Scary Monsters of Rock

Nothing says Happy Halloween better than some good old fashioned scary music. My early obsession with Alice Cooper was due more to his showmanship and apparent shock value than actual fright.

Back in the 70’s the band that really scared the crap out of everyone, on purpose, was Black Sabbath. I remember hearing the opening track of that first Black Sabbath album at one of the many basement parties that were all the rage back in the day.

Turned up as loud as a crappy stereo can go, the wind howling and bell ringing in the background followed by Tony Iommi’s demonic guitar chords and rumble of Geezer Butler’s bass literally made the windows shake, along with my legs in my boots, or sneakers.

Black Sabbath brought something new to my ears with that eerie fuzz sound and the haunting vocals of a guy with a funny name. Ozzy Osbourne. I never got to see them live, unfortunately. They would sell out quickly, since their popularity increased quicker than almost any band of that era. Black Sabbath tickets were hard to come by and for some reason I don’t remember them coming around that often.

The first album was a good beginning for the band. But they hit their mark on the followup “Paranoid”, a perfect album and absolutely in the top 100 albums of all-time, in my opinion. Proof of that is how often its played on classic rock radio. It’s a staple.

Sabbath were uniquely interesting, simple, yet knew exactly what they were doing. Ozzy, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Bill Ward made some phenomenal music and I still love it.

The early albums are all great. The self titled “Black Sabbath”, “Paranoid”, “Master Of Reality” and “Vol. 4” were all excellent albums. “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” was spotty, but mostly good. After that, they fell victim to drug abuse and lost focus. Ozzy went on to a semi-brilliant solo career.

Ronnie James Dio and even Ian Gillian, of Deep Purple tried to fill Ozzy’s shoes and even if they were better singers, they weren’t Ozzy. He just had that special something. As much as Ozzy tried to scare you, somewhere in his eyes you see a frightened little boy who only loved to rock n roll. That is why he is considered one of the most loved personalities in rock ‘n’ roll history.

Black Sabbath are considered the Godfather’s of heavy metal. They brought it to the forefront but Ozzy is an admitted Beatles fanatic and has often cited the record that inspired him to get into music was The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me.” Well, what do you know.

Many other bands have followed in the footsteps of scary rock. Marilyn Manson probably came closest, but something is missing from those bands. Sabbath was the first and they were the best.

Sadly, his legacy has been destroyed when his silly wife decided to exploit him and make him look like a damn fool. F U Sharon

You know your mystique is gone when 70-year-old grandmothers say they like Ozzy.

Now THAT is scary.

Happy Halloween !!!

Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath http://youtu.be/J5yR5XhCIeg

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Boy, could he play guitar

High school in the early 70’s was socially awkward. Probably no more socially awkward than high school at any point in time. It was all a matter of which group you fit into. Although I grew up in Brooklyn playing street sports I did not fit in with the jocks. Maybe I had too many pimples to be attractive to cheerleaders. And my stature was not that of a football player, more like a goal post.

I found solace in the company of what we called “heads.” Casual pot smokers and winos (specifically Boonesfarm) We drank beer. the cheaper the better. Called it panther piss, because that’s what it tasted like. Nothing was done in excess, but just enough to get that daily buzz and float through the torment of those halls.

Music was the key ingredient to being in the heads group. The girls were knockoffs of the hippie movement that died the day after Woodstock ended. The best looking girl in our group looked like Neil Young. I caught up with her recently on Facebook. Now she looks like David Crosby.

The main diet of music consisted of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (emphasis on Neil Young), Allman Brothers Band, Eric Clapton, etc. You get the genre.

Arguments would pursue for days and weeks on who was the best guitar player. Clapton is God was a common expression. Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck were often part of the fights. Slide guitar genius always went to Duane Allman and George Harrison. Jazz guitarists were not allowed in the discussion because it just didn’t seem fair. Of course, some wacko would come up with someone like Django Reinhardt. He would be expelled from the conversation. But all was trumped when someone pulled out the Jimi Hendrix card. We had to agree he was the greatest. I mean, the left-handed, teeth playing, behind the back, fire burning guitarist had to be the best, right?

Not so fast.

I did spend a lot of years really listening to guitar players. So much that to this day, I can’t resist a good long guitar solo.

Personally, I was never a huge Hendrix fan. I could listen to Clapton play all day. Jimmy Page never really impressed me, although I did enjoy Led Zep’s funkier songs over the blues rip offs.  Jeff Beck, however,  is an amazing guitar player and probably the best of the big three in my book. Sounds that he makes with that instrument continue to blow my mind.

Try Jeff’s work with Beck, Bogart & Appice for some of the best rock licks ever recorded. Of course his jazzy instrumentals on “Blow By Blow” and “Wired” are completely insane. Jeff still puts out albums. Probably 100 by now. He still finds a way to make new sounds on his guitar I have never heard. I would highly recommend Jeff Beckology to get a taste of his amazing sounds.

I could never win the guitar argument with my Jeff Beck card and I am not sure why. I still think to this day he is the best. And that includes Eddie Van Halen and any Jazz guitarist you can mention.

Also, a few that hardly get mentioned on my list of amazing guitarists include:

Richie Blackmore (Deep Purple)

Terry Kath (Chicago)

Dave Davies (The Kinks)

Jan Akkermann (Focus)

Roy Buchannan (solo Blues guitarist)

I am sure there are still great guitar players out there today that belong on somebody’s list and we can have this argument forever.

And we should.

But if this Jeff Beck performance doesn’t convince you that I am right, I am sorry…for you

Jeff Beck (Live) http://youtu.be/zHxnjBqz_kY

Prog Rock Hell

The 70’s was known for an overabundance of Prog-rock, short for Progressive rock, short for really long self-indulgent songs showcasing musicianship and inane lyrics that only sound good when you are stoned. Yes, that was a run-on sentence, just like the 14 minute piano solo on any Emerson, Lake & Palmer album.

I don’t mean to pick on Prog rock, but I actually do. You see, I was sucked into the prog-rock vortex back in the day. It started with Jethro Tull’s Thick as A Brick and moved on to Yes and the aforementioned ELP.

My early experimentations with cannabis brought me to the gates of Prog rock hell. I stayed there for what seemed like an eternity. and like I would imagine the real hell, it got really boring.

Okay, so you can play three keyboards at the same time while spinning in the air. So, you can play a triple neck guitar solo sitting down for twenty minutes. I wish I was more impressed.

The lyrics in prog rock were usually about wizards and interplanetary beings showing man how he is destroying the planet with his evil war mongering and littering. yawn.

The culmination of bad prog rock was probably The Alan Parsons Project. Probably the worst band ever invented. Apparently Alan Parsons was one of the engineers on Abbey Road and Dark Side of the Moon. This gave him a free ticket into the prog rock club.

I liked Yes (the band), the Fragile album. It had some pop sensibility. I actually enjoyed the earlier “Time And A Word” album even more. They lost me on “Close To The Edge.” Ten minutes of water dripping is not my idea of a pop song. I owned Yessongs, the triple live album and listened to it enough to get the idea of Yes. After that I was pretty much saying No to Yes.

Genesis, early Peter Gabriel, Genesis were interesting. I recall them scaring me during a performance they did on Midnight Special (a very cool late night concert show). I went out and bought a few of their albums. Once Peter Gabriel left, they sucked big time.

However, there were a few bands that were labeled Prog-rock that I actually still like. King Crimson, Gentle Giant, Nektar and um, um…that’s it

King Crimson – 20th Century Schitzoid Man http://youtu.be/-6_B6zhENrQ