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Christmas gift ideas for your rock ‘n’ roll fan

Rock isn’t dead, and here are ten records to prove it. If the rocker in your life likes classic hard rock, there’s a good chance he’ll love some of these albums. They are not all brand new, but there are some hidden gems that even the most grizzled rockers have not heard.

Scorpions

Of course, if your special rocker is into stuff off the beaten path, check out these bluegrass records that really rock:
Possum Kingdom Ramblers

And then there are books about music…

The Best Songs of 2013 from Not the Best Albums

Yesterday, I posted my “Top Ten Albums of 2013” list. Today, I’ll give you the best songs from eleven other albums that didn’t quite make the cut. Go check them out, and purchase the songs you like.

Lynch Mob – Unplugged: Live From Sugarhill Studios (2013)

Lynch Mob review

Lynch Mob
Unplugged: Live From Sugarhill Studios
Rat Pak Records, 2013
34 minutes

Some people say “unplugged” albums are hit-or-miss, but Lynch Mob proves that statement wrong with Unplugged: Live From Sugarhill Studios. There is nothing earth-shattering about this EP at all, but at the same time there is nothing wrong with it either (other than its brevity).

With only four songs, it is difficult to get into the groove before it’s over. Three songs come from the band’s 1990 debut album Wicked Sensation, while one from 2009’s Smoke & Mirrors is given the acoustic treatment. The songs are arranged and performed well for the most part; singer Oni Logan does go a little over-the-top in his delivery at times, but George Lynch’s guitar mastery balances it out. Veteran musicians Robbie Crane (bass), Brian Tichy (drums), and Tyson Sheth (percussion) provide a solid backdrop to the superstar guitarist and his vocalist.

There are few complaints that can be lodged against this release. With two full releases and the excellent Sound Mountan Sessions EP from 2012, the song selection could have been widened. Given the short set, however, these songs were well-chosen and wonderfully lent themselves to acoustic renditions. Don’t let the 34-minute runtime fool you on this release; 14 minutes are dedicated to an interview with the band, so you really only get 20 minutes worth of music.

Despite the conciseness of the disc, George Lynch fans will be pleased with Unplugged: Live From Sugarhill Studios.

Watch the video for “River of Love” below:

Tracklist:
1. River of Love
2. Where Do You Sleep At Night
3. All I Want
4. Wicked Sensation
5. Bonus Interview Track

Learn more about Rat Pak Records.

Purchase Lynch Mob – Unplugged: Live from SugarHill Studios.

The best music of 2012

This has been a pretty good year for music fans, whether you’re into rock, pop, or country. Below are ten of my personal favorites (in alphabetical order) that have hit the store shelves in the past twelve months…

Best albums, best song on the album
Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls, “Hold On”
Flo Rida – Wild Ones, “Good Feeling”
Jim Avett – Second Chance, “Pictures in the Attic”
KISS – Monster, “Back to the Stone Age”
Lynch Mob – Sound Mountan Sessions, “Slow Drag”
Old Crow Medicine Show – Carry Me Back, “Ain’t It Enough”
Shooter Jennings – Family Man, “The Deed & The Dollar”
The Steel Wheels – Lay Down, Lay Low, “Rain in the Valley”
Two Gallants – The Bloom and the Blight, “My Love Won’t Wait”
Van Halen – A Different Kind of Truth, “Blood and Fire”

I didn’t have time to check out the full releases of every artist from this past year, and there were other records that didn’t measure up to that “hit play and forget the skip button” status. Here are a few songs from those categories. Download the MP3s for these tracks…

Best songs on other albums
Allen Stone – “Sleep”
Alberta Cross – “Money for the Weekend (Pocket Full of Shame)”
Bang Tango – “Our Way”
Hank Williams Jr. – “We Don’t Apologize For America”
Psy – “Gangnam Style”

I also caught up on a few 2011 releases during the past year. Here are five titles I missed when they were first released; check them out, if you are so inclined…

2011 albums, songs
JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound – Want More, “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart”
Primus – Green Naugahyde, “Lee Van Cleef”
Umphrey’s McGee – Death By Stereo, “Booth Love”
Various Artists – This One’s For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark, “All He Wants is You” by Shawn Colvin
Wood Brothers – Smoke Ring Halo, “When I Was Young”

Finally, Awolnation‘s “Kill Your Heroes” has been in heavy rotation on a new Cincinnati radio station for a while, and it’s a very catchy tune…

Lynch Mob – Sound Mountain Sessions (2012)

Lynch Mob Sound Mountain Sessions review

Lynch Mob
Sound Mountain Sessions
Rat Pak Records, 2012
19 minutes

Throughout their on-again, off-again relationship, guitarist George Lynch and singer Oni Logan have made some amazing music in the group Lynch Mob. The original vocalist for the band, Logan and Lynch split up after 1990’s Wicked Sensation, finally reconciling and reuniting for 2009’s Smoke and Mirrors. More problems arose, and the group has used several different singers over the past year and a half, but last week a new 4-song CD surfaced featuring Logan behind the mic once again. As with Wicked Sensation and Smoke and Mirrors, Sound Mountain Sessions is impressive at every turn.

Bass player Robbie Crane (Ratt, Vince Neil) and drummer Scot Coogan (Brides of Destruction) join Lynch and Logan on this release, providing the foundation on which the songs are built. Logan’s voice sounds as good as it ever did, and Lynch is still at the top of his game on his ESP guitar (as already evidenced by his excellent solo release Legacy, reviewed yesterday). From the snarling “Slow Drag” to the earworm-chorus of “City of Freedom,” Lynch Mob has released a strong but short record that will leave the listener begging for more.

Tracklist:
1. Slow Drag
2. World Of Chance
3. City Of Freedom
4. Sucka

Watch the video for “Slow Drag” below:

Learn more about George Lynch.

Learn more about Rat Pak Records.

Purchase Lynch Mob – Sound Mountan Sessions.

What a difference 20 years makes…

Nearly two decades ago, Warrant hit it huge with “Cherry Pie,” “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” and “Heaven,” among other spectacular songs. Nearly two decades ago, guitarist Joey Allen had hair. Here’s an old photo of the Warrant axe-slinger:

And here is what he looks like now:

That photo was taken last night at Riverstar Entertainment Complex in Cincinnati, where Warrant played to a nowhere-near-capacity crowd (maybe 150 people there…maybe). It’s a shame really, because the band sounds great with new singer Robert Mason. Even though there was a lot of empty space in the audience, Warrant played their hearts out. Joey Allen may have lost his hair, but he hasn’t lost his ability to grind that axe! I’ve got a couple of videos posted over at my blog for my radio show, Hard Rock Nights.

Speaking of my radio show, tonight I’ve got guitarist George Lynch on the program talking about his bands…yes, plural…Souls Of We, Lynch Mob, and a possible reunion with Dokken? Listen in tonight for details…9-11 pm EDT on classxradio.com.

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