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Thursday
May182017

Farewell Chris Cornell

I certainly didn't expect to be writing up this news today: Chris Cornell, lead singer of Soundgarden, has died. He was just 52 years old. We don't know anything about his death other than it was sudden and unexpected. He literally played a show with Soundgarden in Detroit last night. The news of his death broke in the early morning hours today.

This is pretty shocking to me. I always loved Chris' voice. His creation of Temple of the Dog brought about one of my favorite songs of all time, "Hunger Strike." Of course Soundgarden had a slew of big hits. My husband and I are fans, even though the band is lumped in with grunge. I always considered them more metal than that.

I saw Soundgarden live twice. I'm sad I didn't get to see the Temple of the Dog reunion. Time waits for no woman (or man). Don't put things off until tomorrow.

 


Thursday
May182017

If You Like To Play Games On Your Phone...

Zynga just released an Aerosmith themed game in the app store. It's a casino-style (slot) type game with Aerosmith members as the main characters and music. The game is free but Aerosmith probably made a fortune on licensing for this.

I'm not one to play games on my phone or computer, but I might download this just for the heck of it. I mean, I'm always down for anything related to Aerosmith.

 

Wednesday
May172017

No Teeth, All Teeth: The Relative Return Of Phil Rudd

Today's post is from our friend HIM.

Everyone likes a “phoenix” story. You know the plot: threaten to kill some people after you release a middling solo album that goes nowhere, and just after you recorded with an epic band that gave your career life, only to be replaced by Mr. Clean and left for dead while you sorted out your legal and substance abuse problems. It is a timeless tale.  

Phil Rudd did himself no favors. He basically fired himself from AC/DC. But drugs will do that to you. Now he seems to be back. A bit wounded from the mess he created. A bit hurt that Angus (really the CEO of the corporation that is AC/DC) won’t return his calls. But not “I am gonna kill that guy” hurt. Hurt in that “something to prove” sense.  

Sad thing is, he doesn’t have a lot of wiggle room when it comes to proving he is back. He has interviews. Everyone loves a car crash, especially when the crash in question is feeling his Irish (sans alcohol). He has his solo band and their album Head Job. Everyone likes a bad pun and some basic rock n’ roll.  

Here’s the thing though: Phil Rudd in a bar playing basic rock n’ roll is pretty much the template that AC/DC created, then developed, then launched into mind-dizzying success. So this is Rudd back where it kinda began. Starting over again. Something to prove and nothing to prove at the same time.  

So when I see this:



Or this:



I am actually pretty proud of the fella. Sure he is missing all of his teeth (I only mention that because it is so obvious and odd to watch). But he is keeping the beat like he always did. I can almost squint and see him in those cop shades, smoking a cig, while proficiently keeping the beat before he lost the job the last time. And Allan Badger is a gutsy vocalist cut from the same cloth as Johnson and Scott. He is no singer. But he does what he does well, while swaying around and bring his considerable heft to bear on the proceedings. Thing is, Badger doesn’t really seem to care what you think. And that seems to be more AC/DC that AC/DC has been in a few years, with some (but not all) apologies to Axl Rose.  

Yes, I know. Rudd is not AC/DC’s original drummer. Geesh. He only joined in 1975. We all miss Clack, Burgess, and the host of others that were with them in those earlier two years. But it is hard to not root for him. There are too many of these stories that end poorly. And if wishing Rudd well means anything, then it might mean the guy has a fighting chance to make something of himself after making a mess of a pretty sweet life.  

Not rooting for Rudd is akin to applauding the death of rock n’ roll. So I hope we can all muster more than a golf clap when it comes to his future.

Tuesday
May162017

The Other Side Of Ego: Two Fresh Takes On An Oft-Told Tale

Today's post is from our friend HIM.

I don’t even have to say his name. His reputation precedes him. A blowhard with a mind-boggling knack for breathless self-promotion. Tone deaf proclamations on thing both of his realm and, often times, far afield of it. A curiously coiffed pate with more than a whiff of the artificial. A history of braggadocio that has often demeaned the fairer sex (see what I did there?). A tendency to wield his self-importance like a force-field, bouncing every near hit and partial disaster out of range. A late stage attempt to revamp his crumpled reputation by wading through the sewer that is reality television.  

Obviously, I am talking about . . . Gene Simmons.  

As readers here know, I have a somewhat ambivalent view of KISS. I didn’t take issue with their 80s transformation into a circus-like cacophony of songs-by-committee, garish pastels, and enough shoulder pads and jazz hands to make both Bea Arthur and Joel Grey go, “Hey, you might want to walk that all back a bit.” I like their 70s stuff. I just don’t love it. Post-Animalize, my commitment to the band waxed and waned as time and interest dictated.  

I also recognize how easy it is to take Simmons’s sense of smug self-promotion too seriously. I mean, he begs you to dismiss him as an irrelevant, if very successful, huckster. Note that I said “too seriously.” There is Barnum in Simmons’s pitch. He plays—and sometimes is—the loathsome heel to Stanley’s pious protagonist. Together, they have made KISS into a brand that is stuck on every conceivable corner of the market. If Stanley is the man pulling most of the strings, Simmons is the one with the bugle, heralding the band and his importance thereto.  

Thing is, I have a sneaking suspicion that the fans that love Simmons are closer to seeing the truth in all of his carnival barking. He provides a service. In so doing, he sates his base while teasing the furious keyboard jockeys who mix their vitriol with equal parts longing and confusion. I mean, how can that man be that successful, all while wearing a Cher-pelt on top of his self-congratulatory smirk?!?! 

Two bits of evidence are not conclusive. But here is a bit of proof that Simmons, as a recent solo act, is showing off a truer measure of his self than one normally gets to see. With the spectacle of KISS nowhere to be found, we are getting a chance to see SIMMONS, exposed.  

The first video speaks for itself:


That is a gracious master of ceremonies, mixing equal parts shtick and sincerity. Those that matter—his fans—are having the time of their lives. As it should be.  

The second video is that rare sighting: an established, long-in-the-tooth, legacy act(or) trotting out a song many true fans wished was part of the rotation to begin with:



Yes, “Charisma” is no “Kashmir.” And, yes again, Dynasty is no Love Gun. So what? This song, even more than “God of Thunder,” gets at what makes fans squeal and detractors squirm: how can Simmons get away with singing something so catchy, yet so moronic (second best: “Domino” off of Revenge)? The song title is a measure of an answer. So, too, is the casual way he all but proclaims “Let’s have fun . . . my band can handle the stuff I have forgotten.” In another case, this would look sloppy and unprofessional. In his hands, it looks like the sort of night most fans, casual or diehard, would enjoy.  

These two videos are like the other side of the Simmons coin. He looks relaxed. He seems more than accommodating. His band sounds great. Everyone is having a good time. One moment, he is making it a night the fans will never forget. The next, he is (partially, and in fairly good form) belting out one of the most gloriously self-absorbed songs he has every released.  If rock is the calculated business that Simmons always suggests it is, he is also a master at making it look easy.  

I get it: Simmons is no saint. He has some decidedly retrograde views on women, no less on topics like depression and drugs. But he never claimed to be. So, while he goes about supporting the troops, donating to charities, and the rest, he has some definite reasons to smirk at those who criticize him.

He’s Gene Simmons. They are not. Fairly, or unfairly, simple math.

Monday
May152017

Don Dokken Gets Honest

The original Dokken lineup reunited for a special run of shows last year. It was in Asia the money was too much to pass up apparently. Don Dokken has been really clear that he has no desire to reunite with the original lineup ever again... now he's getting honest about his current signing ability. Apparently he realizes that he's been sounding rough lately. Now he knows he must sleep and "be professional" in order to sound good. The band isn't 18 anymore! Progress.

 

Sunday
May142017

Van Halen, Van Roth, Van Hagar Reunion?

The San Francisco Chronicle just interviewed Sammy Hagar about a possible reunion with Van Halen. Boy Howdy, Hagar's response was interesting!


“That whole Van Halen thing lurking in the woods out there, I feel there’s a sniper out there — any minute the bullet is going to come flying in that says “VH” on it, “You’re it!” We’ll see what happens. I don’t understand them. I haven’t understood them in a long time. I would only do it with Sam and Dave anyway. I’d rather Dave (David Lee Roth) go out and sing his own songs. I’ll sing my songs. That would be the ultimate show, I think. If we could do it that way, I would suck it up. It would be fun.”


The phrase "suck it up" and "will be fun" don't exactly match, but whatever. I actually could see David Lee Roth and Hagar on tour together in this capacity. Why not? It would be a financial bonanza.


Saturday
May132017

This Is Absurd

Kansas just canceled their European tour... because of safety concerns. Again, we're not talking about Venezuela or Syria here. We're talking about... Europe. Kansas was set for a 22 date run across the pond. Maybe ticket sales sucked and this was the excuse? Bizarre.