Rock’s Classics :: Bad Company – Bad Company

Rock’s Classics returns after a short hiatus with an embodiment of what it meant to make rock music in the 1970s

Bad Company

Bad Company © John Rockwood

Taking a trip back to arguably one of rock’s heyday years of 1974, Rock’s Classics takes a gander at the hard rock classic “Bad Company” by Bad Company. Often considered by many to be a band that could and perhaps should have delivered more, Bad Company seemed to tap into a mentality and way of life that perfectly epitomised the early 70s rock scene. With their screaming lyrics and heavily amped guitars, Bad Company stood at the very edge of making a bloody charge at immortality, “Bad Company” was one of their war cries.

Formed in 1973 as the result of the remaining members of Free, vocalist Paul Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirke. Mott the Hoople’s Mick Ralphs on guitar and Boz Burrell formerly of King Crimson, it seemed that this band of plucky young rockers who had cut their teeth in what are considered some of the best seminal rock bands of their age, could do no wrong. The initial result of their meeting and cutting of their first album, Bad Company was a record deal with the newly formed Swan Song, a lucrative if not chaotic side project of Led Zeppelin. This deal also secured the services of Zep’s manager, one Peter Grant, the towersome former wrestler who is considered to be the pioneer of the rock band’s management system we know of today.

Thus in 1974, the band released their eponymous debut album much to the critics and fans of the member’s previous band’s enjoyment and pleasure. literally ladened with what are considered classic rock staples and anthems, “Can’t Get Enough,” and “Movin’ On” could probably justify a Rock’s Classics article to themselves, it was the self styled album and band leading song “Bad Company” that would secure itself as being the definitive sound for the band itself and the perfect calling card for the artists and their work.

Written by Kirke and Rodgers, the main basis for the song’s inspiration is taken from the Jeff Bridges western movie released a few years previously. Designed as an anthem for any rebelling soul and individual thinker, the lyrics deal with the somewhat regretful and remorseful narrator who acknowledges his rebellious and free way of life, ultimately not repenting but admitting it what he or she ultimately wants. This, accompanied by Ralphs guitar work in which he lumbers through the whole song with a heavy fisted dread, perfectly countering the flamboyant and wistful vocals from Rodgers. The percussion section and echoing piano/keyboard, also from Ralphs, paint the perfect picture of an Old West wilderness, the place in which the narrator has either decided or accepted will be the place of his final fight, a life spent on the wrong side of the tracks ending in the same way.

The solo, one of Mick Ralph’s best and a tribute to a rock guitarist often left off of most popular and talented lists, comes thundering out of this musical wilderness like a stampeding stallion. Erupting much like the protagonists frustration and temperamental nature, the solo works its way up and down the fret board in a controlled chaos, the voices of a thousand generations of rogues and renegades uniting as one distorted, amplified Marshall voice.

In all, “Bad Company” is not a song that is overlooked, nor is it a song that is underappreciated or unheralded by critics and fans of the hard and classic rock movements. It is a song that is a perfect embodiment of a band, era and genre that was perfectly master crafted and delivered to the mass public, of which they ate it up. Although Bad Company would go on to produce a total of twelve studio albums, the line up changed on an almost yearly basis at one point during the 80s and 90s, the band’s spirit was never truly captured again than in this album and thus within it this track. A great pity as many rock bands before and after Bad Company would attempt to come close to encapsulating all that they stood for but in the end, none were as close as Bad Company were, all of the time.

Jonathan Whitelaw

The band are still going strong so check out their official website:

Album Review :: The Black Keys – Brothers

American blues rockers delight fans and critics alike with their latest offering in what is set to be a breakout year.

The Black Keys

The Black Keys - Brothers © Nonesuch

With a unique and groundbreaking approach to rock music, The Black Keys have been making a name for themselves since their formation in 2001. Now, with the release of their sixth studio album Brothers, the Ohio due of Dan Auerbach and Pat Carney team with notable producer Danger Mouse of Gnarls Barkley to deliver what could potentially be the climax of their musical and artistic opus.

Formed in Akron, Ohio, a city that notes Pretenders lead singer Chrissie Hynde and the smooth talking, moustached master Clark Gable, The Black Keys are predominantly a blues and indie rock band who take most of their inspiration from the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. From their formation in 2001 and with their breakout album Attack & Release in 2008, Auerbach and Carney have steadily readied a loyal fan base that includes prominent rockers Robert Plant and Billy Gibbons. The band have also found notable fame for a number of their songs appearing in various forms of the media, the video game GTA IV and numerous TV shows in the states sampling their work. In all, The Black Keys seem to have hit their stride and are not about to take their foot off of the pedal.

Continuing effectively where they left off in 2008, Brothers has been described by critics and the band alike as feeling the most natural sounding of the group’s albums to date. At a whopping fifteen tracks, sixteen if the vinyl is bought or the track is downloaded via the band’s website, there is certainly a lot of bang for your buck when it comes to material. Opening with the lumbering “Everlasting Light”, a more than Zeppelin esque that pays a great tribute to the old delta blues and sounds like it has been put through the rusty engine of an old Mid West tractor, the album continues this strong opening offering with “Next Girl” and “Tighten Up” the later being the album’s first single.

It is not until the fifth track of the album, however, with “She’s Long Gone” that the whole work as a piece of musical and artist ability really tarts to pick up pace. This track, with Auerbach’s guitar work bleeding through the amps and speakers like the ghost of a tormented old bluesman that the true ability of this duo is really put on show. Once again a very early seventies Zeppelin feel about the song, with its grainy production and whaling vocals, which of course can be no bad thing.  This feel and moping blues laments are continued with “Ten Cent Pistol” “I’m Not the One” and “Sinister Kid” all bring the ambiance and general tone and feel of the album alive, filling it and the listener with a heartfelt confidence and attachment to the band.

Rounding out the blues behemoth is the much slower, almost ballad like “These Days”. A wonderfully crafted slow number that perfectly compliments the rest of the album, Auerbach’s sleepy vocals coupled with his whining guitar and Carney’s downtrodden drumming make the listener feel like they are back on the bayou, a fishing line tied to your toe and a straw hat resting over your face to cover you from the sun. The imagery is evocative and intensely intoxicating, a tribute no less to the master craftsmen of the band.

In all Brothers is a very enjoyable and listenable album, one which is bound to be the band’s biggest hit to date and propel them into a much wider sitting audience, an accolade they most definitely deserve. Debuting with strong download and sales, the album debuting at number three in the states alone, Brothers is a fine introductory, if a little repetitive, example of The Black Keys work.

Jonathan Whitelaw

Check out the band’s official website for tour dates, profiles, discography and news:

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 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”

Rock’s Classics :: Pink Floyd – Comfortably Numb

The second installment of profiles that chronicle some of rock music’s finest achievements. Pink Floyd’s song about dodgy medical treatment in this edition.

Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd in their majestic glory © Pink Floyd

Continuing in the series of profiles on some of rock music’s classic tracks is the 1979 Pink Floyd staple “Comfortably Numb”. This track is often citied as one of the band’s finest musical achievements, hefty praise indeed considering its appearance on the almost operatic The Wall album. As a shining beacon of Pink Floyd’s melodic, progressive rock talents, “Comfortably Numb” is a song that not only displays expert musical ability but stands as a symbolic gesture to the past and future careers of the band and all of its influential members.

Debuting in 1979, the double album The Wall would almost instantly become one of the defining works of the later twentieth century. A landmark album in so many instances, Pink Floyd’s musical and commercial talents crescendoed on a scale that contemporaries would seldom, if ever, rival. The state of the rock music scene at the time was indeed a changing one, the imminent mainstream demise of Led Zeppelin and other great bands who had forged the previous decade such as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and The Rolling Stones were rapidly being replaced by newer, harder sounding bands who would take rock music into a much more metal oriented direction. The progression of recording techniques and the imminent arrival of synthesised keyboards and other instruments meant that rock and roll musicians now had to embrace the dawn of the new decade both as singers and songwriters along with being instrumental engineers. Ever ahead of the curve, Pink Floyd would be one of the foremost champions of this new digital age in which to record, The Wall incorporating sound effects, spoken word and pulsing keyboard work throughout the entirety of the album.

Appearing on the second part of the two part album, “Comfortably Numb” immediately attracts the listener’s attention from the off. As part of the bigger, much wider scaled work that The Wall is considered, the story following the rise and fall of fictional character Pink and his progressive isolation from the world due to a life of abuse and borderline sociopathic tendencies. The track features two very distinctive traits that indeed isolate it from the others on the album, firstly it is only one of two tracks that do not fade in or out of any adjacent track on the album. This freestanding status was the result of a technical issue relating to the production of the work. This merely adds to “Comfortably Numb” being a distinctively individual track in an album that deliberately seeks to emphasise the lack of individuality that can be experienced during one’s lifetime.

The other, more noticeable distinction that “Comfortably Numb” has as an accolade is the fact that it features not one but two very different guitar solos. Initially composed as music for lead guitarist David Gilmour’s debut album, David Gilmour, “Comfortably Numb” has the distinct advantage of both his unquestionably unrivalled guitar and musical talents combined with the almost limitless vision of the band itself. Often credited as being one of the very best solos of all time, both solos on “Comfortably Numb” are fine examples of classic rock guitar work, the tone of Gilmour’s Fender Stratocaster screams across the sedated feel of both the song’s music and lyrics. Speaking of the solos in interviews, Gilmour has gone on record as stating that the second solo work was combined together from a string of previously recorded solos and other experimental work he had been practising with at the time of the album’s recording. This, however, has not marred the performance of the song which quickly became a fan favourite at live shows and a permanent staple of Pink Floyd’s set list for the next thirty years.

“Comfortably Numb” is a track that has now achieved the status of being one of the few rock songs that does not immediately blow the listener away with power chords, amp bursting sound or indeed deeply moralistic and ambiguous lyricism. Instead, the song has quietly retained a solemn dignity since its inception, a sleeping giant of the rock music genre, gently garnishing more and more praise form musicians and fans alike. Although Pink Floyd would continue throughout the 1980s and on until 1994, their popularity would wane somewhat as the personnel of the band coupled with numerous direction changes and the advent of individual careers began to take their toll. The 2005 reunion for Bob Geldof’s “Live 8”, Geldof himself appeared as Pink in the cinematic version of The Wall, provided a massive stage on which Pink Floyd could and would impress their ever adoring fans. As a progressively styled band, Pink Floyd tend to have split opinions amongst the rock world, “Comfortably Numb” however remains well recognised as one of the band and genre’s standard anthems.

Jonathan Whitelaw

Pink Floyd’s official website can be found here:

Rock’s Classics :: Led Zeppelin – Kashmir

Some of Rock music’s classic anthems deserve a second glance, despite being decades old. Here we examine Led Zeppelin’s giant  “Kashmir”

Led Zeppelin Live 1975

Led Zeppelin Live 1975 © Michael Putland

The term “classic” and “legendary” are words that are now all too overly used in the music industry. It would seem that these phrases, once reserved for being used in traditional format in accordance to their meaning, now are prostituted all over the place with the likes of MTV’s “news” coverage spouting them seemingly every second about the latest pop claptrap. However those more discerning music fans do still champion the right to use the phrases for genuinely great tracks or albums that have defined their beloved genres. Here we take a look at one such “classic” rock track, “Kashmir” by Led Zeppelin.

Led Zeppelin of course was and still is one of the biggest bands, not only rock bands but of any genre, that has ever graced planet Earth. With their albums sales, t-shirts, posters, downloads and constant teetering of reunion, the four piece group from London created ripples in the rock music pond that are still being felt forty plus years since their debut album Led Zeppelin was released. With the blues based, ever popularized riffs of Jimmy Page on guitar, Robert Plant’s screaming bravado and John Paul Jones and John Bonham’s flawless percussion, Led Zeppelin changed music forever and inspired countless other musicians to even greater things.

As with many bands of the time and in general, Zeppelin are plagued by a so called defining anthem, namely “Stairway to Heaven”. Like “Hotel California” for The Eagles and “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple, it is often an unfair assumption to make that these so called “masterpieces” are the definite article of the band’s sound. Indeed it now seems inevitable that when Led Zeppelin reunite that the phrase “… and they’re going to play Stairway” ring out like a mocking chorus of lazy expectancy. It is with great pleasure that “Kashmir” then is both critically acclaimed and professed to be the best and most musically accomplished by the band themselves.

Originally released as the last track on the B-Side of the 1975 release Physical Graffiti, the song is a metaphorical and musical journey towards a seemingly unattainable el dorado, far off beyond the horizon. Principally written on a long drive through the arid portion of southern Morocco, Robert Plant intended the song to be more about the journey itself than the geography of northern India. Having he lyrics completed by the autumn of 1973, the juddering rhythm of the music was the result of a late night session held between Page and Bonham at their country estate in England. Upon completion, the track entered straight into the band’s live set list and was an immediate hit with the fans, as it quickly became the showpiece number. Never truly eclipsing “Stairway to Heaven” never the less it was soon apparent that if “Kashmir” were not performed then there would be blood.

Musically, the track was a perfect outlet for Jimmy Page’s increasingly monumental and colossal direction he wished to take the band in. Physical Graffiti is a wide, extensive album that deals heavily with scope and includes both the longest and shortest tracks on any Zeppelin studio album. Thus with a mighty number like “Kashmir” who’s orchestral inclusion for increased enormous tempo, Zeppelin were more than capable of creating an album who’s sprawling vision was more than accomplished. It is therefore no wonder that it is held in such high regard with the personnel of the band, Robert Plant saying it was the best thing Zeppelin ever did with Jimmy Page reiterating that point several times throughout the years.

“Kashmir” is a song with huge ambition and an equally big production that continues to please fans thirty-five years after its original release. Indeed its popularity is so extensive that it is often featured on mainstream sources such as “The X Factor”, quoted in “Ocean’s 12” and arguably murdered in P Diddy’s “Come With Me” from the 1998 motion picture Godzilla. The legacy and enduring popularity of the song is only reinforced by its lack of single release and can be safely labeled as a classic without any echoes of hypocrisy or hackneyed frivolity and is sure to remain a popular piece of music for decades to come

Jonathan Whitelaw

For more information on the band check out their website. Kashmir along with Zeppelin’s discography are available on iTunes:

Valentine’s Hangover – An alternative playlist

Are you just about sick to death of this whole Valentine’s nonsense. Well you’ve come to the right place then!

TatooNow that all of that soppy, squishy Valentine’s rubbish is over, its time for a bit of classic rock and roll to shove down your gullet. For those of you who had just about enough of “Everything I do” and “Lady in Red” and so forth, here’s a quick alternative list of “love” songs to fill your head with reason and sanity once again.

It cannot be stressed enough how much love songs are well and truly terrible. You merely have to look at the warbling antics of such felons as Westlife, James Bl(C)unt and the derisive, fake tanned caterwauling of Peter Andre to have bile pushed to the very tip of your throat. Luckily for us who still remain firmly on the right side of sanity, Rock music comes to our saviour once again, asking little more than a quick fumble and frolic in return.

Starting off the playlist are those long haired, heavy drinking, Ozzy rockers Airbourne. From their debut album Runnin’ Wild, we have a fine selection of songs where the word love is merely a four letter synonym for womanising, drinking and general debauchery. The most notable would be the finely titled “Girls in Black”, “Cheap Wine & Cheaper Women” and the more than double entendre “Diamond in the Rough” make your own minds up about what that could possibly mean. These tracks are, admittedly, mostly appreciated by single characters, the prospect of a night on the town much more appealing than a night on the couch, exposing our dead eyes to Mamma Mia, again. Indeed the winner does take it all.

However if the prospect of a fornicating romp around your nearest bars/clubs and inner city apartments isn’t quite your cup of tea there are plenty of much calmer songs to do with the affairs of the heart. Led Zeppelin’s “Goin’ to California” and “Ramble On” provide a much more tempered approach to love, dealing with the ups and downs, highs and lows, trials and tribulations of unrequited and lost love. Couple the enigmatic, fantasy ladened lyrics with master guitar and mandolin work from Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones and a wonderful mixture of volatile imagery allows the listener to slip off into a calming world, void of hallmark confectionary and consumerism.

Thunder also can provide a harder bighting edge to the lost love of this cruel world we inhabit. “Does it Feel like Love” and “Like a Satellite” from the album Laughing on Judgement Day give the listener a much needed boost if they are sick and tired, or even heartbroken from the toils of pre, post and general Valentine’s madness. “Dirty Love” from Backstreet Symphony also provides a wonderful alternative to typical love songs, guaranteed to bring a smile and jolt to any down and out rocker, long parted from their significant other, whatever that may mean.

So there it stands a quick, alternative playlist to get you through these disgustingly soft times. Whilst the rest of the world may be bleary eyed, staring through their rose tinted glasses to the tune of an overpriced restaurant bill, at least we amongst the rock and roll community can raise a glass and toast to their ignorance. But after all, even us rocker’s can feel the flutter of cherubs around our heads, every now and then.

Jonathan Whitelaw

Band official websites follow:,,

Super Groups – Part 2 The Bad, worse and worst

The second part of an insightful look into the world of super groups that sees the exploration of the fad’s underbelly.

Asia (c) Asia

Asia - Asia (c) Asia, Geffen records

We have explored the more glorious and entertaining side of the super group, it is now time to venture into the seedy underbelly and walk with devils as the nastier, bad side is exposed in all of its painfully terrible “glory”. Ladies and gentlemen we have the bad side of super groups, the people seated in the first four rows will get wet, you have been warned!

It is only natural for a fad or a trend to run its course. As was discussed in the opening part of this feature, the super group is one of those trends in music that always promises so very much but tends not to deliver. From the heyday of Crosby, Stills and Nash to the short lived wonders of the Travelling Wilburys, the super group was seen as a glorious amalgamation of talent that could only go from strength to strength. However, where these artists soared to new and untapped precedence, others peddled a one-wheeled bike over a cliff, descending into new levels of drudgery and woefulness, all for that last bite at the juicy red apple of fame.

The first culprits, although by no means the worst, are Asia. Consisting of members who were and still are firmly second division rockers, this eighties group, formed in 1981, are considered by many to be more than a caricature of eighties hair and hard rock. Consisting of members from such bands as Yes and Atomic Rooster, it would appear the thought process that went into the formation of this band would go along the lines of, “If we combine our strengths, we can’t be beat!” Unfortunately for listeners of rock and music in general this has meant they are still active today, blasting out such “hits” as “Only time will tell” and their signature song “Heat of the moment”, an ironic title considering the birth of this mutation of rock music.

Another bunch of music miscreants called themselves Blind Faith. Surprisingly featuring a line up that included Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker of Cream (mentioned in part 1) this group makes it onto the list for a number of reasons. The first being the distinctly average, dry as dust sound that a group featuring supreme guitarists Steve Winwood and Clapton offers to listeners. The emphasis cannot be stressed enough on how the music on Blind Faith’s eponymous album is not necessarily bad, but the lack of real invention or input that makes listeners feel that the artists could not really be bothered, it just made too good sense to join together. Couple that with the frankly paedophilic album cover of a topless pre-pubescent girl holding a phallic shaped aircraft and you have a Machiavellian cocktail for disaster.

The next of the usual suspects, although not strictly a super group but more of a super covers group are Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. Already hounded by the frankly diabolical name, this group features Mike Burkett of NOFX and Chris Shiflett of the Foo Fighters amongst others. Based on the premise that traditional, conventional songs are, quite frankly, not good enough, this outfit of multi-millionaires take it upon themselves to perform punk versions of the aforementioned classics. Two songs of note would be John Denver’s moving classic “Country roads” and the immortal “Sloop John B” by the Beach Boys, who despite being amongst the most important and seminal artists of the twentieth century, needed their work to be run through endless production computers to achieve that rather flat, shiny, tinny sound that only modern punk can achieve. A real tragedy to music.

There we go, you can put away your sick bag and take out your ear-plugs because those are the main culprits named and shamed for your benefit. Although these are by no means the worst villains they rank amongst the very lowest. Special acknowledgement goes to recently formed Them Crooked Vultures consisting of Dave Grohl, Josh Homme and John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin no less. Their dead eyed, post modern rock currently justifying their existence and being played monotonously over the airwaves of any station desperate to fill four minutes of air time.

The super group appears to be going strong; new ones popping up it would seem on a yearly basis. As the world recovers from economic disaster and we all begin to spend money again, the hope that record labels will filter out some of the potential garbage and stick to more credible artists with genuine ability together and not just another way to make a fast buck looms. Time will tell, it always does.

Jonathan Whitelaw

All of the tracks and artists are available from Amazon music or iTunes. For more, try these websites:,

1980 – 2010, Imporant 30th Anniversaries in Music

A selection of 30th Anniversaries in music being celebrated in 2010

John Bonham

John Bonham 31/5/1948 - 25/9/1980

2010, although brand new and still got that new car smell, is an important year of 30th anniversaries in the world of popular music. From the decaying age of sixties and seventies rock excess to the dawn of electro pop and funk, the three decades between 1980 and 2010 have arguably been some of the most important in the long, storied history of the music industry.

Beginning with January and February, there are some important anniversaries coming up within the next few weeks. Most notably would be the 30th anniversary on the 19th of February of the late, great Bon Scott, lead singer of AC/DC and all round hell raiser. His autopsy read “death by misadventure” but fans and critics all believe the story of him choking on vomit. To quote the immortal Spinal Tap however, nobody knows if it was his own vomit. Sadly missed but aptly remembered by the superb album Back in Black, a fitting tribute to the man and a fantastic introduction to replacement singer Brian Johnson.

Another death that shocked the rock world was that of Led Zeppelin’s drummer John Bonham. Much like his Scottish/Australian counterpart Bon, Bonham was a notorious alcoholic and furious drunk who was as famous for his binges as he was for his triumphant drumming. More importantly his death marked the end of Led Zeppelin as a band, the remaining members deciding to disband rather than continue without Bonham. Arguably this was coupled with the frankly appalling condition some of the members were in at the time and the waning popularity of the band’s music. Thirty years on however and Led Zeppelin are as popular as ever with record sales, t-shirts and merchandise now gracing high streets once again and with the constant rumour they will reform for another show at Glastonbury later in the summer, their popularity has definitely grown in the past three decades.

On one final, rather morbid note, on the 18th of May 1980, the pioneering and frankly genius Ian Curtis took his own life, spelling the end of Joy Division. However like with so many other tragic moments in life, not all was at a loss as the remaining members formed New Order and would go on to be one of the most popular recording artists of the twentieth century, their electro, alt-rock and house sounds becoming the anthems of generations growing up and filling nightclubs around the UK and the globe.

1980 also saw the release of a number of highly influential and classic albums in the world of rock and roll and beyond. The Ace of Spades album from Motorhead brought the heavy metal outfit from the borderline cult to the public’s attention, the signature song of course becoming a massive hit in both the rock world and remaining a constantly played classic on rock radio stations throughout the known world. The Blizzard of Ozz also marked Ozzy Osbourne’s first foray into the solo market having just been fired from Black Sabbath. Not a classic album by any great means but should be noted as featuring “Crazy Train”, a staple of his career and arguably the single which made Ozzy a mainstay on television and radio to the present day.

Moving away from a more metal oriented area, the thirtieth anniversary of Never Forever by Kate Bush. Although a distinctly average album, this effort by the talented vocalist proved to be the very first UK number one by a British female artist and the very first album released by a female artist to head straight into the charts at number one. Yet more evidence that Bush was already on her way to being an important bastion and champion of female recording in rock and popular music. The ever controversial Ted Nugent released Scream Dream in June, yet another hard rock, screaming album form the very talented guitarist who does his best to create chaos and hunt endangered animals with his bow and arrow.

There we have it, a small selection of albums and bands who celebrate landmark thirtieth anniversaries in 2010. We shall just have to wait and see how the year pans out and what if anything will be seminal enough to warrant a thirtieth anniversary in 2040.

Jonathan Whitelaw

Check out iTunes or Amazon for albums and artists featured here. Also check out:,,,,,,

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 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

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