Wednesday, June 19, 2013
This release marks Dio's fifth live album and the second from the Sacred Heart tour, as 1986's "Intermission" EP captured the first leg of the tour with original guitarist Vivian Campbell, prior to his falling-out with Dio.
This is a solidly recorded album (clear sound from the mixing board) but there are good and bad points to the show. To start with the good points, Dio was at his commercial peaks on this tour (he played smaller halls on each successive tour) and he and the band feed off the energy of the crowd. While this is a CD review, one needs to see the live video for "Sacred Heart" to appreciate Dio's sword and sorcery stage show. For anyone who missed the arena tours of the 80's, this may seem a bit like Spinal Tap but this show goes back to a time when rock bands traveled with mammoth concert sets and the theatrics were just as important as the music. (For anyone who is curious - check out any live footage from Pink Floyd's The Wall tour, any Alice Cooper or Iron Maiden tour, etc.)
The show kicks off with "King of Rock and Roll" and "Like the Beat of a Heart", which are two of the stronger rockers from Sacred Heart. The Sacred Heart album though had a few songs that drifted into AOR territory and the heavy keyboards on "Hungry for Heaven" and "Time to Burn" sound very dated (...and too much like 80's Heart or Def Leppard). Looking at other parts of the set, almost 20 minutes of the show are taken by each member soloing which again seems rather dated and self-indulgent. The six minute keyboard solo which is immediately followed by a 7+ minute guitar solo will likely have most listeners skipping over these tracks on their CD players. Lastly, while most of Dio's live medleys generally sound on-point, the Rainbow songs "Long Live Rock 'n' Roll" and "Man of the Silver Mountain" are butchered by too fast of a tempo. Coming out of these soft spots, the disc ends on a strong note with strong versions of "Stand Up and Shout", Rainbow in the Dark" and "We Rock".
I'm sort of hit-and-miss on this release but hope that the archival releases will eventually extend into Dio's time with Black Sabbath (a Dehumanizer-era live album would be a nice thing).
Ronnie James Dio
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Monte Pittman - Metal Blade Signs Madonna / Prong Guitarist // Solo metal album recorded with Metallica / Evile producer Flemming Rasmussen
Metal Blade Records is pleased to announce the signing of Monte Pittman, the guitarist known for his work with metal legends Prong and the illustrious pop-star Madonna. A release date for the new solo album will be announced shortly.
Metal Blade Records founder and CEO comments: "We are so happy to welcome Monte Pittman to the Metal Blade Family. He is a tried and true metalhead and has recorded a crushing album! Metallica producer Flemming Rasmussen produced a devastating metal record with Monte and we could not be happier that we are working together on this!"
Guitarist and mastermind of the band, Monte Pittman adds; "I'm beyond excited to be working with Brian Slagel and all of the wonderful team at Metal Blade. I can't think of anyone I can put my faith and trust in more with my new album and where my career is headed. Metal Blade's track record has stood the test of time. Brian has been responsible for a majority of bands that have influenced me and gotten me to where I am now. It's been a dream come true making this album with Flemming Rasmussen. Flemming is a Master at recording a band playing together and capturing the sound in the room of everything musically working together. After we finished tracking, the first person I wanted to play it for was Brian Slagel. Here we go!"
Fans in California will have the chance to catch Monte Pittman live as the he brings his acoustic show to Hotel Café in Hollywood and two stops on the Vans Warped Tour 2013 including Mountain View and Ventura (performing on the Acoustic Basement Stage).
Monte Pittman solo acoustic shows:
06/21 Hollywood, CA Hotel Cafe (on @ 8pm)
06/22 Mountain View, CA Warped Tour - Acoustic Basement Stage
06/23 Ventura, CA Warped Tour - Acoustic Basement Stage
Monday, June 17, 2013
"Anvil have more integrity than your favorite five bands combined...Hope in Hell could have been released at any time between 1978 and the present day. It's a very simple, and time-tested formula: in-your-face riffs, screaming leads, great lyrics — pure, uncompromised metal". - Mickey Melchiondo (aka Dean Ween)
It seems somewhat hard to believe that some of the bands that are just now getting commercial recognition have been playing the circuit for over 30 (Anvil) to 40 (Pentagram) years.
Anvil released their 15th disc, Hope in Hell (The End Records), on May 28th and held their record release party two nights later at the Knitting Factory. The new disc is a scorcher and - for all the hardcore Anvil fans out there - there is a limited edition digipak pressing with two bonus tracks ("Hard Wired" and "Fire at Will") and a limited-edition 2LP 180-gram orange vinyl pressing which also includes the same two bonus tracks. For Hope in Hell, the band once again tapped producer Bob Marlette (Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper) who continues to do an excellent job of capturing the band's live sound in the studio. The band has also had a lineup change as Sal Italiano (who used to be in A.J. Pero's 1980's side-project Cities) is now on bass and he is a great fit.
One of the things I've always loved about Anvil is that, in addition to having great musical chops, the band always looks like they are having fun and doing something they love (...which is a great counterpoint to those lead guitarists who look painfully constipated every time they take a solo). Energy like this is contagious though I didn't expect the mini-pit to break out when it did.
Anvil is off on a European tour next month and, in talking with Robb after the show, the band plans on coming back through the States in the fall.
Anvil 2013 Summer Hope in Hell Tour
7/27/13 - U.K Ebbw Vale - Steelhouse Festival
7/28/13 - U.K Glasgow - Cathouse
7/29/13 - U.K Manchester - Academy 3
7/30/13 - U.K London - Garage
8/01/13 - Germany Cologne - Underground
8/02/13 - Germany Wacken - Wacken Festival
8/03/13 - Holland Haarlem - Patronaat
8/04/13 - Belgium Lokeren - Lokerse Feesten Festival
8/06/13 - Switzerland Zurich - Plaza
8/07/13 - Germany Lichtenfels - Paunchy Cats
8/08/13 - Germany Saarbruecken - Garage
8/10/13 - Sweden Gävle - Getaway Festival
Monday, June 10, 2013
There were a lot of familiar faces at Maryland Deathfest (MDF) 2013, both on the stage and off. I wasn't able to take off work to make it to the first night of Deathfest so I started the weekend festivities on Friday afternoon with Repulsion. Repulsion didn't sound much different from when they were in town last September for The Power of the Riff East festival but, this time out, the band played as a three-piece as guitarist Marissa Martinez was notably absent.
The set list included twelve of the eighteen tracks from Horrified, along with a cover of Venom's "Schizo".
Repulsion - Maryland Deathfest, Baltimore, MD 5/24/13
The Stench of Burning Death
Slaughter of the Innocent
Driven to Insanity
Maggots in Your Coffin
I broke down and bought one of the "limited edition MDF Gray version of 'Horrified' - limited to 100 copies and available only at the fest!" but imagine that this is going to sit unopened on the shelf as Relapse's 2CD edition of Horrified has long been on my iPhone. I respect the band wanting to preserve their legacy but I keep wishing they would put out something new. In an interview last year with BrooklynVegan, Scott Carlson said "If the material and motivation ever come together I think we could do something that would not tarnish our name. So yes, we have weakened our stance on the subject a little bit. However, we have nothing planned. One never knows....".
I love the diversity at MDF as there was a fresh-faced lad beside me during Repulsion's set, right outside of the pit who seemed to alternate between pumping his fist in the air and making out with his girlfriend. I don't think I've ever seen anyone make out to Repulsion (...and most of the women that I've known would probably have hit me if I tried using grindcore as 'mood music'.) Ah well - different strokes....
Monday, June 03, 2013
Eric Atria (bassist) summed up the new disc by saying "People are going to think this is brilliant or they're going to think we're insane. Maybe both! It's going to be hard not coming off as pretentious when the final tracks are out (some have 60 tracks of classical instruments ON TOP of 50 tracks of traditional rock instruments). But fuck it!"
Morningbell is one of the more prolific, inventive, and fiercely independent bands in the country. With six albums and four EPs over nine years (including an album released only on custom-made USB cards, a choose-your-own-adventure album, and 2009’s universally lauded Sincerely, Severely), Morningbell has gone more places with their music than most bands do in an entire career. They are constantly stretching themselves musically and creatively in a way that very few bands do.
The band hails from Gainesville, Florida—a hotbed of musical creativity (see Hundred Waters, Levek, Hot Water Music, etc)—and consists of brothers Travis and Eric Atria, Stacie Atria (married to Eric), and drummer Chris Hillman.
Boa Noite is the band’s 6th studio album. It was written, recorded, mixed, and produced by the band in their home studio. It draws influences from romantic classical music, African field recordings, Hungarian folk music, the poems of Jorge Luis Borges, “The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam,” “Finnegan’s Wake,” “Ulysses,” Chopin’s polonaises, classic hip-hop, Charles Mingus, Paul Simon, Curtis Mayfield, Kurt Vonnegut, and the compositions of Claude Debussy, Frederick Delius, John Cage and Arvo Part. With Boa Noite, the band wanted orchestral backing. Without access to an orchestra, however, they pieced one together during half a dozen sessions with multiple classical musicians. The result is a grand, sweeping, ambitious album with songs that often contain upwards of 150 tracks of instruments.
Morningbell are playing a show at Union Hall on Friday, June 7th alongside Olivia Mancini (track) and Oh No! and the Tiger Pit. Tickets are $10 and doors are at 8PM.
On May 28th, the deluxe edition of Paul McCartney and Wings’ 1976 3x LP concert album, Wings Over America, was released as part of the Paul McCartney Archive Collection reissue series. In addition to this disc being one of the greatest live albums of all time (in my humble opinion), Wings Over America showcases McCartney at his creative best. The last comment isn’t to disparage Macca’s more recent output but rather to point out that Wings Over America could easily serve as a greatest hits collection.
Wings Over America was the last of five consecutive Wings’ albums to reach #1 in America and the addition of drummer Joe English and lead guitarist Jimmy McCulloch (both of whom joined with 1975’s Venus and Mars) seemed to add a spark to the band. Listening to the band perform live, Wings sounds like a tightly integrated unit (as opposed to Macca’s current backing band of faceless hired guns) with each of the members establishing their own identity by making distinct contributions to the live show. Multi-instrumentalist Denny Laine (x-Moody Blues) is a veteran performer, Jimmy McCulloch is probably the best of McCartney’s guitarists and Joe English, in addition to being a great drummer, looks like he is having the time of his life in the accompanying DVD.
Wings Over America’s 28 tracks reflect the band’s setlist from their 1976 North American tour but the individual tracks were compiled from a number of different stops on the tour. The set list pulls from all of the Wings’ albums, with an emphasis on Venus and Mars (9 of the 13 tracks are performed live) along with five Beatles song, which was a big deal for the fans as Macca had refused to play Beatles numbers on his earlier UK tours. The set list also includes a cover of the Moody Blues’ chestnut “Go Now”, Simon and Garfunkel’s “Richard Corey” (both sung by Laine) and the (then) unreleased Wings’ track “Soily”, which first surfaced during the Band on the Run sessions.
With the standard edition of this reissue, the original three albums are now spread across 2 CDs, with Sides 1 -3 on the first CD and Sides 4 – 6 on the second CD.
Wings Over America Track List
1. "Venus and Mars/Rock Show/Jet" – Recorded 5/27/76
2. "Let Me Roll It" – Recorded 5/27/76
3. "Spirits of Ancient Egypt" – Recorded 6/10/76
4. "Medicine Jar” – Recorded 5/27/76
5. "Maybe I'm Amazed" - Recorded 5/29/76
6. "Call Me Back Again" – Recorded 5/27/76
7. "Lady Madonna” - Recorded 5/7/76
8. "The Long and Winding Road" – Recorded 5/29/76
9. "Live and Let Die" – Recorded 5/22/76
10. "Picasso's Last Words (Drink to Me)" – Recorded 5/22/76
11. "Richard Cory" - Recorded 6/23/76
12. "Bluebird" – Recorded 5/27/76
13. "I've Just Seen a Face" - Recorded 6/23/76
14. "Blackbird" - Recorded 5/22/76
15. "Yesterday" - ??
16. "You Gave Me the Answer" – Recorded 6/23/76
17. "Magneto and Titanium Man" – Recorded 5/22/76
18. "Go Now" – Recorded 6/23/76
19. "My Love" – Recorded 5/21/76
20. "Listen to What the Man Said" – Recorded 5/29/76
21. "Let 'Em In" – Recorded 6/23/76
22. "Time to Hide" - Recorded 5/25/76
23. "Silly Love Songs" – Recorded 5/25/76
24. "Beware My Love" – Recorded 6/7/76
25. "Letting Go" – Recorded 5/29/76
26. "Band on the Run" – Recorded 6/7/76
27. "Hi, Hi, Hi" – Recorded 6/7/76
28. "Soily" – Recorded 6/7/76
Here is where keeping up with the bonus discs get a bit tricky – the “Deluxe Edition Box Set” includes “the original 28-track album, a bonus tracks disc, DVD of the TV documentary Wings Over the World, 112-page book, assorted memorabilia, 60-page photograph book, 80-page sketch book and download link to all of the material”. The bonus CD contains eight live tracks recorded at The Cow Palace in San Francisco. Wings played two shows there on 6/13-14/76 but, as I don’t have this bonus disc, I have no clue as to which show these tracks came from.
Wings Over San Francisco Track List
• "Let Me Roll It"
• “Maybe I'm Amazed"
• "Lady Madonna"
• "Live and Let Die"
• "Picasso's Last Words (Drink to Me)"
Adding to the different options – the Best Buy edition of Wings Over America contains the Wings Over San Francisco disc ($16.99). If you are interested though – grab this one quick as this edition is sold out in stores and is only available on the shelf in whichever stores still have copies.
The bonus DVD, Wings Over the World, runs just over 75 minutes and contains some great footage from Wings’ American tour. While this documentary traces the evolution of Wings and starts with early rehearsal footage of the McCartneys with Denny Laine along with footage of the McCartneys on their farm in Scotland, the focus is on the ‘75/’76 world tour. This disc contains 15 complete performances from the Wings Over the World tour. Between each of the songs is ‘behind the scenes’ footage that ranges from press interviews to backstage footage and relevant snippets from the band’s travels. What is particularly amusing is an Australian interviewer commenting that Macca may be a bit old for rock and roll now that he is 33. Other footage includes Ringo joining the band backstage, Elton sitting next to Cher at the show at the Forum in Los Angeles, Macca carefully working with the venue sound engineer on the sound check and more.
The size of the crowds lined up outside these venues is also amazing – the big general admission shows (which I assume this is) were before my time so I can’t really imagine being a part of the body-to-body lines. My experience with arena rocks shows is at the Madison Square Gardens, which is less than 1/3 the capacity of the Seattle Kingdom, which was where “Soile” was filmed. The disc ends with Wings leaving the stage and Macca’s final comment was “See you next time”. This is a great documentary as this was Macca’s one-and-only trip to the States with Wings and it would be thirteen years before he returned to the US.