Your occasional source for heavy metal, progressive rock and hard rock coverage. Whenever I feel like it.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

After All, This is a Heavy METAL Blog!

Bake it away, toys!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Yes: When Eight Was Enough

Yes have dug into their back catalogue (again) to release (another) live DVD. This one is from the 1991 "Union" tour, which featured the band's largest line-up, a "Mega-Yes"!
Mega-Yes. (l.r.) Tony Kaye, Bill Bruford, Trevor Rabin, Steve Howe,
Jon Anderson, Alan White, Rick Wakeman, Chris Squire

Y'see, in the late '80s, the '90125' lineup of Yes had fallen apart after the Big Generator tour. More precisely, Jon Anderson had taken his countertenor and gone home, leaving his bandmates without a singer. He then joined a group called 'Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman & Howe'. While not allowed to use the name Yes (it's owned by bass player Chris Squire) ABWH put out a decent record and did a tour (which ended at Madison Square Garden, my first Yes concert.)

ABWH (a.ka. "Yes East") ran out of gas while working on their follow-up. Meanwhile, the Trevor Rabin-led lineup of Yes ("Yes West") was working in an L.A. studio, trying to record without Anderson. Eventually, the diminuitive, distinctive vocalist agreed to sing on the Rabin tracks. To make a 'complete' album (and cash in on the band's legacy), 'Union' was released, a patched-together compilation of the tracks from both sets of sessions.

It's the worst album in the Yes catalogue, an incoherent mess. There's a few flashes of inspiration, but it does not hang together as a listenable album. Following the tour, egos and tempers flared again, and Jon Anderson rejoined the "Yes West" lineup, recording and issuing the equally unlistenable 'Talk'.

That said, the DVD should prove to be interesting. Rights to the filmed concert are finally available, and below you can watch all eight guys playing 'Roundabout' and trying not to step on each other's toes. Enjoy.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Time's Up Turns Twenty!

Living Coloür back in the day:
Muzz Skillings, Vernon Reid, Corey Glover, Will Calhoun
Living Coloür's second album, Time's Up, was released 20 years ago today. The band's sophomore effort continued the band's unique mix of African rhythms, hard rock and Vernon Reid's kaleidoscopic guitar technique which owed much to the progressive noise leanings of Robert Fripp and King Crimson.

Time's Up was a challenging, but successful record that pushed the envelope for this New York-based quartet. In addition to hard rockers like the title track, "Pride", and the hit "Type", the songs were connected by short song segments that included samples, bass solos, and even "history lesson", a lecture on African music that incorporated samples and loops.

This record showed the band stretching its range too, whether on the South African-influenced "Solace of You," the ballad "Love Rears its Ugly Head" or the smoking "Elvis is Dead", a searing indictment of the King of Rock 'n' Roll with a guest rap performed by Little Richard. If you're not familiar with Living Coloür beyond "Cult of Personality", this sprawling, brilliant record is a great place to start.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Twisted City, Ohio

Dee Snider
Cridersville, OH
The town of Cridersville, OH has announced that it will be changing its name to "Snidersville" in honor of the charitable work done by Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider.

Snider's work with the March of Dimes Bikers for Babies campaign rolls into Snidersville this weekend. The charity, which has the singer as its national spokesperson, raises funds in order to determine the cause of premature birth.

You can learn more about Bikers For Babies by clicking on the link.

OK. Here's some loud rock and roll to go with the nice picture of the Cridersville water tower.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Your Lysergic Lunch

More from Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii. Footage of the band performing a truly epic "Set the Controls For the Heart of the Sun." Enjoy....

Your Psychedelic Breakfast

The classic Waters-Gilmour lineup of Pink Floyd play "Careful With That Axe, Eugene."

From the mind-bending and underrated Pink Floyd film: Pink Floyd Live At Pompeii filmed at the Roman ruins below Vesuvius, without the messy inconvenience of an audience.

"What's this film about?"

David Gilmour: "You ought to know. You're the director."

"Are you happy with this film?

Roger Waters: "What d'ya mean 'HAPPY'?"

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Top Ten List: Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin were a very 'formative' band for me. Whether it was reading the (highly entertaining and trashy) Hammer Of The Gods as a wee one (I got it out of the library when I was maybe 12!) or buying the albums (on cassette, then the box set on cassette and finally Box Set 1 and Box Set 2 on CD) this was formative, almost mystic music for me of indescribable power and loveliness.

John Paul Jones, John Bonham, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant
And it still is.

My Zep Top Ten is just my favorite songs. Not one from each album, not the "biggest hits" necessarily. This is just off the top of my head and these are all songs I really love.

Well, maybe not "South Bound Suarez." Anyway. Here goes.

10) "Your Time Is Gonna Come": From the opening organ solo to the first thump of percussion, this is one of the great early Zeppelin songs. And check out Jonesy's bass playing. From Led Zeppelin.

9) "The Ocean": Robert Plant's paen to the band's fans. First Zeppelin song to be lyrically censored on the liner notes, having "the hell I'm living for" changed to "the hey hai halla bal." As if it makes a difference with a riff this heavy. From Houses of the Holy.

8) "The Rover": Originally recorded for an earlier record, this song combines a down-and-dirty guitar riff with Bonzo's powerful drumming and one of Percy's better hippie-dippy lyrics. "If we could just join haaaaaaaaaaaands....". From Physical Graffiti.

7) "In The Light": This song is first cousin to "Kashmir" and appears on the same record. Robert Plant's eastern journey to enlightenment continues on this song, which is built around droning Middle Eastern melodies and the best Clavichord solo ever written. From Physical Graffiti.

6) "Hey, Hey What Can I Do": This was a 'lost track' for many years, originally released as a b-side to "The Immigrant Song." It has a relaxed, California vibe with mandolin and then a heavy, gang chorus reminiscent of "Your Time is Gonna Come." Available on the Led Zeppelin box set or as a special CD single reissue. (How cool is that?)

Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, John Bonham, Robert Plant.
5) "Achilles' Last Stand": Without this song, Steve Harris and Iron Maiden would not have a career--or a gallop. Zeppelin invented it here. From Presence.

4) "Tangerine": This delicate acoustic ballad uses steel guitars to create a warm, sunny vibe that makes it the highlight of the third record's "acoustic side." From Led Zeppelin III.

3) "Stairway to Heaven" Yes I know it's overplayed. But it still remains a mystic, magic experience to listen to under the right circumstances. My old cassette copy had a little flaw, a "tchk" sound right before "If there's a bustle in your hedgerow." I still miss that sound, and my mind inserts it every time I hear "Stairway." Oh, and by the way, Jimmy Page winged that solo. From Led Zeppelin IV.

2) "Nobody's Fault But Mine": A searing blues with Jimmy Page's phased guitar, Robert Plant wailing for his life and repenting for sins, and John Bonham's terrifying performance on the drums. The "Beast" is loose, indeed. From Presence.

1) "In the Evening": This track leads off the Zeppelin's majestic swan song with a Moroccan-inspired intro and then crashing oceans of guitars and Robert Plant's deliberately-muddled vocals interspersed with howls of "I've got paaaaaiiiin." John Bonham drives the song over the cliff with his inexorable, heroic drumming. From In Through the Out Door.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tales From 8th Street: More Weird Cowboy Metal

The band formerly known as
Disneyland After Dark.
Before CDs and Mp3s, I used to go down to 8th Street in Greenwich Village to buy music. There were two great little stores there, Revolver Records, and the mighty It's Only Rock And Roll. The latter was like a music playground. And it used to be my playground.

Their inventory ranged from $1.99 cassettes to the Kiss Pinball Machine. They had the Journey Escape video game (a working copy of it), and the Object from the cover of Led Zeppelin's finest album, PresenceThe friendly guys who work there (Jeff, Shock, Roman, hope you are reading this) would talk music with me for hours, and I learned a lot hanging out there.

I also got to meet Mike Monroe from Hanoi Rocks who was in there shopping through old T Rex vinyl in full makeup and eyeliner. He was a very nice guy, especially since I didn't "make" him until after he'd left and Shock came up behind me and rumbled "Hey Paulie, dat was Mike Monroe."

Anyway I bought a lot of great stuff there over the years, including my first two Marillion albums: (Clutching at Straws and Seasons End--I bought Season's End first but wore out Clutching first.)

Over at Revolver, they didn't have as much cool bric-a-brac but they sold promos. A LOT of promos. I got my (early) copies of Savatage's Streets, AC/DC's The Razor's Edge and albums by "lost" bands like Badlands, Mind Funk and Boom Crash Opera.

So the reason for today's trip down Nostalgia Lane is to talk about....D.A.D.

This little-known Danish quartet (the initials stood for Disneyland After Dark) put out at least one great album: No Fuel Left For the Pilgrims. The two Binzer brothers and bassist Stig had a unique sound, with twangy Western guitars, roaring, anthemic choruses and a bassist who did all his work on a two-stringed instrument! But they also had great songs including "Sleeping My Day Away", "Jihad" and my personal favorite, "ZCMI." This was metal from the canyons of America's West. And the best part was, they were from....


Told you they were weird. Anyway here's a video. Enjoy, lil dogies.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Because I Haven't Posted Anything in a While

I thought I would share this classic cut by Texas' own Galactic Cowboys. Presenting their first single (in a greatly shortened edited-for-MTV cut), "I'm Not Amused."

The Cowboys: Ben Huggins, Dane Sonnier,
Alan Doss, Monty Colville
The Cowboys got signed in the wake of Kings' X's initial success. Their first two albums were out on Geffen. Like a lot of talented bands with long hair and no Black Album, they got dropped in the mid-90s and picked up on Metal Blade, where they released a few more albums before calling it a day and heading back to the ranch house.

This is admittedly a tough band to pigeon-hole. Flamenco guitar, butt-kicking thrash metal, and sweet four-part Beatles-influenced vocal harmonies would be the best way to describe it. That or "Texas-fried ahead-of-it's-time stoner thrash metal." But we digress. Kick back, turn it up, and watch out for falling cow skulls.