George Thorogood has been amazing audiences with his frenetic slide work and low down blues since the late seventies. His run of hits and solid albums for EMI Records in the eighties cemented his position in the national consciousness, especially with the modern blues classic ‘Bad to the Bone’. Thorogood’s live shows are legendary and I can attest to this having seen the Destroyers live several times over the years. I have been aware of his modern releases for years, most notably 2003s “Ride Till I Die”, but was totally surprised to come across the 2011 Capitol Records release “2120 South Michigan Avenue”. The album is a tribute to the Chess Records catalog of blues hits, originally recorded at the Michigan Avenue address by legends like Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson and Buddy Guy. While Thorogood has been recording superb covers of these blues greats for decades, it is a refreshing and well recorded take on some obscure material and chestnuts that sets this group of songs apart. There are originals and that brings me to the best song on the album: ‘Going Back’. Thorogood penned this song as an homage to the music that influenced his artistry over the years. More than that, it is just a great blues/rock song that delivers his best riff since ‘Bad to the Bone’. ‘Going Back’ literally jumps out of the stereo. The vocal delivery, guitar playing and arranging are some of his best work. I would advise picking up the vinyl 2 disc set (it contains bonus tracks), but don’t miss ‘Going Back’…it is one of the best rock n roll songs of the new millenium!
Aerosmith are continuing to release tracks from their upcoming release. The two latest offerings are an upbeat rocker, ‘Lover Alot’ and a ballad, ‘What Could Have Been Love’. As a lifelong fan, I have been more than pleased with the 3 new tracks released so far and excited to see them on tour in support of the November-bound album “Music From Another Dimension”.
Matchbox Twenty is releasing their first full length studio album in a decade this fall, entitled “North”. The single ‘She’s So Mean’ is available now. If the song is any indication, the album will be a worthy addition to the band’s cannon of hit LP’s. A deluxe edition is planned with 2 bonus tracks. Below is a link to purchase the new single.
The band is also posting a series of videos detailing the making of the new album. I am including the first one below to give some insight into Matchbox Twenty as they are in 2012.
This great new Aerosmith single has been out for 2 months and had debuted on American Idol’s finale. With Steven Tyler officially done with reality television (for the moment), it is going to be a great autumn for Aerosmith fans. They have their first new album in 8 years coming out and are currently on a nationwide tour with Cheap Trick. Here is a link to download the single from Amazon:
PS And just in case you missed it, Steven Tyler released a reworked Aerosmith outtake last year called ‘It Feels So Good’. It warrants a listen:
Earlier this year Paul Simon re released his classic solo album “Graceland” in a variety of packages that include bonus tracks and new information about the recording and reception of this great LP. The centerpiece to this campaign is the great, feature length documentary “Under African Skies”. The film is directed by Joe Berlinger, the documentarian who filmed the Metallica “Some Kind of Monster” movie. A must have on Blu Ray, Paul Simon is shown making the album, dealing with the aftermath of Graceland’s success and criticism and reuniting with the original musicians in South Africa in the summer of 2011. I have included links to the LP release and the Blu Ray documentary as well as the official trailer.
“Then I tell myself I’ll put you down,
Don’t wanna see your face around…don’t call me up anymore.
When I hear your voice it’s in my ear,
You’re kissin’ on the phone…it makes it all come clear.”
Cheap Trick are the ultimate cult band in modern rock n roll. Although their early hits have been defining statements, in the process of becoming radio staples, they have sustained one of the most productive and varied catalogs in modern music. From their formative years in Rockford, Illinois to continuing to record and tour with their original lineup, the band continues to push the limits and release unconventional, yet always innovative power pop.
The album “Next Position Please” from 1983 was released at a crossroads in the band’s career. Founding member and bassist Tom Petersson was on a several year hiatus and they had turned to famed producer Todd Rundgren (Eutopia, Meatloaf, etc.) to guide the recording process for this, their eighth relase for Epic Records. ‘I Can’t Take It’ was the album’s second single, edged out by ‘Dancing the Night Away’, the only song on the album not produced by Rundgren. ‘I Can’t Take It’ is the superior song, however. Written by vocalist Robin Zander, the song features a strong melody line and an infectious chorus…a hallmark of all Cheap Trick classics.
While the album failed to chart highly, it is a fan classic that features great production, sonwriting and musicianship. The band would ultimately come back into commercial favor with 1987’s ‘The Flame’, but it is on “Next Position Please” that the band show their true strengths as an American original.
“You can keep that diamond ring.
Take it downtown and find out what it will bring.
You can ask me to give you almost anything….all except my heart.”
It is essential for an artist to evolve if they are to survive changing times and tastes in the music industry. Joe Cocker began life in the late sixties as a counter culture icon with his iconic performance at the Woodstock festival and subsequent “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” tour with Leon Russell. Establishing himself with classic songs like “You Are So Beautiful” and “With a Little Help From My Friends”, by the mid seventies Cocker had faded from public view but had established a reputation as the preeminent rock interpreter of some of the greatest writers in the modern era.
His comeback in the eighties was miraculous to say the least, with the ballad smash “Up Where We Belong” returning him to the top of the charts. He continues to ride that wave of success, especially on classics like 1989s “One Night of Sin” and 1987s “Unchain My Heart”. While old fans stay mired in the sounds of his early days, those willing to investigate these newer albums will find many hidden gems.
One of his best efforts in years was 2002s “Respect Yourself”, his 18th studio album. Produced by John Shanks (Chris Isaak, Stevie Nicks, etc.), the album never veers too far from his soul and blues roots. The original track ‘You Can’t Have My Heart’, written by Shanks and frequent Cocker cohort CJ Vanston, is a classic example of why Cocker still is vital in the genre he helped to define.