August 16, 2016
Day 13 of the Dog Days of Podcasting. I bring back an really old bit on the show, This day in Rock History
April 22, 2016
It’s been only a few months since I last saw The Darkness play The Regency Ballroom in San Francisco so I wasn’t sure if I wanted to make the drive 2 hrs south to the Catalyst Club Santa Cruz. I am so glad I did.
The last time I was at the Catalyst was way back in 1992 when I played there in Exodus. It’s a pretty small venue and a great place to see a band like The Darkness. I had seen them before at a small place at Slims in SF before Permission to Land broke big.
To me, The Darkness represents everything that was ever great about Rock and Roll. Justin is the last of the real rock stars. He is a great singer and performer and way underrated on the guitar.
The opening band was 3 young guys from England called The Raven Eye. They were energetic and had a decent look about them (except for the bass player, who wore his bass way too high). Their music was a little to Soundgarden for my taste, but the crowd liked them.
This was the first night of their tour, which they called Back In The USSA. The Darkness came on at exactly 10pm. They had an intro tape, which was some sort of Scottish folk sounding song. At The Regency show in OCT, they used Thin Lizzy’s The Boys Are Back In Town.
The first song was Givin Up from Permission To Land. Justin was wearing a cowboy hat and satin western jump suit along with matching fringed chaps. Great look. There were some sound problems and you couldn’t hear the vocals or Justin’s guitar but the crowd didn’t care. They were on board from the start.
Next was Barbarians from The Last of Our Kind. The sound still wasn’t fixed. Justing was hardly audible. He didn’t seem to mind. It looked like he was having fun and glad to be back in America.
Then my favorite Darkness tune, Growing On Me. The sound was getting better. The crowd (including me) was singing along to every word.
Then Mudslide from Last of Our Kind. – At the end of the tune, Justin asks someone in the audience if they know what this is. Everyone in the crowd – “IT’S A FUCKING MUDSLIDE!”
The Next song was Black Shuck. Justin removes the top part of the jump suit and proceeds to rip on guitar.
Roaring waters was next. The shirt part of the jumpsuit, since it wasn’t being worn, was causing the entire thing to fall down and by the end of the song, he was spending more time trying to keep his lower body from being exposed which I’m sure made it a little difficult to play the song.
Then Justin introduces the bass player, Frankie Poullain, who is going to play a little cowbell. The song was One Way Ticket. It sounded fantastic. Justin’s pants ripped and the girls in front were clearly turned on by the exposed ass of the great Justin Hawkins. After the song, he asked if anyone in the crowd had any black electrical tape. I swear to God, someone in the audience did. I was standing right in front and some guy hands him a piece of black tape. He taped the trousers up and proceeded on with the rock. It was a moment of hilarity and it was great. I fucking love that guy.
Next song: Love is Only A Feeling. At the end of the song, Justin switched places with drummer, Rufus Taylor(son of the great Roger), who stood up on the drum riser while Dan and Frankie made a bridge with their guitar necks. At the last note, he leaps over the bridge and lands on the down beat to end the song. Good times.
Next song: Hazel Eyes, a hugely underrated tune off of One Way Ticket. I love the chorus. The audience was singing along to all of the falsetto parts of the chorus.
Then it was Concrete from Hot Cakes. Great riff and catchy tune. The band was well into a fantastic rocking set. The whole place was rocking and for some reason, a pit was forming near me. It’s weird enough seeing a pit at a Darkness show but a pit full of middle aged dudes was even weirder.
During the next song, Get Your Hands Off of My Woman, the pit degenerated into a fight between 3 guys. The whole time this is going on, the security guy, who was right in front of me at the barricade was sleeping and missed the entire thing. After the song was over, Justing addressed the crowd and said “We are all friends right?” Everyone made up and the good rock vibes continued.
Next up was Stuck in a Rut, followed by the set closer, I Believe In A Thing Called Love, which of course, everyone sang along to.
They said goodnight, and the crowd chanted. They came back for the encore, which was Justin who had changed out of the cowboy outfit to only a pair of tennis shorts, playing keyboards to Friday Night.
After that was English Country Garden with Justin still on Keyboards.
The final song of the night was Love On The Rocks. Justin went out into the crowd on the security guy’s shoulders, like he usually does. He got back onto the stage, and they were going to end the song with Justin telling the crowd how nice they were and how great it was to be back on tour, thank you for being so kind, etc, but the crowd didn’t want them to leave. SO this song went on for what seemed like 20 minutes. The band extended the breakdown which included Frankie scratching his pick on his gold Anniversary Thunderbird bass like it was a turntable. Silly, yes but still a lot of fun.
That night was one of the best nights of rock and roll fun I have had in a long time. It was exactly what rock and roll is all about. Forget your problems for a couple of hours and have a blast. Every person there, did just that.
Please Darkness, Don’t stop doing this. You really are the last of your kind. I know it’s a cheesy thing for me to write, but it’s fucking true!
July 27, 2015
Santana to Take On The Las Vegas House of Blues in September
For more than 40 years, Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Carlos Santana and his band have amazed the public with their melodic, bluesy music with influences from Latin America. The multi-Grammy award-winning group has worked with some of the most well known names in music. Their latest album is a record filled with collaborations with the likes of Miguel, Juanes, Pitbull, and Gloria Estefan, and currently on their album-promoting tour, with stops across the US and Europe.
Unlike previous albums, the songs on Corazon are strictly Latino. In the past, Santana would include a mix of Spanish and English tunes, composing duets with artists from various genres, so having a Latin-themed album is a first for the band. The Corazon Tour opened on March 7 in Miami’s Doral Golf Resort and Spa, and from there, they worked their way across the Southern states and then made a leap to Texas. After a three-month pause in the tour, they made their way across Europe in June and July, and will return to the US in August. In September, the band will fulfill their residency at The House of Blues, Mandalay Bay in Sin City.
Since its opening in 1999, the House of Blues in Mandalay Bay has seen a horde of extraordinary talent, with returning artists including Michael Bolton, Taking Back Sunday, and a variety of hip hop greats including Common and Nas. One of the most sought after music venues in the city, the House of Blues offers a unique experience that allows music fans to get up close and personal with their idols. An intimate evening with Santana is perhaps the best way to engage with their craft. They’re set to perform in the House of Blues from September 16 to 27.
Live music has become a crucial part of Mandalay Bay’s spectrum of entertainment, reeling in artists from the four corners to share their unique sound with casino-goers. Promoting these live shows were a way to expand non-gaming revenue so that providers can capitalize gains on all fronts. Having a grandeur of services is that name of the game according to InterCasino, and now the public get to enjoy acts of the stature of Santana on a regular basis at the Mandalay, and other casinos along the Strip.
January 14, 2015
On this episode I play an re-run of an Interview and Artist Spotlight with Andy Shernoff of
The Dictators. that I recorded back in June of 2006
August 19, 2013
Today this video came to my email from a PR company I like a lot.
I’m not usually a fan of Screamo (is that still a genre of music?) but I kind of like this song.
The band is called A Midnight Tragedy. This is a lyric video for their song, Torment, which will be on their upcoming album “Lost Under Infinite Sorrow”, out in late 2013
July 18, 2013
Geoff Tate’s Queensryche.
Well kids… Here it is… In your face… Goddamn!… This is a sham of a sham. I know I’m late to the party for reviewing this album, but I wanted to be able to make an informed and honest review of both albums by the two faces of Queensryche. So after a quick scan of Frequency Unknown about a month ago, I am prepared to give it a go.
There is a saying in journalism, “It’s better to be right, than first.” I think Geoff Tate should have listened to these words and took them to heart when writing, recording, and mixing this album. The fist with rings on two fingers showing a bold “F” and “U” would lead you to think this is Mr. T’s not so subtle dig at his former band mates who fired him. A little “I pity the fool who fires me.” and though Tate claims, this isn’t the case, he isn’t fooling anyone.
He also isn’t fooling anyone into thinking “F.U.” is more than a Geoff Tate solo album with the Queensryche name on the cover. Despite guest contributions by K.K. Dowling, Dave Meniketti, and Lita Ford, the songs sound murky, disjointed, and lacking.
Yes, the album was rushed in order to make label deadlines and to beat the other Queensryche to the marketplace, but there is more that points to the issues with the “King of the Empire’s” work.
The main problem with the last few ‘Ryche albums has been the overall crappiness of the songs. This has a lot to do with the songwriters Mr. Tate has been using. When former Rock Star: Supernova contestant winner, Lukus Rossi, helps to pen the opener and first single, “Cold” and it is the best song on the album, you can see how working with Jason Slater, Kelly Gray, and the other usual suspects, is a liability instead of the strength. “G Love”, seems to think it is.
“Dare” is so uncomfortable to listen to because of its very clear message to Rockenfield, Jackson, and Wilton. It’s just a lame burst of lyrical taunting.
Before I get the positives, I must discuss the re-recording of the Queensryche classics, “Empire”, “Silent Lucidity”, “I Don’t Believe In Love”, and “Jet City Woman”. Tate freely admitted to doing this because Deadline/Cleopatra, offered him a lot of money to do so. Who doesn’t like money? But if you are going to re-record these songs, you have to do them justice, and give their legacy respect. In short… Yuck!
F.U. isn’t all bad. The strange thing is, that if Tate would have taken “A World Without” [Brad Gillis of Night Ranger on guitars], “Fall” [Meniketti on guitar, and “Weight of the World” [Chris Poland of Megadeth on guitars],], along with “Cold”, then worked harder on the re-makes of the classics, this would have been a good album. Not a Queensryche album, but a much better GT solo album than Kings and Thieves was.
July 18, 2013
Let’s hop into the Way Back Machine and travel to 1997. Queensryche has released Hear In The Now Frontier. It’s their sixth full length studio album and with Promised Land being a strong follow up to Empire, fans were just itching to get their grubby little hands on the latest.
The album was so-so, but something changed. The duel harmonies of Wilton and D’Garmo were missing. The sonic pulse of Jackson and Rockenfield was tempered. Tate’s vocal acrobatics were long gone. The songs were OK, but the signature sound coul not d be found.
As the years rolled on, the albums got worse. There were glimpses of promise, but much like a lover who is nothing but a flirt that leads you on, Queensryche, the band that I obsessed over for a decade, turned into a rock tease
And then it happened. Jackson, Wilton, and Rockenfield finally had enough of what seemed to turn into a relationship that looked like a marriage with a an enabler fueling a controlling spouse. Tate was fired, lawsuits were filed, two version of the band hit the road and the studio, and for now, all that seems to be left are negotiations and rock songs.
After Tate’s first shot across the bow of the S.S. Queen of the Ryche in the form of his album Frequency Unknown, the only question left was what would the remaining founding members, most recent guitarist Parker Lungrenand, and former Crimson Glory vocalist Todd LaTorre do?.
The answer is a self-titled return to where the band left off after Empire. In interviews, Tate says that he never wanted to rest on the laurels of the band’s signature sound. That’s fine. Experimentation is great. Rush experimented to the point you barely knew where the synthesizers began and Power Windows ended. Even the Gods from the Great White North, knew when it was time to get back to their roots. And I’ll tell you this. I haven’t taken a nearly 20 year vacation from Rush albums.
After an opening ditty by Rockenfield, things get rolling with the punch of a Lungren written track called “Where Dreams Go To Die”. With the punch of the return of the guitar harmonies, the melodies of the chorus, the lyrics with purpose, and Todd LaTorre’s Atlas strong vocals, it is clear that Queensryche is back. When it comes to reclaiming “The Empire”, these guys are not fucking around.
This is not a long album. It clocks in at a little over 35 minutes, but much like the first two Van Halen albums, Queensryche with Todd LaTorre rockin’ the mic packs a ton of punch into the nine full tracks. Don’t believe me? Listen to “Fall Out,” “Spore”, “Redemption”, and my personal favorite, “Don’t Look Back”. Which, by the way, is the first song written by LaTorre and Wilton, when their partnership was just going to be a side-project.
Does this release fill your empty belly? Not quite. However, it’s the best musical appetizer fans could ask for while the band works this effort, then hits the studio to record the songs they either didn’t finish in time for this release, and the new tracks they have already started to demo.
No matter how the trial that determines who gets the “Queensryche” name and all that goes with it turns out; it is clear that all this band needed was to break up with their singer, and find someone new who has the same fire and passion for the same kind of music.
I guess you could say that Todd is the frontman equivalent to the amazing person you meet after a horrible long term relationship. The one who pulls you out of your funk, helps you see the world in a different light, and makes you believe in love again.
July 18, 2013
Dave Mustane said that with this new album, he really had to make sure he didn’t fall into old writing habits now that he has written an upwards of 200 songs. With the last three megadeth albums, it seems that he is staying true to that discipline. So, with Super Collider you have to wonder what went wrong.
Everything starts off pretty well with “King Maker”, a galloping tale of substance abuse that could fit on Countdown to Extinction, but then the lull hits and hits hard.
The title track, which is also the first single, is a waste of time and sounds like those Alice Cooper songs from about 1996 to present where he’s trying to do something cool, but the coolness is lost somewhere between bad lyrics and iffy choruses. Though I’d like to say it gets better, it doesn’t. On “Burn”, Dave actually rhymes fire with desire. Even at his most drugged out and bitter moments, he didn’t go to that old trick.
Take heart because it does pick up with “Dance In The Rain”. Songs about the human condition and being dicked over by corporations and the Powers The Be has always been a very strong song writing pimp hand Mustane has always featured in classic and modern Megadeth offerings.
We then go back to the lull with “The Blackest Crow”. It isn’t even that this is a bad song. Initially I thought it would be about Barack Obama, but it’s actually about a guy who was left shaken and broken by his lady love. (And yeah…I said it… And it isn’t racist… I’m a black guy). As I said, the song isn’t bad. It’s a country tinged toe tapper, but maybe a guest appearance by someone with a smoother voice who can carry a country song would have helped.
I have the deluxe version of this album; which is a 50/50 split on songs worth listening to. “All I Want” is not. “A House Divided” is. Before I wrap this up, I can’t forget to point out, there is a really good cover of Thin Lizzy’s “Cold Sweat”.
I don’t know, man. Maybe Down and other bands just putting out EP’s is the way to go. If Dave Mustane just took the strongest compositions and left off the hard to pallet portions, no one would have felt cheated. However, in this case, Super Collider misses as a long player.
July 18, 2013
This album got its start about 12 years ago when the original line-up of Black Sabbath decided to head into the studio with Rick Ruban as the Knob Twister. This would have been the first time the Fathers of All Things Metal would have put out a full album of new material since Never Say Die, in 1978. However, Ozzy’s Down To Earth album took priority over the project. Plus that little reality show thing and the reunion of the “Heaven And Hell” version of Sabbath, slowed things down even further.
Then the dream of the original band putting out the new album died when Bill Ward said, “Kiss my ass.” When he was offered less than everyone else for the reunion.
This did not stop Ozzy, Geezer, and Tony. Not even cancer treatments every six weeks by Iomi could slow down this lumbering locomotive of doom. They just through Brad Wilk (Rage Against the Machine) into the furnace, with 666 tons of the blackest coal mined from the deepest part of wherever you go, as you travel into the void, and chugged on.
With all that said, I must admit I had a really hard time listening to this album. As a whole, 13 did not hold my attention very well. I tried listening through speakers, but I found myself distracted by something else. I tried smoking a bowl of weed to help mellow me out, but the sweetest of all leaves either made me sleepy, or there is just something about “Live Forever” that makes me want to nap. Even while writing this review, I fell asleep before the end of the aforementioned track, only to wake up with the opener “End of the Beginning” playing again, very loudly, through a rather good pair of headphones.
There are just so many things missing in the sound of this record. Though Brad Wilk is a fucking awesome drummer, his Bonham-esque style doesn’t fit with Sabbath, and trying to fill in for Bill Ward seems forced at times.
The production of Rick Ruban makes everything sound like one big chunk of iron being thrown at your face. The brilliance of the first six Sabbath albums was the fact you could hear the separation between the players. You could focus on Ward’s mad man swing on “Rat Salad”, while the band played on. Though Tony and Geezer played off of each other, you heard them both do what they do in a partitioned way that allowed you to geek out on how they worked together to make “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” so brilliant.
Ruban’s production takes what I just pointed out and completely muddles the musicianship by squeezing everything together to the point it makes these very accomplished players sound like a sludgy stoner metal band trying to cover up their inability to sound professional…. Holy shit!… Rick Ruban has figured out how to make Black Sabbath sound like Wolfmother.
Ozzy is … Well…. Ozzy. He sounds great, but what he’s singing just lacks spark. Geezer doesn’t phone in on his lyrical contributions to the eight songs on 13, but he doesn’t make you want to sing those lyrics back.
Sidenote: how is it Ozzy can have a conversation and sound like a mush mouthed character from a Dickens novel, but sing as clear as a summer’s day?
Iomi’s playing is as good as ever, and he proves that not even chemotherapy can keep him from delivering blistering solos and solid riffs, though, the riffs just repeat over and over, leaving you wanting something else.
The songs just don’t go anywhere. They follow the same formula; slow , slow, chorus, slow, slow, bridge, fast jam with solo, slow, slow, and stop!
I don’t really dislike any of the songs, except for Zeitguist”, which is not much more than “Planet Caravan” part deux. “Loner” and “Damaged Soul” prove the band was trying and were definitely walking along a path of good intentions, but the execution fell a bit short.
May 26, 2013
Black Dog Barking
rating: 10 / 10
by Michael Kirk
Let’s get the usual music critic comparrison out of the way. Blablabla AC/DC… Blablablabla Rose Tattoo… and for this album, I’d also like to throw in,Blablablabla… early Def Lepard.
So with that said, let’s get into this, shall we?
I’ll admit it. I am only a casual fan of Airbourne. I’ve always respected their mission to hold the flag for hard rock in one hand and a bottle of whatever in the other. But the songs didn’t do much for me when listening to the whole album. in short.. There was a lot of filler to skip through on the first two albums.
Oh but wait my friends… That isn’t the case on Black Dog Barking. From the anthemic “Woah Oh Oh Oh” of of “Ready To Rock” all the way to the self-titled closing track, this is a fist pumping, head banging, hard rock master piece that will shake the earth, peel that paint off the walls, and will work just fine as a soundtrack for an evening of rough sex.
The band says they worked through the holidays at the end of last December to make sure this album came correct. They even enlisted producer Brian Howes [Hinder, Daughtry, Nickelback] to help tie it all together. The rythenm section is beefy and full, while Joel O’Keef’s guitar tones have a warm bite, much like those of Angus Young and Steve Clarke, while his always up to 11 vocal delivery reminds you more of a blend of Blackie Lawless and Joe Elliott, than Brian Johnson.
The subject matter covered by the band is everything you care about as a young man just itching to quit school and join a band, “”Cradle To The Grave”. A guy or girl out for the evening with the hopes of getting lucky, “Nobody Fits Me Like You”. Or a middle aged true believer tryig to stay true to themselves, even as they crank up the radio in the Family Truckster after dropping the kids off at soccer practice, “Live It Up”.
2013 has been a relatively piss poor year for rock albums. But just in time for summer, Airbourne has crash landed with 10 songs that hit your senses like a riot after a Aussie rules football match. If this quartet from Victoria call it quits after this album, they will have walked away leaving us with a career defining classic.