Author Archives: JT

Unbreakable – Knockout (2014)


Dark Star Records, 2014
39 minutes

When Herman Rarebell is your producer and lyricist, it’s impossible to escape comparisons with Rarebell’s former band, Scorpions. The influence on Knockout is so overwhelming, it is sometimes difficult to tell if Unbreakable has a personality of their own. That said, this young German band does an excellent job of mimicking their idols, on both the rockers and ballads.

Rarebell—who wrote “Rock You Like A Hurricane”—writes or co-writes the lyrics on every song, while drummer Alex Ries shares duties on eight of the album’s tracks. There are some adult words sprinkled throughout the tracks. “Bad Blood” is a hard rocker that is diminished by such lyrics. Al Crespo’s handling of the vocals is good, though with a very strong accent that is difficult to comprehend at times (not unlike Klaus Meine).

The strongest songs are the lead single “Rock the Nightlife,” “Game of Life,” and the ballad “In Your Heart.” The lyrical content on “Crazy Cat Lady” is a little goofy and seems more suited to Weird Al Yankovic, but the rest of the album is solid in the hard rock tradition of the 1980s. Umbreakable’s Knockout is recommended for fans of Scorpions.

1. Knockout
2. Rock the Nightlife
3. Come Back To Me
4. Bad Blood
5. Obsession
6. Crazy Cat Lady
7. In Your Heart
8. Good Times
9. Back to The Roots
10. Game of Life
11. We Are Dreamers

Unbreakable is:
Al Crespo – vocals
Martin Ries – guitaris
Pascal Alles – guitars, backing vocals
Alex Ries – drums
Lukas Mittler – bass

Learn more about Unbreakable.

Learn more about Dark Star Records.

Purchase Unbreakable – Knockout.

Mudhoney: The Sound and the Fury from Seattle by Keith Cameron (2014)

Mudhoney book

Mudhoney: The Sound and the Fury from Seattle
by Keith Cameron
Voyageur Press, 2014
304 pages

Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam. Those are the names most often associated with the Seattle music scene of the late 1980s and early 1990s. But there is another band, one that predated the explosion of Kurt Cobain in the mainstream and probably influenced him more than he would ever admit: Mudhoney, comprised of Mark Arm, Matt Lukin, Dan Peters, and Steve Peters. Largely forgotten by so-called fans of grunge music, Mudhoney never achieved the commercial success of their peers—which was never the band’s aim. “They’re four guys who got together and played music for fun, and the grand plan ended there.”

Author Keith Cameron’s definitive work on the overlooked grunge rockers covers it all, starting with each member’s upbringing and musical influences, early endeavors, and coming together to form the classic lineup. The band received critical accolades for their releases on Sub Pop, and disdain for the materials released by Reprise. Drug addiction and turmoil among the band members, dwindling crowds and IRS audits were among the many struggles the band faced during their career, ultimately leading to bassist Matt Lukin’s departure from the band. Soldiering on despite many difficulties, the band still exists today on a smaller scale, playing smaller venues, but still releasing new music for fans. While many of the grunge bands of the past have abandoned their roots, Mudhoney embraces them.

Whether you are a fan of the musical output or not, the story of Mudhoney deserves to be told. A story of realistic expectations and resilience through adversity. Cameron’s Mudhoney: The Sound and the Fury from Seattle leaves nothing out, and is a worthy addition to any rock fan’s bookshelf.

Learn more about Voyageur Press.

Purchase Mudhoney: The Sound and the Fury from Seattle by Keith Cameron.

No time for a “real” post today…

So check out this awesome short film by Nash Edgerton called “Spider.”

How Weird Are You?

Mandatory Fun Weird Al Yankovic

Every day since last Monday, Weird Al Yankovic has released a new music video to promote his latest album, Mandatory Fun. Have you been keeping up with the Weirdness? Not all of the videos are available on YouTube yet, so here are some links for you to check them out:

JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: Aerosmith edition

JTs Ultimate Mixtape Aerosmith edition

One of the greatest bands in the history of American rock and roll, Aerosmith is a name synonymous with classic rock. The group’s early catalog is vastly superior to the material they have produced in the last twenty years, but there are a few recent gems as well. Since the best band from Boston is coming to Cincinnati this Tuesday, I thought it only fitting to give them the “JT’s Ultimate Mixtape” treatment. If you’re not familiar with “JT’s Ultimate Mixtape,” there are a few rules:

  • Every studio album must be represented by one and only one song.
  • That song does not have to be an official “single” released by the band to promote said album.
  • Compilation albums can be included, but only songs that are new, previously unreleased, or remixes of songs from prior albums are eligible for the list.
  • As for live albums, well, I’ve changed my mind a bit over time. I used to say they were a waste of time, but when a band has several strong songs on one album, sometimes a live album is the only way to sneak more than one of them on the Ultimate Mixtape tracklist.

So let’s do this…

JT’s Ultimate Mistape: Aerosmith edition

Of course, every decent compilation needs a bonus disc. Aerosmith has been included on a number of movie soundtracks, while Joe Perry and Steven Tyler have several side projects and guest spots on other artists’ releases. Here are some of the more notable…

Bonus Tracks

Wow, that’s a lot of material there, both in the official release category and the “bonus tracks.” Did I miss anything important? What songs would you replace in your own Ultimate Mixtape?

Check out prior editions of “JT’s Ultimate Mixtape”:

Who should be next?

R.I.P. James Garner

(April 7, 1928 – July 19, 2014)

James Garner

A versatile actor whose credits include The Rockford Files, Maverick, Space Cowboys, and 8 Simple Rules, James Garner passed away Saturday night.

Random Awesomeness (part 167)

Random Awesomeness

Purchase Ed Sheeran – X.

Fun Cards Submission: 1983 Fleer “Superstar Special” Jersey Boys

Jersey Boys Trout and Frazier 2014 MLB All-Star Game

Paying tribute to the “Superstar Specials” that appeared in Fleer sets from 1983 onward, TWJ contributor Patrick sent over this nice “Jersey Boys” card featuring Angels outfielder (and future Hall of Famer) Mike Trout and Reds third baseman Todd Frazier. Trout hails from Millville, NJ, while Frazier grew up over an hour away in Toms River. They were born about five and a half years apart, so I doubt they ever faced each other in competitions growing up, but the connection is still there. It was great seeing Frazier having so much fun in Minneapolis this year, and I hope he gets to experience that for many years to come.

While he was at it, Patrick had a little fun with one of the 2014 TWJ originals…

Trout Subway

Trout is a paid spokeman for Subway, and appears in this hilarious commercial for the restaurant chain:

Patrick’s “improvement” to my card definitely brought a smile to my face. Thanks again for all your great work, Patrick!

Fun Cards Submission: 1977 Topps “Turn Back The Clock” Todd Frazier and Derek Jeter

Jeter Frazier

Long before Todd Frazier put on a major league uniform, he stood next to Derek Jeter on a baseball diamond. As a member of the Little League World Series champion in 1998, Frazier and his teammates got to stand next to their Yankee counterparts before a game in New York. But Jeter wasn’t Frazier’s favorite Yankee at the time; find out here who Frazier actually wanted to be standing next to that day.

TWJ contributor Patrick sent over this fantastic “fun card” in the style of the 1977 Topps “Turn Back The Clock” subset. It’s neat to see how much Frazier has grown, and how little Jeter has changed in sixteen years. Even though Frazier now plays third base rather than shortstop, he still shares one thing with Jeter: both are class acts.

R.I.P. Johnny Winter

(February 23, 1944 – July 16, 2014)

Legendary guitarist Johnny Winter passed away Wednesday at the age of 70. He was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 2003.

1954: The Year Willie Mays and the First Generation of Black Superstars Changed Major League Baseball Forever by Bill Madden (2014)

1954 Bill Madden

by Bill Madden
Da Capo Press, 2014
320 pages

The Brooklyn debut of Jackie Robinson in 1947 ushered in a change in the way baseball owners thought about race, but it took several years for the impact to be seen. In 1954, baseball fans saw for the first time an abundance superstars at the top of their game who were not white. Larry Doby with the Cleveland Indians, Willie Mays with the San Francisco Giants, Ernie Banks of the Chicago Cubs, and Minnie Minoso of the Chicago White Sox all impacted the game in their own ways. Doby and Mays starred in the World Series that year, Banks thrilled audiences as a rookie, and Minoso was selected as an All-Star for the fourth time.

Author Bill Madden looks back through history in 1954: The Year Willie Mays and the First Generation of Black Superstars Changed Major League Baseball Forever. A recipient of the Hall of Fame’s J. G. Taylor Spink Award, the New York Daily News writer brings the pennant race to life, and shows how those black players provided a spark to their respective teams. Madden also writes about Yankees general manager George Weiss and his reluctance to sign black players, Bill Veeck and his shenanigans and feuds with other owners that ultimately cost him his St. Louis Browns franchise, and a handful of anecdotes about Casey Stengel‘s antics with the Yankees that season.

Madden’s style is part journalistic, part storytelling. The journalistic tone is difficult to get through at times in this longer format, but when he becomes conversational in tone the book reads very quickly. Baseball historians will love 1954 and the perspective presented as it relates not only to our national pastime, but to the subject of race relations in the game and how much those relations have changed in the past sixty years.

Learn more about Da Capo Press.

Purchase 1954: The Year Willie Mays and the First Generation of Black Superstars Changed Major League Baseball Forever by Bill Madden.

I see many MVP awards in this guy’s future

Trout MVP

Mike Trout is a beast.

Midsummer memories

ESPN recently published a piece entitled “Midsummer Memories,” prompting their writers and analysts (including former players Barry Larkin, Rick Sutcliffe, and John Kruk) to recall their favorite moments in the All-Star Game. Even fans have their favorite memories.

The first All-Star Game I remember watching was the 1987 affair in Oakland. I had to get special permission to stay at my neighbor Dan’s house to watch the whole game. Eric Davis started in left field; the Reds were also represented by catcher Bo Diaz and relief pitcher John Franco. Ozzie Virgil of the Braves was also named to the team; he was dating one of my sister’s friends at the time and had signed a few cards for me (in ballpoint pen! The horror!). The game itself was an extra-inning pitching contest, finally ending after thirteen innings. Tim Raines drove in Virgil and shortstop Hubie Brooks in the top of the 13th, and the Mets’ Sid Fernandez was awarded the save when he held the AL scoreless in the bottom half.

The next year, the All-Star Game was held in Cincinnati, and the Reds sent Larkin, rookie third baseman Chris Sabo, and pitcher Danny Jackson. I attended the work-out day and Home Run Derby, and let me tell you, it would have been awesome if it actually happened. That was the only time the day-berfore festivities were cancelled due to rain. I was extremely disappointed. I can’t remember who was supposed to appear in the HRD that year; I’m sure Davis was among the sluggers scheduled to participate, along with Darryl Strawberry and Jose Canseco, and maybe Mark McGwire. Our seats were in the top section of Riverfront Stadium, but with the weather, the crowd had thinned out and we were able to sneak down to the field level. We worked our way up to the edge of the field, but I hadn’t brought anything with me for autographs, so I had to settle for a handshake from Astros’ pitcher Bob Knepper, who did not play in the game the next day. Even though the Home Run Derby was rained out, I still enjoyed being in the park and seeing all the players from so many different teams.

What memories will be made tonight? Will Devin Mesoraco hit a home run? Will Todd Frazier make a spectacular dive along the third base line and rob a future Hall of Famer of a sure double?

What are some of your favorite All-Star Game memories?

The champ, two years running…and special All-Star “fun cards” all day today

Yoenis Cespedes

The Home Run Derby champion for the second year in a row is Oakland outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. My guy made it to the finals, but just couldn’t find his groove, and Cespedes easily out-homered Todd Frazier to win the trophy.

Starting this afternoon, a special series of All-Star “fun cards” will appear on the TWJ cards page on tumblr. Each league’s starters (sans designated hitters) will be featured on an all new TWJ cards design to commemorate the 2014 game. What does the design look like? Well I could make you wait and go see them on tumblr, but I’m a nice guy so I’ll give you a preview here…

That’s starting pitcher Felix Hernandez on the American League design. The National League design is very similar with a few small tweaks. For that, you will have to wait until this afternoon.

If you’re not already following TWJ cards on tumblr, take care of that right now so you don’t miss any of the special All-Star cards today leading up to the game!

The Reds get another All-Star!

Alfredo Simon All-Star

With Johnny Cueto making his scheduled start on Sunday, that knocked him out of the upcoming All-Star game. Replacing him in Minneapolis will be teammate Alfredo Simon, who is currently tied for the National League lead in victories with Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright. TWJ contributor Patrick was ahead of the game with this one, confident in Mike Matheny‘s ability to name the most deserving players to the team (unlike his St. Louis predecessor Tony La Russa), and sent this “fun card” in the style of the 1959 Topps All-Stars to me last Wednesday. Thanks again for the great contribution, Patrick!

Full Count: Four Decades of Blue Jays Baseball by Jeff Blair (2014)

Full Count

Full Count: Four Decades of Blue Jays Baseball
by Jeff Blair
Vintage Canada, 2014
288 pages

The only major league baseball team currently playing outside the continental United States, the Toronto Blue Jays are often overlooked by the average baseball fan. With a history full of underrated players like Dave Stieb and a wealth of disappointment—save 1992 and 1993—the Blue Jays just don’t hold the fan’s imagination like their division rivals, the Yankees or Red Sox. The premise of Full Count by Jeff Blair, to present a history of the franchise, is a good one. But it fails in that it barely mentions the team or its players prior to the championship teams of the 1990s. Some of the franchise’s most recognizable names from the 1980s—Jimmy Key, Jesse Barfield, Lloyd Moseby—are mentioned only once, and that in passing. Instead of “Four Decades of Blue Jays Baseball,” the focus is more on 1992 to the present.

Blair closely examines a lot of the business dealings, almost to a fault. There are excellent chapters on Roberto Alomar and his Hall of Fame career, Joe Carter and his home run off Mitch Williams, and Blair wraps up the book with a look at the team’s current Canadian talent, Brett Lawrie. Those are some of the most enjoyable chapters in the book, written in an easy-going, conversational tone. In between all that, however, the managers, general managers, and other administrative personnel are profiled. Trades are picked apart, and front office hiring decisions are dissected. A lot of good background information, but I for one would have rather read about the product that took the field more than the men behind the scenes.

Learn more about Vintage Canada.

Purchase Full Count: Four Decades of Blue Jays Baseball by Jeff Blair.

R.I.P. Tommy Ramone

(January 29, 1952 – July 11, 2014)

Drummer for the seminal punk rock group Ramones, Tommy Ramone (born Erdélyi Tamás), passed away at his home in Queens yesterday. He had been receiving hospice care for bile duct cancer.

Judas Priest – Redeemer of Souls (2014)

Judas Priest Redeemer of Souls

Judas Priest
Redeemer of Souls
Epic Records, 2014
62 minutes

When one discusses classic heavy metal bands, Judas Priest must be mentioned. Rob Halford’s flair on vocals and the dual-guitar attack of K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton are instantly recognizable, and the songs they have composed are some of the most influential in the genre. When Downing announced he was leaving prior to the band’s most recent Epitaph tour, fans were discouraged; after watching Richie Faulkner on stage with the band, however, it was evident that these legends still had something to offer. Halford, Tipton, Scott Travis and Ian Hill brought Faulkner into the fold and recorded one of the best Judas Priest albums in the past twenty-five years.

The songs, co-written by Halford and the two guitarists, are a throwback to the classic JP sound with bombastic riffs and soaring solos along with Halford’s vocals of mythical beasts and fantasy worlds. Halford does not reach the higher register as often as he once did, but he handles his duties very well with a few wails here and there. What is truly amazing is how well these songs fit into the band’s back catalog; many could have easily been released on British Steel or Screaming For Vengeance without disrupting the flow of those albums.

The best songs in this writer’s opinion are “Dragonaut” (listen below), “Metalizer,” and “Halls of Valhalla.” The weakest track is “Cold Blooded,” a song that is all but mailed-in until the guitar solos redeem it more than three minutes in. All in all, Redeemer of Souls is a welcome return to form for Judas Priest after a number of less-than-stellar releases. Hopefully more will follow with Faulkner on board.

Listen to “Dragonaut” from Redeemer of Souls below:

1. Dragonaut
2. Redeemer of Souls
3. Halls of Valhalla
4. Sword of Damocles
5. March of the Damned
6. Down in Flames
7. Hell & Back
8. Cold Blooded
9. Metalizer
10. Crossfire
11. Secrets of the Dead
12. Battle Cry
13. Beginning of the End

Learn more about Judas Priest.

Learn more about Epic Records.

Purchase Judas Priest – Redeemer of Souls.

Charm City Devils Sign With The End Records, New Album ‘Battles’ Due Sept 23rd

Charm City Devils

For the past several months the members of the Baltimore-based hard rock outfit – Charm City Devils – featuring John Allen (lead vocals), Anthony Arambula (bass), Jason Heiser (drums), Nick Kay and Victor Karrera (guitars), have been hard at work writing new music for their third full-length album – Battles.
Charm City Devils Battles
Scheduled for release on September 23rd via The End Records/ADA, the band’s forthcoming album promises to delight fans with the return of Grammy-winning producer Skidd Mills (Saving Abel, Egypt Central, 12 Stones), who also spearheaded production duties for the group’s 2012 sophomore release, Sins, which spawned the hit single “Man Of Constant Sorrow”, landing them a #20 position on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.

Frontman John Allen elaborates, “Working with Skidd was a no-brainer really! He manned the board for our highest charting single and always gets the sweetest tones! Plus, he’s a good, down to earth dude, he’s one of us. We are so excited about our new relationship with The End and ADA! We are looking forward to great things with our new label partners!”

In preparation for the release, fans can expect to see the band returning to the road this July with Slash and The Winery Dogs. More dates to be announced soon!

Jul 20th – Northfield, OH @ Hard Rock LIVE (Rocksino) *
Jul 26th – Buffalo, NY @ The Tralf Music Hall **
Jul 27th – New Haven, CT @ Toad’s Place **
Jul 28th – Amityville, NY @ Revolution Bar & Music Hall **
Jul 30th – Glenside, PA @ Keswick Theater **
Aug 1st – Boston, MA @ Wilbur Theatre **
Aug 2nd – Poughkeepsie, NY @ The Chance **
Aug 3rd – Pittsburgh, PA @ Hard Rock Cafe
Aug 4th – Indianapolis, IN @ Birdy’s
Aug 5th – St. Louis, MO @ The Firebird
Aug 9th – Temecula, CA @ Pechanga Indoor Theater *
Aug 10th – West Hollywood, CA @ Viper Room
Aug 11th – San Francisco, CA @ Brick & Mortar Music
Aug 12th – Reno, NV @ Knitting Factory
Aug 14th – Spokane, WA @ Knitting Factory
Aug 15th – Coquitlam, BC, Canada @ Hard Rock Casino *
Aug 17th – Seattle, WA @ El Corazon
Aug 18th – Portland, OR @ Alhambra Theatre
Aug 19th – Boise, ID @ Knitting Factory
Aug 21st – Denver, CO @ Marquis Theater
Aug 22nd – Kansas City, MO @ Czar Bar
Aug 24th – Memphis, TN @ Mercy Lounge
Aug 26th – Johnson City, TN @ Capone’s
Aug 28th – Tallahassee, FL @ Pugs Live aka Rehab
Aug 30th – Jacksonville, FL @ Jack Rabbits
Sep 3rd – New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge
Sep 5th – Route 2, Mashantucet, CT @ Grand Theater
Sep 27th – Baltimore, MD @ Carroll Park w/ Rise Against, Clutch, Halestorm, Jane’s Addiction and more!

* w/ Slash
** w/ The Winery Dogs

For more information about Charm City Devils:
Official site

Rock Legend Randy Bachman Looks Back on Iconic Career with “Every Song Tells A Story” Live CD/DVD Set

Randy Bachman

There are few musicians who have penned as many anthemic rock tunes as Randy Bachman. Often referred to as the “architect of Canadian rock n’ roll, Bachman’s catalogue of hits include “American Woman,” “These Eyes,” “No Time,” “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet,” “Takin’ Care of Business,” and “Roll On Down the Highway.” And now, Bachman himself offers thrilling in-concert renditions and earnest tales behind the creation of all of these classics (and many more), on Every Song Tells A Story, a fourteen-track CD/DVD set that will be released on Tuesday, August 19, 2014 via the Independent Label Services Group (ILS).

Recorded in April 2013, at Pantages Playhouse Theatre in Winnipeg, Every Song Tells A Story features Bachman in a rare and intimate setting, weaving together the transcendent and iconic hits of the Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive with the often-humorous stories that originally brought the songs to life. Inspired by his award-winning radio program ‘Vinyl Tap,’ Bachman takes his master storytelling and voluminous musical knowledge on the road and leads fans on a guided journey that encapsulates the last 30 years of popular music presented by one of the greatest rock legends of our time.

A legendary figure in the rock and roll world through his talents as a guitarist, songwriter, performer and producer, Bachman has earned over 120 Platinum and Gold album and single awards, garnered the No. 1 spot at the top of radio play lists in over 20 countries and has amassed over 40 million records sold. Earlier this year, Bachman was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame in Nashville, as well, he received his second inauguration into the Canadian Musician’s Hall of Fame when Bachman-Turner Overdrive are honoured at the 2014 JUNO Awards; The Guess Who were previously inducted in 2001.

1. Prairie Town
2. Shakin’ All Over
3. These Eyes
4. Laughing
5. No Sugar Tonight
6. No Time
7. American Woman
8. Roll On Down The Highway
9. Let It Ride
10. You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet
11. Takin’ Care Of Business
12. Hey You
13. Undun
14. Lookin’ Out For 1

Bachman & Turner Tour Dates:
7/26 – Ohio Expo Center & State Fair – Columbus, OH
8/23 – Oregon Amphitheater – Albany, OR
8/24 – Alaska State Fair – Palmer, AK
8/30 – Cannery Casino & Hotel – Las Vegas, NV
11/1 – England Brothers Park (Born to Ride Jam 2) – Pinellas Park, FL

Randy Bachman Tour Dates w/ Peter Frampton and Buddy Guy plus special guests:
8/26 – The Mountain Winery – Saratoga, CA
8/27 – Hollywood Bowl – Los Angeles, CA
8/29 – Oval Park – Visalia, CA


Pre-order Randy Bachman’s Vinyl Tap Tour: Every Song Tells a Story here.

The Independent Label Services Group (ILS) is a Toronto-based entertainment company with a staff of seven full-time professionals and is distributed by Universal Music Canada and Caroline worldwide. It has also partnered with some of the world’s top independent PR and radio firms. ILS is committed to breaking the diverse roster of acts and its labels onto the world stage. In addition to traditional music services, the company and its international partners can also provide song-writing collaboration, production and engineering, sponsorships and video production, as well as film and television licensing.


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