Category Archives: Music

This Is The Best Rock ‘n’ Roll Cover Band I’ve Ever Seen

Gruhak? Yes Gruhak From Croatia. An Amazing Rock ‘n’ Roll Cover Band


If Gruhak ever does a concert in the United States, I’m going to see it.

Since the 1970s I’ve seen over 300 concerts. Among them: AC/DC, Deep Purple, Paul McCartney, Motörhead, The Rolling Stones, Metallica, The Clash, Kiss, Iron Maiden, Rush and countless other classic bands.

Sometimes the shows have been great, other times it’s been a disappointment. Especially now because as the older the bands get, the harder it is for them to perform live. In the past 10 years I’ve mostly stopped going to shows rather than see my rock ‘n’ roll illusions shattered.

Enter the tribute or cover band, that in some cases can deliver a performance that sounds better than the band they are copying. Cover and tribute bands are a dime a dozen, many of them are not very good and they play the bar circuit. There are a handful of bands that can  make a full time living at it and have developed their own fan following.

It is rare that there is a band that can have the energy, the vibe and the talent to cover multiple groups and do it well.

That fits the description of Gruhak, a five piece band from Dubrovnik, Croatia.  The word “gruhak” means a loud and obtrusive person.

Rather than go on and on about their talent, have a look and a listen.

First up – The Who – We Won’t Get Fooled Again.

Now performing in a totally different style, Gruhak takes on The Doors with Love Me Two Times.

It’s not that Gruhak sound like The Doors. It’s not an imitation, but an interpretation and it’s a damned good one. Gruhak’s  singer Boris Kosovic has Jim Morrison’s intonations and the band sounds more like the Doors, than the band that Doors members Ray Manzarek and Robbie Krieger put together a dozen years ago with Ian Astbury, formerly of The Cult, on vocals.

As far as Gruhak’s version of We Won’t Get Fooled Again, it’s as if we’re hearing Roger Daltrey and company in their prime. The other musicians in Gruhak are equally accomplished. Continue reading

Alice Cooper Parties With Ethel Kennedy & Andy Williams

An Unlikely Trio – Alice Cooper, Ethel Kennedy and Andy Williams at The Rainbow Room – 1974

Alice Cooper Ethel Kennedy Andy Williams Rainbow Room Oct 16 1974 photo Tim BoxerAn odd assortment of celebrities gathered together at the Rainbow Room in New York on October 16 1974. Rocker Alice Cooper (r) sits with Ethel Kennedy widow of Robert Kennedy, as singer Andy Williams stands between them.

Andy Williams is smiling in spite of having been robbed the day before at the Sherry-Netherland Hotel. While Williams was showering, a maid let a woman into the room who claimed she was Williams’s wife. Among the items the woman stole were Williams’s checkbook, four tuxedos and two leather jackets. Continue reading

5 Great Funky Songs of the 70s Performed Live

 A Look Back At The 1970s With Great Funky Songs Performed Live

Stevie Wonder Motown Press photo

Stevie Wonder

The 1970s music scene. It wasn’t just the hairstyles, costumes or clothes. It wasn’t just the sheer magnitude of the musicianship. It wasn’t just that the songs were actually saying something. It wasn’t that these bands had multi-talented singer-songwriters.

It was a combination of these things and something else. There was something intangible about the 1970s: that great music like this was written, performed live and recorded for posterity. It makes me feel really sorry for the 2016 generation: kids who have not discovered this music and think that Pitbull, Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber or Kanye West are the greatest.

As with all good music, appreciating it meant you were colorblind. You couldn’t care less if the band was white, black yellow or polka dotted. All that mattered was that it was great music.

Here are 5 great funky songs from the 70s performed live.

Let’s start with one of the most underappreciated musicians of all-time, Billy Preston (1946-2006). Preston, known by many music fans for playing with the Beatles on the Get Back sessions, had his own successful solo career that never reached the heights it should have. In this ebullient performance, Billy Preston delvers the goods and belts out Will It Go Round In Circles on The Midnight Special in 1973.  Will afros ever come back? Preston and his drummer make them look cool.

There is not much more that can be said about Stevie Wonder that hasn’t already been said. He’s one of the greatest songwriters and performers of all-time. Most fans of Led Zeppelin know that Stevie’s 1972 song Superstition heavily influenced Zeppelin’s 1975 hit Trampled Under Foot. The Doobie Brothers 1973 Long Train Running also bears a striking similarity as all three songs have a similar main hook.

On the LP recording, Stevie Wonder played clavinet, drums, and Moog bass! Here live in 1973 on the show, Sesame Street (yes, the children’s PBS show Sesame Street!) is Stevie Wonder with his phenomenal live band performing Superstition. The whole band is fantastic and the mix is great, but take note of drummer Ollie Brown who keeps perfect time while making it all look too easy.

Continue reading

Prince’s Cause of Death Revealed

Prince’s Death, No Surprise To Vet

A Look Back At Prince and His Career

Prince the famous pit bull, was just a little over the age of eight (57 in dog years) when he died suddenly last week, shocking the entertainment world. His longtime veterinarian, Dr. Hugo Z. Clydell in a news conference said today that he was “not surprised by Prince’s death” and revealed the likely cause of his demise.

“Although Prince seemed to be in good health,” Dr. Clydell stated, “he had been secretly battling the mange for quite a while. Prince was also suffering from distemper, so it was just a matter of time before he died of natural causes or had to be put down.”

Prince in one of his famous costumes

Prince in one of his famous costumes

The intensively private pooch also had some bad habits which few on the outside knew about. Dr Clydell told reporters that for the past few years Prince had been drinking out of the toilet bowl.

“It was something he was ashamed of, but couldn’t stop,” said Dr. Clydell. Frequently after drinking from the toilet, Prince would chew on a shoe and then pee on the rug.

“Prince tried all sorts of therapy to stop this behavior,” Dr Clydell added, “but it never worked. It was only after the fact that he realized that he may have been doing something wrong. He was then made clear of his transgressions when he was hit on the snout with a rolled up newspaper and yelled at by humans, ‘Bad dog! Bad dog!'”‘

Some of Prince’s playmates were also aware of his maladies, weaknesses and recent changes in behavior.

Snoopy, a beagle owned by C.M. Schulz of St. Paul, MN knew that Prince was not himself when they met last week at Perkins Hill Park. When Snoopy greeted Prince in his usual fashion, Prince did not reciprocate and sniff longtime pal Snoopy’s testicles. “Something is wrong,” thought Snoopy who retreated to lay on the top of his doghouse.

Below: video of Prince playing and singing at home.

A Career In Retrospect
Prince gained prominence as a precocious puppy by finishing second in the Westbrook, MN dog show in 2008. After the show, Prince was signed to a long term contract by Weaning Bros. Records, a deal Prince later regretted and growled about as his fame grew. Prince put out numerous albums and appeared in dozens of television commercials, music videos and a feature film over a seven year span.

Prince’s first television commercial for Alps dog food, was a smashing success, spurring the catchy Alps theme song Let’s Go Gravy on to the Billboard semi-hot 100 music chart. Let’s Go Gravy remained on the charts for 41 weeks peaking at number four and made Prince a household name at least in his home state of Minnesota.

From there Prince went on to star as the dog who chased (always without success) a car with shiny hubcaps in a series of Chevrolet ads for the failed re-launch of the Corvair. The song to these commercials written and barked by Prince was also a top ten hit with its catchy lyrics:

“Hubcaps so shiny, / Car that can explode / Make you all miney / Chase you down the road / Little red corvair, / slow down, / you’re….wooof, much…. wooof…. too…. woooofff, ……fast.” Continue reading

Rarely Seen Live Rock Videos From The 1970s

10 Rarely Seen 1970s Live Music Videos – featuring Blondie, Sweet, The Cars, Cheap Trick, The Clash, Rush and others.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

At least that’s how the musically schizophrenic 1970s felt to me. The era that gave us timeless music from bands like Led Zeppelin, Steely Dan, Pink Floyd and Queen, gave way in popularity in the mid 70s to the monotonous 4/4 beat of disco. As The Who sang in Long Live Rock “rock is dead.”

The Clash 1979 - photo: Bob Gruen featuring Rare 1970s Live Rock Videos

The Clash 1979 – photo: Bob Gruen

But towards the end of the decade, new rock bands emerged with aplomb; The Ramones, Elvis Costello, The Clash and Blondie being among them. The foundations for the emerging New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) would be laid by 1970s hard rock bands like Sweet, UFO and Rainbow.

You’ve got to love Youtube. Without it, how would you discover video that you never knew existed?

Youtube is a strange world, where there have been over two billion views for Psy and Gangam Style, while Sweet’s 1974 live version of No You Don’t has about 21,000 views. Crazy isn’t it? With millions of music videos to sort through, it can be difficult to find the great ones, kind of like plucking gems from a vault.

For most of the videos we selected, some have viewership not in the millions, but incredibly just in the thousands.

We’ve selected ten live, rarely seen rock videos from Youtube from between 1974 – 1979 that hopefully don’t get pulled down from the site.

Five videos are from the late, great Capitol Theatre in Passaic, NJ. There are over 100 complete concerts that have been released in the past year from that storied rock venue.

Rock n’ roll may be dead, at least to the 2016 generation, but in the 1970s it was relevant, alive and kicking.

First off, Cheap Trick plays Auf Wiedersehen in 1978 with a Nirvana-like energy

Next, Blondie from 1978 with a terrific version of Hangin’ on the Telephone

The Clash I Fought The Law Live in London at The Lyceum Theatre 1979

Sweet from 1974 perform No You Don’t on Musikladen in Germany. Pat Benitar’s cover version is more well known than Sweet’s hard rock original.

Continue reading

The Restaurant Fire That Ended The Life Of Tom Stacks: The Most Unique Voice In Jazz -1936

The Tragic End of Tom Stacks, Star Crooner of The 1920’s

Tom StacksOnce you have heard Tom Stacks sing you would recognize his voice anywhere.

Tom Stacks was a tenor and a drummer appearing on hundreds of recordings in the 1920s and 1930s, primarily as a singer with Harry Reser’s band.

Stacks was a small man with an adolescent voice that sounded like he was singing with a perpetual smile.

Best demonstrating Stacks unique ability to turn a song into his own, is his rendition of a tune written by Richard Whiting and Byron Gay, Horses. If there was ever a novelty song with witty lyrics that epitomized the roaring twenties, this is it. (see lyrics at end of article)

Another song, Masculine Women and Feminine Men, a song written by Edgar Leslie and James V. Monaco seems more apropos for today rather than 1926. Continue reading

The Death of Lemmy And Motorhead

Lemmy And Motörhead – Underpaid, Underappreciated & Undeniably Unique

Lemmy of Motörhead on stage at Vale Park 3/8/1981

Lemmy of Motorhead on stage at Vale Park 3/8/1981

Motörhead the most underappreciated band in the history of rock ‘n roll is dead.

That is the news confirmed by Motörhead’s drummer Mikkey Dee. “Motörhead is over, of course. Lemmy was Motörhead. We won’t be doing any more tours or anything. And there won’t be any more records. But the brand survives, and Lemmy lives on in the hearts of everyone,” said Dee.

Motörhead founder, singer, songwriter and bassist, Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmister died in Hollywood, CA last week, Monday December 28, 2015 at the age of 70 . The official cause was an extremely aggressive form of brain and neck cancer that Lemmy had just been diagnosed with two days before. After the diagnosis Lemmy was stoic and figured he would live out the two to six months the doctor gave him as best he could.

Monday the 28th, Lemmy was in his house playing on a video game console that was shipped over to his apartment from the nearby Rainbow Bar & Grill where Lemmy normally spent hours playing the game. As he played, Lemmy nodded off and never woke up. With Lemmy’s death also comes the death of a band that toiled for over 40 years with no mainstream commercial success.

After a hellbent, hard-living life of extremes it’s amazing that Lemmy lived to be 70. On the other hand it’s hard to believe he is now gone. I really thought Lemmy would would not die, at least not in my lifetime. If anyone ever epitomized the lifestyle of sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll it was Lemmy.

Lemmy chain smoked, drank Jack Daniels like others drink water and probably took more speed than anyone else who ever lived. Yet through all the “bad” things Lemmy did to himself, he appeared indestructible, remained lucid in conversation and driven to perform until the very end. Lemmy had been battling various illnesses over the last two years and most recently was extremely depressed over the death of best mate, former Motörhead drummer Phil “Phlthy Animal” Taylor on November 11, 2015.

On December 11 in Berlin, Germany, Motörhead completed the second part of its  2015-16 world tour. The band then took a holiday break intending to return to Europe to continue the tour. A little over two weeks later Lemmy was dead.

In the days following Lemmy’s death other musical legends such as Ozzy Osbourne, Rob Halford and Gene Simmons have praised the founder and frontman of Motörhead. From all walks of life, everyone who encountered Lemmy said the same thing – he was a really good guy, not an asshole. For most rock stars with their inflated egos, being an asshole is an easy attitude to take on.

In Lemmy’s highly readable autobiography Whiteline Fever (Citadel, 2004), he said, “Fuck this ‘Don’t speak ill of the dead’ shit! People don’t become better when they’re dead; you just talk about them as if they are. But it’s not true! People are still assholes, they’re just dead assholes!”

No one will speak ill of Lemmy. Continue reading

The Beatles, Abbey Road Unused Alternate Cover Photos

The Photos The Beatles Didn’t Use For The Cover Of Abbey Road

Abbey Road 01 photo Iain Macmillan 1938-2006

Abbey Road album cover outtake photo – Iain Macmillan

If you are a Beatles fan, and visit London there is a strong chance that if you venture just outside the Abbey Road studios you will find groups of Beatles fans recreating their own version of The Beatles famous walk across the street while someone photographs the scene. The Abbey Road cover is considered to be one of the best and most imitated album covers in rock history.

The photo session took place on August 8, 1969 and photographer Iain Macmillan was given ten minutes to photograph The Beatles. Macmillan perched himself on a ladder in the middle of the street and took only six photographs of the group, one of which became the final album cover.

Here are the other four photos that did not end up being used for the cover. Click on any photo to enlarge.

For The Beatles fan who owns everything you could purchase your own set of the photos, but you would have to spend some big bucks. A set of the five unused photos with one signed by Macmillan was auctioned Continue reading

The 5 Best Cover Songs By Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden Plays Other Band’s Songs Better Than The Originals

Iron Maiden 1986 - (from l-r) Dave Murray, Bruce Dickinson, Steve Harris, Nicko McBrain, Adrian Smith

Iron Maiden 1986 – (from l-r) Dave Murray, Bruce Dickinson, Steve Harris, Nicko McBrain, Adrian Smith

Like Metallica who seem to excel at playing cover songs, Iron Maiden has covered songs from many well known groups including Led Zeppelin, The Who and UFO. But it is usually the lesser known bands that Iron Maiden have been able to bring to the limelight with their covers, usually improving the song substantially in the process.

Of course it certainly helps if the song you’re covering is a good song to begin with. Many of these songs are just that: well written songs.

Here in no particular order are the five best Iron Maiden cover songs where Maiden generally took the original song up a notch.

1) I’ve Got The Fire (1981 and 1983) – originally done by the band Montrose featuring Sammy Hagar on lead vocals. This is the only Iron Maiden cover song recorded by both the original Maiden singer Paul Di’Anno and his successor Bruce Dickinson. First Paul Di’Anno:

Next, Bruce Dickinson’s version which was recorded in 1983.

2) Women In Uniform (1980) – originally performed by the Australian band Skyhooks, Maiden’s version bumps the tempo up and improves Continue reading

Babe Ruth And Lou Gehrig Comedy Record -1927

A Commercial Recording Release By The Bambino and The Iron Horse

Gehrig and Ruth at League Park Cleveland 1927 photo L Van OeyenRecently I was reading an old New York Times column from October 7, 1956 by Gay Talese in which he wrote about the history of baseball records. Not home run or pitching records, but baseball related music and spoken word records.

In the article Talese mentions that one of the first record companies to release a baseball record was Pathe records in 1928 when they got Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig to make a recording explaining how they hit home runs. It did not sell very well. Almost all baseball related recordings have traditionally done poorly with sales, with the exception of Take Me Out To The Ballgame written in 1908 by Albert Von Tilzer and Jack Norworth. Incredibly neither Von Tilzer or Norworth had ever attended a baseball game prior to writing their hit song.

So I searched for the Ruth – Gehrig recording on youtube and couldn’t find the exact recording mentioned in the article, but came up with this version instead. (Click on the youtube video below). Apparently it is the exact same record as in the Talese article, but Talese is mistaken about  the content and the date.

It’s a comedy skit (which is not very funny) advertised Continue reading