Boris Kosović, Multi-Talented Rocker In A Band That Shunned The Spotlight, Dies
Boris Kosović founder, lead singer and guitarist of Gruhak, in an undated photo
(We wrote a story about the amazing Croatian band Gruhak, in 2016 that can be read here.)
Boris Kosović the energetic vocalist-guitarist and sole remaining original member of the band Gruhak died on Thursday, September 20 in Dubrovnik, Croatia. He had been battling cancer for a year and a half. Kosović was 40-years-old.
How do you take heavy metal music and turn them into lullabies?
Until the other day I wouldn’t have known.
Still, I’m quite aware, popular music can be given any type of rendition.
Once about 20 years ago at the venerable Strand bookstore, I heard classical music being played over their sound system. I wasn’t paying close attention to the song. But I started listening closer. It sounded familiar, yet I couldn’t distinguish exactly what was being played. After about two minutes it hit me – it was Metallica and the song Harvester of Sorrow! That was the first time I heard Apocalyptica, a classical group comprised of cellists and they had recorded entire albums covering Metallica.
So it was only a matter of time before someone came up with the bright idea of making lullabies out of heavy metal songs. Hence, I recently discovered Iron Maiden tunes done as lullabies. The question you might ask is, why?
Does it matter?
If you like Iron Maiden, this should put a smile on your face, The first song I heard was The Trooper.
Never Send Mom To The Record Store To Buy A Record – A True Story
There was a time when the only way to buy music was to purchase it on tape or vinyl, usually at a record or department store. The year was 1983 and a friend of mine, Kyle worked in the local record store.
His knowledge and love of rock n’ roll led him to pursue this part-time minimum wage position to help support his college tuition.
Kyle’s job was to stock the store with new product as it came in and help customers with any needs.
So one day as Kyle is sorting vinyl he notices a middle-aged woman looking at the bins that hold the records. She was obviously not finding whatever it was she was searching for in the “R” section.
Kyle approached the woman, smiled and said. “Can I help you find something?”
“Oh, yes,” the woman replied, “my son sent me to buy the new rubber plant record, but I can’t seem to find it.”
Kyle’s eyebrows went up and he repeated the name to her, “rubber plant?”
“Yes, rubber plant,” the woman confirmed distinctly emphasizing-the last r in rubber. Continue reading →
Hearing Classic Rock’s Greatest Voices Like You’ve Never Heard Them Before
Rare Audio From 10 Great Rock Bands With The Vocals Isolated
Unlike the garbage pop music that is popular today, the vocalists of the great rock bands of the 60s and 70s did not have an array of modern gadgets to fix their voices. Either you could sing or you couldn’t. In the pre-digital era there was no autotune and multi-track studio trickery was limited to looping and a few other production tricks.
So it should come as no surprise that their were once were musical giants that walked the earth. Bands such as Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Heart, Queen, Boston and dozens of others where the vocalists could not only cut it live, but could go into a recording studio and leave pure magic on tape and vinyl.
Without having access to the master recording tapes, some enterprising music fans have made a hobby of isolating each individual part of a band’s recording to see how the song breaks down. The most interesting of these efforts are the vocal isolations.
If you ever had any doubt as to how much talent each of these musicians had, then prepare to be blown away by these performances.
First up, if Heart’s Ann Wilson doesn’t have the best pure voice in rock n’ roll then I don’t know who does. 40 plus years later Ann Wilson hasn’t lost much of her range. The singing on Barracuda is a careful balance between pyrotechnic raw emotion and incredible vocal control.
There are a handful of people who still dismiss Led Zeppelin and the vocal prowess of a young Robert Plant. For those who think that Robert Plant and Zeppelin were nothing special check out the unadulterated vocals with absolutely no effects from Ramble On off of Led Zeppelin II.
Probably the song with THE single greatest acrobatic vocal performance EVER in rock ‘n’ roll. Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan hits unimaginable heights on Child In Time from 1970. Continue reading →
Things You Will Find At The Allentown Book & Paper Show
On a cloudless Saturday at eight forty in the morning, a line of about 200 eager men and women snaked its way around Agricultural Hall at the Allentown Fairgrounds in Allentown, PA.
They were anxiously awaiting the April 21 opening of the two day Allentown Book and Paper Show, an all encompassing smorgasbord of anything and everything collectible that has a relationship to paper.
On the show floor a few minutes before 9:00 am,, show promoter Sean Klutinoty announced to the 170 dealers over the public address system, that the anxious crowd would soon be admitted. This was the cue for the dealers to return to their tables. They had set up their stalls the day before but quite a few dealers were scurrying about making some last minute purchases from one another.
Searching through hundreds of thousands of postcards
At nine sharp, customers started filing in. Like bees who fly precise routes to pollinate flowers, the mad dash began for people to get to their favorite dealer. For those who do not have a special dealer to go to, there is a rush to visit each booth methodically row by row.
Each patron is searching for something particular and they ask dealers if they possess whatever special item they seek, before the competition, real or imagined, swoops in and beats them to it.
Another aisle of postcard row
If it made of paper and you cannot find it in Allentown that is the exception.
Unlike a book show where you have books and some ephemera, at a paper show there is literally no limit on what antiquity or modern collectible you may find. Continue reading →
If They Had, It Probably Wouldn’t Have Sounded As Good As Randy Jackson Of Zebra’s Acoustic Solo Version
Led Zeppelin never got to perform Carouselambra live. It’s a ten minute thirty four second synthesizer driven opus.
This version of Carouselambra performed by Zebra’s Randy Jackson is absolutely spectacular.
Carouselambra is one of the radio’s least played Led Zeppelin songs. Maybe it is because of the length of the song or maybe it is the mix which is not up to the usual Led Zeppelin standards. Whatever the reason, besides its enigmatic and haunting lyrics, Carouselambra has some very strong points.
Randy Jackson (lead singer and guitarist of Zebra) not only does the song justice, but turns in an amazing solo performance. Remember, this song was originally recorded with swirling keyboards, guitars, bass and drums. (At end of our story is the original Zeppelin recording.)
The Story of Carouselambra
After the sudden death of Robert Plant’s five-year-old son Karac from a virus in 1977, touring came to an immediate halt and the band went on hiatus. Robert Plant distanced himself from his band mates.
After a long period of self-introspection, Plant decided he was ready to make music again. In December 1978, Led Zeppelin convened to make their final studio album, In Through The Out Door. Three weeks of recording time in Stockholm’s Polar Studios, owned by members of ABBA, were mainly consumed by bassist John Paul Jones and singer Robert Plant. The pair, who had never been the closest of friends, spent a lot of time together and ended up writing almost all of the music and lyrics for the album.
John Paul Jones told Zeppelin biographer Barney Hoskyns, “The band was splitting between people who could turn up at recording sessions on time and people who couldn’t,” Continue reading →
Sweet – The 1970s Band That Should Have Been As Big As Anyone. They Released Their Final Hit In January 1978 – Love Is Like Oxygen
A Story of Sweet Success And Missed Opportunities
Sweet in their glam band outfits circa 1973. From l-r Brian Connolly, Steve Priest, Andy Scott and drummer Mick Tucker holding guitar.
If you were to name a rock band that should have had long-lasting, international success and made a major musical impact but didn’t, one of the top contenders would have to be Sweet.
In the pantheon of great rock bands, Sweet has been forgotten.
There are many reasons for this amnesiac neglect. Possibly the reasons add up like this: a series of bad breaks; not being taken seriously by a dismissive, indifferent critical press; an insufficient amount of American touring and radio exposure; and unsure musical direction. But certainly not because of a lack of producing great rock music.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of Sweet’s final hit Love Is Like Oxygen which was released in January 1978. We’ll discuss the song at the end of this article, but here is an abbreviated version from the TV program Top of The Pops.
A very similar band from the same time, Queen, became, a juggernaut, filling arenas and stadiums, having tens of millions of album sales and critical acclaim – all things Sweet seemed destined to achieve, but didn’t.
And if you don’t think Queen was heavily influenced by Sweet, then maybe you should have a listen.
Despite over 35 million album sales and moderate touring success around Europe, Sweet never lived up to their potential. With the exception of a handful of songs, Sweet was rarely played on American radio, hampering whatever breakthrough success they deserved.
Today, younger listeners unfamiliar with Sweet during their heyday, will rarely be able to name the band when they hear them. They recognize the songs, but often mistake the band’s music for that of E.L.O., the Bee Gees, Queen or some other band.
In the 1970s, Sweet, an English glam pop band, morphed into a serious hard rock band with a long list of hits in the United States and England. Originally they recorded songs written by others, primarily their managers and main songwriters Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn.
But Sweet was more than just a Three Dog Night, Grass Roots or Monkees sort of band. Those bands could barely get by playing an instrument live and never or rarely wrote any of their own songs.
Sweet’s bass player Steve Priest, drummer Mick Tucker, guitarist Andy Scott and lead vocalist Brian Connolly were all accomplished musicians who could write and play their own music and do it damn well.
What made Sweet stand out was their vocal harmonies.
Frequently featured on the weekly British music show Top of the Pops, Sweet would, as the custom was at the time, go on stage and lip synch what they had done on record. Their disdain for lip synching was apparent and they would often make a mockery of their own performances.
Their early “hits,” all written by Chapman and Chinn, were simple but immensely catchy ditties, in the genre known as “bubblegum rock.” Innocent lyrics with just a bit of double entendre intended for a teen audience.
Blockbuster, Wig Wam Bam, Funny Funny, and the American crossover hit Little Willy were just a few of their early chart successes. These were followed by more hits Hell Raiser, No You Don’t, AC-DC, Turn It Down and Sweet’s most famous song The Ballroom Blitz. Continue reading →
Some Highlights Of The Late, Great, “Fast” Eddie Clarke, Guitarist Of Motörhead
The “classic” Motorhead line-up on stage circa 1980 (l-r) Phil Taylor, Eddie Clarke & Lemmy Kilmister photo: Simon Fowler
When “Fast” Eddie Clarke (October 5, 1950 – January 10, 2018), guitarist with Motörhead from 1976-1982 died from pneumonia last week at the age of 67, it closed the book on what many consider Motörhead’s greatest line-up.
In the space of a little over two years, Eddie Clarke, singer-bassist and founder Lemmy Kilmister and drummer Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor, all died.
The trio put out albums that are considered the high points of Motörhead’s career: Motörhead (1977), Bomber (1979), Overkill (1979), Ace of Spades (1980), No Sleep ’til Hammersmith (Live 1981) and Iron Fist (1982).
After being forced out or leaving Motörhead in 1982 (stories conflict on the departure), “Fast” Eddie formed Fastway with bassist Pete Way of UFO. Continue reading →
Though there is a band called AC/DC and they are still recording and touring, the 2008 Black Ice album was the last that Malcolm Young had a hand in writing. Musically, that is what is important.
Guitar players are replaceable. Great songwriters are not.
As great as a rhythm guitar player he was, writing music is what Malcolm Young did best.
Not just writing amazing songs, but incredible memorable riffs and jaw dropping solos performed by his brother Angus. They are deceptively simple, yet undeniably catchy songs and riffs that changed rock n’ roll and influenced, and will continue to influence generations of musicians.
Proof? Listen to the magical 1977 AC/DC album Let There Be Rock.
As hard as it may be, ignore Bon Scott’s brilliant tongue in cheek lyrics and just listen to the main riff of every song.
How many rock albums have two memorable songs? Let There Be Rock has, “Go Down”, “Dog Eat Dog” ,”Let There Be Rock”, “Bad Boy Boogie”, “Problem Child”, “Overdose”, “Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be”, and “Whole Lotta Rosie”. Eight catchy songs, heard once – remembered forever.
Lead guitarist Angus Young, the only remaining original band member, has continued AC/DC.
I feel sorry for Angus Young. Angus certainly keeps AC/DC going not for the money, but because honestly what else is there for him to do? An entertainer, a performer has a need to perform.
However without retired bassist Cliff Williams, the unceremoniously dispatched lead singer Brian Johnson and drummer Phil Rudd and the late rhythm guitarist and main songwriter Malcolm Young, this is not AC/DC.
This is like calling Paul McCartney and his recent 2017 touring band The Beatles. It’s not and McCartney knows better.
The touring AC/DC is is basically a juggernaut of explosions, lights,and sound. Even with the great Angus Young heading them up, AC/DC are truthfully now no better than an AC/DC tribute band.
How many post-1982 songs were in AC/DC’s live set list in 2016 with Axl Rose on lead vocals? Continue reading →
30 Minutes Of Baseball Bliss As The Audio System At Yankee Stadium Fails – September 14, 2017
They say if you go to a baseball game there’s always a chance you’ll see something you’ve never seen before.
But it’s not only what I had never seen before, but what I didn’t hear. What happened Thursday, September 14, 2017 during a Yankees – Orioles game was unusual.
For the first time in my life, I attended a major league baseball game and the national anthem was not played before the start of the game. No, it wasn’t the second game of a real doubleheader (remember those?)
Not only was the national anthem not played, no sound was heard in the ballpark except the cheers of the crowd, calls of the vendors and crack of the bat. Continue reading →