Tuesday, January 7, 2020

I Am Morbid- David Vincent with Joel McIver (Jawbone Press)

Image result for i am morbid book" 

   I'm not a death metal guy and never have been, I can't get past the vocals and yet I found this book riveting and fascinating because it's so much more then the story of a guy who fronted one of the prominent bands in the genre. Most memoirs follow the usual pattern: childhood, band formation and career highs followed by the inevitable lows, drugs, alcohol, finding god and redemption. So how does this differ? Well try this for starters, when Morbid Angel imploded the first time David went and drove a taxi in Florida. The reason: he became a self-confessed dick around people and his way of tackling it was to interact with others in the hope that understanding them might reveal the key to his own behavior.

   Everything centers around self-sufficiency and his constant need to improve himself. Put yourself in uncomfortable situations to see how you react. Question everything and come to your own conclusions. Respect the opinions and beliefs of others but don't judge. Whatever works. In the last chapter he shares his views on money, government, failure, goals and yet he never comes across as preachy about any of it. Spock from Star Trek is one of his role models, I'm not kidding.

   His music is covered in depth too and there's a brilliant chapter on songwriting and keeping motivated after you have tasted success, I'm not alone in questioning the hunger or more importantly the lack of as bands get comfortable and wealthy. If you are a fan of individual tracks there's a breakdown at the end of each chapter of a couple from each album. Plus there's the inevitable hilarious road stories and some harrowing ones too.

   After reading this will I go back and listen to Morbid Angel and the other bands David has played with? Probably not but man do I respect the guy for what he has become as a person. Sharing a beer with him would be fascinating. Once again a great job by Joel McIver for getting down in print what makes the guy tick.

    Music book of the year already and it's only the first week of January. It's out on February 11th. Heavy stuff.

Richie.

http://jawbonepress.com/

https://www.amazon.com/Am-Morbid-Lessons-Learned-Self-Determination/dp/1911036556/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=i+am+morbid&qid=1578421459&s=books&sr=1-1



 

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Myles Kennedy and Kip Winger Guest on This Weeks Focus on Metal


Episode 446 - Walk The Sky


Yep it's a day earlier than promised. Think of it as an early gift.
This is our last show for 2019 and also the last one before we take our annual winter break. However we have some great discussion and also two great guests. Kip Winger returns to the show for a quick backstage chat and after that we talk with Myles Kennedy about the latest Alter Bridge release “Walk The Sky”. 

Enjoy and see ya in 2020.



By the way since we have your attention...
Biff Byford is set to release his first solo album in February 2020. Preorder at BiffByford.com
Here's the first single


Get the this episode from the Focus on Metal SiteThe Focus on Metal RSS feed, or subscribe on iTunes.

You can hear us every Tuesday night on Pure Rock Radio
and each Wednesday afternoon on Metal World Radio

Visit http://focusonmetal.net/ for information on all the past episodes and to find the links to all our other social media sites.

And as always
Focus On Metal…Everything Else is Insignificant.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Holy Smoke: Iron Maiden In The 90's- Martin Popoff (Power Chord Press)

   I have both Maiden books Martin self-published this year, the first featured their classic period but it's this one I have read first for a number of reasons. The successes we know about but how a band deals with adversity is a more compelling story and every traditional metal band suffered in the 90s. Steve Harris didn't change with the times even as Adrian and then Bruce walked. His stubborn streak is what makes the band great but not always. The band were recording in a barn as Dream Theater were releasing the superior sounding Images And Words and I'm personally not a huge fan of the Blaze Bayley albums bar a couple of songs, love him in Wolfsbane but didn't feel his voice suited Maiden. His vocal style was too big a change in a decade of uncertainty, they needed a Bruce type vocalist and it took them two studio albums to figure it out and fire Blaze. Bruce sounds better singing the Blaze stuff. They were done if they kept him and even Steve knew it in the end. 

   Then there's Bruce Dickinson's solo career that is vastly underrated, some of it stands up to the best Iron Maiden ever recorded especially The Chemical Wedding. Steve was looking backwards as Bruce embraced grunge with Skunkworks and added a heavier metal sound on Accident Of Birth, take a bow Roy Z. In some ways the book title is misleading as half of it deals with Bruce outside the band and it's the in depth look at the solo albums that puts this over the top for me especially if you are a fan. The interviews with Bruce are fascinating highlighting his mindset on each release, he truly embraced change until it didn't become financially viable to continue on that path and you never get a sense that any of it was contrived. He's way overdue another solo album and I'm fascinated to hear it if he ever gets around to it.

   The book ends with Maiden playing clubs, Bruce making great music for small time labels void of tour support leading to the inevitable reunion with Bruce and the more surprising return of Adrian for the Ed Hunter Tour and there's interview coverage of all of that. Another great book from Martin, I don't know how many of these he has left as he only prints a certain amount so hit him up at the link below and get both books before they are gone. Hopefully the next one is out soon.

Richie.



Wednesday, December 18, 2019

A deep Dive into Queensryche's Q2K Release on This Weeks Focus on Metal



Episode 445 - Q2K Breakdown

On September 14, 1999 Queensryche released their seventh studio effort Q2K. This was the first album by the band without Chris DeGarmo and the only one to feature guitarist/producer Kelly Gray. This week, Richie and Brian Heaton take a deep dive into the inner working of the band at this time and also do a track by track rundown of the album.


Want more Queensryche insight? Head to Brian's excellent Queensryche site AnybodyListening.net You’ll be glad you did.

Get the this episode from the Focus on Metal SiteThe Focus on Metal RSS feed, or subscribe on iTunes.

You can hear us every Tuesday night on Pure Rock Radio
and each Wednesday afternoon on Metal World Radio

Visit http://focusonmetal.net/ for information on all the past episodes and to find the links to all our other social media sites.

And as always
Focus On Metal…Everything Else is Insignificant.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Take It Off Kiss Truly Unmasked- Greg Prato (Jawbone Press)

 Image result for greg prato take it off" 

   The non-make up era was when I first discovered Kiss and my first album of new music was Crazy Nights. Over time I've bought all their albums but it's this era I love the most and the band for the majority of their live sets choose to ignore it after putting the make up back on. The format is similar to his Kings X book earlier this year and there's a chapter on all the studio, live, compilation and tribute albums. Of course there's no input from Gene or Paul but plenty from Bruce Kulick including a rundown of the guitars used, the tracks demoed that didn't make albums and a frank discussion of the videos some of which haven't aged well.

   There's interviews with the expected like Eddie Trunk, Mitch Lafon, Ace Frehley, Ron Nevison and Toby Wright but what makes this book stand out is the unexpected. Greg includes a chapter on Creatures Of The Night because the re-release in 1985 featured Eric and Bruce on the cover, the inclusion didn't bother me as it's my favorite Kiss album. There's a section with Katherine Turman on misogyny in metal dealing with lyrics containing logs in fireplaces and such. KK Downing discusses bands softening their sound to fit radio and MTV like they did with Turbo, Curt Gooch the co-author of Kiss Alive Forever: The Complete Touring History brilliantly breaks down all the tours warts and all, Ron Keel tells us why Gene is a great producer, Eric Carr is remembered and if you are so inclined you can check out all Gene's acting appearances because they are listed to.

   So other then direct involvement with Gene and Paul what's missing. Well Eric Singer would have been nice as would Bob Ezrin, Michael James Jackson would have fleshed out Lick It Up more and I'm sure all were asked. The contributors are from what I can tell all located in North America and I think the book would have more balance if the likes of Mick Wall, Dave Reynolds or Howard Johnson from Kerrang shared their thoughts especially as Crazy Nights was a smash over in the UK. I have to say overall this is a super read and it made me go back and listen to some of those albums again.

Richie.

https://www.amazon.com/Take-Off-KISS-Truly-Unmasked/dp/1911036572

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Author John Tucker on This Weeks Focus on Metal


Episode 44 - From Rocka Rolla to Painkiller
Author John Tucker joins us this week to discuss his latest book “Judas Priest, Every Album Every Song, from Rocka Rolla to Painkiller”. 
f you’re interested in John’s history and to see some more of his books or photography head over to JohnTuckerOnline.co.uk

Classic Priest


Get the this episode from the Focus on Metal SiteThe Focus on Metal RSS feed, or subscribe on iTunes.

You can hear us every Tuesday night on Pure Rock Radio
and each Wednesday afternoon on Metal World Radio

Visit http://focusonmetal.net/ for information on all the past episodes and to find the links to all our other social media sites.

And as always
Focus On Metal…Everything Else is Insignificant.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Silverthorne's Brian Tichy Guests on This weeks Focus on Metal


Episode 443 - Silverthorne


Lots of discussion this week as well as a chat with Brian Tichy about his new band Silverthorne. While we were at it we couldn’t resist digging back into some of the other bands he’s been involved with as well.

Here's the first single off the upcoming EP

Get the this episode from the Focus on Metal SiteThe Focus on Metal RSS feed, or subscribe on iTunes.

You can hear us every Tuesday night on Pure Rock Radio
and each Wednesday afternoon on Metal World Radio

Visit http://focusonmetal.net/ for information on all the past episodes and to find the links to all our other social media sites.

And as always
Focus On Metal…Everything Else is Insignificant.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Come On Feel The Noize- The Story Of How Rock Became Metal (Cleopatra Records)


Come On Feel the Noize: The Story of How Rock Became Metal [DVD]
 
   Tackling the story of heavy metal is nothing new, there have been countless books and documentaries on the subject. Most I've seen have needed multiple episodes from the likes of Bob Nalbandian and Sam Dunn and even they have to edit out a lot of stuff to fit the story and because of time constraints. So Thore Vollert and Jorg Soontag are attempting to tell the tale in 90 minutes, the results are mixed because of it.

   There are 3 ways to effectively represent the story: interviews with artists, old tv and concert clips and narration to flesh out the story and move it along. The big names are here from Hetfield to Page to Ozzy, the tv clips are impressive especially from German show Beat Club that I've never seen before. The coverage of the late 60s and early 70s is handled well but then it starts to lose me a little. Sometimes it loses me a lot. There is much on the influence of punk and glam yet nothing on prog rock giants Rush, Genesis and Yes. Having an interview with Blondie and a segment on Roxy Music and not mentioning Thin Lizzy had me scratching my head. There's next to nothing on Van Halen and the development of guitar gods like Yngwie, George Lynch and Randy Rhoads, the MTV era and its influence is not even mentioned. Quiet Riot had the first heavy metal album to go to number one in the US and it's not brought up yet they cover Slade. Power metal is brought up but it's the newer acts like Powerwolf and Sabaton featured at the expense of Helloween and Manowar and do we really need to hear Michael Schenker again taking all the credit for UFO and Scorpions? Nope.

   Moving on to the 90s there's nothing on Pantera when they kept the genre alive and is there a heavier album to ever go to number one? I don't think so. Nothing on Sepultura. There's a lot on Alice Cooper yet little on Kiss, how many metal musicians have you heard picked up a guitar because of Ace Frehley or saw Kiss, the answer is many. If you can't get an interview or the rights to footage it's vital the narration fills in the blanks. It doesn't. There's interviews with Steel Panther, too much on Ghost and David Draiman from Disturbed is very good. Then there's the inclusion of Life Of Agony and next to nothing on grunge, which do you think had the bigger impact on metal? A few minutes with Sixx AM, that's a no from me. Nikki Sixx on the impact of Motley Crue would have been better.

   By far the biggest exclusion is Ronnie James Dio who I believe is mentioned once in an interview with Doro. You ask any metal head to name the iconic singers in the genre and Ronnie is right up there. His influence is MASSIVE vocally, musically and visually. Don't include more footage of Running Wild and Blind Guardian at the expense of Ronnie. Would have been nice to include interviews with some magazine writers who were there at the time as well as some record industry folk to share their views. It needed more on the twin lead guitar sound of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. Overall a decent and at times frustrating watch. If someone asked me to grade it out of 10 I would give it a 5.

Richie.

http://cleorecs.com/home/




Saturday, November 30, 2019

Sensitive To Light The Rainbow Story- Martin Popoff (Power Chord Press)

   sensitive-to-light-the-rainbow-story book cover.jpg

   Martin is one of the most prolific authors out there when it comes to rock and metal, he's up to over 80 books and I believe I own about 70 of them. This one is a major overhaul on his last Rainbow book English Castle Magic and brings the story right up to date with the current incarnation featuring Ronnie Romero on vocals. You get a chapter on each album including the live releases with contributions from all the main musicians involved and in Rainbow there are many, a large proportion of quotes come from interviews done with the author over the years. If you like in depth analysis of an album then this is the book for you, there's 50 pages on the Rainbow Rising album alone. Martin also throws in his two cents on each release, his favorite is the Graham Bonnet fronted Down To Earth and he is not a fan of On Stage.

   After reading the book Blackmore comes across as a complex individual. A gifted guitarist who doesn't like the studio. Someone more comfortable on the live stage yet refuses to do encores. A spiritual man who likes to perform childish pranks on fellow band members . Someone who craves commercial success yet denies chasing it. His disregard for the press is legendary and I've spoken to many writers who were at the wrong end in an interview. If you were good at football you got the gig but if you were a keyboard player don't rent your property for too long, he really was a bully with some of them. What did surprise me was the mostly positive relationship he had with all the vocalists especially in the studio and many have great things to say about him, that's if you accepted your role in HIS band. He's a guitar hero, they are all complicated.

   This really is a superb read and if you are a Rainbow fan, think you know it all think again and if you are looking for an introduction to the band this is the definitive book for you. It made me listen to the whole catalogue and some I appreciated more knowing the when, where, how and why of each. Martin self-publishes these so once they are gone they are gone. You can pick one up from his website and he does great deals if you order a couple at a time so what are you waiting for.

Richie.

http://www.martinpopoff.com/html/bookslist.html

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Kip Winger Live and Acoustic, Tupelo Music Hall, Derry, New Hampshire 11/24/2019

Image result for kip winger tupelo 

   It didn't start off well. Just after 7pm Kip and percussionist Ben Hans walked on stage and the monitors weren't working which he made light off, "thanks for coming tonight, goodnight". Then we were off with Cross from his solo album Songs From The Ocean Floor followed by Who's The One from Pull. What makes his acoustic shows truly great is how involved he gets the audience in it. There is much storytelling, he takes requests (someone asked for Battlestations and he played Lucky One from Pull), brought someone up to duet on Miles Away and acknowledged military members for their service before Blue Suede Shoes. He takes his music very seriously yet his shows are a lot of fun. Highlight of the night was Kip playing two solo songs on the venue's grand piano, something he said he doesn't get to do often. We got Ever Wonder from Better Days Comin' , Without The Night, Down Incognito and hits from the debut to close. He said to me after the show he wants the next Winger album to be the definitive one and done as a five piece with Paul Taylor. He also told me he has nothing left to prove to anyone musically. He's been in bands, writes Grammy nominated classical music and just released the musical Get Jack. He's very comfortable where he is and we reap the benefits, long may it continue. If he plays near you just go.

Richie.