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Some hobbies are way too expensive

I love vinyl. I’ve picked up loads of used vinyl at record shops and antique stores in the Cincinnati area (where I live), Knoxville (a yearly trip), and Bowling Green (on my way to my son’s college). Generally I don’t spend more than $10 on a title, and that’s only if I really want the record and haven’t seen it elsewhere. For the most part, though, I like to stick with the bargain bins and keep most purchases under $5. I’ve found some great releases in those bargain bins, including The Guess Who, Merle Haggard, and Frank Sinatra.

Sometimes I click around on Amazon to see what some of my favorite albums would cost on vinyl, and it blows me away. In the same way that some baseball cards are ridiculously out of reach, I never expect to own any of these vinyl releases, as much as I would like to hear them in all their clicky-and-poppy glory.

Alice Cooper Van Halen

  • Alice Cooper, Along Came a Spider, $1396.48. The shock rocker’s best album since at least the late 1980s, maybe even since the glory days of the 1970s. Features a harmonica performance by Ozzy Osbourne and a killer guitar solo from Slash. Yet, I will never buy it at the current price (although, it does have free shipping!!!).
  • Van Halen, A Different Kind of Truth, $179.98. I was fortunate to find the first five original VH releases at reasonable prices, and received the remastered 1984 for my birthday last year. (Actually, come to think of it, the debut was a Christmas gift along with the turntable three years ago). ADKOT is another story. The record was panned by many, but I love how it reaches back into the vault and updates some old riffs that were used on demos in the 1970s. But at this price, I’ll have to stick to the shiny compact disc version.
  • Van Halen, Balance, $419.78. Sammy’s last full album with the band is the only Van Hagar production I really enjoy. “Can’t Stop Loving You,”Milli Vanilli “Don’t Tell Me (What Love Can Do),” “Feeling,” “Not Enough,” and “Take Me Back (Deja Vu)” all rank among my favorite Van Halen songs. I really hope I stumble across this in a bargain bin someday (or even for $10), because I’m not dropping four Benjamins and a Jackson regardless of how much I like it.
  • Cinderella, Still Climbing, $89.99. I was fortunate to find Cinderella’s debut, Night Songs, a few years ago for about $8, and I snatched it up immediately. Still Climbing, the band’s last album from 1994, has been more challenging to track down. It didn’t perform well on the charts or on radio as grunge had brainwashed everyone by the time it hit stores. The 21st century price tag is just a little out of my range.
  • Mill Vanilli, Girl You Know It’s True, $65.55. I can hear the groans. I don’t care if the guys in the picture didn’t actually sing the songs, they are still great pop songs. This is one of my go-to albums for “take me back to the easy breezy days of being a young teen in the late 1980s.” But at nearly seventy bucks? Nope.
  • Stone Temple Pilots, Core, $699.99. This album was huge in 1993, but by that time vinyl was on the outs. Everyone was listening to CDs or cassettes. I’m not sure if it was even released on vinyl in the 1990s. The “collectible” reissue from 2013 is currently going for $700. Insane.
  • Black Label Society, Mafia, $70.90. Zakk Wylde’s side-band has changed lineups frequently over the years, but with ten studio releases under the BLS moniker since 1999, it is a force to be reckoned with. My favorite album from Zakk and friends is 2005’s Mafia, which includes “In This River,” a touching song frequently dedicated in concert to Wylde’s best friend Dimebag Darrell of Pantera, who was killed in a shooting in 2004.

Some of these albums may get reissued, and hopefully I’ll be paying attention when that happens so I can buy them for about $20. In the meantime, I’ll just have to stick to my CDs and Amazon’s streaming service.

Cinderella Stone Temple Pilots Black Label Society

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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 rock n’ roller

There really are a ton of great bands out there that you have probably never heard of. Rival Sons, Scorpion Child, Black Country Communion, Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown, Revolution Saints, just to name a handful. But there is one band that has absolutely overshadowed all others, and they only have eight songs recorded so far: Greta Van Fleet. The group of three brothers and a drummer released a 4-song EP earlier this year, and have added four more songs on their latest release, From The Fires,, which dropped in November. Apparently they are getting some radio airtime, and that’s great, because this is the most rock n’ roll band since Led Zeppelin.

Greta Van Fleet

I’m not even making a list with this post. It begins and ends with one band: Greta Van Fleet. Buy it for every headbanger on your Christmas list.

Need some new rock in your life?

LA Guns The Missing Peace

The Missing Peace, the brand new LA Guns album just dropped today, featuring the first new music from Phil Lewis and Tracii Guns in fifteen years. Johnny Martin, Shane Fitzgibbon, and Michael Grant join Phil and Tracii on this trip back to the Sunset Strip. It’s not just nostalgia, though—these songs are actually good! If you love the “hair metal” scene, this record will put you back where you belong. Hands-down, the best reunion album from a group of that era. There are some objectionable lyrics, as there is with much from the rock world, but there are some great clean songs as well. The musicianship is top-notch. I like Stacey Blades, but Tracii Guns is LA Guns. The Missing Peace shows how much we have missed in the past 15 years while Phil and Tracii were at odds. I am so glad they have buried the hatchet and have given us this new music. Phil and Tracii are good individually, but together they make great music.

Michael Grant adds quite a bit to the mix as well. Grant’s former band, Endeverafter, toured with Poison and Cinderella, and released one of the best hair metal-esque albums ten years ago, but went largely unnoticed due to poor promotion and a general distaste for the genre at the time. I highly recommend adding Kiss or Kill to your collection (after The Missing Peace, of course).

The Missing Peace is available on CD or vinyl, or can be downloaded in MP3 format.

Tracklist:
1. All the Same to Me
2. Speed
3. Drop of Bleach
4. Sticky Fingers
5. Christine
6. Baby Gotta Fever
7. Kill It or Die
8. Knife to a Gunfight
9. The Flood’s the Fault of the Rain
10. The Devil Made Me Do It
11. The Missing Peace
12. Gave It All Away

JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: Aerosmith covered edition

Aerosmith covered

One of the greatest American rock bands of all time, Aerosmith raised the bar for hard rockers in the 1970s and shocked the music world with a massive comeback in the late 1980s. More than three years ago, I gave the band the “Ultimate Mixtape” treatment, picking my favorite song from each album released by the group.

Countless artists have offered up their renditions of the Bad Boys of Boston’s greatest hits. In this Ultimate Mixtape, I will attempt to collate some of the greatest and most interesting Aerosmith songs covered by other bands. I’m sticking only to officially released songs, and my personal preference is to avoid live versions. While tribute albums are fair game, only one song per tribute is allowed on this compilation. Further, no artists will be duplicated, and each song will only be represented once. So hit play on the YouTube videos below, click the links to buy some records, and rock out like you’ve never rocked out before!

JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: Aerosmith covered edition

Goodbye, Kenny Kanowski

(1964 – August, 2017)

Former Steelheart guitarist Kenny Kanowski passed away a few days ago. The cause of death has not been announced. Kanowski appeared on the 1996 Steelheart album, Wait, co-writing many of the songs. Among his credits was “We All Die Young,” featured in the 2001 Mark Wahlberg movie, Rockstar. Zakk Wylde played the guitar parts in the movie version of the track.

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.

King Kobra Thrill of a Lifetime (remastered 2017)

king kobra

King Kobra
Thrill of a Lifetime
Collector’s Edition Remastered & Reloaded
Rock Candy Records, 2017

Everything that King Kobra did right on their debut, they did wrong on their follow-up, at least for the first half of the record. Capitol Records pressured them for a more radio-friendly sound, claiming the debut was too heavy. Carmine Appice and the band acquiesced to the label’s demands and delivered Thrill of a Lifetime in 1986, an album half-filled with lackluster, synthesizer-heavy pop rock songs.

The first five songs, including the Russ Ballard-penned “Dream On,” are easily skippable. Even the theme song for the awesome Iron Eagle movie, if divorced from the movie, is a ho-hum AOR affair. The song is good when considered alongside other movie anthems of the 1980s, but when measured up against King Kobra’s own material, especially the first album, it falls short. Of course, the label decided to release “Dream On” and “Iron Eagle (Never Say Die)” as singles.

Guitarist David Michael-Philips revealed that eighty percent of the record was recorded using drum machines, despite Appice’s reputation “as one of the best drummers in the world.” Appice was only “fully involved” on three songs: “Raise Your Hands to Rock,” “Party Animal,” and “This Raging Fire,” which was only included on the record as it was released in France, and is not included on this remastered version.

“Home Street Home” is an interesting rock/rap hybrid, and is a fun listen, but doesn’t hold up very well over the past thirty years. “Overnight Sensation,” despite using the drum machine, is more of a rocker and would have fit in well on Ready To Strike. “Raise Your Hands to Rock” and “Party Animal” are also hard rockers that help the album finish strong. A bonus track, “Home Street Home (Street Mix)” is also included, and again is interesting but does not add much to the final product.

The remastered compact disc comes with a 16-page booklet, featuring a 4000-word essay on the recording of the album and the demise of the original King Kobra after Thrill of a Lifetime was released.

Tracklist
1. Second Time Around
2. Dream On
3. Feel the Heat
4. Thrill of a Lifetime
5. Only the Strong Will Survive
6. Iron Eagle (Never Say Die)
7. Home Street Home
8. Overnight Sensation
9. Raise Your Hands to Rock
10. Party Animal
11. Home Street Home (Street Mix) [bonus track]

King Kobra
Mark Free (lead & backing vocals)
David Michael-Philips (lead & rhythm guitar/backing vocals/guitar synthesizer)
Mick Sweda (lead & rhythm guitar/backing vocals/guitar synthesizer)
Johnny Rod (bass guitar/backing vocals)
Carmine Appice (drums/electric & acoustic percussion/backing vocals)

Purchase King Kobra’s Thrill of a Lifetime Collector’s Edition Remastered & Reloaded.

King Kobra Ready To Strike (remastered, 2017)

King Kobra

King Kobra
Ready To Strike
Collector’s Edition Remastered & Reloaded
Rock Candy Records, 2017

Capitol Records initially released King Kobra’s debut album, Ready To Strike, in 1985. Dark-haired drummer extraordinaire Carmine Appice recruited a handful of blonde musicians to join him after he was fired from Ozzy Osbourne’s band. He liked the appearance of Mötley Crüe, with one blonde-haired and three dark-haired members, and wanted to do the opposite with his band. Spencer Proffer, the producer of Quiet Riot’s Metal Health, produced King Kobra’s debut album at his Pasha Music House.

The record is full of hard rockers, from the title track to the ear-wormy “Breakin’ Out.” The only single released from the album was “Hunger,” a song written by Kick Axe and later recorded by them and released on The Transformers: The Movie soundtrack under the name Spectre General. Before King Kobra was fully formed, the song was shopped to Black Sabbath as well, when Ron Keel was auditioning for the band. That fell through, and so did a Sabbath version of “Hunger.” King Kobra also recorded another song written by Kick Axe, “Piece of the Rock,” at the urging of Proffer.

This remastered compact disc by Rock Candy Records comes with a 16-page booklet, complete with a newly-written 4000-word essay by Malcolm Dome which recounts the formation of the band and the recording of the album, along with the difficulties King Kobra had with the record label and the lack of promotion from Capitol Records. Also included in the booklet are several full-color photographs of the band, both promotional shots as well as concert photos.

King Kobra’s debut album is right up your alley if you enjoy bands like Ratt and early Mötley Crüe. After just a few listens, you’ll be raisin’ your fists to the power chords and singing along to this long-overlooked band.

Tracklist
1. Ready to Strike
2. Hunger
3. Shadow Rider
4. Shake Up
5. Attention
6. Breakin’ out
7. Tough Guys
8. Dancing with Desire
9. Second Thoughts
10. Piece of the Rock

King Kobra is:
Mark Free (lead & backing vocals)
David Michael-Philips (lead & rhythm guitar/backing vocals/guitar synthesizer)
Mick Sweda (lead & rhythm guitar/backing vocals/guitar synthesizer)
Johnny Rod (bass guitar/backing vocals)
Carmine Appice (drums/electric & acoustic percussion/backing vocals)

Purchase King Kobra’s Ready To Strike Collector’s Edition Remastered & Reloaded.

Punky Meadows announces west coast and east coast tour dates

fallenangel

PRESS RELEASE: One of the most striking hard rock bands of the 1970’s was undoubtedly Angel—who sported costumes and a highly theatrical stage show only rivaled by KISS (their then-label mates on Casablanca Records). Despite Angel splitting in 1981, the group’s popularity and influence remain high – resulting in the return last year of their larger-then-life guitarist, Punky Meadows, with his first-ever solo release, Fallen Angel, and a striking video clip for the rocking track, “Straight Shooter”

“I’m very proud of this song and album,” says Punky. “Danny Farrow and I have a great song writing chemistry so it’s hard to to pick a favorite song because they’re all good. ‘Straight Shooter’ was our first single and video. This band is killer with all talented players and a killer singer.”

And in March and April, Punky will be performing in the US. From March 8th-10th, dates have been announced for Las Vegas, San Diego, and Los Angeles, followed by Poughkeepsie on April 21st and NYC on April 29th. Joining the guitarist on stage will be a band comprised of Chandler Mogel – lead vocals, Danny Farrow – rhythm guitar, vocals, Charlie Calv – keyboards, and Bob Pantella – drums, while it will be decided closer to the dates if bass will be supplied by Felix Robinson (due to recent surgery).

Angel was a headline act in the US, and was featured performing live in the 1980 cult classic film, Foxes (starring a then-teenage Jodie Foster, Cherie Currie, and Scott Baio). They were also one of the biggest rock bands of the 1970’s in Japan. The group released six studio albums on Casablanca Records before disbanding in 1981, due to the demise of the label. During his career, Punky had been considered to join such well-known artists such as KISS, Aerosmith, and the New York Dolls.

Upon the band’s disbanding, Punky occupied himself with a number of successful business ventures while continuing to play guitar and write songs. Through social media, fans let him know they missed him and wanted to hear new music. With renewed passion for recording music, and inspiration from close friend and fellow musician, Danny Farrow Anniello, they crafted 15 new songs together for Fallen Angel, which charted on Billboard at #6 on the Heatseekers Chart and #32 on the Independent Album Chart.

Also available is a special autographed edition of Punky Meadows’ Fallen Angel that includes a Punky Meadows guitar pick, and two bonus tracks (one featuring original Angel vocalist Frank DiMino), exclusively on the www.mainmanrecords.com website. Otherwise, the regular 15 song edition is available everywhere else, including iTunes, Amazon, and all other music outlets.

Also available are a limited amount of meet and greets for each show. The meet and greet includes a personal photo with Punky and the band (with personal cell or camera) up to 3 autographed Punky or Angel items, and a free 8×10 to have autographed as well. Here are the links to the meet and greets (all but the BB King meet and greet, which is on their website at checkout): punkymeadows.weebly.com/tour-dates.html

And soon, fans will get an opportunity to experience Punky and his band live on stage. “Can’t wait to get on the road and play for all the fans again. We’re coming to a town near you and we’re going to tear the place up!! Don’t miss it and let’s rock!!”

TOUR DATES:
March 8th – Backstage Bar and Billiards (Las Vegas)
March 9th – Brick By Brick (San Diego)
March 10th – Whisky (Los Angeles)
April 21st – The Chance (Poughkeepsie)
April 29th – BB Kings (New York City)

punkymeadows_logo

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE VISIT:
www.punkymeadowsofficial.com / www.facebook.com/punkymeadowsofficial/ / www.facebook.com/groups/punkymeadowsofficial/ / www.twitter.com/punkymeadows001

Purchase Fallen Angel by Punky Meadows.

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