Rock Chain #30: Dream Giant

derek shulman

This is something I used to do in a magazine I used to edit a couple of years ago. I took the idea from a column that used to appear on Scientific American magazine written by a British scientist called James Burke. His column was called “Connections” and consisted in relating history and science facts that were linked by a word until the cycle was finished. I just adapted it to Rock And Roll. Now, I’ll try to resurrect it here in the blog once a month.

Many people don’t know that but the second album from “Ultra-Progressive” band Gentle Giant, titled “Acquired Taste”, was produced by Tony Visconti.

Tony Visconti, obviously is more often associated with David Bowie and T. Rex, and more recently with producing I am a River, the last track on “Sonic Highways” the cd soundtrack to the wonderful American musical cities documentary made by the Foo Fighters.

Foo Fighters lead singer Dave Grohl is a consummate metalhead as it was proven by the guests in his project Probot. He even managed to get Wino from St. Vitus to participate.

St. Vitus obviously got his name from the Black Sabbath tune “St. Vitus Dance” on Vol. 4.

Vol. 4 is the album with the ballad “Changes” which a lot of people thought featured Ozzy playing the piano because of the photos, but actually Tony Iommi played it.

Tony Iommi once played for Jethro Tull and appeared with the band in the Rock and Roll Circus special, carried out by the Rolling Stones.

The Rolling Stones are often rightfully credited with saving the fortunes of black bluesmen in America for their championing of the Blues when they started making success. This is clearly showed on the great movie Cadillac Records, which features Beyoncé singing greatly actual good music. She sings the Blues standard “I’d rather go blind” immortalized by Etta James and recently wonderfully re-recorded by Beth Hart on her first album with Joe Bonamassa, Don’t Explain.

Joe Bonamassa and Beth Hart toured Europe and recorded a live album in Amsterdam with the latter’s band which features Anton Fig on drums.

Anton Fig played on Kiss’ Unmasked, replacing Peter Criss.

Peter Criss, ironically enough, is the writer of the band’s highest charting single, “Beth”.

“Beth” is on “Destroyer”, produced by Bob Ezrin.

Bob Ezrin worked with a lot of bands but the one he worked most with was Alice Cooper.

Alice Cooper’s first record label was Bizarre Records, owned by Frank Zappa.

Frank Zappa also formed the odd all-girls group GTO’s which had in its ranks Pamela des Barres.

Pamela des Barres is now the recognized author of groupie autobiography I’m with the band and was once Jimmy Page’s girlfriend.

Jimmy Page in 2014 was presented with the Honorary Doctorate Degree by Boston’s Berklee College of Music. Many musicians already passed by Berklee but it is mostly remembered by Metal fans for being the birthplace of Dream Theater.

Dream Theater was signed to ATCO Records by the record company A&R man, Derek Shulman. Do you know who Derek Shulman was before this job? Gentle Giant’s lead singer.

Current playlist:

Listening:

Saxon – Battering Ram

Blind Guardian – Somewhere Far Beyond

Be sure to check out my book “Straight and Lethal”

You can contact me at: carloantico666@gmail.com

Add me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/carlo.antico

Follow me on twittter: @CarloAntico

 

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Sonic Highways

FF

First of all let’s make one thing clear: I hate Nirvana. I always have. Yes, because I’m a metalhead and yes because I think they were responsible (along with record companies) in destroying that 80‘s scene I loved so much. Call it spite or whatever you will, but that’s my opinion. Therefore, everything you’re going to read in here has absolutely no bias regarding Nirvana.

Now that hopefully I got that out of the way, I may start today’s post. And today I’m going to remember when I used to write for a Rock/Metal magazine. Besides interviews and festival coverage, I used to write concert, CDs and DVD reviews. And I’m gonna review a Blu-ray disc today.

Right off the bat, I must say this: Dave Grohl managed to enter the pantheon of immortal Rock Stars with this one. What he did is something so valuable from a historic point of view that even if every record the Foo Fighters release from now on is bad, his place in history is guaranteed. And is definitely not because he was once part of Nirvana.

I must admit, I never really gave the Foo Fighters a fair chance because of the prejudice I felt (and still feel) towards Nirvana, although I thought that “Big Me” video was funny as hell.

However, time went on, I started liking some of their singles, Dave Grohl’s did the Probot project (which was VERY METAL) and in his interviews and attitudes he showed he was a huge fan of bands I love: The Beatles, Rush, Heart, Joan Jett, Led Zeppelin, Kiss, Slayer, Queen, Motörhead and so many others. But I still thought to myself: No way, the guy is former Nirvana’s drummer, I can’t like his band.

Then I started reading about this big project of his (and the band) of recording 8 songs in eight different studios across the USA and making a documentary about each city, telling its musical and cultural history. It sounded like a great idea, until I saw the first episode on HBO. Then I thought: “This is not just a great idea, this is wonderful. I’m definitely buying this video.”

I didn’t need to catch any of the other episodes on TV to know that all of them would be great and so, as soon as I had the chance I bought the Foo Fighters Sonic Highways Blu-Ray.

And you know what? It’s not as wonderful as I thought it was. It’s like a million times better. This is a work of art. This is a masterpiece. I’m actually kind of lost for words to describe how great this is.

The statements from people like Buddy Guy (Chicago), Ian MacKaye (D.C.) Dolly Parton (Nashville), Billy Gibbons (Austin), Joe Walsh (Los Angeles), Allen Toussaint (New Orleans), Chris Cornell (Seattle), Paul Stanley (New York) and president Barrack Obama among plenty of others are sensational and coupled with some historical footage, it makes for a landmark not only in Foo Fighters career, but in music overall. And I might add that the Foo Fighters songs are actually pretty cool as well. Especially because the lyrics are all inspired in the statements given; they are actually rather clever.

In the extras, there are details about the actual recordings which will delight all you recording buffs out there. The total running time is almost ten hours, but you just don’t feel the clock ticking.

I compare this with what Spike Lee did for a capella music with his brilliant “Do it a capella”, almost twenty-five years ago. I remember saying time and again that Spike could do anything after that; and I now extend this courtesy to Dave Grohl as well. Anything bad he might do in the future, he’s forgiven. This is of essential viewing for anyone who loves music: from Grindcore to New Age. Oh, and by the way, I even forgave him for once being the drummer in Nirvana.

Current playlist:

Listening:

Thunder – Wonder Days

Ruby the Hatchet – Valley of the Snake

Blackberry Smoke – Holding all the Roses

Reading:

Badasses: The Legend of Snake, Foo, Dr.Death and John Madden’s Oakland Raiders – Peter Richmond

Watching:

Foo Fighters – Sonic Highways (Blu-ray extra disc)

American Pie

House of Cards – Third Season

Be sure to check out my book “Straight And Lethal” winner of the NABE Pinnacle Awards 2014 Fall edition.

NewPinnacleAward3D2 (1)

You can contact me at: carloantico666@gmail.com

Add me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/carlo.antico

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Rock Chain # 5: Cover versions and influences

DAN

This is something I used to do in a magazine I used to edit a couple of years ago. I took the idea from a column that used to appear on Scientific American magazine written by a British scientist called James Burke. His column was called “Connections” and consisted in relating history and science facts that were linked by a word until the cycle was finished. I just adapted it to Rock And Roll. Now, I’ll try to resurrect it every first Friday of the month here at the blog.

All of us who are huge Rock fans recently regretted the retirement of singer Dan McCafferty. Dan is often quoted as a huge influence on Axl Rose and was the lead singer for Scottish rockers Nazareth.

Nazareth once recorded a killer version of Joni Mitchell’s “This Flight Tonight”. Joni is an enormous influence on the Wilson sisters from Heart, who even included a version of her song “River” in their The Road Home unplugged album.

The Road Home was all arranged by John Paul Jones, former Led Zeppelin bassist and close friend of both sisters. John Paul Jones, whose real name is John Baldwin, was also part of Them Crooked Vultures with Josh Homme from Queens Of The Stone Age and Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters.

Dave Grohl, who is an enormous Beatles fan, performed a brilliant version of the Fab Four’s “Hey Bulldog” at the ceremony honoring 50 years of the boys from Liverpool first visit to the US.

“Hey Bulldog” had also one of the coolest versions in an album called Butchering The Beatles: A Headbashing Tribute. In this album it was played by Alice Cooper.

Alice Cooper is hilariously depicted as an extremely educated person – which he actually is – in that priceless “We are not worth it” scene in Wayne’s World.

Wayne’s World also shows actress Tia Carrere as a Rock singer doing a great version of the immortal “Ballroom Blitz” from Sweet in the end.

Sweet who also had “Ballroom Blitz” covered by Swiss band Krokus and “Action” and “Blockbuster” covered by British countrymen Def Leppard.

Def Leppard who couldn’t be part of Rock In Rio in ’85 due to drummer Rick Allen’s accident that amputated his arm. Their spot was taken by Whitesnake.

Whitesnake whose singer David Coverdale recorded (unfortunately) only one album with the project Coverdale/Page alongside Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page.

Jimmy Page, as we all know, formed Led Zeppelin from The Yardbirds who have an album called “Little Games” in a recently released collection called Original Album Series: Psychedelia.

This collection also features a band called Tomorrow which is the first band from Yes’ Steve Howe and in their album featured here there’s a song called “My White Bicycle”.

Do you know who also recorded “My White Bicycle”? Scottish rockers Nazareth.

Be sure to check out my book “Straight And Lethal”.

You can contact me at: carloantico666@gmail.com

Add me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/carlo.antico

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