Rock Chain #33: One of Elvis’ secrets

rickey-medlocke

Rickey Medlocke began his career as a drummer in Lynyrd Skynyrd but then he left to form Blackfoot.

Blackfoot’s first album has a great cover of the song “Wishing Well”, originally recorded by Free.

Free most famous song is “All Right Now” with its iconic guitar riff that managed to generate wonder even in guitar-heroes who wanted to learn it from the band’s guitarist Paul Kossof, like Eric Clapton.

Eric Clapton played with the Jon Mayall’s Bluesbreakers along with bassist John McVie.

John McVie later got together with drummer Mick Fleetwood and formed Fleetwood Mac.

Fleetwood Mac started up its career as a Blues band, but then moved to California and became a Rock/Pop/Folk behemoth, especially after adding singers Christine Perfect (later Christine McVie ) and Stevie Nicks.

Stevie Nicks will restart her tour in the end of this month alongside the Pretenders.

The Pretenders had in its ranks Robbie McIntosh who later found even more fame and fortune from 1989 to 1993 playing live and in all records of Paul McCartney.

Paul McCartney’s album Kisses on the Bottom has only Jazz standards he used to listen to when he was a child in Liverpool, but he invited John Walsh from The Eagles to play in it.

The Eagles early line-up was formed with musicians from the backing band of Linda Ronstadt.

Linda Ronstadt recorded the Rolling Stones’ “Tumbling Dice” on her album Simple Dreams after being persuaded to do so by Mick Jagger.

Mick Jagger was executive producer of Vivid, debut album from Living Colour.

Living Colour’s second album was Time’s Up which contained in its track-list the song “Elvis Is Dead” a good humored critic of all things Elvis Presley.

Elvis Presley really exploded with the song and album Heartbreak Hotel.

Heartbreak Hotel was written by Tommy Druden and one Mae Axton.

Do you know who Mae Axton was? She was Rickey Medlocke’s babysitter!

 

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Rock Chain # 28: Backing Vocals

BM,RT,FM

Every great Queen fan knows that although John Deacon appears lip-synching in many videos, he never actually sang a note in the studio. The voices were always by Freddie, Roger and Brian. There are some moments however, like the “Is this the real life?” intro in “Bohemian Rhapsody” that are all Freddie.

Freddie Mercury was the greatest star in Live Aid in ’85 in a bill that had Paul McCartney closing the festivities in London.

Paul McCartney is thankfully touring the world again and reinventing his set list again. He’s been opening the sets with “A Hard Day’s Night”.

“A Hard Day’s Night” is a phrase that doesn’t actually mean anything and it was said by Ringo when he tried to describe the frantic pace of that particular American Tour.

Ringo is also touring regularly with what he calls his All-Starr-Band.

The All-Starr-Band was a concept created by David Fishof.

David Fishof is the founder of Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp whose upcoming edition will feature Don Felder of The Eagles and Paul Stanley of Kiss.

Paul Stanley recently recorded an amazing version of Free’s “Fire and Water” for a covers album of his former Kiss bandmate, Ace Frehley.

One of Ace Frehley’s most famous songs while he was in Kiss was also a cover. “New York Groove”, originally written for the band Hello! by songwriter Russ Ballard.

Russ Ballard also wrote “Since You’ve Been Gone” for Rainbow.

Rainbow’s name has nothing to do with an actual Rainbow or some lyric Dio would surely write. It was chosen because of Rainbow Bar & Grill in LA.

Rainbow Bar & Grill, of course, was Lemmy’s favorite joint.

Lemmy’s name is now bizarrely linked to David Bowie’s due to the proximity of their deaths.

David Bowie wrote “All The Young Dudes” and gave it to Mott the Hoople because the band was struggling and he wanted them to succeed, as he was such a fan. It worked. The song reached the Number 3 spot on the British charts.

And do you know who sing backing vocals in it? Roger Taylor, Freddie Mercury and Brain May.

Current playlist:

Reading:

The Mummy or Ramses, the Damned – Anne Rice

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

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Rock Chain # 22: Kossof Strat

Dave Murray

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 in the blog.

Paul Kossof is one of the most underrated guitar players ever. He was instrumental in getting Free its signature sound and created the riff of their most famous song, “All Right Now”. He was even asked once to teach the “All Right Now” riff by none other than Eric Clapton.

Eric Clapton who is known to have said: “Is him really that fucking good?” when witnessing Jimi Hendrix playing for the first time.

Jimi Hendrix was taken to England to become a star by Chas Chandler, who was convinced to go see him in a club in New York by Linda, at the time Rolling Stones Keith Richards’ girlfriend.

Keith Richards whose new solo album has Steve Jordan on drums, who was drummer for the Late Show with David Letterman band from 1982 to 1986, until he was replaced by Anton Fig.

Anton Fig, every great Kiss fan knows, was the drummer on Ace’s solo album and on Unmasked.

Unmasked broke Kiss in Australia, and the Aussies even coined the name “Kissteria” for what was happening down under at the time. That was the first Kiss tour with Eric Carr on drums.

Eric Carr died on 25 November 1991, probably the saddest day in Rock’s history. In the same day Eric and none other than Freddie Mercury were gone.

Freddie Mercury had to wear heavy make-up in the video for “I’m Going Slightly Mad” due to the fact that he was pretty ill at that point. The track is on Queen’s last studio album with Freddie alive, Innuendo.

“Innuendo”, the song, has a Flamenco guitar part, played by Yes’ Steve Howe.

Steve Howe, besides Yes and Asia, was also part of a band called GTR who released only one album in 1985, alongside Steve Hackett, who had left Genesis in 77.

Genesis that when Peter Gabriel left, devastated one of their biggest fans: Steve Harris, who at that time was trying to break his band, Iron Maiden.

Iron Maiden whose guitarist, Dave Murray, once sold everything he had to be able to buy a Fender Stratocaster who once belonged to his greatest idol. Do you know who this idol was? Free’s Paul Kossof.

Current playlist:

Listening:

Ghost – Meliora

Watching:

Queen – Live At the Rainbow ‘74

The Da Vinci Code

Deconstructing Harry

Reading:

Under the Dome – Stephen King

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

You can contact me at: carloantico666@gmail.com

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Rock Chain #21: Pink Snaggletooth

Snaggletooth

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 in the blog.

Joe Petagno is an artist famous for developing iconic cover art for a lot of Extreme Metal bands. However, he is mostly known for creating Snaggletooth, the mascot of Motörhead.

Motörhead had just released one of the best albums of their career, Bad Magic. It’s actually quite surprising that they still had an album this good in them, given Lemmy current health issues. It helps to have probably their most stable line-up ever with Phil Campbell (guitar) and Mikkey Dee (drums).

Mikkey Dee first rose to fame as Kind Diamond’s drummer in 1985.

King Diamond is scheduled to play his entire Abigail album at the Housecore Festival in San Antonio, TX at the end of this month. The festival is organized by Phil Anselmo.

Phil Anselmo, who had an acrimonious split when he left Pantera, was devastated when Dimebag Darrel (Panter’s guitarist) was shot dead on stage. After that, he’s been trying to no avail to rekindle his friendship with former Pantera’s drummer, Vinnie Paul.

Vinnie Paul makes an appearance in the music video for “Ain’t No Sunshine” from Black Label Society, alongside a horse masked Zakk Wylde.

Zakk Wylde, many people don’t know, but already guested in a song called “Nobody Rides for Free” from the album After the Reign by Southern Rock band Blackfoot.

Blackfoot’s first album contains their greatest classic “Highway Song” but it also contain a killer version of “Wishing Well”, another Rock classic from British Rock/ Blues stars, Free.

Free’s lead singer, Paul Rodgers, found more fame and more fortune when he formed Bad Company, after Free split, but he also had other projects like his solo career, his interesting stint with Queen, and The Firm, his project alongside Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin.

Led Zeppelin was one of so many bands who had the services of Hipgnosis for their covers in albums like Houses of the Holy, Presence, The Song Remains the Same, In Through the Out Door and Coda. But no other band had Hipgnosis covers as iconic as Pink Floyd.

Pink Floyd once had made an Official Music Programme for their 1974 tour where they appeared as cartoon heroes. Each character was drawn by a different artist and you know who drew keyboardist’s Richard Wright’s character? Joe Petagno.

Current Playlist:

Listening:

Spock’s Beard – Snow

Y&T – Meanstreak

Watching:

Terminator Genisys

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

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

You can contact me at: carloantico666@gmail.com

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Hall of Idols # 37: Paul Rodgers

paul_rodgers

Thirty-seventh installment in a series exploring very important people in my life.

Let me start explaining how this will work: I listed 65 idols of mine. Every Friday (with the exception of those reserved for the Rock Chain posts) I’ll draw one of the names (following a system that it’s really not important to be explained here) and talk about it.

Therefore, the order in which the names will appear doesn’t necessarily shows where they rank in my preference.

As a final introductory note, this is also not a biography article. I’ll just write how I feel about people represented in it, their talent and their importance in my life.

There are some people within the Rock community (journalists, musicians, managers, you name it) that have a theory that to be the frontman in a band you need more balls than talent. I don’t necessarily agree with that statement, but sometimes balls is what you need most when facing the fronting a band challenge.

Case in point, talent would never be enough for somebody stepping into the gigantic shoes of one Freddie Mercury and fronting Queen on their first World Tour after his death and even recording with them. But this person exists and his name is Paul Rodgers.

Paul Bernard Rodgers was born in Middlesbrough (ENG) in 17 December 1949. He started playing bass in a local band called The Roadrunners, but soon changed to vocals and left for London, where he would find fame and fortune.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Paul Rodgers must be admired for his balls in fronting Queen and not his talent. He has a gigantic amount of talent and is blessed with probably the most beautiful Blus/Rock voice of all time. I’m sorry Coverdale fans, but that’s my opinion. It’s no coincidence that his most die-hard fans dubbed him “The Voice”.

And speaking of Coverdale, he is just one on an immense list that cites Paul Rodgers as one of their main influences: Paul Stanley (that tells in his autobiography that he chose the name Paul for his artistic name because of Paul Rodgers and Paul McCartney), Eric Martin, Jimi Jamison, Steve Overland, Bruce Dickinson, Joe Lynn Turner, Cormac Neeson and many others do. First time I had the opportunity to interview Eric Martin, I asked him about Paul Rodgers and he called him “Golden Voice”. And you know why he was asked to do the Queen job? Freddie Mercury was his fan!

When relocating to London, he formed Free and wrote with bassist Andy Fraser the worldwide smash hit, “All Right Now” helping cement his band’s reputation as one of the greatest of the British Blues/Rock bands. In the late sixties/early seventies Free rivaled Led Zeppelin as the highest grossing British act. However, Free broke up (in large part due to their erratic guitar player Paul Kossof).

But Paul Rodgers had more tricks up his sleeve. He got together with former Mott the Hoople guitar player Mick Ralphs, former King Crimson bassist Boz Burrell and his Free bandmate drummer Simon Kirke and formed Bad Company, one of the greatest Rock bands ever.

Bad Company signed with Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song label and released their debut album, regarded as one of the best in history. It spawned the hit single “Can’t Get Enough” (another worldwide smash hit) and the wonderful ballad “Seagull” in which Paul played all the instruments. With more hit singles like “Feel Like Makin’ Love”, “Shooting Star” and “Rock and Roll Fantasy” on further albums, Bad Company earned six platinum albums.

He left in 1982 and started an interesting solo career and had a nice project alongside Jimmy Page called The Firm. But his return to the mainstream would happen only in 2002 with the Bad Company reunion and be cemented with Queen in 2004.

As a huge Queen fan, I must say I was doubtful about the outcome, but when I heard how the songs were faring, I was gobsmacked (I used this word to make it very British). The songs were so well adapted to his voice, it gave Queen a Soul/Blues aura I never thought they could have. And their record Cosmos Rocks is nice (if you can listen to it without thinking about Freddie’s style of writing).

After Queen he again reunited with Bad Company and I had a chance to witness the band playing at Sweden Rock in 2012. One of the greatest performances I ever watched.

Therefore, Mr. Rodgers, I can’t get enough of your voice, so welcome to the Hall Of Idols.

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

NewPinnacleAward3D2 (1)

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Top 5: Rock/Metal Live albums

Live_After_Death

One of the great advantages of technology was allowing (from the early to mid-seventies) the recording of a band in concert. It was a way to give people that were there a souvenir and those who were not a feeling that they were.

The problem of giving people a feeling that they were there is that this sometimes is not that great when you’re lying on your bed or sitting on your couch and just want to listen to some music. When you’re in that position you don’t want to listen to endless instrumental jams, unless you’re listening to Jazz (yes, I’m talking to you Deep Purple – Made In Japan, Led Zeppelin – The Song Remains The Same, Allman Brothers – Live At Fillmore East, Rainbow – On Stage and many others). I don’t care if that shows that they are great musicians. It’s fucking boring. As simple as that.

And there’s another thing (and I’m ready to be crucified by what I’m going to say right now): I’m all for overdubs. Why would I buy a record to listen to the band playing bad and wrong? I might as well buy a bootleg.

Having said that I wanna make perfectly clear that it broke my heart to leave Accept – Staying a Live, Scorpions – World Wide Live, AC/DC – Live, Slayer – Decade Of Aggression and Ozzy Osbourne – Live & Loud out of the list, but there’s room only for five. Van Halen –Right Here, Right Now, would be a great contender if only there were more Dave Lee Roth-era songs.

As a final note, the closer you can get to a Beatles live album is Paul McCartney live albums, therefore, they are out.

Here we go.

#5: Rush – Snakes And Arrows Live

Yes, yes, I know that All The World’s Stage and Exit Stage Left are timeless classics and blah, blah, blah. But, first of all, Rush got so many live albums that is really hard to choose just one. Therefore my mindset was: the album with more songs that I love. And with that in mind, you can’t beat this one. I mean how can you argue with a concert that is opened with “Limelight” and has in the same set list “Entre Nous”, “Mission”, “Circumstances”, “A Passage To Bangkok” and “Subdivisions”? And even some obscure gems like “Witch Hunt”, “Natural Science” and “Between The Wheels”? Plus, the band was touring a great album (Snakes And Arrows).

#4: Paul Rodgers – Live In Glasgow

This one is a little out of left field, I know, but I felt deeply in love with it the first time I heard it while still working as a Rock journalist reviewing records. If you’re fan of Blues based Rock sang pristinely, you need to look no further than this album. The greatest combination of Free and Bad Company classics, Live In Glasgow is just perfect. Like a good wine, Paul Rodgers seems to get better with age and here he is just phenomenal. Add to that a killer band with ex-Heart six-stringer Howard Leese and you just can’t go wrong. “Fire And Water”, “Wishing Well”, the timeless “All Right Now”, “Cant’ Get Enough”, “Seagull”, “Feel Like Makin’ Love”, “Bad Company” and a marvelous rendition of Muddy Waters’ “Louisiana Blues” are all here for you.

#3: Queen – Live At Wembley’86

This album is so good that not even that unbearable “Impromptu” of Freddie Mercury bubbling at the mike and an even more unbearable Brian May solo can spoil it. And that’s because here we have one of the greatest bands ever knowing they were heading towards the end so they needed to enjoy every minute of it. Freddie is in total control of his game here (despite the flagrant scare of not going to the higher notes on “Is This The World We Created?”) and his control of the audience is so perfect that you can feel it from the speakers. And specially in the opening songs “One Vision” and “Tie Your Mother Down” you can hear how tight and heavy Queen was live. Other highlights are the Rock And Roll medley (specially “Hello, Mary Lou (Goodbye Hart) from Rick Nelson), “Hammer To Fall” and “Friends Will Be Friends”.

#2: Kiss – Alive II

This album deserves to be here just for the opening “You Wanted The Best…” coupled with “Detroit Rock City”. There’s only one way to open a show better than this and you’ll know what it is in a moment. Here we have Kiss at its apex. Maybe not musically (Kiss were never known for their virtuosity), but in terms of songwriting and energy, you can’t beat Alive II. With a set list based on Destroyer, Rock And Roll Over and Love Gun, it’s a downpour of Kiss at its best. “King Of The Night Time World”, “Love Gun”, “Makin’ Love”, “I Want You”, “God Of Thunder”, “Shout It Out Loud”, “Ladies Room”, “Hard Luck Woman” among others are here for you to throw a perfect party. But there’s more. The studio bonus songs are also wonderful: “All American Man”, “Rockin’ In The USA” (you can’t beat a lyric that says: “I’ve been to England too/ There wasn’t much to do”. It’s so dumb is great), “Rocket Ride”, “Larger Than Life” and even the Dave Clark Five cover “Any Way You Want It”.

#1: Iron Maiden – Live After Death

If nothing else, that’s the album responsible for changing my life completely. I couldn’t believe what I was listening to. And here is the greatest show opening of all time: “Churchill’s Speech/ Aces High”. You can’t beat that. Here is Iron Maiden when they became my all time favorite band (The Beatles are out, but you already know that). There’s not a flaw. A perfect set-list, a pristine execution and, as much as I am all for overdubs, this is how it went down on those four nights at Long Beach Arena. There’s no correction whatsoever. By the way, nothing is more iconic in the Metal realm than Bruce screaming: “Scream for me, Long Beach”. That was Rock history in the making. And how about the most British joke you can ever think of before the magnificent “Rime Of The Ancient Mariner”: “And the moral of this story is: This is what not to do if your bird shits on you.” Pure genius! I can safely say this is the album I listened the most in my life. It was almost like a ritual. I listened to Live After Death and stared at its cover practically everyday when I was about 13. Here’s a more than deserving number one spot.

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

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