Category Archives: music

Goodbye, Chester Bennington

(March 20, 1976 – July 20, 2017)

Linkin Park frontman and former Stone Temple Pilots singer Chester Bennington’s body was discovered this morning at his home in California. He died of apparent suicide by hanging. Linkin Park was set to embark on a tour beginning next week, and had just released a video for their new single, “Talking To Myself,” this morning.

JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: Pearl Jam edition

It took me a long time to warm up to Pearl Jam. Long as in about twenty years. It was not until I watched the documentary on Netflix a few years ago that I really started digging the band. I tried back in the day; I had Ten on cassette, and Vs. on CD, but never really got into them. But after watching Twenty and reviewing the band’s output since the grunge explosion, I have grown to appreciate and even like Pearl Jam, much to some of my college friends’ displeasure. With their recent Rock Hall induction, this is a perfect time to give these rockers the “Ultimate Mixtape” treatment.

Pearl Jam Ultimate Mixtape

If you are not familiar with the “Ultimate Mixtape” concept, here is a quick run-down of the rules:

  • Every album must be represented by one and only one song.
  • The selected song does not have to be a single used to promote the album.
  • Live albums are fine if you want to use them, but you are not required to include them if you are satisfied with your “Ultimate Mixtape” without them. Sometimes they are a great tool to sneak in a classic song when the studio version didn’t make the cut. “Even Flow” and “Just Breathe” get the live treatment here from two PJ concert albums.
  • “Greatest Hits”/ “Best of” albums are eligible only if they contain new songs, or new versions of old songs. Since “State of Love and Trust” (from the Singles soundtrack) was never released directly by the band until their first hits compilation, I decided to use it to represent rearviewmirror.

Everyone’s “Ultimate Mixtape” will be different, and I would love to know how yours differs from mine. There are no right or wrong tracklistings (as long as you follow the rules)! Are you ready to rock? Let’s check out “JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: Pearl Jam edition”…

JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: Pearl Jam edition

The “Bonus tracks” are taken from soundtracks, tributes, solo projects, and collaborative works…tunes that never made it on a Pearl Jam album, but is still related in some way to the group. And man, there was a ton that I omitted here. These are some of the best Pearl Jam-related tunes out there:

Bonus tracks

What did I miss? How does your Pearl Jam mix differ from mine?

Goodbye, Gregg Allman

(December 8, 1947 – May 27, 2017)

Founding member of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group, the Allman Brothers Band, Gregg Allman passed away today from liver cancer.

Fun Cards: 1987 Topps Chris Cornell

Soundgarden Chris Cornell 1987 Topps

I’m still processing the news from last Thursday. Chris Cornell, lead singer of one of the greatest bands ever from Seattle (sit down, Nirvana, you’re not even in this conversation), allegedly took his own life after a concert in Detroit Wednesday night. Soundgarden was scheduled to play several shows through the end of this month, and was reportedly halfway through writing songs for a new album.

You never know what is going through someone’s mind, even when they are seemingly sitting on top of the world. Please, friends, take care of yourselves emotionally. If you are struggling, seek assistance. Every prescription does not affect every person the same way, and the side effects are more pronounced in some. Work closely with your doctor to get things straightened out, get on the medication (if that’s necessary) that works best for you, and don’t ignore the warnings.

Goodbye, Chris Cornell

(July 20, 1964 – May 17, 2017)

One of the most talented hard rock singers of the past few decades, Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell has passed. Police are investigating his death as an apparent suicide.

Ultimate Star Guitars: Expanded Edition by Dave Hunter (2017)

Ultimate Star Guitars

Ultimate Star Guitars: Expanded Edition
by Dave Hunter
Voyageur Press, 2017

B.B. King’s Lucille. Eric Clapton’s Blackie. Eddie Van Halen’s Frankenstrat. Keith Richards’ Micawber. Over time, guitar legends become so connected with their instruments, that it is difficult to think of one without the other. It seems strange to imagine Slash playing anything but a Les Paul, or Yngwie Malmsteen with something other than a Stratocaster (and a vintage white one, at that). In Ultimate Star Guitars: Expanded Edition, Dave Hunter explains how these musicians became so connected to their instruments of choice, often revealing how such instruments were acquired and why the artists chose them.

This book covers a variety of genres, from classic rock (Duane Allman, Clapton, Richards) to blues (King, Stevie Ray Vaughan), alternative (J Mascis, Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo) to punk (Joe Strummer, Steve Jones) to country (Waylon Jennings, Brad Paisley). You will read about Reverend Horton Heat, Ike Turner, Nels Cline, and even see a picture of Billy Gibbons sans beard. One of the best entries describes Randy Bachman’s work on a 1959 Fender Stratocaster he named “The Legend.” The leader of The Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive changed nearly everything he could change on “The Legend,” which was stolen years ago. Bachman said, “It would be the thrill of a lifetime to get he guitar back, but it was just a wreck, so unless someone knows what it is…But what a sound and monster it was.”

A fantastic collection of stories and photographs, Ultimate Star Guitars: Expanded Edition shows that music history is not made with pristine instruments designed to be on display in glass cases, but with beat-up, modified, and often underappreciated models.

Learn more about Voyageur Press.

Purchase Ultimate Star Guitars: Expanded Edition by Dave Hunter.

Fun Cards: 1971 Topps & 1973 Topps Electric Light Orchestra “Rookie Rockers”

Another 2017 Rock Hall inductee gets the “fun card” treatment today…one of my more recent obsessions, Electric Light Orchestra.

1971 Jeff Lynne Roy Wood Bev Bevan ELectric Light Orchestra

The group’s debut album was released in 1971 in the UK, 1972 in the USA, featuring former members of The Move. Jeff Lynne and Bev Bevan were with the group until 1986, when Lynne disbanded ELO and Bevan formed ELO Part II. Roy Wood recorded only the first album, leaving in 1972 to form Wizzard.

Richard Tandy Wilfred Gibson Mike de Albuquerque Electric Light Orchestra 1973

Richard Tandy joined the group in 1972, making his recording debut on the 1973 album, ELO 2 (not to be confused with Bevan’s offshoot, ELO Part II). He continues to tour with Lynne today. Wilfred Gibson lasted two albums, while Mike de Albuquerque appeared on ELO 2, On the Third Day, and Eldorado.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame recognized only Lynne, Wood, Bevan, and Tandy, though many others contributed to their success over the years. Lynne, Wood, and Tandy were present at the induction ceremony last month; Bevan, who has reportedly not spoken to Lynne in decades, was playing a gig elsewhere. Personally, I think I would have rescheduled that gig.

“Mr. Blue Sky,” originally on 1977’s Out of the Blue, is featured on this year’s soundtrack of the year, Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2: Awesome Mix Vol. 2.

Fun Cards: 1975 Topps Rookie Rockers (Journey), 1978 Topps Steve Perry, 1981 Topps Jonathan Cain

It is very possible you have never heard anything from the first three Journey albums. It was not until Steve Perry joined the group in 1978 that Journey really took off, combining pop sensibilities with well-crafted rock songs. The first three albums had a more progressive slant to them, and are not as commercially accessible as the later radio friendly albums.

1975 Topps Journey Neal Schon Gregg Rolie Aynsley Dunbar Ross Valory

The debut self-titled album featured Neal Schon and Gregg Rolie, who worked together on Carlos Santana‘s Santana III and Caravanserai. They were joined by bassist Ross Valory as well as drummer Aynsley Dunbar, who worked with Frank Zappa, David Bowie, and Lou Reed. Also with the group for the first album was guitarist George Tickner. It was not until 1978’s Infinity that Steve Perry came on board, and songs like “Lights,” “Feeling That Way,” and “Wheel In The Sky,” caught the attention of radio programmers.

1978 Topps Journey Steve Perry

Journey’s 1981 album, Escape, was the first to feature keyboardist/rhythm guitarist Jonathan Cain. Some of the group’s biggest songs came from this album, including the all-time classics, “Don’t Stop Believin'” and “Open Arms.”

1981 Topps Jonathan Cain

JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: Journey edition

The 2017 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony took place last month, and aired on HBO over the weekend. This year’s class was a very impressive lineup, including Electric Light Orchestra, Joan Baez, Yes, Tupac Shakur, Pearl Jam, and one of the greatest arena rock bands of all-time, Journey. It has been over a year since I last put together an “Ultimate Mixtape,” so I thought the time was right to resurrect this project. I enjoyed going through Journey’s discography, and the related artists. Such a great band, such diverse styles.

Journey

If you are not familiar with the “Ultimate Mixtape” concept, here is a quick run-down of the rules:

  • Every album must be represented by one and only one song. This is an especially difficult rule when looking at 1978’s Infinity album.
  • The selected song does not have to be a single used to promote the album.
  • Live albums are fine if you want to use them, but you are not required to include them if you are satisfied with your “Ultimate Mixtape” without them. Sometimes they are a great tool to sneak in a classic song when the studio version didn’t make the cut. In Journey’s case, Captured just happens to have a new studio track on it, so that was my de facto choice.
  • “Greatest Hits”/ “Best of” albums are eligible only if they contain new songs, or new versions of old songs. With the exception of Time^3, Journey’s compilations do not meet this requirement, so are omitted from the Ultimate Mixtape project.

Everyone’s “Ultimate Mixtape” will be different, and I would love to know how yours differs from mine. Are you ready to rock? Let’s check out “JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: Journey edition”…

Bonus Tracks:

What do you think? Did I miss your favorite Journey song or solo project on the bonus disc?

Click here to see all previous editions of JT’s Ultimate Mixtape.

This may be the best thing you see on the internet today

Or, at least on YouTube…

Eddie Van Halen played the guitar solo on Michael Jackson‘s epic “Beat It,” and Bottle Boys impressively replicated it in their version of the classic pop song. I’ve never heard of Bottle Boys before this morning, but you can count me among their fans now.

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