In the last week or so 2 great musicians have died. Matt ‘Guitar’ Murphy was a blues man most famous for the movie Blues Brothers and Vinnie Paul (Abbott) from Pantera, Hellyeah among others. I wanted to do an album review for both but I am crunched for time, so I figured a Top 10 mix would work.
I heard the awful news this weekend that Danny Kirwan had died. He previously had been fired from Fleetwood Mac, had struggles with alcoholism, and was even homeless for a time. However, no one could argue about his musical prowess. His vibrato sound was the stuff of legends. Many guitarists have tried this method, but Danny was a master. R.I.P. Danny.
Fleetwood Mac rules. No, not THAT Fleetwood Mac. This Fleetwood Mac. In the late 60’s Fleetwood Mac was sort of a psychedelic blues band. They let the guitars do most of the talking, and the musicianship was amazing. This version would never see the heights of pop rock radio success the later versions of Mac would, but they are considered by many to be the real Fleetwood Mac.
I have been wanting to do a post about an early Fleetwood Mac album for some time. Mr. 1537 posted about a Fleetwood Mac compilation called Greatest Hits in his write up here. He mentions it is the only Fleetwood Mac he will ever need. I beg to differ though, as The Best of Fleetwood Mac is pretty damn fine as well. The 2 comps share only 4 songs, so my suggestion is anyone that wants to explore the early Fleetwood Mac should buy both comps.
Oh Well – This is a 2 part song that has a blues section with vocals as the first part and a sort of classical section as part 2. I can’t describe it any better than 1537 so please refer to his post. ( The video below is a live performance of part 1)
Dragonfly – Another one found on the 1537 comp. It is a beautiful song penned by Danny Kirwan with lyrics taken from WH Davies. The guitar almost has a Hawaiian tone, and I can almost see the dragonfly. Peter Green felt it was the best thing Kirwan ever wrote, and thought it should have been a hit.
Rattle Snake Shake – (Please see 1537 post above for best possible description ever)
World In Harmony – Finally I get to ramble on. The guitar work on this green manalashi b side is a pre-cursor to what would happen in the mid 90’s alternative scene. This song sounds so similar to a number of 90’s alternative sounds. The band was actually 25 years ahead of it’s time.
The Green Manalashi – I hate to admit it, but I thought this was a Judas Priest song until the 1990’s. It really says something when a blues band from the 60’s can influence a metal band in the 1970’s. With all of this talk of sleep, darkness, creepin’ around and the heavy tone of the song, how could it not be an early metal influencer.
Searching For Madge – A song written about a dedicated fan of the band. She once hitchhiked 200 miles to see one of their gigs. I hitchhiked about that far to see my first concert, and Triumph has yet to write Searching For Boppin’. I’m just saying.
Before The Beginning – Ok I just found out all Them Witches did a remake of this song, but it is only available digitally. That sucks. I love this song and that band, but I don’t do digital. Oh well. I’ll always have this one.
The Purple Dancer – The b side to Dragonfly is the first to include Christine McVie as a full member of the band. Both Jeremy Spencer and Peter Green had left the band by then, so we got to see how awesome of a guitar player Danny Kirwan is. It has a sort of Guess Who sound to it, and even though the writing was on the wall for the early Mac, it really is a great song. It makes me wonder if Kurt Cobain had heard this song shortly before he did his unplugged version of Lake Of Fire. Again Fleetwood Mac were years ahead.
Fighting For Madge – So not only were they searching for her, but also fighting for her. The tailing off of the music at the end is really cool.
Coming Your Way – This one has a cool sort of Latin feel to it. Almost like a Santana song from this era. I also get a bit of Led Zeppelin in this one. Almost a mash up of Zep’s version of Dazed and Confused with Santana’s Soul Sacrifice. A really cool ending to this album. (The clip below is a live version)
This isn’t the perfect compilation of the early Fleetwood Mac, since there are some great songs left off, but all of the ones included are stars.
I wanted to review an album to honour fallen metal guitarist Ralph Santolla. I knew he worked with Sebastian Bach on the great album Angel Down, and have been wanting to review that one, but he played a lot more on this Iced Earth album.
Iced Earth is very much a love ’em or hate ’em band. Many metal fans dismiss them. I’m not sure the exact reason why. Maybe they`re not hard enough. Maybe the lyrics. Admittedly also Jon Schaffer is a polarizing figure. Firing Tim “Ripper” Owens from the band by email was a classless move for sure. Jon also seems like a hard guy to work with. Perhaps that may be why Iced Earth seem to have a high turnover of personnel. I do enjoy their music. Some better than others. I went into this album with an open mind. It always seemed to be full of way too much over the top, rah-rah, USA bullshit. After Ralph Santolla had the heart attack and fell into a coma, I wanted to re-visit this album. The more times I played it, the more I enjoyed it.
Star Spangled Banner – Over the top, rah-rah, USA bullshit. No need for this to be on any metal album. Unless you plan on only selling it in the USA. Why would someone from Canada, Great Britain, Sweden, Germany etc. want this on an album, especially as the lead off song. Besides, Jimi Hendrix performed this better than anyone ever could. ‘Nuff said.
Declaration Day – USA Declaration, rah-rah. The first song with vocals features the amazing voice of none other than Tim “Ripper” Owens. He is not a Rob Halford-lite vocalist people. I enjoy the way he sounds, and he does a great job here. 3 minutes in Ripper let’s ‘er rip and really lives up to his name. This is also the first song featuring Ralph Santolla doing the solos. They are good but sedated compared to some of the ones to come. He saves the best for last, although he does strangely have the tail end of the star spangled banner in at the end, just in case you didn’t know the band was American (my guess this little tidbit was Schaffer’s idea).
When The Eagle Cries – Ok. A song about eagles. Hmm, bald eagle. USA symbol. Got it. Rah rah etc. The piano work is nice here. It has a soft and loud contrast that I like. This has parts that remind me of a Maiden song, and Ripper does remind me of Bruce here. Jim Morris takes over for Ralph Santolla in the guitar solo department and does a fine job.
The Reckoning – The drums are ace here. The guitar work is fast and thrashy. Ripper rips almost as well as Halford has ever wailed, and this is mixed with almost choir like background vocals. Pretty cool song.
Green Face – The only one with a green face(with envy) is me when I realize will never be able to play guitar as well as Ralph Santolla. It has kind of a Ratt- You`re In Love sound at first but then goes off in a thrash direction.
Valley Forge – Really? Another USA battle for a song title. Rah rah etc. This one starts off with an acoustic guitar but when the bass kicks in followed by Ralph Santolla wailing away, we can`t help but rock out. Ripper does not rip as much here(he does near the end though). His vocals are deeper but they are a nice switch. I am thinking more early 90`s Geoff Tate like, which can`t be a bad thing.
Attilla – Jon Schaffer lets us know he can still lay down a wicked track. The guitar work and of course Ripper`s vocals are the stars here. Ripper growls out the lyrics in his best Dio voice and the drums pound at a furious pace. The monk like chants are a nice switch. Pretty damn fine song.
Hollow Man – Mellow acoustic begin this one and the mix between Ripper and background is nice. Then about a minute in Ralph Santolla`s guitar rips through the air.
Red Baron/Blue Max – What is this? A song about a German war ace and a German medal. That is not exactly rah rah b.s. Jon. Tim`s voice is wicked here when he reaches for those wailing high notes. “RED BARONNNNNNNN!!!!!!!” The drums pound us into submission and Ralph Santolla leaves the album on a really high note.
Gettysburg (1863) – This is 3 songs on the album (The Devil To Pay, Hold At All Costs, and High Water Mark). It is basically 1 long song. I would have titled it Over The Top, Rah-Rah USA Bullshit. The song is titled after yet another USA battle and starts off with the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra (not sure why they went outside the USA for this) playing the Star Spangled Banner. AGAIN! I fucking shit you not. How much rah-rah bullshit can you possibly fit onto one album? As much as I hate all the rah-rah, I must admit this is a good song. It kind of reminds me of a Maiden song. It does have that history aspect, and Ripper sounds very Bruce like here.
R.I.P. Ralph Santolla. Your work on this album and many others is 10/10.
As for the album itself, even with all the rah-rah, it deserves a 8.5/10.
I had heard I late May that Ralph Santolla had suffered a heart attack. I initially held out hope that he could pull through, but then I read that his mom had asked friends to visit and say their goodbyes.
He played/wrote with Death, Deicide, Obituary, Iced Earth, Millenium, Devil’s Highway, Jorn, Cryptic Vision, Holy Moses, Cannabis Corpse, Crimson Moon, Inferi, Eyewitness, Monarch, Sebastian Bach among many others, plus his solo albums.
He will be missed in the metal community. Peace brother.
(I will be reviewing Iced Earth – The Glorious Burden as a small tribute to this great guitarist.)
The sad news that it has been 1 year since the passing of Chris Cornell prompted this review since it contains what may very well be his last recording.
This album is a tribute album of sorts. It is a collection of never released poems, lyrics and letters that Johnny Cash had wrote over the years. His son, John Carter Cash invited musicians from different musical backgrounds to sing the songs here on this album. A lot of the album was recorded in a studio that was previously a cabin Johnny had built for June Carter Cash, perhaps giving it some of that old time Johnny Cash sound. I bought the Barnes and Noble exclusive 2 lp white vinyl version. This version also contains an exclusive litho of handwritten lyrics by Johnny Cash.
Forever/I Still Miss Someone – This “duet” with Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson is a let down. It is Willie strumming a guitar and Kris speaking the words of the poem. It is only 47 seconds long. To me having 2 legends on one song and neither singing a note is a real shame.
To June This Morning – I don’t know who Ruston Kelly or Kacey Musgraves are, but they seem to suit this song. Their voices work well together and the gentle guitar string plucking sounds really good.
Gold All Over The Ground – Brad Paisley fits into the “new country” but don’t let that turn you off. I never really paid much attention to him before, but perhaps that was a mistake. I probably won’t run out and buy all of his albums, but after hearing this I might try out one.
You Never Knew My Mind – I have heard this one a few times lately but today it really has a special meaning. Chris’ voice is in peak form here. Many of his songs have a heavy rock background that he has to belt over, but this one just has a light guitar and that allows his amazing vocals to really shine. If this is the last song we ever hear from Chris, at least it is a great one.
The Captain’s Daughter – Alison Krauss and Union Station really hit this one out of the park. If you have ever heard her sing, you know how wonderful she sounds. This one will not disappoint fans, and may convert the newbies.
Jellico Coal Man – T Bone Burnett has an amazing resume, but perhaps his work on the amazing soundtrack albums O Brother, Where Art Though and (maybe even more fitting) Walk The Line earned him the right to record a song on this album. The guitar work especially is the bomb.
The Walking Wounded – Johnny’s daughter Roseanne gives a really good performance on this haunting song.
Them Double Blues – John Mellencamp (don’t call me Cougar) gives his Midwestern America spin on this one. Some people consider him a poor mans Springsteen, but I have always loved his music. His voice is deeper and more gruff than what you remember from his 80’s heyday. It has an almost Kris Kristofferson sound. This almost makes up for the lack of Kris singing earlier. The harmonica, violin and background vocals are all welcome additions here.
Body On Body – Jewel was never an artist I gave much credit to. She seemed to be more famous as a judge on tv music shows than as a musical artist. However, she has been nominated for 4 Grammy awards and has sold over 30 million albums. She does do a commendable job here, and I can say she does have a nice voice.
I’ll Still Love You – Instead of pumping it up, Elvis Costello tones it down on this piano number that has a few imperfect vocals. His vocal strains are very welcomed as far as I am concerned.
June’s Sundown – June Carter Cash’s daughter Carlene Carter sings a tribute to her mother wrote by her step dad, Johnny. it sounds like she smoked a pack of menthols before singing this one. I hope they were low tar.
He Bore It All – I have no idea who Dailey And Vincent are. They seem like a throw back to the late 70’s vocal harmony country bands such as Oak Ridge Boys. It’s a nice throwback song that gets your toes tapping. I sure hated those songs back in the day emitting from my parents radio, but enough years have passed and I quite liked this one.
I’m With Her – Chinky Pin Hill is another name I have never heard. These three ladies suit this album very well. The song almost has an old time Western tv show or movie soundtrack feel to it.
Goin’, Goin, Gone – Robert Glasper featuring Ro James and Anu Sun. More people I have never heard of. Ummm…wtf is this?? On a Johnny Cash album?? This is an electronic/soul/modern pop number. The vocals sound real familiar though. This dude Ro James sounds like a resurrected Prince. He is definitely someone I will look into. The song also has a sound bite of Johnny speaking about being hooked on drugs. This song went from a song that utterly shocked me to a song that won me over. It doesn’t really suit, but it does at the same time.
What Would I Dreamer Do? – The Jayhawks bring this one back down to the country roots. The steel guitar mixed with acoustic guitar are the stars for me.
Spirit Rider – Jamey Johnson closes this one off. Another haunting number that focuses on the deep tone of Jamey’s voice. The sax work by Dick Aven brought to mind the sound on David Bowie’s Blackstar album, so it earns huge bonus points.
I miss you Johnny and today I really miss you Chris. It doesn’t seem like a year has passed since you left us. Say hi to Johnny for me.
Relax people. Alex has not officially retired. He has turned 65 though, and since this is the age many people retire, I thought I would stir the pot a little. Here is a Top 11 (I could not knock it down to 10) Alex Van Halen tribute. Happy birthday dude.
11 -Girl Gone Bad – Too many people knock 1984 for the excessive use of keyboards, but the drums still sounded awesome.
10 – Loss Of Control – It sounds like complete control of the drums to me.
9 – Sinners Swing – This lesser known from Fair Warning has Alex pounding away.
8 – As Is – A Different Kind Of Truth may not have sold well, but I enjoyed the way it rocked. This song showed Alex still had it. It has kind of an 80’s Phil Collins sound, but don’t let that sway you.
7 – Big Bad Bill – He plays a ragtime beat along with his brother and dad. A fun bouncy tune that makes you smile.
6 – The Seventh Seal – Songs like this proved that Van Hagar could rock too.
5 – Drop Dead Legs – The quiet clicks of the cymbal mixed with the pounding drums really get me.
4 – Get Up – More Van Hagar rocking. Alex keeps up a frenetic pace here.
3 I’m The One – Yes Alex, you are.
2 Everybody Wants Some!! – The “jungle” beats used throughout the song are mesmerizing. Alex was so good he gets 2 exclamation points!!
1 Hot For Teacher – Another example of an all out rocker from 1984. The video is amazing and so is the drum intro in this one. It could be a vote for the top 100 drum songs of all time. So, so good.
Also rans: The drum solo in Light Up The Sky and Pleasure Dome are pretty awesome, and so is his versatility in Respect The Wind, and his backgound vocals on songs such as Could This Be Magic.
Yesterday, history was made. The first one-handed player was drafted into the NFL. Shaquem Griffin was drafted in the fifth round (141st overall) by the Seattle Seahawks. He will join his twin brother Shaquill, who was drafted last year by the Seahawks. Shaquill is a special man in his own right. When he was leaving highschool and was recruited by tons of college teams across the USA, he told all the teams that he would only accept a scholarship offer if his brother Shaquem could go there as well. The only college to take the package deal was UCF. They made promises that they eventually would not keep. They took Shaquem(mostly just to lure in Shaquill), but kept him down and eventually sent him home. A new coaching staff allowed Shaquem to come back. He came back with a vengeance and went on to win the defensive player of the year award. His team went on to an undefeated season and Shaquem was a big part of that.
He has faced adversity his whole life. He was born with amniotic band syndrome, and had to suffer with pain in his hand every day. When he was 4, his mother found him in the kitchen with a knife trying to cut his own hand off. She took him to the hospital and they amputated his hand. His family never treated him any different than his twin brother. Their father taught them both how to play football at a very young age. When he was 8, an opposing football coach said football is a 2 handed sport and didn’t want to allow him to play.
Shaquill got drafted to the NFL and Shaquem and the brothers had to play/be apart for the first time in their lives. Shaquill put a bug in the ears of the coaches, scouts and management of the Seahawks to try and influence the team to draft his brother. Yesterday, his dream came true.
Shaquem is a feel good story, and it is so refreshing to find a well spoken young man, without the attitude and baggage that often comes along with pro athletes. He knows that his physical condition means he is a voice for others with missing limbs, and he is the perfect role model for thousands of others.
Jim Abbott, the one-handed former baseball pitcher is a big fan of Shaquem, and was thrilled when he got drafted.
I’ll leave you with a clip from a drummer that seems to be doing just fine with one hand.