Tag Archives: Led Zeppelin

Metal Monday – General Thoughts And Rockin’ Ramblings (Part Two)

What the heck is happening to me? What have you done, Jason and Barry?

I’m starting to dive in a little deeper… and the cool, metallic blue water is fine.

So no, this is not a mid-life crisis, although there are far worse things I could be doing… and I do like the sound of having a Metal Mid-Life Crisis… don’t steal it… it’s my phrase!

So in addition to the countless TV series I need to binge on, I want to watch a few of what are considered the best Metal documentaries out there. My list of four is:

The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years (1988)
I have not seen this Penelope Spheeris film, but hear good things.

Get Thrashed: The Story of Thrash Metal (2006)

Anvil!: The Story of Anvil (2008)
I have seen this film twice, but have not seen it in a while. I originally described it as the real-life Spinal Tap, but an incredible story of tenacity, heart and ultimate triumph!

Iron Maiden: Flight 666 (2009)
I have also seen this one, but I can use a re-do, especially after my first Maiden live experience. And yes the fact that Bruce Dickinson actually pilots the 747 (Ed Force One) is pretty amazing!

When I went to look up the year of this film, I also got a few more suggestions from Wikipedia:

“Flight 666 is co-produced by Toronto-based Banger Films, known for their documentaries Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey, Global Metal and Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage.”

I have seen the Rush film… fantastic… but not the others.

To give you an update… I have Iron Maiden and the 30th Anniversary Remasters of Judas Priest in my steady rotation. And so you know how eclectic my tastes are… those records are balanced out with Cheap Trick, CRX, Maximo Park, Haim, London Grammar, Charles Bradley, Bob Dylan, The Book Of Mormon Cast Recording, Weezer, The New Pornographers, Seu Jorge and Bleachers as part of my July Summer Playlist!

Plus… and this is where it gets interesting, and we can blame Jason and Barry… I have Motorhead (yes, I am fascinated with Lemmy) and some more Metallica coming in from the library. And with the latter, I am really enjoying the ride! I know they are playing LA soon, so hmmm…

Now, I do NOT see myself becoming an aficionado of Thrash Metal, even though Metallica is in the “Big Four of Thrash” which also includes Anthrax, Megadeth, and Slayer.”

I both love and am frightened by this description from Wikipedia: “Low-register guitar riffs are typically overlaid with shredding leads. Lyrics often express nihilistic views or deal with social issues using visceral, gory language. Thrash has been described as a form of “urban blight music” and “a pale-faced cousin of rap.”

They say: “Thrash metal emerged in the early 1980s under the influence of hardcore punk and the new wave of British heavy metal, particularly songs in the revved-up style known as speed metal. The movement began in the United States, with Bay Area thrash metal being the leading scene. The sound developed by thrash groups was faster and more aggressive than that of the original metal bands and their glam metal successors.”

And speaking of Glam Metal, that would include 1980s Mötley Crüe and Poison, both of whom I liked growing up. Again, not a crazy, major fan, but their music was fun.

Death Metal… Ain’t gonna happen, and not just because it “utilizes the speed and aggression of both thrash and hardcore, fused with lyrics preoccupied with Z-grade slasher movie violence and Satanism.”
It’s just not my thing…

But Retro Metal seems to be, as I have loved Wolfmother for a long time! Though they are definitely more influenced by Led Zeppelin and seemingly not hardcore screaming Metal.

 

 

Other bands in this sub-genre are ones I have never heard… well, until now… like…
The Sword (from Texas)… So far, so good. I need to explore more for sure, and according to an iTunes reviewer, they were on an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, sampling Texas BBQ… so there you go! How could I NOT like them?
High on Fire (from California)… A little too “screamy” for my tastes… Will pass.
And Witchcraft (from Sweden). So, yes… the name scared me, but I am really digging their Self-Titled album and especially their Legend record. Hmmm… Although their song “Her Sisters They Were Weak” reminds me of Jethro Tull, who I really cannot listen to. But that is another story for another day. Their music just makes me feel uneasy and creeped out. Strange.

So if Punk was sloppy, Metal does seem to be quite precise. Both Barry and Jason agree on that, and it’s part of why they love it! I can see that so much more now!

Also from WikipediaNew York Times critic Jon Pareles writes: “In the taxonomy of popular music, heavy metal is a major subspecies of hard-rock—the breed with less syncopation, less blues, more showmanship and more brute force.” The typical band lineup includes a drummer, a bassist, a rhythm guitarist, a lead guitarist, and a singer, who may or may not be an instrumentalist. Keyboard instruments are sometimes used to enhance the fullness of the sound. Deep Purple’s Jon Lord played an overdriven Hammond organ. In 1970, John Paul Jones used a Moog synthesizer on Led Zeppelin III; by the 1990s, in”… almost every subgenre of heavy metal” synthesizers were used.”

Who wouldathunk that I’d be listening to, exploring, seeking out, and writing about Metal?

All the more reason to listen with your ears and be open to the music of the world…the music of EVERYTHING!

 

 

 

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Metal Monday – General Thoughts And Rockin’ Ramblings (Part One)

So a couple of general thoughts hit me as I was writing my Iron Maiden posts. I knew I wanted to do something about Metal in general…the history, the different styles, etc.

Then my buddy Jason posted something that I thought was worth exploring, specifically about Maiden. And then my friend, fraternity brother and other Metal Mentor, Barry gave some awesome insight into his love of the genre… and Boom!

Since neither are guest blogging, you’re stuck with me. But these are the two who Metaled me up… And hey, look, Boys! Thirty some odd years later it worked! I’m hooked!

METAL MUSIC
So where does one start when looking for info. on any given subject? Wikipedia, of course.

“Heavy metal… developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom and the United States. With roots in blues rock and psychedelic/acid rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. Heavy metal lyrics and performance styles are sometimes associated with aggression and machismo.”

“In 1968, the first heavy metal bands such as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple attracted large audiences, though they were often derided by critics. During the mid-1970s, Judas Priest helped spur the genre’s evolution by discarding much of its blues influence; Motörhead introduced a punk rock sensibility and an increasing emphasis on speed. Beginning in the late 1970s, bands in the new wave of British heavy metal such as Iron Maiden and Saxon followed in a similar vein. Before the end of the decade, heavy metal fans became known as “metalheads” or “headbangers”.

A couple of things stand out for me. First, it amazes me how things that are on the fringe become so mainstream at a certain point in time. Zeppelin and Deep Purple are Classic Rock bands to me! Granted I came to them later in their careers, but that was normal FM Radio/East Coast listening. And let us not forget that The Beatles started off as the enemy to many a parent. Then the Stones came out as the even more evil rockers! And of course, speaking of Metal, Iron Maiden was cast as devil worshippers.

Some folks consider AC/DC a Metal band, but to me they are just hard rock and one of the highlights to come out of Jason’s Boom Box. Same with KISS. And while Judas Priest was always blasting that summer, I never really listened to Metal on a regular basis. In fact, when people asked me what musical genres were the ones I knew the least about, I would always say Rap, New Country and Metal.

Now Rap and Hip Hop come pouring out from behind my daughter’s closed bedroom door (No, that is not really it!!!), along with a fair amount of Show Tunes! Though I am also happy to say that her playlist has a heck of a lot of Classic Rock on it!

I will admit that I got into NWA, Dr. Dre, Tupac and others all “after the fact.” Way before my daughter, but after the fact…and I will also admit that I do get “parental” from time to time, as I hear certain lyrics being sung by my kid. Ugh.

And I always had a soft side… and I guess I still do… as my favorites of the time were Steve Miller Band and The Eagles. My first concerts were more Classic Rock than anything else, too. Chicago and Orleans was my first. Then The Eagles, Heart and the Little River Band

Usually as people get older their musical tastes get smaller and more “refined”.  Not me! My tastes have been growing and expanding for a long time now. And as I said, I seem to come to certain things late… like Metal! Which also has friends accusing me of doing to try to stay young. That’s not the way I work. I listen to what moves me, what grabs me and I do not care where and who it comes from. More politicians need to do this with good ideas! It should not matter what side of the aisle it comes from! A good idea is a good idea, and the goal must be to problem solve, help and create joy.

But this post is about MUSICAL JOY! So what is it about Metal that has taken such a hold on me? Iron Maiden is in regular rotation. I love the new Metallica album, and the Judas Priest 30th Anniversary CDs are kicking me into gear. I wrote about how studies have shown that this music can actually relax people. I can actually see that, but for me, it just makes me happy and energized, and I love to CRANK IT! To 11!!!

Barry wrote:
“It’s all about the energy. Metal still motivates me and gets me pumped like no other genre. And the metal bands that I like best – the ones that exhibit extreme technical precision like Dream Theater, Iron Maiden, Queensryche, etc. – appeal to me from my early years as a classically trained pianist. (Which is probably why I enjoyed grunge, but never got into it as much as I did metal – the precision was always a little lacking for me.) I am also a huge fan of guitar virtuosos like Reb Beach, Paul Gilbert, Nuno Bettencourt, John Petrucci, George Lynch, et. al. – their craftsmanship and precision continue to astound and inspire me.

Right on, Barry!!!

Robert Walser (author of Running With the Devil: Power, Gender, and Madness in Heavy Metal Musicsaid that Metal’s “most influential musicians have been guitar players who have also studied classical music. Their appropriation and adaptation of classical models sparked the development of a new kind of guitar virtuosity [and] changes in the harmonic and melodic language of heavy metal.”

 

And specifically on Maiden, Jason wrote:
“I think another thing that is important to mention — for the uninitiated — is to not pre-judge Iron Maiden because of Eddie (their mascot, who is on all their graphics). Maiden is not what you might hate about metal — in fact it’s quite the contrary. Musically, their material is high-energy and rocks hard (and they are great players), it’s mostly very melodic and their lyrics are unobjectionable (no cursing, no objectifying of women, and many have historical context, e.g., “The Trooper,” about the Crimean War, “Aces High,” about the WWII air wars and Battle of Britain, “Where Eagles Dare,” based on the great WWII film, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” based on the Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem, etc). They are all smart individuals, family men, and their lead singer actually flies the band plane (a fully loaded 747 with the band gear, not a little prop plane.). With streaming services, it’s easy to sample their music or their bio-pic, “Flight 666.” Enjoy the journey and Up the Irons!”

So you can see how and why these two are my Metal Mentors… Jason on a Teen Tour, and Barry as my Frat House roommate in College! We listened to a hell of a lot of great stuff back then, Boys! And this does not even include all that Al Jarreau and Spyro Gyra, Barry! What? We needed to charm the ladies!

Come back next Monday for Metal Monday – General Thoughts And Rockin’ Ramblings (Part Two) when we talk about all the different sub-genres of Metal and more!

 

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From Purple To Blues – More Of Music’s Colors Fade With The Loss Of Lonnie Mack

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I still cannot believe Prince is gone… but even worse, because it is my own personal demon… I cannot believe I never saw him live. This is somewhat tragic for a true lover of music. People are shocked when I tell them… disappointed… surprised. Hey, so am I.

It is eating me up right now… torturing and tormenting me… And it happened with a few artists I had the chance to see… Roy Orbison, David Bowie, Merle Haggard… and now Prince. Heck, if I had been a more adventurous rocker at a younger age, I probably could have seen Zeppelin… and I certainly would have come to Bruce way before the Born In The USA tour.

But I wasn’t, and I didn’t and here I am and so it is.

Regret is a bitch, and yet, too often, we do not learn from our mistakes. Is missing a concert the worst thing in the world? Of course not… but the experience and subsequent memory of such an event is… well… priceless. It measures and defines our time on earth. Concerts and music, that is. Our favorite artists and albums help define our lives… or at least give them meaning and insight… understanding and comfort. They accompany us on our journeys and road trips… our arrivals and our departures.

We dance and sway… we swoon and spoon… Music is our everything.

As I have said many times before… and yes, I will vainly quote myself… Okay, less for vanity and more for posterity and to mark this as mine… “A life without music is a life not worth living.”

Music is everywhere… We just need to open our ears and our hearts. It is in the breeze… the rustling of leaves… the chirping of birds… in a conversation… in a laugh… in words…

We can feel music… the beat of a drum, the strum of a bass… Our chest and core literally shake…

The world is filled with music.

Music is with us from the moment we are born, to our very last breath. My daughter literally came out of the womb to Lyle Lovett’s “Here I Am”.

We can mark time and certainly highlighted events with a song… an album.

From a prom and a first dance…
To a first declared love (Meat Loaf’s Bat Out Of Hell)…
To a break up… Genesis’ “Throwing It All Away” was playing on the stereo in the frat, when that same, first love called to say we were done.

To albums so depressing, they would help get me out of my own depression… Tears For Fears’ The Hurting.

To those records who force us to dance and sing at the top of our lungs…

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Damn fine rules to live by.

And to playlists designed specifically to seduce and help members of the opposite sex fall for us… See my series of posts Music To Make Love To… (Started on 9/15/2011).

Music…

In the midst of the world losing one its musical heroes… an icon of music and style and fashion… we lost another legend yesterday as well, but one who will certainly fly under the radar a lot more. Lonnie Mack passed away at the age of 74…

Guitar World pays tribute here.

And while I will let that article put his life and music into context and understanding… I will say that I was lucky enough to see him play live… lucky enough to be in the city of Chicago when the Blues were still filled with stars and legends and the diplomats and musical missionaries spreading the Gospel… the names that put that music on the map.

The Blues and Jazz clubs I once spent so much time in are gone… like my beloved Biddy Mulligan’s, where I saw Albert Collins walk himself and his guitar and his 300 foot guitar chord out of the club and onto the corner of the street without missing a note or a beat.

The musicians I saw live formed a living, breathing book… a book on the history of music.

Albert Collins, Albert King, Lonnie Brooks, Lonnie Mack… Koko Taylor, Willie Dixon, Junior Wells… Buddy Guy… The list is staggering. And how lucky was I? There are shows I missed… yes… But oh man, there were shows I saw… lived… breathed…

I remember when my friend Rachel was working for Alligator Records… she brought me down into the basement… and it was still like a business run out of the house, at this point… CDs stacked on foldable tables… organized by artist and title… and she told me to take what I wanted… Say what? I did some damage, sure… but I was way too polite and held back…

A kid in a candy shop? Better! So much better.

I still have every one of those CDs, including Lonnie Mack’s Strike Like Lightning!

Lonnie_Mack-Strike_Like_Lightning

How I love the blues… it got me playing harmonica… it got me moving… and it got me through.

So while we mourn Prince… let us not forget Doris Roberts… and certainly not Lonnie Memphis Mack (thanks, Patrick).

I guess Stevie Ray Vaughn needed some more tips and influence from you.

Stretch it out in Heaven, boys! Cause the Blues had a baby and they called it Rock n’ Roll!

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And FYI here is the exact quote…
“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”
                                       ― William W. Purkey

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