Tag Archives: Hard Rock

It Can’t Happen Here. Can It?

Rainbow’s Apocalyptic Song 36 Years Later –

It’s Easy To Believe That Someone’s Gonna Light The Fuse

Hard rock band Rainbow’s lyrics, usually evoke the mystical or tongue in cheek double entendre imagery.

But one song, Can’t Happen Here from the album 1981 Difficult To Cure still resonates with issues that are as relevant today as the day the song was written in 1981.

With music by guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and lyrics by bass player Roger Glover, Can’t Happen Here asks the ultimate question: Is it possible someone will push the button and bring on Armageddon?

The lyrics:

Can’t Happen Here
(Blackmore, Glover © 1981)

Contaminated fish and micro chips
Huge supertankers on Arabian trips
Oily propaganda from the leaders’ lips
All about the future
There’s people over here people over there
Everybody’s looking for a little more air
Crossing all the borders just to take their share
Heading for the future

And we’re so abused and we’re so confused
It’s easy to believe that someone’s gonna light the fuse

Can’t happen here, can’t happen here, all that you fear they’re telling you, can’t happen here

Supersonic planes for a holiday boom
Rio de Janeiro in an afternoon
There’s people out of work but there’s people on the moon
Looking for the future
Concrete racetracks nationwide
Juggernauts are carving up the countryside
Cars by the million on a one way ride
Using up the future Continue reading

Ten Original Handwritten Lyrics To Some Of Rock ‘N’ Roll’s Greatest Songs

Genius At Work – Handwritten Lyrics From Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Paul Simon, Rush, The Beatles and Others

Bob Dylan’s handwritten lyrics to Mr. Tambourine Man

Maybe you’ve wondered; how did some of the greatest songs in the history of rock ‘n’ roll get written? When a creative artist puts pen to paper in a moment of inspiration, what does it look like?

If you are Paul McCartney or Keith Richards, sometimes melodies and words come in a dream.

McCartney’s melody for “Yesterday” was penned right after he dreamed about it. The original words he thought of were very different from the final version. Instead of,

“Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away. Now it looks as though they’re here to stay. Oh, I believe in yesterday.”

the words McCartney originally thought of were,

“Scrambled eggs. Oh, my baby, how I love your legs. Not as much as I love scrambled eggs. Oh, we should eat some scrambled eggs.”

MCartney obviously worked on those lyrics for what has become one of the all-time great Beatles songs, with John Lennon apocraphally changing the title to “Yesterday.” Unfortunately there is no trace of McCartney’s original handwritten lyrics for Yesterday.

Keith Richards said he recorded Satisfaction, the breakout song for The Rolling Stones while dreaming as well. Instead of a pen, Richards had a tape recorder by his bed in a hotel while on tour in 1965. In the morning he checked his portable recorder and was surprised it was at the end of the tape. He rewound it to the beginning and discovered he had laid down the main riff and chorus and the words “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.” He had no memory of actually recording the song, but surmises he woke up while dreaming it and proceeded to record what he had dreamed and went back to sleep! Richards presented the song to the band, and singer Mick Jagger later helped with the lyrics.

Outside of dreams, words come to musicians in a variety of ways. We will not look at the story behind the songs, but the actual drafts of the lyrics to those songs.

Searching the internet for the early drafts of songs with corrections yielded few results. But this assemblage is still interesting to look at.

Jim Morrison singer and poet of The Doors wrote the haunting Riders on the Storm, and it was placed as the last song on the final album Morrison performed on, L.A. Woman. It was also the last song to be recorded for that album.

Interestingly guitarist Robbie Krieger’s name is crossed out. Well, we know Morrison didn’t write the entire melody, but Krieger quite possibly contributed some of the words. It is the only song on the album where all four band members receive writing credit.

Next, Paul Simon of Simon and Garfunkel with The Boxer from the 1970 album Bridge Over Troubled Water. Here you can see Simon’s thought process at work with most of the words never making it into the final version.

Continue reading

Led Zeppelin Singer Robert Plant Performs Kashmir For The First Time Live Without Jimmy Page – March 14, 2017

Robert Plant Finally Performs The Iconic Song “Kashmir” As A Solo Act At The Royal Albert Hall in London Tuesday March 14, 2017

Kashmir, the name itself conjures up grandiose images of the mighty Led Zeppelin at their peak of performance.

But for whatever reason former Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant refrained from performing the song without co-writer and Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, that is until Tuesday night, March 14, 2017.

In a performance with two members of Plant’s solo band The Sensational Space Shifters,  Plant joined famous violinist Nigel Kennedy at the Royal Albert Hall in London..

For the first time since 2007 when Led Zeppelin reunited at the O2 and played Kashmir, Plant decided it was time to play the song on his own. Every other live performance of Kashmir by Plant had been alongside Jimmy Page, whether it was in the 1990’s on the Page/Plant tour or with Led Zeppelin in the 1970’s.

With a full orchestra backing Plant, he starts off Kashmir in a dirge-like manner. You immediately think he has turned Kashmir into a slow whispered lament. Finally after the initial introduction to the haunting first phrase of lyrics, Plant and the band kick off a powerful performance of a revised version of Kashmir.

Here it is. What do you think?

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

gruhak-photo-via-dulist-hr

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

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 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 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

Remembering AC/DC’s Bon Scott

It Was 35 Years Today That The Greatest Front-man in Rock History Died

Bon Scott 1979 I clearly remember when Bon Scott of AC/DC died. I heard it on the radio on a dreary February day in 1980. To me he was just a good singer in a band where all the members were very short.

It was sad, but honestly I didn’t think too much about it at the time having heard only some of AC/DC’s songs such as Let There be Rock, Highway To Hell and Touch Too Much. I was more into The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, E.L.O., Judas Priest, Van Halen, The Cars, Elvis Costello and The Clash and many other mainstream bands. But his death sparked an interest in discovering what Bon Scott and AC/DC was about.

Over the next year I would come to love AC/DC especially with the American release of Dirty Deeds in 1981, five years after it was released everywhere else in the world. After hearing Dirty Deeds, I went out and bought all of the old AC/DC albums. To say I liked the Bon Scott version of AC/DC would be an understatement.

As the years have passed and I get older, I get more and more depressed that Bon Scott left us at age 33. It is hard to fathom he has been gone 35 years.

While not diminishing the passing of Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix or Jim Morrison and countless other rock icons, Bon’s death along with John Lennon’s and John Bonham’s (all coincidentally in 1980) are among the greatest losses to rock music ever.

What Bon Scott would have gone on to do can only be left to conjecture, but I would venture to say he would have built upon the previous successes the band had finally achieved. My friends who had seen AC/DC live said Bon’s charismatic stage presence was palpable in person and it came through on film and video as well. With his unique voice and take no prisoners attitude when performing, the audience felt an authentic connection to Bon Scott.

In the six years Bon Scott was the lead singer for AC/DC he recorded six studio albums. It says a lot that from those six albums are where AC/DC have continually pulled half of their live set from.

Brian Johnson who replaced Bon as AC/DC’s lead singer Continue reading

Malcolm Young’s Illness Spells The End For AC/DC

AC/DC Founder Malcolm Young Quietly Played A Huge, Behind The Scenes Part In AC/DC’s Long Success

Malcolm (l) & Angus Young (r)J photo Jaime Saba For the L.A.  Times

Malcolm (l) & Angus Young (r)J photo Jaime Saba For the L.A. Times

When reading about the recent disclosure that AC/DC founder and rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young was suffering from dementia and was retiring from the band, it occurred to me how many casual fans of AC/DC are not aware of how important Malcolm is to the band.

Malcolm did a lot more than stand in the background pounding out crunchy rhythm guitar riffs and come up to the microphone to sing things like “hoy” with his backing vocals.

AC/DC is (was) Malcolm’s band.

Malcolm controlled the touring, personnel, finances, important band decisions and most importantly the songwriting.

It was Malcolm Young, not his flashier, lead guitarist younger brother Angus Young, who came up with most of the riffs and leads for those brilliant AC/DC songs over the past 41 years.

In a recent Guitar World interview Angus Young said:

Malcolm is a big inspiration to me; he keeps me on my feet. Even when I’m tired from running around the stage for two hours, I’ll look back at what he’s doing and it gives me that boot up the backside I sometimes need. [laughs] Also, he can always tell me if I’m playing well or if I’m not. Mal’s a very tough critic, and I know that if I can please him, I can please the world. A lot of people say, “AC/DC-that’s the band with the little guy who runs around in school shorts!” But I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without Malcolm and the other guys pumping out the rhythm. They make me look good.

Mal is really a great all-around guitarist. I know it says “rhythm guitar” on the album jacket, but if he sits down to play a solo, he can do it better than me. Not a lot of people have picked up on this, but in the early days he used to play lead. But then he said to me, “No, you take the solos. I’ll just bang away back here.” And what’s more, he actually plays rhythms. He just doesn’t make a noise; he works them out, and he knows when not to play.

My part in AC/DC is just adding the color on top. Mal’s the band’s foundation. He’s rock solid and he pumps it along with the power of a machine. He doesn’t play like a machine, though. Everything he does grooves and he always seems to know exactly what to play and when to play it. He’s a very percussive player too, his right hand just doesn’t stop sometimes. It’s scary, it really is!

Fans on the official AC/DC web site commenting about the announcement that Malcolm has retired because of dementia are clueless. Most are writing things like, “Get well soon, Mal!” Continue reading