss. I had to hear more of them.
Fortunately for me, there was a nice back catalog that I slowly started to collect. Powerslave, Somewhere In Time, and Number Of The Beast were all owned before the year was over. My journey with Iron Maiden had begun. And while the other albums were fantastic, they never quite compared to Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son in my eyes. To this day, they still don’t. I know deep down that Number Of The Beast is a better album overall, but Seventh Son will always hold a special place in my heart. It was the record that made me an Iron Maiden fan. I will always cherish that.
Now, 25 years later, Iron Maiden is gracing us with a remastered DVD from the Seventh Son tour. Maiden England ’88 came out this week and I am excited to get my hands on a copy and watch the magic come to life. Were I a teenager in high school, I would most likely watch this over and over and over again until it was ingrained in my brain. However, I am a full grown adult now, with full grown responsibilities. So while I may not be able to watch it more than once (maybe twice….) the time that I do spend watching it will be a cherished ride down memory lane. It will recall my past and bring back that nostalgic period of my youth where I fell in love with Iron Maiden forever … unto the end.
If you get a chance, pick up a copy of Maiden England ‘88. Not only does it contain the complete concert that has never been available on DVD, but there are a plethora of bonuses as well. Part three of the history of Iron Maiden, the original Twelve Wasted Years documentary, and five videos that you probably watched every time Headbanger’s Ball aired them. It’s the next step in a Maiden lover’s collection and definitely worth the price. (For the record that price is $17 at Amazon and Best Buy).
Up The Irons!!!
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Here at Hard Rock Hideout we strive to bring you the most diverse collection of hard rock bands that we can. From the latest rising stars to the old classics, Hard Rock Hideout attempts to discuss them all. However, every now and again, there is a band that just falls through the cracks. One of those bands is Florida’s Against Me!
You may have recently heard about Against Me! for the sole reason that lead singer Tom Gabel publicly came out as transgender with plans to transition to living as a woman. The move created a lot of press and coverage, some of it positive, some of it negative. A lot of hate filled ignorant comments were tossed around message boards throughout the world. I personally feel that what Tom Gabel, now Laura Jane Grace, does with her life is none of my business. My only concern about the transition would be how it would affect the band’s music and Laura’s vocals.
And music is the most important thing to focus on with Against Me! They are an outstanding punk band that really knows how to rock. Filled with temporary anger and rage, the band can juxtapose from telling off the world, to discussing the special relationship between two lovers, in the matter of one song. The genius behind all of this is Laura Jane Grace. The lyrical content of Against Me!’s music is some of the best that I have heard, and it was what attracted me to the band.
Grace writes lyrics that are deep from the heart, true to life, and extremely meaningful. Whether it be about his gender dysphoria, the desire to live and feel young again, or the general rage that we all have been consumed by from time to time, Grace paint masterful pictures with her lyrics and then delivers them with passion through her vocals.
Their debut album, Reinventing Axl Rose, received some critical acclaim and helped the band gain notoriety on the punk rock scene when it was released in 2002. However, it was the album New Wave that gave Against Me! commercial success. New Wave was released on Sire Records and was the band’s first pilgrimage with a major record label. The success of their single “Thrash Unreal,” combined with the marketing of Sire and the mainstream media picking up on the band found Against Me! gaining fans in droves. This caused a number of their older standing fan base to refer to the band as sell outs. Grace was disappointed by their reaction and it put him off to the entire punk scene, viewing the fans as “close minded.”
Currently, Against Me! have released five albums and are working on their sixth, which is due out this year. The appropriately titled Transgender Dysphoria Blues has me both hopeful and nervous. Will Against Me! still bring the same passion, energy, and subject matter that they have in the past? Or, will this major life change bring out an entirely different side of the band and lead singer, Laura Jane Grace. A major change in the musical direction could be absolutely amazing, or it could be a career killer.
If you have never listened to Against Me! before, I recommend starting with their 2007 release, New Wave. This is the album that sent the band into the mainstream, and it was the first Against Me! record that I listened to. It was so magnificent I went out and got two more of their albums shortly thereafter.
If you are a fan of modern rock, modern punk, Pearl Jam, Rise Against, or the Foo Fighters, you will most likely fall in love with Against Me! Start with their major label debut, New Wave, and then see where to go from there. Reinventing Axl Rose may be a good second choice, as you will be able to hear the contrast in styles, themes, and subject matter. Both albums are spectacular, regardless of being very different from one another. And that is the sign of an exceptional band—one that can progress and grow through the years. This is something that Against Me! has done well and it is one of the reasons that they are a band worth checking out. If you are searching for a raw, heavy, and flat out enjoyable sound, give Against Me! a try.
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The first concert I ever attended was AC/DC with Love/Hate at the Brendan Byrne Arena in New Jersey. While I was excited for numerous reasons, the one thing I remember most is how desperately I wanted a T-shirt from that show. A concert T-shirt was the epitome of cool when I was 17. It was something that could only be obtained from actually being at the concert (this was before the days of e-bay and reselling concert merchandise online) and it meant that you were one of the few who got a ticket. Having never owned a concert shirt (since I had never been to a concert before) this was a huge quest. I had to have a T-shirt.
Once we entered the arena I made a beeline for the merchandise booth. I was getting a T-shirt that I would proudly wear around school the next day to show how “cool” I was. That’s right, I saw AC/DC last night. What did you do, watch Growing Pains? Sucker!
Full of giddy excitement and with the look of a serial killer in my eye, I proudly stepped up the merchandise booth to see which shirt was going to look coolest on me. Then I saw the prices. My jaw dropped. $20 for a T-shirt? What the hell was going on? Who paid $20 for a T-shirt? Looking back now, it seems pretty cheap, but back in the day, $20 was a lot of money, especially when one gained the majority of their income from part time work at Roy Rogers fast food restaurant. $20 could buy a lot of things. Dejectedly, I shook my head and walked away from the booth. I would not be getting my shirt and would have no proof that I was at one of the coolest concerts of the year.
After the concert (which was, of course, amazing) I saw a guy in the parking lot selling T-shirts. “Shirts! Who needs shirts? Ten dollars for shirts!” $10? That was half of what they were inside. My logical, naïve, teenaged brain figured that they must be trying to get rid of the shirts now that the show was over. Buying shirts at the end of the show must have made them cheaper if there were any left. I could afford $10! I was getting my shirt after all! What I obviously failed to realize at the time was that I had just purchased an illegal concert T-shirt. Bootlegged swag. Non-official merchandise. It didn’t matter to me, because I was going to be rocking my high school AC/DC style the next morning.
Since my first concert oh so many years ago, I have attended copious amounts of shows all over America. For a while, a T-shirt was must have for merchandise memorabilia. Parking lot bootlegged, or when I could afford it, the official shirt from a merchandise booth. Then in the late 90s I got into collecting sweatshirts and baseball caps from concerts. Now I alternate between sweatshirts and beanie caps. And for some reason, concert swag, or merchandise, is still as cool and important to me as it was when I was in high school.
And it’s not just T-shirts or outerwear. I like all the cool things you can get at a concert. Tour books, shot glasses, bandannas (dew rags), all of it is cool. I still have every ticket stub from every concert I attended, kept in a nice photo album, to help remind me of all the great shows I have attended. My prize possession is a pair of 3D glasses from the Kiss Psycho Circus tour. They are 14 years old and still look as new as the day they were handed to me. And while it really is just stuff it is still cool and important to me. I still get a chill when wearing my Iron Maiden beanie and reflect for a moment on how happy I was to buy it. I still occasionally flip through the 1997 Kiss tour book and smile.
Why do we love swag so much? Why is it that even in our 30s and 40s we want to own a shirt, cap, poster, piece of the concert we just attended? Why do I still feel like a school boy when I proudly wear my Pop Evil beanie in public? I guess it doesn’t matter how old we get, the thrill of our favorite bands, that we paid hard earned cash to see in concert AND wear their gear, makes us feel alive and youthful. At least, that’s how it feels to me. What about you? What merchandise do you collect? What’s your favorite concert possession? What kind of swag you got?
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The New Year is in full swing. The first month of the year is almost completed. Several artists have announced that they are recording new albums or going on tour. The M3 Festival and Rock On The Range lineups have been released, and I am sure that the other major festivals will soon unveil their lineups as well. As we role into Groundhog’s Day and prepare to give winter the boot, I am starting to think about what music I am excited for in 2013. Below is a list of what has me amped.
The band is releasing a new album and embarking on a world tour. I could not be more excited. It’s been a while since I’ve seen Bon Jovi, and though I currently do not have tickets to either of their shows at Met Life (formerly Giants) stadium in New Jersey, I am still not completely out.
I will be honest it was the ticket prices that gave me pause. It cost me less to attend M3 than it would to see Bon Jovi. As hard as it is for fans of Vie’s Verses and Hard Rock Hideout to believe, I am not rich. I know, people should be throwing a ton of money at me for the privilege of reading my writing, but they don’t. Hence, I have to be careful when I choose where to spend my hard earned greenbacks.
In addition to the tour, there is a new album. Now that is something that I CAN afford, and totally expect to purchase when it is released (and yes, you will get a review on HRH). So, while I may not attend the concert, I am still excited for Bon Jovi in 2013, because they will be releasing some new music to enjoy. If the new album is even half as good as The Circle, then I will be an extremely happy fan.
If the first single, “Gluttony,” is any indication, the new Buckcherry record, Confessions, is going to be flat out amazing! A typical, hard rocking, fun filled, party-themed anthem, “Gluttony” is classic Buckcherry and has me hopeful that the new record will contain more of the same. Confessions will be the band’s first album in almost three years, which as a fan is a long time to wait. I understand that there is heavy touring after the release of a record, and then there is the much needed period of rest and relaxation before heading back to the studio to create another album. However, this has been the longest wait between albums since Timebomb to 15. Hopefully I will get a chance to catch them out on the road this spring. Seeing Buckcherry live is one of life’s great joys.
M3 Music Festival
As we get closer to May, M3 will most likely get a Vie’s Verses all its’ own. For now, suffice it to say that I am excited for this year’s festival. With headliners that include Kix, WASP, Bret Michaels, and Twisted Sister, how could I NOT be excited? Add in Jackyl (whom I haven’t seen live in 20 years), Loudness, Love/Hate (whom I haven’t seen live since their debut album), and Steelheart (whom I’ve never seen live) and you have the makings for another fantastic festival. This year’s M3 has the potential to be the best one yet. And just thinking about the cheesesteaks at the Merriweather Pavilion has my mouth watering already!
The bad boys from Michigan are hard at work on their third studio album and filled with optimism. There have been reports that the band hopes to have the record released by the spring. THIS spring. To release a record in May that you started writing in January is simply unheard of anymore. I applaud Pop Evil for wanting to get their new music out to the Evil Masses as quickly as possible.
I also have slight concerns that rushing the record may hurt it. While I am dying to hear some new Pop Evil, I want to hear the band’s best work, not rushed work. However, Leigh Kakaty has gone on record stating that they understand what their fans like about their music and that the new album is going to be made for the fans. That statement is enough for me, as I trust Pop Evil to deliver nothing but the best. So far, their first two albums haven’t disappointed. I can only hope that their third one is true to form. If done correctly, this could be the record that launches this band into SUPERstardom. We may possibly find out this spring.
The absence of Bill Ward aside, I am extremely excited about the new Black Sabbath record with Ozzy Osbourne in front of the microphone. It’s been a long, long time since these members have gotten together to record new music. And recording the album without Bill Ward is just a huge sting. It’s like the Van Halen reunion without Michael Anthony. That being said, the Van Halen record was pretty darned good, and I have a feeling that the new Black Sabbath record is going to be just as good. Three out of four originating members of the godfathers of heavy metal isn’t bad. And I am sure that they can still make better music than most of the hard rock bands in existence today. I am certainly curious to see what the band has in store. I thought that Ozzy’s last solo record (Scream) was a phenomenal release, so add his creative genius to Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler, and you have a recipe for greatness. We will find out just how great this June.
What are you stoked about in 2013?
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Happy New Year all, and welcome to the first 2013 edition of Vie’s Verses! This year, I would like to start a new segment for my column that will pop up on occasion — bands we don’t cover enough. At Hard Rock Hideout we strive to bring you the most diverse collection of hard rock bands that we can. From the latest rising stars to the old classics, Hard Rock Hideout attempts to discuss them all. However, every now and again, there is a band that just falls through the cracks.
Hence, the new segment, where I will do my best to pay homage to a band that just hasn’t been covered enough. Hopefully it will encourage you to seek out their music and give them a try. It’s the New Year, the perfect time to try and get yourself hooked on some new music, or a band that you may have missed. For this inaugural segment, I’d like to discuss a band that I have fallen in love with recently, Rise Against.
Best described as modern punk, Rise Against is a hard rock band from Chicago, Illinois that formed in 1999 and found some commercial success starting in 2004 with the release of their commercial debut album Siren Song Of The Counter Culture. Some rock lovers would be quick to dismiss Rise Against as mainstream pop and lump them in with the likes of Shinedown, or Nickelback, albeit not as enjoyable. That’s a shameful way to portray a band that is as deep and talented as Rise Against. This is a band that has their own, unique, signature style, and if anything, they remind me more of Foo Fighters.
The band’s most recent album is Endgame, and while it is a strong and solid record, it is their prior release, Appeal To Reason, that really turned me into a fan. Filled with gems like “The Dirt Whispered,” “Audience Of One,” and the band’s best song, “Savior,” Appeal To Reason is a solid record containing monster hits of hard rock beauty. If you are new to the band, Appeal To Reason should be the first album that you listen to. It serves as an excellent introduction to Rise Against as well as showing off their abilities both musically and lyrically.
Lead singer/songwriter Tim McIlrath is a poetic genius when it comes to crafting lyrics. Whether he is posting his heart on his sleeve (“Audience Of One”), telling an amazing and heart-wrenching story (“Hero Of War”), or trying his best to rationalize the end of a relationship (“This Is Letting Go”), McIlrath’s lyrics are always gems. Beautifully stated, carefully constructed, and well thought out, most of the lyrics McIlrath writes have deep, multiple layers of messages contained within. On the surface they appear to be a simple love story, break-up story, etc. But digging deeper can reveal a political mindset, a war torn backdrop, or a diatribe on the current state of our union. And while it was the music of Rise Against that drew me into the band, it is the lyrics that kept me a fan. I could spend weeks dissecting the multiple messages contained within most Rise Against songs.
Additional band members Joe Principe (bass guitar), Brandon Barnes (drums), and Zach Blair (lead guitar) fit exceptionally well with McIlrath. Their music brings out the best in his vocals and the musical creativity is a perfect fit for the voice that leads the songs. The chords, changes, and leads are as artfully crafted as the lyrics. All four band members are insanely talented and their dedication to the art of making music shows on each of the bands releases. From their indie debut (The Unravelling) to their most recent release (Endgame) every Rise Against album is a beauty, filled with hard hitting, rocking songs that have depth and plenty of replay value.
If you are interesting in checking out a “new-to-you” band this year, I highly recommend Rise Against. Start with Appeal To Reason and then pick any of their albums after that. I can almost guarantee that you will eventually want to own their entire catalog. And if not, you will at least enjoy what you have heard from them and will be falling in love with a new band that may just enter your favorites list.
And if you know Rise Against, drop a line in the comments section and tell us what you think. Want to see more Bands We Don’t Cover Enough? Drop that in the comments as well!
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The holiday season is once again upon us. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, or the baseball winter meetings (my favorite holiday), it is safe to say that they all have one thing in common — the celebration of joy and the receiving of gifts. And with the receipt of any gift comes the prerequisite wish list. I have one for Christmas and I have one for the baseball winter meetings. I also have one for hard rock in 2013, and I’m happy to share it with all of you. Here now are my hard rocking wishes for 2013.
Pop Evil/Dead Sara Tour
Take two of the hottest new bands to come out in nearly a decade and put them together. Do you know what you have? Only one of the best concert tandems to be heard since Maiden toured with Black Sabbath. If Dead Sara and Pop Evil were to hit the road together in 2013, it would be a dream come true for this fan-boy. As a professional, I usually don’t gush much over the musicians or acts that I cover, but in the case of Pop Evil and Dead Sara, I can’t help myself. They are both two of the most talented rock bands I have heard in years. And with rumors of a new Pop Evil disc coming out next year, this would be a fine way to promote a new album. Let’s hope that the Evils and the Deads make this tour happen.
A New KISS Album
I know we just got Monster this fall. I know that it usually takes 2-3 years for a band to release a new album anymore. I also know that I grew up in the days of an album per year. Frankly, I miss those days. I loved being able to count on a new record from my favorite band on a yearly basis. Nowadays, you never know when the heck a new record is coming out. I think KISS should buck the trend and record a new album in 2013. Their last two albums have been fantastic, and I think the time to strike is now, while they are still crafting music at an exceptionally high level. Besides with Gene no longer banging groupies and not filming Family Jewels, what else is he going to do with his time?
An AC/DC Hits Tour
I love AC/DC and I love when they tour behind a new album, but the band has never gone on a hits tour. The most obvious reason for that is because they have never put out a “hits” album. That’s due to Angus’ desire to not repackage material and sell it to the fans, which I respect and admire. However, that doesn’t mean that they can’t go on tour and play all their hits! With Malcom Young recently having stated not to expect any new music from AC/DC before 2014, what’s a fan to do? We want our fix of one of the greatest hard rocking bands to ever hit the stage. And to see AC/DC perform nothing but their top hits with no new songs to mix in could make it the best AC/DC tour in the band’s history.
A Huge Headliner For M3
As I have for the past three years, I intend to travel to Columbia and check out this year’s M3 Festival. In 2013 I would love to see M3 put out a headliner that would blow away all of the previous years combined. Perhaps Black Sabbath or Bon Jovi may be able to headline the event this year? Both are scheduled to tour next year and there’s no reason why they couldn’t include a stop in Maryland on their itinerary. Iron Maiden would be another great grab for the headliner slot. KISS would be great here as well. However, I don’t see any of these bands actually being the headliners at M3, but that’s why it’s called a wish, right?
Lower Ticket Prices
With the economy still in flux and a lot of us still digging out of debt, it’s hard to attend multiple concerts in the summer. The price of tickets just eats into the budget too deeply and leaves a hard rock fan with limited dollars in his/her pocket. It would be great if the ticket promoters got together and said for 2013 they would ease the pain of paying for a concert by lowering the prices. If promoters were to do this, perhaps they would see more sold out shows, instead of half empty arenas (ala Aerosmith and Van Halen). The greatest gift of the New Year I could get is to see some affordable ticket prices to concerts I want to see. And by affordable, I don’t mean $20 for the nosebleeds. I mean more like $40 for decent seats. Is that too much to ask? Why do I have to pay over $200 if I want to sit in a good section to see Bon Jovi perform live? I just can’t justify the cost and therefore, I don’t attend which is a shame and sometimes makes me dislike the band that I grew up loving.
That’s my wish list for 2013. What’s on yours? Drop a line in the comments and let us know!
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Another Thanksgiving is upon us. Thanksgiving is undisputedly my favorite holiday. It’s better than Christmas, because we get to enjoy the company of family and friends, yet not have to worry about giving gifts to anyone. It’s better than birthdays, because it is a holiday that is shared with everyone. It’s better than Easter, because there is just a great sense of family bond and tradition. As far as I am concerned, Thanksgiving is the greatest day of the year.
Welcome to this special edition of Vie’s Verses. Normally I use this column to vent my frustrations about high ticket prices, debate 5 bands or songs or tours that are great (or not great), or talk about upcoming albums and concerts that I want to see or hear. Yet, this edition of Vie’s Verses isn’t going to cover the normal column topics. This edition of Vie’s Verses is all about what I am thankful for.
First and foremost, I am thankful for Hard Rock Hideout’s owner and editor, Rob Rockitt. Not only has he become one of my best friends since I started writing for this site, but he has also afforded me the opportunity to put out a bi-weekly column on pretty much any topic of conversation that I want to discuss. No other editor in America would be crazy enough to do that! I appreciate that Rob lets me write this column every other week and continues to publish it. It is a true blessing to write for Hard Rock Hideout and I am grateful that I am allowed to be part of such a wonderful, dedicated, hard rock
I am also thankful for the fans—both fans of Vie’s Verses (yes, they actually exist) and fans of Hard Rock Hideout. Let’s be honest, without fans, writing this column would be fun, but pretty much worthless. If no one reads and comments about the column, it might as well be a diary. Yet, the fans of Hard Rock Hideout are always willing to voice their opinions, whether they agree with the material in the column or not. And that is something I love the most about Hard Rock Hideout fans, they speak their minds and they do it respectfully. I love fans like Kent and Bob and Frankenfurter that are always posting comments, telling me their thoughts (whether they agree or disagree) and recommending music and books about rock and roll that I should be checking out. It’s nice to see that people read this column and actually care enough to leave a comment. Nothing makes me feel more wonderful.
I am also thankful for the rock band Kiss (shameless plug for my favorite band here). The fact that all four original members are still alive and active in the world of rock music is amazing and enjoyable. And with the new incarnation of Kiss producing records that are worth buying and listening to multiple times, I couldn’t be happier. Kiss has been a big part of my life since I was 7 years old (the first time I ever played Destroyer), and their music has gotten me through some rough spots in my life. The fact that I can still go out and see my favorite band live on tour is a blessing beyond belief. Hopefully next summer, I will be seeing them live once again.
There is nothing that means more to me than my family. My brothers, sisters, mother, grandfather, aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws, and my dear devoted wife—I love them all with all of my heart. No one has been there more for me than my family, and there is no one that I would do more for in my life than my family. They have always been very supportive of my career choices, my hobbies, and the decisions that I have made on my journey of life. It means the world to me knowing that I could reach out to any one of them and they would be at my side in an instant. It means the world to me that my wife puts up with my long hours of working, writing, concert attendance, sports watching, video game playing, comic book reading habits, and never complains. She is a saint, and I am blessed to be married to such a wonderful woman. This thanksgiving, I am extremely thankful for the family that I have.
Last, But Not Least…
Lastly, I am thankful for everyone who read this post. Thanks for taking the time to read these words that I strung together for this special edition of Vie’s Verses. Be sure to come back in two weeks when I return to my regular writing of complaining about high ticket prices, speculating on tours for 2013, and covering all things hard rock. Until then, have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
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Ahhh, fall is here. The cold weather has settled in. The days are much shorter and that means there is plenty of time for reading. When I am not listening to music, or seeing bands in concert, one of my favorite pastimes is to read a biography (or auto-biography) about bands or musicians that I love. There’s nothing better than learning interesting tidbits about your favorite singer or guitarist. However, not all biographies are created equal. While there are some fantastic writings on musicians, there is also a lot of crap that has to be waded through. So, I’ve decided to share with you my five favorite hard rock biographies—I’ve done the wading for you, all you need to do is read and enjoy.
A lot of books have written about Kurt Cobain and Nirvana, and a lot more will be written in the years to come. However, there is no book that better details the life and tragic death of Nirvana’s front man than Heavier Than Heaven, by Charles Cross. Kurt Cobain lived fast and hard, and because of that, his life was short. Yet, to this day the small amount of music that he and two other men made is still beloved and cherished. His story is a sad one, a tale of an often lonely man who never quite understood himself. Being a heroin addict only exacerbated the situation. Charles Cross captures all of these painstaking details with great beauty and insight, making Heavier Than Heaven one of the greatest rock star biographies ever written.
If you’ve ever wanted to read the tale of a drug addict/rock star told with no punches held back, Scar Tissue is the book to pick up. Written in 2004, Anthony Kiedis, of Red Hot Chili Peppers fame, paints a poignant, telling tale of tragedy and triumph. Kiedis tells it like it was and like it is. He details the daily struggles of heroin addiction and walks through what life is like when struggling to stay clean, when completely messed up and immersed in drug addiction, and when drugs are the furthest thing from your existence. These are three completely different scenarios which lead to three completely different actions. And while Scar Tissue is another sad tale of the adventures in drug abuse, it at least, for now, has a happy ending. The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Anthony Kiedis are still going strong.
Stephen Davis is one of the greatest rock biographers to ever grace the written page and he is also a writer that I look up to. Having written many great biographies on the lives of multiple musicians, Stephen Davis is revered in the rock and roll community. For Walk This Way he teamed up with Aerosmith to tell the story from their own mouths, which was a smart and satisfying way to write their biography. Written in 1997, Walk This Way covers the history of Aerosmith up to and including the release and subsequent tour of Nine Lives. Walk This Way is a story that is not only told by the members of Aerosmith, but also by a lot of people the band interacted with over the years. From former managers, to disc jockeys, to promoters and former band members, Walk This Way allows everyone to say a little of their piece, while allowing the five main members to be the driving voice behind the story. Brilliant writing and a great story that makes me yearn for a sequel.
Yes, Stephen Davis makes the list twice. No, it’s not because I am a huge fan, it’s because Old Gods Almost Dead is the definitive biography of the Rolling Stones, and a must read for any music fan. Even if you never heard of The Rolling Stones, you will love this book. Davis’ ability to create a phenomenal narrative story of how “The World’s Greatest Rock And Roll Band” came to be is astonishing. Old Gods Almost Dead reads like a novel and tells the true story of The Rolling Stones. Nothing is left out. All of the details, good, bad, and ugly, are contained within the pages of Old Gods Almost Dead. It’s amazing how much the Rolling Stones have been through. The death of Brian Jones, Keith Richards’ drug problem, Mick Jaggar’s sex addictions… the list goes on and on. Now that they are all in their seventies, we forget that they were once a young, lecherous, wild, out of control band that happened to survive long enough to become senior citizens. Old Gods Almost Dead is the perfect reminder. If it wasn’t for a book that a little sleaze rock band from California wrote, Old Gods Almost Dead would be the greatest rock and roll biography ever written.
Perhaps the greatest rock biography ever written, Motley Crue’s The Dirt captures all the raw, raunchy, out of control debauchery that made the bands career infamous. While their music was solid, interesting, and fun, it was the after parties and their extracurricular activities that made them stars. Motley Crue holds no story back in The Dirt. What I like best about the book is the multiple author angle. Not only do the four current members of Motley Crue write their piece, but former lead singer John Corabi gets a say, manager Doc McGhee gets to tell his side of the story as well as producers and other people involved with the tale. This unique, multi-voice approach only helped make The Dirt that much better, because we get to read everyone’s version of what happened. Of all the music biographies that I’ve read (and it has been quite a lot), The Dirt is still the most fascinating of them all and the must read rock and roll story of all time.
So, if you’re looking for something to read this winter, or you have some friends that you want to get a gift for, but can’t figure out what to get them, I recommend he books above. What about you? What’s the greatest rock and roll biography you’ve ever read? Maybe there’s something that I need to add to my list.
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The Rolling Stones are celebrating 50 years as a rock band. Let that soak in for a moment. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Charlie Watts have been making music together for 50 years. My grandfather was my age when The Rolling Stones released their first single. In a time where no one stays together anymore (especially not bands), the Stones continue to move forward and even have new music that is significant. If you haven’t heard the new single “Doom And Gloom” stop reading this now and go listen to it. Don’t worry, I’ll wait for you.
Good stuff, right? The fact that men who are in their 70s wrote that song just boggles my mind. The video has been viewed over 2.5 million times (as of this writing). And the song is flat out great. Yes, an argument could be made that The Rolling Stones aren’t really hard rock, and perhaps we can debate that in a future installment of “Is It Hard?” but in the 60s and 70s, they were hard rock with a blues infusion. Now in the year 2012, they are still rock and roll and still a fantastic band.
To celebrate their 50 year anniversary, the Rolling Stones will be performing 4 shows in 2012. There will be 2 in London (at the O2 arena) and 2 in Newark (at the Prudential Center). I am fortunate enough to live near the Newark venue, so there’s an outside chance that I might go to one of these concerts. However, tickets will sell out in approximately 30 seconds, and the prices are a little high, so I am on the fence. I’ve seen the Stones in concert before, and I know they are amazing, but it’s still hard to shell out $115 for the cheap seats and up to $825 for the premium VIP seats. Yes, you read that right—the Stones want more than $800 for the best seats in the house. If this follows the pattern of tours past, that means you get to sit on stage with the band. As cool as that is, I don’t know if it is worth $800 dollars.
The other part of the 50 year anniversary celebration is the release of Grrr!, a greatest hits package available in both a 50 track and 80 track (deluxe) formats. With the exception of “Doom and Gloom” and one other song, these are all songs that have been released in one form or another over the years. Most die-hard fans will already own all of these hits, but that’s the beauty of the modern world. Those fans can purchase only the new songs and not have to worry about paying for songs they already own. And while a full album of new Rolling Stones material would have been preferred, two new songs are nice, especially when they are as good as “Doom And Gloom.”
The Rolling Stones are an inspiration. Keith Richards, for all intents and purposes, shouldn’t even be among the living, and yet he is still laying down guitar licks that put most other rockers to shame. Mick Jagger is still swaying to the groove well into his AARP years, and Charlie Watts is still keeping the beat when most men his age can’t even get out of bed. And while Ron Wood is slightly younger than the core members of the band, he is over the age of 60, and still keeping up with his mates. When I’m in my 60s, I hope that I’m still able to listen to and enjoy hard rock music, never mind creating it. The Rolling Stones are a testament to great rock and roll. They are the originators of a rock concert. They are legends. And they are still making music worth paying for.
What’s your thoughts? Are you excited that The Rolling Stones are still making new music? Will you try to see one of their four concerts this year? Do you like the new single? Drop a line in the comments and tell us how you feel!
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As avid readers of Vie’s Verses know (yes, there are avid readers…), I recently attended the Kiss/Motley Crue concert at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel New Jersey. It would be my 10th time seeing Kiss perform live, and even though I have witnessed their spectacular show that many times, I was still giddy with anticipation as I drove down the Garden State Parkway toward the Arts Center. I was looking forward to all three bands on the bill (The Treatment was the opening act), but I was most looking forward to Kiss.
Unfortunately, thanks to friends who arrived late, walked slow, and forced me to wait in the port-a-potty line because they just COULD NOT make it to bathroom inside the amphitheater, I missed The Treatment. A couple of friends later informed me that The Treatment was not very good, but I still wanted to witness it for myself. These were also friends who had never heard of the band prior to that night. I however, am a lover of their debut album, and still steaming that I missed the band. Stupid small bladder people!
We did arrive just in time for Motley Crue to take the stage and for the food stand to run out of burgers. I only mention this because it was the oddest experience I’ve had at a concert (in relation to food, anyway). I mean, how does one simply run out of burgers before the main act has even taken the stage? That irritated me, because I was pretty hungry by that point and the cheeseburgers looked fabulous. I secretly cursed my friends again, knowing that if they walked a little faster, or learned how to hold their urine a little longer, I could have enjoyed a burger AND the opening act.
Motley Crue took the stage to “Saints Of Los Angeles,” which I thought was excellent. I hate it when bands ignore their newer material in order to play only their classic cuts. That set the concert off to a great start. The rest of the Crue’s performance would be solid, but not as grand as when they took the stage to “Saints Of Los Angeles.”
Motley Crue is putting on a festival with this current tour. It consisted of a cavalcade of strippers in a variety of outfits and poses. There were some in all leather, some in almost nothing at all, and there were even strippers on stilts. And while the only purpose they served was to look good, that was all right, because the men in the audience loved it, and secretly, some of the women may have liked it too. To me, it was just Motley Crue being Motley Crue, and it was what I had expected of the band.
During “Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)” my friend Dave poised a very poignant question. “Do you think we like this concert because it’s that good, or are we just nostalgic for that time period in our lives?” Damn good question. As I pondered it for a moment, I realized that the song playing was 23 years old and I could remember the first time I ever heard it after buying Dr. Feelgood on cassette tape the day of its release. I didn’t provide Dave with an answer, but he didn’t need one.
Tommy Lee took over the spotlight about halfway through the night. He did his drum solo in a circular roller coaster that sat at the back of the stage, and then performed it again, this time with a member of the audience strapped in next to him. And while I do not care for Tommy Lee at all, I thought it was quite cool to see a member of the audience strapped in next to him as he performed a roller coaster drum solo.
Vince Neil pulled his usual sing every third word, forget most of the lyrics, and hold the microphone out to the audience in the hopes that they will think it’s cool and not realize that he doesn’t know the lyrics to his own songs. And even that has become quaint. While it used to annoy me to see Vince huffing and puffing and singing “He’s…screaming….night….” I find it amusing now. Again, it’s to be expected. And while Vince was huffing and puffing, Mick Mars was still being the coolest guy on the stage. Here’s a guy that’s battling a spinal disease, is in immense pain just from standing, looks like a skeleton come to life, and he’s still the coolest being at the Arts Center. Mick Mars is a true Rock God!
Overall, Motley Crue did what I expected that Motley Crue would. They put on a hot, nostalgic, debauchery filled, hell of a good time, rock and roll show. How could anyone complain about that?
Kiss, too, would deliver exactly what I expected of them, although by the end of their set, I was wishing they had played longer. Yes, I understand it was a double bill and that each band was limited to twelve or thirteen songs. I didn’t care. I still wanted to see more Kiss before the night was through.
Kiss took the stage to the classic “Detroit Rock City” and the night was underway. Most of the songs performed were from 1978 or earlier. And with the exception of their brand new single, “Hell Or Hallelujah,” there wasn’t a song played that had been recorded after 1983. To some fans, this was heaven. To me, it was a cop out, and a put off. Kiss had just toured behind one of their best albums ever recorded and now they refuse to play at least one song from it? How disappointing.
The expected antics were all present and accounted for. Gene would breathe fire and spit blood. Paul Stanley would fly out to the audience and play “Love Gun” from a smaller stage. Tommy would shoot rockets out of his guitar. And even their newest trick was present and accounted for— Eric firing a bazooka at the end of Tommy’s guitar solo.
Tommy Thayer would take over the lead vocals for “Shock Me,” and this was another disappointing moment in the night. No, I don’t mind Tommy singing lead vocals for a song (or two), but why “Shock Me?” As mentioned, Kiss just toured behind Sonic Boom, which contained a fantastic song sung by Tommy Thayer, “When Lightning Strikes.” Why not have Tommy sing his own song? Or, if you must only perform the classics, then have him take over lead vocals for “Cold Gin.” Just don’t have him take Ace’s signature song and then steal Ace’s guitar solo. That has really bothered me a lot over the years.
The rest of the Kiss night was exactly what I’ve come to expect, and even though I have seen it multiple times, I still found myself smiling, laughing, singing along, and clapping my hands. I screamed for “I Love It Loud,” I pumped my fist like a good Kiss Army soldier during “War Machine,” and I jumped up and down like a little boy for “Shout It Out Loud.” Was it because the show was that good, or was nostalgia hitting me hard? Who knows? All that I know for sure is that I had a spectacular time. Kiss ended with “Rock And Roll All Nite,” as expected, complete with confetti bombs bursting and spraying the audience ad infinitum. And while I had seen that gag a million times as well, I still grinned and loved it. It was, after all, Kiss being Kiss, and that was a good thing.
All in all, both Motley Crue and Kiss put on a great show. If you’re going to catch the concert this fall, you’re in for a real treat. Don’t expect any deep cuts, don’t expect any outrageous surprises, just expect a good old-fashioned, rock and roll show, one that’s worth the price of admission. Can you really ask for more than that?
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On October 9th, Kiss will release their 20th studio album (I’m not including the solo albums or hits album in that count). The title of the record is Monster, but I have my doubts that it will be. Most of the regular readers of Vie’s Verses know that I am a huge Kiss fan, so perhaps I can be a bit too critical of my favorite band. I place them on a very high pedestal and only expect greatness from every record. Over the years, the band has never let me down. Even albums that casual fans think are garbage (Crazy Nights, Music From The Elder) are solid, if not great, albums, in my opinion. However, I can’t help thinking that Monster is going to suck.
The first single, “Hell Or Hallelujah,” is just terrible. There’s no way to sugar coat that, and there’s really not even much about the song that I can praise. It sounds like a left over from the Sonic Boom sessions that didn’t make the cut (and for good reason). It’s just a bad, boring song. Paul’s vocals are weak, the lyrics are pretty lame, and there is no cohesiveness to pull the song through. If this is any indication of how the rest of the album is going to sound then there will be a lot of disappointed Kiss fans. (Check out “Hell or Hallelujah” below.)
I’ll admit, I felt the same way when I first heard “Psycho Circus.” I thought that album was going to be a bomb and it turned out to be one of the better Kiss records in their catalog. After a while “Psycho Circus” even grew on me and now I enjoy the song when I hear it. But when the single was first released, I remember scratching my head, saying “what the hell were they thinking?”
Kiss is also coming off a surprisingly fantastic record. Sonic Boom was given the title of album of the year, 2009, by yours truly. It was a record that had depth, found all four members of the band taking over lead vocals at some point, and was very diverse. Yes, there were a couple of lame moments (notably Gene’s ode to women and himself on “Nobody’s Perfect”), but those moments were few and far between. Sonic Boom also gave us some gems like “Never Enough,” “Stand,” and “Say Yeah.” That was a great trade off for one lousy Gene Simmons song.
The point is that it can be very hard to follow up a terrific album with one that is equally as grand, or better. And when it comes to my favorite band of all time, I want each record to be better than the last. It’s been 3 years since Kiss released Sonic Boom, so the band has had time to craft their songs and pick out only the cream of the crop. But with tours, reality shows, art galleries, and the like, I’m not sure how much effort Kiss put into this record. I hope that I am way off the mark. I hope that Monster is one of their best records ever. However, I don’t think that it will be. I have a strong feeling that Monster is going to be a letdown.
Let’s face it, Kiss isn’t getting any younger. And as cool as he is, hearing a 65 year old Gene Simmons sing about all the ladies he wants to bed has gone from crazy cool to kind of old man perverted. That’s one of the downsides of aging. If your grandfather was talking about hooking up with some 25 year old hottie, you’d find it a little off. Yeah, it’s great that granddad still wants to do the nasty, but I’m not really sure that we want all of the details. At their age, Kiss should be maturing and writing music that reflects that. It’s not easy to do, I know. We don’t want songs about hospitals and hip surgery, but I’m not sure that I want songs about Gene getting it on in a one night stand.
In the end, Monster is going to be another record about sex and rock and roll. Perhaps it will be as good as Sonic Boom, perhaps it will be even better. I have my doubts, but again, it’s because I am very critical of the band. On October 9th, I may be in for a huge surprise. What about you? How do you think the new Kiss record is going to be? Do you think it will be a huge hit, or a complete bomb? Drop a line in the comments and let us know.
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We’ve all heard the term bandied about before. A lot of us have even used it to describe some of our favorite records. “A perfect album.” Critics and disc jockeys have been using those words for decades, but what does it really mean? Have you ever stopped to think what really constitutes a perfect album?
I know that I’ve rated a few albums as perfect in my time. AC/DC’s Back In Black, Kiss’ Destroyer, Meatloaf’s Bat Out Of Hell, to me, they are all perfect. But why are they perfect? What makes these particular albums so much better than anything I’ve ever listened to? The definition of a perfect album really does vary from person to person and critic to critic. And while there are many albums that most people will agree are great albums, getting people to agree on perfect albums is an entirely different process.
My criteria for an album being perfect are pretty simple, but meeting those standards is tough. A perfect album is when each song on the record is so fantastic that you want to listen to the current song as much as you want to play the last song. That’s it. What that really means is that each song on the record is so fantastic you want to listen to it over and over and over again. Each song is such a masterpiece that you can’t stop playing it no matter how badly you want to hear the next track.
There aren’t many albums in existence where all the songs are that good. I’ve already listed a few, but there are others. The Red Hot Chili Peppers, By The Way, Pearl Jam’s Ten, and the self-titled debut from Boston all come to mind. In the history of rock music, these are some of the very best of the best and to me, they have all scored a 10. The reason for that is because each song is as brilliant as the last. Every time that I play those records, I want to hear the next song as much as I want to replay the last song.
A perfect album is a precious gift that does not come around very often. There are several amazing bands that have never accomplished the feat. Black Sabbath has never had a perfect album (although they have come close). Kiss has only done it once. The Beatles have never recorded a perfect album. Rating an album as perfect is a serious statement, and those records have to really earn the title. Each song on the record has to be perfect. Near perfect won’t get the job done. Each song has to be a masterpiece.
When you think about all of the albums that have been recorded throughout history, it’s hard to believe that there haven’t been more perfect albums, but then, that’s the beauty of a perfect album, the rareness of it. It’s like pitching a perfect game in baseball. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, it is pure gold (or platinum).
As a rock music critic/blogger, I am always on the lookout for that next great thing. I always want to find an album that can be perfect. And even with all of the great music that has been recorded recently, perfect albums are almost impossible to come by. As much as I love the first two records from Pop Evil and the debut album from Dead Sara, none of those records are perfect. They have all come close, but they haven’t met the criteria. They all had one song that was just a little too weak to be a masterpiece. Thinking about that makes me smile every time I play Back In Black. Here is an album recorded in my lifetime that is perfect—an album that will be enjoyed years after I’ve passed away. That’s an awesome
What about you? What are your criteria for a perfect album? What albums do you consider to be perfect?
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In the world of hard rock, there are several great bands that put on amazing live concerts. There are legendary performances that have been talked about for years. There are bands that are so grand live, when fans see them once, they become fans for life. Then there are the bands that you simply must see at least once in your lifetime. Here now are Ryo’s five choices for bands that you absolutely have to see live in concert at least once in your lifetime.
While Brian Johnson is a fantastic front man, and the rhythm section lead by Malcom Young is highly talented, it is the outrageous antics of Angus Young that makes seeing an AC/DC concert a must. Anytime that Angus takes the stage, the audience is in for a real treat. Between his brilliance with a guitar in his hand, high energy level, and boogie-woogie school boy style, Angus IS AC/DC.
Every tour, there are new antics from Angus and great music to be heard. AC/DC hasn’t put out a terrible album in years, if ever (some people didn’t care for Ball Breaker, I thought it was excellent). In addition to new music every time they go out on tour, the band has a back catalog of nothing but hits. “Hells Bells,” “For Those About To Rock,” “You Shook Me All Night Long,” who wouldn’t want to hear those performed live? Add in the amazing performance from Angus Young and you will definitely get your money’s worth.
There is always a playground for Angus while he wails away on his guitar. Elaborate stage settings, long ramps that run into the audience, and second levels above the main stage are all used in style. The highlight of the night, of course, comes when it is time for Angus’ guitar solo. Most live acts these days find the beer lines full when it comes time to the guitar solo, but not AC/DC. When Angus gets ready to let it rip, that’s when the fans rush back from the food lines. And Angus never disappoints. To even try to describe his guitar solo/strip dance, would be a huge injustice, so I will just say that you need to witness it for yourself. If you have never seen AC/DC live, be sure to buy a ticket the next time they announce a world tour.
Regardless of how you feel about the band and their over saturation in the market with gimmicks, games, toys, and gizmos, seeing Kiss in concert at least once during your lifetime is mandatory if you consider yourself a true hard rock fan. Kiss was one of the first bands to provide fans with a truly bombastic live experience. Between their outlandish costumes, makeup, smoke, and explosions, Kiss has always provided an amazing concert experience. Even during the years without makeup, there were still plenty of fireworks to go around.
Now entering their 60’s, like it or not, Kiss is near the end of their career. And while Peter Criss and Ace Frehley are no longer part of the band, Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer are pretty good replacements. The bombs, rocket shooting guitars, blood spitting, fire breathing, live concert amazement is also still there. In one night a fan would get to see Gene Simmons spit blood and breathe fire, Paul Stanley fly through the air, Tommy Thayer shoot rockets out of his guitar, and Eric Singer fire a Bazooka.
Add to that great classic hits like “Love Gun,” “Detroit Rock City,” and “Rock And Roll All Nite,” and you have a recipe for one of the greatest concerts that you have ever witnessed. This is a band that every hard rock fan should see live just once. They are currently on tour this fall. If you don’t have a ticket, do yourself a favor and go buy one. Now.
Is there anything that compare to the power of Metallica in concert? Between the music, the volume, the energy, and the deep song catalog, Metallica always puts on a spectacular live show. Metallica is also one of the few hard rock bands that doesn’t perform the same songs every night on tour. Instead of mixing up the set list from tour to tour, they mix up the set list from night to night. Having rocked the masses for more than 30 years, Metallica is also a seasoned, veteran band with a real stage presence.
While no longer filled with all original members, Metallica’s current lineup is no laughing matter. And whenever you have James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich, you have quite an amazing band. Metallica is all about raw power in concert. Try to sit through a Metallica concert without getting super excited, fists pumping, and your heart racing. It’s more effective than a gallon of coffee for waking up the senses.
With albums such as their self-titled masterpiece (also known as The Black Album), Ride The Lightning, and Master Of Puppets, there is no end to how many fantastic songs this band can perform. Night after night, fans are guaranteed one of the greatest evenings of their lives. Metallica should be on tour in the very near future and you should get on their concert alert list.
Up the irons! There is nothing more exciting than when Iron Maiden storms the stage and Bruce Dickinson comes charging out into the night with the energy level of someone half his age. Make no mistake about it Iron Maiden could be the greatest live band ever. Between creative backdrops, a huge mascot that steals the show and the band’s ability to perform like a well oiled machine, Iron Maiden has everything that a fan wants in a concert.
Lead singer Bruce Dickinson leads the charge and by the end of the first song, he has the entire crowd in the palm of his hand. They are his to command and they will do as they are told. If Bruce says scream, the audience screams. If Bruce says rise, the audience rises. If Bruce says jump, the audience jumps. There is almost no one that commands a crowd like Bruce Dickinson.
On top of all that, the rest of the band is so talented that they fit in perfectly. Steve Harris, master craftsman of songs plays an exceptional bass guitar live. Nicko McBrain is a delight behind the drum kit and the three guitar attack of Adrian Smith, Janick Gers, and Dave Murray simply blows the crowd away. Every member of the band has a strong purpose in the live setting and every member of the band delivers on that purpose.
Then at the end of the night, we get to witness the greatest mascot in the world take the stage. Eddie himself pays a visit at each and every Iron Maiden concert. It is a concert experience like no other, and if you don’t walk out of the show sweating and breathless, then you are either dead, or really a fan of Justin Bieber.
Let’s face it—this band is on the list because they are truly the Godfathers of heavy metal. How can you have a list of hard rock bands that need to be seen in concert without including the band that started the genre? Black Sabbath is the reason that there are heavy metal concerts. Prior to them (and Led Zeppelin) music was a lot brighter. Black Sabbath brought the darkness in and continue to do so to this day.
Legends. Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Bill Ward (though no longer with the band). They are legends. And to see these legends live in concert, well it is priceless. Think how much people would pay to see Led Zeppelin reunite. Well, here’s your chance to see a band just as legendary, only they are still touring. Black Sabbath is a must see for any fan of heavy metal. To hear songs like Black Sabbath, Paranoid, and Iron Man live is simply mind numbing. To see the Godfathers of heavy metal on stage and performing is breath taking. Just for the historical experience of saying, “I was there,” Black Sabbath needs to be seen in concert. It is definitely something that you would tell your grandchildren about.
The good news is that all of these bands are still active, although one or two of them may not be active for much longer. My advice is to buy a ticket the next time they are in your area, or if need be, travel to see them perform. You will not be disappointed, and you can add their concert to your list of greatest hard rock memories. If you’ve seen all of these bands live already, then you are a true hard rock warrior!
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I know that I often make statements like this, but it’s hard to believe that Def Leppard’s magnificent album, Hysteria, is officially 25 years old. Maybe I have trouble believing things like this because it is a constant reminder of how old I am getting. Poison’s been around for 26 years? Kiss announced their reunion tour 16 years ago? It’s been how many years since Iron Maiden reunited with Bruce Dickinson (12, for the record)? Sadly, I remember all of those things happening. I also remember being extremely excited when they did.
Def Leppard’s Hysteria brought a similar feeling of excitement. In 1983 I was a hair too young to really jump on the Def Leppard band wagon and shout out my love for the band. However, when Hysteria was released in 1987, I was a freshman in High School and I was all in. At that point in my life, I had started consuming hard rock and heavy metal in abundance. Of course, the biggest flavor of the time was hair metal, and I listened to any band that even came close to representing the genre. Many people would argue that Def Leppard isn’t really a hair metal band, but they often get lumped into the category. And in 1987, we didn’t even call them hair bands we just called them rock and roll.
Given all that was happening with the band during this time period, it’s amazing that Hysteria was ever recorded, let alone released. Between the pressure to create a follow up record that was better than Pyromania, having a producer walk away (only to return a year later), and Rick Allen losing an arm, many people thought that Def Leppard was finished as a band. But they persevered and released an amazing record. And no one could imagine the amount of units Hysteria would sell, nor the popularity that the record would have.
Hysteria is packed with hits. From “Women” to “Animal” to “Pour Some Sugar On Me,” every song on this record is fantastic. Yes, 25 years later, “Pour Some Sugar On Me,” is insanely overplayed and has morphed into a song where you roll your eyes and say “Ugh! Again?”, but in 1987, this song was nothing short of monumental. The entire Hysteria album was. I can remember the first time I played the cassette tape. After hearing “Animal” and “Women” and listening to all my friends rave about the record, I knew that I had to have it. So, I saved up my allowance (I was a few months shy of working regularly) and bought myself a copy. After one listen, I was hooked. I could not stop playing Hysteria. I must have listened to that album nonstop for close to a month.
“Armageddon it,” “Rocket,” “Love And Affection,” and my personal favorite “Hysteria,” were all musical bliss to my eardrums. Every note on the album was production perfect. Joe Elliot’s voice sounded like an angel, and the guitar work of Steve Clark and Phil Collen was incredible. On top of all that, Rick Allen’s drum work defied logic. Here was a drummer that lost an arm and with the help of his band, found a way to come back and play the drums for Def Leppard’s best album ever. He was an inspiration to us all. Def Leppard did not cut corners with the drumming either, as some of the songs on Hysteria have complex drum beats, all played by Rick Allen.
When I review the vast musical collection that I have built over the years (2200 albums and counting), I can easily rank Hysteria in the top 25 albums of my collection. It is a perfect album, recorded during a tumultuous time for the band, and Def Leppard came out on top. Hysteria topped the charts worldwide and would go on to sell 12 million copies in the US, one of the highest selling rock albums ever for the States. If ever there was an album deserving of an anniversary edition, Hysteria is it. And while I haven’t heard of any plans for that to happen, a box set including the remastered album, all the B-sides, and live recordings from this tour, would be a welcome gift to me. What about you? What are your thoughts on Hysteria turning 25 years old? Is it one of your favorite albums too, or do you find it to be an overrated, overproduced, overhyped disc?
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I was at a summer barbecue this past weekend, listening to good music and enjoying cold beer. Like most conversations that happen around me, the talk turned to music. A group of us started discussing concerts that we’ve been to, or plan to attend this summer. One of the guys mentioned that he just saw Def Leppard with Lita Ford and Poison. He told me what a great time he had and how he was surprised that Poison was still around. That got me to thinking. When did Poison get stuck as an opening act?
In the early 00s, Poison was headlining a glam festival every year. They would hit the road with Warrant, Cinderella, Sebastian Bach…the list was endless. They even put out an album of brand new material in 2002, Hollyweird. And while it wasn’t their best record, it was cool that Poison was recording new music for the fans that wanted it. Then, something strange happened. In 2004, Poison (apparently) couldn’t afford to go out on a headline tour, so they decided to open for Kiss. And while that was a cool concept for one tour, it never should have become the status quo.
In 2006 Poison went on a co-headlining tour with Cinderella. In 2007, they hit the road with Ratt in support of their terrible covers album, Poison’D. After a 2008 headlining tour with Dokken and Sebastian Bach, the band spent 2009 opening for Def Leppard. In 2010, Poison did not tour at all. The next year they opened for Motley Crue, and this year, they are out opening for Def Leppard once again. This is a band that ten years ago was headlining sold out concerts. Sure, they were in sheds across America, but they were still headlining to 12,000 people. That’s quite a feat! And now, they have been pushed to an opening act, exactly what they were at the start of their career. How can the band be all right with this?
I am sure that the money they earn makes it easier to swallow their pride and open, but what the band should be doing is working on new material and preparing themselves to be headliners once again. Even without new music, if Poison would decide to perform some different songs live, they could be headliners once again. The biggest issue that I have with Poison is that they play the same set list year after year after year. Why not try and mix it up by performing a few tracks from Crack A Smile, or HollyWeird. Why not play something from Native Tongue other than “Stand?” Why not perform a few of the studio tracks from the live albums? Of course Poison is always going to play “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” “Talk Dirty To Me,” and “Nothing But A Good Time.” I understand that. But why not shake it up with “Cover Of A Rolling Stone” instead of “We’re An American Band?” Pull out “No Ring No Gets” and lose “Ride The Wind.” Yes, I love “Ride The Wind” too, but I’d much rather hear a song that I’ve never heard the band perform live.
And if Poison is worried about not being able to carry the load themselves, then gather up another band or two and have them come out with you for support. Warrant (with Robert Mason) would be a great choice. Night Ranger has been incredible on the road, and they would make a great pairing with Poison. If Kix could be talked into doing a summer tour, a Kix/Poison concert would sell like hotcakes. And there is always Cinderella, a very popular draw.
As for opening acts, there are a ton of classic bands out there that would fit this bill. Great White, Lynch Mob, Mike Tramp, Enuff Z’Nuff, and Bang Tango are all available. They would all be a great addition to the tour. It could even be one of the best tours of the summer if done correctly. It’s just a shame to see the once mighty Poison, one of the best live acts of the 80s circuit, to be used as an opening band, when they could clearly be out on their own. I can only hope that the band will hear my plea. Also, a new album of original material would be nice. Please don’t leave us with Poison’D as your final studio album. That would be a disgrace.
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It’s July. It’s hot. The 4th of July celebration has ended and the glorious barbecue food that I ate too much of (as well as the ice cream and beer) has been consumed. July has arrived and that means this year is half over. If you are to believe the skeptics (or would they be critics?) regarding the Mayan calendar, this may be the last six months we have left on Earth. If that’s true, it would mean no “best of” list for you to enjoy in December. And since I feel obligated to share what I think are the best CDs of the year with the faithful readers of Hard Rock Hideout, then it is my moral obligation to produce a half year list (just in case we don’t make it out of 2012). So, out of my debt of gratitude to all of you regular readers, here are the top five albums of 2012. If we do survive to the end of the year, there will be a year end list. It will be fun to see if any of these albums make it to that list.
5. Shinedown – Amaryllis
Following up on the best record of their career (The Sound Of Madness); Shinedown had their work cut out for them with Amaryllis. Fortunately for the fans, the band took their work seriously. The end result was one fantastic, hard rocking record of fun. Amaryllis is a fantastic album, with hit after hit pelting the ears of the listener. Shinedown was able to overcome the high expectations that were laid on them following the success of The Sound Of Madness. They rose to the challenge and created a record that far exceeds their previous work. The only problem now is that they have set the bar even higher for the next record. Given the history of the band, I am sure they will be able to surpass that bar as well.
4. The Cult – Choice Of Weapon
The Cult just released their latest album, Choice Of Weapon. Normally, I like to wait and let a record settle over me before I even think of adding it to any “best of” list. However, Choice Of Weapon is such a fantastic CD, that there is no need to wait to proclaim it as one of the best albums of 2012. If you’ve missed The Cult, or if you are seeking a hard rock beauty to add to your stereo this summer, pick up a copy of Choice Of Weapon. You will not be disappointed. With magnificent riffs, fantastic vocals, and a whole lot of power, Choice Of Weapon satisfies as the choice of album for the summer.
3. Van Halen – A Different Kind Of Truth
I’ll be the first to admit that I expected this album to suck. After many years of not recording together, combined with all of the documented “Eddie” issues that were lingering over the band, I figured there was no way Van Halen was going to make a solid record. I have never been happier to be wrong. A Different Kind Of Truth is classic Van Halen at its finest. From the opening riff on “Tattoo,” to the closing notes on “Beats Working,” Van Halen delivered the perfect follow up to 1984. While the Dave-sung tracks on Best Of Volume One were fabulous, they were nothing compared to what the band put on A Different Kind Of Truth. It’s sad that we won’t be able to witness these songs live this summer or fall, as Van Halen has cancelled all of their gigs until further notice. However, at least we can enjoy the studio recordings.
2. Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball
Yeah, yeah, I know there are some regular readers out there who think Springsteen isn’t hard rock and isn’t worthy of being mentioned on this site. Whatever. We can debate that on a future podcast that contains “Is It Hard?” (You are downloading and listening, right?) For those of us that feel The Boss is hard rock, he has produced one of the best albums of his career and Wrecking Ball is one of the best albums of 2012. Blending his 70s style blue collar rock with his more recent Irish folk flavor, and mixing in some good old fashioned classic guitar rock, Bruce Springsteen has struck gold with Wrecking Ball. There is something for everyone. From ballads to blues, from guitar solos, to foot stomping folk songs, Wrecking Ball has it all. That is what makes it such a great treasure. After 40 years, Bruce Springsteen still knows how to rock and roll and Wrecking Ball is the current proof of his lasting musical genius.
1. Dead Sara – Dead Sara
The biggest gift that I was blessed with this year has been Dead Sara. When I received their debut album for review, I really didn’t have high hopes. The band had received all sorts of high praise and I just figured that they would fail to live up to the hype. Not only did Dead Sara live up to it, they smashed it. And while there are still a lot of highly anticipated releases due out this year, I don’t think there will be any record released in 2012 that is going to top Dead Sara’s self titled debut. There is not one negative thing that can be said about Dead Sara. Not one constructive criticism can be made. Dead Sara is about as perfect as an album can be, and the fact that it is a rookie effort, only helps to confirm that Dead Sara is the real deal. If there is only one record that you purchase this year, it needs to be the self titled debut from Dead Sara. You will not hear a better album in 2012.
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Coming soon to the Hard Rock Hideout Podcast (you have been downloading and listening, right?) will be a new game titled “Is It Hard?” In this game, Rob Rockitt and I will debate the hardness of certain rock bands that teeter on the cusp of what could be considered hard rock music. As an introduction to the game, I thought it would be nice to do a column in advance, discussing the first band that I would like to debate in the “Is It Hard?” category—The White Stripes.
The White Stripes were a band that consisted of Jack and Meg White who were either married, brother and sister, or as some believe, both. Regardless of their supposed infidelities, The White Stripes were a fantastic band that split up way too early in their career. I still yearn to hear some new White Stripes music, but instead have to settle for solo Jack White, which is good, but not as good as The White Stripes.
Although the band released their first album in 1999, it wasn’t until the 2002 major label re-release of White Blood Cells that The White Stripes rose in popularity and recognition. The first single from White Blood Cells, “Fell In Love With A Girl” was one of the hardest rocking songs of its time. The power chords that opened this song demanded immediate attention. Once Jack White’s voice filled the speakers, I was hooked. This was hard rock at its finest—a new wave of hard rock. Sure, the purists would label it garage rock, but it was all the same to me.
After listening to White Blood Cells several times, I noticed that it was difficult to pin the White Stripes into just one category. First, their music consisted on one singer/guitarist and one drummer. No bass, no keyboards, no extra anything. It was Jack White’s ability with the guitar in his hand that really drove home the music. The sounds he could make were simply astonishing. White Blood Cells as well as the bands later albums contained soft songs, esoteric songs, and punk songs. However at the center of all their albums, was hard rock music at its finest. From the aforementioned “Fell In Love With A Girl” to “Icky Thump,” the cranking, shredding guitar, heavy drum tunes have hard rock written all over them. Songs like “Offend In Every Way,” and “There’s No Room For You Here” are closer to heavy metal than anything else, and the White Stripes recorded several hard rockers during their career.
Granted, their third major label album, Get Behind Me Satan, was filled with more experimental songs that lacked the punch of their predecessors, but The White Stripes were quick to correct that on their swan song, Icky Thump. And while Get Behind Me Satan was a strong, fun record, it was certainly not a rocker in any imaginable form. However, the short lived experiment found the White Stripes returning to their roots of hard rocking hits on their next album.
In 2009, The White Stripes abruptly ended a tour when Meg White was overcome with anxiety. While it was disappointing to see the band cease the tour, what was even more disheartening was the fact that it would be the beginning of the end for The White Stripes. After 2007’s Icky Thump, the band never released another album. Early in 2011, they officially called it quits, announcing that there would no longer be a White Stripes.
Listening to songs like “Ball And Biscuit” and “You Don’t Know What Love Is (You Just Do As Your Told), the logical conclusion is that the White Stripes are hard rock music. Yes, they may fit the bill more for punk rock than any other genre, but a lot of punk bands can still be considered hard rock. The White Stripes certainly fit this category. Their music was edgy and masterful with blistering guitars and thundering drums. Nothing screams hard rock more than that. And while they are gone yet not forgotten, they are still missed.
When you observe the entire body of work that The White Stripes released during a ten year period, there is no doubt in my mind that they are a hard rock band. What about you? What’s your opinion of The White Stripes? Would you say “It’s hard” when it comes to The White Stripes?
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Unless you’ve been living under a soft rock, you have no doubt heard that there is a huge, double-bill, rock and roll tour heading to a city near you this summer. Kiss will be teaming up with Motley Crue for what looks to be one of the hardest rocking double bills I’ve seen in years. I am looking forward to this amazing hard rock show when they roll into New Jersey this September. It’s going to be an awesome, late summer Friday night of fun and havoc!
Like I do with almost any concert that I attend, I’ve been thinking about what the setlists could be for each band this year. Will they stick to only the hits? Are they going to pull out some early classics? Will there be a surprise or two that no one expects? I’m always anxious to hear some deep cuts whenever I see either of these bands live, and this year is no exception. After giving it much thought, I’ve come up with a list of songs that would make me wet myself if they were performed live. Last time I wrote about the Motley songs I want to hear, this time, here are the five songs that I would love to hear from KISS.
Sweet Pain (Destroyer)
“Sweet Pain” could be my favorite Kiss song ever. To the best of my knowledge, Kiss has only played this song live during their acoustic Konvention tour, where they played any song that the fans would call out. I have a copy of that song on a bootleg, and while it took a while for the band to get it down, they did a decent job. As one of the best songs on Destroyer it is a true shame that this song has never received a proper live performance. If Kiss would take the time to study this tune and pull it out for the upcoming tour, the buzz from the fans would be maddening. With the song’s power and intensity combined with it being a deep cut classic, all Kiss fans would love to hear “Sweet Pain.”
I (Music From The Elder)
How in the world does a rock band have a song that is so amazing, so powerful, and so fantastic that they never play it? It baffles my mind that Kiss has only performed “I” less than a handful of times and never since the acoustic Konvention tour back in 1995. “I” is one of those great Kiss classics where Gene and Paul trade verses to the delight of the Kiss Army. The song is a powerful anthem about believing in yourself and going above and beyond to achieve what you want in life. Like other Kiss anthems, “I” is a song that would rev the crowd up to such a massive dynamic, that the audience would scream their throats raw. “I” would be the best main set closer that Kiss has ever done since “Let Me Go Rock And Roll” held that honor in the early 70s. It would be a Kiss fan’s dream come true.
Love ‘Em And Leave ‘Em (Rock And Roll Over)
“Love ‘Em And Leave ‘Em” is a great late-70s Gene sung song centered on the theme of womanizing. This is a topic that Gene wrote about a lot back in the 70s and 80s and still writes a fair amount about today. “Love ‘Em And Leave ‘Em” is a fantastic ode to the one night stand, and a Kiss song that has never gotten the proper attention that it deserves. Kiss has the chance to right that wrong this summer by pulling out this fantastic homage to loving the ladies for one night only.
I Still Love You (Creatures Of The Night)
Granted, out of all the Kiss songs that I would like to hear in concert this year, “I Still Love You” is the one that has been played most recently. It is also the one song on this list that has the best chance of being played live during this concert. “I Still Love You” is one of Kiss’ strongest, operatic ballads and the live version is simply amazing. If Paul Stanley still has the range, pulling out this classic Kiss song would likely see an amazing crowd reaction.
Almost Human (Love Gun)
“Almost Human” is practically an unknown Kiss song. Any time that I mention this song to anyone, even die-hard Kiss fans, they always give me a quizzical look. When I remind them that it was a side two track from Love Gun, I usually get a similar response of, “Oh, I’m going to have to go back and listen to that one again.” That’s how deep a track “Almost Human” is. However, just because it’s a deep track, doesn’t mean that it’s not a good track. This is one of my all time favorite Gene Simmons songs. It’s dark and haunting, with a theme centered on science fiction and fantasy more than women or rock and roll (a rarity for a Kiss song). Perhaps meant to be the sequel to “God Of Thunder,” “Almost Human” received no attention after being released on Love Gun. Now, 35 years after its release, Kiss could really make a statement and perform this song live for the first time ever. This would also be a great song for Gene Simmons to fly and spit blood before performing, giving it an added bonus of excitement for the fans.
Those are the five songs that I would like to hear Kiss perform on tour this summer. What about you? What Kiss songs are you hoping that the band dusts off? Which Kiss rarities have you always wanted to see in concert? Drop a line in the comments section and share your opinion!
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