Today in Rock – January 31st

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What better way to end the January theme of History in Rock than by the guy who was responsible for the destruction of rock.

On this day in 1956, John Lydon, (Johnny Rotten,) singer with the Sex Pistols was born.
The Sex Pistols had the 1977 UK No.2 single ‘God Save The Queen’ and 1977 UK No.1 album
‘Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols’.

The self-destructed, but not before taking everything that ever mattered in music with them. They destroyed the entire scene the second they entered it. And it was all real and all fantastic.

The Pistols were more than just a fashion statement or a political statement. They were out to destroy. It worked on all levels and the album delivered some of the best punk rock music ever recorded.

I love the album not only for the energy it produced, but the lyrics were astounding. Johnny Lydon was a brilliant satirist. Steve Jones an amazing guitarist. With the exception of the useless Sid Vicious, the Pistols were a tight band.

They came, they vomited, they left.

Rock was never the same.

Johnny Lydon went on to form Public Image Ltd who scored the 1983 UK No.5 single ‘This Is Not A Love Song’. They fell apart as well, but resurfaced a few times. Even recently released a new album. I liked it. Not so terrible. But I still think it’s over for them

My favorite pistols moment, and there are many, is the letter Johnny wrote to the Rock n Roll Hall Of Fame when they tried to induct The Sex Pistols

Here it is:http://www.lettersofnote.com/2010/09/rock-and-roll-hall-of-fame-is-piss.html

HILARIOUS

Happy Birthday Johnny Lydon. You will always be Rotten to me.

Sex Pistols – Anarchy In The UK http://youtu.be/C8szRgIcYlY

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Today In Rock – January 30th

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1947, Born on this day, Steve Marriott, guitarist and singer/songwriter. He was a major influence on many UK bands. Marriott was a member of Small Faces who had the 1967 UK No.3 & US No.16 single with ‘Itchycoo Park’ plus the 1968 No.1 UK album ‘Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake.’ Formed Humble Pie who had the 1969 UK No.4 single ‘Natural Born Bugie’. Marriott died in a house fire on April 20th 1991.

I always loved Humble Pie. I thought they were one of the better hard-rock/blues bands from that era. What made them work for me was that voice of Steve Marriott. His work with The Small Faces was excellent as well. I am a fan.

Never saw them live. always wanted to, but I think they broke up before my era. Still, a great band to listen to.  I still enjoy the album “Smokin”. It’s a fun listen. Check it out.

Steve put out some solo stuff that was mostly in the funk genre. Perfect for his style of singing. Some of it was just okay at best. Still, he was a great singer.

Sadly, he was young when he died, 44, and probably pretty strung out on all kinds of heroin.

Humble Pie – Black Coffee (live on the OGWT) http://youtu.be/eDjdGLvhMGM

Adam Ant’s Triumphant Return?

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Did you ever sit around with your friends and wonder whatever happened to Adam Ant? Perhaps you sang a few bars of “Stand And Deliver” or “Goody Two Shoes”, or pranced around the room singing “Strip”. Adam had some hits in those fabulous, extravagant, self-indulgent 80’s. Before those solo feats, he had some notoriety as the leader of the Bowiesque Adam And The Ants.

Perhaps you noticed he fizzled out and faded away somewhere near the beginning of the 90’s?

You may have even heard that Adam suffered from mental illness and ended up in a mental institution in the early 2000’s.

Or maybe you didn’t.

Did you know he is back with a new album that just came out this week?

The title is “Adam Ant is The Blueblack Hussar Marrying the Gunner’s Daughter”. A title that makes you wonder if they let him out of the asylum a bit too soon.

Well, I listened to this album, three times.

First listen. It’s long, 17 songs long. Pretty ambitious for a return. I heard Bowie, T. Rex, Roxy Music, Velvet Underground, 70’s punk and even some Adam Ant in here. Nice combination.

Second listen. Now wait a minute. The first half has the above familiarity to it. Yes, I get it, it’s Adam Ant doing his glammy-camp thing. Somewhere around the midpoint and towards the end, it gets quite interesting. Adam breaks the mold on three consecutive songs. “Viviennes Tears”, “Who’s A Goofy Bunny” and, “How Can I Say I Miss You” . Then he returns to form on the final song, “Bullshit”. This is a solid album.

Third listen. Holy crap. I love this album.

I watched the video of the opening song “Cool Zombie”. It shows an aging chubbier Adam dancing in a pirate outfit, ala Jack Sparrow. It’s borderline ridiculous. No, wait. It’s ridiculous, borderline embarrassing. No, Wait. It’s embarrassing. Adam’s leather pants days are long gone.

The album is listenable, interesting and enjoyable. Whether it will achieve any commercial success for Adam Ant remains to be seen. I hope it does well enough to keep his mental health in tact.

Welcome back Adam Ant. Excellent job, but lose the outfit.

Adam Ant (live on Jools Holland) – Vince Taylor http://youtu.be/LIXeZ6IUss8

Today In Rock – January 29th

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On this date in 1961, Bob Dylan achieved his dream of meeting his idol Woody Guthrie when Guthrie was on weekend release from hospital where he was being treated for Huntington’s Chorea. Dylan told him; ‘I was a Woody Guthrie jukebox’. Guthrie gave Dylan a card which said: ‘I ain’t dead yet’

I love this story. I have heard it many times. I got into Dylan late in life, at about 35. I wasn’t a fan growing up. I never understood the lure. To me , he was annoying as hell.

Dylan is one of those artists who puts out so much material it’s hard to judge the good from the bad. However, you have to admire him. It’s kind of law, I think.

Favorite all time Dylan album by a longshot is “Blood On The Tracks” It’s about as close to perfect he ever came. Otherwise, he is hit and miss for me. I liked his latest album, “Tempest” and certainly “Time Out Of Mind” is mostly excellent.

I think when you stop trying to figure him out and just listen to the picture he paints, he becomes easier to understand.

Saw Dylan live once. He was god awful. Couldn’t understand one song. But again, its kind of law that you have to experience him.

Dylan has been such a huge influence on so many musicians. Maybe that’s it. He could be a musician’s musician. I don’t know. There I go again, trying to understand him.

Martin Scorsese did a fantastic documentary on Dylan called “No Direction Home”. You should see it. You may still not understand him, but you will have a greater appreciation for him. The interviews between Dylan and the press are priceless. Mostly because the press tried to understand him.

I have a few songs that I absolutely love and this is probably my favorite. Once again, I have no idea what he is singing about. I don’t understand it. But I get it.

Bob Dylan – Love Minus Zero / No Limit http://youtu.be/TTmRB3NAXFs

Today in Rock – January 28th

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2005, English drummer and singer songwriter Jim Capaldi died of stomach cancer aged 60. Member of Traffic, (1967 UK No.2 single ‘Hole In My Shoe’) and solo, (1975 UK No.4 single ‘Love Hurts’). Also worked with Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and George Harrison.

Traffic was an amazingly talented band of musicians playing some of the best blues-rock with a bit of latin flavor thrown in. Always enjoyed Stevie Winwood’s voice, Dave Mason’s guitar playing in the early days. But one member seemed to go unnoticed among the egos. Jim Capaldi was one of the best rock percussionists around.When Traffic became a trio, Capaldi was a big part of the reason it worked.

Listen to those Traffic songs and take notice of Capaldi’s riffs. Classic stuff.

He had a few solo albums that were mostly bad. I tried to get into him back then, but I just couldn’t.

I would much rather go back to the old Traffic albums.

Here is a live version of a classic that shows off Capaldi’s talents.

Traffic – Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys http://youtu.be/R8M8R835Ck4

Today in Rock – January 27th

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1964: The Rolling Stones appear on the BBC’s Juke Box Jury show as panelists. Their impolite behavior, including referring to Elvis’ latest single as “dated”, causes a furor in the British press.

The Rolling Stones portrayed themselves as the bad guys in the Brit Invasion, where the Beatles were the good guys. This marketing ploy turned out to be quite affective in gaining them popularity for all the wrong reasons. Any music your parents hate and tell you not to listen to is always the best music for any generation.

Hard to say where the line was between The Stones acting it out, or being the real bad boys. As time went on, that line became clearer. Bad Boys all the way.

This was just the beginning of rock stars behaving badly of course. The Doors, Led Zeppelin, The Who and of course most of the punk rockers from the late 70’s had their share of controversy.

Nowadays, controversy and trouble making are the act, more than the actual act. Case in point : Madonna and Lady GaGa.

However, it’s fairly easy for most of us to see through all that and decide if there is any real talent behind it.

As far as The Rolling Stones go, that answer is evident 50 years later.

The Rolling Stones – Sympathy For the Devil http://youtu.be/ftZ3UCdTuWQ

Today in Rock – January 26th

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1957, Born on this day, Eddie Van Halen, Dutch guitarist with Van Halen who had the 1984 US No.1 & UK No. 7 single ‘Jump’. His guitar solo in the track ‘Eruption’ was voted No.2 on Guitar World magazine’s readers poll of the 100 Greatest Guitar Solos.

I remember back in February of 1978, I was immersed in the NY Punk scene and the emergence of the British equivalent. Working at Record World with Russell, a co-worker trapped in the Peter Frampton look, we would always be excited on new release day. Russ saw this album cover and just new it was his kind of music. He shouted to me “Look at this, some new band called Van Heflin”. (he wasn’t much of a reader, that Russ). We opened it and threw it on the turntable.

Now, me, being jaded with all things rock, was even wildly impressed with that opening riff – “Running With The Devil”, followed by some amazing guitar work in “Eruption” and then a Kinks cover? WOW. this was a shock to my system. I thought this kind of music was dead.

That first Van HALEN album was really quite an amazing feat. I loved it. Loved the band live too. Saw them twice on that first tour. David Lee Roth was incredible and of course Eddie Van Halen was magical. Saw them open up for Journey and Montrose – all on the same bill. Van Halen blew them all away, as you can imagine.

As far as Russ goes. I have no idea what happened to him, but he owes me $20 for a Queen ticket he never obtained for me.

Bastard.

Happy Birthday Eddie VH…57 today

Van Halen – Running With The Devil (1978 Live) http://youtu.be/cqoybLnrEjw

Today In Rock – January 25th

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1964: The Beatles hit #1 for the first time in the US with “I Want To Hold Your Hand”. The British invasion is officially under way. Murray The K. was a crazy NY DJ who screamed on a daily basis “The Beatles are coming”. I actually remember this, although I was only 6 years old. I remember my Aunts talking about them. It could have been a Russian invasion the way it was hyped. But would they live up to it?

You bet they did.

I loved them back then. They were my Backstreet Boys. Maybe I should rephrase that.

Favorite early Beatles song: “I Saw Her Standing There”. That one always brings me right back to those days.

I moved away from the band when Rubber Soul came out because I thought it was too weird. I was 9, so what did I know? Of course, later, I came around to recognizing its own brilliance.

The Beatles changed the world, created the idea of the album, guided rock music through the 60’s and 70’s and their influence is still felt today.

Not bad for a band that only lasted 6 years. Nowadays, it takes that long for a band to come out with a 2nd album. It’s hard to imagine what the did in such a short period of time.

I would recommend getting the album “Beatles 1’s ” It’s a collection of their number one hits. It’s really interesting to see how much they changed in those 6 years.

You can call them legendary, but first and foremost, they were a band of musicians. Extremely talented musicians who in a short time created the songbook of our lives.

The Beatles – I Want To Hold Your Hand (live) http://youtu.be/OMNPPwq8I2Y

Today in Rock – January 24th

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Today is the birthday of a great artist we lost too soon. Warren Zevon would have been 66 today. Sadly, he passed of cancer in 2003 at the young age of 56.

Zevon was famously known for “Werewolves Of London”, which turned out to be more a Halloween novelty song. It came off his absolutely brilliant third album “Excitable Boy”. An album filled with dark and bizarre songs with lyrics that sound like they came out an Edgar Allen Poe story and later filmed by Alfred Hitchcock. Zevon’s imagery combined with his emphasis on camp were among the greatest in rock history.

Who else could get away with lyrics like “He took little Suzy to the junior prom, Excitable Boy they all said. Then he raped her and killed her and he took her home. After ten long years they let him out of the home. He dug up her grave and built a cage with her bones. Excitable Boy they all said. He’s just an Excitable Boy”. A mirror of this sick society we all share, as portrayed by the madman himself.

Underrated, underappreciated and forever in my heart as one of the best.

My nephew, Nick, likes to call him Elton John’s demented brother (or something like that). I like it. It fits.

I always have fun listening to Warren Zevon. He makes me laugh and think at the same time. I miss him dearly and wish I could have seen him live in concert back in the day.

He ended up being quite a regular guest on David Letterman’s show toward the end of his life and always thrilled the audiences.

A consummate performer, never afraid to give his all on stage. Very often, he would be led out on stage in handcuffs. uncuffed by a police officer and led to the piano, where he would proceed to let loose. He was Jerry Lee Lewis with a macabre twist.

Love the guy.

Warren Zevon (live) Excitable Boy http://youtu.be/7eUsSXXc8wU

Today in Rock – January 23rd

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On this date in 1978, one of the best rock guitarists of all time died. The saddest thing is Rolling Stone Magazine left him out of the lineup of top 100 guitarists of all time. Maybe because he was in a band not known for their guitar work.

I am talking about the founder of a band called Chicago Transit Authority, later just shortened to Chicago. Heard of them?

Terry Kath was the guitar player, co-singer/songwriter/producer of the early albums. The first three Chicago albums feature some of the tightest music I have heard on record. Featuring elements of rock, jazz, pop, salsa and prog-rock with lyrics of political turmoil and protest. Brilliant stuff.

In the center was Terry Kath, powerhouse guitar player,  that rivaled Hendrix in his heyday.

Terry Kath died from a self-inflicted gun shot to the head. It’s unknown if it was intentional or an accident. I believe, when Terry realized Peter Cetera hijacked the band and turned them into soft rock gods, he was ready to call it a day.

I still listen to the early albums. They are mind-blowing.

In fact, on the way to most of my comedy shows, it’s become a tradition to listen to a piece of music from Chicago II called “Ballet For A Girl From Buchannon”. For me, still one of the best pieces of recorded music I have ever heard.

If you haven’t heard it in it’s entirety, you should. Some of it you already know, since it was chopped up for AM radio.

I remember playing this for my nephew Nick and he was shocked that it was Chicago.

Damn you Peter Cetera, you faggot. You are on my list of guys who ruined great bands. you and Phil Collins are tied.

And F.U. to Rolling Stone magazine for leaving him off the list, along with Richie Blackmore of Deep Purple. Yet they have Joni Mitchell, Kurt Cobain, and Willie Nelson on there. REALLY?

Have a listen to this. It’s really quite amazing. 13 minutes of brilliance:

Chicago – Ballet For A Girl In Buchannon http://youtu.be/eQkGQHnwVjE