Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Watchmen

Today in Music History:

In 1971, New York radio station WNBC banned the song 'One Toke Over the Line' by Brewer & Shipley because of its alleged drug references. Other stations around the country followed.

The Watchmen were a Canadian rock band that was one of the most commercially successful Canadian alternative rock groups of the early 1990s. The group was formed in 1988 in Winnipeg, Manitoba by vocalist Daniel Greaves, guitarist Joey Serlin, bassist Pete Loewen and drummer Sammy Kohn. Serlin was a comic fan and named the group after the DC comic. The band's 1994 album In The Trees confirmed their place in Canadian rock with the hit singles "Boneyard Tree", "All Uncovered" and "Lusitana".

In 1998 the band released Silent Radar which was their fourth studio album and it spawned numerous hits for the band. The album provided the band with their third and final Juno nomination as they were nominated for Best Rock Album at the 1999 Juno Awards. As was the case with their previous two Juno nominations, the band lost the award to The Tragically Hip. In November 2003 the band decided to go their separate ways. Before they did, they performed one last short tour across Canada as a "Thank You" to their fans. The tour was called "The Watchman's Last Road Trip" and included 9 concerts in 6 Canadian cities and 1 American city. Another Canadian band that while well known in it's native land, did not garner much exposure south of the border.

Stereo by The Watchmen
Any Day Now by The Watchmen
Buy It

Absolutely Anytime by the Watchmen
Buy It

Funny Toon

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Danny Joe Brown

Today in Music History:

In 1980, 28 year-old Joseph Riviera held up the Asylum Records office in New York and demanded to see either Jackson Browne or The Eagles. Riviera wanted to talk to them to see if they would finance his trucking operation. He gave him-self up when told that neither act was in the office at the time.

Danny Joe Brown
After the first two highly successful albums with Molly Hatchet, vocalist Danny Joe Brown left the band in 1980. Some folks have said that certain "success syndrome" problems led Danny Joe, whose voice and persona had defined Molly Hatchet up to that point, to leave the band. While partially true, another reason was that Brown was a diabetic since the age of 19 and Hatchet's exhausting tour schedule behind Flirtin' With Disaster was also taking a serious toll on his health and he had to slow down because of his diabetes. So he had to leave the band. While Hatchet was taking a new approach with their sound behind new vocalist Jimmy Farrar, Farrar's voice was less immediately identifiable, and the band's commercial appeal began to slowly decline. The second album with Farrar actually featured a horn section, which was not the Hatchet us fans had grown to love. Danny Joe's voice which had a raspy thrillbilly growl combined with whistles, hoots and hollers and he was essentially the heart and soul of Hatchet's sound, along with their trademark triple guitar assault. Essentially no Brown, no Hatchet.

Danny Joe formed the Danny Joe Brown Band and kept its musical emphasis quite close to the original style that his former band, Molly Hatchet had originated. It was a no frills southern rock approach expected by fans of the music genre. The band only released one album in 1981 and Brown eventually returned to Molly Hatchet at the end of 1982. When all is said and done this is essentially a Molly Hatchet album under another name. This is probably the hardest rocking of any "southern rock" album of the 1975-1985 period, bordering on being more of a "southern metal" on some songs. If you're into other 80's AOR or hard rock, you'll like the cuts I have here from the album.

A major stroke ended Brown's career in 1998. Three years ago on Mar. 12, 2005, after he had been hospitalized for five weeks, Danny Joe Brown died of renal failure at his home in Davie Florida at the age of 53. RIP Danny Joe. No one could belt out a tune like you.

Edge of Sundown by the Danny Joe Brown Band
Hear My Song by the Danny Joe Brown Band
Buy It

Funny Toon

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Kiss Army

Today in Music History:

In 1976 'Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975,' a best-of drawn from the Eagles' first four albums, enters the album chart. One-third of a century later it will be pronounced the best-selling album in history.

It's no secret to anyone who knows me that I've been a card carrying member of the KISS ARMY ever since order forms for the Kiss Army first appeared in November 1976's Rock and Roll Over album. I stuck by them during their lowest period (Unmasked and The Elder) and was still there when Lick it Up came out and it was cool to like KISS again. There is no doubt that KISS has had an influence upon many many artists. In fact KISS caused many of us to pick up that first guitar and start wailing. We yearned to be like Ace so much that we had to have a guitar.

Yep during that low period it was tough to be a KISS fan. People thought that Unmasked and The Elder were so bad that you were shunned if you were a KISS fan because they were so uncool. In their defense those two albums are actually pretty darn good. Unmasked Is actually a great pop album (aye there's the rub) which is not what the fans wanted. The Elder was to be a concept album as a soundtrack to an aborted film project. When the record was put together the songs were out of sequence of their original intention and the concept was lost upon the fans. Again another album that I quite like a lot. In fact my least favorite album was 1989's Hot in the Shade. Featuring 15 songs, Hot in the Shade contains the largest amount of material of any of Kiss's studio albums. Subsequently, the album is also one of the band's longest, with a running time of nearly a full hour (58:39). I just had a real hard time getting in tune with that one.

A personal fave of mine was Creatures of the Night which came out in 1982. By 1982, Kiss' popularity in the U.S. had plummeted. This was due partly to the changing landscape of popular music, but also due to the fact that Kiss had strayed from the hard rock style that had made them popular in the first place. When recording sessions for Creatures of the Night began in July 1982, Kiss was essentially a trio. Frehley still made appearances with the band but had ended his musical involvement with Kiss. Musically, Creatures of the Night was the band's heaviest recording since Love Gun in 1977, and was matched later only by Revenge in 1992 and Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions in 1997. Make no mistake it kicks some serious ass. The progressive rock stylings of Music From "The Elder" and the pop of Dynasty and Unmasked were completely absent from Creatures of the Night – which was, of course, the point. "I Still Love You", the only ballad on Creatures, was still heavier and darker than any ballad Kiss had released in earlier years. The production values contributed to the heaviness - in particular, the drum sound was louder and heavier than on any previous Kiss album.

But wait I'm getting off on a wild tangent here. Regardless of your feelings about KISS, one cannot deny their influence and let's face it alot of catchy tunes. Unfortunately in recent years it seems that Gene is only concerned about how many times he can keep repackaging old material. I don't care though because this band is one of my favorites and love them or hate them a Kiss concert was a thing of beauty. Besides, now that I'm an old fart I could care less if Kiss is cool or not. I likes what I likes.

So it's an amazing thing about the sheer amount of times their music has been recorded by other artists as a tribute to their influence. Garth Brooks, Cher, Anthrax, Nirvana, The Donnas, Foo Fighters and Motorhead, just to name a few, have all recorded a Kiss song. So I wanted to share a few of my favorite Kiss covers today. A couple of these have had some interesting retooling done to them.

Heaven's On Fire by Stars
Only You by Doro
I Love it Loud by Phunk Junkiez
Tomorrow by Pretty Boy Floyd
Shock Me by Red House Painters
Shout it Out Loud by Motorhead

Funny Toon

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Bill Wyman

Today in Music History:

In 1983 Adam Ant is the first guest VJ on MTV.

Back in the 80's when The Rolling Stones were fooling around with songs which would eventually become the classic album Tattoo You, Bill Wyman released his third solo album in 1982, simply titled Bill Wyman. The critics gave it a thumbs down because hey, it wasn't the Stones. Looking back at it now it was a classic 80's album full of synth pop tunes. Most of them pretty catchy. I was introduced to this album courtesy of my friend the duck back in the 80's. He even let me borrow it for a while. Not an easy thing to do because you could only get it as an import back then. And if I had messed it up by spilling beer on it or scratching it the duck would have had my nads in a vice. My favorite track on the album has to be Come Back Suzanne which is a damn catchy tune. Bill's work with the Rhythm Kings is pretty good stuff but I really liked this album and I say to hell with the critics. Fun is Fun. I think you'll like it too. Don't bother with the critics, If you can find this out of print gem then buy and enjoy the sounds of the 80-s. The synthesizers, drum machines and all.

(Si, Si) Je Suis Un Rock Star by Bill Wyman
Come Back Suzanne by Bill Wyman
buy it

Funny Toon