Brothers In Arms – Famous Siblings In Rock N Roll

Here a beady eye is cast over the fractious family ties that bind some of rock’s greatest bands together.


Eddie and Alex Van Halen

The world of rock and roll can be a very strange place indeed. Twenty four hour parties, thousands of adulating fans baying for blood at the sight of their fans and midgets carrying trays of cocaine merely for the convenience of their height. It stands as a good trait therefore to have somebody by your side during this rollercoaster ride of drugs, debauchery and general excess. Who else then would fit the bill than that of a loving sibling. Here the tenuous, tender and sometimes terrible sibling relationships in hard rock music are explored.


Siblings have a very special, cerebral connection with each other, that is a known biological fact. But, as most readers are aware, this volatile chemistry of shared genetics, backgrounds and other family members more often than not will result in violent, murderous rage between them. Add in the wonderfully out of control pastiche of rock and roll and the results tend to be very, very exciting.

Kicking off this list of genetically similar, musical mayhem is the Young brothers of AC/DC. Arguably two of the most successful, in terms of both musical ability and net gross income, Malcolm and Angus Young have been wowing fans with their balls to the wall, toe tapping, bar brawling, three chord riffs for almost forty years. With the honour of having sold over 200 million albums worldwide in a career that spans five decades, the Young brothers are responsible for such hits as “Back in Black”, “Hells Bells”, “You shook me all Night Long” and of course “Highway to Hell.” They are also notable for having remained in their original band with each other for their duration, a testimony to the harmony and musical vision the two siblings share.

Taking one for the girls next are Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart. In the long and storied history of rock and roll there have been few, if any, sister teams who have created such a lasting legacy as the Wilsons. Starting their careers as folk oriented, post hippy lyricists, Ann and Nancy formed Heart and took a much harder, edgier direction in the late seventies that has carried on to this very day, their signature song “Barracuda” coming in 1977. With a whopping thirteen albums intermittently spaced from 1973 onwards, the latest being 2010’s Red Velvet Car, the Wilson sisters have remained a strong, iron willed backbone to the Seattle music scene since their inception. A little lesbacious controversy in the late 70s rumouring the two to be lovers also makes them cool.

Fast forwarding to a much more recent and altogether heavier sounding band are Pantera. Formed by brothers Vinnie Paul and “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott, the heavy, thrash and groove metal pioneers and industry leaders are still considered major players from the early days of commercially recognized heavy metal music. Although the band split in 2003 after twenty two years and nine albums later, Pantera’s legacy can still be seen in the city and town centers all across the globe as generation after generation of young teenage blod lusters feed off of their organically grown metal mania. Their thrashing drums and blistering guitar shredding is no more apparent than on hits such as “Cowboys from Hell”, “Walk” and “I’m Broken.”

Last and by no means least are the Van Halens of, surprise surprise, Van Hagar… Halen rather. Along with the Youngs, the Van Halens are two of the most commericially successful sibling combos in all of music, not just harder rock and airwave metal. With Eddie on guitar and Alex on drums, the dutch ex patriot brothers skyrocketed to success off of the back of a string of hugely successful albums in the 1980s. Famed as much for their off stage antics as they were on, along with “Diamond” David Lee Roth their front man and all round hellraiser, the Van Halens scored with the excellent combination of genuine, classically trained musical ability and the love for the rock and roll lifestyle. Must listenable hits include “Runnin’ with the Devil”, “Panama”, “Women in Love” and “Drop Dead Legs”. In keeping with true rock and roll tradition, the band still tours with Eddie’s son Wolfgang on bass.

Of course these are but a fraction of the sibling combos that have gone on to forge the embittered, bile spewing world of rock and roll. Honorable mentions go to John and Tome Fogherty of Creedence Clearwater Revival, Ray and Dave Davies of The Kinks and of course Duane and Gregg Allman of The Allman Brothers band whom without we would never have “Jessica”. Or put another way, Top Gear would be even worse.

Jonathan Whitelaw


More info can be found at the bands’ official websites: http://www.acdc.com, http://www.heart-music.com, http://www.pantera.com and http://www.van-halen.com

Rock’s Classics :: AC/DC – Let Me Put My Love into You.

One of AC/DC’s most overlooked classics, this track comes from a plethora of classics to choose from. It is with its quiet dignity and lack of airtime that make this song one of the very best.


AC/DC

AC/DC Circa 1980

After a brief hiatus, the beady eye of interest and nosiness casts its glare onto a classic song from a classic era of a classic band… How couldn’t this have been more acknowledged than it is? Swamped amongst hard hitting rock classics such as “Hells Bells” “You Shook Me All Night Long” and of course “Back in Black” we have “Let Me Put My Love into You” by AC/DC, a bastion of less being more and the variance of three chord hard rock.


The world of 1980 was a very different place compared to today. Musically the planet was in a way still reeling from the fall out of sixties as the airwaves were filled with countless disco badgers and hounds that would pollute anything with ears. The Eagles had called it quits in 1980, as did Led Zeppelin amongst others, two behemoths of their respective genres becoming dormant and leaving large spaces that may never be filled. Riding the wave of their massively successful breakout album Highway to Hell, AC/DC suffered a monumental and almost catastrophic disaster in the form of lead singer Bon Scott’s demise at the tender age of 33, dying as he lived, partying. But in true rock and roll fashion, the Australian hard rockers decided the best way to pay tribute to the late Scott was to soldier on and keep going as he would have wanted. Geordie screamer Brian Johnson stepped into the fray and brought his own brand of grass roots, salt of the earth experience to the already blue collar band. The end result was Back in Black which would go on to be the second best selling album of all time, the scale of which can be seen considering the best is Michael Jackson’s seminal work Thriller.

Which brings the action neatly to the subject of this profile. Perhaps most famous for being the lead in track for the decisive “Back in Black”, “Let Me Put My Love into You.” Is a creeping, looming song that has an unassuming menace to its tone, lyrics and overall performance. As the title suggests there is no deep meaning, ambiguous or even, dare it be said, creative undercurrent to the song that makes it all the more enjoyable. Coming from a band who makes no qualms about their love for all things fornicated and party oriented, the song is an unusually barefaced, stark statement of the formula they have mastered and kept blasting out of their amps for almost forty years.

Even from the geography of the song on the album, “Let Me Put my Love into You.” Is a stark difference from the previous four tracks that precede it. In this sense, the song acts as a bridge for the two separate acts of the album as a whole, representing a transition from the first half of the album into the second, no mean feat considering the lasting impact of songs such as “Back in Black”, “You Shook Me All Night Long” and “Rock and Roll Aint Noise Pollution” all major staples of AC/DC’s legacy and hard rock trend setters. With the distinctly sedated three chord riff and pounding bassline, “Let me Put my Love into You.” Strikes the listener immediately as a break from the norm and stands as a testimony to the artists’ ability to create a wonderful sound in a less is more fashion, more so considering both the band’s track record and the genre’s more demanding, loud and fierce tendencies.

It is with all of these factors that the song builds itself up quietly and unassumingly on an album that is literally chocked full of classics from start to finish. “Let Me Put My Love into You.” Is therefore a wonderful track that delivers to fans and new listeners alike both an excellent rock track and a piece of production and tactical musical ability. From an album that has been noted as one of the best ever and from an era of music that is now considered transitional in its depiction, Back in Black can still be considered a fitting tribute from a band to their fallen hero and a must listen to anybody interested in music.

Jonathan Whitelaw


Have a look at AC/DC’s official website for details of tours and availability of discography” http://www.acdc.com

Album Review :: ’77 – 21st Century Rock

Hailing from the sunny shores of Barcelona, a new wave of old rock gets ready to devour the recently resurrected scene.


'77

'77 - 21st Century Rock © Listenable Records / Weight Recordings

As a general rule of thumb employed by most things in life, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. In music, however, this does not always suffice as imitation can often lead to a somewhat black balled attitude held towards any artist seen “copying” other artists in either sound, style or material. The world of hard rock, thankfully, does not adhere to these or any other rules. It is with great pleasure that Spanish rockers ’77 release their first fully fledged album 21st Century Rock, a sleazy hard rock album that harkens back to the golden era of the late 1970s where singers were hairy, bare chested beasts, drummers were drunk and guitars sweated spinal fluid as their fingers danced across the fretboard.


Hailing from Barcelona, Spain, ’77 are the latest produce in the vein of classic rockers AC/DC, KISS, Alice Cooper and The Scorpions. With their bold as brass approach to sleazy licks, lyrics and riffs, this refreshingly old take on rock music makes the listener feel like they have travelled through a temporal portal in the fabric of the space time continuum, landing smack down in the middle of 1978 and desperately seeking a pair of crotch hugging jeans, a main full of hair and a fetching fur lined, sleeveless denim jacket… rivets and all.

Kicking off their debut album, ’77 take to the studio with “Gimme Rock n Roll” a less than original sounding title for what is essentially a classic blues based rock number, designed for driving down roads at loud volume. More of the same is continued with “Hardworking Liar” and “Shake it Up”, the latter being a much meaner sounding, growling number, the screaming lead guitar, an SG of course, of LG Valeta careering over the lumbering and brooding rhythm like an angry eagle on the hunt.

The highlight of the ten track album comes with the eponymous “21st Century Rock”, its initial ghostly guitar intro a testimony to the musical ability of the band and their producers. Designed as the group’s anthem, this final offering from their debut album is a wonderfully crafted, lyric heavy song destined to get audiences sweaty, raucous and jumping for joy as the upbeat tempo makes the listener tap their feet uncontrollably along in time. The solo is a blistering blast all across the fretboard and the backing vocals from the percussion section reiterate the down and dirty nature of the band and its roots in working class, pub rock.

Upon listening to 21st Century Rock it is easy to slip the rose tinted glasses on and regard it as nothing more than a less than fractious tribute to the rock scene of the late seventies. Despite the title of the album, it would appear that ’77 are very much still in love with an era of music that has long since faded into memory. Lead singer Armand Valeta has the uncanny ability to sound very much like the late, great Bon Scott in both pitch and tone, something that has not been achieved since Scott’s death in 1980. However, it should be noted that this is not necessarily a bad thing so long as the fans and music industry do not regard this as nothing more than a tribute as opposed to an original band trying and playing their best. It is therefore an important point to be noted that ’77 ARE an original band, who have opened for Airbourne on their Spanish legs of a world tour, and should therefore be treated thusly.

21st Century Rock is an excellent album for fans of the sleaze and hard rock genres of music. Although not well documented in recent years, it is therefore refreshing to hear a raw and guttural form of this type of music. Excellently produced and ingeniously and lovingly crafted, ’77 are a band on the up who deserve as much mainstream success as they dare to achieve.

Jonathan Whitelaw


For more band information, availability of the album and tour dates check out their website: http://www.myspace.com/seventysevenrocks

Rock’s Classics :: Def Leppard – Photograph

Sheffield’s answer to Bon Jovi give us a taste of their talents as we focus our lens on “Photograph”


def leppard

Def Leppard © Def Leppard

The plundering of rock’s heavily ladened vault of classics continues with a distinctly metal flavored favorite from Sheffield’s finest, Def Leppard. From the height of their popularity in 1983, “Photograph” has become one of the most distinct and easily recognizable tracks from a band that achieved most of their success across the pond in the USA than in Britain. Taking into account their vast repertoire of hits and popular anthems from a career that has spanned thirty three years, “Photograph” remains one of the most popularly played rock songs on American and British radio stations since its first release in the early eighties.


Def Leppard has a somewhat mixed opinion in fans of the classic rock genre. Sometimes considered too metal to be harder rock, the ever raging debate as to where hard rock ends and metal begins is a seemingly unanswerable question, bands like Def Leppard, AC/DC and others seemed to spend the decade of the eighties continually crossing the divide and releasing material, sometimes on the same album, that was ambiguous and genre hopping. Thus with the release of Pyromania in 1983, Def Leppard capped off their monumental rise to prominence with as ambiguous an album that could be possibly created.

Consisting of songs such as “Foolin” and “Rock of Ages”, Def Leppard’s third studio album would prove to be the catapult that would propel the band into the mainstream in the US and everywhere else almost immediately. With a cleanly produced sound that emulated American rock bands such as Bon Jovi and Aerosmith, Def Leppard were very quickly embraced by the early dawn of the hair metal fans that were emerging on the music scene. “Photograph” however had the advantage of being a song firmly rooted in a classic rock topic, lyrics and three-chord riff with the production values and overall sound of the emerging soft metal genre.

Produced by the now legendary “Mutt” Lange, “Photograph” is a song that immediately grabs the attention of the listener with its streamlined guitars and almost rattled percussion, the distinction between the instruments and sections of the band being stark and defined. Written as a tribute to the late Marilyn Monroe, lead singer Joe Elliot and the rest of the band; Rick Savage on bass, Steve Clark on guitars, Pete Willis, who was dismissed part way through recording of the album but not before laying down all rhythm sections for songs, and finally “Mutt” Lange all contributed to the creation of the song. Elliot’s vocals are typically on form, his relatively high voice lending a perfect compliment to the glossy production of the song and album as a whole. The song immediately entered the band’s set list for the subsequent tour for the Pyromania tour and was decided to be the lead single from the album although all would be hugely successful.

It would be the live versions of this song, however, that would ultimately lead to its immortalisation into the classic rock archive. Since its live debut in 1983, “Photograph” ingrained itself as a must see event and part of Def Leppard shows and set lists. The height of this popularity came in its live recording in the Don Valley Stadium, Sheffield in 1993 as part of a much wider concert that was seen as a huge thank you and praise to the band’s hometown roots and original fan base. The performance is, quite frankly, fantastic; Elliot and the rest all on top form, obviously driven on by the sold out home crowd. It should be noted that by this point, drummer Rick Allen had lost his arm in an accident but did not let this mar his performances, a customized drum kit rigged up for him as he rose, and continues to rise, to the challenge. A testimony to the songs enduring popularity is the recent collaboration in 2008 where the band teamed with the country and pop star Taylor Swift, “Photograph” amongst a number of Leppard hits. Although not as good as the original version or subsequent live performances by the band, the introduction of a popular singer from another music genre no less has introduced the song to a whole new generation of fans. It is with a great shame then that the song was not as big a hit in the UK compared to its huge success in the US, a fact that disappointed lead singer Elliot. Nonetheless, “Photograph” remains an underrated classic from an era of rock music that can so often be dismissed as filled with pulp and corporate garbage.

Jonathan Whitelaw


As ever, discography, tours and band info can be found on the official website: http://www.defleppard.com

Album Review :: Airbourne – No Guts, No Glory

No change please, we’re rockers. Airbourne’s return to studio work stands and delivers.


Airbourne

Airbourne - No Guts, No Glory © Airbourne/Roadrunner Records

In a world dominated by uncertainty, it is important to appreciate the smaller, infrequent moments that often can pass us by. With a volatile financial climate, seemingly constant threat of imminent doom and the frankly violent level of boredom offered by the likes of The X Factor and other degenerates, it is heart warming to be treated to the brilliantly performed, excellently produced and wonderfully fun latest release from hard Ozzy rockers Airbourne.

Since they emerged on the major market in 2006 with their debut album Runnin’ Wild Airbourne have quickly rocketed up the rankings and become one of the world’s most popular hard rock acts of the last ten years. Aligned very much in the style of the countrymen AC/DC and with frequent nods to other such classic rock gods as KISS, Van Helen, Bad Company and Whitesnake, these lads certainly know how to get a good party going. With a deliciously grimy blend of pseudo blues based, three chord riffs, eye wateringly accurate bass and a drum line that boils the very beer in your belly, Airbourne consistently deliver in the studio and on the road where they have been relentlessly touring since Runnin’ Wild debuted. It is therefore with great anticipation, excitement and aplomb that their second album No Guts, No Glory hits the shops in Europe on March 8th, April 22nd globally.

Kicking off the album with three traditional rock tracks are “No way but the hard way,” the album’s first single release, “Raise the Flag” and the oddly haunting “Born to Kill” the last of which opens the album with a creepy, screeching solo guitar intro before crunching down to a hard as nails, beaten and bruised rock anthem. Continuing in the vein of their previous album, and those of their aged predecessors, No Guts, No Glory is seeped in the style of songs that, as so many have said before, “The wives don’t get to know about”. Concentrating on all the debauchery, hard drinking, smoking and illicit bad behaviour that hard rock has built its own reputation on, the album more than heartily delivers on both the theme and playing styles that fans have now come to expect of this band. It is perhaps only a shame then that only really Airbourne and a very small handful of others are still producing this style of music. Honourable mention of course go to The Answer who, although not nearly as hard or successful, have at least remained true to the hard rock vein, more than can be said of the likes of Wolfmother and The Steroephonics.

As fine and dandy hard rocking, questionably easy riffs and shouty lyrics can be, No Guts, No Glory also aptly displays the wide array of talent Airbourne have when it comes to pace, lyricism and durability. Widely publicised during the build up to the release of this album, lead singer/guitarist Joel O’Keeffe stated that the band lived in the studio, eating, sleeping and existing during the recording of the album, much akin to the likes of Bruce Springsteen during his heyday. With high octane numbers like “It Aint over till its Over,” “Devils Child” and “Rattle your Bones,” the last two only available on the special edition album, it is surprising and refreshing to have a track like “Bottom of the Well” where the tempo is much more relaxed and melodic, the passion and conviction still very much present.

Couple these along with an epic range in subject matter and the album that stands at a whopping thirteen tracks, eighteen on the special edition, delivers on pretty much every front. The excellent summer anthem “White Line Fever” is sure to be played all throughout the warm months on rock stations the world over. This unashamedly crass feast of excess is stark in comparison to the endearingly heart felt “Steel Town” an ode to working class cities and towns and the bands’ own little tribute to their heritage and lifestyles and their audience.

In all, No Guts, No Glory is an excellent, triumphant return to the market for Airbourne. With a subsequent world tour following and the band gaining an excellent, healthy fan base all over the planet, Airbourne are very much poised to take the step from being sole soldiers on the hard rock front lines to upper echelon, fully fledged members of the community. It is often said that any artist, in any genre, needs a really good, solid, stand out studio performance on which to fundamentally launch their careers from. Now, it would seem, Airbourne have just that.

Jonathan Whitelaw


Check out the band’s website: http://www.airbournerock.com

Album Review :: Airbourne – Ready To Rock

Australia’s Hard Rock heirs to the throne’s often overlooked EP is a lost gem, tragically overlooked.


Airbourne

Ready to Rock by Airbourne © Airbourne

With their second full album now less than a week away from general release here in Europe, April 20th in the States, Airbourne are the latest and most recent rock success story form Australia. Where their first album Runnin Wild was a success story all across the globe, this up and coming piece No Guts, No Glory is set to sky rocket their popularity. However, for more discerning fans there is the EP Ready to Rock available for consideration and definitely worth listening to.

Hailing from Warrnambool in Australia, this four set outfit consist of Joel and Ryan O’Keeffe on lead vocals/guitar and drums respectively, rhythm guitarist David Roads and bassist Justin Streets, all young, fun loving guys who have a penchant for debauchery, hard drinking and all kinds of fornication. It is no surprise then that they have been described by many as being heavily influenced by AC/DC, their first album often unfairly antagonized and mocked as being too much of a tribute. However, with a massing fan base, there would appear to be a vast majority of listeners out there who would claim that to be a good thing, the other ozzy rockers now pushing on a bit.

Having achieved their popular status from their first album Runnin Wild it now often overlooked that it was their inaugural EP that brought them to the attention of Capitol Records. Released in 2004, Ready to Rock heralded a triumphant debut into the less than populated world of heavy rock. With traditional sounding “Three Chord” riffs, Airbourne hearken themselves back to a simpler, cruder time when rock music was in its infancy.

The eponymous opening track “Ready to Rock” coupled with “Stand and Deliver” are run of the mill hard rock songs, the brothers gelling well with the percussion and rhythm section, a solid foundational opening for the rest of the EP. Other excellent sounds come in the form of “Come on Down” a great little pub anthem and a must for any pre-night out warm up playlist. “Runnin’ Hot” and “Women on Top” which, as the popular advert used to say, does exactly as it says on the tin. The jewel in the sweaty, static and beer soaked crown comes in the form of “When the girl gets hot (The love don’t stop)”. Apart from having a frankly awesome classic rock title and subject matter, the opening, almost haunting guitar riff of Joel O’Keeffe leaves the listener wondering how this band had gone so long without being snapped up by a major record label. Couple that with the frankly brilliant production behind both the song and the rest of the album, the boys do an excellent job of getting the right mix of sleazy, grimy sounding Gibson SG with thunderous drums and a thumping bass line.

In all, although perhaps more of a tribute to AC/DC and other classic rock bands that made the mid seventies to early nineties so memorable for this music than their first official release, Ready to Rock is never the less a wonderful introduction to the Australian outfit. Not as widely available as it perhaps should be, the songs on the EP are slowly and surely being bled into the western market via exclusive downloads and bonus tracks on re-releases of the Runnin Wild album. The upcoming album, released March 8TH, and subsequent tour are set to send Airbourne into the upper echelons of hard rock stardom and with a lot of life and fight left in this band, let us hope that they are ready to accept the responsibility of being hard rock’s royal dynasty for the next four decades.

N.B Look out for the review of No Guts, No Glory coming soon.

Jonathan Whitelaw


Check out the band’s official website at: http://www.airbournerock.com

The Super Bowl Halftime show – A future rock classic?

The Super Bowl halftime show, glamorous, spectacular and it would now seem an annual place for classic rockers to show off their stuff.


The Who

The Who, Roger Daltrey & Pete Townsend (c) AP Photo/Rob Carr

The annual spectacular known as the Super Bowl has often provided highs and lows both on and off the field for sporting fans and casual viewers alike. As the trend of the event being watched by ever increasing amounts of hundreds of millions of people globally, it is interesting to note that the spectacle of the half time show has come to rely on aging rockers in recent years. The Who are the latest to join the long list of performers in the forty four year history of the event, joining others who have carved a path of glory on one of the world’s biggest stages.

Save perhaps for the opening and closing ceremonies of World Cups and summer Olympic games, the annual Super Bowl of American football provides one of the grandest stages on which an artist can be asked to perform at. Of course only the biggest and brightest names are chosen for the half time show, usually comprising of a whirlwind stage being erected and typical American glitz and fireworks. It is compelling and interesting to note however that since 2005 megastars of the classic rock genre have graced the stage and delivered memorable performances, perhaps not for the artists themselves but certainly for the Super Bowl audiences.

Beginning this current trend was Paul McCartney in the early months of 2005. With a typical medley of his more famous songs including “Baby you can drive my car” “Get Back” and “Live and Let die” the decision to go for a vintage rock act, Sir Paul of course hot off of endorsing the iPod at the time, was heralded as a bold move considering the predominantly RnB and hip hop dominated music scene of the era. Criticism of the performance were mainly down to the distinctly flat sounding production of the clearly pre-recorded set list, the typical NFL and American broadcasting paranoia that when the cameras were on, never trust a rocker, even one in his sixties.

This was followed in 2006 with the ever enduring Rolling Stones. Like Macca before them, The Stones, led by the increasingly thinning, handbag face of Mick Jagger, this performance still showed many critics of the group, who have failed to release anything of great note in what seems like a lifetime, that they could still get the job done. The band had come under some criticism having publicly lambasted The Eagles that year for apparently over charging fans to see them play a “best of” set list, confusing considering Jagger et al had been doing that for the better part of forty years. Typical crowd pleasers like “Start Me Up” and ”(I can’t get no) satisfaction” were included as Jagger stomped around the giant lip logo stage, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood being propped up by their guitars and Charlie Watts looking distinctly bored on drums.

Next in 2007 and 2008 were Prince and Tom Petty respectively. For Prince this was a return to a stage he had graced in his heyday and for Tom Petty a chance to take a break from his ‘King of the Hill’ acting and perform to the predominantly American audience that he enjoys huge popularity with. Highlights of the performances were a thrilling rendition of “All along the watchtower” and “Purple Rain” from Prince, although once again The Artist was upstaged by his flamboyant symbol guitar which dazzled the flashing camera bulbs. Petty’s highlights were, in truth, the entire set including “Free Fallin’” “Won’t back Down” and an obvious “American Girl”. The usual lack of enthusiasm displayed by the crowd, 71000 plus strong, taking away a little from the well performed shows put on by both acts.

Which brings the list neatly to last year’s performance from The Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Singing his ever popular “Born to Run” and “Glory Days” the press at the time took the surprising turn of lambasting their hero for not playing “Born in the USA”, The Boss seemingly still a little embittered by his blatantly social issue based song being used by George Bush snr’ presidential campaign in the early 1990s.

So it would appear that the popularity of rock music is as powerful a selling tool as it is a predominantly thriving music culture and scene. Although it must be stated that the performers and artists contributions to the Super Bowl halftime shows were by no means “classic’ on their parts, it still remains one of the most watched events of the sporting and televisual year and to have classic rock represented in such a large way can only be good. This begs the question as to how long this trend will continue, and also who will fill the pretty big shoes already. The likes of U2, Phil Collins, ZZ Top and Michael Jackson have also headlined the event and with KISS, AC/DC and others now refinding their form, surely it must only be a matter of time before the powers at be make the Super Bowl halftime show a kick ass rock fest to keep the frothing fans thirsty for more.

Jonathan Whitelaw


All of the above performances can be found on YouTube. Band Links: http://www.thewho.com, http://www.rollingstones.com, http://www.tompetty.com, http://www.lotusflow3r.com, http://www.brucespringsteen.net, http://www.youtube.com

A decade in Rock Music 2000 – 2009

A quick and light review of the past decade’s contribution to Rock and Roll


crowdSo that’s it over then, another decade consigned to the record books and not a bad one from a musical perspective. In ten whole years that have seen the ascendancy of celebrity status, famous for five minute pop songs and the untimely deaths of some of music’s great contributors, this article seeks to offer a pick from each of the past ten years jewels in rock music. All your favourites are in there and a few unexpected gems that are well worth a listen.

 The decade kicked off with two old time favourites offering up brand new material for our listening pleasure. AC/DC released Stiff Upper Lip, an album aimed more at established fans than those who were merely casual listeners. This does not detract from the good material found across the album’s twelve tracks and definitely worth a listen. Metal legends Iron Maiden also treated listeners to Brave New World, an album more noted for the return of lead singer and overall good egg Bruce “I rescue people in my plane” Dickinson than credible numbers to a Maiden set list.

In 2001 the world was shocked by the tragedy of the terrorist attacks in New York, nothing would ever truly be the same ever again. These events somewhat overshadowed most of the year’s contributions to music across the spectrum of variety. Aerosmith’s early March effort Just Push Play and Judas Priest’s Demolition provide ample listening for a year where things took on a little wider perspective.

The year of 2002 was sparsely populated by music from the classic rock and roll genre, possibly from the fall out of the previous year’s atrocities. Aging rockers UFO provided some light in the form of Sharks, a nice little album that more than deserves a listen. The year would also mark the demise of The Who’s bassist John Entwistle, the rock world mourned and Waylon Jennings, both very sorely missed by fans and music lovers alike.

2003 provided another opportunity for Iron Maiden to dust off their studded cod pieces and tour once more on the back of their album Dance of Death a typically over caricatured album that is now seemingly expected from the aging group, the eponymous track however is worth a listen. Classic British rockers Thunder also provided fans and new listeners alike with their album Shooting at the Sun which is remarkably refreshing from a band who enjoyed most of their success in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Thunder are an interestingly perplexing band, the song “Loser” from this album is a classic example of their roots being solidly in classic and hard rock with just the slightest pinch of metal thrown in for good measure. Anybody who enjoys this style of music should definitely give these Londoners more than a quick check out, you will not be disappointed. It should also be noted that this was the year of Snow Patrol releasing Final Straw that went multi platinum and arguably the age of new pop “rock” was born.

2004 was a huge year for music in general terms. The Killers jumped on the band wagon of the popularised yet not too heavy harder popular rock with their album Hot Fuss and the singles “Mr Brightside” and “Somebody Told Me” filling nightclub dance floors the world over. On the classic rock front Aerosmith offered Honking’ on Bobo an eleven track album form the American outfit that perfectly tides listeners over for their fill of sweaty, sleazy rock and roll harmonics, the (Formerly) Toxic Twins on form.

Judas Priest, those leather clad, motorcycle riding fiends from Birmingham, offered Angel of Retribution in 2005, an album notable for featuring the bands longest song to date “Lochness.” A descent enough hard offering from the band who continue to sell out tours the world over, masters of knowing their market and aiming directly at them with a gauntleted fist.

The year of 2006 was again a sparsely populated scene for rock music. This, however, never keeps a good rocker down for very long. Musical pleasures of this year included the return of the ever enjoyable Richard Ashcroft with Keys to the World and also heralded the popular arrival of the Arctic Monkeys with Whatever people say I am, That’s what I’m not, a classic case of a band seeing an overcrowded market and screaming at the top of their forced hoarse voices “Me Too!”

With the unpleasantness of the better part of seven years of distinctly average if not sub par classic rock being forced down fans throats it was a pleasure in 2007 to hear from Australia’s latest contribution to a scene they are famous for loving. Airbourne’s debut album Runnin Wild was just the medicine for all the placid outputs from previously thought immortals of the genre with its hard edges, bluesy riffs and more than one cheeky nod to godfathers AC/DC with their lurid love of all things nasty. 2007 Also contributed the first full album from The Eagles with Long Road out of Eden, an imaginative and brilliantly complex double disc set that keeps the aging country group at the top of many download play lists. Who could forget the reunion show of Led Zeppelin, also taking place the later days of this year.

By 2008, appetites had been more than wetted for the highly anticipated Black Ice from AC/DC. Offering a much more classic feel and return to the bands roots and heyday of the late 70s and 80s, the album sees the Young brothers on usual form with more than brilliant percussion from Cliff Williams on Bass and Phil Rudd returning on Drums. Brian Johnson is at his gargling best, the eight year lay off from touring and heavy singing showing benefit in his screeching voice across the whole track list.

Which brings us nicely to 2009, the year that was and, at the time of this writing, currently is. The return of the mighty KISS with Sonic Boom merely reiterated the fact that classic rock is here to stay. With the upcoming decade on the horizon and the sweet scent of beer soaked clothing and buzzing in your ears from the static, the future decade promises a whole lot more of rock music and beyond. Have a happy New Year Everyone

Jonathan Whitelaw


Do check out itunes or amazon for any of the albums/artists/tracks listed in this article.: http://astore.amazon.co.uk/0.-21?node=136,

Christmas time, an alternative rock playlist

Even rockers love Santa!


Robot Santa

Robot Santa (c) 20th Century Fox

It’s that time of the year again when the wonderful festivities of Christmas land fully loaded and sparkling in our laps, whether we like it or not. But as the repeated cheer of years gone by graces the television, here is an alternative playlist of Christmas songs available from our good friend Satan… I mean Santa.

Christmas songs, in general, like to concern themselves with only the finest aspects of the festive season. Whether that be mistletoe and wine, reindeer and sleigh balls tearing up a frosty scene or the warming, but deeply concerning for us men, chestnuts roasting on an open fire, there is no end to famous bands and artists who have contributed to the silly season. It is unsurprising that there is an endless the list of artists who have donned the tinsel and Santa hat in aide of selling albums. Paul McCartney no less has gone down in history as one of the most famous of these examples. His 1979 Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time is now almost synonymous with the late December nights and, here in the UK at least, drunken rampages of office decadence and tinsel clad party goers. Other famous contributors are The Pogues who, up until their 1987 Fairytale in New York had received moderate success were catapulted into the lime light, Kirsty MacColl taken along for the ride too. Now, thanks to digital download and music television the single has success on a yearly basis.

So in this time of sickening festive cheer, a small, but not unsubstantial list of songs can b collated to bring an alternative enjoyment to the hackneyed Christmas song. Kicking off this list is the aging stars of the frankly brilliant rockumentary, Spinal Tap. Christmas with the Devil offers harder listeners a little shine on Christmas from a much seedier, hedonistic view, perfect for warming one’s cockles. Speaking of elves clad in leather and rancid sugar plums, this festive frolic is a wonderful send up of both the hard rock/metal scene and traditional Christmas wailings from a seemingly perfect world of matching snowflakes and candy cane lined streets. The deliberately overproduced guitar rift immediately catapults the listener into a dreary, yet strangely entrancing world where its “Evil’s holiday”

Returning more to traditional routes, the legendary folk and prog-rock veterans Jethro Tull contribute their harmonic and acoustic talents to Christmas Song and Another Christmas Song. Long associated with a more country and folk backgrounds, Christmas provides a perfect backdrop for Ian Anderson and the rest of Tull to wrap their wonderfully imaginative and deeply descriptive minds around great scenes of winter and warm fires. The playing is of course outstanding on both songs as they also provide perfect examples of Anderson’s remarkable ability to turn the simple flute, a firm bastion of classical instrumentality, and make spew rock tones that hold up with modern guitar work. An honourable mention also goes to Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow as another fine song by Jethro Tull dealing with the less fortunate at Christmas time, an important subject to all of course.

A final contributor to the alternate Christmas playlist is Mistress for Christmas by AC/DC. The veteran Australian rockers offer from their 1991 album The Razor’s Edge a typically sleazy, blues oriented song that never fails to bring a smile to listener’s faces, fans or not. Of course not meant to be taken seriously, as the band themselves like not to be, this final offering is simply AC/DC offering their irreverent commentary on yet another subject, that of Christmas, oddly enough in late September of 1990 for its release!

So there you have it good gentlefolk of the realms. I hope this offers a small candle light of hope when you are next suffering through the drudgery of Cliff Richard’s greatest Christmas Hits all at once. The mere glimpse that hard rock has had its noisy share o the market might just save us all in the end from another dose of ingestion and bowel obstructions brought on by brussel sprouts. I wish you all of course a merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Jonathan Whitelaw


Check out iTunes and the band websites for all songs avilible in this article: www.acdc.com, www.jethrotull.com and www.spinaltap.com.

Classic Rock – Who says its dead!

Classic rock and roll, an old dog with very sharp teeth!


 
Angus Young of AC/DC

Angus Young and AC/DC are still favourites. Photo www.ishootshows.com Copyright © 2009 Todd Owyoung

“Rock n roll aint noise pollution, rock n roll aint gonna die” The screeching voice of AC/DC’s Brian Johnson sings the signature lines to the 1980 hit from the Australian rockers. The line is from a song that bring ups the rear end of arguably the most famous classic rock album, and certainly the best selling, of all time, Back in Black. Regarded as little more than a traditionally blues based filler song, the band, or any of the listening fans, know that, after some thirty years after its initial release, the song would become a signature anthem and epitome of what classic rock music has become.

It is not an unknown fact in the current music industry that there is still a thriving market for aging rockers. Many accredit this to the saturated markets of pop and RnB for delivering their same act re-packaged, re-dressed and re-branded every few years. This has led to a boom in the indie scene, house and electro pop markets as listeners seek out new and more creative forms of music. But a side effect of this has seen a recurring theme of fans, of all ages, screaming for classic rock and roll music. But it would be unfair to lay the credit and responsibility for rock’s inclination at the glitter drenched feet of the pop industry. The truth is that classic rock is just a great way of having fun and is genuinely good to listen to.

For the most part, standard rock will compromise of three main topics, women, drinking and a jolly old knees up. The variants on these themes differ depending on the sentimentality or in some cases the degree of which drug induced bedlam has been declared norm, of the band but always remain true to the classic rock fundamentals. It is no wonder then that in a world suffering the biggest financial crisis and unemployment at their highest in decades that the seemingly utopian lifestyle of partying, girls and late night hotel shenanigans has become a predominant escapist fantasy of the modern world.

Leading the charge of assault on the heavily powdered, complacent fortress of popular dirge are a number of aging bands still pumping out loud static from their marshal stacks. AC/DC treated long time fans and new listeners to their 2008 offering, Black Ice, their first album since 2000. Although not perfect by any means and pallid in comparison to their heyday albums, the album resorted to a more straight edged, crowd pleasing format. The band’s previous two efforts had been more aimed at longer, more established fan bases. 2009 has also produced new material from the likes of Alice in Chains, Foreigner and KISS, who’s Sonic Boom album released in October was more than a blatant nod to their glory days of the late 1970s and 80s. As far back as 2007 with the remaining members of Led Zeppelin reforming as a tribute to the late Atlantic Records mogul Ahmet Ertgrun, millions of fans, old and new, clamoured for only a few thousand tickets. This style of frenzy has been replicated across the world as the aging bands have gone on tour to promote their new work, usually selling out within moments. This shows that there is still a lot of life left in the old shaggy dog.

The future is mixed for the classic rock industry. On one hand there is new material readily available for fans of any generation to enjoy from some of the best known and loved masters of the game. On the other hand, however, the men and women of this age of music are now nearing their 60s and beyond bringing into question who will take the beer stained guitar and amplifiers when they are retired. Regardless of the future, enough of our heroes have taught us not to think about it, the desire and willingness to pay for classic rock music is still very much alive. With new techniques of recording, production, indie and popular favourite Mark Ronson contributed to Foreigner’s latest album, and easier access to rock music continuing to change and simplify, the industry truly does look like it will never die.

By Jonathan Whitelaw


For more info on the bands in this article, check out their official websites: www.acdc.com, www.kissonline.com, www.foreigneronline.com and www.ledzeppelin.com. Also http://www.ishootshows.com