Saturday, March 26, 2016

Five Finger Death Punch Knocks it Out

One thing I really like I about the new Hard Rock and Metal is that the artists give credit and love to the past. Disturbed got me by the Land of Confusion cover and Five Finger Death Punch first got my interest by their cover of Bad Company's Bad Company. Five Finger then released a good cover of House of the Rising Sun.

What I enjoy about Five Finger Death Punch is that they are really raw. The guitarist lays down a thunderous sound and the vocals switch between roughly delivered singing to just growling.  The band's songs are just angry and filled with unbridled rage.  If you ever need to get up in the morning or it a pick me up they are the band to look to.

The cover that really blew me away wasn't released but I found on their newest double album. Mama Said Knock You Out was a raw powerful rap/hip hop track from LL Cool J from 1990. To be honest the rap/hip hop was one of the most driven and hard edged of its time that just made sense to turn the track into a hard rock song.  The cover shows its love and respect for the original but takes it even gritter and angrier.  The track is almost prefect, the one thing it is missing is that the guest rapper isn't LL.   Even so, it is a shame to bury this amazing track in the Album and not release it.  If you need an example of how the anger in rap and metal can work this track is it.

Til next time, listen to the best - your ears deserve it.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Caves of Altamira everyone wants to leave a mark

I am a big fan of Steely Dan.  On a recent podcast of the Bluegrass Blog Mixer (check it out) we discussed the great works of the Dan and one member, we will call him JH, just didn't get the band. The other members of the podcast were surprised , not really we knew JH didn't like the Dan.  JH asked for examples on why we thought they are such a great band.  My example was the song The Caves of Altamira.

The track is off of Steely Dan's The Royal Scam album.  The album was released in 76, never mind that I was 7 when it came out, as mentioned in many other blogs I listened to my parents AM radio on which Steely Dan were kings.

My love of this song is the great story it tells and the amazing music that supports it.  In the song a young man who has never felt part of the Normal world retreats to a cave to find refuge.  In the cave he discovers ancient paintings.  Through the paintings of long lost people the young man regains his attachment to the world. There are many levels on which this song speaks to people and me.  First of, like in many Dan songs, the main character feels like an outcast and just of sync with the accepted world.  I think most of us can fit this mold at one time or another.  The other level is knowing that as mankind we have always wanted to leave our mark.  Even cavemen who didn't have any other form of communication left their mark on the walls of their caves, "Hey I was here and this is what it was like".  I don't want to meet the person who can't identify with cry of humanity, please remember I was here.

The other part is the music is great and the sax solo cuts right through you.  The layering of the horns, the electric piano and the syncopation of the delivery helps bring you along into the story.  No, the song is Well produced not Over, take that Haters!

If you want to introduce yourself to why Steely Dan is a great band The Cave of Altamira is a great place to start.

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

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Master of Puppets Masters the test of time

Listening to Ozzy's Boneyard, yeah not Octane this time, the DJ said that it was the 30th anniversary of Metallica's Master of Puppets.  Really?  I guess it is so. My earliest members of band are from high school.

Now I wasn't one of the Burn Out Metal Heads back then, but I did appreciate the music so I knew some of Metallica.  I even remember when Cliff Burton died, it was a sad time and shame to lose a great bass player.  So that being said I never bought a Metallica CD until the Black Album, but I did hear the songs at friends houses.

So I revisited Master of Puppets.  I can see how this release started their march to rule the Metal and Hard Rock world.  The songs are both still showing their Trash Metal roots but at the same time showing the complex arrangements that would lead to their godlike status in the Metal world.

Master of Puppets the title track of the release keeps its anger and edge still 30 years later, the other track that still rings true in this age is Disposable Hero's.  Hero's is a track showing the unfairness and class differences in who has to pay the real price in war.  Leaper Messiah could be at a few politician's rallys lately.  Listening with headphones is the only way to really get into the Cthulhu anthem The Thing that Should not Be.  Finally I have heard the roots of my beloved Dethklok in the masterpiece Orion.

It's hard not to compare Master of Puppets to what the band has put out lately, so I won't because the new pales strongly.  What I can say is that 30 years later this release still standout for how great Metal can be.

Til next time, listen to the best -  your ears deserve it.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

American Chess gets Checkmated

An earlier post I discussed the concept album for Chess.  On a recent trip to Asheville NC I found the American version of the show on Vinyl on sale so I picked it up.  After a quick listen I won't say I'm not happy I got the American Version but it pales in comparison to the original concept album.

I saw this version when they toured it in 89, even then I was not fully happy with it.  First of,f the songs are in the wrong order, left out or new ones added.  The performances lack the passion and bite that the concept album had.  On One Night in Bangkok don't get me started on the neutering that this song got in the American version.  The redeeming of the American version of the Musical is the production value.  The technology on this stage show was great.  At times action of the other side of the stage is seen on TVs on the other side.  The feel was really in tune with that the spectacle of this event was.  The problem is none of this comes out on the Album.

If you are looking to listen to this great musical just totally miss the stage of the development.  I say listen to the original or the PBS version with Idina Menzel and Josh Groban.

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