Saturday, May 28, 2011

When love comes walking in, might as well JUMP!!!! (Van Halen vs. Van Hagar.)

     When someone mentions Eddie Van Halen, most people automatically think of one band, Van Halen. But did you know Van Halen was a reconstruction from a band called Mammoth and were almost named Genesis? (until the name was found out being used...damn Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks. That's another story though.) Now don't worry...that was just a side fact...that was last blog...but I digress. When Eddie found David Lee Roth he decided to let him sing, and bass guitarist Mark Stone was tossed away like the Styrofoam container that made that Native American cry in that commercial, and Van Halen (David thought the name was memorable and powerful) was formed. Though it took them from 1972-1978 to make their first album, but not a lot of people know that Gene Simmons tried to make them part of Simmons Records until Warner Bros. Records flashed their wallets to them, and Gene tore up the contract. Anyway...most people will kill you if you call Sammy's time Van Halen, instead of Van Hagar.

     Van Halen in the early years were balls to the wall, womanizing, all out rock. No apologies, nothing held back, sense to the younger kids...what the HELL is a record machine anyway?!?!?! With Alex on hard pounding drums, Eddie on hard driven guitar (I like the Jack Daniels one myself,) a new bass player named Michael Anthony, and a lead singer that was in dire need of Prozac, Van Halen was getting to the point that they were considered the greatest "don't play that I have a headache" band in the late 70's-early 80's. Songs like "Jump" and "Running with the Devil" were pissing parents off in almost every household...especially the ones who had Herb Alpert records. But as we all know all good things must end. In '85, Eddie was doing side projects without consulting the band, and Eddie thought David was...well...a jerk (as if there were any arguments,) and was tired of his cockiness on and off stage, also he was making his own music and getting (later backed out) movie deals the tour toiled, and six albums in the bag, the legendary act broke up. More on this later.

     With the wreckage of Van Halen on the ground, the two brothers and bass player decided to pick up the pieces and move on. They quickly asked Patty Smyth to join, and she said no. But not giving up, Eddie was introduced to a man named Sammy Hagar, who was on a band break up himself, by his band Montrose. Though Sammy was on his highly successful solo career, it seemed he wanted a little more. Arguably that's what both sides got, Sammy even played rhythm guitar to add to the sound. Now with songs in the repertoire like "Why Can't This Be Love," "Love Walks in," the entire past of Van Halen was forgotten, and Sammy played his own solo stuff (Van Hagar.) Though successfully touring with Bon Jovi, the tensions raised. Eddie and Alex wanted to re write some of Sammy's songs, saying the lyrics were "too cheesy." Sammy took this personally, and the thought of compiling the works of Van Halen and Van Hagar (that's why the album "best of both worlds" took so long to come out, kids,) he eventually went into a tirade and quit the band (though he swears he was fired.) Little did he know  the band was recording again behind his back, with a man I mentioned before...David Lee Roth.

     Van Halen was once again Hot For Teacher...or so we though in 1996. David swears up and down he thought he was the singer again, while Eddie was still auditioning for singers, and found one in Gary Cherone of Extreme. David claimed Eddie embarrassed him, while Eddie said he was honest and told David what the deal was. This altercation almost came to blows, and after Gary recorded one of two planned albums, the band went off the radar for a while. With Eddie's failing health (hip replacement and cancer treatments) it wasn't until 2003 before the band went back on the road with Sammy. Though it seemed it was a late notice Michael Anthony and Sammy were unsure how the 2 year run was going (due to Eddie's personal addiction problems,) and got tied up in other projects (later to become Chickenfoot,) Michael wound up going to showing to the gigs on the road only part time to a loss of connection with the brothers entirely.

     A year later there were talks that Van Halen had a new singer. Though it was too late to introduce a fresh face to the front of the lines, it was not a big surprise because David Lee Roth mentioned on every interview that he was talking to Alex. So as the next kiss and make up took place, but with Chickenfoot starting to solidify (going from a jam band trio in Sammy's bar to adding Joe Santriani to the line up and finally recording,) without any warning (depending who you ask) Internet world was speculating that Anthony was out and Eddie's 16 year old son Wolfgang would be taking the reigns of the bass guitar. Though Michael Anthony was not notified personally about his departure, some would argue that due to his lack of communication with the brothers and his new band, it would be common knowledge that he was out for good. From Sept. 2007 - March 2008, the show went on until a temporary abrupt halt was put on the tour due to Eddie allegedly needing to re-enter rehab (though ex wife Valerie Bertenelli and Wolfgang both dismissed that he was not STILL in rehab, but not never was recently there.) The show went on and on the last show of the tour, David kept announcing that there will be more shows.

     As of now, Wolfgang is focusing more on studies, Eddie is recovering from hand surgery due to arthritis pain he felt in 2007 but still writing new material. As for Alex and David, they sound ready to go and there is speculation of a new album. So with the beginning of a frustrated swap between Eddie (originally training for drums) and Alex (to have been on guitar) to a major transformation into the rock behemoth we see today, the rock giants seem like a bad marriage when you look at their history, but the amazing sounds both of the mainstay singers produced made it worth it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hello, I love you, won't you tell me your name?

     Some bands have cool names, right? Did you know that some bands have had names other than what they are known for? Some bands change their names? Why? All have different reasons...they thought it was cooler, the record company said it would be better, or someone suggested a better name. There are many reasons...but one thing I do know, is sometimes they make the better choice.

     The band Finger 11 was once named "Rainbow Butt Monkeys." Seriously, I could not make this up. They are from Burlington, Ontario who met in college and it was the age old "we should start a band" deal. They changed their name to be taken more serious, and I think it was a good change. I would personally take a band called Finger 11 seriously.

     INXS was another band that changed their name in the late 70's. There was a band called Dr. Dolphin, and when that broke up (Michael Hutchence, Andrew Farris and Gary Beers,) the mainstays were enticed to join with Andrew's older brother Tim, who was in a band called Guinness with Kirk Pengilly. They needed a drummer and this is when it clicked, and the youngest brother Jon Farris came in. Jon was still in high school, and they always practiced in separate rooms but never thougt of getting together until this happened. Here's where I get to the point...they were called The Vegetables (hence their song off the first album "We are The Vegetables.") They eventually called themselves The Farris Brothers. Then one day a crew member said "you should change your name to INXS." (Kind of like XTC.)

     Now I know I said "bands," but this happens so often, that I HAVE to say something. Puff Daddy Sean Combs. He has changed his name so often (Puff Daddy, Puffy fir short, P. Diddy, Diddy.) The reason he was called Puff Daddy was he would go into a huff when he was mad during football, and daddy as in the man. then P. Diddy was just to shorten, and he dropped the P, again it seemed he just wanted to...though this caused controversy in the U.K because there was another artist called Diddy.

     So with bands and such like Sweet Children (Green Day) Blink (182) and (Razzle, Stain) Lit, it is not uncommon to see a band change their name. Sometimes due to legal obligations, or for something they think is better, or even if they want to be taken seriously. I just thought after last blog, and before the second instalment there needed to be one light hearted post. So until next time, keep hitting the HIGH NOTES.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Don't fear the reaper. (Tribute Vol. 1)

     As music winds on, and time plays on there are many tragedies. Some very talented people pass away, are murdered, or even commit suicide. A lot of my favorites have taken their lives, had their lives taken or passed and we miss them. As a music fan, you miss some of these people.

Brad Delp (June 12, 1951 - March 9, 2007) He was the lead singer of Boston, along with other bands like Return to Zero, and Beatlejuice. They say he was the nicest man to grace the Earth...but listening to some songs (Hitch a Ride, Peace of Mind) you can hear there was something deep down bothering him since the first album. There are stories of how nice he was. One guy said he was back stage, and the security guard said no cameras, and Brad walked over, took the camera, got next to him, and smiled and took the picture and gave the camera back and walked away to rehearse. Not many people would do that. Unfortunately, in a bad twist, Boston was getting ready for a new album, he was touring and preparing for a show with his Beatles cover band,  a few months before he was to wed his new wife, he committed suicide. His soon bride to be left the house in New Hampshire to go grocery shopping, and in her absence, he lit a charcoal grill and closed all ventilation to the bathroom, and asphyxiated on CO2. Pinned to his shirt lapel was "Mr. Brad Delp. Je suis une âme solitaire". Translation, I am a lonely soul.

John Lennon Oct. 9, 1940 - Dec. 8, 1980) - Giving credit to one of the highly talented writers of all time, and one half of the greatest writing duos with Paul McCartney. John Lennon set his footprint in the mold of time. He was an innovator, and a true bandsman. His often smooth sounds made any fan wonder "what if?" Could there be peace? In John's mind, there should have been. Who knows what music would have been like if he had not been shot. Multi talented (harmonica, citar, guitar, banjo, and piano were some of his mainstays,)  and a fantastic producer (Harry Nillson, Ringo) and collaborator (Elton John.) He was shot 4 times in the back by Mark David Chapman.

George Harrison (Feb. 25, 1943-Nov. 29, 2001.) - Known as the quiet Beatle, and youngest of the group, he is argued today as the most talented. He was a joker, and is often blamed for the problems in The Beatles. He was the first success of the 4 after the breakup. Creating a triple album from all his backlogged songs. He had success with Eric Clapton and Ringo Starr backing him up, and a supergroup The Traveling Wilburies. Though he was attacked in his home in 1999 by a mad man claiming he was possessed by Harrison, this did not kill him. He died of lung cancer in 2001. His remaining days it is said he was visited by Paul and Ringo, and was in stable mind when they were around.

Michael Hutchence (Jan. 22, 1960 -  Nov. 22, 1997) - The lead singer of INXS, He was an Australian singer, actor, and avid ladiesman. Though he had another band called Max Q. while INXS went on break, and acted in a few movies and did some work on soundtracks, his longest run was with INXS whom he formed from the shrapnel of a former band called Doctor Dolphin. Though there were many attempts on Michael's life, he formed a severe depression in his later life, he made tabloids when he started dating Paula Yates, the ex-wife of Bob Geldoff, which made tabloids point out Hutch as the bad guy, and as his close friend Princess Diana said, "I love it when you are in the takes me off for a while." After a long phone conversation with Bono, on the final leg of the Elegantly Wasted/20 year tour, in a hotel room after a party, it is said that Michael called Bob Geldoff and cursed him out, and hanged himself by his belt in a hotel room. It was later said to have been done in full blown depression, and was declared auto erotic asphyxiation. The song "Stuck in a Moment" by U2 is said to be the conversation Bono would have had with his former neighbor, friend, and rival after he was awoken to received the news on a flight.

Cliff Burton (February 10, 1962 – September 27, 1986) - Recruited to Metallica from a band called Trauma, he was self declared to be the best bass player after the loss of his brother. He said Trauma was getting "too commercial" and seemed to want to head off in a new direction. He joined Metallica and as his father proclaimed, Cliff would headbang through the entire show and complain the next day that his neck hurt. Cliff was short lived as in a gamble, he took his band mate Kirk Hammett's bed. As the bus driver lost control in Sweden (claiming there was black ice,) Cliff was thrown out a window and violently crushed by the bus.

Dave Williams (February 29, 1972 – August 14, 2002) - Dave was considered a pioneer of black metal, and a very nice man. He was lead singer of Drowning Pool and had high success with their song "Bodies." Dave's booming voice was one to be reckoned with, and in my opinion, never duplicated. their success made way for a few more hits off the album Sinner to squeeze through easily as singles. Though the success was short lived and Dave passed away on the tour bus of a heart disease in Manassas, VA right before Ozzfest. Emotions ran high that day, and his microphone was passed on to his friend Cristian Machado of Ill Nino. His main dream was to buy his parents a house, and the sales of the released DVD Sinema did just that.

Robert Palmer ( January 19, 1949 – September 26, 2003),  - Solo blues pop singer and singer of supergroup Power Station (made up of Duran Duran and 70's disco band "Chic" members,) was critically acclaimed for his voice. He was a major supporter of UNICEF and divided his estate between his 5 kids and the organization. He passed away after a dinner with close friend Jack Bruce (cream) of a heart attack. His former neighbor, Tina Turner sang a version of "Addicted to Love" in his honor.

Kurt Cobain  (February 20, 1967 – April 5, 1994) - Kurt was the high energy lead singer/guitarist of Grunge band "Nirvana." It is said that he had a very good and deranged sense of humor that fit in with his "mad at the world" music. With his famous idea of "read my diary and figure me out if I die" attitude, he and his band mates took on the world as never seen before. Lyrically he would put his life out in the open for people to interpret, though it was often interpreted wrong. Kurt had a few relationships (including the lead singer of Bikini Kill, who when he met was so anxious he got sick.) As with many of Kurt's life struggles and acheivements, they lead to the lyrics you hear today. As he fought off Courtney Love's advances, unsure he wanted to be tied down. During a taping of Saturday night live, he was asked by Victoria Jackson if "Weird Al" Yanchovich could parody "Smells Like Teen Spirit." It was thought of as a compliment that they had made it as a long as the song wasn't about food. He also found out Love was pregnant with his child, and he married her. Though his last years of life he struggled with cocain addiction (earning him the nickname "Kurt Cocaine,") After multiple suicide attempts, Kurt was found by an electrician coming toi his house to do some work. The man assumed he was sleeping until he saw the shot gun, and was assumed to have been lying there dead for days.

Dimebag Darrell Abbott (August 20, 1966 – December 8, 2004) - After the invite to join Megadeth (declined because his brother could not join too,) and Pantera was done, Abbot joined multiple side projects with his brother. Including a band with former Pantera bass player Rex, and country superstar David Allen Coe called Rebel meets Rebel, a few Ace Frehely tributes, Dime and his brother/long time band mate Vinnie joined a band called Damage Plan, with (former guitarist for Rob Halford) Patrick Lachman and friend "Bobzilla" on bass. They put out one album, and on December 8th, a former marine named Nathan Gale climbed up on stage and allegedly blamed the Abbot brothers for breaking up Pantera and plagiarising his lyrics. He shot Dimebag in the head, which is said to have killed him instantly. As people trying to save the other band members, and Dime were either killed or injured in heroics, the gun man was subdued by a police officer who came in from behind. This is the one that REALLY hurts to talk about, all the innocent lives that were taken, the talent that was lost, and the fact that Dime's brother Vinnie had to watch his brother die is uncalled for. Dime was an avid KISS fan and had an autographed (by Ace) KISS tattoo on his chest, and Gene Simmons donated a KISS Kasket to the Abbott family. Phil was not allowed at the funeral, because of the families wishes after harsh words were said about the two musicians.

     Though the impact is put on us through their work, whether they were taken from us by their own hands, by someone else, or by a natural cause, it still hurts to see them go, and know they will never play or sing another note. Though we hope they are at peace, we have their former work to remember them by, and they will forever be part of a legacy. So till next time, keep hitting the HIGH NOTES.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Always something there to remind me...

     I  often wonder who listens to a song and really thinks "that song is what I am feeling right now...did I go back to 1987 and talk to Patrick Swayze?" I know I didn't (no matter how much I drank this weekend.) I mean there are songs out there like Conquistador by Procol Harum (yes...they made more songs than Whiter Shade of Pale,) where Gary Brooker says "Though you came with sword held high, you did not conquer, only die..." and I think "I've been there." No...I haven't, metaphorically, yes...litterally I was never a conquistador, yet I digress. There are songs like Sledgehammer ny Peter Gabriel where it comes close. "Yes, I wanna shed my skin...oh my GOD! WHAT IS HE SINGING ABOUT?!?!? THAT'S NASTY!!!!!" Anyway, I am having trouble concentrating on my subject. Ok, so songs like "She's Like the Wind" is a pretty common situation. I like the girl, does she like me? This is driving me crazy, I'm not good enough...but it just sometimes sings (no pun intended) to me. Ok, enough of that...this is not I guess that's the key to a good writer...or a pathetic fool. Some songs  like Ben E. King's "Stand by Me" is another example. An "if this happens will you be there for me?" Another song that makes me think they know what I am talking about is "Payback" by Slayer (oh wait, I'm not supposed to talk about that one.)

     Now I know most the songs I have posted are love songs as examples. That's the funny thing...but that's all I got for you this time, till we meet again, keep hitting the HIGH NOTES.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


     Is it sad half the things I grew up with that were labeled as metal went from hard rock in later years and now are just called rock? Metallica, Dio, Kiss, and Twisted Sister to name a few. Back when I was too young to know what metal was, it was about "the man," it was about girls and money...and not the way that rap is about girls and money, real stuff. It was to disregard what authority told you, it was about fighting for your PAAAAAAAAR-TY! I love and still listen to the stuff from then, and I still love it, things like White Snake, and Ratt still do it for me. I love hearing Bonn Scott sing about his "Big Balls," and the "God of Thunder." Some of this was written before I was born. Aerosmith was a household name, instead of an emo turned band that sings about the color pink, and judges American Idol, in fact, this was when they revolutionized music with Run DMC making a rap/metal/rock inversion (which is where I feel sampling comes from, but that's a whole new blog.) Now the time I am talking about is both when both Sabbath was starting, AND ended...when the Blizzard hit.

     When the 90's hit, metal had a new twist, I mean it still had the stick it to the man vibe, but they were harder, angrier, and sometimes raunchier. Nine Inch Nails were close to a decline (slowly, like when you turn 25) and Manson and White Zombie were getting their feet wet now. We were getting somewhere, even grunge was starting to get noticed. But the problem with grunge is it tried to be metal. Though metal was starting festivals, metal's strength was growing in numbers. The likes of Megadeth's Youthanasia, and Cryptic Writings, and Slayer's Divine Intervention albums were taking away that of things like The Mamas and the Papas and Herman's Hermits ever existed. Metallica's Justice For All album was making people say "what is grunge?" (metaphorically of course.) Of course this was before Motörhead re wrote their song for Spongebob Squarepants, they were writing more for Ozzy.

     After the new millennium, band stayed solid through albums like God Hates Us All, there were albums like Manson's now cooling rack The Dope Show (which was taking him from industrial metal, and more into a light shock rock,) and the acquired taste of Metallica's St. Anger, I was for sure that metal was going away and not going to write for a while...but just as things started dulling down, tragedy struck, and Dimebag was gone. No more Pantera, Damageplan, or anything from him anymore. One of the worst losses in metal (because Kevin DuBrow was self inflicted.) That is when metal realized they can't go down without a fight. Taking down the emo first (they are the weakest) and moving on from there with bands like Hellyeah! on their side.

     So how do I think the future of metal will look? Well with the swapping and breaking up of bands, side projects, and so forth, I will stay positive and say that with classics like Metallica doing a redemption (Death Magnetic) and Ratt's new album along with a lot of talent out there (All That Remains, Diecast, and Dope to name a few...) we have a lot of good stuff to look forward to. Just saying...

So until next time, keep hitting the high notes.