Greta Van Fleet/Black Smoke Rising(2017)

You know it takes a lot for me to purchase any new rock nowadays but in 2017 it has been two bands that have made me take notice.

The first act was Royal Blood and now the second is Greta Van Fleet.

At work we have a radio playing our local rock station 94 Fm that I swear to god are funded by 3 Doors Down as they play those guys continuously to the point where my head feels fuzzy and I get nauseous whenever I hear “Kryptonite” or that “Hear Without You” sap track!

Having said that!  One afternoon with the radio blaring a song came on that my pal Frank The Tank commented with a “Holy Shit these guys sound like Zeppelin!”

I agreed it did sound like Zeppelin and what not but I had no idea who it was as myself and Frank where saying these fella’s sounded decent!

Maybe a day tor two later Frank spun into work and said “Those Zeppelin like guys names are Greta Van Fleet!

Highway Tune is the track that is elbowing its way to a ton of play here in Tbay when 3 Doors Down isn’t hogging the airwaves!

BINGO! We got a winner! Thanks Frank The Tank!

Off to iTunes and for $4.96 I purchased the debut 4 song EP from these dudes who look real young but have dug deep into the old school sound of rock and hey for sure there are a ton of snippets of Zep smatterings throughout! Who cares! A good song is a good song and these Cats have the chops to back it up! Must also mention that down the road GVF will be releasing two more EP’s to make one full album. Kinda a smart move for a new band. Make your EP available at half the cost of a full LP! Interesting……

Dudes of Greta…

  • Josh Kiszka – lead vocals
  • Sam Kiszka – bass guitar
  • Danny Wagner– drums 
  • Jake Kiszka – lead guitar

Cool that the band features 3 brothers so there must have been some real serious jamming going on down in Mom and Dads basement!

The 4 songs…Highway Tune/Safari Song/Flower Power and Black Smoke Rising are all killer tracks, Huge Drum sound/Killer guitarist/Bassist and excellent Lead Vocals. The production has indeed a total 70’s vibe. I read an interview with one of the guys and he said they grew up listening to a ton of vinyl so that  explains the Zep deal but I’m sure as they move forward they will carve out their own identity  and figure it out..

For now though this is a great little ass kicker EP that you should all check out….

Advertisements

KISS/Dynasty(1979)

Folks! This is my 500th Post! Kinda Bizarro that my very first review 500 posts ago was my first ever Arena show which was KISS (1979)and here we are at numero 500 and it’s another KISS review! This was not planned but when it comes to KISS they sure are fun to write about as they have taken me to the cleaners more than a few times over the years but this Blog gives me the opportunity to say what I wanna say about em! Good and Bad! Thanks to you all that have been along  for the ride!

As you were….

Being Halloween and being the month that I first seen Kiss years back in 1979 why not a Makeup Review ..Trick or Treat ….

May 23rd 1979 Kiss unleashes Dynasty an album that finds KISS at the cross roads. A new disco like sound on a single/ a Drummer on his way out the door(Anton Fig drummed on all the tracks except for one tune/ a Lead Guitarist with a new-found creative outburst that probably irked the two founders/ a band that thought they could do no wrong and a 12-year-old kid named Deke that was buying everything up on site that said KISS.

From the outside things look hunky dory but that could be further from the truth!

From 1974-1979 Kiss released 7 studio albums. 4 solo albums. 2 Double Live albums and One Double Greatest Hits album.

That is a boatload of music and KISS kept cranking them out and we known as the KISS ARMY were buying into the Kiss game plan which for KISS  was push product. People will buy and being a young age I wouldn’t know good from bad …well ok Peter Criss’ solo album was a complete disaster and back in late 78 I even figured that one out as an 11 year old!

So when Dynasty hit the streets I was onboard as in my world Paul Stanley/Gene Simmons/Ace Frehley/Peter Criss could do no wrong or could they….

I Was Made For Lovin You with that Demon thumping bass driven tone leads off the festivities  and Paul Stanley hooks up with the sounds of the disco clubs and gives KISS a huge hit. This song when I was 12 I dug as I got older it tired on me as it really wasn’t KISS but KISS fishing for a hit which worked. Desmond Child gets the co write and this begins a string of co write hits with a ton of artists throughout the 80’s. So for that Stanley succeeded but if I was 17 at the time maybe I would have thought different of this track. Who knows. Over time though this track has grown on me as I see what these guys were trying to accomplish and for that I’m ok with it. I don’t want to listen to it right now but if it comes on the satellite radio in the vehicle I’ll listen to it but on my iPod I skip it! HA!

Ace Frehley the one with the new-found creative drive grabs The Rolling Stones song 2000 Man and makes it his own track like he wrote it! Ace slips an slides on this song as his street like demeanour comes through in spades. Anton Fig drives the drums (weird saying that) on this track and Ace doubles up a great vocal with a great solo and for me this is where Dynasty begins! 2000 Man is the opening song on Dynasty. In my world that is…..

Melodic Rock Paul steps up with Sure Know Something. This track is a pretty decent song that has radio written all over it. The chorus is the money shot which is kinda syrupy in spots but will give you that a few minutes hum along after the song has ended. Or maybe not…

The soon to be punted Peter Criss gets the fourth track Dirty Livin all to himself as he sings and makes his only drum appearance on Dynasty. Course at the time I had no idea that Dirty Livin would be Petey’s final hail mary toss to the end zone on a KISS studio album at the time. This isn’t a bad track. Not great, not forgettable as its just there!

What the Hell??! Side Two begins with Demon Gene Simmons finally getting a track and that track is Charisma. This track cracks me up as Genie Gene mumbles and growls his vocals like the God of Thunder just conquered Cher. Oh yeah he did but this tune is full of what I call dumbo rock but I can still listen to this and walk around afterwards saying “What is myyyyy…..Charismaaaaaa!” Funny stuff!

Whoah Starchild steps right up with a real slick guitar riff in the form of Magic Touch. Great track that KISS should have played live back in this era. Well constructed song.

Space Ace fresh from his new creativity outburst from a year earlier (1978) gets his due and delivers in Spades a track that is very autobiographical if there ever was one with Hard Times. Great hard rocking track as Ace knows his strengths and considering Gene and Paul thought Ace was a mess at times when the chips were down Ace just cranks out one of those end of the album Gems! Plus I love the way his vocals sounded like they were recorded live in one take!

Not to be outdone Demon steps up with X-Ray Eyes that is a real good Gene track but whoah only two Gene tracks on Dynasty? Yup Gene  blew his ego fueled load all over that crazy solo album of his of which some of it was good and some not so… Who was gonna tell these guys back in the mid to late 70’s “Ah these songs aren’t that good!” Exactly! No one as if you were on the Aucoin Payroll I’m sure you were told to keep your trap shut!

Ace kicks in the studio door with another sure-fire winner with Save Your Love which rockets this album with a spectacular Ace solo as well as KISS step up and deliver a super-duper 3 pack end of the album  send off!

KISS 79 was in shambles. Not that I noticed. I kept buying whatever they were selling and after the tour was finished for this album it was adios amigos Catman!

 

Whitesnake /1987

 

Today (Oct 27th) is when the 3Oth Anniversary Deluxe Edition of Whitesnakes classic self titled 1987 is re-released! I will give Coverdale credit as the deluxe looks cool with a bunch of demos/unreleased studio tracks  and a live show from 1988 included as well along with the original running track of the album

I thought it would be a good time to repost this as I  had originally had posted  it back in November 2014! Course I have cleaned it up and added and subtracted a few things but basically I kept the vibe of it the same! Yup I preordered the deluxe off of iTunes and I gotta thank Da Heff for that!!

ENJOY….

So back in April of 1987 I tuned into that radio online show Rockline that was on 94 Fm here in Tbay on Monday nights at 1130pm – 1 am. David Coverdale was going to  be on plugging the soon to be released 1987 album and new single Still of The Night! So Bob Coburn(RIP) intros Coverdale and they play Still Of The Night and I’m blown away. Holy shit! David  and John Sykes (guitar and co writer) have blasted off a bunch of heavier up Zep riffs complete with complimentary violin bow! And man. Mine and Tbones socks were blown off!

But here comes the shocker. Ol Cov tells me the listener that there is a new Whitesnake in play! I already knew Cozy Powell had left 2 years earlier due to $$$$ but now Ansley Dunbar(drummer on the 1987 album)….. gone. Neil Murray on bass…..,.gone. The biggest shocker of all John Sykes who cowrote 7 of the 9 tracks on 1987….gone! David canned the whole band after he recorded the album( this explains no pics of the band on the album. They were all fired!) Filling the disposed members spots were Rudy Sarzo(x-Quiet Riot) Vivian Campbell (x-Dio) Tommy Aldridge(x-Ozzy ) and Adrian Vandenberg(x- of his own band Vandenberg) all good players but for fucks sake man! Whitesnake or more importantly ol Cov was turning over musicians like he was running a McDonalds!

Dave rolls different lineups on pretty much every Snake studio album. 1987 is no different from any others. Check out destroyerofharmony a WordPress blog where he describes in great detail what went down with Sykes And Coverdale. Click link below!

https://destroyerofharmony.com/?s=john+sykes+firing

Having said all this …. Whitesnake is like a soap opera man…..

Let’s check out how Sykes took Coverdale into new territories and the thanks Sykes gets is the BOOT!

CRYING IN THE RAIN-This is Covs tune from years earlier but Sykes,Murray and Dunbar tighten it up into a big rock sound and they push the sonic’s and it’s pretty clear early on that this is gonna be a big sounding rock album and  it was sounding huge on my Walkman! Sykes sets himself up a guitar hero here and its huge riffs after riffs! No fooling around with Snake 87! Bombastic let’s say!

BAD BOYS- Sykes continues his dominance with super-duper riffs and he rips right out of the opening gate with Bad Boys! Dunbar lays down some super crazy double bass and Whitesnake is shifting gears and going into parts unknown! Coverdale lays down some serious singing on this tune and well it’s great! Also of note me and Tbone went almost deaf blasting this song all summer long in his car in 87! We were cool back than! Or so we thought!

STILL OF THE NIGHT-Here it is. The song that Robert Plant hates! But that many loved and still do as its played on rock radio all the time! This is epic Snake…when Cov launches into his vocal delivery with ‘In The Still Of The Night….” Bammo Sykes kicks Jimmy Page in the nuts and steals the riff and Psyches(Sykes) us all out! Man this song is crazy good! 7 minutes of big riffs,big drums,Cov yelping ‘get over here’ and the middle section of the song that probably irked Plant most was the part  where it sounds like the violin bow which I think they used in the video for Still Of The Night! Hahaha…let it go Bobby Plant. Where all  trying to make a livin here! Now speaking of the video the hired guns are in this live video that I posted and not the real dudes that recorded the studio track! So let’s do the math here, I betcha at this show back in 87 about 98% of the people would not know the difference that these weren’t the studio guys on the record with the other 2% hollering ‘Scabs!’

Check out the live clip of Still of the Night below! The end of it is classic as the Snakes take their bow and as their running off stage Tommy Aldridge bends over in front of Coverdale and tosses something back(drumstick?) and nails Ol Coverdale right in the noggin! HAHAHA….. Classic Coverdale holding his head as he heads off stage for I’m sure a good yell at Aldridge!  You can’t make this shit up!

HERE I GO AGAIN- The video of that crazy Ol Cougar and Cov getting it on like a bang a gong and shit people fell for it. Whitesnake became a household name in North America cuz of this track which is another remake from an earlier Snake album that no one in North America heard! If anything Bernie Marsden who had long been booted from Whitesnake must have enjoyed the payday as he’s the co writer on here with Cov. I remember and I’m being honest here about liking this track and man when I heard it on the radio they jacked up the keys on it and it sounded like crap! Leave it the fuck alone will ya’s! But I know why Cov and Kalodner ( guy who signed  Whitesnake to Geffen in the US) did it. They wanted radio play and well it worked but I’m sure I’m not the only diehard  alienated by this move! Must mention that it was Adrian Vandenberg that laid  down the solo on this song and who knows why? Perhaps Sykes already had gotten the boot!

GIMMIE ALL YOUR LOVE-Sykes /Dunbar/Murray kick off side 2 with a flurry and man this song rocks and Sykes once again peels off a monster solo! You know by the 5th song here it’s like Sykes must have had to contain himself from overplaying on the Slide It In album. This album so far is full of bombastic riffs that just soar!

IS THIS LOVE?- Cov and the boys slam on the breaks and ask the lady’s Is This Love? Umm ok,this tune is really not my kind of deal but it’s ok and I know the game that is being played here. Cov and Sykes want to impress the soccer moms out there. Actually were there even soccer moms back in 87? Sykes as well must have smoked a couple of huge fattys before he did the solo as the guy slams on the breaks with his power riffing and shows us all he can chill at times! Take a bow dude!

CHILDERN OF THE NIGHT-Boom where back to mega riff central and the Snakes just riff and roll thru this blazing track! Cov sounds good on this record and man I couldn’t believe it that he had a ton of vocal troubles for a few years previous too 1987 being released!

STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART- How could this not be a single? This is a great song and Sykes gets a real cool tone out of his guitar on this right of the gate! Man its 80s Rock guitar once again but you know what? This is one of those sleeper songs!  No  surprise huh? No surprise !

DON’T WALK AWAY- Cov bids adieu to 1987 Snake with this slow closer but I like it! It’s good and probably why I like it was for the fact that it wasn’t a single and overplayed to friggin death! Thanks for not getting greedy Mr Coverdale!

IN CONCLUSION- DC and Sykes created a masterpiece and people bought this thing like hotcakes and it sold millions and of course the videos further propelled the album sales but man 30 years later I can’t fathom watching that crazy chick do her thing with ol Cov.  Must say I always dug this cover as it was far away as  a Metal looking cover as possible! Kudos to artist  Hugh Syme. I’m sure John Sykes must have laughed somewhat watching those vids and I’m sure the payday he received somewhat compensated from him getting turfed! The guitar playing is just plain sick on this! Kudos to John Sykes….

 

Gord Downie…

 

You know you get those Game Changer Life Moments that make an impact on you that you will probably never forget.
The passing of Gord Downie is another one of those moments that many of us will never forget where or what we were doing when we heard the news.
I was on my coffee break early Tuesday morning when my wife Suzi texted me that ‘Gord Downie had died” I was and wasn’t shocked.

We all knew this day was coming but it was one of those you really hope that day doesn’t come. It did and many of my friends posted including myself a bunch of tributes, comments just basically how the music of The Hip had an effect on all us on different levels.

I know it impacted my pal Tbone hard. After all I think it would as it must have been something to be at any of those last shows that the Hip played across Canada(last summer) at which T was at the Winnipeg show. I mean knowing but not wanting to believe that this was going to be the last time ever to see these guys I dunno how  my thinking would have been.  You know myself along with  everybody was hoping that ‘Yeah they will be back!” But…..

If you’re a reader of this blog you know that me and Tbone caught these guys early on here in Tbay.(1988) The second time was March of 1990 at our University. This was a show I can recall a lot better than the one previously as Up To Here was selling like hot cakes but the band that night with a bearded long-haired Gordie rocked the joint. Me and T must have been about 10 feet directly in front of Gordie and man when these guys hit the stage at 12 midnight all bets were off!

Hip were not afraid to take chances early on as how many bands do you know would open a show with an unreleased track that I believe is still unreleased “Crack My Spine Like A Whip” plus only having the E.P and Up To Here album to draw from The Hip would also preview songs that we wouldn’t hear until a year later(1991) on the classic Road Apples album.

Thanks for the Music Gord!

 

Damon Johnson/Birmingham Tonight (2017)

Damon Johnson is one talented cat folks! No only did he front his own band Brother Cane (excellent debut) but he also was a member of Alice Coopers band and is currently playing with some Thin Lizzy dudes in an act  called Black Star Riders.

It was on Facecrack that rock scribe/podcast guy Mitch Lafon had a post about DJ putting out a live album with a bunch of Solo/Brother Cane and some other musical nuggets along the way!

My only concern was this going to be an whole unplugged kinda deal as I’m burnt out on the whole acoustic thing.

This my friends is not! This album rocks from the opening track Horses & Needles to the last track a blistering harmonica driven rocker Got No Shame. 

The production is live sounding. Direct from a bar stage!

Basically 16 tracks of Hard Rock. Great vocals the band that backs Johnson is  tight. The guitars of Johnson and Tony Higbee are wicked as at times they play like there is no tomorrow!

A ton of highlights here including  Hard Act To Follow/Fools Shine On and a scorching hot cover of Lizzy’s Boys Are Back In Town make this album a must own!

Boston/Third Stage:Last Night At The Centrum(1986)

Boston is one of those bands that has never released an actual live recording. There is one floating around out there that is worth the catch if you come across it recorded live in Worcester Massachusetts at the Worcester Centrum during a 9 night stand in which Boston played to 12,000 people per night back in August of 1987!

Boston was out promoting their latest opus Third Stage and for myself it was a mixed bag of music as I couldn’t believe when you have the guitar firepower of Boston leader Tom Scholz you open your long-awaited new album with a ballad!(Amanda).

Gripes aside this is the closest thing to an actual Boston live album you will ever hear as it features the late great Brad Delp. The sound on this live show is brilliant. It blows me away why these guys never pounced and put this album out officially. Actually this is one of the best ever non officially released live albums I have ever heard! Play the tracks posted included below! Soooooo Goooooood!

25 Boston classics including of course More Than A Feeling/Rock N Roll Band/Piece of Mind/Don’t Look Back/Feelin Satisfied are featured. What’s even more cool is that after a 13 minute version of More Than A Feeling(which considering its length is quite good) which is the 6th track of the show Delp announces to the crowd that Boston is going to play Third Stage in its entirety!  Who the hell was doing this back in 1987?

Imagine for a second if back in 1987 Motley Crue played the entire Girls/Girls/Girls album front to back!! HAHAHA…there would be a mass exodus to the exits  when Vince Neil would begin singing Your All I Need!

Anyways back to the task at hand….

Lots of artists  are doing front to back albums but give Tommy and Delp credit. The Third Stage songs cut through a lot better live than the studio versions. Man you gotta love Scholz’s playing as the dude never gets his due but along with Gary Pihl they  ramp up at certain times with dual leads and Tom  even at times does that wacky sound effect with his guitar that makes it sound like  a spaceship is landing!

 

This is a great unofficial live album that by the sound of it is official as an live album you will hear from  Boston!

Must own… Brad Delp you are missed!

 

Hanoi Rocks/Two Steps From The Move (Bonus Tracks) 1984

Gotta thank HMO who sent me a copy of the extra disc that was added to Hanoi Rocks “Two Steps From The Move” Rock Candy reissue from a couple of years ago.

It’s hard to believe that in an instant that this band grinded to a complete halt in December 1984 after drummer Razzle was killed in a car driven by Vince Neil.

I’m not going to get into the whole deal with the accident so to speak but i will say that Hanoi to this day in my humble opinion has put out a game changer album that when I purchased this back in 1984 it easily became of my all time fav’s  in my little world of rock.

When Hanoi limped to a couple of farewell shows in early 85 that was it until they regrouped many years later but it didn’t really interest me. What does though is anything from this era of Hanoi(1984).

So with the reissue came a bonus disc of live and studio tracks. Lets check it out shall we!

Don’t You Ever Leave Me(12 inch single) is tweaked around somewhat with some kind of echo added during the chorus when Razzle smacks his snare drumSinger Micheal Monroe sings the verses and chorus in english but the spoken word part that starts the second verse has guitarist Andy McCoy speaking in Finnish(I think,haha).

The next three tracks Back To Mystery City/Until I Get You/ Mental Beat are live tracks that I believe are all from the live All Those Wasted Years double live album from 1983. Three great tracks that has Hanoi firing on four cylinders as a punky/glammy act.

The three studio tracks that follow the live tracks are a little out there. Magic Carpet Ride/Oil and Gasoline are almost psychedelic trippy like tracks that to be honest fall way short of the classic Hanoi sound.Lets go with an experimental Hanoi here.

The third track Shakes has an almost Clash like vibe to it. Kinda neat actually as this is pre Two Steps Hanoi perhaps trying to figure out there sound.

Now here’s where it gets real good….

Four live tracks from the BBC featuring Four classics from Two Steps are played…

Leading the charge is I Can’t Get It.  Considering Monroe had that glam frontman look down I always dug that under that pretty boy look the fella had a bit of a growl in his voice. With this track being played live they keep the tempo to the same pace as the studio track. McCoy tosses out a real gnarly like solo that blasts some heavy metal licks mixed with a shot of glam syringed in….

Underwater World features Monroe not only on the vocal but on the sax as well! Underwater World oozes a cool groove as Razzle pushes the pace while bassist Sami Yaffa and guitarist Nasty Suicide keep the rhythm machine moving.

If Vince hadn’t tanked this band, Don’t You Ever Leave Me would have been a huge single. It had all the trimmings of a super classic single without sapping out. Razzle drives the bus on this track while Monroe delivers a great vocal and McCoy dials up a super solo.

Boulevard of Broken Dreams has an old Aerosmith like swagger to it and is such a great song with quick little tempo changes that just make the song soar.

This bonus disc is a great time capsule but its the last four live tracks that are the real score here. I wish there was more live Two Step Hanoi kicking around….

Thanks Scott!

 

Rock Album, Concert Reviews And The Odd Book Review