All posts by deKE

Never Gonna Stop The Rock

Foreigner: Double Vison-Then And Now(2019)

 

I’m sure you have picked up lately that I have been on a Foreigner kick by acquiring some of the old Foreigner on vinyl.

But with reunions and such now in 2020 ruling the roost Foreigner has done that but with two lineups which is the current one that is touring only with original Guitarist Mick Jones which I’m kinda on the fence about as lead singer Kelly Hansen does an admirable job singing the classics that were originally sung by the brilliant Lou Gramm!

So what we have here in 2019 is a Foreigner mashup of current and ex-members hitting the stage together and jamming some classics!

Now at first, I was on the fence about getting this release as it was just another compilation but the fact. that Lou and original guys are on it interested me, to say the least!

  • “Cold As Ice”
  • “Head Games”
  • “Waiting For A Girl Like You”
  • “Headknocker”
  • “The Flame Still Burns”
  • “Urgent”
  • “Juke Box Hero”
  • “Feels Like The First Time”
  • “Double Vision”
  • “Blue Morning, Blue Day”
  • “Long, Long Way From Home”
  • “Dirty White Boy”
  • “I Want To Know What Love Is”
  • “Hot Blooded”

The performances here are pretty damn good. Where Foreigner hooks me in is those guitar-driven rock tracks like Long Long Way From Home/Dirty White Boy and of course Hot Blooded.

Special mention must be given to the current band that kicks some ass during Double Vision. This even surprised me!

Pretty cool to hear both incarnations get together and jam out Hot Blooded while the original band plays Feels Like The First Time together in mega years!

Decent live album that these guys put out. I gotta hand it to them as this release even surprised me!

Vinyl Rewrite- RUSH: Signals(1982)

When I received on Friday this text from Tbone’s brother Darr that Neil Peart had passed I was shocked as were millions of others.

I basically spent Friday night(and basically the weekend) surfing FaceBook and Twitter as hundreds of tributes poured into that fella Peart who revolutionized rock drumming.  Guys like Paul Stanley/Peter Criss/Mike Portnoy/Slash/Duff/Gene Simmons/Lars Ulrich/Julian Lennon and Taylor Hawkins who commented that Neil had the ‘Hands of God’ were brilliant and all from the heart.

Fellow Bloggers such as Mikey/HMO/80’s MetalMan/Destroyer of Harmony/Andrew/BOP/Jeff Jap/Bourbon and Vinyl wrote awesome posts about Peart’s passing.

I was going to as well but I thought I would also talk about the very first RUSH album I purchased which was Signals back in 1982.

Tbone in the summer of 1981 got Moving Pictures on vinyl and that was my intro to RUSH as they were HUGE that year as Tom Sawyer and Limelight were everywhere.

Xmas 1981 my parents gave me Moving Pictures along with Exit Stage Left which just blew my mind!

Once Signals hit the streets in  September 1982 we were all snapping it up pretty much the day it hit the streets. What a way to start Grade 10 that year. First week back to school and a new RUSH album to dig into.

Safe to say I blew out a few weeks of doing homework that September as I was studying the lyrics of Neil Peart as well as the riffage brought forth by Lee/Lifeson!

Signals was 80’s Rush. 8 tracks. 4 songs per side. Synthy driven as the opener Subdivisions proves. Analog Kid has to be in my Top 5 all-time Rush Tunes. I love how Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson lock horns with the bass and guitars and Neil just does the rest on the song.

Chemistry is awash in keys but what a fantastic tune. Neil drives the song forward. The wild thing about Chemistry is it’s one of the few Rush tunes that the lyrics were written by Neil/Geddy and Alex!

Countdown details the very first NASA Launch of the Space Shuttle. A total Prog Rock track and the way Neil writes the lyrics you think you were there with him..

Lit up with anticipation
We arrive at the launching site
The sky is still dark, nearing dawn
On the Florida coastline

Circling choppers slash the night
With roving searchlight beams
This magic day when super-science
Mingles with the bright stuff of dreams

Floodlit in the hazy distance
The star of this unearthly show
Venting vapors, like the breath
Of a sleeping white dragon

Crackling speakers voices tense
Resume the final count
All systems check, T-minus-nine
As the sun and the drama start to mount

The air is charged, a humid, motionless mass
The crowds and the cameras
The cars full of spectators pass
Excitement so thick, you could cut it with a knife
Technology high, on the leading edge of life

The earth beneath us starts to tremble
With the spreading of a low black cloud
A thunderous roar shakes the air
Like the whole world exploding

Scorching blast of golden fire
As it slowly leaves the ground
Tears away with a mighty force
The air is shattered by the awesome sound

Excitement so thick, you could cut it with a knife
Technology high, on the leading edge of life
Like a pillar of cloud, the smoke lingers
High in the air
In fascination with the eyes
of the world, we stare

Safe to say that Neil was my favorite teacher in Grade 10 whereas I could lye in my bed and drop the needle on this album and it would just take my mind away as there was always something going on within the parameters of a RUSH song. Whether it was the music or the lyrics.

So Brilliant!

People have gone on at times that Alex was at times buried under the keyboards in the 80s, Perhaps but what I always dug that come solo time the guitar would be upfront as they would just strip it all back to that three-piece band no one could touch em. Then, now or forever! Listen to Alex’s solo from Subdivisions for reference.

New World Man was a cool single that grazed just inside the Top 40 single charts which was impressive, to say the least. New Word Man is RUSH writing a little prog-rock ditty and just kicks into gear when it goes from the pre-chorus to the chorus.

Peart always pushed himself as a drummer. I mean listen to some of his drumming on Signals and I hear at times The Police’s Stewart Copeland (check out Digital Man at the end of SIde 1)who himself is no slouch on the skins. See Neil at that time could adapt some influences and incorporate it into his playing. He always pushed the envelope. Check out and crank up this live clip posted below!

Losing it is another tune with RUSH shifting gears almost into Prog Ballad (is there such a thing?). Losing It tells the tale of a dancer breaking down from wear and tear on her body. You could almost say that about Neil as a drummer as the man played like a beast for over 40 years and even his body began to break down not that anyone of use ever noticed as Neil wouldn’t allow it!

This album is my favorite studio album by RUSH( 2012’s Clockwork Angels is a very close second as is Counterparts). It’s still hard rock but with a different kind of vibe. Along with Iron Maiden at the time. The lyrics made me think. Which was a good thing doncha think?!

Rush at times on Signals kick out some serious jams just listen to the beginning of Digital Man. Geddy basically solos right out of the gate on that Rickybacher. So smooth as Neil and Alex follow his lead.

Classic Stuff! For me, 80’s RUSH was where I discovered the music created by Neil/Geddy and Alex so this period resonates with me. I’m not the only one that feels that way. Ask HMO and he will tell you the same thing!

As many of you know when I turned 50 a few years back I decided to dive headfirst back into acquiring VINYL!

For my 50th, myself and Tbone headed to Montreal and I was on the prowl for used Vinyl. We were in a huge used record store and Tbone went one way and I went another.

A few minutes later I hear ‘DEKE!” I looked over and Tbone was holding a copy of Signals.  I told him “do not put that back down in the bin!”

What a Score!

Cool to have come full circle as back in 1981 Tbone was the first one between us to own RUSH(Moving Pictures) and then 35 years later there’s Tbone holding a copy of another RUSH(Signals) album.

Time Stand Still

You have to hand it to Neils buddies Geddy and Alex who knew all along what was going on but kept Neils condition private through it all. Much RESPECT for those two fine Gents!

Chuck D (Public Enemy) put it best when he wrote a tribute to Neil and said “Rest In Beats”

Thank you, Neil, for the music and lyrics.

 

Book Review: Holy Smoke: Iron Maiden in the 90s- Martin Popoff

Canadian Martin Popoff is a wizard when it comes to cranking out quality books. Just a little over 4 months ago Martin penned the fantastic Where Eagles Dare which chronicles Maidens rise from the early beginnings of Steve Harris and crew that takes us on the journey of Maidens juggernaut as one of the premier metal bands of the start of 1980  to 1990! You can find that book at Martin’s site. I reviewed it back in September and it’s a great read as there were some little tidbits of info in its 288 pages that I never even knew about and I’ve been following Maiden since the summer of 1981!

November 2019 and Martin release’s Holy Smoke: Iron Maiden In The 90s which takes you as the reader from the year 1990-1999.

Lots going on in the land of Maiden as they released in 1990 No Prayer For The Dying and in 1992 Fear of the Dark. Both of which are good but were kind of missing a little something and looking back it can happen as look at Maidens superior output in the ’80s.

Maiden was the classic case of Album/Tour/Album cycle like many a band before them and many after them.

Martin dives in with the Dickinson departure in 1993 as Maiden Drummer Nicko McBain loses his shit publicly at the time on Bruce leaving.

Enter new Maiden vocal fella Blaze Bailey. Martin gives a bunch of pages of the two Maiden albums( 1996’s X Factor followed by 1998’s Virtual XI) with Bailey fronting Maiden.

As Popoff always does in these books he does an album by album breakdown of each Maiden album. Chart History and some words on each Tour that followed each album’s release.

Martin also gets in the nitty-gritty of went down with Blaze as he was fired by Maiden and gets right into the return of Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith to the band.

Speaking of Bruce, Martin dives into all of Bruce’s five 1990’s studio albums and Live Album release when Bruce was off in solo land. Each solo album is dissected and is a great read as well.

In regards to Bruce’s solo career, I’m sure if you’re a fan you have a fave of Bruce’s. Mine is probably a tie between Tattooed Millionaire and The Chemical Wedding release. Whats Martins fav you ask? Not saying but it did surprise me!

The book ends in the year 1999 when Bruce and Adrian return to Maiden as they had into the 2000’s!

Now I wait anxiously for the third book in the  Popoff Maiden Trilogy to drop as Maiden has put out some brilliant albums since the turn of the century!

Get This!

 

 

 

 

 

Vinyl Rewrite- Metallica: Master of Puppets(1986)

 

Metallica really first came across my radar in early 1985 when a Canadian magazine called Metallion was raving about this band from California.

Then a few months later I was at A&A Records (long since defunct) and purchased two records that day. One was Deep Purple’s Perfect Strangers release which was the 5 old British Geezers reunion album and the other one was Ride The Lightning by Metallica who were a hell of a lot younger than Deep Purple, to say the least.

Both albums were awesome but Metallica kind of blew my mind as these guys weren’t that much older than me as I was 17 at the time yet here are these four long hairs writing tunes musically/lyrically like Fade To Black. James Hetfield blew my mind that he knew how to handle the English Vocabulary with his lyrics as I was just trying to pass Grade 13 English back in 86!

I knew and many knew as well that Metallica was a band on the fast track to superstardom.

So in March 1986 drops into the Record Shops Master of Puppets and it was an easy purchase which I bought on cassette for the trusty old Walkman at the time.

1986, let’s think about that year musically in the Hard Rock Spectrum for a second.

Lot’s of Hard Rock was coming out that year in which I was trying to keep up. Judas Priest had the Synthy driven Turbo album and even my Homeboys Iron Maiden went synthy on the brilliant Somewhere In Time release.

Here in Thunder Bay, some new bands were entering my radar in 1986 three of which come to my mind right away are Europe’s The Final Countdown, Poison’s Look What The Cat Dragged In and Tesla with Mechanical Renonsnance.

That was the Hard Rock stuff. Even my pal Tbone was exploring those as well and was digging Huey Lewis And The News with the Fore release and Loverboy with there Loving Every Minute of It album.

I was a little concerned with Tbone shifting musical directions as I thought “Is he going all in Top 40?’ but by 1987 Tbone was back once The Cult hit the streets with the fantastic Electric album.  Tbone dabbled in other areas of music and rehabbed himself musically even after the Y&T Down For The Count debacle as well in 1986.

Sorry, I’m fast-forwarding here. Need to rewind a bit back

I guess what I’m trying to get at was Metallica went for a very dry sounding heavy record and they succeded on many levels. Master of Puppets sonically sounds the exact opposite of what everything else was sounding that came out in 1986.

Even the cover is a grave reminder(get it?) that not all music had to be happy go lucky (Hello Poison) as the cover is dark in nature. Even the back cover shots. They look tough in a 1986 way. Love that stadium shot from the backstage area. Just the pics alone pull you in.

No Hard Rock Gloss more like a Fist To The Face in the songs as opener Battery proves nice little classical guitar opening than the slam of the guitars. A complete wall of sound as the Bass/Drums and vocals and lyrics of James Hetfield make you take notice.

Lashing out the action, returning the reaction
Weak are ripped and torn away
Hypnotizing power, crushing all that cower
Battery is here to stay.  

Smashing through the boundaries
Lunacy has found me
Cannot stop the battery
Pounding out aggression
Turns into obsession
Cannot kill the battery
Cannot kill the family
Battery is found in me
Battery
Battery

The whole album just rips at such a huge clip!

The second song is the title track that being Master of Puppets which in all its just over 8 minutes takes you on a sonic journey with all kinds of tempo changes throughout. Love that breakdown and buildup before the song lifts off again into the solo.

The Thing That Should Not Be and Welcome Home Sanitarium(songs 3 and 4 respectively) have Metallica taking their foot off of the gas pedal in tempo for the most part.  The Thing That Should Not Be crawls along with real cool verses and choruses while Welcome Home Sanitriuom picks up the pace somewhat especially when Kirk Hammett(before he fell in love with the wah pedal) lays done a brilliant solo.

Speaking of which that’s all Kirk did was show up to the studio and play solos as Hetfield handled all the rhythms and only James. Back then that is. Did someone just holler out ‘Control”??

Side 1 is officially over, What a Power Surge!

Side 2 lifts off with Disposable Heroes. All 8 minutes and 17 seconds of it! Speed Metal did Metallica style. If you were fooled by the tempo of the last two songs on Side 1 think again as Disposable Heroes kicks your senses to the curb!

Leper Messiah has a groove similar to AC/DC but a quicker tempo mind you that goes out the door come solo time but Leper Messiah does not fool around at all.

James gets to rest his larynx as the musical driven Orion plows through which is like if Geddy/Neil and Alex got into a bottle of Vodka washed it down with speed and jammed out a metal-like tune. Speaking of RUSH they are thanked in the credits of the album so three cheers to Metallica back in 86 for recognizing brilliance! Course there was the rumor floating around that Geddy was considered to produce this album. Imagine that? Rickenbachers Rejoice!

Damage Inc ends the album with a furious blitz of riffs n drums as Lars pounds those drums like artillery is going off! Frantic is the pace and basically the pace set forth by Metallica on this album.

In these Vinyl Rewrites, I usually don’t go song by song but once I started I couldn’t stop if I only wrote about half the songs that’s not cool either so… Thanks for sticking around to the end!

Not only did I mark this as a Vinyl Rewrite I included in another category(Impact ALbums) and that’s because when I first heard Master of Puppets in 1986 this was a sound I had never heard.

Sure there were other metal acts out at the time like Anthrax and Slayer but I didn’t really take to them. Well, Anthrax I did buy 1988’s State of Euphoria at the time (thanks HMO for the bonus tracks with the Anthrax reissue) and Slayer well just plain scared me! In Slayers defense they did an ass-kicker cover of In A Gadda Da Vida on the Less Than Zero soundtrack.

One last thing is I need to thank my daughter Lexie for buying Master of Puppets for me on vinyl this past Xmas.

We had a laugh as 3 out of the last 4 Xmas’s Lex has bought me Metallica albums for gifts (And Justice For All/Hardwired/Master of Puppets) without knowing there was a pattern developing.

 

 

 

 

Fires — destroyerofharmony

Hey Folk’s!

My blogging pal Peter aka Destroyer of Harmony lives in Australia and has sent an update which I thought I would share with you all. Please take a minute or two and check out what they have been going through.

Click the link below…

 

 

Since September, 2019, the land has been burning. The photo below shows the fires burning along the East Coast at a macro level as of this morning, 5 January, 2020. When you zoom in, you will see Wollongong, one of Australia’s steel city is still okay. That’s home for me. The Red means it’s out […]

via Fires — destroyerofharmony

Book Review: Hard To Handle- The Life & Death of The Black Crowes-Steve Gorman

Hard To Handle and in its 369 pages is, without doubt, the best Rock Biography I have ever read!

Sure that is quite the statement but I tell you, author, Steve Gorman (had the best seat in the house as Steve was the Crowes Drummer from 1987 to 2013) has compiled such a fascinating read that once you start it you cannot put this book down.

Gorman has written a book in a way that you don’t even have to be a huge fan of the Crowes(they kind of lost me after the third album  1995’s Amorica) to get the dysfunction within a band. Steve pulls no punches in regards to anyone and I believe him when he writes the many tales of Rich and Chris Robinson and how they singlehandedly destroyed anything positive that came there way.

You want an example here’s one that Groman learned a year and a half later after a 55 date tour and recording session with Jimmy Page was canceled as Gorman bumped into Page in London.

Page told Gorman that he offered to write songs with the Robinson brothers for their next record, but Rich blew him off with a “No thanks! … We don’t need more songs.” “I was insulted,” Page said to Gorman, who furiously called the Crowes’ manager and told him, “I’m driving to Connecticut, and I’m going to kill Rich in his home.”

How Gorman tells these tales is amazing. It makes sense to see how one would go bonkers as Steve writes that the Crowes were on life support by 1999 and they hook up with Page for the Live At The Greek Theater show which resulted in there first Gold album in years and a renewed interest from Record Companies and Promoters about a tour and album with Page.

I could share many stories with you but let’s just say you would be better to track this book down for yourself! My daughter Lauren gave it to me as a gift this Xmas so it’s good I had some time off from work as I was immersed in this book big time.

I also have to add that I love how Steve gets right to it as he starts the book back in 1987 when he first hooked up with the Robinson brothers( Mr. Crowes Garden was their original band name). Gorman avoids that usual first 100 pages of a rock bio when one goes on about there childhood and whatnot.  Right to the meat and potatoes of the Book!

Speaking of 1987 that’s when Steve took up drumming(at the age of 25) and then 3 years later(1990)  Steve and The Black Crowes are opening in arenas for…

Aerosmith paid the Crowes $500 a night and as Gorman says, Joe Perry was a surly prick to them. Steve used the word ‘surly’.

ZZ Top who fired the Crowes after there hometown Atlanta show as Chris was announcing from the stage that ZZ sold out to cooperate sponsorship for the tour. (Miller Lite). Read the book and you can see how the Lead Singer became a hypocrite in regards to sponsorship.

Robert Plant who Gorman said that Plant and his band were the best to tour with had a 4-day layoff as both bands camped together at a park in Manitoba Canada!!

Producer Brendan O’Brien lays down the guitar solo on Hard To Handle off the debut album.

Gorman and Page took a nap together backstage in Page’s dressing room which pissed the brothers off. Haha!

Just a few tidbits for ya.

Chris and Rich fought constantly. Chris hated the Grateful Dead in the early ’90s but by 1995 Chris wanted the Crowes to become a band like the Grateful Dead as he became a huge DeadHead.

The third album Tall was scrapped at a cost of $600,000 and rerecorded and came out as Amorica which did not amuse the record company whatsoever.

They played Edinburgh Scotland once and never returned.

Manager Pete Angelus had to deal with a ton of shit to say the least. Angelus warned the Crowes early on that when you play a gig you always leave together as band. No wandering off as when Angelus was managing Van Halen in the early 80’s he had to calm down a Father in a hotel lobby as his daughter was in a room upstairs with David Lee Roth. The real problem Angleus noted was the Father was in the hotel lobby swinging a running chainsaw around!

When one reads this book you realize the Black Crowes was a band who couldn’t get along with anyone including themselves

Course what brought the band to break up was wait for it…

Money! When the Crowes first started Chris/Rich/Steve and Bassist Johhny Colt ( Colt has to be one of the coolest as fuck guys ever!) were all equals until Colt quit and they split the money 3 ways. No surprise there and as Steve writes about…

On the eve of a 2015 tour celebrating the anniversary of the band’s debut album, Chris Robinson demanded a larger percentage of the Crowes’ dough. Chris wanted all of Gorman’s share. Chris wanted 75 percent of all the band’s income which was an upgrade from the 33 1/3 percent Chris had been receiving.

One Hell of a fascinating read!

Here’s a quote on the back of the back that sums it up best!

“I couldn’t put the book down–absolutely unbelievable read! Now I know why I was lucky to play tennis; I didn’t have to deal with anyone except myself!”

John McEnroe, New York Times bestselling author of But Seriously and You Cannot Be Serious.

 

TBone 2020- Less Than Zero (1987)

Happy New Year Folk’s!

Welcome to a new series here at Arena Rock where I dissect some of the music choices my Best Pal since 1975 the only and only Tbone was making back in the mid-1980s! Why you ask? Simple really as I basically got Tbone really onboard with Hard Rock with Van Halen’s 1984 released earlier that year.

After that Tbone was snapping up cassettes quicker than a stripper straddling a pole.  Tbone was off and running and at times went a little off course with some questionable scratch your head purchases but Tbone always found his way back to the Hard Rock.

With a new Decade upon us I thought it might be a hoot to revisit and expand and try to dig into Tbone’s noggin at what the F*#K was he thinking going back with some of these musical picks from the  mid-80s!

Shall we?

 

I was never big into Soundtracks and for the record I’m still not but Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody Soundtrack from 2018  was brilliant so there are exceptions to the rules. Having said that back in 1987, me and Tbone went to see the movie Less Than Zero which really was about preppies and cocaine and starred Robert Downey and James Spader. Brad Pitt before he became Brad Pitt was in it as a partygoer and 3/4’s of the Red Hot Chili Peppers were in at as band.

Not that I knew any of this at the time but to get my head into this review I recently streamed this movie.

At one point in the movie, The Cults Little Devil was played which of course we took notice as that song came from the brilliant Electric album that the Cult had put out earlier in 87. Better yet there was another scene in the movie that had David Lee Roth’s Bump and Grind playing in the background. Bring on the Blow!

Now back to late 1987…

When I next saw Tbone a few days later ( after seeing the movie at the theater) we went cruising in Tbone’s car to the college to play some tennis and he had the Less Than Zero soundtrack.

I was like ” Whaaaat?”

1. Rocking Pneumonia And The Boogie Woogie Flu – Aerosmith
2. Life Fades Away – Roy Orbison
3. Rock And Roll All Nite – Poison
4. Going Back To Cali – L.L Cool J.
5. You & Me (Less Than Zero) – Glen Danzig & The Power & Fury Orch
6. In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida – Slayer
7. Bring The Noise – Public Enemy
8. Are You My Woman? – Black Flames
9. She’s Lost You – Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
10. How To Love Again – Oran ‘Juice Jones’
11. Hazy Shade Of Winter – Bangles
Tbone handed me the cassette tape cover and I flipped it over and the first track was an Aerosmith tune Rocking Pneumonia and the Boogie Wu Flu which even though was a cover tune would have slid right onto the Permanent Vacation album no problem as it had that late 80’s Aero gloss swagger!
Roy Orbison was up next which I didn’t listen to until I dubbed the cassette on my tape deck at home. Think about it for a second as here we were in 1987 turning 20 cruising in Tbone’s 2 door Chev that rumbled like a tank so playing Roy would have defeated the purpose of looking like a couple of rock dudes with mullets intact trying to be cool!
Poison was selling a ton of albums on the back of 1986’s Look What The Cat Dragged In. Poison knocks out a cover of KISS ‘Rock N Roll All Night‘ which sounds exactly like it would which is Poison covering KISS. The best part of Rock N Roll All Night was the tambourine! We were driving at the time in Tbone’s Chevy Tank and Tbone hollered “Tambourine” we almost spun off the road and ditched the car as ‘T’ punched the gas!
Never owned any Slayer and to this day I still don’t. Tbone did with one track and that was this ripping cover of In A Gadda Da Vida! This song was an easy turn it up! Thank God it wasn’t like the original track that was 17 minutes long. Slayer wraps it up in under 4 minutes. What a hammer over the head track. Brilliant and one of the best covers I have ever heard.
The rest of the soundtrack was a first for both us I’m sure I can speak for Tbone as It was our first time hearing LL Cool J/Orange Juice Jones/Glenn Danzig/Black Flames/Public Enemy.
The Joan Jett tune was so so and The Bangles tune I can’t even recall except for Suzanna Hoffs! Double Schwing!
Too bad The Cult and Roth track’s never made the soundtrack.
I have to hand it to Tbone as he went outside his comfort zone on this soundtrack as there was some filler but it was a hoot hearing Public Enemy and LL Cool J before they really became household names a few years later! Well in our world that is.
God damn Tbone had some hipster in him circa 87!
deke’s score of Less Than Zero- 6/10
deke’s score of Tbone going all-in on Less Than Zero- 8/10 (gutsy call buying a Soundtrack)