Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
- Symphony X – Iconoclast (June 2011); I just got this one. A 2-CD album of progressive metal. It was a bit of a disappointment only because many of the songs sound the same but a bad Symphony X is still better than anything you hear on the radio around here in Milwaukee. Here is song called Dehumanized form the new CD.
- Dream Theater – A Dramatic Turn of Events (September, 2011); New drummer. That's I'll I have to say. But seriously, I hear the title track and Mike Mangini (the “new' Mike in the band:) is an amazing drummer and the track On The Backs of Angels sounds promising. It will be weird not to have Portnoy but I am a fan so I have to get it.
- Adrenaline Mob – Self Titled; A “Supergroup” of sorts with Mike Portnoy (Ex-Dream Theater) on Drums, Russel Allen (Symphony X) and a few other guys from other bands. This could either really good or really bad depending on where I “expect” this album to be. I have read that this is NOT prog but hard rock. Here is a teaser of the tunes Russel Allen, for those of you who may not know Symphony X, has one of THE best voices out there. The range is incredible and he can do it live (I saw it:). We shall see.
- Jane's Addiction – the Great Escape Artist (August, 2011). I make no apologies about being a huge fan of Jane's Addiction. They are just different and that makes them great. I love the last album (Strays) and look forward to hearing some new material. They have a video for "End to the Lies" on their website. Pretty cool.
Monday, July 18, 2011
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
So this could have easily been one of my first posts but I figured I would wait until I got the blog off the ground a bit. These are MY favorite drummers so I am sure there will drummers that may be omitted and some wondering why (e.g. Lars Ulrich). So here it goes.
Neal Peart: the single most influential drummer in my drumming career. I have emulated his style for many years including adding things to my drum set such as a xylophone so I could play those parts from songs like Xanadu and A Farewell to Kings. I wore out 2 copies of A Farewell to Kings on cassette going over and over it. I am still in awe of his playing after all of these years. I am currently learning Jacobs Ladder which is no easy feat due to shifting time signatures. Some of my favorite songs to play include: Xanadu, A Farewell to Kings, Freewill, YYZ, 2112, Natural Science, By Tor and the Snow Dog, Marathon, Show Don't Tell, Something For Nothing, Subdivisions, Analog Kid, Spirit of the Radio, The Camera Eye, Fly By Night, Limelight, Red Barchetta, Distant Early Warning, Anthem, Beneath, Between, Behind, and The Weapon (to name a few).
Mike Portnoy: the second most influential drummer. After playing Peart for so many years I discovered Dream Theater and went from there. Portnoy is Peart on steroids. Lots of double bass which I really wanted to learn more of. Later, I was watching one of his instructional DVD's and finally began to understand how to play in odd time signatures. This made it easier to go back on many of those Rush songs I had for all those years and truly understand how to play through the parts by counting it out. Many of his parts are WAY too complicated to even start learning because I don't practice enough. Portnoy also has lots of side projects to glean drum parts from which makes him that much more versatile. Some of my favorite songs to play include: Under a Glass Moon, Panic Attack, Home, New Millennium, Burning My Soul, A Change of Seasons, This Dying Soul, As I Am, Pull Me Under, Metropolis Part 1 and The Test That Stumped Them All (to name a few).
Gavin Harrison: a relative new comer to my pantheon of drummers but is quickly becoming one of my favorites. His main gig right now is the drummer of Porcupine Tree. What makes Gavin so amazing is his fluidity even while playing difficult odd-time parts. He has a method he calls “overloading” that makes odd time almost danceable. He is a student of drums and is always perfecting his craft. One of the coolest things he does is doubles on both bass pedals (think John Bonham in Good Times Bad Times but with both feet), very cool. He has awesome chops but doesn't overplay the song which works for DT but not PT. Some of my favorite songs to play include: Halo, Bonnie the Cat and The Sound of Muzak (that is as far as I have gotten).
Jason Rullo: once I started playing prog and prog metal, Symphony X become one of my favorite bands. They just plain kick ass. Jason can play serious metal and sprinkle in some complicated odd time for good measure. I can only play certain songs that are not too fast (I am still working on my double bass speed). Some songs I enjoy playing include: Inferno (Unleash the Fire), Sea of Lies, Out of the Ashes and Serpent's Kiss. Kick Ass drummer.
John Bonham:One of my first drum idols; there is not much more you can say that hasn't been said. His shear power and ability to take a simple drum beat and make it sound like there are 2 drummers. I have played many of LZ songs over the yeas but it was not until recently I really came to appreciate Fool in the Rain from the In Through the Out Door album. It is a shuffle beat that sounds like total crap if the ghost notes are not there. I have taught myself a bit if the shuffle beat but I am still way behind what he did. Some of my favorite songs to play include: How Many More Times, In My Time of Dying, Achilles Last Stand, Sick Again, Poor Tom, We're Gonna Grove and Immigrant Song (to name just a few).
Ian Paice: In the very beginning I loved Deep Purple almost as much as I love Led Zeppelin (almost). However, much of Bonham's drum parts were too hard for me so I played Deep Purple. The only album I had by them for many years was Live: Made In Japan. To me it is THE best live album ever made. I played that entire album and loved Paice's chops. I can remember how happy I was when I finally got this little part during a slow section of Space Truckin'. I tried every song on that album except The Mule since it was a drum solo and I could not even fathom what he was playing at the time. The songs include: Highway Star, Child In Time, Space Truckin', Smoke on the Water (the best version ever), Strange Kind of Woman and Lazy.
Kieth Moon: by far the sloppiest drummer but a total manic with endless energy. His drum parts were essentially one long drum roll which played right into my style of playing (or overplaying as some have said; screw them :) He was a huge part of why The Who were so over the top and why I love them. I watched them perform in the Woodstock video and was just awestruck at the energy he had and his playfulness behind the kit. I always tried to emulate that in my playing. Some of my favorite songs to play include: Pinball Wizard, Baba O'Reilly, We Don't Get Fooled Again (one of my all-time favorites on the drums), Who Are You, Sparks and of course My Generation.
Dave Lombardo: while the drummer from Slayer never really had a direct impact on my playing, his style made me want to play metal. His double bass is stuff of legend and I only wish I could play like that. So other than the 2 songs, Dead Skin Mask and Seasons in the Abyss, I can't physically play most of his other stuff because it is too fast for me :(
Barrie "Barriemore" Barlow: Not a household name by any means but he is the phenomenal drummer from Jethro Tull in the 70's. I knew I liked prog fairly quickly and once I had my xylophone I could also play some Jethro Tull with it in there. Some songs I enjoyed playing include: Baker Street Muse, some of Thick as a Brick, Minstrel in the Gallery, Pibroch (Cap in Hand) , Heavy Horses, and No Lullaby.
Mitch Mitchell: another early influence, I loved Jimi Hendrix and much of it came from Mitch. He was more reserved than Keith Moon but had that wild side as well. Mitch also had a soft side which he was very good at in songs such as The Wind Cries Mary. Some of my favorite songs to play include: Voodoo Chile (Slight Return), Crosstown Traffic, Foxy Lady, Purple Haze, If 6 was 9, Third Stone from the Sun, and Spanish Castle Magic.
Danny Carey: another relative late comer to my drummer pantheon, the drummer from Tool is great. He is a master of polyrhythms and blending metal with mellow. Danny has a style that is very different than mine (he was trained) so he uses a lot of drum rudiments that I don't know. For that reason I really have only tried a few of there songs including: Forty 6 & 2, Sober, Hooker with a Penis, Parabola, and Lateralus.
Notable others that I like but did not make the list (in no particular order): Mark Zonder (Fates Warning), Alex Van Halen, Tommy Aldridge (Ozzy, others), Mike Mangini (Extreme, now Dream Theater), Phil Collins (early Genesis stuff), Stephen Perkins (Jane's Addiction), Lars Ulrich (Metallica), Kirk Arrington (Metal Church), Virgil Donati (he is just sick), Buddy Rich, Sheila E (Prince, solo), Randy Castillo (Ozzy), John Densmore (The Doors), Nick D'Virgilio (Spock's Beard), Chris Quirarte (Redemption), Alan White (Yes), Bill Bruford (Yes, King Crimson), Nick Mason (Pink Floyd), Jeremy Colson (Dali's Dilemma), Bernard Huber (Dreamscape), Artimus Pyle (Lynyrd Skynyrd), Stuart Copeland (The Police), Tommy Lee (Motley Crue) and the list goes on and on.
What do you think? I am sure I have missed some that you might have put on the list. Please let me know. Thanks.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
If you try to see the meaning hidden underneath the measure of the depth can be deceiving
The bottom has a rocky reputation
You can feel it in the distance the deeper down you stare
From up above it's hard to see, but you know when you're there
On the bottom words are shallow - on the surface talk is cheap
You can only judge the distance by the company you keep
In the eyes of the Confessor
In the eyes of the Confessor there's no place you can hide
You can't hide from the eyes
Don't you even try
In the eyes of the Confessor you can't tell a lie
You cannot tell a lie
Strip you down to size
Naked as the day that you were born
Naked as the day that you were born
Take all the trauma, drama, karma, guilt, and doubt, and shame
"What if's" and "if only's"; the shackles and the chains
Violence and aggression; the pettiness and scorn
The jealousy and hatred; the tempest and discord
And give it up!
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
I jammed for many years with some high school buddies of mine. We played at my high school and college graduations, my going-away party when I left Wisconsin for my Master's Degree and other events over the years. When I got back to Wisconsin we actually tried to be a band for a while (Bottom's Up). We played only a handful of gigs but they were very fun. One of the songs that we just nailed was Dreams I'll Never See by Molly Hatchet. I had never heard that song before the singer brought it up to play. His voice fit that southern rock vibe very well. The guitar player was a virtuoso and could play nearly anything (he especially like Eddie Van Halen and Randy Rhodes) and played the guitar parts flawlessly. Although I had more fun playing Flirtin' With Disaster (which is STILL on of my all time favorite songs to play on the drums) I always felt Dreams was the best song we did. Everybody really got into it. Lyrically, I can relate a bit because I never was able to pursue music as much as I would have liked but I am not complaining in the least.
Monday, June 13, 2011
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
- I was young when they were popular and my dad was not a fan so I did not hear them much. I do remember the cheesy show they did. I was scared of Gene Simmons the first time I saw him spit blood on stage. Kind of freaked me out.
- While in high school (before I started playing music) I was a Zeppelin freak and had several arguments with this idiot who thought that Kiss was the biggest band ever because they dressed up on stage and might have made more money. But I kept on him saying, yeah , but what about the music. He tried in vain to convince me that Kiss had better songs. Like I said he was an idiot. I will bet money that if you asked any member of Kiss and ask them who has better music they would probably all say Led Zeppelin.
- Once I did start playing drums, I never had the urge to play any Kiss. To me they were a basic rock band that was all about the show (which they did very well). I could appreciate a few of their songs (God of Thunder is cool), but for the most part I can't leave them on the radio to this day.
- Another irritation I have about Kiss is the whole collectable crap. Don't get me wrong, I like band shirts, but Kiss caskets and Kiss condoms, really!? They are such money whores now that the music is an afterthought. My wife is amazed at the amount of collectables that she used to sell at her store (Spencer's).
- Finally, the whole Kiss Army thing. Do you really need to name your fans? I liken this to Lady Gaga calling her fans her little monsters – lame.
Sunday, May 29, 2011
Now at first glance, this may seem like an obvious choice being that I am a drummer and such, but the story for Tom Sawyer by Rush goes back much further than that. So let's set the wayback machine to 1982-1983 or so and I was 10-11 years old. Back then I had a friend named Chris who loved just down the block. I used to go over to Chris's house all the time. He was one of the first people I knew that had a personal computer at home. A Commodore 64 I think it was(I would have to look that one up to see if the dates match, so don't hold me to that). So anyway, I used to listen to tapes in his house. I was around music all the time but he had a tape that was much different from the stuff I had heard at my house. This one song in particular had the most amazing beginning with some cool keyboard sounds. The song was talking about some Tom Sawyer person (who I did not know of yet), but the best thing of all was the spectacular drum rolls that filled the middle of the song. Even then, a full 7 years before I would ever pick up a drum stick, I was blown away by this song. I remember asking Chris to play that (and YYZ) over and over again.
Now fast forward to the point where I did start playing drums. I was really into Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and other bands but I never really listened to Rush (mainly because my dad did not like them). Then one day I heard Tom Sawyer on the radio and the light bulb went off, I the memory if that song came flooding in. I immediately went out searching for the album containing that song. When I saw the album cover I vaguely remembered it from when I was younger. The album from front to back is probably their best (I did not say MY favorite). It was then that I switched from a Bonham style of drums to a Neil Peart style and have never looked back.
As a side note, I have practiced the majority of that album (sans Witch Hunt) and to this day Tom Sawyer is still very difficult for me to plays (for the record Neil said it was a challenge for him as well). The constant eighth notes on the hi-hat are a real test of stamina. If I practice often enough (which doesn't happen much anymore), I can build up that stamina but my hand is usually dying by the end of the solo of the song.
Another side note, I was in Best Buy one day and they had Rock Band set up there with a drum set. So I set up Tom Sawyer on expert level and started playing it. By the time the solos came around (which are very hard to do on those little sets and without double-bass) I had pretty much nailed it to that point and had an audience of a few people. It was pretty cool and I got to puff my chest out a bit on that.
Do you have a story about this song? If so please share with me. Thanks.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
I have been extremely busy lately due to baseball games and my birthday :) So Dream Theater is one of my favorite bands in the world. Mike Portnoy (the recently departed drummer of 25 years) has been a huge influence on me. That being said I do have a story behind Under a Glass Moon from the Images and Words album. Many fans consider this their best album but I respectfully disagree but that is a who another discussion. When I was in college back in the early nineties, I was in a math class with this really long-haired guy (his name escapes me). Over the course of the semester we starting talking and I found out he was a death metal drummer for a local band. Once he took me to one of his band practices and I was blown away at what he could do. On the way to the practice he put in a tape of IAW and played me Under a Glass Moon. For those of you who are not drummers, the drum beat for this song is one of his more well known creations. I was immediately impressed. The double bass patterns in that song are cool as hell. Only later would I full grasp the technicality of the song in terms of the huge amount of odd time that is in the song as well. Several years later I bought IAW and liked it but I did not like the vocalist at first. Obviously I have changed my tune on him and now Jame LaBrie is one of my favorite. I guess he just had to grow on me (a lot of people say that about Geddy Lee from Rush as well).
Now fast forward a few weeks and I had invited him over to my house to check out my set and jam a bit. It was a cold rainy November day and we drove in his car. We got off the freeway to avoid the congestion and head up National Avenue. While heading towards home, a car pulled out in front of us, hitting the rear quarter panel of the driver side. The car we were in started to swerve from the impact and the fishtailed back only to have the guy nail us in the passenger side rear quarter panel. The same guy hit us TWICE! It turns out the guy was in his 80's at least, and upon further review had alcohol on breath. Luckily no one was hurt, although the second impact did jolt me pretty good. We waited forever for the cops to get there. While we waited the guy was so scared and/or drunk that he actually told me that it did not look that bad. Both quarter panels were smashed in!!! I felt bad because I got picked up before the cops showed up. He never did get a chance to come over again. We laughed about the old guy but it sucked that his car was messed up. So whenever I hear Under a Glass Moon I think of that day and the accident.
Do you have any memories for this song? Please let me know.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Ok, so you like Styx, Kansas, Old REO (before they went soft), the you really need to check this band out. Presto Ballet, a band out of Seattle (its not what you think) founded by the guitarist from Metal Church (one of my favorite all-time thrash metal bands) Kurdt Vanderhoof. He was influenced by the 70's bands like Yes, Genesis and those listed above. He put together a great band and recreated that 70's sound. How did they do it you might ask. They recorded EVERYTHING in analog. Do digital BS anywhere. The bottom sounds are phenomenal and there is a real mellotron in there as well. As of this writing they just released their third album Invisible Places (with a whole new line up). I do not have this one yet but plan to get it soon. So I am going to discuss their first album and may do each album over time. However, the lineup for the first two albums are as follows:
Peace Among The Ruins: Simply put, one of the best songs I have heard in a long time. The beginning just punches you in the gut and then cools out into a great groove. This song has some subtle odd time which makes it very fun to play.
The Fringes: a bit more synth in this one. Very Styx-like. There are some great vocal harmonies in this song during the chorus which has a bit of trippy feel to it. This is a foreshadow of some of the other songs later on the album.
Seasons: again a ton of great vocal harmonies. This song is straight out of the 70's. The chorus has the same chord progression as Ghost of a Chance by Rush. I don't think it was intentional and it fits great.
Find the Time: This song is No Quarter part 2. It starts with a mellotron! The beginning is mellow and later builds up. There is a great synth sound in there as well. I love No quarter and I love this song.
Speed of Time: A mellow number that starts on the acoustic guitar and adds some synth over it. Then bursts into a great driving groove with a nice keyboard overlaying the melody. The chorus has layered harmonies, again catching that classic rock vibe.
Sunshine: this is a straight-up hippy song from the late 60's. I love the vocals on this tune. Be careful, this song will get stuck in your head all day.
Slave: this song starts with that low moog sound, slowly building the tension with guitar and drums until the drums bust into a Bonham-like fill to get to the full riff with Pink-floydish synth over the top. This is a much heavier song than the previous few.
Bringin' It On: Last but not least. Starts with an acoustic guitar and the singer. Eventually it builds slightly with the drums coming in and grooves from there. This is a song to raise your lighter to.
The band also released 3 full songs free to download that were recorded for this album but not put on it. The link for them is here: http://www.prestoballet.com/downloads.asp
Get these songs!! They are just as good. Let me know what you think about this band. Thanks.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
So the is a memory from only a few days ago. For Mother's Day I got my wife a bunch of goodies from the kids and I (she said it was too much but Ididn't think so). There was chocolate, candy, a homemade trinket form the kids and various other things; including the White Album by the Beatles. Ever since we started doing karaoke, my wife would since Dear Prudence (story behind the song) and I had never hear that song before. Her older brothers liked the Beatles so she heard it a lot as a kid. So when I was gathering gifts for Mother's Day, I thought it would be nice for her to have it so she could listen to it in the car (or on my ipod). We cranked up that song in the house while I was making a nice breakfast and right there a memory was born. We had a great day. We went to the Milwaukee Art musuem which my wife and I had never been to (very cool by the way). Later we then went out to lunch/dinner. I was a real nice day for mom.
Dear Prudence is a song that showcased their Indian influence (along with other songs of course) and I think that is what really attracted me to the song. I have always enjoyed that sitar sound (al la Ravi Shankar). There are other songs that feature that sound that I like as well including Dream Theaters Home, Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, In the Light (I know that is keyboards, but still), Heart Full of Soul, Paint It Black, My Little Man (Ozzy) and many others I can't think of right now. Maybe I will do a post about this fascination.
So do you have a memory from this song? Please let me know.
Friday, May 6, 2011
I have never been a big fan of White Zombie but the song Thunder Kiss '65 song reminds me of some really fun times I had with my buddy Mike. Mike and I were the only two our gang that did not work 2nd or 3rd shift so we would hang out at the bars together. I had just turned 21 (1993) and was looking to tear it up. We had a bar we would hang out at everyday of the week except maybe one (Wednesday's , I think). Well one of the best days was Thursday's at Amman's. The thing about this place was how cheap the beer was. You bought a cheap plastic mug from them and then on Thursday's you could get refill's for 25 cents. Yep, 25 cents. So for $2-$3 you could get pretty hammered, and we did. I think we used to spend more money on pool games than we did on beer. Is was a great night too, because it was sponsored by the local rock station so you heard cool songs as well (not just dance stuff).
We would show up around 7 pm to be some of the first ones there to get a pool table. Then the place would be jam packed by 9:00 pm and stay that way until ~11:00 pm when the 25 cent special ran out. By then though we didn't need any more beer and just hung out, watched the scenery and tried to play pool if my vision was not too blurry. So at that time the Thunder Kiss 1965 was very popular and it was the song that got everyone going. There would be people dancing, head-banging, bouncing to this infectious groove of the song. For the longest time I did not even know who did the song. It was always sort of the crescendo of the night. You were usually sweating after that song. It was very fun. Eventually things began to slow down and the bar would begin to thin out. Then we would go through the Taco Bell drive thru, head back to Mike's place and I would spend the night since I lived much further than he did from the bar. Next week... Same thing. We did this for about a year. Unfortunately thugs starting coming to the bar and it was the beginning of the end for these fun nights.
Do you have any memories of this song? Please let me know.
Monday, May 2, 2011
Geezer Butler, Black Sabbath
I have made no secret of my love for Black Sabbath and a huge part of their sound (besides Iommi's mega-riffs) if the bass tones from Geezer. Geezer made Toni sound better by complimenting his riff through the use of harmonic notes and even full chords on the base. He played much more melodic than many of the bass played of the time and I love it.
Songs to hear:
- Fairies Wear Boots
- After Forever
- The Writ
- Hand of Doom
- Killing Yourself to Live
Geddy Lee, Rush
This is a no-brainer. Geddy not only has the chops on the bass but he can sing while he plays those chops. Like Neil Peart, Geddy spawned generations of bass players that were not content to just stick to the bottom and play a simple backbeat. Geddy was playing up and down the entire neck of the bass and even soloing in some song. Truly one of the best rock bass players of all time.
Songs to hear:
- Xanadu (duh)
- La Villa Strangiato
- Red Barchetta
- Too many more to list
Like Geezer, Chris Squire is the definition of a melodic bass player. Being in a progressive juggernaut like Yes allowed Chris to truly explore what a bass could do and be an active part of the melody. Chris is a master at playing harmonic melodies and even lead parts. The difference between him and Geddy, Chris uses a pick. I always thought Chris had a great voice as well.
Songs to hear:
- Close to the Edge
- The Ritual
- On The Silent Wings of Freedom
Wow. That was all I could say when I had 2nd row for Iron Maiden on the Fear of the Dark Tour. You can't help but stare at Steve Harris' fingers. He is so fast and has the gallop beat down to a science. There are many times when both guitar players and Steve are all playing the same notes. Steve can nail down the back beat but also turn on the fingers to do a lead just like a guitar player. Simply amazing.
Songs to hear:
- Run to the Hills
- 22 Acacia Avenue
- Alexander the Great
While he may be the silent member of the best band ever, he is also a phenomenal bass player. He is so versatile and could melody as well as stay in the groove. He played with and without a pick and oh yeah, played keyboard as well. Always in the background, even on stage, he kept the songs chugging along when Page was soloing.
Songs to hear:
- How Many More Times (my all time favorite LZ song)
- Whole Lotta Love (duh)
- The Wanton Song
- The Song Remains the Same
- Achilles Last Stand
While the rest of the band was a bit sloppy in their playing as a whole, John was refined and could fly around the bass. He also perfect the four finger technique where he could hit many notes in a short period of time. I always loved the tone of his bass as well. He fit in perfectly with The Who but also kept the songs grounded. I was sad the day I heard he passed away. He was rock royalty in my book.
Songs to hear:
- We Don't Get Fooled Again
- Can You See the Real Me
- My Generation
My biggest complaint about Dream Theater is that John Myung is way too far back in the mix. The guy is an amazing bass player but it is hard to hear him. There are several theories as to why this is. I am not going into that here. I have seen him live several times and I can attest to his fluid fingers and amazing technique.
Songs to hear:
- Metropolis Part 1
- Lifting Shadows off a Dream
- In the Name of God
- The Dance of Eternity
- Victor Wooten (Bela Fleck)
- Jaco Pastorious (Weather Report, Solo)
- Tony Levin (King Crimson, LTE)
- Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big, etc.)
- Les Claypool (Primus)
- Justin Chancellor (Tool)
- Paul McCartney (The Beatles)
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
(unfortunately I had to link to a live version; not that it is bad)
I was late bloomer when it comes to Jane's Addiction. The story goes like this. My friend Carl (see the Slayer post) had a friend named Cory. Cory was a cool guy who had the most amazing Trans Am I had ever seen. It was barely street legal. Anyway, Cory had jammed with us once just for fun and was not involved in music at all at this time. That's how I knew him. He was one of the only friends who had his own apartment and we used to go over there and party sometimes. One night we were all there and having a good time. I had several beers and was feeling pretty good. Then this song came on. As soon as it started, I felt the song take a hold of me. I closed my eyes and just listened to it, tuning out the rest of the noise from the party. The song was Summertime Rolls from the Nothing's Shocking album. I love songs that have that “trance effect” like The End by the Doors. I asked Cory who was doing the song and he told me. The song starts with a mellow but cool bass line and stays steady through the beginning of the song. The lyrics for Summertime Rolls are about a summer time love with nice poetic twists. Not cheesy at all. Later the rest of the band comes in and the song has straight forward beat but with great power. Finally is slows back down like in the beginning and finishes with finesse. Beautiful song.
So fast forward a few months and I was in the record store browsing for a cassette to buy when I remembered that song I heard at Cory's. I had to jog my memory and then found it. I was startled by the cover. Conjoined twin topless blow-up dolls. So I bought it based on the one song I heard and rushed to listen to the rest of it. I was blown away with the entire album and especially the guitar player. I remember asking myself “what the hell is a guitar player like that doing in a band like this? Nothing's Shocking is now in my top 20 favorite albums I own. Each song has its own personality and I love Perry's vocals and lyrics. I then had to go out and get the rest of their catalog and was not disappointed.
What do you think about this song?
Monday, April 25, 2011
The Rush song Xanadu (lyrics) from the A Farewell to Kings album reminds me of my early drumming career. Once I discovered Rush, all bets were off. I dove in head first to emulate Neal Peart in every facet of my drumming style and it continues today (along with Mike Portnoy from Dream Theater). As I started collecting Rush albums, A Farewell to Kings just stuck with me. I loved the melodies, lyrics and other adventurous nature of the arrangements. It is still my favorite Rush album. The song Xanadu just blew me away. There are so many little parts that Peart throws in there. How can you not like a song where both guitar players have double-necked guitars (a very 70's thing)? This song took me an entire summer of practice to really get a handle on it. I wore out two cassettes because of constantly rewinding it. I was so wrapped up in this song I did research on what the lyrics meant and the history behind it (very cool stuff by the way).
As further proof of my devotion to this song, I was given a xylophone for my birthday to learn those parts as well. I would use mallets on my 22” ride cymbal as the gong on the song. I also purchased agogo bells to play this and other Rush songs. I then found other songs by Rush and others (like Jethro Tull's Baker Street Muse) to use my xylophone on. Another important factor in learning this song was the video Exit Stage Left. The video is from the Moving Pictures tour which was one of the last tours that Rush played Xanadu in its entirety. I was able to study this video over and over to see how Peart played a specific part. I incorporated a few of the fills Peart included that were not on the studio version. Of course the parts I really needed to see were not always shown (darn guitar solos :).
After all these years I still enjoy playing this song and album. The difference now is that I understand Xanadu's time signature changes much more than I did then so the parts have come together tighter. This song more than any other defined my style for most of my drumming career. Even when I was is a blues band, I would add little things to the songs that made them more fun to play and make them my own. Some people did not not like my “busy” style but you can't please everyone.
As a side note, I have since learned odd time signatures much better and can count the measures while I listen and play songs. For years the middle section of the song A Farewell to Kings always stumped me. Now I know why, the measures alternate between 7/8 and 5/8. It is one of the most difficult sections I have ever learned by Rush. Once again I just hunkered down and played it over and over again until I could play through more often than not.
Do you have story about this song? Please Let me know.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Another pair of great suggestions by Perplexio.
Golden Earring was a Dutch band that formed in the 1960's.
Radar Love: What can you say about one of the best (if not THE best) driving songs of all time. It is tradition, like yelling “Free Bird” at a concert. There were many times when I would go out of my way to put this song on while on long trips, especially in the summer with the windows down ( My first car was a 72 Buick Skylark with no air so I did not have a choice). I have always loved the drums in this song, even before I ever became a drummer. I do have one small story for this song. I remember arguing with my buddy Fred because he liked the remake of the song by White Lion better than the original. Don't get me wrong, it was not a bad remake, but it pales next to the original in terms of energy and drive (pun intended). I grew up on the original so maybe I am biased.
Twilight zone: I have to admit I never really cared much for that song. When you listen to the two next to each other it's hard to believe it is the same band. However, I give Golden Earring credit that they found a sound that blended nicely with the times much like Rush did over the decades (who also had a song called Twilight Zone). Twilight Zone was definitely an 80's song but not in the same cheesy mold as much of the other songs of that time. I agree with Perplexio that despite it's 80's sound, it does hold up well.
Thanks again Perplexio for the suggestions.
Monday, April 18, 2011
This song reminds me of the summer my sister and I drove to Florida back in 1993. The trip itself was fun but the real story was leading up to the trip and the drive down there. About 2 months before our trip I was at a party where I knew exactly 1 person. He was a childhood friend who talked be into going into a not-so-great part of town. So I met him there and things were going well until the cops showed up. I don't mean one squad showed up, I mean the place was SURROUNDED!! I was freaking out but my friend told me to chill. The cops got my name and number and let me go. I was jumping for joy. So another month by and I got a call from my mom while I was at work saying I got a letter from the Milwaukee Police Department. I told her to open and read it. It said that if I do not show up for my court date I was going to have a warrant put out for me. Apparently they sent me a ticket in the mail and I never got so now I had a a court date. The ticket was for the fact that the person throwing the party was selling the beer like a bar. Did I mention that I only knew 1 person at this party and got a $300 ticket? Not only that but the court date was the day my sister and I were supposed to leave for Florida!! So I went to court and explained what happened. Since I had no prior record they lowered the ticket to $200 and let me go. I was just happy that it was all over.
Having that behind me, we left late in the afternoon to avoid Chicago traffic. I drove nearly the entire way to Florida (I hate being the passenger on trips). When we got to the Atlanta area, I had been driving ~85 mph most of the way and found it hard to slow down when in the city area. So you guessed it, I got pulled over about 24 hours after paying my ticket in Milwaukee. The sheriff was cool but I still got the ticket. So I slowed down the rest of the way and while channel surfing, I heard No Rain by Blind Melon all the way down there. I also heard it while driving along the Bee Line between Orlando and Cocoa Beach. I still think of that trip and all that went with it when I hear that song. Do you have any memories for this song? Let me know.
Saturday, April 16, 2011
I have always been a huge Black Sabbath fan (mainly the Ozzy years). They have been a huge influence on my taste in music, my metal roots if you will. While their first 2 albums are masterpieces, one of my favorite songs is The Writ (lyrics) from 1975's Sabotage (probably my favorite album). This is one of Sabbath's more “proggy” songs. The song opens with a maniacal laugh that is a segue from the previous song. The laugh fades into a very quiet bass line that goes on for a few measures and then the song bursts wide open with the opening verse. If you're not ready for the opening it can really catch you off guard and make you jump. The song is about being Ozzy's disdain for their manager at the time who screwed them out of a bunch of money and was fired. A writ is a legal document that you are served as part of a lawsuit
which the band was part of. The album title was also a reflection of the what was going to the band from their crooked manager.
My favorite part of the song is the middle section which slows down with a great melody including a xylophone in the background. I always thought that this section could be used in a movie like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. It just always personified insanity to me.
The story I have for this song takes me back to my sophomore year in college. It was the middle of winter and I stilled live in a suburb called West Allis which required me to take one of 2 buses down to UWM. Either bus I took was long ride but in the winter it seemed especially long because it was dark on the way home. That semester I had chemistry, mineralogy and a couple of other classes I can't remember. When I was in chemistry, they had the bright idea of scheduling their big exams in the early evening from 7-8 pm. So I was on campus from ~8:30 am to 8:30 pm and then you guess it... I had to take the bus home. This all came to a head when the stars aligned for me and I had a quiz or exam in each class, all on the same day. Although I studied harder for chemistry than the others it was a brutal day from start to finish. After finishing my early quiz and exams I had a few hours to study for chemistry. My brain was already reeling and I managed to get a C on the chemistry exam. Al things considered, I thought that was pretty good.
After all my brain power had been fully drained I climbed on the number 5 bus which is the only choice I had being that late at night. It was dark already and the bus took forever, with a ton of stops. So while sitting there in a vegetative state, I popped in my cassette of Sabotage and just closed my eyes to take it all in. I remember vividly when I got to The Writ, that feeling of being alone during the “insane” part of the song. I was after all, the last person on the bus. It was a nice diversion from the dreadful day I just had and the song seemed to reflect perfectly as to how I was feeling at that moment. When I finally got home, I went right upstairs and collapsed in bed. I have had strenuous days physically, but this has to rank as one of the top brain-busting days I have ever had. Whenever I hear The Writ, I go back to that day and wonder how I managed to get through it. I know this is an obscure song, but do you have a story about this song? Let me know.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
My wife and I met four weeks before I was to move to St. Louis for graduate school. Things were going well and to make a long story short, we decided to try the long distance relationship thing. A couple of weeks after I moved down there and got settled, I asked her to come down. While she was there I was in absolute heaven. It was a nice diversion from being alone in a city where I knew not a single soul. While she was there we decided to go out. I had scoped a few places to go before she had got there. There are several bars along Delmar Avenue directly west of where I lived in an area called University City. It was where the Washington University students hung out (I was going to St. Louis University). We ended up at Blueberry Hill, a 50's themed bar and restaurant that played what else, oldies on the jukebox. We decided to eat first and then after dinner we went down stairs to the see what band was playing. It turned out to be a very good reggae band. I had never really been that interested in reggae before but after this night, I would definitely become a fan. The only reggae I knew was Inner Circle (the Cops theme), and the Steven Segal movie Marked for Death. I am not even sure if the band played any Bob Marley that night but it was great reggae anyway.
At first we just sat idle. We were still a new couple and I am sure there still some nerves between us. I knew she liked to dance but I was not sure if she would get into this kind of music. But after a few drinks I got up the nerve to pull her out to the dance floor and she did not resist. The place was not that big and it was packed with people. I remember it being very hot down there. We got out on the dance floor and immediately we felt as if we were in our own world. The music took a hold of us, the lights put us in a trance and we just flowed together as the music played. We were swaying and sweating in rhythm with the band, along with the rest of the dance floor. It was pure bliss at a time when we both needed it; unsure about our long distance relationship. It was a bonding moment for us and helped get us through being apart most of the time, for a while at least. Well it all worked out because we are now married and have been for nearly 12 years. She looks back on that night with smiles too, as if it is a private joke between us. Its just one of the many memories we have between us.
To this day, when I am having a bad day, I will sometimes put on Bob Marley and it takes be back to that night and puts me at ease, along with a smile on face. What does reggae, or Bob Marley, do you for you? Please let me know.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Women and Children First:
This has always been my favorite VH album when played as a whole. The album starts with ...And the Cradle Will Rock, a typical in-your-face Eddie guitar riff with the rest of the band joining in like they were shot out of a cannon. The song talks about teen angst and has some poignant lyrics that I am sure many of us could relate to at some point in our lives. The next track is Everybody Wants Some!! A feel good romp about what else… sex. “I love the way the line run up the back of your stockings” That should tell you all you need to know. I always found it curious that they left Roth’s timing mistake in the song. Usually that sort of thing is edited out or rerecorded. Maybe they thought it would add some character. This song IMHO is probably the weakest song on the album. I love the song Fools. It’s just a down and dirty riff that grabs you and takes you a fun ride. It’s a bluesy tune about how everyone else is wrong and to hell with them all, they are all fools. Great song. Next is Romeo Delight. Possibly one of the most underrated songs on the album (or by the band for that matter). This song just kicks some serious butt. Tora Tora/Loss of Control. This is a departure for the band in terms of its heaviness. One of the only songs that has straight double bass in it. This song is a blast to try and play. Take Your Whiskey Home is another bluesy tune with a great middle break section. My old band used to play this and we did it very well. Could This Be Magic? reminds me of summer. I love the harmonies and playful guitar riffs. One of favorites from this album. In a Simple Rhyme: yet another underrated song by VH that has (what else) a great guitar riff, harmonies and drums. This song is mostly forgotten by a lot of people I think. Too bad.
Mean Street. This is my favorite VH song. The beginning riff alone is legendary. The song just rocks. There is nothing bad about this song to say, so onward. Dirty Movies: A song about the prom queen falling from grace and turning to porn. It has a nice funky vibe to it but not one of their best. Sinner's Swing: being a drummer I can't help but love this song. Another song about sex sure, but rhythmically it more than makes up for the innuendo. Hear About It Later is a bit of a disappointment. This song just does not go anywhere. Weakest on the album by far. Unchained, back to classic VH. Awesome song. Push Comes to Shove has a great funky bass line that finally shoes off Michael Anthony a bit, but again the song does not go anywhere. So-so at best. So This Love? Another “simple” song by VH with a nice Eddie lead in it. It is a fun song that gets your toe tapping. Sunday Afternoon In the Park is a keyboard (I think) instrumental that is a bit if foreshadowing I think to the next albums with more keys in them. Nothing special. One Foot out the Door has the keys as the main riff continuing from the previous song. Alex does a great little roll in there and then Eddie does what Eddie does. Its a short but I think pretty decent tune to end the album.
Other than Mean Street, Unchained and Sinner's Swing, I have a tendency to gravitate toward Woman and Children First and think it is overall a better album from beginning to end. They are both must haves if you like VH. These are my opinions. What do you think?