Boston’s new album in over ten years is worth buying for any fan but lets get a few things straight. First of all how many of the eleven songs are new? Eight. Of the three that are not new, two of them are better versions of songs from Corporate America (an underrated record by my account) featuring the late Brad Delp on vocals. So how many new songs have posthumous vocals by the great Brad Delp? One called Sail On and it’s awesome! At this point I’ll take anything that Tom Scholz says is Boston and I’ll enjoy it, because he’s a great songwriter and an amazing guitar player. What he is not, however, is a great drummer. He’s a serviceable drummer at best and the electronic sound of the drums makes some of the songs sound a bit demo-like at times; he really should’ve brought in a pro but ya know: control freaks etc… As on Corporate America, the lead vocals on most of the songs are shared by past and present members and all tracks have at least a partial vintage Boston feel which is great. As Tom himself laments in the liner notes, this is not about making money anymore. The only reason to make an album is if it’s a labor of love, which this obviously was. Is this an amazing new Boston record? No, but does it need to be? No. The are some great tracks here old and new and it’s really cool that Tom still wants to share with us! Thank you for that — see you when you tour!
3.5 (out of 5)
The Outlaws were amazing, however they were again rewarded with a 30 minute opening set which is total B.S. Skynyrd had at least four filler songs in their 1 hour 45 minute set that they could have skipped, thereby giving The Outlaws a respectful (given their heritage) 45 minute opening set. I don’t blame Skynyrd but I do blame their management. At the end of the day it’s all about customer experience. Ok so I mentioned The Outlaws were great. They were. Henry Paul sounded great, the band was tight and full of energy. Did I miss Billy Crain on guitar? Yes. His onstage presence cannot be discounted; he added another level to the live show. Don’t get me wrong: Steve Grisham is a fantastic player as is everyone in the band. The Outlaws again blew people away with their 4th and final song, Green Grass And High Tides.
If you don’t know the history of Lynyrd Skynyrd, look it up: it’s a sad but endearing story (Gary Rossington is the only original member) and the fact that there even IS a Lynyrd Skynyrd 40th anniversary is a testament to a historically pertinent time in the evoulution of rock and roll. Lynyrd Skynyrd live was just what you would expect: huge band, huge sound, iconic songs, full power. Gimmie Three Steps, Saturday Night Special, Call Me The Breeze, That Smell….getting the picture? My favorite song of the night was Tuesday’s Gone, man that’s a beutiful song. Then of course Sweet Home Alabama which is a great song but to be honest when the confederate flag comes out I always get a bit nervous (even though I’ve been told by many people it’s a symbol of southern heritage and pride, it’s also a symbol used by white supremacy groups… bummer). And of course, let’s not forget Free Bird. Awesome. Funny thing is I hear more people shout out Free Bird at other concerts than I did at the Lynyrd Skynyrd show… weird, huh? On a serious note, during Free Bird the names of southern rockers who have departed floated across the screen along with bald eagle images. Very touching and a good reminder that carrying on the torch of something meaningful is important.
I’m as free as a bird now… How ’bout you?
4 (out of 5)
The Outlaws’ live performance in 2012 was top 5 of all time for me.
I needed to find out more so I asked to interview the legendary Henry Paul and to my surprise he agreed.
Here is how it went down:
RRR – I want to talk about the record first. I knew from the opening that this was
a special record but my big question really has to be after so much time has
passed why did you do it? Why did you make the record?
– First of all I wanted to put a musical personality to the face of The
Outlaws. The Outlaws have been around for forty years, three of the original
members are gone. This record was an attempt to establish a musical identity
for the current band while maintaining the spirit of the original line up.
– The writing on this record is very intelligent. Did you know during the
making that this would be such a big record thematically speaking?
– If you’re going to write a tribute record to a fallen friend who was
paramount in the band’s musical personality I think a song like The
Flame reads almost like The Midnight Rider Paul Revere in that it’s a timeless rendering of a
mythical character. From there if you move to Nothing Main About Main Street you have a sociological study about
the changing structure of our society. And if you look at the title track It’s
about Pride here you have a look inside the mindset of a
historically pertinent musical phenomena. If you can rise to the occasion of
those themes then the songs seem to be as big as the subjects. This record
really works to my strength as a song writer, I’m kind of a Grapes Of Wrath guy, ya know, American
story telling. I am very proud of it and the feedback from the fans has been
– I noticed sonically that even though it was recorded digitally it really
didn’t feel that way. Was that intentional?
– You have to remember that is was recorded in Nashville which despite its
shortcomings artistically still has a very organic musical personality. I took
tricks that I have learned over the years and applied them to this record. Some
people make records like they make model airplanes; this was more like a barn
Huh? Could you elaborate; I’ve never been to a barn raising.
– (Laughing) When you’re making a model airplane you’re sitting at home
focusing on your individual tasks. With a barn raising we have everybody in the
same area throwing nails and lumber around and the next thing you know you have
four walls and a roof. I wanted to create a live sounding record. You’ll notice
every song has an ending. We as a band got in a room and rehearsed those songs
and demo’d those songs before we recorded them. The peaks and valleys are very
real as is the emotion. I fought hard to keep the character of the record by
not trying to make everything sound perfect. This casts the performers in a
more human and endearing way I think. Then we went back and fixed things and
put it all together.
– This record will stand the test of time although I think because of the way
music is sold now it will take longer for it to reach the audience that it
deserves. Do you have any future plans?
– Yes, after the record was released I entered into a contract with a man whose
label Loud And Proud is for established classic artists with a following. The
artists will get to keep their music and he will handle the marketing. The
equity in that is healthy. He wants to re-release this record to get it to a
broader audience and get an international awareness. Maybe we will add a few
songs to that version.
– Well my unsolicited opinion would be to release it the way it is because it’s
a perfect record then maybe some live tracks.
– I think your affection for the record is coming from the right place and I
will keep that in the back of my mind.
– Transitioning to your live act; in my opinion The Outlaws are one of the best
bands of any genre touring today. I saw you play a thirty minute set last year
opening for 38 Special and Charlie Daniels Band. Taking nothing away from the
latters’ accomplishments, you blew them off the stage that night. As much as I
love your new record the live act takes it to another level.
– I’m going to leave that alone and just take the compliment, so thanks.
– Always the gentleman.
– We don’t set traps for ourselves that could turn the night into an oldies
show. It’s very real, we have heart and still feel we have a lot to prove. We
are one of the best bands of any genre and every night that we go out there we
lean in and play hard. We don’t get political or run our yaps up there; we just
give our commitment, we go right after you. It’s almost like we’re daring you
not to like us, that’s how we establish rapport with an audience. We play as
hard as we can.
– It’s amazing with how many members you have and that with such a big
energetic sound you somehow make room for each other. Younger bands could learn
a lot form you.
– Have you heard of My Morning Jacket? When I see that band I drool over their
musicality. That band inspires me.
– When Outlaws take the stage it feels like hey, I’m gonna kick you in the face
now because that’s my job. So get ready!
– (laughing) That’s exactly right. that’s how we got where we are and have
been. It’s always been kill or be killed. Of course we wan’t to steal the show.
This year we’re going out with Lynnard Skynnard which is iconic in its
– I understand you lost a member of the band?
– Yes. Billy Crain has left the band due to medical and personal reasons. I
miss Billy more than I would like to admit. Billy is one of my primary
songwriting partners and his musicality really helped shape the last record.
When it comes to the creative catalyst of a group like this it feels like when
you break up with a significant other. It’s been very concerning for me. But
the guy I brought in, Steve Grisham, is a great songwriter and guitarist in his
own right if not as flamboyant a showman as Billy. Personnel changes are the
absolute last thing that you want. We just went out and the review of the show
was outstanding. People are telling me the new line up is even better.
– Well we wish Billy the best and are super excited to see you in Pomona California
– If you ever saw Marshal Tucker Band or Allman Brothers in their prime it was
stuff for the ages. The Outlaws are in their prime now. This band.
– Well I will go ahead and lower my gloves and tell you to take your best shot because
I was there last year when you played Pomona and I will be there this time. I
don’t see how you can possibly improve over last year’s performance.
– (Laughing) Well I will be operating on a fear of failure and we will go right
at you so don’t worry.
– You’re awesome, thank you so much for your time. We wish you nothing but the
success that you have earned and deserve. I’m proud to be a fan of your music
and of The Outlaws! And I look forward to the re-release of It’s
– It emboldens me to hear that and I want to see that the record gets the
re-release that it deserves. I know that there are a hundred thousand people
that would love to have this record if they knew it existed.
– We agree. It’s about Pride.
for tour dates etc.
Laura Wilde is an Aussie transplant who plays a mean Dean guitar and sings. The music is straight ahead throwback rock in the Lita Ford tradition minus the fruity keyboards. Laura has great stage presence when she plays although her banter between songs would be embarrassing were it not for her accent :“This side of the room make some noise!” Etc. I truly appreciate the fact that she believes what she is doing every moment of her performance and her band was tight and right there with her. The high point of her set was a cover of AC/DC’s 1970s song Jailbreak… “And he made it out, with a bullet in his back…” Her original material was strong enough but I have yet to listen to her studio recordings so I will reserve judgment in that area because the sound at the venue for her set was really loud and fairly awful (not her fault). Overall not bad and will keep an ear open for her.
Ted Nugent is an amazing guitar player and his band is insanely tight (one of the best I’ve seen or heard in years). Derek St Holms is back and sounded amazing on the songs he sang lead on. These are the things I should be focusing on in my review, but because “Uncle Ted” forces his politics and hate mongering on everyone during and after every song, he’s fair game; and it’s too distracting not to comment on. First off is the Black Power 2013 Tour t-shirt with Ted and his double barrel shotgun guitar sporting a huge afro…. Huh? But wait he mentions how much he loves Motown, Chuck Berry, James Brown, Buddy Guy etc. So that makes it okay right? Umm… no. He introduces one song by saying he wrote it when he was just a little black boy in Detroit and was only so high (hand gesture) but that’s not including my afro (raises hand gesture one foot) then tells us, “If you think that’s racist then go F yourself” Ted, It is racist and I will not. But you can.
This being California he took shots at gay marriage and claimed that his music could make you straight. Let’s see what else did he say… Obama is a Black Panther in the white house, fat people are bloodsuckers on food stamps, George Zimmerman is not guilty he was acting in self-defense (Nothing like gloating over a tragedy!), I love the NRA, don’t F with me or I’ll shoot you, hate is American, America is the best although it sucks just a little less than the rest of the world, the constitution, freedom, freedom, freedom, I shoot a lot of animals but I eat them, In California this may sound crazy but in Texas it’s called common sense, you can’t play this music on a Jap guitar and I hate people on welfare….
That just about sums it up. Ted Nugent played a two minute version of Johnny B Good and said, “that proves I’m not a cracker… Oh, and I hate crackers.”
I too love America and am happy to see that you can still spew your nonsense just like the most eloquent speaker at a klan rally because you are protected by the Constitution. That being said, “your America” is being replaced by a more understanding, culturally diverse, forward thinking society and will be better off when dinosaurs like you fade into the sure to be rewritten history books.
Did I mention Ted Nugent is a great guitar player?
Dio was the man plain and simple. You either get why Dio was the man or you do not. Magica was Dio’s concept album but it doesn’t really matter because all of Dio’s songs could exist in this universe. Even though this is latter day Dio it rocks none the less with three great and certainly underrated songs in Lord Of The Last Day, Fever Dreams and of course the uber minor chord ballad As Long As it’s Not About Love. Besides the unheralded Magica proper this package also contains a bonus disc which has Dio reading The Magica Story (ummm.. best book on tape ever, and worth the price all by itself!) It also has some live tracks but more importantly Electra which would have appeared on Magica 2! And did I mention bonus tracks? This is a must buy for Dio fans old and new.
Dio, we miss you.
5 (out of 5)
Lou Gramm is the iconic original singer and co-writer for the rock group Foreigner. Juke Box Hero is Gramm’s recollection of his journey in and out of the band and it is worth the read. Lou Gramm is just another flawed human who fell to the trappings of being treated like he was something more than human. But unlike so many autobiographies the real twist here is how likable Gramm comes off. Gramm’s honesty is both titillating and endearing from his battles with a death sentence size tumor to his dealings with the megalomaniacal Mick Jones. To that end Jones comes off just as he seems. The only downside to the book is actually in the epilogue where Gramm talks down about the current line up of Foreigner because up to that point Gramm had taken mostly the high road (ex-wives and band members included) The touring Foreigner is not the band that had all those hits but even if it’s just the worlds greatest Foreigner cover band (featuring Mick Jones for some of the shows) It’s still a fun filled family appropriate (except for the singers daisy doink pants) show with great sing along music. Foreigner got an unfair rap because of their pop friendly hits. You just cannot discount those hits and you cannot fail to give Lou Gramm his due as one of the greatest rock vocalists of all time.
Read it and enjoy.
4.5 (out of 5)
I just got The Half Church record (yes record, vinyl LP) which comes with a digital download that I cannot get to work! I will figure it out someday but for now dear friends lets talk music. If you like Killing Joke, PIL, Stranglers Etc. This is a must own. Half Church came out of the San Francisco bay area in the 1980′s when music was in one of it’s coolest moments in evolution with many bands pushing the limits of what turned them on. My first real band opened up for Half Church in 1983. The place was packed and Half church was dead on. I thought for sure they were going to be huge after what I had witnessed and then somehow… the just weren’t. Kevin Dante Hardiman (KFJC) wrote the liner story which illuminates their almost rise to glory in a honest retelling. Side A is the original EP (In Turmoil 1982) which is a fantastic piece of history in itself (the original artwork is amazing but missing here due to what I would imagine are legal issues) The real crown gem for the collectors, fans or hipsters is side B which are all never released tracks! Half Church front man Tom Jinx Durcan (Jinxy) had a steady just raging below the surface intensity that is both intimidating and welcoming while his keyboard playing was pure sad analog desperation. Monte Vallier’s solid (surprisingly given his age at the time) fret less bass playing really helped to give them a sound that was unique to their contemporaries while Bob Gaynors drums just make me anxious in general. Rounding out Half Church was Rick Tedeschi whose simplistic guitar playing had a nihilistic razors edge about it. All in all heroin and bad timing killed what should have been a band that continued to grow and eventually chart. It is what it is. As surreal as this release seems it is a wonderful snapshot of band about to break and a soundtrack to anyone who remembers or romanticises the wonderfully weird 1980′s.
I met Jinx once in front of a 7/11 he was covered in specks of white paint and looked tired. I told him who I was and that I loved his band. He really perked up at that and we had a cool little chat and he was very encouraging about my own musical desires. He told me to keep at it no matter what. I really appreciated that. Jinx passed away in 2004 and is missed by many. Monte went on to be in one of the most underrated major recording bands of the 1990′s (Swell) whose record Too Many Days Without Thinking is in my top 20 of all time. Monte continues to record and produce bands from his successful S.F. recording studio Ruminator Audio. I know Rick still plays and that Bob was injured and is still recovering but I don’t have more than that. All in all this could have been the full Half Church record but it would not have mattered. Destiny is just that way. I love that hipsters are finding this old music and reviving it because held up to the light of day this is “real” expression “real” playing, “real” art… this was real life and I was there, and somehow I survived.
“And it’s all slipping away, it’s all falling apart” (Half Church – Paradise)
5 (out of 5)
The Who may not know this, but this is the real farewell tour. Roger and Pete are amazing just for dragging their butts up on stage night after night and giving it what they got. Quadrophenia is my favorite record of all time and just as I did in 1996 I had to go see the live version. Unlike in 1996 this version is Rogers vision (no guest singers, smaller band) and with an enfaces on the ghosts of Who’s past. There are two amazing tributes to the late Keith Moon and John Entwistle that I wont spoil for you, but it was very touching and sincere. Can Roger or Pete still sing? Somewhat. The real evidence was when Simon Townshend sang lead vocals on one song. Simon does not have the same great voice as Roger or Pete but it showed Rogers now lack of power. The band was great for the most part (although there were a few real out of tune bonks by Pete) and the horn section and multiple keyboards did great justice to staying true to Quadrophenia. It may sound like I’m down on The Who, I’m not. I’m just saying that this is a great show to see if you want to say goodbye to one of the best rock bands in history. It is the end of an era. I also appreciated that when they went into the mini best of set they played the songs at album length for the most part so there was not a lot of extraneous solos etc. The proof that I am getting old (half as old as the remaining original members of The Who) Is that as I was having this nice cozy trip down memory lane I couldn’t help but be baffled by the hundreds of tiny computer screens filming the show. Are you really going to watch your crappy footage the day after? Is is really better to capture a bad version of an event than to actually experience it? Technology brought us amazing visuals that told a story in itself and an ability to hear from the past. It has also gone past the bell curve and is becoming more and more a facsimile of real life.
Thank you Pete and Roger for what I must believe will be your last hurrah.
Take care and God bless.
3.5 (out of 5)
Let me start by saying Pete Townshend is my favourite song writer and The Who’s Quadrophenia in my opinion is the best rock and roll record of all time. Now that we got that out of the way what did I learn from Pete Townshend’s book Who I Am? I learned that he is/was bi sexual, was molested, bought and sold a lot of boats and houses, ruined relationships, was an unrepentant alcoholic and overall seems like a pretentious twat. Oh and he got in trouble for looking at a website and that the backing vocals on The Who Live At Leeds were recorded after the fact (Most live records of the time have a similar story)
I can separate the artist from the art… Thank god.
2.5 (out of 5)