Sunday, July 31, 2011



Def Leppard has been around a long time, and gets my vote for toughest band for having a drummer lose an arm in a car crash, and come back as drummer, holding onto that role for three decades. He's drumming with one arm! That is BAD ASS!

Despite having earned a reputation as a tremendous live act, Mirrorball is Def Leppard's first proper live album (although they have released a few live videos).

While I cringe at the idea of supporting WalMart (can you say 'Made In China?'), they do a good job of providing value with their exclusive titles, and they are one of the few remaining retailer supporting retail music-they have more space devoted to it than Best Buy, so unless you've got a local indie store, there may be no other brick and mortar choice for you. This release is two CD's with a bonus DVD for twelve bucks, and the case says "Made In The USA."

The set list is a little predictable, which means it is representative of their recent tours-heavy on the hits and a song or two from current releases. With a catalog as big as theirs, a few surprises would have been welcome.

However, what you do get on the two live CDs is just plain awesome, with Joe Elliott really nailing it, and the band in full force. The dual lead guitars of Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell are fantastic, Rick Savage fills the bottom in on bass and Rick Allen holds it all together on drums.

As I mentioned, they pull out the hits ("Rocket," "Animal," "Armageddon It," "Photograph," "Let's Get Rocked," and plenty of others) as well as adding three new studio recordings (which will grow on you after a few spins). With only four performances and two videos, the DVD is merely a bonus, rather than a reason to buy this.

Def Leppard fans should enjoy this, but casual fans may prefer to get their hands on the greatest hits collection.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011



The times they have a-changed since Queensryche formed some 30 years ago, and music has certainly changed. Those looking for 80's style metal will not find it on this album.

Queensyrche have always considered themselves as a "fringe-dwelling, left-of-center group of discontents," and have not been content to just rest on their laurels and stick to one formulaic sound. They are always experimenting with the craft of songwriting, and are still producing fresh, outstanding rock releases.

Their new album and first for Roadrunner, Dedicated To Chaos, is no exception, rich, multi-layered, modern, catchy, fun, and... different.


This is the sound of Queensr├┐che marching forward artistically, philosophically and sonically.

The band have chosen to challenge themselves and create new soundscapes, and while may not be the metal you expected, there are enough elements within the music that make it a completely satisfying album.

Far more accessible than American Soldier, this CD has solid songwriting with contemporary lyrics, weaving an auditory dreamscape that melds elements from the 60′s through 2011, while still retaining qualities of the progressive and experimental, falling less on the metal side than in years past.

With former band guitarist Kelly Gray in the producer's seat, the album leans a little more towards radio oriented rock than metal, not a record for those seeking a return to the band's signature guitar-driven hard rock and heavy metal roots.


Before listening to this record I must first advise you to throw out your preconceptions of what the band are “supposed” to sound like, and listen to it with ears wide open.
Any long-time fan who hasn’t set aside their aural expectations will likely be thrown off by the radio ready sound but they’d be missing the point. Music is the universal language, and Queensr├┐che has recaptured that with what may be its most diverse and creative effort to date.
Purists may denounce this record and clamor for another Operation Mindcrime, but this is is another side of the band that is unique and vibrant.
This is a band willing to put their legacy under fire and coming out the other side renewed and inspired.

Sunday, July 24, 2011



Many people only remember Night Ranger from the song "Sister Christian," which was their biggest single, peaking at number 5 on the Billboard charts.

Formed in 1980, Night Ranger split in 1989, but since reforming in 1995 has recorded seven studio albums and released a plethora of live albums and compilations since 1995, while touring steadily in spite of several lineup changes. The band has managed to maintain their classic sound while still being able to change with the times.

On Somewhere in Calfornia Night Ranger proves again that they can cover the AOR spectrum from rockers to ballads. These songs are great for a summer day's drive through the California desert on the way to PCH with a little stop in Venice Beach.

The majority of the tracks are light and catchy, with a few anthems and gritty rockers thrown in for good measure. Fortunately, both Jack Blades and Kelly Keagy remain in the lineup and continue to trade vocals and play off of each other while the other members drive the melody home in a blaze of hard guitars and keyboards. The vocals are as good as ever, and the harmonies and other instrumentation is also perfection-a pure, glorious mid-80s rewind, sounding like a follow-up to Midnight Madness.

The thing that separates this album from 2007's Hole In the Sun is the outstanding songwriting. The hooks return here, and this is a revitalized band that has recaptured everything that ever made them good. The lyrics are loaded with cliches, but let's face it-Night Ranger were never likely to challenge Bob Dylan for the title.

Sadly Somewhere In California is not likely to burn up the charts, but an album this good at this stage of the band's career came as a bit of a surprise to me. This album would have ruled the charts had it been released in the 80's, and long time fans should love this high-energy release, if only because it proves that rock and roll can still be fun.




Saturday, July 23, 2011


Sad news from  across the pond.

Amy Winehouse was found dead inside her London home Saturday morning, bringing to an early end a brief but brilliant run at the forefront of the British soul revival. The troubled star, who had struggled with drug and alcohol abuse in recent years, was 27.

Winehouse hit the U.S. mainstream in 2006 with "Rehab," a handclap-driven throwback to the golden age of soul that set the tone with "They tried to make me go to Rehab/I said 'No, no, no'/Yes, I've been black but when I come back you'll know, know, know."

That song's success drove sales of that year's "Back to Black" to double-platinum in the States, where Winehouse won five Grammys in 2008, including Song and Record of the Year for "Rehab," Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

"Back to Black" hit No. 2, its U.S. peak, on the strength of that Grammy exposure, but Winehouse has struggled to put her career back on track in the years since then, releasing no new music while becoming a fixture of the tabloids as she continued to struggle with personal demons.

Sadly, the demons won the struggle.


Friday, July 22, 2011


I've got copies of the first Slavin' David CD (brand spankin' new and still sealed) for  PK HREZO and WORD NERD!

Just e-mail me with your mailing info (address is in the header up top) and they'll be on their way-I even spring for the postage!


Wednesday, July 20, 2011



I read about Sister Sparrow And The Dirty Birds in the July/August 2011 issue of Relix, and the article piqued my interest enough to go to their site and check out the bytes. You can stream the whole disc at the site, and I liked what I heard enough to get my hands on a copy.

Led by Arleigh Kincheloe, Sister Sparrow AndThe Dirty Birds puts a modern spin on classic soul.

Kincheloe's powerful voice is backed by an eight man unit who lay down thundering grooves and soaring melodies, comprised of four horns, one guitar, a bassist, drummer, and a harmonica player.

They can all sing, too, with all the soul of a choir of drunken angels.

Categorizing this album is difficult.

There's all the hip-grinding, sweat-soaked funk on their self-titled debut album that you could ever want, but the songs on their debut disc really have a little something for everyone, blending old school funk and soul with straight up rock and roll.

Recorded in a single session at world renowned Avatar Studios in New York, this record captures the band's powerhouse wall of sound where the harmonica and 4 piece brass section plays a front and center role.

Kincheloe and her brother, Jackson (harmonica), were raised in the Catskills region of New York by musical parents (mother a country singer and father a rock drummer) you could say music was in their blood.

Intent on creating a big band with a funk and blues style, the brother and sister team set out to recruit some of the best young musicians from coast to coast. Already winning rave reviews, the band's live shows are rocking stages everywhere and building a huge buzz and following.

Sister Sparrow And The Dirty Birds' blend of seductive soul and dirty blues-rock reminds you why you love live music.

So I ask again - are you ready to get dirty?




Sunday, July 17, 2011



Three years after their successful Revelation album introduced Arnel Pineda to the world, Journey return with their 16th album, Eclipse.

In light of the last album's success, it would not have been a surprise to see an attempt to duplicate that album, but guitarist Neal Schon took control of the writing and recording process and delivered an album out of his single minded vision, a true guitarist's record with inspired riffing, soloing and shredding.

Understand-this is still Journey, so new musical horizons are not being discovered here, but anyone expecting an album full of power ballads might be disappointed, because this album, clocking in at an hour, really kicks into guitar overdrive. Deen Castronovo's drums deliver a solid performance in perfect step with the guitar-oriented sound, using power and finesse as warranted. Although Jonathan Cain scaled back the prominent position his keyboard parts normally take, he still adds texture and additional layers to the songs. Ross Valory rounds out the rhythm section.

Arnel Pineda had a lengthy career in his own country before joining the band, but with two albums under his belt has shown power, control and passion behind his studio vocal performances.

While Revelation leaned towards ballads and more radio-friendly AOR, Eclipse is loaded with hard-edged guitars and thumping beats, fist-pumping anthems-even the ballads rock harder than usual. There are a couple "classic" Journey moments, but if you were looking for the sequel to "Raised On Radio," this ain't it. Some of the songs are unusually long for Journey, and while they may border on self-indulgent, the album seems to say, "we aren't going to get any airplay, anyway, so screw it, let's just do what the hell we want." In doing so they have delivered a pretty solid album. If you never liked the band or the genre to begin with, there is no new ground tread here, so it won't make a believer out of you. But long-time Journey fans and AOR fans alike should give it a spin.



Saturday, July 16, 2011


UK prog/rockers It Bites have just released a new DVD/CD It Happened One Night from the bands website.

The band are currently writing for the follow up album to the Tall Ships, and it's rumoured to be a concept album, with a current working title of Map Of The Past.

The band has also just released the following new UK Tour dates, where they are co-headlining with Mostly Autumn:

14th October Newcastle The Riverside 0191 230 1813 -
15th October Workington Carnegie 01900 602122 -
16th October Glasgow The Arches 0141 565 1000 –
18th October Nottingham Rescue Rooms 0845 413 4444 -
19th October Sale Waterside 0161 912 5616 -
21st October Clitheroe Grand Theatre 01200 421599 -
22nd October Holmfirth Picture Drome 0871 230 1101-
23rd October Pontypridd, Wales- The Muni Arts Centre 08000 147111 -
24th October Milton Keynes Stables 01908 280800 -
26th October Leamington Assembly 01926 523 001 -
27th October Bilston Robin 2 01902 497 860 –
28th October London 02 Academy 020 8222 6955 -

Thursday, July 14, 2011



I guess musicians named "Todd" have a proclivity for Robert Johnson tribute albums. After Todd Rundgren dropped "Todd Rundgren's Johnson" last year (see my post last month), Todd Park Mohr (of Big Head Todd And The Monsters fame) brings us a new band, The Big Head Blues Club, with their debut CD, 100 Years Of Robert Johnson.

This is the kind of record that rock bands with an ear for their blues roots have always wanted to make. What's not to like? Five days recording in Memphis at the famous Ardent Studios with some of the bands biggest musical heroes playing legendary roots material as a tribute to the late Robert Johnson to celebrate his centennial. Produced by Grammy winning producer Chris Goldsmith, and featuring guest musicians such as BB King, David "Honeyboy" Edwards, and Charlie Musselwhite, all the ingredients are here for a winner..

This is a less rocking than the Rundgren album, but that did not stop me from spinning it several times on release day. Mohr captures the spirit and sound of Robert Johnson with a modern spin. Ten Robert Johnson songs on the cd, some acoustic, others electric, but all fantastic renditions and toe tapping blues for sure.

My first thought on seeing this on the release sheet was, "does the world need another album of Johnson covers (this is my fourth)? Since I've documented my prefence AGAINST covers albums so many times on my various blogs, I won't repeat myself here. This is however, an excellent recording, well produced with tight musicianship, really capturing the delta blues soul. The guest musicians were well chosen Mohr and his band are tight, and this is one heckuva good blues album.


Sunday, July 10, 2011



Schooled on the boardwalk of Venice Beach, Slavin David has been part of local California lore for three decades.

Learning his craft through endless performances for thousands of visitors to the Venice promenade, David Breitman has also performed with outfits such as the Venice Can Aligators, Billy Preston, Tommy Mars, and Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys.

Rock And Roll Road is Slavin' David's follow-up to 2008's It's About Friggin' Time. The new album is credited to Slavin' David And Loose Gravel, and features new guitarist Larry Rosen, who has quite a bit of musical history of his own. Readers of Stephen T. McCarthy's Stuffs may remember his posts about him-if not go read 'em HERE and HERE.

In addition to playing guitar, Larry wrote four of the songs on the disc, helping to contribute to a solid follow-up effort from Slavin' David.

The first song on the new album, "Late Night Drinking Blues," starts with a guitar riff that would not seem out of place on the follow-up to Skynyrd's Street Survivors. Slavin' David get their southern rock mojo working early on .

The songs that follow display quite a few different styles, from blues rock to funky blues to the straight-ahead rock of the title track. The diversity keeps the album fresh.

Breitman's voice suits the material, and the two guitarists complement each other well. The rest of the band is tight, and the album is sequenced well.

Katie Ray Coleman's vocals provide a nice change of pace on "Magic's All Gone."

Overall this is a very solid effort, good party music that in a just world would get lots of radio airplay.

Since we live in an unjust world of satellite radio with 24 hour a day Lady Gaga stations, your best bet is to score a copy at the band's site.

Don't forget to enter my contest to win a free CD-all you have to do is leave a comment on one of my posts to enter, and Slavin David's first CD is one of the titles up for grabs! Somebody's gonna win-it might as well be you!

Friday, July 8, 2011


Aw, heck I couldn't wait!

I had to give a CD away this week, and it went to none other than Stephen T. McCarthy. Stephen is the lucky winner of a copy of the Sandole Brothers (see my post from last week ), and the first CD winner on the site.

Next week, some lucky person could just win a brand-spankin' new, still-sealed copy of the Slavin' David debut CD. So if you like your rock tossed with blues, you wannna get in on this!

Thursday, July 7, 2011


John David Souther's musical legacy is certain. Getting his start on projects with Glenn Frey and Jackson Browne, and being part of the Souther Hilman Furay band before starting a solo career, Souther is probably best known for his well-crafted songwriting abilities in the field of country rock. Souther influenced a generation of this country's greatest musical names: The Eagles, James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt, Roy Orbison, just to name a few.

If you don't know JD Souther, you surely know his songs. In the renaissance of popular songwriting that occurred during the 1960s and '70s, his name looms large as one of the chief architects of the Los Angeles scene, writing or co-writing hits such as:

The Eagles: "Best of My Love", "Victim of Love", "Heartache Tonight", and "New Kid In Town"
James Taylor: "Her Town Too"
Bonnie Raitt: "Run Like A Thief"
Linda Ronstadt: "Faithless Love," "White Rhythm And Blues"

He also sang duets with Ronstadt on "Hasten Down the Wind," "Prisoner in Disguise," and "Sometimes You Can't Win."

His biggest hit as a solo artist was his 1979 Orbison-influenced song "You're Only Lonely," which reached number 7 on the Billboard charts.

On "Natural History," Souther's second release after a hiatus of almost 25 years, the artist provides us with renditions of 11 songs that were originally recorded by other artists.

While listening to this disc, it becomes obvious that Souther does what he does for a living because it's in his blood. His calling is evident in his lyrics, arrangements and vocal harmonies. His craft is difficult to articulate, the songs laced with intimacy and providing unique evidence of a major songwriting talent.

Stand-out tracks include "You're Only Lonely," "New Kid In Town," "Best Of My Love" and " I'll Be Here At Closing Time."

An album that should please old fans and newer ones alike.

NEW KID IN TOWN (acoustic live)

I'LL BE HERE AT CLOSING TIME (live acoustic)

BEST OF MY LOVE (acoustic live)

Monday, July 4, 2011


Just a reminder to everyone that each month, I will select one reader/commenter at random, the lucky winner receiving a FREE CD!
So don't forget to let me know you're out there, by leaving some thoughts on one of my reviews, and tell your music lovin' friends!

Sunday, July 3, 2011


I accidentally purchased a Leon Redbone CD I already had, so I lent it to my good friend Stephen T. McCarthy.

Stephen was not interested in the CD, but after listening hypothesized that Leon was inspired by Tiny Tim. Those of you who follow Stephen's blog may recall his annual Christmas posts regarding the pop culture icon who gave the world "Tiptoe Through The Tulips."

Keep in mind that Stephen also feels that Metallica was inspired by Tiny Tim, and take the comment with a grain of salt.

But I digress.

This seemed like a good time to revisit Redbone's Warner Brothers' debut, 1976's On The Track.

Carrying "very special thanks" to Jelly Roll Morton and Jimmie Rodgers, this album sounds like the offspring of the pioneering jazzman and the early hillbilly blues singer, with perhaps a bit of Bing Crosby thrown into the mix.

Aided by a small horn section (including a prominent tuba) and violin, the disc is an excellent collection of music from the 1920s and 30s, brought back to life by a talented and eccentric artist.

Leon Redbone made his career in the Toronto club scene in the early 1970's specializing in interpretations of early 20th-century music, including jazz and blues standards and Tin Pan Alley classics. Recognized for his trademark Panama hat, dark sunglasses, and bow tie, Redbone has a sizable cult following. His concerts blend performance, comedy, and skilled instrumentals, and he was once cited by Bob Dylan as the first performer he'd want to sign to his own label.

Redbone croons and growls his way through a repertoire of standards , making no attempt to modernize these songs, as artists in past decades have attempted to do, choosing instead to keep true to the Dixie, Delta blues and ragtime jazz styles that made these songs popular to begin with. His version of "Ain't Misbehavin" would make Al Jolson beam with pride.

And on the cover, we are granted the image of Redbone's true inspiration.

Not Tiny Tim at all, Leon is channeling the spirit of Michigan J. Frog!

Saturday, July 2, 2011


The recent announcement that Mike Mangini would be joining DREAM THEATER, replacing departed drummer Mike Portnoy, caused such fanfare that Mangini was a trending topic on Twitter, second only to Will & Kate's recent nuptuals!

Now, the band have finally revealed more about their imending new opus- A Dramatic Turn of Events. The much-anticipated platter, which marks Mangini's recorded debut, will be released via Roadrunner Records on September 12th and will be supported by a massive world tour.

"I'm incredibly psyched with the way this album came out and can't wait to share it with everybody," guitarist John Petrucci, who also serves as the album's producer, said. "We are currently in the mix stage with the great Andy Wallace and it's all sounding amazing!"

"We have poured our hearts and minds into the creation of this album," keyboardist Jordan Rudess Continues. "All the life changing events that surrounded us before, as well as during the whole process, fueled our desire to dig deep within ourselves and create the best music we possibly could."

Vocalist James LaBrie adds, "In the grand scheme of Dream Theater's career, the last several months have been such an incredibly positive, fulfilling and rewarding experience. The new songs and sound has never been so spirited or rejuvenating. I cannot wait for every one of our fans to sink their audio senses into this batch of tunes."

The track listing for A Dramatic Turn of Events is as follows:

1. On the Backs of Angels
2. Build Me Up, Break Me Down
3. Lost Not Forgotten
4. This is the Life
5. The Shaman's Trance
6. Outcry
7. Far From Heaven
8. Breaking All Illusions
9. Beneath The Surface

Friday, July 1, 2011


* to shoplift a slogan from Arlee Bird…

According to most sources, the death of compact discs is nigh.

Sales of CDs have slumped annually for almost a decade, and most of the large music retailers have gone or are going out of business, with other stores like Barnes And Noble, Best Buy and WalMart either discontinuing CD sales or dramatically reducingthe floor space devoted to CD's.

Since the whole reason I started this blog was to stimulate discussion of music and spark people's interest in seeking out new music, hopefully on records and compact discs, reader comments expressing their opinion of the music I present on the blog are important.

I am, therefore, appreciative of the readers who do leave comments.

But I like to see more participation, more readers.

So, I'll tell ya what I'm gonna do.

I'm upping the ante.

I'm going to throw a little prizes into the mix.

My collection...but this is only the half of the room you can see in the picture

You see, with a collection the size of mine, I often end up with a CD I already owned because I simply forgot I had it. I also frequently get sampler CD's from stores, labels and magazines. These go into a pile, and every few months I trade them in at Zia Records, my home away from home.

I have a decent pile now, and it's stacked with some pretty neat gems like a brand new (still in shrink wrap) copy of the first CD by Slavin' David, the rare Sandole Brothers disc I reviewed last week, some great rock titles from the last few decades, and lots of nifty compilations.

Slavin David

And I'm gonna give them away.

At the end of July, I'm going to pick a comment from the posts in July.

Totally at random.

No favoritism, here.

All you ladies who were just now thinking you'd ply me with your feminine wiles, it ain't gonna help.

Anyway I haven't seen a wile in…well, in a while!

And while I'd love to wile away the hours,  I'm not really sure what ply means.
To that jazz guy out there, a new membership in the Journey fan club ain't gonna fool me!

This is gonna be random, I tell ya!

As ironclad as Powerball!

Then I'm going to e-mail the lucky commenter for their snail mail info, and I'm gonna send them a brand-spanking new (okay, maybe used) CD absolutely free.

The cost to you? Nada. Nothing. Nil. I'll even spring for the postage to any US address.

Why you ask?

Why indeed...

You see, I still remember the first song I fell in love with.

I was sitting in the room I shared with my older brother’s room and he was playing “Build Me Up Buttercup” by the Foundations and I thought it was pretty cool.

A lot of the music I love comes from being force fed it by my older siblings, but my favorite musician, Todd Rundgren, is all my own doing.

Oh sure, those of you who actually read this know about the high school English teacher who introduced me to Todd, but he just played one song for the whole class. I went out and looked for the records.

How I loved records. There was something about going to Critters or Plastic Fantastic, starting to search through the A’s and somehow getting lost in the alphabet, usually spending a lot of time looking at the O’s.

Why the O’s?

Hello? Teenage boy? Ohio Player’s album covers?

And I get that record home and lie and listen to it in the dark with the headphones on and the volume cranked up, or on a lazy afternoon staring at the album cover, memorizing every lyric, ever word of the liner notes.

Music was always magic to me-I never needed TV.

In fact, throughout the years, I have grown to love CDs. I resisted at first, due to their cost, but the incredible portability and accessibility won me over, in spite of the miniature artwork that has to this day never lived up to the beauty of a 12” long player packaging.

However, with music pirating and alternate music sources on the rise, the production of CDs is rapidly decreasing. And downloads from iTunes are only making up a fraction of the loss.

Albums are rapidly becoming an endangered species.

So how can we bring back the age of CD’s?

Keep buying them.

Or steal them. If they vanish from the retailer’s shelf (assuming you can FIND a retailer) it still gets counted as a sale.

(just kidding about the stealing part)

But that's the beauty of my new approach.

Tell your friends to drop by and leave a comment. In fact, leave one yourself while you're thinking of it.

Together, we'll learn and spread the word about new music, and you'll have a chance to get some free music at the same time.

It'll be just as exciting as if you shoplifted it, but without the handcuffs and the embarassing call to your spouse to pick you up at the precinct.