Category Archives: music

Christmas gift ideas for your Zeppelin fanatic

I didn’t run out of ideas when doing my “Christmas gift ideas” posts, but I’ve had other things going on. I appreciate all who have clicked on the links so far, as I get a tiny kickback from Amazon and can put it toward things that I really shouldn’t be spending actual money on…but “gift card” money, that’s a whole different ballgame. Even if you don’t buy the products I post, if you click one of my links before browsing and making your purchase I get a little credit.

Perhaps the biggest hard rock band of all time is Led Zeppelin, and not without reason. Not only is “Stairway to Heaven” a masterpiece, but nearly every song on the first four or five albums is perfectly put together (even if they were not all written by the band). For these lists, I’ve made three sections. First we have other projects of the members of Led Zeppelin. Second we have artists that sound like they were inspired by Plant, Page, Jones, and Bonham. And in many cases, they were. Finally, tribute albums to one of the greatest classic hard rock bands in history.

Zeppelin members’ other projects

  • Lead singer Robert PlantLed Zeppelin solo projects has released numerous solo albums; the most recent is 2017’s Carry Fire. He also collaborated with Zep-mate Jimmy Page and classic rock guitarist Jeff Beck in 1984 on The Honeydrippers, Volume One. In 1994, he joined Jimmy Page for an MTV special and released No Quarter, followed by Walking Into Clarksdale in 1998. In 2007, Plant teamed up with bluegrass singer Alison Krauss for Raising Sand.
  • Guitarist Jimmy Page’s post-Zeppelin output is not as straightforward as Plant’s. He started by recording the soundtrack for Death Wish II, but that one is going to cost you a pretty penny as it is no longer in print. His only non-soundtrack solo album, Outrider, did not perform well. One other soundtrack was recorded for Kenneth Anger’s Lucifer Rising, but is not currently available unless you want to drop nearly $400 on the vinyl. In 1985, Page contributed to Roy Harper’s Whatever Happened to Jugula? 1985 also saw the self-titled debut of The Firm, a supergroup featuring Page, Bad Company/Free vocalist Paul Rodgers, bass extraordinaire Tony Franklin, and then-future-AC/DC drummer Chris Slade. A follow-up record was release by The Firm in 1986, Mean Business. In 1999, the guitarist joined the Black Crowes for two shows; most of those recordings were released in 2000 under the title Live At the Greek, but singer Chris Robinson was not enthused about the performance.
  • Bassist John Paul Jones wrote the soundtrack for the movie Scream For Help, which also includes contributions from Page and Yes vocalist Jon Anderson. In 1994 he appeared on the album The Sporting Life with Diamanda Galas. Jones has also released two solo albums, Zooma (1999) and The Thunderthief. In 2009, Jones joined a supergroup with Josh Homme and Dave Grohl; unfortunately only one album has been released, the self-titled Them Crooked Vultures. Lastly, Jones contributed to two records released by the band Seasick Steve, You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks and Hubcap Music.

Artists that sound an awful lot like Led Zeppelin

  • Greta Van Fleet Sounds like Led Zeppelinis the band getting a lot of attention right now, as they should. They have taken the rock world by storm and don’t appear to be slowing down. From the Fires was released last November, and Anthem of the Peaceful Army had an October release this year. Watch this band closely as their star is still on the rise.
  • Rival Sons have been around for several years, but is just now starting to gain some traction in the mainstream. You may have heard “Do Your Worst” from the soon-to-be-released Feral Roots on the radio, but the title track from 2011’s Pressure and Time really exhibits the Zeppelin connection.
  • Wolfmother‘s debut over a decade ago exploded on the scene, but then the band imploded. Three more albums have been released since the debut, but none have sold as well.
  • Zebra gigged for years playing Zeppelin songs before releasing their self-titled debut in 1983, and while there are some enduring classics on the record, it is not a cover-to-cover masterpiece like most of Zep’s catalog.
  • Kingdom Come is often cited as a hair metal version of Led Zeppelin, and Lenny Wolf’s vocals were certainly reminiscent of Robert Plant. The songwriting isn’t going to land them in the Rock Hall, but Kingdom Come has proven to be popular enough to release thirteen albums since 1988.
  • Whitesnake may be the most all-around Zeppelin sound-alike. David Coverdale’s vocals are spot-on. Whoever is playing guitar, be it John Sykes or Steve Vai or Doug Aldrich, does a great job laying down some Jimmy Page-like riffs.
  • Coverdale/Page may have been a slap in Robert Plant’s face for refusing to do a Zeppelin reunion in the early ’90s. Guitarist Jimmy Page recruited David Coverdale, one of the most Robert Plant-ish singers around, to record an album of new tracks. The band probably would have lasted more than just one album had Page been able to convince John Paul Jones or Jason Bonham to participate.
  • Speaking of Jason Bonham, he had a band in the late ’80s and early ’90s called Bonham featuring a Robert Plant clone, Daniel MacMaster, on vocals. Their most popular (and most Zeppelinish) song was “Wait For You” from 1989’s The Disregard of Timekeeping.

Tribute albums

Christmas gift ideas for your Force-sensitive friends

The original trilogy is classic. The prequel trilogy, not so much. J.J. Abrams’ first entry into the third trilogy restored the faith for fans of the classics, but Rian Johnson shredded that renewed fandom in less than three hours. Ron Howard’s Solo was excellent (ignore the negative reviews from so-called “fans” who never even bothered to see it). Abrams is back in the driver’s seat for the ninth and final episode of the Skywalker saga, due next year, and I am hopeful and optimistic that he will finish well.

While the Star Wars bandwagon has slowed considerably, there are still many gifts suitable for those who have not abandoned that galaxy far, far away. Here are a few ideas to get you going.

Visual MediaStar Wars DVD Blu Ray

Music

BooksStar Wars Shakespeare

Toys and Collectibles

Attire

Other odds & ends

Christmas gift ideas for your headbanger

Everyone loves music…but what do you get for the person who owns CDs, cassette tapes, vinyl records, and MP3s of all their favorite songs already? You could take a chance on new bands such as Greta Van Fleet or Red Dragon Cartel, but you run the risk of getting something that doesn’t quite tickle their ears. Music appreciation is, after all, highly subjective.

Fortunately, there are other ways to enjoy music besides listening to it. Weird, right? But thanks to companies like Funko and McFarlane, you can get collectible figurines of rock stars and band mascots. Here are a few helpful links.
Alice Cooper POP Funko
Funko POP

Ozzy Osbourne McFarlane
McFarlane Figures

Bif Bang Pow! KISS Unmasked

Iron Maiden Super 7 Figures
Various Other Figures and Statues

Playing Cards

Fun Cards: 1983 Topps Phil Collen & 1993 Topps Vivian Campbell (Def Leppard)

Phil Collen

Guitarist Pete Willis was fired by Def Leppard during the recording of Pyromania. He was replaced by Phil Collen, whose band Girl with Phil Lewis (who later joined L.A. Guns) never quite caught on in the United States.

Vivian Campbell

Following Steve Clark’s death in 1991, the band forged on with only Collen playing guitar on 1992’s Adrenalize. Vivian Campbell, formerly of Dio, was soon hired to fill the missing guitar seat. His recording debut with Def Leppard came on 1993’s RetroActive.

Fun Cards: 1980 Topps Def Leppard (Joe Elliott, Steve Clark, Rick Allen, Rick Savage, Pete Willis)

Joe Elliott

Def Leppard‘s first full-length album, On Through The Night, was released in 1980, and featured one of my favorite Lep songs, “Rock Brigade.” The album reached No. 15 on the UK Albums Chart and No. 51 on the Billboard 200.

Pete Willis

Def Leppard was one of the first bands to break through the resistance against “hair metal” on classic rock radio stations. “Photograph,” “Pour Some Sugar On Me,” and “Foolin'” were just too good to ignore, despite the amount of Aqua Net used by the band.

Rick Allen

Def Leppard still tours frequently and will be hitting the road with arena rock legends Journey next week.

Rick Savage

Their catalog is deep, but I’m not much of a fan of their work past 1987’s Hysteria, the last album recorded with the late Steve Clark.

Steve Clark

Fun Cards: 1988 Topps Marq Torien and Mick Sweda (BulletBoys)

Continuing the hair metal love…

I just found out the BulletBoys will be playing in Cincinnati this weekend, so I thought I would whip up a couple of music “fun cards”…

Marq Torien

Marq Torien is the original vocalist and only remaining original member in the current lineup. The band has changed its sound on several occasions, but the hair metal heritage is strong on the 1988 debut album. The big songs are “Smooth Up In Ya” (US Hot 100 #71, US Mainstream Rock #23) and the cover “For the Love of Money” (US Hot 100 #78, US Mainstream Rock #38).

Mick Sweda

Mick Sweda is no longer with the band, but his guitar skills played a major role in the band’s early success. The BulletBoys’ cover of Tom Waits‘ “Hang On St. Christopher” on the second album, Freakshow, is out of this world.

The band’s third album, Za-Za, was their last for Warner Bros. Records, and the last appearance of Mick Sweda with the group.

The current lineup of the BulletBoys (Torien, Nick Rozz, Chad MacDonald, and Anthony “Tiny” Biuso), along with openers Enuff Z’nuff and a ton of local groups, will be performing at The Venue Saturday night. Click here to buy tickets!

Click here to buy the latest BulletBoys album, From Out of the Skies.

Fun Cards: 1988 Topps Winger (Kip Winger, Reb Beach, Paul Taylor, Rod Morgenstein)

I don’t care what Mike Judge says, WINGER IS AWESOME. The musicianship in this band is top-notch, and much more complex than most of their hair metal comrades. Like several other popular ’80s bands, Winger reunited several years ago and has been releasing some stellar material.

Kip Winger

Kip Winger has a fantastic voice and is not only a proficient bassist, but also a composer of classical music. He was even nominated for a Grammy in 2017 for his Conversations with Nijinsky. Add to that his pre-Winger work with Alice Cooper, and you’ve sold me on his awesomeness.

Reb Beach

Reb Beach may not have the classical chops, but this dude can absolutely shred. In addition to Winger, he has recorded with Dokken and Whitesnake, and has appeared on Twisted Sister, Bee Gees, and Chaka Khan albums.

Paul Taylor

Paul Taylor made his recording debut with Alice Cooper the year before Winger‘s debut was released.

Rod Morgentstein

Rod Morgenstein brought a progressive music slant to Winger as a former member of jazz fusion group Dixie Dregs.

Twitter linkage:
Follow Winger at @wingertheband
Vocalist/Bassist Kip Winger at @kipwinger
Guitarist Reb Beach at @RealRebBeach
Drummer Rod Morgenstein at @RodMorgenstein

Fun Cards: 1990 Topps Trixter “Record Makers” & Steve Brown

Combining my love for baseball cards and hair metal music…

Trixter

Trixter is one of those oft-forgotten hair metal bands. Their debut album was not released until 1990, in the waning hours of the genre’s supremacy on MTV and FM airwaves. The group experienced moderate success with the debut single, “Give It To Me Good,” peaking at #65 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #26 on the Mainstream Rock Chart. The next two songs, “Surrender” and “One In A Million,” did not perform quite as well.

The band recorded “One Mo’ Time” for the 1991 Richard Greco film, If Looks Could Kill. Trixter’s self-titled debut went Gold, but 1992’s Hear! stalled at around 100,000 copies and the group was dropped from MCA.

Steve Brown Trixter

Guitarist Steve Brown was your typical ’80s hard rock guitarist with some killer riffs and fancy fretwork, but he didn’t really stand out above the crowd. Even if he did, though, the musical landscape changed and nearly everyone who could shred became a pariah.

Trixter recorded one more studio album in the 1990s, Undercovers, on the independent label Backstreet Records, then went silent…until 2008. The band reunited, went on tour, and in 2012 Frontiers Records released the first new studio material from Trixter—New Audio Machine—in nearly two decades. Another album, Human Era, came in 2015.

I’m not sure if Trixter is still together; their website has no information whatsoever and the full band has not performed together since March of last year. Guitarist Steve and bassist PJ Farley are members of Eric Martin’s (the voice of Mr. Big) touring band.

You can follow Trixter on Twitter:
Trixter at @trixterrocks
Vocalist Pete Loran at @PeteLoran
Guitarist Steve Brown at @STEVEBROWNROCKS
Bass guitarist PJ Farley at @Pjfarley1
Drummer Mark Gus Scott at @MarkGusScott

Night Owl rocks

One of my very favorite baseball card blogs, which I have been following for close to a decade now, is Night Owl Cards. Night Owl and I have sent many packages to each other over the years; he gets a good chunk of my spare Dodgers, and I am the beneficiary of his overflow of Reds. Occasionally, something other than Reds or Dodgers makes its way into our trade pacakges.

Muddy Waters

N.O. recently decided to chase the 1991 Pro Set Super Star Musicards set. He doesn’t have a wantlist yet, but I’m preparing a package to send to him that will be primarily cards from this set. I mentioned that I am only a handful of cards away from completing series one myself, and he hooked me up with two of the four cards I still needed: the Muddy Waters concert poster (above), and Perfect Gentlemen (below). I am now only two cards away: #8 The Doors (Legends) and #187 Billy Idol. I recently decided to plunge into series two, and am about halfway there, but I do not have a wantlist prepared yet.

Perfect Gentlemen

Of course, no package from N.O. would be complete without some sweet Reds goodies. As the team is in the middle of a “rebuilding” phase, sometimes called a “youth movement,” I thought this was an appropriate conclusion:

Tomko

I will admit that I was not following the Reds (or any baseball, for that matter) when Brett Tomko was a part of the Reds’ youth movement. There was a good 10-15 years that baseball was not on my radar at all. I just didn’t care. I have heard the name, but really couldn’t tell you much about Tomko.

Reds

N.O. also sent a handful of other Reds goodies, including Jay Bruce (a part of the youth movement about a decade ago), Billy Hamilton (a part of the current youth movement), and Nick Howard (who could be a part of the next youth movement).

Thanks for the cards, Night Owl! You can expect to see something soon!

Fun Cards: 1978 Topps Ric Ocasek of The Cars (2018 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees)

Ric Ocasek the Cars 1978 Topps Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Growing up in the heyday of MTV videos, I always considered Ric Ocasek as the leader and most important member of The Cars. “You Might Think” was one of my favorite videos, with his goofy mug floating all over the place. I had no idea what an important part all the others played until much later. Still today, though, I can’t help but think of Ocasek more than any other member when I think of the band.

Purchase The Cars, The Elektra Years, 1978-1987.

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