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.)