Sunday, August 30, 2015

Chickenfoot what I expected a few years later

The 80's where a great time for hard Rock.  One of the bands that ruled the age was Van Halen.  I remember a friend gave me their first album it was a master piece of ROCK. By the time I got into high school the album 1984 came out for Van Halen. I was less than thrilled, keyboards on the album and not just filler music keyboard solos.  What happened to the Monsters of Rock?  Then Dave went solo found his own guitar genius Steve Vai and put out some fun music.  Guitar driven over the top flamboyant style that we knew from Mr. Roth.  To the outside observer thank God he is gone David was keeping the band back.

For the next album Van Halen was going to add Sammy Hagar, Holy Sh#t I was stoked.  The Red Rocker, the guy who wrote I Can't Drive 55, Heavy Metal and 3 Lock Box, old Guitar driven Van Halen is back. Then 5150 came out.  I have grown to like the album now, but then I was meh.  It's a good rock album but not what I thought it should sound like.  Van Hagar, as they were known, put a few more albums most solid rock albums.  Then the public found out who the real snake in Van Halen was.

Eddie Van Halen is an innovator and a monster on the guitar, but as a person what came out about him is pretty terrible.  He threw Sammy under the bus, and then a few years latter he threw the most underrated Bass player Michael Anthony the same place.  Now lead singers and lead guitarist have always had tenuous relationships in most bands but Michael Anthony has never gotten into the mudslinging and drama that has seemed to follow Van Halen.

Sammy and Michael still played together and jammed in Cabo at Sammy's club.Ah to be 10-20 years younger and to hang out there.  They brought on Chad Smith from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and a Guitarist that more than holds his own with Eddie Van Halen, Joe Satriani.  Chickenfoot was born.  I bought the album and what I thought I would hear 30 years ago was there.  Guitar driven songs and almost a hard rock jam band feel.  What I feel makes this band superior to Van Hagar is that all the musicians work together not in competition for the lime light.

If you want to hear a great rock band Chickenfoot is the way to go.
Til next time be good to your ears they deserve it.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Chess many moves for a musical

In 1984 watching MTV I caught a video that was very different.  One Night in Bangkok was a concept video from the concept album Chess.  The song is neat and different and for kid like me that was raised on musicals from my Mom it was genius.  After the song hit I didn't know any thing more about the album Chess for a few years.

1987 I was a senior in Miami Killian High School and I was singing in the coral ensemble.  The director Mr. Matthews was looking for works for us to preform and he brought Chess back into my world.  I learned much more about the musical from what we sang and I loved every minute of it.

1989 attending Miami Dade Community college and still singing.  I found the concept album for Chess in a second hand CD shop.  It was the original concept ie the British version and it was awesome.  I devoured the songs and for a 20 something idealist the themes running through them hit all the right buttons.

Now I can still put the CD on at anytime and lose myself in the story and music.  Different things speak to me now but it still stands the test of time.

The beauty of the album is first it is a great collaboration of song writers.  Take the music of ABBA which lends itself to story telling and then add the lyric great Tim Rice to weave the story through the words.  Second the story itself, as a child of the end of the Cold War I knew of the Chess matches between evil USSR and the noble USA.  Imagine a 20ish young man looking behind the scenes with the story told and finding the people involved might not be so black and white as the Chess board is.

The themes are mature and deep, nationalism, drive for career, abandonment of family and can love survive success.  The story is crafted equally well through the music and the lyrics. If you want to hear some very clever and words that sound right out of real life listen to Argument and Pity the Child.

As good as the Concept album was the show for many years didn't translate well to the actual stage. I saw the American tour and it just didn't quite work, the curtain had fallen by that time and the East Vs West didn't work.  There were a few more attempts until

2008  a very stripped down version sticking the the original Concept album with limited dialog other than the songs.  The performers included Idina Menzel, Adam Pascal and Josh Groban.  Finally it is the closest to what I pictured in my mind.

If you want to listen to history and very current situations preformed wonderfully give Chess a listen.

As always listen to the best your ear's deserve it.  

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Keys to a great sound

It's funny this blog post was going to start the same way the last one did.  I was watching VH1 saw a great video and called Spencer McGuire.  So due to the fact I have mentioned Spencer in many different post half of this blog will be about my brother from another mother and the Awesomeness of Alicia Keys.

I met Spencer at Eastern Kentucky University through some mutual friends and right off we bounded over music.  I know of at least one car trip we took with my wife that she fussed at us to talk about anything else but music.  I dig Spencer's broad taste in music.  He likes all types but  just the best quality of the area.  Of coarse we can take up hours discussing the Purple one but don't get him talking on Genesis he will be on them all night.  So normally if I see or hear something that is really great he is one of the first people I call.  So just like when I saw Erykah on VH1 he was the first person I called and when I saw Falling.  It is great to have a friend to share quality music with.

Now on to Alicia.  The video of Fallin' is a work of art.  Starting with just her at the piano, then the bus trip driving past the jail yard with the female prisoners joining her gospel style on the chorus my jaw was on the floor amazing video.  Of coarse I called Spencer then off to Best Buy.

The rest of the CD is an amazing blend of hip hop, piano, soul and pop.  Similar to Erykah but smoother style.  I think the fact that her main instrument is piano leads to more melody than beat.  It pushes this style of music more to the mass appeal without sacrificing quality.

The CD starts out with Alicia taking to her piano is Piano & I which shows her playing chops right off.  How Come you Don't Call me is an amazing Prince cover which is hard to do but boy she pulls it off.  Her voice was made for the song.  Rock With You is strait 70's funk and a great track.  A Woman's Worth is a powerful ballad and feminist anthem.  Finally the track that got me hooked Fallin'. The best blend of Pop, R&B and Gospel since Ray Charles.  I can't say more about the song it's wonderful.

Once again another great example of Neo Soul.  A great CD from a Artist that continued to put out solid music.

Til next time listen to the best your ears deserve it!