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Saturday, 30 August 2014

HOT TUB "METAL" MACHINE !!!

No matter what form of metal or rock that you are a fan of, you can't deny the 80's was a momentous time. To be transported back to that era, would be a trip, I think most nostalgic rockers would happily take.  For myself growing up, rock music was a daily part of my diet, it was fully immersed in my bloodstream. AC/DC, Whitesnake, Deep Purple, Def Leppard and UFO were regularly blasted in my parents dining room.  Nothing else mattered, except standing in front of the mirror with the air guitar hung low.
When American glam metal started emerging with bands like Motley Crue, Ratt and Quiet Riot, MTV took notice, and the whole scene went into overdrive.  Sunset Strip, Los Angeles, became a mecca for up and coming bands dreaming of the big time.  It became a decade of pure debauchery and extreme decadence, too much was never enough.  Sales of hairspray and spandex went through the roof.  In fact hair was so big it needed planning permission, while cucumber smuggling almost became a national sport.
But it wasn't all about the glam, established metal acts like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Scorpians continued to pack arenas out across the states. Thrash metal was also on the up, with heavyweights like Metallica, Anthrax and Slayer.
But not everybody was a fan.  Former second lady, Tipper Gore, formed a committee in 1985 called the Parents Music Resource Centre (PMRC).  It's main goal was to increase parental control over access to music which was seen to glorify drug abuse, sexual violence and anarchy.  They even published the famous Filthy Fifteen, a list of songs deemed to have inappropriate content.  Needless to say over fifty per cent were rock bands.
W.A.S.P....not on Tipper Gore's Christmas card list.
Those included were Twisted Sister We're Not Gonna Take It, Judas Priest Eat Me Alive, Motley Crue Bastard and W.A.S.P ANIMAL(FUCK LIKE A BEAST).  They also succeeded in having record companies put "Parental Guidance: Explict Lyrics" labels on albums, which became known as the Tipper Sticker. However this only had a positive impact on the metal market, record sales shot up.  Towards the end of the 80's rock was never bigger.  Guns N' Roses were ripping it up with their iconic debut, Appetite For Destruction, Def  Leppard were shifting truckloads of their comeback album Hysteria and David Coverdale's Whitesnake were reborn with 1987.
Guns N' Roses 1987
But by the early 90's the golden era of rock was nearing an end and a new movement was emerging.  Yes folks, good old Grunge, the complete antithesis of 80's rock.  It arrived like the Grim Reaper in a flannel shirt, scythe in hand, and more or less massacred any rock band with a hint of melody.
Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Alice In Chains led the movement, while the rest were just poor imitations who looked twice as miserable and hated their mother more.  I approached Grunge with a open mind and bought Pearl Jam's Ten album.  The whole thing left me cold.  I felt no urge to throw a few shapes and release the dandruff.  Instead I found myself staring at the wall, wondering whether to smash my head against it.
Last year my wife won tickets to Soundgarden in Dublin, and seeing as I was older and a little bit wiser I went along, once again open minded.  There was no big sounding opener, instead we were greeted with something that probably gave the Grunge faithful a joyous feeling of impending doom.  My friend, who I dragged along, was ready to bottle them after the second song.  And to top it off, their massive hit, Black Hole Sun, wasn't played - even as an encore.  No instead we got ten minutes of mind bending misery, with bassist Ben Shepherd and guitarist Kim Thayall giving us a crash course in distortion.  But all bad things must come to an end and by the late 90's the movement was more or less over.
Poison 2014
Thankfully the same cannot be said for rock.  Their flame may have been dimly lit, but it has never been put out.  Because unlike Grunge, rock music is not a fad, it's a way of life, it's a tradition.  Plus us rock fans are loyal.  We have got married, bald, fat and pregnant with our bands, and have never missed the chance to devil horn the night away.  Bands like Poison, Warrant and Stryper, who suffered badly in the 90's, are back and loving it.  Rock royalty like AC/DC, Iron Maiden and Metallica are bigger than ever.  Kiss and Def Leppard have joined forces this summer for a North American tour.  Motley Crue are on what could be a 5 year farewell tour, and Judas Priest released the metal album of the year with Redeemer Of Souls.
Kiss and Def Leppard announce summer tour.
Although metal, trash and glam have always been the enemy of the critics, it still remains the most loved and revered form of music ever.  Where else would you get anthems as memorable Here I Go Again, Photograph, Run To The Hills, Master Of Puppets, Back In Black, Crazy Crazy Nights, Shot In The Dark, Shout At The Devil, Raining Blood, Wanted Dead Or Alive - the list is endless.  I remember hearing these songs for the first time and being totally seduced by their power, melody and downright brashness.  We probably won't see the likes of these bands again, but they've left a permanent imprint on a lot of peoples lives, mine included.  I wanna go back.  Are you ready.......everybody in the hot tub.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW:QUEEN: A NIGHT AT THE OPERA


The follow up to 1974's hugely successful Sheer Heart Attack, this collection, and arguably their finest work, was to propel the band into the A league.  With Roy Thomas Baker once again at the helm, this was a much more ambitious opus compared to previous ventures. Opening with the hefty Death on Two Legs, a snarling Mercury lets fly at an ex-manager who allegedly ripped them off.  With lyrics like "you suck my blood like a leech", you get the idea straightaway.  On the ever so jolly, Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon, you can feel Mercury's relief at having got a lot a venom released on the previous track.
I'm in Love with My Car sees Roger Taylor take the mic in a tale about the unconditional love he has for his motor.  Even the exhaust from Taylor's Alpha Romeo makes a guest appearance.  A great track performed live,check out the version on Live Killers.
Only his second song for the band, and written for his wife, Veronica, John Deacon's Your my Best Friend was probably the real surprise package on the album.  With it's Motown feel, it has been an anthem to many young lovebirds worldwide, and was a top twenty hit in America.  39 sees Brian May takes us on a intergalactic folk journey, with a song about a man going in search of new worlds.  Featuring May on vocals it remained a mainstay in the live set for many years.  Sweet Lady is Queen doing what Queen do best.  Out and out rock, punchy verses and a madcap chorus.
Seaside Rendezvous is another slice of Mercury's jovial eccentricity, displaying the bands tongue in cheek sense of humour.  You really can't help but smile listening to this.  The Prophet's Song is a masterpiece in every sense of the word, with the bands now trademark vocal layering a highlight.  It probably remains one of their most underrated songs.  I personally think it eclipses Bohemian Rhapsody, it's that good.  
Love Of My Life is the album at it's most tender,  It tells of Mercury's devotion to long time love Mary Austin.  A minor hit at home, it was massive in South America.  So much so, whenever Queen toured there, Freddie rarely sang a word.  Good Company is a low point for me, but if you love your ukulele, and are partial to a bit of George Formby, you'll love this.  
What can I say about Bohemian Rhapsody that hasn't already been said. Except this.  There's not one single band, past or present, who would have the guts, the audacity or enough screws loose to even attempt something as outlandish as this.  But that has always been the Queen way.  They've never shied away from the impossible.  And that has always set them apart from everyone else.  The album was a massive commercial success, and without any doubt, holds it's own as one of the most iconic albums ever made.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

QUEEN REFUSING TO BITE THE DUST !!!

May and Taylor with Adam Lambert
My love affair with Queen began in Christmas 1984, when my brother conned me into getting The Works album.  On little bits of paper, he wrote down the names of about ten albums by different artists and I had to pick one out.  Little did I know Queen was written on all of them.  It was without doubt the greatest trick ever played on me, and my obsession with these innovator's of rock grew and grew.

So in November 1991 when Freddie Mecury left us after a long illness, the news hit me hard.  Naturally I thought that was the end of the band, there was no conceivable way they could carry on. But carry on they did, and without bassist John Deacon.  In 2004 they  teamed up with former Free and Bad Company singer Paul Rodgers.  Seen as a gamble by a lot of critics, it was to prove a success until his departure in 2009.  I must admit, the collaboration worked well for me as I'm a massive Bad Company fan.  So to see them perform Feel Like Makin' Love and Can't Get Enough in Dublin, was like a trip to classic rock heaven for me.  If the appointment of Rodgers was a shock to the fans, then the collaboration with America Idol contestant Adam Lambert must of made the most hardened of Queen fans nauseous.
Irreplaceable? the legendary Freddie Mercury
When I heard the news, I felt like my head had done several 360's.  May and Taylor have been heavily criticised for his recruitment, accused of using his name to gain a foothold in the American market again. Love him or hate him, you've really got to admire Lambert's confidence.  To step into the shoes of one of the most revered singers of all time takes serious kahunas.  I totally understand the disgust felt by some of the fans who felt they were pimping the bands history.  But in fairness to them, this band has been their life for the past 44 years.  Also, Queen is every bit as much about May,Taylor and Deacon as it was about Freddie Mercury, having all penned massive hits.  So I think the doubters, me included, should cut Mr Lambert some slack and take a positive spin on it.  With the announcement of a 19 date North American tour this summer tour Queen's music will hopefully be heard by a whole new generation, which can only be a good thing.  Long may she reign.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

ROCK 'N' ROLL HALL OF SHHhhh......shame!!!!

Bruce Dickinson and Ian Gillan
I would love to be a fly on the wall when the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame "people" decide who is worthy of their approval.  Established in 1983 to "recognize the contributions of those who have had a significant impact on the evolution, development and perpetuation of rock and roll", it's recent decisions as to who gets in and who doesn't, has left music fans worldwide scratching their heads in disbelief.  Artists become eligible 25 years after the release of their first album, so you would think it would be an absolute no brainer to honour the likes of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Motorhead.  All of these are pioneers of metal and hard rock, who continue to influence scores of up and coming bands to this day.  Of course it doesn't help that among this clueless mob are critics and music historians.  Yes, historians, to whom metal is the Antichrist.
Judas Priest
But the real sickener is that they continue to ignore one of the most influential, groundbreaking bands in the history of music, Deep Purple.  They were part of The Big 3 of Rock in the 1970's, along with Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, both of whom have been inducted.  Their music has spread across generations and has been a source of inspiration for bands such as Metallica and Van Halen, two more inductees.  Vocalist Ian Gillan reckons the reason Purple are getting overlooked year after year, is because they're viewed by the Hall of Fame as "one hit wonders". 
I've heard quotes of somebody on the (Rock Hall voting) committee saying, 'well Deep Purple can't be in it, because they were a one hit wonder,' he told Rolling Stone".  I don't know if they were referring to 'Hush' or 'Smoke on the Water' or 'Child in Time' or 'Highway Star' or 'Perfect Strangers' any of those one hit wonders that we were.  I think it would be undignified for us to enter the fray and stamp our feet and say 'Yeah, we don't need it anyway.  We don't really understand it, but if i treat it with respect, we'll see what happens.  That's all I can say.
It really would make you wonder how they can put the likes of Nirvana, one of the most over hyped bands on the planet, in ahead of Purple. In their first year of eligibility!?  I challenge anyone to give me a proper answer as to why that is fair.  And to rub even more salt into this ever deepening wound, Madonna even got in on her first year.  Here is a woman who has contributed absolutely nothing to music except maybe conical bras and mam dancing.
Eddie Trunk, the voice of all things metal and rock in America, said it perfectly when he referred to the institution as the Rock and Roll Hall of Shame.  Oh, and I'm only mentioning a small portion of bands ignored.  Def Leppard,  W.A.S.P,Thin Lizzy, Dio, Whitesnake, Bon Jovi all have a case.  As do Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax, Y&T, Scorpians and UFO.  I could keep going. Granted Kiss got in this year, but they should of got in 30 years ago.
So I think it's time the rock community gave this horde of music snobs the middle finger and let them induct New Kids on the Block, Weird AL Yankovic and Bert & Ernie if they want to.  I think it's time maybe a Hard Rock and Metal Hall of Fame was established and finally give this music the respect  it richly deserves.