Richie Kotzen

REVIEW: Richie Kotzen – Mother Head’s Family Reunion (1994 Japanese import)

Kotzen’s music is cut for hard rockers who like insane playing and a side of R&B.

 

RICHIE KOTZEN presents the Mother Head’s Family Reunion (1994 Geffen, Japanese with bonus track)

Did anybody really expect Richie Kotzen to stay in Poison?  The chances of that happening were always about as good as a Beatles reunion tour — next to zilch.  Kotzen’s talent burst at the seams that were Poison.  He could not have been content for long.  Post-Poison he resumed business swiftly with Mother Head’s Family Reunion, his fifth overall recording.

A funky “Socialite” demonstrates Kotzen’s diversity.  Drummer Atma Anur breaks it down while Richie brings the soul.  Kotzen’s music is cut for hard rockers who like insane playing and a side of R&B.   The soulful profile is on full display with “Mother Head’s Family Reunion” which sounds like a Black Crowes cover.  Switch to blues balladeering on “Where Did Our Love Go”, and “Natural Thing” brings it all the way to funk again.

Listening closely, Mother Head’s Family Reunion sounds a lot like Native Tongue, Phase II.  It’s that album, but beyond:  it’s Kotzen completely unleashed and without Bret Michaels.  You could easily imagine a track like “A Love Divine” on side two of Native Tongue, among the more grooving material.  That connects seamlessly with “Soul to Soul”, another bluesy ballad, with a summery feel.  “Testify” has a similar bright side, and a wailing chorus.

Cover songs can be shaky ground, and “Reach Out I’ll Be There” sticks out like a sore thumb, a song from another era that doesn’t match up with Richie’s originals.  That’s not to say it’s bad.  Far from it — it’s one of the best covers of it that you’ll find.  It’s just on the wrong album, even as it jams on for seven minutes!

Through the last four tracks (“Used”, “A Woman & A Man”, “Livin’ Easy” and “Cover Me”) Richie and company rock it up and slow it down again with consistently impressive chops.  There are no weak songs, and Kotzen’s ballads have a genuine sound that stays timeless no matter the year.  The speedy funk-soul-metal soup of “Cover Me” concludes the standard domestic album by smoking your ears with blazing hot licks.

This album, long out of print, has been reissued in Japan with the bonus track intact, at a surprisingly low price.  (Amazon Canada had it in stock for $22.33.)  If you’re lucky enough to acquire it, you’ll get the extra song “Wailing Wall”.  Sometimes the Japanese fans got the best exclusives.  “Wailing Wall” is one.  It taps into the spirit of Tommy Bolin-era Deep Purple and it could be the best song of them all.

Easy decision:  Get some.

4.75/5 stars

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WTF Search Terms: jeff vwcj edition

WTF SEARCH TERMS XXXIX:   jeff vwcj edition

It’s time for 10 more WTF Search Terms!  WTF Search Terms are those weird and wacky things that people typed into search engines to get here.  This instalment is a mixed bag, some of which I can explain and some I cannot!

 

1. is jeff vwcj bliw vy blow valuable

This person, with fingers too large for their phone, is asking if Jeff Beck’s Blow By Blow album is valuable.  Would you have figured it out?

2. what year did ozzy do the randy rhodes tribute tour

A reasonable question — except there was no such “tribute” tour.  The Randy Rhoads Tribute live album came out in 1987 and there was no tour to support it.  It was recorded on 1982’s Diary of a Madman tour.

3. has bret michaels and richie kotzen made up

Again, a minor detail is wrong here — Richie Kotzen had an affair with Rikki Rockett’s fiance, not Bret’s.  And I doubt they have spoken since!

4. gucci gang song, rhetorical analysis

You’re in luck!  I already did a lyrical analysis of this Lil’ Pump hit song.  There wasn’t much to analyse in “Gucci gang, Gucci gang, Gucci gang, Gucci gang, Gucci gang, Gucci gang, Gucci gang, Gucci gang.”

It’s all downhill from here, though.  A series of dirty searches from dirty minds make up the remainder:

5. mary wiseman ass

Mary Wiseman is one of the cast members on the new Star Trek.  No pictures of her ass here, sorry.

6. xxx kissing videos in hd bluray

Wait…xxx kissing videos?  Xxx rated videos of people kissing?  Just trying to understand, here.  Glad you’re onto HD though….

7. fuaking juniar

It just sounds dirty.

8. amanda seyfried feet porn

Jesus not again!?  This is the second time!  Well, here is the picture you like, one more time:

9. new boys fucking

Gross.

10. bigbas porn

It’s all about the bass? I dunno. I’m reaching here!

REVIEW: T.M. Stevens – Black Night: Deep Purple Tribute According to New York (1997)

Black Night:  Deep Purple Tribute According to New York (1997 DeRock)
Produced and arranged by T.M. Stevens

This is one of the coolest and most different Deep Purple tributes you are likely to find.  It’s also by far the funkiest.

Bassist T.M. Stevens (aka Shocka Zooloo) might be best known for his work with Joe Cocker, James Brown, Billy Joel and many others…but he first came to the attention of hard rockers via Steve Vai.  He was a member of Vai’s Sex & Religion band, and immediately stood out on CD and on stage.  Although his name doesn’t appear on the front cover for Black Night: Deep Purple Tribute According to New York, it’s clearly his project.  He produced it, arranged it, and is the only musician who appears on every track.  He has a pocket full of well known friends to fill out the instruments including:  Will Calhoun (Living Color, drums), Cory Glover (Living Color, vocals), Joe Lynn Turner (Deep Purple/Rainbow, vocals), Richie Kotzen (guitar, vocals), Al Pitrelli (Savatage, guitars), Vinnie Moore (UFO, guitars), Stevie Salas (guitars), Bernie Worrell (Parliament/Funkadelic, keys), Cindy Blackman (Lenny Kravitz, drums), and Tony Harnell (TNT, vocals).  What a team!

Black Night is not for everyone.  Each and every song is drastically changed.  “Black Night” itself is slowed down and turned into a metallic bluesy grind.  Dual lead guitars by Pitrelli and Moore ensure its metal credentials, and Joe Lynn Turner comes down with his raspy soul.  Another raspy soul singer, Richie Kotzen, handles “Strange Kind of Woman” on guitar and vocals.  This one turns the funk right up!  The rhythm section of Calhoun and Stevens generates a punchy funk that can’t be stopped.  A standout.  Living Color’s Cory Glover takes over on the even funkier “Fireball”.  The creative arrangement deconstructs the song.  “Fireball” was one of the few Purple songs to feature a bass solo, so Stevens takes the opportunity to slap some bass.  A Purple tribute without “Smoke on the Water” wouldn’t be a real Deep Purple tribute.  It’s a hard track to funk up, so it’s more of a steamroller with funky verses.  Kotzen turns in a hell of a soulful vocal, proving how versatile any music can be.  An original and refreshing slant on a tired classic.

The most interesting arrangement is by far “Child in Time”.  The epic soft/loud dynamic of Purple’s beloved classic has been replaced by reggae, and why not?  Bernie Worrell does his best with Jon Lord’s original outline to create his own organ parts.  T.M. and Tony Harnell share lead vocals: Tony singing the clean and high parts (with absolutely no difficulty!), while T.M. does his Rasta take on the rest.  Sacrilege?  Keep an open mind.

Keeping an open mind is the key for this entire album.  If you cannot do that, you will probably hate Deep Purple According to New York.  That title says it all.  This is Purple according to Stevens and friends, and they do their own thing.  The rest of the material — “Woman From Tokyo”, “Stormbringer”, “Speed King”, “Burn”, and “Space Truckin'” — are as different as the first five tunes.  “Woman From Tokyo” is funky soul vocal nirvana, featuring four lead singers (Kotzen, Stevens, Harnell and Turner)!

In case you’re wondering what the closing track “Deep Purple NY” is, it’s just a funky shout-out to all the players on the CD.  “New York is in the house, New Jersey, Bernie Worrell!”  That kind of thing.

I’ve heard a number of Deep Purple tribute albums over the years.  Yngwie did four Purple songs on his mediocre Inspiration album.  Thin Lizzy did a Purple tribute under the name Funky Junction.  There was the star-studded Re-Machined CD.  There was even a 1994 tribute album called Smoke on the Water that featured three of the same guys on this album!  (Joe Lynn Turner, Tony Harnell, Richie Kotzen, as well as another ex-Purple member, Glenn Hughes).  None of those albums, even with all that star power, are nearly as interesting as Black Night.  I chose that word “interesting” on purpose.  It’s a very neutral word.  Your reaction to this album could be wildly positive, violently negative, or simply passively unmoved.  The listening experience will be anything but dull.  Whether you like it or not, if you pick up this CD you’re going to hear some of the greatest rock and funk players on the planet, so get your dancing shoes on.

4/5 stars

 

#539: Been a long time since I been to Frankenmuth

GETTING MORE TALE #539: Been a long time since I been to Frankenmuth

Frankenmuth Michigan is a small Bavarian hamlet/tourist trap not too far from the Canada border.  Some people love going; I seem to be one of the only dissenting voices.  My best friend Peter introduced us to the Frankenmuth tradition.  His family would typically go once a year, staying at the Bavarian Inn.  The big draws to the town are two.  One is the big “family style” chicken dinner at Zehnder’s, where the food just keeps coming.  The other attraction is Bronner’s, an all-year-round Christmas store.  Some in my family seemed absolutely thrilled to be buying our Christmas ornaments in April.

Frankenmuth seemed a long way to go for some chicken and Christmas ornaments.  However, it’s not too far for a shopping excursion focused on music, so that’s what I turned it into for me.  In the three years I went to Frankenmuth, I found plenty of goodies, and accumulated some entertaining memories.

frankenmuth

My first year was 1992.  I had just finished writing all my final exams for my first year classes at Laurier.  The Freddie Mercury Tribute concert had just aired.  I taped the whole thing, and then recorded it to cassette (three 100 minute tapes).  I tossed that into the Walkman, and joined the family for our first US road trip together.

The Mercury concert was special.  Queen shared the stage with some luminaries as David Bowie (RIP), George Michael (RIP), Mick Ronson (RIP), and many more.  Vivian Campbell played live with Def Leppard for the first time.  Tony Iommi and James Hetfield shared the stage with Queen on “Stone Cold Crazy”.  Guns N’ Roses were there, and Axl got to sing with new friend Elton John.  The excitement in the air was genuine.  There was talk afterwards of someone charismatic, like George Michael or Gary Cherone joining Queen permanently so they could continue.

Our first road stop was a McDonalds in a small town just outside of Flint.  The washroom stunk of piss so badly that my dad couldn’t even use it. Great first impression, Michigan!

When we got to the Bavarian Inn, I had the chance to watch MTV for the first time at length.  After all I’d heard about it, I was disappointed to see it was not nearly as good as Canada’s MuchMusic.  The American coverage of the Mercury concert (which was re-running all weekend) was truncated compared to what we saw in Canada.  MuchMusic had Erica Ehm and others on site at Wembley interviewing the stars and covering behind-the-scenes, while the US coverage cut away to other things.  The food at the Bavarian Inn was incredible, including what I remember to be the best omelette I’ve ever tasted.

I can’t say that I cared for the family style chicken dinner.  “Family style” isn’t my thing (where everybody has the same dinner, all served together on big platters).  If I’m eating out, I will rarely order chicken.  Seemed like a big waste of a night out, to go and eat somewhere that serves chicken dinner just like you get at home.  But I didn’t make these decisions, I just complained about them!

On the way home, we stopped at a Target store in Port Huron.  My first Target store; I had never even heard of them before.  This is where I made my first US music purchases.  In stock was the cassette single for “Let’s Get Rocked” by Def Leppard.  This featured the bonus track “Only After Dark”, a Mick Ronson track, who had just played at the Mercury concert!  The other item I picked up was Slaughter’s new The Wild Life CD, which had a different cover than the ones I’d seen in Canada.  It still appears to be the rarest version today.

The 1993 trip was even better, because this time Peter came with us.  In 1993, Peter was the man with the plan.  He was looking for something.  Something very specific, that as of yet was not released in Canada.  He had read about this new comedy tape called The Jerky Boys, and he was determined to find a copy.  And find a copy he did.

We found The Jerky Boys at a record store just on the outskirts of Frankenmuth.  At the same store, I picked five tapes that I couldn’t get back home:  Savatage’s first albums Sirens (1983), The Dungeons are Calling (1985), Power of the Night (1986) and the brand new Edge of Thorns (1993).  There was also Richie Kotzen’s third album, Electric Joy.  These fine records meant that the summer of 1993 was filled with sounds both heavy and complex.  The Kotzen album was a whole level beyond was I was used to listening to.  As for Savatage, they heavied up my tastes at a time when I was craving faster/heavier/louder.

I spent a lot of time absorbing each of these albums, but it was The Jerky Boys that dominated the car tape deck on that Frankenmuth trip.  Peter and I listened to the entire thing through.  Tarbash the Egyptian Magician, Sol Rosenberg and his glasses (he can’t see goddammit), and the whole gang had us laughing so hard, my sides actually hurt.  When the tape was done, we put it on repeat and played it again.  I’m not sure if my mom and dad enjoyed the Jerky Boys as much as I did.  I started calling people “sizzlechest” and responding to questions with “listen jerky, I don’t need to talk to you.”

What a summer.

This Frankenmuth trip was also my Karaoke debut.  I chose “The Immigrant Song”.  And I fucking killed it, in my opinion!  Like Axl Rose gyrating on meth, I owned that stage.  The heels of my cowboy boots stomped the boards, keeping their own beat.  I asked my entire family to leave the room, but I lost my place in the song when I caught them spying around a corner.

On we sweep, with threshing oar, our only goal will be the western shore.

That was a fantastic trip.  Mission accomplished, with both the music shopping and the Jerky Boys acquisition.  On my third and final year going to Frankenmuth, Peter really upped his game.  Once again, the goal was to acquire something that we could not get in Canada.

Instead of travelling in one car, we did a convoy with two.  Peter and I needed transportation of our own to run the missions we were planning.

As much as MTV did not impress me on my first US trip, our goal this time was dependant on MTV.

“Let’s rent a VCR and tape some episodes of Beavis and Butthead!”  We didn’t get the show in Canada.

That is exactly what we did.  We drove over to the local video store, and rented a VCR.  You might think renting a VCR in a foreign country might be difficult, but it wasn’t.  We hooked it up to the hotel TV (much easier than doing something like this today — more on that in a future instalment of Getting More Tale also involving Peter).  Tuning up MTV, we watched some music before Beavis and Butthead was scheduled.

This time, MTV really pissed me off.  They gleefully ran the embarrassing 1994 Motley Crue interview that the band infamously walked out of.  But the band didn’t do themselves any favours in that interview. MTV baited them a bit with the questions, but they didn’t have to attack Vince Neil in their answers. “No one cares anyway,” said Nikki Sixx when asked about his former frontman. Pushed further, they were asked to comment on Vince’s recent jet-ski accident that put him in hospital with broken ribs. Laughing, Mick Mars asked “What happened to the coral reef?” Sixx answered, “Hey, when 300 pounds of blubber lands on a coral reef, there’s gonna be some dust flying around.”

The question that killed the interview was about “women, hairspray and fire.” MTV ran the segment complete with Nikki mocking the question, while showing images of women, hairspray and fire from their music videos. Stick in a fork in that lineup; it was done.  No matter how good that 1994 Motley Crue album was (and is), that interview polished off the attempted comeback in one stroke.

We recorded a couple episodes of Beavis and Butthead and called it a night.  The next day we did some music and comic book shopping.  US exclusive once more:  Quiet Riot’s reunion album Terrified found and liberated.  I didn’t even know they had come out with anything new.  A cassette single for “Heaven Help” by Lenny Kravitz also found its way home with me. I scored an oversized Black Sabbath comic (Rock-It Comics) and Transformers: Generation 2 #1 with the silver foil fold out cover.

With another successful trip in the books, we packed our bags and checked out.  The last mission to run was returning the VCR to the video store.  There was only one snag.  We were primed and ready to head home early…and the video store opened at noon.  We had to kill some hours driving around, but when that store opened we got the hell out of dodge.  Not the greatest return trip ever, but at least we had Lenny Kravitz.

I stopped going to Frankenmuth after that trip, although Peter and his family returned yearly for some chicken and Christmas ornaments.  My family too.  My mom tells me of a memorable trip that ended in the hospital!   Four years ago my mother, father and sister made a trip where they did the usual; Frankenmuth chicken and the Christmas store. They also ate a lot of junk food; pizza, hot dogs, French fries and candy. On the way home they stopped along the 401 for more French fries. That night my mother ended up in the hospital with a gall bladder attack. It was serious enough that she had it removed two weeks later.  Thank goodness they were home when it happened as they never bothered with extra insurance for a short trip to the US.

As years went on, I ran into people all the time who had gone to Frankenmuth for a vacation.  Inevitably, they will always talk about three things:  the Bavarian Inn, the chicken dinners, and the Christmas store.  None of them seem to have any stories about cool comic books, or finding rare tapes and CDs in Frankenmuth.  Very few of them have done Karaoke, and none have performed “The Immigrant Song” at the Bavarian Inn.  Nobody rented a VCR to record Beavis and Butthead, and then have to wait hours for the store to open to return said VCR.   Nobody even discovered the Jerky Boys on their Michigan trips.

I guess that means that Peter and I are the only ones who did Frankenmuth right.

REVIEW: King’s X – “Junior’s Gone Wild” (1991)

quiz

Complete studio albums (and more!), part 5


KING’S X – “Junior’s Gone Wild” (1991 Interscope, from the Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey movie soundtrack)

With Faith Hope Love creating a little bit of a buzz, 1991 coulda been the year for King’s X to finally break.  Meanwhile in Hollywood, a Canadian fellow named Keanu Reeves re-teamed up with his buddy Alex Winter to star in Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey.  Many rock fans worldwide had enjoyed the prior adventures of Bill & Ted.  They liked cool bands and got to hang out with George Carlin.  Not to mention, the movies had soundtracks.  Extreme, for example, had some exposure thanks to an appearance on the first movie’s album.  Then somehow, King’s X landed a song on the Bogus Journey soundtrack.  Maybe because the movie soundtrack came out on Interscope, owned by Warner, also the parent company of King’s X’s label Atlantic.

The soundtrack CD is actually really good.   Kiss, Faith No More, Megadeth, Primus, plus quality tracks from Winger, Slaughter and Richie Kotzen.  Surprisingly, one of the weakest songs was the one by King’s X!

“Junior’s Gone Wild”, barely three minutes long, is one of the most unremarkable songs King’s X have done.  You can’t pinpoint what exactly what doesn’t work.  On paper, it should.  A stuttering riff, Doug Pinnick’s impassioned singing, and the trademark lush King’s X cloud of backing vocals:  it’s all right there, wrapped up in a bow for 3:09.  Yet it’s bland and forgettable.  Was this the first crack in King’s X armour?  Or did they just send a throw-away outtake out for the soundtrack?  If so, perhaps doing so was a mistake.  The movie made almost $40 million, doubling its budget.

In another weird twist, “Junior’s Gone Wild” also wound up on the B-side to a Kiss CD single, “God Gave Rock & Roll to You II“.  With that kind of exposure, don’t you just wish King’s X had put an amazing song out instead?  Meanwhile back on the soundtrack CD, I was being blown away by this new young kid, Richie Kotzen, with an incredibly soulful voice and hot space-blues licks.  Kotzen succeeded in competing with the big boys on the CD, and so did Faith No More.  King’s X fumbled the ball.

2/5 stars

KING’S X review series:

Part 1 – Out of the Silent Planet
Part 2 – Gretchen Goes to Nebraska
Part 3 – Kings of the Absurd (split bootleg with Faith No More)
Part 4 – Faith Hope Love by King’s X

REVIEW: Poison – Native Tongue (1993)


NATIVE TONGUE_0001POISON – Native Tongue (1993 Capitol)

C.C. DeVille was let go from Poison after an embarrassing performance on the 1991 MTV awards.  Who can forget the pink-haired C.C.?  Drugs and alcohol had taken their toll on the guitar player.  There were musical differences as well.  Bret Michaels liked the bluesier direction Poison were going on; C.C. preferred basic sloppy rock.  A parting of ways was all but inevitable.

Poison were lucky enough to convince guitar prodigy Richie Kotzen to join the band.  Kotzen was from Pennsylvania, like Poison, and had released three critically acclaimed solo albums.  Richie Kotzen and Electric Joy were hard-to-penetrate instrumental albums, while Fever Dream introduced Richie’s soulful singing voice.  He had also contributed the bluesy rock of “Dream of a New Day” to the Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey soundtrack album.

Like many fans, I waited and wondered what the new Poison would sound like.  Kotzen claims that many of the songs were completely written, lyrics and all, before he joined Poison.  Regardless each song received a four-way songwriting split among the band members.  Fans in the know could tell right away that Kotzen’s impact on the songs was much greater than the other members.

Native Tongue was not as immediate as any prior Poison album, but what it lacked in instant hooks it made up for in musicianship and integrity.  Native Tongue was also a long album, at almost an hour not including B-sides such as “Whip Comes Down”.  It was a lot to absorb, and due to the changing winds of rock, not too many fans were willing to spend time with and get to know Native Tongue.

You couldn’t have asked for a better start to the album that the duo of “Native Tongue”/”The Scream”.  Tribal drums by Rikki Rockett and Sheila E. set the scene for one of Poison’s heaviest songs ever.  “The Scream” is killer:  a relentless driving rock song with aggressive playing and lyrics.  Bret Michaels merged this with his Poison singing style, creating a successful hybrid.  “The Scream” is one of Poison’s finest achievements, and a hell of a way to kick off the new album with the new guitarist.

“Stand” was the soulful, gospel-like lead single.  It didn’t do anything for me, but you have to give Poison credit for going all-in.  With choirs and Kotzen’s soulful guitar playing, it’s still an outstanding Poison song.  “Stay Alive” was another good tune, this time about bassist Bobby Dall’s struggles with substances.   That led into the ballad “Until You Suffer Some (Fire and Ice)”, one of the band’s best such songs.  The only weakness here is a grouping of slow songs on side one.  “Body Talk” and “Bring It Home” make up for that.  “Bring It Home” in particular had that heavy groove that you needed to have in the 1990s, as well as strong backing vocals from Kotzen.   “Bring It Home” ended the first side with the heaviest song since “The Scream”.

The one thing that I found difficult about Native Tongue was the aforementioned lack of immediacy.  Thankfully, side two had a few songs that maintained that old-tyme Poison singalong chorus.  They were “Seven Days Over You” (a horn-inflected goodie), the anthemic “Blind Faith” and, “Ride Child Ride”.  These tunes weren’t too much of a departure from earlier Poison of Flesh & Blood.  Perhaps if they had been released as singles, there would have been more chart action.  “Strike Up the Band” is similar, capturing the high octane rock that Poison were good at doing live.

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“Richie’s Acoustic Thang” and “Ain’t That the Truth” are swampy bluesy goodness, crossing Poison and Kotzen perfectly.  Where Poison failed to do decent blues before, they finally managed to get it done with Richie.  Likewise, “Theatre of the Soul” is a soulful ballad that acts as another album highlight.

The final song was “Bastard Son of a Thousand Blues”, and it is really the only stinker, despite Kotzen having plenty of vocal time.  It reminds me of “Poor Boy Blues” from the prior album, and unfortunately ends the album on a mediocre note, guitar pyrotechnics notwithstanding.

Kotzen didn’t last long with Poison.  “Strike Up the Band”?  More like “Break Up the Band”, when Richie started fooling around with the fiancé of Rikki Rockett.  He was immediately fired upon discovery, and replaced by Blues Saraceno, another highly rated shredder.  The ironic thing was that Blues Saraceno was in the running for the guitar slot in the first place, but the band chose Kotzen.  Saraceno recorded the strong Crack A Smile CD, an intentional return to good-time Poison rock, but were dropped by the record label before a release.  That’s a whole other story, with six years of delays and bootlegs before the album was out, eventually leading to a reunion with C.C. DeVille.

Fortunately, Native Tongue remains a reminder of a brief period in Poison where they were momentarily among the best acts in hard rock.  No shit.

4.75/5 stars

NATIVE TONGUE_0006

Part 293: Glen and Gord

RECORD STORE TALES Part 293:  Glen and Gord

Perhaps the two most legendary customers in the entire history of the record store were Glen and Gord. With their long coifed locks and rocker hair, the Brothers wore their musical tastes on their sleeves. Rock! All rock, nothing but! It was hard to miss them, as the Brothers are both over six feet tall. Add the hair in and I lose track.

You could never miss them at a concert. I remember seeing Alice Cooper in 2006. I was in the second row. Before the show I turned around and saw the Brothers halfway across the theater. Besides their height and hair, one reason you’d never miss the Brothers at a concert is that they attended pretty much every one. If there was a decent rock band in town, the Brothers were there. You could count on it.

I believe it was T-Rev who first encountered Gord, in his store. Gord had spent some time in Europe, and was selling off some really rare rock CDs he got there. One such CD is still in my personal collection – the single for “Stand” by Poison, featuring a rare bonus track called “Whip Comes Down”. This being Poison with Richie Kotzen rather than the original band, this song is valuable to collectors. By the sounds of it, aspects of the song were used in “Stay Alive”, which did make it onto the album Native Tongue.

Seeing that the Brothers and I had similar taste in music, sometimes we clashed. For example, one of my customers sold me three W.A.S.P. remasters in beautiful digipacks, which I still have. Gord saw them on my “hold” pile and begged me for them; I refused to budge. He still remembers that to this day:

“Of course Mike…You were THE guy I went to go see when you worked at the [record store]. You knew your music and we would always have these lengthy discussions. It was cool…except when you cut me off because I forgot to pick up my orders I had on hold or had ordered in!”

Ahh yes. Cutting him off. I remember that. It wasn’t my call, personally, but I did have to enforce it. Gord had ordered in a bunch of discs, but hadn’t picked them in weeks. We allowed two weeks for pickups. One important thing to know is, I didn’t make any money off these special orders. When we ordered in a used CD for a customer from another location, that location was credited for the sale. For my sales margins, I had to send the discs back if they weren’t picked up. According to Gord:

“That was not nice, you jerk! But you finally reinstated the privilege. Its all good, I forgave you.”

I am glad I have his forgiveness! I’d hate to have a guy of Gord’s size hold a grudge!

GUEST REVIEW: The Winery Dogs – The Winery Dogs (by Jon Wilmenius)

After hearing so much praise for The Winery Dogs, I finally bought a copy.  I decided for now there was no point in writing a review:  After all, Jon Wilmenius already said it all.  So for my own review, all I’ll write is:  “What he said!”  Enjoy this review from Jon’s own excellent site, Music and Festival Reviews, reprinted with his kind permission.

Read the original here.

GUEST REVIEW by: Jon Wilmenius

THE WINERY DOGS – The Winery Dogs (2013 Loud & Proud)

Way back in the late 80′s / early 90′s supergroups were popping up like mushrooms in your garden. Bands like Bad English, Mr Big and Badlands had big success with the odd album or two before breaking up, but when the 90′s grunge era took over, supergroups were as rare as money on your bank account. Today, things have turned around and with the music industry looking like it does, musicians are forming different projects and bands with each other like never before. One guy that seems to involved a little everywhere are former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy. As of now he is involved in no less than four different bands, Transatlantic, Flying Colors, Adrenaline Mob and now this thing. When The Winery Dogs started out in 2011, they consisted of Portnoy, bassist Billy Sheehan of Mr Big (formerly of Talas and David Lee Roth) and guitarist / lead singer John Sykes (Tygers Of Pan Tang, Thin Lizzy, Whitensake, Blue Murder), but since Sykes seemed to have too much on his mind, he decided to split and was replaced by multi musician and guitar player / lead singer Richie Kotzen, who also has a successful solo career going on, but also a former member of Poison, Mr Big and Forty Deuce.

Without hearing a note of their music, just by looking at the line up makes expectations rise like a virgin’s dong at the Playboy Mansion. That means that nothing worse than ‘great’ would be acceptable for this trio’s debut release. Now, I don’t know how much music that was written with Sykes in the band and how much of it that ended up on this album, but the fact is, Kotzen is all over this record. Kotzen’s solo career sky rocketed after he got the boot from Poison, at least quality wise and even a tone-deaf  could spot his style miles away. Just listen to Poison’s Native Tongue, the best album they ever released, and you’ll hear pretty fast which songs he brought to the table. He really should re-record them as a solo artist someday. So, if you’re a fan of Kotzen’s, this album is a no-brainer – as a matter of fact, it really should be a no-brainer for any a rock fan to buy this CD, because this is amazing stuff. “Elevate” kicks this album into motion with a bang, a rootsy rocker that sounds a lot like Richie’s solo stuff only with Sheehan’s famous and personal bass sound and Portnoy’s heavy groove. “Desire” follows and it is a brilliant tune, full of catchiness and groovy rhythms, “I’m No Angel” has a fantastic refrain and a killer melody, you’re stuck after the first chorus, on “The Other Side”, Sheehan and Portnoy totally rules the groove and the bass and drums are both one and separated at the same time and they give us a brilliant blues ballad in “You Saved Me”. It has a bit of a U2 – feel and Kotzen sings the hell out of it. The guy has got some feel, to say the least.

Both “Not Impossible” and “One More Time” has a lot of Kotzen over them and I find myself thinking that they probably would have been a great fit on his last album 24 Hours. “Six Feet Deeper” has a major swing to it and it strikes me that this is the first album I have heard where Mike Portnoy plays rock ‘n’ roll like this. I mean, he’s an amazing drummer, but his skills has always been in progressive metal where he doesn’t groove that much. This album shows that Portnoy is a lot more all round than people might think. “Criminal” on the other hand, is a heavy piece – not a far cry from how a Kotzen fronted Mr Big would sound. “The Dying” is a ballad, but it leans way more towards heaviness than anything else which is really cool – and it is a great song. The album ends with “Regret”, a classic Kotzen ballad, very bluesy in a 70′s style. Wow! This really is a super trio and they have made one hell of a debut album and hopefully enough people will buy this to convince the guys to keep this project alive. Another thing, has Billy Sheehan and Mike Portnoy ever played with such a groove like they do here? I mean, they are both ace players and with Kotzen, groove is in his blood, but on here Sheehan and Portnoy really makes the rhythm section swing. When we’re writing January 2014 and making a list on the best albums of 2013, this album will no doubt be up there as a contender for the number one spot. Jon says: Get this!

Jon Wilmenius (9/10)

 

WTF Search Terms: Musical Inquiries edition

Welcome back to WTF Search Terms.  These are real search terms that somehow led people to mikeladano.com.  Today, I thought I’d answer some people’s musical questions.

Click here for the last WTF Search Terms XV: Fan Favorites – Thussy Edition.

WTF Search Terms XVI:  Musical Inquiries edition

1. why is lenny kravitz last two cds a disappointment

Lenny Kravitz has sucked since cutting off his dreads.  Scientists call it “Samson Syndrome”.

2. whats the dirt on richie kotzen screwing bandmates wifes

Great question.  Kotzen was actually screwing Rikki Rockett’s girlfriend/fiance while on tour with Poison.  Kotzen later married her after being terminated by Poison.

3. glenn tipton can’t play anymore

Incorrect.

4. iron maiden lyrics “what information do you need”

“We want…information…information…information!” – The Prisoner

5. does blackie lawless ever talk to anyone? 2013

Blackie Lawless has taken a vow of silence and now speaks through a computer like Stephen Hawking.

6. i wonder book list of names in the rock roll band kiss used to be in ks benny gene simmons paul stanley ace frehley peter criss and vinnie vincent

I wonder what this person is actually asking.

7. quite riot mr roboto

No.  It’s QUIET Riot, and Mr. Roboto was by Styx.

8. did malcomb mcdowell sing in a rock band?

No.  But there’s this musical:

9. back street boys with guitar

Next.

10. lebrians bb pin

I am not posting my BlackBerry pin, thanks.

SAM_2571

Be sure to check back soon for more WTFs!

REVIEW: Poison – Double Dose: Ultimate Hits (2011)

I do not currently own this album.

POIDSONPOISON – Double Dose:  Ultimate Hits (2011 EMI)

When this one slid into my hot little hands, I couldn’t help but laugh. Double Dose of Poison? Look at that cover. Someone forget to give Bret the memo, the 80’s are over. But it was summer, and Poison were touring with the Crue. The cougars were on the prowl, and if that’s not enough reason for a classic rock band to release an album, I don’t know what is.

However, let us not forget, Poison haven’t released any new original music since the dreadful Hollyweird in…God is it almost 10 years already? So when your band is creatively on ice, all you can do is repackage the hits. By my reckoning, Poison have done that very thing almost as many times as they’ve released studio albums.

Anyway, enough of my lecturing. Let’s dig into the album, a very generous slice of Poison, albeit one that wears out its welcome prematurely. The album is wisely sparked off with “Talk Dirty To Me”, their first hit, and still a firecracker 25 (!) years later. Sequenced chronologically, this is followed by the equally familiar “I Want Action”.  The lesser known (but still classy) ballad “I Won’t Forget You” is here.  So is perhaps the best single for the first album, “Cry Tough” which still has that youthful energy. The perennial “Look What The Cat Dragged In” tops off the material from the first album  It’s an inferior song, but one that has proven to have legs over two decades later.

By the second album, Poison had tightened up their chops and songwriting a bit, and the still-great “Nothin’ But A Good Time” is next. The rest of the ’88-’89 singles follow in due course: “Fallen Angel”, “Every Rose” (of course!)” and “Your Mama Don’t Dance”. So far, CD 1 works. It sticks to (mostly) the hits, with the ballads sprinkled about sparingly, exactly as any good rock album should work.

But the first disc ain’t over yet, although this is where the chronological concept is ditched. From album #3, here’s the dreadfully awful “Unskinny Bop” (please, nobody really likes this song)!  It’s followed by the Kiss cover “Rock N’ Roll All Nite” which was actually recorded between albums #1 and #2. But the other three singles from album #3 follow in short order: “Ride The Wind”, “Something To Believe In” (another ballad) and “Life Goes On” (wait…two ballads in a row?). Then from album #3, we jump to album #5. “Stand” is the third ballad in a row. While it is more a soul song with the great Richie Kotzen now filling CC Deville’s shoes, it still serves to slow down this disc almost to the point of skipping. Then, for whatever reason, the compilation skips to albums #7 and #8 (the worst album Poison ever did, Hollyweird). “The Last Song” from Power To The People is…holy crap…another (boring) ballad. It is followed by the cover “Shooting Star”. What the devil were they thinking? Four ballads in a row? Sure, we’re not young anymore, but we’re not comatose.

Onto disc two. Keep in mind, Poison have used up most of their hit ammunition on disc one. Disc two relies heavily on covers from the Poison’d album.  That’s five more covers for those keeping score, bringing the total of covers on this whole compilation to eight. Eight freaking covers out of 35 songs, that’s 23% covers — almost a quarter of the album! Come on, guys. We know you had all your hits in a brief period of the late 80’s and early 90’s, but what about the great album tracks? Where’s “Ball And Chain”? Where’s “(Flesh & Blood) Sacrifice”? “Valley of Lost Souls”? Where are all the great album tracks that prove Poison was more than a handful of singles? Well, some are here: “Look But You Can’t Touch”, “Love On The Rocks”, but mostly we’re into the covers. If you already have Poison’d, then this disc is pretty redundant. A few tracks from the underrated Crack A Smile CD (with Blues Saraceno on guitar) are here, such as the swanky’ “Sexual Thang”. A few rarities too, “Gotta Face The Hangman” and “Livin’ For The Minute”… but they are rarities for a reason.  They don’t hold up to the quality of the hits.

Highlights on this second disc are the bright and sparkling rocker “So Tell Me Why” from album #4 (the live + studio CD Swallow This Live) and a deuce with Richie Kotzen: “Fire And Ice” and “Bastard Son of a Thousand Blues”. The disc, very unwisely, ends with perhaps the worst and most overplayed Poison song in history, “Poor Boy Blues”. Bret, I know you like the blues. I know you like them a lot. But Poison are not a blues band. Never were. Never will be. The closest you ever got was when Richie was in the band. 20 freakin’ years ago.

That about sums it up. If you want a really good, solid, to the point Poison hits album, choose one of these two:

  • 1986-1996 Greatest Hits
  • The Best of Poison: 20 Years of Rock

Both are single discs, but are boiled down to the basics.

Let’s face it, if you’re a big Poison fan, you already have all these songs, because they’re all on the CDs. If you’re not a big Poison fan…you don’t really want all these songs.

2/5 stars

Disc one:

01. Nothin' But A Good Time   
02. Talk Dirty To Me 
03. Look What The Cat Dragged In  
04. Be The One  
05. We're An American Band  
06. Life Goes On  
07. Every Rose Has Its Thorn  
08. Stand  
09. Livin' For The Minute 
10. Little Willy  
11. (Flesh & Blood) Sacrifice   
12. I Won't Forget You    
13. Rock And Roll All Nite  
14. Love On The Rocks 
15. Suffragette City   
16. Lay Your Body Down
17. Until You Suffer Some (Fire And Ice)  
18. No More Lookin' Back (Poison Jazz)  

_______________________________________________________________
Disc two:

01. Unskinny Bop   
02. Cry Tough  
03. I Want Action
04. Your Mama Don't Dance   
05. Something To Believe In 
06. Fallen Angel 
07. Ride The Wind
08. Bastard Son Of A Thousand Blues
09. Sexual Thing 
10. Can't You See   
11. So Tell Me Why    
12. What I Like About You   
13. Face The Hangman
14. Cover Of The Rolling Stone  
15. Poor Boy Blues   
16. Look But You Can't Touch   
17. Theatre Of The Soul