March is Garage Rock Month

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No matter how complex, technical or over produced rock n roll gets, it always seems to return to the simple sound of Garage Rock. Once again, we are seeing a resurgence in that style of music. The Black Keys won a handful of Grammys this year for their style of Garage Rock. They aren’t breaking new ground, but rather returning to the foundation of what the greatest music was built on. Simple three chord rock played loud by kids. It’s inspiring, energetic and most of all, fun. That’s what rock n roll was invented for.

Besides The Black Keys, bands like Japandroids, The Hives, The Strokes, The White Stripes, and more I can’t come up with right now, have formed. I would not be surprised, now that The Black Keys have won awards that we will be seeing more Garage Rock. I say BRING IT ON !! I love it. It has always been my favorite choice of music.

Throughout the month of March, I will explore the world of Garage Rock. The old, the new, the unknown. Hopefully I will inspire you to check out some new music and get you up and rockin.

Even better, picking up that guitar and starting your own band.

Nothing starts bands more than the Garage Rock genre. It was the precursor of the punk rock movement of the late 70’s.

This is going to be a fun month.

Of course, I am open to guest bloggers. Wanna add to the Garage Rock March Madness? email me you best blog post to steviegb57@gmail.com

Rock on kids….

The Black Keys – I Got Mine http://youtu.be/v5FW8Xo8ENo

 

Who’s Left

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This past week, I saw The Who perform their classic album, Quadrophenia, at Nassau Coliseum. I wanted to wait a couple of days to absorb my feelings about the concert before I administered my review.

Let me start by saying I love The Who. Behind The Kinks, they are my all-time favorite band. Pete Townshend’s writing has always spoke to me personally. He encompasses teenage angst and the search for spiritual awareness and does it with the most powerful sound in the history of music. Having the greatest bass player in John Entwhistle and the greatest drummer, Keith Moon didn’t hurt either. Now with John and Keith gone for some time, we are left with Roger and Pete. A formidable duo.

They have done a great job in rounding out the band with Pino Palladino, an expert bassist, Simon Townshend (Pete’s brother), on guitar, and the amazing Zack Starkey  (Ringo’s son) on drums. They also added a horn section and a few other background players, keyboards and guitars. It’s practically an orchestra up there. A far cry from the powerhouse trio, and Roger Daltrey on vocals that gave us Live At Leeds, and a host of other live material that has stood the test of time.

I will get to the show in a moment. First I want to complain about a couple of things. The venue is a dump. Nassau Coliseum is a shitbox and should be torn down. The floors were sticky, the sound system was awful, I was sitting in the 300’s which I hated. The place is a dinosaur. The crowd was a typical Long Island crowd responding only to the greatest hits portion of the show. Talking and texting during most of Quadrophenia. A lady next to us was playing solitaire on her phone. I can’t imagine anything I would rather be doing than watching The Who, but the days of going to concerts and actually getting into the concert seem to be fading.

Ok, as promised. the show.

The Who played Quadrophenia in its entirety. This is a classic rock opera. It is probably my favorite album of all time. It’s poetic and powerful and brilliant. It surpasses Tommy as Townshend’s masterpiece in my opinion.

The album came out in 1974 but they never played it live in its entirety, until 1994. I was fortunate to be there in 1994. At that show, Pete never left the acoustic guitar. This time he stayed mostly on electric except when the acoustic was called for. Last time they played around with different arrangements. This time, they stuck to the album arrangements on every song. It really felt like we were hearing the album as it sounded on vinyl almost 40 years ago (wow). The screens in the back showed pictures of the early days of The Who,  and historical events that tried to match with the song at hand. Last time, they had an actor playing the part of Jimmy, the kid in the story, narrating the scenes in between songs. They also had special guests like Billy Idol and Gary Glitter (pre-jail days).

To be perfectly honest, I liked the narration and the arrangements from the 1994 version. It moved the story along, helped us understand what it was really all about. It represented it as a piece of art, which it clearly is. This mechanism of showing random video has been done by other artists, such as Roger Waters, and Beatlemania (the awful stage show from the 70’s).

Pete was his usual self. windmills, jumps and energy at the right moments. I could have used more of that. His voice was excellent, even if he seemed to be shouting more than singing. He believed it and so did I. Roger had some great moments and some moments when you can feel him struggling. Roger had a tough task at hand but the crowd was pretty forgiving.

Through the magic of video, we were treated to a John Entwhistle solo during the song “5:15”, which was a definite highlight. And Keith Moon on the song “Bell Boy” left most of the crowd feeling melancholy. It was a nice tribute to a band that once was. And it kind of felt that way.

Zack Starkey was perfect. Keith Moon was an amazing drummer. I always felt that Moon’s greatest accomplishment was the work he did on Quadrophenia. I know this album by heart and I would have noticed a missed beat. Zack did not miss once. Never. Perfect throughout.

The Quadrophenia portion of the show ended with a strong performance of “Love, Reign Oer Me”. I can’t really say anything bad about it since these guys are pushing 70. To do something of this level at this stage in their lives is quite extraordinary. I am pretty sure they will not do this again.

The greatest hits portion were the usual Who staples. “Who Are You”,” Baba O’Reilly”, “Pinball WIzard”, “Behind Blue Eyes”, and “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. The crowd woke up of course.

It was great to see them, but it was clear to me and a little sad that this is the end of an era. They are not the band they were.

I am glad I got to see them back in 1979 in their prime and a few more times since.

I gotta be honest, although I am surprised. I enjoyed the last version of Quadrophenia Live (1994) a little more. Even though Pete remained acoustic, the visuals were better, the music tighter. Maybe because John Entwhistle was there. Maybe because I had better seats. Maybe because they were younger. Hard to say.

Either way. I still love The Who and Pete still remains one of my all time rock heroes.

If they come around and do Tommy, I am not sure if I would go, but …I probably will get fooled again.

For Openers

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One of my favorite experiences in life is attending a live rock concert. I have done this since the age of 14. I have countless memories from euphoric to disappointment. From confusion to a blur.

I always arrived early and gave the proper respect to every opening act. I have seen many great opening acts over the years that have upstaged the headliner. T. Rex, Van Halen, Judas Priest, Cheap Trick, Rockpile, Graham Parker & The Rumour, Patti Smith Group,  just to name a few. Most often, these openers were unknown bands and they would try to impress an audience not there to see “them”. They are thrilled to be there. Many of them faded into obscurity and very often forgotten by the end of the night. I always liked when the main act would mention the opening act at the end of their show. It was their way of remembering where they came from.

Just recently, I attended The Who concert and the opening act was Vintage Trouble (pictured above). They were great, but 75% of that audience had no idea what they were seeing, nor cared to give them a chance.

I never understood why people attend a show and make it a point to miss the opening act. Even worse are the people who are rude during the opening act. Talking, booing, yelling “get off the stage”. How can you call yourself a music fan and show such disrespect. You could be seeing the next big thing in the early stages of their artistic expression. Before they are tainted by the hit machine. Now is the time to experience them at their most innovative, but you choose to dismiss them. You paid for the price of the ticket for a night of music. Perhaps you feel it takes time away from the main act? It doesn’t. The main act has the alloted time for their set and that’s it. The opener is there to buy time and hopefully entertain the arrivers. Quite often, the opening act is chosen by the main act. That alone should warrant them some attention.

Is there somewhere else you would rather be? Would you rather be sitting in traffic on your way to the show? Or stuck at work? There are many things I can think of worse than sitting and listening to the music of a band I never heard.

Back in the day, the opener was a chance to “set up shop” for a night of hooting and hollering in an arena filled with the sweet smoke of a concert experience.

I have attended concerts recently and the level of disrespect has increased. I have also noticed many venues pairing up dual headline acts to entice concert goers to buy a high-priced ticket with the promise of an all-star show. I have been to these shows and the opener, no matter how big they are, are subjected to the same obnoxious behavior.

I can’t figure out what went wrong. Personally, I think we have become so wrapped up in unimportant things like checking e-mails, texting, tweeting, tagging photos of cats and kids, checking sports scores, setting up DVR’s for the next episode of Breaking Bad, and working (oh god, imagine that). We have forgotten how to put it all aside and enjoy what we overpaid for. The Concert.

So, next time you attend a musical event. Give the opening band a chance to impress you. Take yourself out of your life for that half hour set and try to find something that you can remember years later when they become too expensive to see. There is a possibility they will be awful, but clap anyway. But, maybe one day you can say “I saw them when they were the opening act”. Trust me, it’s impressive.

If you don’t want to do that, fine.

Then I ask you to do one thing.

SHUT THE HELL UP, so I can enjoy the opening act of the concert I overpaid for.

Vintage Trouble – Blues Hand Me Down : http://youtu.be/lsw4ipHcMvY

Hall of Shame ?

Today’s post is from guest blogger Alan Gootnick.

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The 2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions are approaching. I wanted to chime in on the inductees and whether or not they belong there.

First, let’s dispense of two right away. Donna Summer is, was, and always will be the Queen of Disco. This is NOT rock and roll! Public Enemy surely influenced most of today’s hip hop and rap artists. AGAIN- NOT rock and roll!

Next up, Randy Newman. He is a great songwriter with a biting, acerbic wit. His three best albums are 12 songs, Sail Away, and Good Old Boys. Personally his music doesn’t excite me, I guess the hall of fame committee see differently.

Heart was one of the biggest bands of the 70’s. Being fronted by two beautiful sisters didn’t hurt either. Barracuda, Magic Man, and Crazy on You were staples of FM radio in the 70’s and still are today. Then they blew it with their “big hair MTV 80’s – “Alone” (YUK!).

The final inductee is Albert King. Eric Clapton, Mick Taylor, Stevie Ray Vaughan were influenced by the blues giant. Jimi Hendrix copped Albert’s idea of playing the guitar upside down, as they were both left handed.

Interesting note: Albert never used the sixth string while playing! Also Joe Walsh was such a fan he got to speak at his funeral. I can’t wait to see who inducts him and pays musical tribute to this worthy inductee.

In conclusion, let’s hope that it’s the “last dance’ for hip hop and disco artists being considered for the Rock n Roll Hall.

Albert King – Born Under A bad Sign : http://youtu.be/UnVlB3WMGng

335520_375441849136533_1697406684_oAlan is a stand-up comic and music fan, much like myself. Thank you Alan. Find him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/alan.gootnick

No More Mr. Nice Guy

Whenever I lend something to someone it either comes back broken, ripped, stepped on, spit on, partially burned or not at all. When I was a kid of about 9, I had a James Bond Attache Case. It was very cool. I remember it well because it was probably my favorite toy. I brought it to my friend, Perry Rosen’s house. I left it there and never saw it again. Everytime I asked Perry what happened to it, he couldn’t tell me. It was very upsetting. I guess he was angry because his parents named him Perry. To this day, I wonder what happend to that James Bond Attache Case. Perry Rosen moved to Staten Island and I tried finding him on the internet. Apparently there are a lot of Perry Rosens out there. I saw some pictures, but none of them had a guy holding a James Bond Attache Case.

Another prized possession of mine was a bicycle with a banana seat. They were all the rage back in the 60’s. I had one. Anthony, some fat kid from school, came over and rode my bicycle around the block. When he came back, the banana seat was ripped. I can only guess it was from his big fat ass. He denied it of course. I don’ t remember Anthony’s last name and there are far too many Anthonys with fat asses out there to try to locate him.

Number three:  I owned an album by Alice Cooper called Billion Dollar Babies back in the 70’s. I loaned it to Kevin Anderson. He never gave it back. I even went to his house and knocked on his door and he told me he couldn’t find it. How can you NOT find an album? If I wasn’t so skinny and nerdy back then, I would have beat him up. Kevin Anderson is another popular name and impossible to locate.

Now here is where it gets weird. Years later, about 2002 or so, I bought Billion Dollar Babies on CD. I loaned it to a guy I worked with named Rich Randazzo. Rich wanted to burn a copy. Guess what? I never got it back. I kept asking Rich. He said, “I can’t find it”. he found the CD box and returned that, but could not find the CD?

I tried to find out if he knew Kevin Anderson, thinking maybe they were in cohoots. Now they are both missing along with two copies of Billion Dollar Babies. I am afraid to get another copy. Apparently I am not allowed to own this item.

I still loan CD’s to people to burn. They come back, but usually broken, scratched, or smudged up to a point of skipping. Will I ever learn? Apparently not. What I really don’t understand is why do people do this? If I ever borrow something from someone, I take expert care of it and I return it as soon as possible in the same or even better condition.

So, anybody out there that has something of mine? I am granting amnesty for 30 days. If you return it within this timespan, I will not press charges.

Do you hear me Perry Rosen, Kevin Anderson and Rich Randazzo?

By the way – Happy Birthday to Alice Cooper. I still love the album and one day, I will get it and keep it to myself.

Alice Cooper – No More Mr. Nice Guy http://youtu.be/xYKjGvVSTGA