Tag Archives: AC/DC

Seventies Guitar Masters

The hardest thing about these posts about guitar masters is limiting myself to only ten. I can pick my preferred ten and then easily pick another ten if required and each list would be equally noteworthy. So I just have to accept that some notable guitarists will be glaring omissions for some, including myself!

black-sabbath-011

Tony Iommi rocking out with Ozzy in the 70s

Tony Iommi’s guitar playing style and sound would help define heavy metal. Losing the tips of his middle and ring fingers on his right hand during a factory accident as a teenager affected his playing style and he is the only continual member of Black Sabbath throughout all its incarnations. Never did a guitar sound more ominous than in his hands.

Choice Pick: The 1970 album Paranoid is a master class in hard rock riffery and there is no better example than the classic “Fairies Wear Boots”.

blackmore

Ritchie Blackmore, lead guitarist of Deep Purple and Rainbow

Another guitarist that contributed to defining the sound of heavy metal was Deep Purple founding member, Ritchie Blackmore. He later left Deep Purple to form Rainbow then rejoined Deep Purple for a second stint. In recent years he has formed a folk-rock duo with his girlfriend Candice Night called Blackmore’s Night.

Choice Pick: Hard to go past the obvious “Smoke On The Water”, still being mastered by learner guitarists today.

bolin2

Underrated or forgotten by many, Tommy Bolin’s guitar playing was exceptional and well worth seeking out

Tommy Bolin replaced Ritchie Blackmore in Deep Purple in 1975 to form their much-maligned Mk III lineup. He had previously worked in bands Zephyr, Energy and The James Gang. Despite this impressive pedigree his most outstanding work is on his two solo albums. His debut Teaser, provided examples of the different styles he could play, and the second more cohesive album, Private Eyes, really showcased his development as both a guitarist and a songwriter. Sadly, he died of a drug overdose at a mere 25 years of age during the subsequent promotional tour.

Choice Pick: The 9 minute epic “Post Toastee” from Private Eyes.

gilmour

Pink Floyd’s lead guitarist, David Gilmour

Was there ever any doubt David Gilmour would turn up in this list? His playing is simply sublime and he was an integral part of Pink Floyd’s sound in the post-Syd Barrett era. His solo albums don’t quite reach the peak of his work with Pink Floyd yet they’re still worth a listen.

Choice Pick: Hard to limit myself to one outstanding track, but if forced I would have to choose “Comfortably Numb” from 1979’s The Wall.

townshend

The Who’s Pete Townshend in full flight

Although Pete Townshend kicked off his career in the sixties, for me his most stellar performances were in the seventies. Renowned for his unique windmill playing style, the rarity of playing solos, his propensity to jump in the air whilst playing and his obsession with rock operas, he is a guitarist like no other.

Choice Pick: “The Real Me” from the The Who’s second rock opera, the double album Quadrophenia released in 1973. In my opinion a superior work to the much more famous Tommy.

angus

AC/DC’s Angus Young

From his schoolboy appearance to his duck walks everyone knows Angus Young. His sound defines AC/DC’s sound along with the outstanding rhythm playing of his older brother Malcolm. Without him there would be no AC/DC.

Choice Pick: “Jailbreak” from their third Australian album Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap released in 1976.

duane_allman

Slide guitarist extraordinaire, Duane Allman

Although he died far too young, at age 24 in a motorcycle accident in 1971, he is still remembered as one of the greatest slide guitar players ever. His work with his brother Gregg and friends in the Allman Brothers helped define their sound. His performances with Eric Clapton as part of Derek and the Dominos were integral to the Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs album released in 1970.

Choice Pick: The Derek and the Dominos performance “Bell Bottom Blues” from the aforementioned album is impossible to ignore.

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Eddie Van Halen displaying his guitar prowess

Eddie Van Halen’s guitar playing blew everyone away when Van Halen’s debut eponymous album was released in 1978. It seems somewhat hard to believe now that Gene Simmons had trouble securing them a record deal with demos he had recorded for the band. I bet someone kicked themselves about not jumping on to that band wagon early enough.

Choice Pick: His exemplary skills are on full display during the short instrumental “Eruption” from their 1978 debut.

rory

Irish guitarist, Rory Gallagher

Rory Gallagher is one of Ireland’s most famous guitarists and deservedly so. After performing with power trio Taste, a band who supported both Cream and Blind Faith in their time, he commenced his solo career with the release of his first solo album in 1971. His solo career went on to last for nearly 25 years before his untimely death from complications after receiving a liver transplant in 1995.

Choice Pick: I’ve always been a big fan of “Tattoo’d Lady” from 1973’s Tattoo.

may

Co-founder and lead guitarist of Queen, Brian May

A technically gifted guitarist, Brian May is also renowned for his work outside music. He was awarded a CBE for his services to the music industry and charity work, attained a PhD in astrophysics, was a science team collaborator on NASA’s New Horizons Pluto mission and has an asteroid named after him. What a legend!

Choice Pick: The standout track from their debut album and Queen’s first single “Keep Yourself Alive”, released in 1973.

 

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Albums Of The Month Part 2

I’m pleased about deciding to continue my “Album of the Month” feature on my radio program, The Sunday Smorgasbord. It enables me to play tracks from some of my favourite albums whilst discussing some useless trivia about the album and/or artists. Hopefully it will introduce listeners to something new or let them hear something they haven’t heard for a while. This post covers the second year of the feature.

01 Highway To Hell

AC/DC’s seminal 1979 album – Highway To Hell

I’ve intentionally used the image of  the original Australian pressing of AC/DC’s album Highway To Hell. I think the flames make all the difference in the world to the cover art and find the one used overseas and everywhere today to be rather drab by comparison.

02 Showdown!

The Grammy Award winning album Showdown! featuring Collins, Cray & Copeland

I always advise newcomers to the blues that if they only end up owning one blues album from the 1980s then Showdown! has to be it. The interplay between Albert Collins, Robert Cray and Johnny Copeland is just beautiful to hear.

03 Quadrophenia

The ultimate rock opera, the Who’s Quadrophenia

The Who’s album Tommy may be more famous and Who’s Next , comprising of tracks from their abandoned Lifehouse project, may contain some of their finest moments, but for me the quintessential rock opera is Quadrophenia. I love this album from start to finish (the only way to listen to it).

04 face to face

Face To Face, an essential album for fans of Aussie pub rock

Stalwarts of the Australian pub rock scene, the Angels, hit their straps fairly early on with their career-defining sophomore album, Face To Face, released in 1978.

05 mellon collie

The Smashing Pumpkins reached their peak with Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness

Many pundits will tell you that Nirvana’s Nevermind was the album of the 90s decade. Personally, I always found it a toss-up between Blood Sugar Sex Magik by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, OK Computer by Radiohead and this masterpiece from the Smashing Pumpkins. To release a double album of this length which remains “all killer no filler” is an amazing achievement.

06 magic box

1967’s Magic Box from The Loved Ones

I was introduced to this album in the late 1980s after hearing two cover versions of their hit, “The Loved One”, by INXS. It’s hard to imagine now how successful these guys really were in their day despite the brevity of their career. The album was also one of Australia’s earliest to be released in stereo.

07 speaking in tongues

Speaking In Tongues, a classic album from Talking Heads

I think I’m showing my age with the amount of 1980s albums creeping in to my album of the month feature. I loved Talking Heads around this time and enjoyed a midnight screening session of their live concert film, Stop Making Sense, only a few years after this album.

08 ok computer

Radiohead’s finest moment, OK Computer

I still listen to this album today despite it now being 20 years old!

09 endless forms most beautiful

Endless Forms Most Beautiful from Finland’s Nightwish

My album of the year for 2015 was Nightwish’s Endless Forms Most Beautiful. If you have a thing for symphonic metal then you need this in your collection.

10 at last

Etta James released At Last! in 1960

Etta James released one the finest debut albums you will ever hear in November 1960. Worth owning if you don’t already!

11 days of innocence

Days Of innocence featuring the mawkish “What About Me?”

I adore this album despite absolutely detesting their hugely successful single from it, “What About Me?”. Proof that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

12 number of the beast

Iron Maiden introduces Bruce Dickinson as their new lead singer on 1982’s Number Of The Beast

I still consider Number Of The Beast one of Iron Maiden’s finest moments.

 

I think anyone who decides to go out and buy these “albums of the month” listed here, and those in my previous post on this topic, will certainly end up with an interesting music collection (in my humble opinion).

I’m Back In The Ring To Take Another Swing

Yes I am back. I have decided to finally post something in my on-again off-again blog. Thanks to those that follow the blog for waiting so long. I’ve deliberately chosen a quote from AC/DC’s classic You Shook Me All Night Long as the title for this post as I believe it sums it up really well. As 2014 has just drawn closed it is timely to reflect on older artists releasing new recordings throughout the year.

I recently did a 2014 Year in Review Special on my community radio program, The Sunday Smorgasbord. The playlist for that program is available at this URL, 7tyg.radiopages.info/the-sunday-smorgasboard/2015-01-04. Although it featured new releases from a diversity of artists here are some of those released by older artists. Some making a return to recording after many years in the wilderness, so to speak.

In January Bruce Springsteen released High Hopes as he continues in one of the most prolific periods of his career. High Hopes is his eighth studio album this century. The real surprise in January was the release of Croz, by David Crosby, his first studio album in twenty years!

David Crosby's "Croz" released January 2014

David Crosby’s “Croz” released January 2014

February saw the release of Paul Rodgers’ studio album The Royal Sessions, a collection of Blues, R&B and Soul covers and his first studio album since 2000. Also returning to the music racks in February after an 18 year absence was none other than Neneh Cherry, with her fourth studio album, Blank Project.

Neneh Cherry's first studio album in eighteen years, Blank Project.

Neneh Cherry’s first studio album in eighteen years, Blank Project.

Mike Oldfield chalked up his twenty-fifth studio album in March with Man On The Rocks. It was his first entirely song-based album with no long instrumental passages since 1989’s Earth Moving.

Mike Oldfield's 25th album - Man On The Rocks

Mike Oldfield’s 25th album – Man On The Rocks

In April Australian singer-songwriter Russell Morris released his second album in as many years with Van Diemen’s Land. Blues journeyman Robert Cray also churned out yet another studio album in April with In My Soul, his seventh since 2001. He has also released two live albums in this period.

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Blondie released their second studio album in five years in May with Ghosts Of Download. It was made available with Blondie 4(0) Ever, a compilation of re-recordings of their biggest hits for their fortieth anniversary.

Blondie_-_Ghosts_of_Download

Scottish rockers Nazareth released their twenty-third studio album in June. It was the last with singer Dan McCafferty, who left before the album’s release. It was called Rock ‘N’ Roll Telephone.

Rock_'n'_Roll_Telephone

July saw the release of a new studio album from Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers with Hypnotic Eye. Judas Priest dropped Redeemer Of Souls in July, their first without founding guitarist K.K. Downing. July also saw Weird Al Yankovic release his first number one album, despite his long career, with Mandatory Fun. Choosing to not release a single, but eight music videos simultaneously instead, obviously helped.

Weird Al Yankovic's Mandatory Fun

Weird Al Yankovic’s Mandatory Fun

Ace Frehley left KISS with the intention of kicking off his solo career. He left the band in 1982 yet August 2014 saw the release of only his fifth studio album since his departure, with the suitably titled, Space Invader.

Ace Frehley's Space Invader released in August 2014

Ace Frehley’s Space Invader released in August 2014

September saw new releases from music industry stalwarts U2 (Songs Of innocence) and Robert Plant (Lullaby … And The Ceaseless Roar). September also saw the welcome return of Canada’s The Tea Party releasing their first studio album for a decade, The Ocean At The End.

Canadian rockers The Tea Party return with The Ocean At The End

Canadian rockers The Tea Party return with The Ocean At The End

Returning in October with his trademark sneer and legendary guitarist foil, Steve Stevens, was none other than Mr William Broad, better known as Billy Idol. His latest album is almost semi-autobiographical in places, particularly on the title track, Kings & Queens Of The Underground.

Kings_queens_cover

November was the month for the return of two industry giants. The first being the band mentioned at the start of this post, AC/DC. They released Rock Or Bust, the follow-up to Black Ice, sadly without founding brother Malcolm Young’s involvement due to illness. Somehow between recording and releasing the album they also seem to have left drummer Phil Rudd behind too, although I am sure that is for entirely different reasons. The one that pundits like me were most hanging out for was the new Pink Floyd album, The Endless River. Predominantly instrumental and recorded during sessions for 1994’s The Division Bell, it was a fitting swan song and a memorial to late keyboardist, Rick Wright.

The Endless River - released by Pink Floyd in November 2014

The Endless River – released by Pink Floyd in November 2014

In December legendary Australian musician Paul Kelly released his album, The Merri Soul Sessions. Some of the material was originally released on four double A-sided 7″ vinyl singles throughout 2014. The work is largely a collaboration with different vocalists chosen to suit the various tracks. Vocalists on the album include Vika & Linda Bull, Dan Sultan, Clairy Browne, Kira Piru and of course the man himself.

Paul Kelly presents The Merri Soul Sessions

Paul Kelly presents The Merri Soul Sessions

All in all a very productive year for older musicians with some still going strong, others returning to form and some just basking in their glory days. To quote Molly Meldrum, “do yourselves a favour” and get hold of some of these albums. Your ears will thank you.

Why is it wrong to sound like yourself?

One of my pet peeves is how some music reviewers criticise an artist’s new release because they sound like themselves. There are some artists that constantly or regularly change or develop their sound so they are expected to change. Some artists don’t. What is so wrong with that?

Blow Up Your Video, AC/DC's 12th studio album

Blow Up Your Video, AC/DC’s 12th studio album


A rather infamous quote from AC/DC Angus Young in the late 80s sums the situation up beautifully – “I’m sick to death of people saying we have released 11 albums that sound exactly the same. It’s actually 12 albums that sound exactly the same.”

I remember reading a popular music magazine’s reviews back in 2002 that criticised the album “Corporate America” by Boston. I don’t mind criticising an album with good reason but to have a go at Boston for sounding like themselves was ridiculous. If the writer had taken the time to research the band they would have realised that its leader, Tom Scholz, is fastidious about how a Boston album sounds. His main aim was to create what he felt was the “perfect” rock album. He even went to the extraordinary lengths of demolishing and rebuilding his studio twice in a decade, two albums in a row, just to to create the perfect location for capturing those sounds.

Boston's 5th album in 25 years, Corporate America released in 2002

Boston’s 5th album in 25 years, Corporate America released in 2002

The irony was that other reviews in the same issue by the same writer were giving high praise to a number of new act’s recordings for sounding like punk bands from the late 70s. So in that writer’s eyes it was OK to sound like someone else from 25 years before just not yourself! Another WTF moment in my humble opinion.

Where’s the title track?

One of those curious little things that seem to happen in the music industry is the decision by some artists to not include the title track on an album, only for said track to turn up on a later album.

Why does this occur? The common excuse appears to be because it doesn’t fit with the album musically. Other times it’s because the songwriter hasn’t written it yet but the lyric or phrase they intend to use is going round in their head.

One can’t help but wonder why they then choose the song as the title for the album. Wouldn’t the title of one of the other songs from the album be more appropriate?

Here are some examples of this practice. I am sure there are more but these are what I could come up with from the top of my head.

The Mothers of Invention
Song appears on We’re Only In It For The Money (1968)

Absolutely Free (1967)

Absolutely Free (1967)

The Doors
Song appears on Morrison Hotel (1970)

Waiting For The Sun (1968)

Waiting For The Sun (1968)

Led Zeppelin
Song appears on Physical Graffiti (1975)

Houses Of The Holy (1973)

Houses Of The Holy (1973)

Queen
Song appears on News Of The World (1977)

Sheer Heart Attack (1974)

Sheer Heart Attack (1974)

AC/DC
Song appears on T.N.T. (also 1975)

High Voltage (1975)

High Voltage (1975)

Hall & Oates
Song appears on Beauty On A Back Street (1977)

Bigger Than Both Of Us (1976)

Bigger Than Both Of Us (1976)

Def Leppard
Song appears on High N Dry (1981)

On Through The Night (1980)

On Through The Night (1980)

The Radiators
Song appears on Life’s A Gamble (1984)

Scream Of The Real (1983)

Scream Of The Real (1983)

The Triffids
Song appears on In The Pines (also 1986)

Born Sandy Devotional (1986)

Born Sandy Devotional (1986)

The Support Slot: Make Or Break?

The support slot, for a band with a lesser profile than the headlining artist, can be a real boon for a musician or band. But it can also be the kiss of death. A headlining artist wants a good support act that can help warm up the crowd but yet not overshadow the main act. The support act welcomes the opportunity to strut their stuff for an audience generally much larger than what they could pull on their own. Sometimes the support acts are carefully chosen and compliment the musical style of the headline act and at other times they can be so incongruous as to create an ambivalent or even impatient crowd.

Dark Fair live supporting They Might Be Giants

Dark Fair live supporting They Might Be Giants

Dark Fair, were an act I saw recently supporting They Might Be Giants. As They Might Be Giants are quirky New Yorkers who are all about servicing melody, a punk pop duo were a strange choice and were not enthusiastically received. In another context they may have had an entirely different reception. Others that I thought were a mismatch over the years include Machine Gun Fellatio supporting KISS and 80s one hit wonders the Allniters supporting fading 60s modsters the Troggs.

Grinspoon, an inspired choice to support KISS.

Grinspoon, an inspired choice to support KISS.

Sometimes though the story can be completely different. At the same gig where KISS were mismatched with Machine Gun Fellatio, Grinspoon proved a very apt choice. As did Jeff Lang with Eric Clapton and Josh Pyke and Clare Bowditch supporting Paul Kelly. Occasionally an act can be discovered through its support slot and some of the best examples for me were Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes supporting Mumford & Sons in Hobart this year and Bright Eyes when supporting R.E.M. back in 2005.

Bright Eyes: discovered by this blogger when supporting R.E.M.

Bright Eyes: discovered by this blogger when supporting R.E.M.

Rarer still is the double headline act where one agrees to support the other, like when AC/DC did a couple of gigs supporting the Rolling Stones, or where they swap each night as on the Powderfinger/Silverchair Across The Great Divide tour. Although a real bonus for the audience these types of gigs are most likely rare for a reason. Usually because an established act doesn’t want to play second fiddle to anyone but when it does happen it can be magic.