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.
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 →
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 →
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.
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.
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 Kosović, 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 →
A Look Back At The 1970s With Great Funky Songs Performed Live
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.
Andy Johns who worked on some of the greatest rock albums of all-time as a producer and engineer died in Los Angeles on April 7, at the age of 62 due to complications of a stomach ulcer.
Johns was a name not known to casual rock fans because he worked behind the scenes, but his contributions to dozens of classic albums is immeasurable. From the Rolling Stones Exile on Main Street to Led Zeppelin’s greatest period of production in the early 1970’s, Johns was setting up and overseeing the recording of albums that will be played for as long as people listen to rock n’ roll. Some of the many bands and artists Andy Johns worked with included Free, Eric Clapton, Blind Faith, Cinderella, Van Halen, Joe Satriani and Mott The Hoople.
After Andy Johns died I scanned The New York Times on a daily basis in disbelief that they did not cover his death. Nearly two weeks after his passing, an obituary finally appeared.
Here, Andy Johns talks about his experiences working with Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and the recording of Led Zeppelin’s classic Led Zeppelin IV (a.k.a. 4 Symbols or Untitled) and the song Stairway To Heaven.
David Gilmour and Roger Waters of Pink Floyd between Storm Thorgerson photo possibly by Jill Furmanovsky
Storm Thorgerson was a name even less known by the general public than Andy Johns, but literally millions of people have seen his work. Thorgerson, as half of the design firm Hipgnosis with Aubrey Powell, created dozens of the most iconic record album covers, sleeve and insert artwork of all time. After the dissolution of Hipgnosis in 1983, Thorgerson ran his own firm and continued working until he died on April 13 at the age of 69 from cancer.
Thorgerson’s work was surreal and many times bizarre. But it caught your attention like any great artwork that was meant to be contemplated. Millions of people who bought albums would study the large canvas that an LP album offered for insights and clues about the music and the band they were listening to. With the supremacy of CD’s in the 1990’s, cover artwork was given a much smaller space and a less important role in point of purchase sales of music. Despite this, Thorgerson maintained a steady stream of clients who wanted original and outstanding works of art to go with their musical output.
Best known for his long association with Pink Floyd, Thorgerson also created album covers for a wide variety of bands including Led Zeppelin, Yes, Scorpions, UFO, Phish, AC/DC, 10cc, Black Sabbath, The Alan Parsons Project, Anthrax and many others.
In this clip below, Thorgerson talks about the beginnings of Hipgnosis.
The Divinyls lead singer Christina Amphlett was known in the United States as more of a one-hit wonder for the 1991 top ten song I Touch Myself than for anything else. But in her native Australia, Chrissy Amphlett was a rock legend. The Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard even spoke of the impact of Amphlett’s death and what she meant to the Australian music scene.
Amphlett died in New York City at the age of 53 on April 20 after battling multiple sclerosis and breast cancer for many years.
The Divinyls were not just a pop band, they could rock as hard as anybody as evidenced here in a 1982 live performance of Boys in Town. With her schoolgirl outfit Amphlett displays some head-banging moves reminiscent of AC/DC’s Angus Young.
For those of you who are big Led Zeppelin fans you already know that the song Bron-Y-Aur Stomp off of Led Zeppelin III is about Robert Plant’s dog Strider. Here’s a photo of the pooch in question with his somber companion. Interestingly the song was misspelled on the original album: it was supposed to read Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp.
Listen to: Bron-Y-Aur Stomp live from the Led Zeppelin live album How The West Was Won