Top 10 Live Shows at Crocks (1987-2019)

Have you checked out the great film about Crocks titled Five Bucks At The Door yet?

If not you have until September 20th to do so as it’s FREE! What are you waiting for? Click the link below…

Virtual Festival 2020

I thought it would be cool to do a list of my all-time favorite shows that Frank Loffredo has brought to Crocks over the last 33 years! I have to add that Frank always tried to keep the ticket price low as well if they were weeknight shows they would be over by 11:30 pm at the latest for us working folk who have 5am wakeup call’s.

Here we go…

10-Monster Truck- July 2019 is when the Truck brought their Hammond fused hard rock to Crocks. Great show and considering it was on a long weekend people still showed up!

9- Age of Electric-April 2017 is when the Kern Brothers along with the Dahle brothers showed up and played the hits and put on an energetic show as Thunder Bay was asleep as many missed a great set. Plus the fact that they didn’t charge for a meet and greet says something about them. ie not greedy!


8- David Gogo- We were waiting for this show as me and Tbone had been spinning the self-titled Gogo CD for a few months already so it came to no one’s surprise that when Gogo showed up in August 1994 he blew our socks off as the Gogo power trio delivered a stunning set of hard blues-rock. David inner channeled SRV during his two sets! Met him as well as he was one cool fella, super chill and David could sure play a mean pinball as me and Tbone grilled him with questions while he sizzled that pinball machine in Crocks.

7-The Headstones-Hugh Dillion and his posse of rock fellows were riding the platinum wave of there recent release  Teeth And Tissue back in 1995 with the single Unsound getting traction at MuchMusic as well. It was one packed out show as Hugh owned that stage as he sang, smoked, and cussed his way through the two albums they had out at the time. Good times back in good old 95!

6-John5/Jared James Nichols- What do you get your best friend of 45 years for his Birthday? A ticket to a rock show that’s what you get. So a few weeks shortly after Tbone’s birthday in March 2019, John5 and JJN’s rolled into Tbay and blew our minds. JJN’s played like his life depended on it as this power trio blew away the crowd that night. (met the band afterward and were super cool) In all my years of live shows, I have never seen a guitar only (no vocal) display of craziness than what John5 did that night on the stage at Crocks. John5 was awesome. Showed up with a full stage set of props and gear and if I played guitar I would have gone home and tossed my 6 string in the trash! John5 is that GREAT!


5- One of those bucket list bands I always wanted to see was Teenage Head which Frank brought to town in June 2019. Considering I got my first album by these guys in 1982 it was so good to see them live as I only had been waiting 37 years!. They came on stage at 12 midnight sharp on a Friday night and played there Power Punk Pop Rock over 90 minutes. Legends!


4-I Mother Earth/Finger 11- I Mother Earth and Finger 11 were doing a cross Canadian Tour back in 2018. The show started at 7 pm as both acts sat on stage and played acoustic covers for about an hour. Finger 11 came on and played a full set electrically and right after I Mother Earth played a full electrical set. For the encore, both bands jammed covers but with the guitars and amps cranked! Tickets were 50 bucks for this show but it was a 5-hour marathon of Rock. What a night and the venue was packed out!


3- I’ve been lucky to have caught the last 3 tours(2016,2018 and 2019) that Sloan has brought to Crocks. All three have been killer shows but I would have to say the October 2019 show of Sloan was my favorite. Sloan was playing the 20th Anniversary of the fantastic Navy Blues albums front to back and Sloan did not disappoint! The first set was Navy Blues and the second set was the ‘Hits’ played! Plus with Sloan concerts, the guys always make themselves available after the show. Chris Murphy (vocals, bass) came out and we chatted plus as an added bonus Tbone for my Birthday bought me at the show the Navy Blues vinyl box set at the show!

2- Ok so this show wasn’t at Crocks but Frank promoted it so it counts as Frank brought the mighty Kings X to Thunder Bay in 2006! Unbelievable that Mr. Loffredo could bring a caliber act like Kings X to this city and only 75 people showed up!  This town sucks at times and this was a sucking moment BIG TIME. None the less Dug/Ty and Jerry took that stage and owned it. So good to get my ears blown out by Dug on the tune Dogman! Met the band after and what a great bunch of guys!

1-Back in the winter of 87 I was going out with a girl who went to the local college here in town. She told me about this band that was coming to Crocks from Kingston Ontario called The Tragically Hip and asked if I wanted to go. Sure I said but then Mother Nature on the day of the show dropped a ton of snow and we were in Blizzard conditions. My lady friend didn’t want to go so I rang up Tbone who said he was into checking it out. Off we went to see The Hip’s first appearance in Tbay in front of a crowd of about 20 people that night.     Frank has said that the 3 night stand that weekend in February by The Hip drew about 80 people combined over those nights.  Less than two years later Gord and crew had a major record deal and we’re pretty much set for superstardom in Canada. Things came full circle for Tbone when he caught the final tour in 2016. 


My one memory of the show that we still talk about today is when The Hip played “I’m A Werewolf” singer Gordie Downie was jumping on guitarist Paul Langlois back during the tune.

Good times. Thanks for the shows over the years Frank.












5 Bucks at the Door- The Story of Crocks N Rolls

When watching the Music Documentary “Five Bucks At The Door” which is the 90-minute film focusing on the music scene in Thunder Bay, you get a real sense of one man’s passion as well as the community that supported Frank Loffredo whom this film is based around.

Kirsten Kosloski has done a brilliant job piecing what could have not been an easy task of condensing a music scene in Thunder Bay of many bands or artists who have come through the doors of Crock’s to play for either 15 people or 300 people over the last 30 years.

Think about it for a second. 30 years at any kind of job is a long time. When you listen to Frank tell the tale of Crocks and at how times were financially hard (Frank’s family gives some candid comments) you get a sense that for Frank, promoting shows in Thunder Bay was not a job but a passion.

If you live here in Tbay you will know what I mean (myself I have lived here all of my 52 years) as when it came to going to see your favorite bands depending on the level they were at you would have to travel west to Winnipeg( a nine-hour drive) or east to Toronto( a fifteen-hour drive) or south into the U.S to Duluth(a three-hour drive) or onto Minneapolis(a six-hour drive).

In other words, you had to go to places. The bands that were not on that level would always make a stop in Thunder Bay. 

Frank not only paid these acts but he also fed them( the term ‘starving musician’ does not apply here as Frank’s mom provided meals) and housed groups in a ‘Band House” during there stay in town.

Lots of artists who passed through town over the years are interviewed like Art Bergman, Bob Wiseman, local folk’s as well and two of my favorites that spoke are Dave Bidini and Jeff Heisholt. Heisholt especially as growing up in Thunder Bay, Jeff played on Crock’s stage many times and eventually relocated to Toronto and is the keyboardist in The Trews.

Some bands that played Crocks went huge. The Tragically Hip is one of those acts that I was fortunate to catch at Crocks back in 1987 (to a crowd of 20 people) and within a few years were headlining arenas in Canada.

The film itself speeds along with a lot of great back and white pictures from the past and some great editing along the way.

I could go on about some great stories about artists and bands that have graced that stage here in Thunder Bay but I don’t want to ruin the fun. You all need to click the link below and set aside 90 minutes and check this documentary out! You have until September 20th as it’s free online. (with many other docs to watch)

Virtual Festival 2020

You have to thank Frank and what he’s done for the music scene here in town as if it wasn’t for him many of us would have missed out on a ton of acts.  Cheers also once again to Kirsten who did a marvelous job with this film

I’ve never been one to score reviews but Five Bucks At The Door would get an 11 out of 10!


Cinderella: Long Cold Winter(1988)


“Long Cold Winter” hit the streets in May 1988 and holds the distinction of being the second-ever purchase of a newly released disc that I bought released straight onto CD, (Iron Maiden with “7th of a 7th Son” was the first in April/88).

Record Companies were starting to release the band’s new music on disc at the same time as vinyl/cassette tapes. For many of us, that got into the CD craze that year it was a win-win.

Tom Keifer put his nose to the grindstone and came up with another sure-fire winner in the form of Long Cold Winter.

The public thought so too as Long Cold Winter was the second straight album from Cinderella to go triple platinum as did the debut Night Songs did two years earlier.

Tom crafted a more serious style of hard rock in the tracks that make up the album starting with opener with “Bad Seamstress Blues” which has the sound of Tom on electric steel and you can hear the crackle of static on the vinyl as if it’s from the 1930s. Then within 30 seconds the thud of the bass drum kicks in and we’re off and running with “Fallin Apart At The Seams”.

LCW was 10 tracks deep with four of them singles( “Coming Home”, “The Last Mile”, “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)” and “Gypsy Road”)  of which I liked em all!

As great as the singles where it’s the non-singles where LCW really goes up that extra notch. “Second Wind” which ends Side 1 is a great rocker of a track and I swear to god that Keifer inner channels some Aerosmith as the last minute or two of Second Wind sounds really like the end of “Back In The Saddle”, That could just be me but it’s so friggin good you don’t want Keifer and crew to fade out.

One thing that also set Cinderella apart from the million other bands that came out at around the 1986 mark is they had chops. These cats could play. Keifer, we know all his talent but helping the cause was Jeff Labar(guitar), Eric Brittingham(bass) and Fred Coury.^

So if you want proof in playing. Side 2 starts with the title track (Long Cold Winter) which has the band playing some CinderBlues. The thing is they pull it off and it’s a great tune. Blues mashed up with a dash of a slower tempo.

If you think Side 2 would do downhill think again as “If You Don’t Like It” with some duper cranked up Bass drives the track. “Fire And Ice” has a sleaze rock like vibe, especially during its chorus. “Take Me Back” which is the last track on LCW just may be my favorite tune and how many tunes can you say that about at the end the album. “Take Me Back” gets you right at the start with the drums and cowbell. The chorus though is the money shot so catchy with the guitars slip n sliding along the sonic highway.

Even the cover is slick. I liked how they went with the winter like white vibe no image just the logo swirled in pink in which my daughter Lauren thought was pretty cool. I flipped over the cover of the four Cinderdudes dressed in black standing in the snow and showed her the picture. Lauren quipped to me that she liked the cover better(lol). I said I liked that back cover as no bands were doing back covers in the snow back then!

Kiefer though kicked it up a notch in the lyrical department on this album. While “Night Songs” featured those catchy late-night romp tracks like “Push, Push”, and “Shake Me” (which did their job mind you) Tom though took the songs that make up LCW and gave it a different spin.  In other words, Cinderella went serious but in doing so pulled it off at a time when many others were still riding the wave of cheesy like tunes.^^

I’ve been on the vinyl hunt for the first two Cinderella albums as I already mentioned in the Night Songs review from a few days ago. Can’t believe LCW is 32 years old! Can’t believe I finally got it on vinyl 32 years later!

Simply put get this album or stream it. Just crank it!

^-LCW and Night Songs Fred Coury did not drum on. I believe Night Songs was already finished when Fred joined and I think the late Andy Johns who produced the first two Cinderella albums decided to use Denny Carmassi and the late great Cozy Powell behind the kit on Long Cold Winter instead of Fred. By album three which was Heartbreak Station, it was all Fred on drums.

^^-I bought into the cheese at times in 88 and 89. D’Molls which was atrocious soaked me out a bunch of dough back then and there are few others but I’m not giving out names!





Cinderella: Night Songs(1986)


When you take a look back to 1986, you can see over the course of four Cinderella albums that main songwriter/guitarist and lead vocalist Tom Keifer delivered some top-notch material which at times over the years people focused more on the image on the debut album “Night Songs” than the songs that make us this classic record.

When I began my journey back in 2017 to start acquiring vinyl whether it was new (thanks to my daughters on buying me reissues) or used(my deal) I never saw any CInderella in the used bins. 

I kept my eye on Discogs of course but by the time you add in the cost of shipping and the fact that the album is used etc I could buy it new (on 180 gram) from Amazon at the same price.

That’s what I did with” Night Songs” and the followup “Long Cold Winter”. Bought em both, a little pricey but enough was enough! 

Back in 86, I purchased “Night Songs” on cassette. Never got around to purchasing it on CD funny enough so I think 34 years later it’s time for an upgrade don’t you think?

Tom Keifer wrote all the 10 tracks that make up “Night Songs”. The title track opens the album and what a fantastic song. A sludgy like pace which features some brilliant slide guitar and this song is I think is one of Keifer’s best-written tracks. It dictates whats to follow. 

I need a shot of gasoline
I hittin’ one sixteen
I get so hot I see steam
Forget the day, cause were gonna scream
Night songs
Howl into the light, singin’
Night songs
Makes the day right
Night songs
Raise your glass, take a bite
Night songs
My first glimpse of Cinderella came shortly after the album was released. We used to get 3 American TV channels at the time from Detroit and one of them was a hard rock tv show shown either Friday or Saturday nights and would feature videos and interviews of the bands coming through Detroit.
One of those bands featured was Cinderella with the debut single “Shake Me”. The video I guess you could say impacted me as Keifer had that Steve Tyler swagger down pat in that video. A great fun time video with a great guitar solo and a catchy chorus.
Keifer knew and still does know the fine art of crafting rock tracks. “Once Around The Ride” and “Back Home Again” are stellar tracks both rip n roar at a solid clip with tempo changes and some fantastic playing.
Speaking of which before Tom solidified the touring lineup of Cinderella which of course features Jeff Labar, Eric Brittingham, and Fred Coury. Some other players added their flair to the mix on Night Songs that being Barry Bennedaeta( who handles the lead guitar on three tracks) and Jody Cortez (who does all the drums on Night Songs).
Make no mistake though Mercury Records got behind this band as did fellow label mate Jon Bon Jovi (Jon sings backing vocals on two songs those being “Nuthin For Nuthin” and “In From The Outside”). As well as Andy Johns(Zep) was brought in to dial in the sonics. 
The key to breaking Night Songs was the road and back in 86 when you secured the opening slot on the biggest arena tour of the year that being Bon Jovi who were selling mega copies of “Slippery When Wet” it’s a win-win.
The winner in this was, of course, Cinderella who secured that opening slot playing in front of sold-out audiences night after night ad in doing so Jon and Richie Sambora appear in the “Nobody’s Fool” video which reached #13 on the Billboard Singles Chart as well as Night Songs got up to #3 on the album side of Billboard.
I always found it amusing that Night Songs gets lumped in the whole Hair Metal debate. Sure perhaps in some spots but overall the cover is more Hair Metal looking than the sounds inside. I often wondered if the front and back cover was just all black or green. What would people have said then?
When it comes to this record I tell people you need to listen with your ears don’t let the album cover dictate the end result.
Sure you could say that JBJ had helped make no mistake though as Tom Keifer was on a mission back then and had the talent himself to be successful.
“Night Songs” proves that.
Coming Up…
“Long Cold Winter”


Storm Force! Greg, Pat and Brian join Deke and LeBrain in the Age of Fear! —


Thanks to Greg Fraser, Patrick Gagliardi, and surprise guest Brian Hamilton of Storm Force for joining Deke and I Friday night! It was a free-form chat tackling subjects such as: The album Age of Fear Memorable impact gigs Canadian Rock New music Secrets to singing Thunder Bay Touring and touring and touring Brighton Rock and […]

Storm Force! Greg, Pat and Brian join Deke and LeBrain in the Age of Fear! —

AEROSMITH: Permanent Vacation (1987)


Aerosmith, as we all know, hit the gold mine when Permanent Vacation came out and eventually went 5 times Platinum in both Canada and the U.S.

That’s some serious albums sold and some serious cash being made.

Aero as we all know released Done With Mirrors which did not set the world on fire in terms of sales in 1985. In mine and Tbone’s world, it did set our world on fire. I have raved on about this album forever and a day(I even told Joe Perry that back in 2003 to his face) so I’m not going there. We all know that deal.

Geffen Records did not feel any love towards DWM’s so come 1987 after Aero sobered up it was onto a new album and Geffen wasn’t fooling around. John David Kalodner wanted outside writers so what were Joe Perry and Steve Tyler supposed to do?

They had to adapt to that change. Bring in the outsider writers (Desmond Child, Jim Vallance, and Holly Knight), Bring in a new producer (Bruce Fairbairn along with Mike Fraser and Bob Rock), and in doing so keep the suits at Geffen off there backs.^

It worked not only by the number of albums sold but by the fact that I still hear quite often on local crap radio the three singles that dropped from Permanent Vacation 33 years ago.

It’s kind of funny when I look at the Aero era at Geffen as opposed to the Columbia Records era of when Aerosmith was on that label from 1973-1982. The 1970’s era of Aerosmith I don’t have to tell you came out with some unbelievable classic studio albums (Aerosmith, Toys In The Attic, Rocks, Night In The Ruts, Get Your Wings, Draw The Line, Rock In A Hard Place and Live Bootleg).

Drugs were good for Aero in that Columba records era as classic song after classic song came out of these albums. Creativity is in full bloom but then addiction reared its ugly head and the band splinters with Perry at the end of 79 over spilled milk!

After the druggie cool garage rock sound of Done With Mirrors which was the Geffen debut of Aerosmith, it was time for a change.

Change at times is good but even though Aerosmith streamlined there sound on Permanent Vacation they still delivered the goods lyrically and musically.

Permanent Vacation opens with “Hearts Done Time” which is a great opener. The production is slick sounding no doubt about it but Aero retains the swagger that groove they are known for.  What’s very noticeable on this album that Joey Kramers Drums and Tom Hamiltons Bass are cranked up! That’s a good thing.

The singles of course drove the album up the charts that being “Rag Doll”, “Dude Looks Like A Lady”, “Angel”, are still staples today on all classic rock formats in 2020.

“Dude Looks like A Lady” has that classic Aero shuffle and along with the added actual real horns on the studio. Dude is still a great tune. Desmond Child earned his writing credit on this song along with Tyler and Perry.

“Angel” is Aero playing the late 80s power ballad game. “Angel” written by Tyler along with Child went to Number 3 on the singles chart. Angel is an ok song. When it comes to Aeroballads there are way better ones out there( Dream On!!!) but I get it. Aero had to play the game and at times we have all had to play the game!

“Magic Touch” I always liked as well. How about that chorus which is the money shot.  Such a brilliantly written tune by Perry-Tyler-Vallance.

When I mention Aero grooves how about “Rag Doll”? Joe Perry plays that steel guitar on this track like he’s boss. Joey Kramer keeps the AeroTrain on the tracks with the drums. Another tune that features real horns and those cannot be beaten. Tyler though sings a real cool vocal as well. Over the years though Tyler has ragged on about how along with Jim Vallance and Joe Perry they had 99% of the song finished but it was called “Rag Time”. John Kalodner did not like Rag Time as a title. So John brought in another co-writer named Holly Knight and her contribution was to rename the song from “Rag Time” to “Rag Doll” and in doing so got a full writing share and credit for the track. That drove Steve-o bonkers!

I think of all the singles “Rag Doll” is my fav. Give Holly credit Steven as Rag Time doesn’t sound as smooth.

The outside writers as you gather by now played a huge hand on this record.

7 of the album’s tracks had a helping hand in the creation of this record. 

Now in saying that “Hangman Jury” wrote by Tyler/Perry and Vallance is such a stellar track. Love that harmonica that Steve plays and Joe with that acoustic intro and so cool how the song slowly builds up. 

whoa boy, dontcha line the track-a-lack-a”

Aero though had a few of there own on as in the brilliant “St John” was written by Steve and “Girl Keeps Coming Apart” written by Tyler/Perry has that that Aeroswagger but in a late 80s kind of way.

The real gem though on this record is the Brad Whitford/Steven Tyler composition of the title track. “Permanent Vacation” is Aero at its finest. Brad lays down an opening brilliant riff and what a fucking great solo Whitford dials up in the song. Lyrically Tyler is on his A-game here. Fairbairn with his fantastic production (how about that airplane whizzing by sonically at the start) delivers the goods. 

Wowzers! I can’t believe Aero does not play this tune anymore!! C’mon guys at some point bring it back!

“I’m Down” is a cover tune written originally by two fellows whose last names are Lennon/McCartney. Aero does an ass-kicker version of this tune and come to think of when they did cover tunes(Dream On, Train Kept A Rollin, Think About It, Big 10 Inch Record, Remember Walking In The Sand) they made them sound like there own. 

An instrumental moody tune called “The Movie”(written by the whole band) ends the album. A so so track at best.

In the fall of 87, the chips were down on Aerosmith but by putting aside their egos and collaborating with others as well as adding a new production team Permanent Vacation brought back a band pretty much on life support to a band that was at the top for the next bunch of years.

^- In the Ted Templeman book, Ted explains that he was set to produce the followup to Done With Mirrors(which Ted produced) but declined it as Ted was supposed to produce David Lee Roths followup to Eat Em And Smile but when it came time to start on Dave’s album. Roth fired Ted as Dave wanted to do it himself( Roth did with Steve Vai which became Skyscraper). Ted was pissed as he gave up a million bucks as he lost out on the Aero job. Ted figured Dave didn’t want him producing the competition so to speak.

Who knows what the truth is what but it makes for a cool read.










Linden Hudson: TV Dinners!

It was nice to hear from Linden Hudson a few days ago. Linden, as you know, did a lot of work on creating the songs that shaped ZZ Top’s Eliminator record from 1983, and Linden’s work on it went uncredited. 

From Linden:

“Here’s another sliver of sound media from my ZZ Top “shoebox”. It’s been merged with some video shots of photos, there’s explanatory text. Never heard until recent years. A rehearsal tape.”

Thanks, Linden for dropping by the site! It was great to hear from you as well!

I Want My MTV by Rob Tannenbaum & Craig Marks


Growing up in Canada we didn’t get MTV in the ’80s. (What we got was our own video station called MuchMusic). MTV was a big business when I was in high school as they played way more hard rock videos than what MM offered here in Canada.

A guy in high school had a huge satellite dish in the mid-80s and various times during the year we would go over to his place to watch the debut showing of the latest Van Halen or Def Leppard videos. I still recall watching “KISS- Animalize Live and Uncensored” at his place the very first time MTV showed it. (early 1985) We were blown away as Canada’s MuchMusic even though it was good would not show that kind of stuff. 

“Now look at them yo-yo’s that’s the way you do it
You play the guitar on the MTV
That ain’t workin’ that’s the way you do it
Money for nothin’ and chicks for free”

I Want My MTV is put brilliantly together by Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum who did over 400 interviews with directors, executives, producers, artists, VJs, and anyone else associated with the industry of MTV from its beginnings in ‘81 to the end of the music video era in ’92. 

The pic below sums it up perfectly…

Crazy to think that MTV when it began its run on Cable TV and even though it was based in New York. None of the NY cable companies would touch it. 

It was places like Tulsa Oklahoma and secondary markets that broke MTV, not the big U.S cities where all the main cable providers said that MTV would be done in a year.

Tons of great Chapters(see the picture above, how can that not get you psyched out) as one chapter focuses on David Bowie calling out VJ Mark Goodman out on why MTV for not playing Black Artists in 1983. Check it out below. Bowie tunes Goodman up. 

Michael Jackson basically changed that with the release of Thriller and Beat It. MTV took the stance of playing only ‘Rock’ videos so they said Jackson wasn’t rock until all of sudden Eddie Van Halen plays the solo on “Beat It” and MTV  basically says ‘Yep that’s Rock so add it to the rotation” Plus the time when umm, well read the excerpt below!

Rap had the same problem as well getting onto MTV than came the Run- DMC and “Walk This Way” by Aerosmith mashup broke down those barriers.

DMC tells the cool story of how they had Aerosmith’s “Toys in The Attic” in a crate with other records as they dug that drum intro which goes into the guitar riff.

DMC says that when they would talk about the song they would only know it by “Toys In The Attic”-Track 4 which was “Walk This  Way”. 

Run- DMC had no idea that the band was called Aerosmith or for that matter, they had no idea who Steven Tyler and Joe Perry were.  They had no idea the title of the song. Run- DMC only knew the song as track 4!

A contestant who won a Lost Weekend in Detroit with Van Halen was just that!


Any guesses on what video Chapter 21 is about?

This is such a great read as it goes year by year. The MTV Awards became a yearly staple at MTV.  Funny how to read stories about how Madonna basically stole the performance that year (1984) and made her a household name.

You can read about how MTV execs convinced Mick Jagger to say “I want my MTV” for $1. Or that the car on the cover of a ZZ Top album cost $250,000, so they put it in their videos to get the tax deduction! How video directors would all bid for the same jobs and at times it would get ugly between them. Better yet how about when Guns N Roses were the biggest band in the late to early ’90s. Axl had one of his friends hired at MTV to host Headbangers Ball. As Axl told his pal (Riki Rachtman) “You want the job at MTV? I’ll make the call!”


 Just read below as it pretty much sums up an 80s boardroom meeting at MTV!

Gene Simmons! LOL

Sorry for the shotty pics folks it’s the best I could do!

This book is full of stories about rockstars, dwarves, models, and drugs. How MTV almost did not make it into a second season or for that matter the second-ever video as after The Buggles Video Killed The Radio Star Was Played the screen went black.(in case your wondering Pat Benetars You Better Run was the second video played) The perseverance of the original creators of MTV (Bob Pittman, John Sykes-not the Whitesnake fella, and John Lack) was very instrumental in getting MTV into all the homes in the U.S.A.

Amazing Read!

Summertime Spin- Van Halen: Diver Down (1982)

Well, folk’s this is the end of Summertime Spins for this year! Thanks for reading along and commenting on the albums that basically take me back in time! I thought it was only fitting to start the Summertime Spins with a Van Hagar party album (5150) and now end it with a Van Roth party album (Diver Down).

Thanks for reading along.

1982 was a great year for me to be a fan of Van Halen. 1981 was when I discovered VH and bought my first two ever records by the Los Angeles foursome. “Woman & Children First” and “Fair Warning” were the two albums I bought in 81.

In May 1982 “Diver Down” was released after the single “Oh Pretty Woman”(Roy Orbison) was issued as a single a month or so before(more on that later)

I bought the single of Oh Pretty Woman on 45 right when the single came out and to my surprise, the B side of the single was “Happy Trails”!

Ha, there is VH already messing with my 14-year-old mind back in 82!

Diver Down was a short album. 31 minutes in total. 12 songs. ^

Posted above is one cool back cover shot taken back in 1981 when VH opened up for the Rolling Stones in Los Angeles. Two things are interesting about this pic.

1- If you didn’t know better (at which time I didn’t) you would think this photo was from a VH headlined show.

2-Arena Rock reader Jeff Japp was actually at the Orlando shows(where the back cover pic was taken). Here’s Jeff’s review.

Better yet Jeff caught VH the second night as well. Click the link below. Better yet give Jeff a follow as he’s a great guy who has seen 100’s of shows and has kept all his ticket stubs! It’s such a great blog.

When Diver Down hit the streets I remember reading reviews of it and some of them were calling VH lazy. lol

I get it as Diver Down featured 5 cover tunes. As a 14-year-old dork at the time, I kinda bought what the critics were saying. 

Diver Down clocks in at 31 minutes and about 13 minutes of DD are cover tunes! LOL, Basically David Lee Roth, Micheal Anthony, Ed, and Alex Van Halen only had to craft just over 17 minutes of original material. 

But to be fair to VH, sure the album may come across as lazy but after reading Ted Templeman’s book Ted explains the band was basically pressured by Warner Brother Records to put out an album so I can see why people would call them Lazy Halen when that really wasn’t the case.

Side One.

Having said all of this. Diver Down is a ton of fun. Opener “Where Have All The Good Times Gone” is a great track. A song did originally by The Kinks but this song was Halenizied so it could pass as an original tune. 

The second track “Hang Em High” is a bonafide VH classic. Ed tears apart his fretboard while Roth goes into creeper mode vocally. Ed’s solo is I think one of his best while Alex plays the complete crap out of his drums during Ed’s solo.  Killer Tune!

Ed doddles on his guitar on “Cathedral” which leads into “Secrets” which Roth wrote great lyrics and delivers a stellar vocal as well! Micheal Anthony must always be mentioned as a huge catalyst in the backing vocals of VH as well as holding down the fort with his Bass playing.

Another musical interlude is “Intruder” which speaking of creepy sounds creepy with that twisted synth mixed with Ed’s guitar and were off into “Oh Pretty Woman.”^

“Intruder/Oh Pretty Woman” was only intended as a single with Happy Trails being the other track. Dave and Alex wanted to make videos so this was the plan originally. A 45 single and that’s it. But of course, Pretty Woman stormed up the charts and then both Management and Record Company wanted a full album.

Side 1 is done.

Onto Side 2.

“Dancing In The Streets” in 82 I was so so on it. 2020 I appreciate it more as I read the back story on it coming from Templeman’s mouth. Love the sound of Alex’s drums on this tune and of course the guitar!

“Little Guitars (intro”) is Eddie laying down some cool classical licks on acoustic which inturn locks right into” Little Guitars(the song)” and there’s Alex’s drums front and center leading the charge. Whatever sound Ed is making or whatever he is doing is phenomenal. This is another one of those VH tracks that has all the classic trimmings of greatness. 

Catch as catch, catch as catch can…

Here comes the fun family jam along with tune in  “Big Bad Bill Is Sweet William Now”. Basically its Dave, Micheal, Eddie, Alex, and the brother’s father Jan who cranks on the clarinet on this track which is just simply put FUN!

“The Full Bug” is a doozy of a track. VH is like a runaway locomotive on this track. Full out rock with a harmonica solo added as the band is letting everyone know that the party is still going full throttle!

“Happy Trails” ends Diver Down in acapella version proving when you’re all sauced up and the plug is pulled electrically you can dig down deep to let us all know that the party has officially ended!

Considering Diver Down the album was started in March 1982 and was released in May 1982 the boys had some work to do and they pulled it off as this is one of those fun summer albums.

^-Check out that back cover track listing. It does not follow the actual tracklisting on the printed vinyl version. In the Templeman book, Ted explains that the record company would need time beforehand to figure out the back cover printing and artwork. So at one point that was supposed to be the actual tracklisting of Diver Down that see posted up above.

^^-Intruder/Oh Pretty Woman was only intended as a single with Happy Trails being the other track. Dave and Alex wanted to make videos so this was the plan originally. A 45 and that’s it. But of course, Pretty Woman stormed up the charts, and then both Management and Record Company wanted a full album.



Impact Album: Iron Maiden- A Matter of Life and Death (2006)


When “A Matter of Life and Death” came out in 2006 it was easily a first day buy.

Why wouldn’t it be as  Bruce Dickinson returned 7 years earlier back in 1999 to regain his throne as the lead vocalist in Iron Maiden. In return, Maiden started to deliver some stellar studio albums.

“Brave New World” in 2000 followed by “Dance of Death” in 2003 let everyone know that Maiden was back. They were not going to rest on their previous success (pick any studio from the 80s).

“A Matter of Life and Death” was released August 8th, 2006 and as you can tell by the cover ‘War’ is going to be somewhat the theme on this album.

With Maiden, you know what you are getting. 10 songs clocking in at just over 71 minutes. You know with Steve Harris and company there are no cutting corners!

“Different World” the first track sets the pace and as any Maiden fan knows Maiden starts off their albums with rockers. Written by Harris and Adrian Smith Different World has that great catchy chorus and a phenomenal guitar solo by Smith that you would expect when you see Adrian’s name attached to any song he has written in the confines of this band.

The rest of the album has a ton of tempo changes. Prog Maiden to Galloping Maiden to Acoustic Maiden back to Prog back to Galloping. “These Colors Don’t Run” builds up then kicks off into another gear and then ramps down. What Maiden album would be without a round of ‘Ooooh, Ooooh, Ooooh’ during the chorus. Bruce Dickinson you know is going to make every last person in that arena stand up and join in on the fun!

Speaking of Dickinson Bruce really gives it his all (well he always does) on “Brighter Than A Thousand Suns”. I have to say that this song is one of my favs as there is a killer riff throughout and Bruce goes from all-out metal mode to chill out with a snap of the fingers. At 8 minutes long this song is so well written (take a bow Smith-Harris- Dickinson) and performed that it’s hard to believe that 8 minutes of time has passed!

Janick Gers gets into the swing of things in a co-write with Harris on “The Pilgrim” which has the slow beginning and then everything starts boogying at a clip. Speaking of Gers I love his loosey-goosey style of guitaring in Maiden as Dave Murray and Adrian are more on the technical side of the fence. It all gels together.

“The Longest Day” has that galloping Maiden vibe as Harris and his four-string start as Nicko McBrain sets the table with his drumming as the others follow Nick’s lead on it. More twist n turns on this tune. That’s the great thing about this album. It has many tempo changes you don’t know what’s coming up around the bend! If you don’t believe me check out the 5-minute mark as the guitars will slam your noggin against the wall!

Bruce and Steve team up and deliver “Out of the Shadows” which could have slotted in nicely on 92’s Fear of the Dark album as Out of the Shadows has that “Wasting Love” vibe about it. Not a ballad per se but Maiden taking the foot off the gas pedal shall we say!

Being a Maiden fan since the summer of 1981 one of my favorite things about them is that they do it there way (just as RUSH did) as when it comes to singles.  How about a 7-minute 21-second track called “The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg”. Being a single(ha) I have to add this another standout track composed by Harris and Dave Murray. Once the song lifts off after the moody intro all bets are off as the song is so brilliant during the chorus as Bruce takes over while there are moveable musical tempo changes under his voice which is the selling point! Blown away by this track. Simply put on the best!

When I caught “The Legacy of the Beast Tour” last year, Harris and company played “For The Greater Good of God” which was a surprise addition as with a catalog as deep as Maidens it was nice to see them polish this one up and play it live for the first time since 2006! Tempo changes, Drums, galloping Bass, lots of Guitar magic. It’s all delivered in this song. All 9 plus minutes!

“Lord of Light” begins chill and then explodes into the fireball frenzy that we expect from Maiden. Lord of Light is the third song on this record to feature the writing talents of Smith-Harris- Dickinson. When these three put their talents together on songs watch out!

Ending the album is “The Legacy” written by both Gers and Harris and if anything it’s like a mash-up of Zep and Maiden as there is that slowly but surely build-up which takes the listener on a journey for an album closer which clocks in as the longest song on the album at 9 minutes 23 seconds. 

I have to thank Mikey Ladano who put the bug back in my ear about this album a few weeks back. We were talking Maiden and I said that  2015’s “Book of Souls” was the best record they have done since Bruce returned in 2000. Mikey came back with A Matter of Life And Death and in saying that stopped me in my tracks.

It got me thinking. Is Mikey onto something? An under the radar album from Maiden. I listened to it that day after our conversation on my iPod and by golly, Mikey makes a strong case.

So strong that I ordered it from Amazon on vinyl! The pictures you see here are from the vinyl version. Double Vinyl. Gatefold Sleeve. A thing of beauty. Maiden albums give you your money’s worth on how a reissue should be done!

I’m thinking this may be my fav studio Maiden album since Bruce’s return 21 years ago. 



Hard Rock Album and Concert Reviews! (Odd Book Review as well!)