Sunday, October 9, 2011

Now Tommy Shaw

I was actually pretty torn between the first and second best Styx album.  I just didn't want to think the first one with the classic Styx line up was the best.  John Curulewski was the orginal guitarist with Styx.  He was the first one that DeYoung drove off.  That's not totally fair but they wanted to go another musical direction.  They replaced him with Tommy Shaw.
Chrystal Ball is a great album.  No "Concept" just album.  Released in 76 the styles border on Prog Rock and Straight Rock.  The opening track Put Me On starts in the prog rock catagory.  Its okay but a great song for headphones.  There was a whole area of music just aimed at headphones, Prog Rock.  Styx never fully went into this area but for their first few albums of the classic line up really came close many times.  The next track is the first of the Tommy Shaw era.  Mademoiselle is good rock song about an affair between a skilled older lady and a green young man.  A very good was to start your era.   Jennifer is the next track from DeYoung.  I like it, its  the exact opposite of Mademoiselle this time a younger girl and experienced man.  The key broads are very tight and the ending guitar solo goes right into the title track Crystal Ball.  I agree with Ted Nugent, Tommy Shaw is one of the most underrated guitar players.  An awsome acoustic rock song.  And now a staple on AOR radio.  Shooz is another Shaw song and probably the only blues song Styx ever did.  Just a down and dirty blues song about the underside of the nitelife in Chicago.  This Old Man is a DeYoung ode to his father.  A sweet song, something DeYoung is know for.  Now Clair de Lune/Ballerina is terrific!  I love the prologue Clair de Lune, DeBussy was a wonderful composer and it leads right into Ballerina.  I have always admired and desired Ballerina's.  Something about the Ballet is just out of this world to watch when it is done right.  The song is about a man who loses his love to Ballet when she chooses it over him.
I love this album and listened to it all this week.  The next one will be rough cause between the next two on the list neither is a great complete album but I will let you know in a week.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

more things change they stay the same

The blog is back.
 I wanted to write about one of my first favorite bands Styx.  I have already trashed Kilroy Was Here and it deserved it.  The band outside of that had some great albums and I wanted to relisten to what my parents listened to over and over again in my teens.
I looked through the list to find the best album and it was tough.  Two albums rose to the top and I settled on Paradise Theater.  The last album before the Kilroy fiasco and their best concept album.  The concept album was started by the Beatles with Sgt Peppers, although it was really started by Zappa but in popular culture it was the Beatles.
The concept is the changing of times in America symbolised by the rise and demolition of the Paradise Theater.  Listening to the album it is odd how a lot of the themes are still relevant.  The rich getting richer and the buying of the political system, and drug issues and the classism in America.  Disenchanted youth with more time and no direction.  All problems in the early 80's and are still around.
The music on this album is really good too.  The band strikes a balance between Shaw's rock and DeYoung's broadway themes.  A great opening track with AD 1928 which brings the listener into the story but then starts the rocking with Rockin the Paradise.  Next is Shaw's Too Much Time on My Hands, still very true about people today with time saving features and then not sure what to do with all the free time and no general direction.  Next is the first of the three unreleased tracks and each of them are pretty good for b sides.  Nothing Ever Goes as Planed is a cute song about how life gets in the way of everyone's plans.  The Best of Times has to be one of DeYoung's best ballads.  He is know for writing these and I prefer this one to Lady and Babe.  It just strikes more of a cord with me I guess specially now with all the bad news in the media and how the world is going to hell I get the feeling that being with my wife things will be okay.  The next track is Lonely People once again another good B side.  It makes me wonder with FB and all the other ways we connect with each other there are still a lot of people who just don't feel a part of anything.  The song really reflects that well.  The last B side is Shaw's She Cares.  Now I am a huge Shaw fan but this just kind of is well a there song.  I don't hate it but far from my favorite.  Now for JY's two songs.  Snowblind is a great song.  I can't believe that people thought this song was about the devil.  Boy people can be stupid.  This is such an anti Cocaine song.  Nice rocking one too.  Then Half Penny TwoPenny JY's next rocker.  Very good b side and there is some touches of DeYoung's theatrics in it.  Some "acting" in the background pushed the story about the demo of the theater along.  I don't hate it and it does push the concept of how greed can push aside some great older things that should be preserved, but for me it is the start to the Kilroy mess.  Then to AD 1958 the summery of the album.
Their best and the last time the band really worked together.  I can still listen to it at anytime and enjoy and think.  Next time their 2nd best album Shaw's first with them

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Powerful only Album

Ahh the 80's.  The new fab five Duran Duran was every where.  I was in junior high and most of the girls carried Tiger Beat with their pictures all in the mag.  As a teen boy I hated them.  Honestly they were a good band, but more on that later.  86 rolls around and Duran Duran takes time off and form two very different bands, I guess the early Team Jacob and Team Coco.  I went with the Power Station.  Who knew the Taylors could rock?  I also learned of Robert Palmer.  What a great voice!  Shame he left us too early.
The Power Station album is great funky rock.  Some Like it Hot, Bang a Gong, hell John has a bass solo, and it was good.  The nice thing is beyond the hits it was a solid album.  Communication, and Go to Zero are great songs.
The album made me look at Duran Duran again, beyond Tiger Beat and see there was a good band there.
Unfortunately this was the only album from this band.  Robert Palmer took the success and ran with it.  I enjoyed his solo work, but always wondered what if?  This was a great superband that only had the one album, but what a great album.
Sure there were plenty of other great superbands, but most of them stayed beyond there welcome, this one left the party way too early.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

For Paul

I am finally getting to one of the greatest and one of the top under rated bands Rush.  I know I am going with the very obvious pick here but Moving Pictures is an awsome album! It is the album most casual fans know, and it is great.  I love the lyrics in these songs and the music is top notch.
You start with Tom Sawyer, the song we all know.  But the lyrics are deep and the music just rocks.  To hear the opening cord just gets me fired up and ready to take on anything.  Red Barchetta is such a neat song.  And with gas going to $6 a gallon muscle cars might be outlawed.  You just feel the excitement and the danger in the song.  All serious musicians start off trying to learn YYZ.  Limelight explains alot of truths in the music and fame business that most of us don't think of.
Once again I know it is the easy pick for a Rush album but most of that is cause it is a great Rush album. Hemispheres, Power Windows and Grace Under Pressure are great to go to next.  The band hasn't gotten its due and why they aren't in the Rock and Roll hall of fame is beyond me.  Rush has influenced so many bands and like I stated before I know many musicians try to learn YYZ and many other Rush songs.  Why? It is because the music is just that good.
This one is for my buddy Paul, a huge fan and I went to see them in concert with him.
Till next time

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Stay out of it Nick Lachey

Once again I start with my post of my favorite albums.  This week is a dirty little confession.  First I want to say my wife bought this album, but it is the greatest break up album ever.  Newlyweds was a great show but we all knew it was going to end between Nick and Jessica, what we didn't know was the product of the train wreck would be one of the greatest break up albums ever!
What's Left of Me was the album Nick released after the very public break up and wow it was really good.  Every song on the album is so angry and bitter. It is just dead on what people feel when they break up.    The title track says it all What's Left of Me, man that hurts.  Then you have I Can't Hate You Any More, another crushing song.  Shades of Blue, Outside Looking In are the other titles, wow can you say PISSED.
The truth is Nick has a really good voice and these are really good pop songs.  It is very brave and I think therapeutic of an album.   Should it have won a Grammy, maybe for pop.  The emotions are very raw and real, and you can sing to them.
Clearly he was the more talented of the ill fated two.  Would I ever buy another Nick Lachey album, I don't think so, but he hit it out of the park here.  So if you are going through a break up, or just want to remember how tough they can be, I would give this album a listen.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Kilroy Was Here RIP Styx

Well I am going from great albums to a really bad one.  This album is soo bad that it broke up a great rock band, Styx.  Now stop hating, Styx was a great rock band before this album.  They had hard rocking tracks, hell the Steelers use Renegade to pump up the crowd at their games.  What killed them was this album and Dennis DeYoung's ego.  I like Dennis DeYoung.  At one time I owned all of his solo work, he just got out of the hard arena rock mold of Styx and dragged them down with a bad concept album.
I love the Paradise Theater album.  It was a great concept album and I will review it later, but Kilroy Was Here is awful!  It is an album about Robots.  Now I know it is about the mechanisms taking over humanity and censorship running wild, but it does not translate at all.  Two tracks are good on this album, Mr. Roboto and Don't Let it End.  Hey Mr. Roboto is catchy and if DeYoung is really great at something it is Ballads and Don't Let it End is a good one.  Other than that it is crap.  Tommy Shaw and James Young just weren't in to it and you can tell.  Then on top of that the musicians get to act, and that is being very nice.  I don't know what was going on there, maybe MTV got into it with the early music videos but these guys aren't actors.  And you can tell Shaw and Young hated it.  Now just to have a video concept album is one thing, but to take it on the road wow what a crappy idea.  I saw the Caught in the Act concert film, the Concert part was great!  They are a terrific live band.  The "Acting" part was, wow can't express it right.
I knew I would have to tackle this album with my love affair with Styx.  I think if it didn't come out the hatered of this band wouldn't be as bad.  Next week on to the Rolling Stones.  Spencer burned me an album and I am being to see what the fuss it all about.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Best Soundtrack, Don't be hating!

Well time for another album and time for another one of my favorites.  The 80's were a great time for soundtracks. From Footloose to Top Gun, and Cocktail.  Most young teen falling in love movies had some kind of soundtrack for them.  Now the three I mentioned were all great soundtracks, and Purple Rain from Prince.  Well that could of stood on its own.  Everyone knows how much I love the purple one, but I have to say he doesn't have the best soundtrack.
I was about 12 and at the movies with my mom and brother and I saw a preview for a movie.  It looked awsome and it made my mom cringe, that is a bonus for any 12 year old.  It was a cartoon with Heavy Metal music violence, blood, and naked chicks.  Yes I had to wait a few years until I saw the movie, but I got the soundtrack first.  Yes, I am talking about HEAVY METAL.
It was one if not the first of its era released in 81 and wow the artists.  Sammy Hagar, Journey, Cheap Trick, Grand Funk Railroad, Black Sabbath (Dio), Blue Oyster Cult, Devo, Donald Fagan (Steely Dan) and Stevie Nicks how can you get better than that? I have to say the title track from Sammy is the shit!  I feel it rocks so much harder than anything he ever did with Van Hagar.   And the rest of the songs fit so well with the movie.  The movie starts with a corvette flying to earth from Space.  Just too cool.  It set the standard for the rest of the soundtracks there after.
The movie has also entered culture, the best South Park in a long time paid homage to the awsomeness of this movie.  I own it on VHS and will never get rid of the tape even if I get the movie on Blue Ray.  Hell if I could find the soundtrack on 8 track I would buy it.  Well I already know I will get some disagreement, and I am looking forward to it.  Till next week!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Hello Again

Well at lot of things have taken place since my last blog.  Sorry for not keeping up on this but had a few things in the air which have now landed and I am all done with the big test.  Also I was thinking, this is my blog talking about My favorite albums.  I should talk about the albums I love.  And nobody has suggested anything for me to listen to so I will review my favorites.
The 80's in the suburbs.  Miami at its finest and I am a teenager.  My first Rock concert was for the artist I am going to be talking about this week, Chicago.
I think in the 80's in the burbs you had to have Chicago 17.  I think it was with the welcome bag on each move into the neighborhood.  And why wouldn't it be?  It is a great album, it was also the death of the band.
First the album.  I was introduced to the album by the first song Stay the Night by a video on MTV.  Yes they used to play music videos.  Great video and great song.  The next two singles were very romantic and very David Foster.  A great thing and I think the thing that broke up the band.  Peter Cetera left and to this day will not talk about it.  To me the death of the band they were never as good again.  But wow Hard Habit to Break and You're The Inspiration not much better ballads out the still.  I mean if you grew up in the 80's those were the love songs.  I think the other tracks on the album were really good, I have always been very fond of Prima Donna and Only You.  There is one real throw away We Can Stop the Hurting, cheesy.  With lyrics like "Kids running numbers out of bars" wow really I didn't know it was still 1930.  Ah leftover hippy crap they are a band that has been around forever.
After this album the band did go on, and they had some success, just without Cetera.  Now the band, like I said, was around many years before this and had many hits.  But I think Chicago 17 was one of those the sound hit at just the right time to make it a monster.
I love Chicago 17 and it will always remind me of my teenage years.  I don't know which album next, still open to suggestion.