New U2 albums are always a celebrated affair. While nobody knows whether U2’s long-awaited The Songs of Ascent will arrive this year, it’s possible, if you believe frontman Bono.
“We’re working on three albums at the moment and we haven’t decided what order we’re going to put them out but The Songs of Ascent have the kind of beautiful intimacy that we’re speaking of now,” Bono said in a post on U2.com last year. “They fit into this moment, the mode of some of these artists that I was hanging out with on Christmas Eve.”
Whether or not we get new U2 this year, here are 10 great U2 songs that show off the band’s spunky Irish post-punk roots and show the chaps at their best.
“Beautiful Day,” from All That You Can't Leave Behind (2000)
Writing a happy rock song can be a daunting task, but U2 pulls it off with “Beautiful Day.” The song is a tribute to all the simple pleasures in life, told through Bono’s descriptive lyrics and the band’s anthemic, powerful sonics. From the opening reverberating electric piano to the closing, fading guitar lines, “Beautiful Day” makes one feel grateful for life’s blessings.
“I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For,” from The Joshua Tree (1987)
Who can’t relate to the experience of finally reaching a major goal, but feeling like something is still missing? U2 captures that sentiment in their anthem “I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For,” thanks to Bono’s longing lyrics and the Edge’s soulful, spiritual guitar playing.
“Mysterious Ways,” from Achtung Baby (1991)
“Mysterious Ways” is one of U2’s greatest love songs. The rock track features a dance-happy beat, the Edge’s funk-driven guitar hooks and Bono’s chivalrous lyrics.
“New Year’s Day,” from War (1983)
“New Year’s Day” marked a breakthrough for U2, since it was the band’s first single to chart in the U.S. Coming off that initial success, the song helped shaped U2’s direction as a socially-minded rock band, as the song was actually about the first non–communist party-controlled trade union in Poland. Musically, it follows U2’s traditions of warm, sweeping guitar lines and near-spiritual lyrics.
“One,” from Achtung Baby (1991)
“One” is one of U2’s most celebrated songs, presenting heartfelt vocals, relatable lyrics and big, grandiose instrumentation. The song was first released to support AIDS charities, although it was originally written about the band’s splintering relationships at the time. Regardless, it’s a U2 classic.
“Pride (In the Name of Love),” from The Unforgettable Fire (1984)
U2’s “Pride in the Name of Love” pays homage to the late, great Martin Luther King Jr., and in addition to the emotive lyrics, the Edge’s guitar work really makes the song soar. The track boasts one of the Edge’s most famous guitar solos, painting a sonic of hope and optimism, while Bono’s lyrics (“Free at last/They took your life/They could not take your pride”) are simply inspiring.
“Sunday Bloody Sunday,” from War (1983)
The Edge’s guitar soloing really stands out on “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” as it breaks through the song’s steady, march-like vibe with moving, sweeping lines. War, in general, highlights the Edge’s guitar work, and “Sunday Bloody Sunday” is a stand-out.
“Walk On,” from All That You Can't Leave Behind (2000)
Like many of U2’s songs, “Walk On” takes on a socially-conscious aura, as the track was inspired by Aung San Suu Kyi, who was under house arrest in Burma from 1989 to 2010. The song won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 2002, thanks in no small part of Bono’s poignant lyrics and the Edge’s guitar lines that sing and soar.
“Where the Streets Have No Name,” from The Joshua Tree (1987)
The Joshua Tree was a breakthrough album for U2. The album was U2’s first No. 1 release and thrust the guys into the rock ‘n’ roll spotlight. “Where the Streets Have No Name” gets the set off to a strong start, with sparkling textures and an epic presentation.
“With or Without You,” from The Joshua Tree (1987)
“With or Without You” brings it all together for U2: Bono’s divine vocals, the Edge’s elevated guitar lines and the band’s overall angelic aura. It’s one of U2’s biggest hits and represents the moment when U2 went from being a great rock ‘n’ roll band to one of the most influential groups on the planet.
The Rolling Stones were among the big winners at the annual NME Music Awards yesterday (Nov. 27). In addition to nabbing “Best Live Band” honors, the group carried home the trophy for “Best Music Film,” for the career-spanning documentary, Crossfire Hurricane.
Stones guitarist Ron Wood was on hand to accept the statuettes. “Mick, Keith and Charlie were too nervous to come out from backstage so I stepped up,” Wood told the audience. “About time I think and thanks very much, this is a good award show this.''
Wood also performed at the event, taking the stage with guitarist Johnny Marr for a rendition of The Smiths’ “How Soon Is Now.” Reuters Television later asked Wood about the chances of the Stones doing more live shows, including the Glastonbury Festival. "Keep your eye out because you know I want to do some more, and I know that the boys do too," he said. "I want to do [Glastonbury] badly, but I've no idea yet ....”
Remind yourselves how to play like Keith Richards here.
Eric Clapton fans now have an additional incentive to see the guitar legend when he embarks on a U.S. tour this spring. As the guitar legend prepares to release his new solo album, Old Sock, he says his days as a touring musician will soon come to an end. “If I could [play] around my neighborhood, that would be great,” reveals Clapton, in the latest issue of Rolling Stone. “You have guys in Texas that play their circuit, and it keeps them alive. But for me, the struggle is the travel. And the only way you can beat that is by throwing so much money at it that you make a loss. So the idea is I'm taking a leaf out of JJ [Cale]'s book: When I'm 70, I'll stop. I won't stop playing or doing one-offs, but I'll stop touring, I think."
Clapton jokingly added that he always seems to tussle with immigration officials. "I never get it right,” he laughed. “I forget to take off my belt, or I have change in my pocket. Next thing I know, 'Can you come over here please?' I just don't want to do that anymore.” Old Sock will be released on March 12.
It doesn’t get more legendary than Aerosmith’s anthem “Dream On.” The song is a classic, and now, it may be honored in the group’s home of Massachusetts. South Coast Today is reporting that two Democrat representatives, Josh Cutler and James Cantwell, have introduced a bill into the Massachusetts legislature to make “Dream On” the Bay State’s official rock song.
Of course, this is serious business. To back up their legislature to make “Dream On” the state’s official rock song, the two cited proof of the song’s popularity. For one, Rolling Stone picked the song as one of the 500 greatest songs of all time. On top of that, Cantwell stated that “Dream On” is a “classic ballad that's all about holding on to your dreams and seizing opportunity… No band is more closely associated with Massachusetts.”
If you could pick a rock song to represent your state, what would it be? Let us know in the comments section below!
Sure, The Beatles revolutionized music and created a body of work that will stand for centuries. That doesn’t mean, however, that the members of group didn’t go on to produce music that in some instances was just as timeless. Below are 10 solo albums made by Fab Four alumni that should be part of every record collection.
Plastic Ono Band – John Lennon (1970)
Few Beatles fans were prepared for the searing introspection John Lennon unleashed with his first solo album. Having recently undergone primal scream therapy – a grueling process intended to bring repressed childhood memories to the surface -- Lennon composed material that gave new meaning to so-called confessional songwriting. Such classics as “Mother,” “Working Class Hero,” “Love” and “Well Well Well” were the result.
Ram – Paul and Linda McCartney (1971)
Everyone knows Double Fantasy was credited to John and Yoko, but many forget that Ram was credited to Paul and Linda. No matter. Featuring fuller production than McCartney’s self-titled post-Beatles debut, the album nonetheless contained a tossed-off charm that’s aged well. The whimsical two-part suite, "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey,” remains quintessential McCartney. “Ram reminds me of my hippie days and the free attitude with which was created,” McCartney said last year, in a statement posted on his website.
All Things Must Pass – George Harrison (1970)
The Beatles’ breakup gave George Harrison the opportunity, at last, to express fully the songwriting prowess that had long been brewing in him. This triple-album opus – the first box set in rock music history – also introduced the spiritual themes and slide-guitar emphasis that would often be central to Harrison’s subsequent work. High points include “My Sweet Lord,” “Isn’t it a Pity” and “What is Life.”
Ringo – Ringo Starr (1973)
The original idea for Ringo’s All-Starr Band concept can be traced to this terrific album. Contributions came not just from all of Ringo’s former mates in the Fab Four, but also from the likes of Marc Bolan, Harry Nilsson, Nicky Hopkins and members of The Band. “Photograph,” which Starr composed with George Harrison, and the delightful cover of “You’re Sixteen” both topped the charts in the U.S.
Imagine – John Lennon (1971)
John Lennon mellowed out a bit for this follow-up to his harrowing solo rock debut, but the softer stance was merely relative. “Jealous Guy” presented a self-portrait of someone broken and vulnerable, but “Gimme Some Truth” and “How Do You Sleep” howled with a spirit as searing as anything Lennon had done previously. Forty years on, the utopian vision offered up in the title track has lost none of its luster.
Band on the Run – Paul McCartney & Wings (1973)
Paul McCartney made what many consider his finest post-Beatles album in, of all places, Lagos, Nigeria -- on the west coast of Africa. “Jet,” “Helen Wheels” and the title track were all hits spawned by this superlative effort. Lennon, who generally only grudgingly complimented McCartney’s post-Beatles work, gave the album a whole-hearted thumbs-up. “Band on the Run is a great album,” he told Rolling Stone. “You can call them Wings, but it’s Paul McCartney
Cloud Nine – George Harrison (1987)
George Harrison ended a five-year recording hiatus with one of the most commercially and critically successful releases of his career. Enlisting ELO leader Jeff Lynne as co-producer, Harrison brought in pals Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Elton John and Jim Keltner to breathe life into some of his finest compositions. A cover of the obscure nugget, “Got My Mind Set on You,” reached Number One in the U.S., and the Beatles tribute “When We was Fab” did nearly as well. As fate would have it, the disc would prove to be Harrison’s final solo album.
Double Fantasy – John Lennon and Yoko Ono (1980)
Although Lennon shared billing with Yoko Ono on this album, released just prior to his death, the strength of the Lennon-penned compositions merits its inclusion on this list. Like much of Lennon’s best work, the sheer pop brilliance of “(Just Like) Starting Over” and the straight-on splendor of “Woman” dipped toes in the past while pushing toward the future. One can’t help wondering if ‘80s music in general would have followed a different course, had Lennon survived.
Time Takes Time – Ringo Starr (1992)
This album, Ringo’s first in ten years, was widely hailed as his best effort since 1973’s Ringo. Recorded sporadically over 1991, the album features such diverse material as a cover of The Posies’ “Golden Blunders” and a Diane Warren track titled “In a Heartbeat.” A McCartney-Starr composition, titled “Angel in Disguise,” was recorded for the album, but Starr opted not to include it. The song would have been the first and only song to bear such a credit.
Memory Almost Full -- Paul McCartney (2007)
It’s further testament to McCartney’s artistry that, well into the fifth decade of his career, he managed to come up with one of his finest efforts. Bright, lively melodies abound, and though the lyrical tone is reflective, there’s nothing maudlin in the music. The phrase “memory almost full” alludes to a digital message, of course, but it also happens to be an anagram of “for my soul mate LLM” (Linda McCartney’s full initials). McCartney has said the reference was unintentional.
A number of rare Electric Light Orchestra and Jeff Lynne recordings have found a new home on Frontiers Records, the label that recently released new albums by both Lynne and his most famous musical endeavor, ELO.
The releases are ELO's Zoom, a 2001 release which has been unavailable for over ten years and which features appearances by Beatles George Harrison and Ringo Starr; Lynne's 1990 solo debut Armchair Theatre (Harrison shows up there too); and Electric Live Orchestra Live, which chronicles the first date of the Zoom tour at Los Angeles' CBS Television City, originally released as a DVD.
Each release includes additional tracks, with Live really upping the ante with four tracks that weren't on the original DVD release as well as two new unreleased studio tracks, "Out of Luck" and "Cold Feet."
Last year Frontiers released ELO's Mr. Blue Sky: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra and Lynne's Long Wave. Both albums were essentially covers: the former featuring brand new recordings of ELO classics, and the latter comprised of tracks that Lynne loved in his formative years in Birmingham, UK.
All three new re-releases will be available on April 19, 2013 in Europe and April 23 in North America.
Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry will become the 36th recipients of ASCAP’s annual Founders Award at this year’s Pop Music Awards. The performing rights organization bestows the honor on those who “have made exceptional contributions to music, inspiring and influencing their fellow creators."
In a prepared statement, ASCAP chairman Paul Williams said, "As part of one of our nation’s greatest and most iconic rock bands, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry crafted the music that defined a generation and continues to inspire songwriters today. They are true musical pioneers whose contributions to American songwriting are immeasurable.”
Tyler responded graciously, saying, "It is humbling for Joe and me to be honored for our music alongside the likes of Stevie Wonder, Neil Young, Paul McCartney and Joni Mitchell. It's been a lifelong love affair, and it’s far from over.” Perry echoed Tyler's sentiments. "We join an incredible list of honorees,” he said, “and we are grateful to ASCAP for their support throughout our career."
The Pop Music Awards will take place April 17 at the Loews Hollywood Hotel in Los Angeles.
Find out what Joe Perry thinks about the new “Joe Perry 1959 Les Paul” here.
David Bowie’s guitarist Gerry Leonard is more optimistic than most about the chances Bowie will undertake a tour in support of his new album, The Next Day. Leonard, who in recent years has served as Bowie’s musical director, told Rolling Stone the odds were roughly even that the 66-year-old legend would soon stage some shows. "I would say that it's 50-50," he said. "A couple of times, when we played back one of the more kick-ass tunes from the new record, he'd be like, 'This would be great live!' Of course, everyone was like, 'What? Did he just say that?' But other times he'd just roll his eyes if someone brought up playing live."
Leonard reiterated the assessment of all involved that Bowie is in exceptionally good health. “His voice is sounding great and he's looking great, too,” said Leonard. He could totally do [a tour]. You never know with David, though. I feel he might want to make another record before he plays shows. He's being really prolific right now."
Guitarist Magic Slim, a Chicago blues great who followed in the footsteps of Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, died yesterday (Feb. 21) at a hospital in Philadelphia. He was 75. Born Morris Holt in Torrance, Mississippi, Slim gave up the piano and turned to guitar at 13 after losing the pinky finger on his right hand in a farming accident. He first went to Chicago in 1955, eventually recording his first single in 1966 and his first album in 1977.
His 1990 album, Gravel Road, launched a 22-year association with Blind Pig Records, which released ten Slim albums and a live DVD during that period. Slim’s distinctive guitar style arose in part from his use of picks on both his thumb and index finger. He was known for his encyclopedic knowledge of blues material, and drew from hundreds of songs he had committed to memory. "Magic Slim embodied the heart and soul of this label,” Blind Pig Records owner Jerry Del Giudice said, in a prepared statement. “It was Magic Slim, and the guys like him, and their music, that inspired us to start the label in the first place."
Back in 1957, Gibson’s then-President and chief designer, Ted McCarty, undoubtedly had an eye on the ‘50s tailfins of cars by Cadillac and Chrysler when he designed the V, part of Gibson’s 1958-launched Modernistic line alongside the Explorer and super-rare Moderne.
The Flying V has a rich history in music of all genres. You’ll be needing this Flying V 101 to impress your buddies.
1. Ted McCarty’s earliest 1957 prototypes were made of mahogany, and had the ‘V’ sides but a rounded Les Paul-like rear bout. These were simply too heavy, so the cut-out bottom was added to the design and the wood changed to Korina (aka Limba). “One of the design team guys said, ‘that looks like a flying ‘v’,’” recalled McCarty, “and the name just stuck.” Pickup designer Seth Lover once claimed the cut-out was actually his idea and was done so the guitar could be stood-up vertically against a wall with ease.
2. Gibson’s Flying V was first shown in the 1958 Gibson catalogue where it was listed at $247.50, the same price as a Les Paul Standard.
3. On its 1958 commercial debut, Lonnie Mack started using a Flying V immediately. Some claim his famed Bigsby-equipped V was the only such-appointed V to leave the Gibson factory. Not true. Mack had the Bigsby retro-fitted by Cincinnati’s Glenn Hughes Music store. Mack called his V “Seven,” as it was the seventh off the production line.
4. When Gibson's Custom Shop examined "Seven" to create the signature Lonnie Mack Flying V, its humbuckers were found to have extra windings, which added to “Seven”s fat tone.
5. Mack’s Bigsby-equipped V shaped guitar lingua franca. Due to Mack’s extensive usage of his Bigbsy-loaded V on his 1963 album Wham, bridge vibrato systems gradually became knows as whammy bars.
6. Blues legend Albert King was another early adopter. His first V was a Korina ’59 and some King historians claim it was his first electric guitar. In his early career, King was a drummer. King called all of his Vs “Lucy.” His upside-down, left-handed style was unique, using a minor tuning of C?-G?-B-E-G?-C? (but hardly ever using the sixth string). ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons also gave King a custom-made replica V as a 65th birthday present.
7. The craziest fact about King’s original Vs and V copies is that three are now owned by Steven Seagal. The action-movie actor is a major guitar collector and player.
Seagal told Vintage Guitar, “There’s a rumor that Albert lost [his original V] in a craps game in the late ’60s. Whether at the game itself or as a debt he paid later, this guitar went for $2,500. The person who bought it was supposed to hang on to it – he promised never to sell it. So it disappeared for more than 20 years, hidden in Memphis. But I knew who had it, and found him. I’ve kept it quiet for many years; not many have seen it,” said Seagal.
“I think it is the most important blues guitar in the world, period, and it’s the best-sounding V around – a voice from another planet. It has the most amazing tone and it has all of Albert’s energy in it. It’s one of my greatest treasures. I have Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Firebird with the personally-carved names of Stevie, Albert King, and Muddy Waters, but this one is much more important.” Hey “Casey Ryback”, you’re a lucky guy!
8. An original 1959 Korina Flying V like King’s is one of the most valuable production-model guitars ever, ranked at #4 on the 2011 Top 25 published by Vintage Guitar. If you can even find one, be prepared to pay $200,000 to $250,000. (A ’58 Gibson Explorer and ’58 Gibson Les Paul Standard are at #3 and #2 on Vintage Guitar’s list.)
9. Part of the early Vs value is due to sheer rarity. Gibson built just 81 in 1958, and only 17 in 1959.
10. But early Flying Vs were not always so coveted: The Kinks’ Dave Davies got his V for peanuts. “In those days, I used to only carry one guitar around and I had to get a replacement quick. I went into a store and they didn't have anything I liked. I saw this dusty old guitar case and I said 'What have you got in there?' He said 'Oh, that's just some silly old guitar.' He got it out and I bought it for about $60.” Deal!
11. The Scorpions’ Rudolph Schenker is Flying V crazy. He owns over 60 Gibson Vs, including three 1958s, three '67-'69s, two '71 Medallions, three '83 reissues of the '58, four ‘80s models, as well as a few of his own '84 Rudolf Schenker Signatures, a custom double-neck Custom double-neck V and more.
12. Rudolph would have one more, were it not for his younger brother Michael who permanently “borrowed” one of his ’71 Flying V Medallions when he started playing. Michael’s later 1975 Flying V (refinished in black and white) became one of the most iconic guitars of ‘70s and ‘80s heavy metal in UFO and The Michael Schenker Group.
13. Schenker was the inspiration for Metallica’s early twin-V sound. Though James Hetfield’s white “V” was not a Gibson, but a cheap copy. "I got it in 1980, " Hetfield told Guitar World. "It was the second guitar I ever owned, and I probably bought it for $200. I knew it was a copy, but we treated it as a real Gibson. I wanted a white one because of Michael Schenker.”
Kirk Hammett explained: "I bought my black V in 1979, and it's either a '74 or '75. It was my first Gibson, and it was $450. I raised the money for it washing dishes. I played it in Exodus, and then I went on to play it on the first four Metallica albums and the accompanying tours. It was the first guitar I ever put EMG pickups in. I don't take it out on the road anymore... it's really fragile now because of the weather and traveling. It's just been overplayed, basically. and it's been thrown around quite a bit. I remember one time I got really mad during the Kill ‘Em All tour - of course, I was a little inebriated - and I took off the guitar and threw it at the amp. Another time I threw it at my tech because something wasn't working right, and he didn't catch it. Surprisingly, I never snapped the neck."
14. Maybe that’s because Gibson introduced a vollute to strengthen the headstock/neck joint in 1970. The feature first appeared on that year’s Medallion V. Flying Vs are strong, but they are best not thrown across a stage, people!
15. All Flying V's have two humbuckers, with the exception of the VII (two “boomerang” single-coils) and the V90Double (one ‘bucker, one single coil).
16. The VII was an interesting twist. Introduced by Gibson in mid-1979, its sculpted body and neck were crafted from quality five-ply walnut and maple: either w/m/w/m/w (’79-‘80) or m/w/m/w/m (from mid-1980). It had “bling” too, with gold hardware, an ebony fingerboard and a mother-of-pearl inlaid logo. It remains a collectors’ item, despite it not being widely popular at the time.
17. Jimi Hendrix owned at least three Gibson Flying Vs. Two were right-handed – a 1969 tobacco sunburst and a 1967, originally black, that Jimi himself painted to become his so-called “Psychedelic V.” The third was a left-hander, built for Jimi by Gibson in 1969 and first used live in 1970.
Jimi’s “Psychedelic V” remains iconic, but it has had a bizarre journey. In January 1969, Jimi gifted the V to Mick Cox of Eire Apparent, an Irish band who toured with Hendrix. Cox decided to strip the guitar of Jimi’s nail-varnish paintings (doh!) and later sold it to Ken Hensley of U.K. rockers Uriah Heep. It ended up with U.K. session musician Dave Brewis, who restored it to its old glory in 1999. This guitar, along side pictures of Jimi’s “original”, was used by the Gibson Custom Shop to make a run of just 300, the artwork done by artist Bruce Kunkel.
18. In 1981, Gibson introduced a Flying V bass, making just 375. So they are very rare, but this television appearance by U.K. post-punkers Killing Joke appears to see bassist Paul Raven playing a genuine Gibson Flying V bass.
19. At 44” from headstock to end bouts, the Flying V is one of the longest production guitars ever made. Not as long, though, as this V-alike made by Ralph Ciociano from New York store Guitar Shack. Now, that’s a big guitar.
20. In 2007 Gibson created a limited-run Reverse Flying V, with the tips of the wings facing forward and a backwards V headstock, but other aspects of the design –body contours, vintage style pickups - remained faithful to the ’57-designed original. Just 300 were made.
Paul McCartney and Mumford And Sons are among the headliners for the 2013 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee. The four-day festival will take place June 13Â-16 2013, with a more varied line-up than usual.
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers return for another headliner spot. But they will mix with veteran R&B star R. Kelly, Bjork and rappers Wu-Tang Clan. Wilco, The Lumineers, The National, The XX, Kendrick Lamar, Nas and ZZ Top are other big names confirmed.
McCartney will be making his first appearance at Bonnaroo. Mumford And Sons are fresh off their album of the year win at the Grammys – they first played Bonnaroo in 2011 on the second stage in an acclaimed show.
It’s an eclectic lineup. Billy Idol will play. And Jim James will host a Soul SuperJam with John Oates, Zigaboo Modeliste of the Meters and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
On the roots side, Dwight Yoakam, Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit and Calexico will also appear. Full details at Bonnaroo.com.
Heavy metal guitar pioneer Tony Iommi, who turns 65 on Tuesday, February 19, is best known as the driving force of Black Sabbath. He’s also a veritable Lon Chaney of riffs — a man of 1,000 indelible licks that have propelled such enduring Sabbath songs as “Iron Man,” “Paranoid,” “Fairies Wear Boots,” “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath,” “Sweet Leaf,” “N.I.B.,” “War Pigs,” “Heaven & Hell,” “Children of the Grave” and “Symptom of the Universe.”
The good news is that Iommi’s cancer therapy is working, and there’s a surprise coming for Black Sabbath fans with a brand-new Rick Rubin produced Sabbath album with Ozzy Obsourne on vocals that’s almost completed.
So — with Sabbath on the brink of another renaissance — this seems like a good time to take stock of what the guitarist who blueprinted so many of the tropes of metal, both sonically and conceptually, has done outside of Black Sabbath.
Where to start? Well, Iommi took up the guitar as a teen inspired by Hank Marvin of the Shadows, the early British instrumental rock group, and at 17 famously lost the tips of the middle and ring fingers of his fretting hand in a sheet metal factory accident in his native Birmingham, England. Despite that, the southpaw continued to play in the horribly named Rockin’ Chevrolets until 1966, when he joined the Rest, which featured future Sabbath drummer Bill Ward.
Next up Iommi and Ward carried on to a blues band called Mythology until they met singer John Osbourne — nicknamed Ozzy — and bassist Terry “Geezer” Butler and formed a sextet named the Polka Turk Blues Company. Ouch! Jettisoning the other members, Iommi, Osbourne, Butler and Ward next tagged themselves Earth. For a brief spell Iommi exited the group to join Ian Anderson’s Jethro Tull. The Iommi version of Tull was immortalized on film in The Rolling Stones Rock & Roll Circus. But the cameras had barely stopped rolling when Iommi rejoined his comrades and in August 1969 they adopted the moniker Black Sabbath.
Black Sabbath has been Iommi’s primary musical home ever since — including its Ronnie James Dio-fronted incarnation as both Sabbath and Heaven & Hell. Nonetheless, the down-tuned, dark-toned guitar legend has taken some exciting side trips over the years.
The most musically interesting was his first solo album, 2001’s Iommi, which was packed with a coterie of guest metal and rock singers and guitarists that included Henry Rollins, the Cult’s Ian Astbury, fellow Gibson six-stringer Dave Grohl, Ozzy himself and Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan. The single “Goodbye Lament,” with Grohl, reached number 10 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, but the sprawling “Black Oblivion,” with Corgan, was the disc’s instrumental highlight. Not surprisingly, it took five years to round up all the guests and cut tracks.
Iommi’s second-released solo album was actually his first. The title of 2004’s The 1996 DEP Sessions gives away the date of its actual recording. It’s a sequel of sort to the 1986 Black Sabbath album Seventh Star, which featured Deep Purple’s stellar late-period vocalist and bassist Glenn Hughes — now of Joe Bonamassa’s Black Country Communion — on vocals. The DEP Sessions were part of an abortive attempt to start another band, but nonetheless stands as a strong entry in Iommi’s cannon on its own terms. Although several bootleg recordings of Iommi in the studio are in circulation, Iommi’s third legitimate solo album Fused, from 2005, also features Hughes on vocals. Oddly, the drummer for that disc is Kenny Aronoff, who is more closely associated with the meat-and-potatoes rock of John Mellencamp and John Fogerty than the hard stuff.
Some fans of Iommi, and even of Black Sabbath, debate whether the aforementioned Heaven & Hell was an equal or superior band to Black Sabbath. Despite Sabbath’s foundational impact, the argument for Heaven & Hell’s place as Iommi’s second great band in the metal pantheon has its merits. Essentially the group was the Dio-fronted version of Sabbath, reincarnated to sidestep the machinations of the Osbourne business machine. In 2006 the Heaven & Hell line-up changed after Ward decided not to tour and drummer Vinnie Appice stepped in. The final incarnation of Heaven & Hell is preserved in the Black Sabbath album The Dio Years, a compilation that features three tracks cut for the disc in 2007 and older songs from the Dio-fronted Sabbath albums Heaven & Hell, Mob Rules, Dehumanizer and Live Evil.
Through it all Iommi has had an ongoing love affair with Gibson guitars. His trademark model remains the Gibson SG. His first — a 1965 SG Special with P-90 pickups named “Monkey” — was acquired during the recording of Black Sabbath’s debut album. In 1997 the Gibson Custom Shop built a limited edition Tony Iommi SG Special with 24 frets, giving him the two-octave range he prefers. And Epiphone makes a Tony Iommi G-400, a 24-fret model sportingIommi's own hot-wound signature Gibson humbuckers.
Plant alludes that a possible reunion is in the hands of the other two surviving Led Zeppelin band members: "[Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones] are Capricorns. They don't say a word. They're quite contained in their own worlds and they leave it to me. I'm not the bad guy... You need to see the Capricorns – I've got nothing to do in 2014." So once again there's hope for a Led Zeppelin tour, if there's any truth to Plant's statement.
Led Zeppelin is currently working on deals for streaming their music through sites such as Spotify, Rdio and Rhapsody. They are one of few acts to hold off on releasing their music in a streaming format. They waited until 2007 to release their music through iTunes. Meanwhile Page is working on remastering the band's back catalog, including extra material for each release.
Both Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr have paid tribute to Tony Sheridan, with whom the Beatles worked in Hamburg in the early ‘60s.
Sheridan died on Saturday, aged 72.
The group’s first commercial recordings were as Tony Sheridan’s backing band.
McCartney posted on his website: "Tony was a good guy who we knew and worked with from the early days in Hamburg. We regularly watched his late night performances and admired his style. He will be missed."
Ringo Starr used Twitter to write: "Just say goodbye to Tony Sheridan just he died. I had a great month 1960/61 playing with him was great."
He hasn't come out and said it, exactly, but it looks very, very likely that David Bowie's next single will be "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)" and that it will be released on February 26.
The official David Bowie Facebook page updated over the weekend to show an image of a vaguely Bowie-like character (that also looks like something out of a Tool video), with '02:26:13' posted above it. You don't have to be a World War II codebreaker to put two and 26 and 13 together and come out with 'next week.'
The track will be the second to be released from Bowie's forthcoming surprise album, The Next Day, which is due in March. It's Bowie's first album of new material in over a decade, and by all accounts it appears it will feature many of Bowie's more recent band members, including Earl Slick, Gail Ann Dorsey and Gerry Leonard.
The album was produced by Tony Visconti, who has been at the desk for many classic Bowie albums including Low and the critically hailed Reality.
"The Stars (Are Out Tonight)" is track three on The Next Day. First single Where Are We Now is track five.
Queen’s Brian May and Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi have plans for a collaborative “riffs album,” possibly allowing the guitarists' unused material to be borrowed and built upon by fans. The two are close friends and have jammed together numerous times over the past three decades.
Iommi revealed the rockers’ secret project in a recent interview for Kerrang! magazine. “When are we going to get to work on that album of riffs together?” Iommi asked. “You know what I'm talking about.”
May certainly understood Iommi’s reference, saying, “The record he's talking about was supposed to be a secret, but I guess he's blown it now,” he said. “I'm very, very keen.”
According to The Guardian newspaper, the plan was hatched when May visited Iommi's studio and heard some of the hours of unreleased guitar jams. “I thought it would be great to make a compilation out of them,” May explained. “The idea was to put all these riffs out in some form so that people could build their own songs from them. You could make your own music with Tony Iommi on guitar!”
A “sample” CD of unreleased riffs could be a big hit in hip-hop circles as well as rock: rap producers of all ages have long sampled Queen and Black Sabbath for guitar riffs.
Eric Clapton is back with one of two new songs off the forthcoming album Old Sock. It's called "Gotta Get Over" and it's catchy as hell. Funky, bouncy and fun, scooted along by a nice keyboard riff. Also, some decent fills by Mr. Slowhand himself.
There is no denying the importance of Bob Dylan, and how both he and his music continue to influence other musicians. It is not only singer-songwriters that draw inspiration from the legendary man. Many rock acts have covered Dylan throughout the years and come up with some really interesting interpretations of his songs, some that rock fans like you and me might find better than the original.
When you think about Dylan covers, the first song that comes to mind is “All Along The Watchtower,” much thanks to Jimi Hendrix. The late guitarist's version of the song from the Electric Ladyland album is certainly more known than the original. Hendrix' solos are nothing short of fantastic, and the groove laid down by Noel Redding, and Mitch Mitchell makes you just want to get up and dance along to the music.
Equally as innovative as Hendrix' version of “All Along The Watchtower” is the version that Dave Matthews Band have been playing ever since their early days back in the nineties. Some versions of the song last up to ten minutes in concert. It may start out with just Dave and his acoustic guitar before slowly building to the full band, or sometimes bassist Stefan Lessard starts the song with one of his very unique bass solos.
A third version of “All Along The Watchtower” that deserves mention is the one by U2 from their 1988 album and movie Rattle and Hum. The movie shows the band figuring out the chords on the tour bus before a mid-day appearance in San Francisco. It's a simple take on the song, but the chemistry between Bono, The Edge, Larry Mullen Jr., and Adam Clayton makes it something special. This took place when U2 were at the height of their experimentation with Americana, and at the top of their game. The Edge even whips up a little make shift solo.
If anyone has taken a Dylan song and made it his own, it is surely Johnny Winter with “Highway 61 Revisited.” The song has been a staple in Winter’s live set ever since it appeared on Second Winter back in 1969. Winter’s version is of course full of the guitarists unique slide guitar licks. As he’s gotten older, Johnny sings less and less during his live shows, and the guitar solos take precedence. To guitar aficionados this is hardly a bad thing, as we get to hear more of Winter’s sweet sounding Gibson Firebird V. When you listen to Dylan's original recording and Johnny Winter's version back to back, you're struck with how perfect the song was for Winter, since the original was built around slide guitar as well. What Johnny did was simply turn it up to 11 and play until sparks were flying from his slide.
Possibly one of the most unique interpretations of a Bob Dylan song is Rage Against The Machine's version of “Maggie's Farm.” Taken from the album Renegade, which is completely made up of covers, “Maggie's Farm” sounds like a Rage Against The Machine song. Tom Morello has come up with his own riffs and solos that sound just like what you'd expect them to sound like – Tom Morello. Coupled with Zack de la Rocha's rap vocals the only thing linking Rage's version of “Maggie's Farm” to the original are the lyrics. But this protest song against protest folk music fits perfectly for Rage Against the Machine, who are known to speak up about various issues themselves. The song is an excellent example of how to make a great cover – take a pre-existing song and completely restructure it until it sounds like you.
Lastly, we can't forget to mention Guns n' Roses version of "Knockin' On Heaven's Door," which was a big hit for the band back in the early nineties with the release of the Use Your Illusion albums. Axl and Co.'s over the top performance of the song rocked MTV viewers for months on end. All rock star poses aside, who doesn't love Slash's two guitar solos from the song? And the added backup singers was a real nice touch. Guns n' Roses basically took this simple gospel-tinged song and reshaped it to fit football stadiums. Aside from introducing teenagers to a great first song to learn to strum on an acoustic guitar, Guns n' Roses probably inspired a new generation of listeners to discover Bob Dylan's original composition as well.
Check out some great Dylan covers:
Rage Against the Machine - "Maggie's Farm"
George Harrison - "If Not For You"
Dave Matthews Band - "All Along the Watchtower"
The White Stripes - "One More Cup of Coffee"
Guns n' Roses - "Knockin' On Heaven's Door"
Jimi Hendrix - "All Along the Watchtower"
The Byrds - "Mr. Tambourine Man"
Beck - "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat"
Sheryl Crow - "Mississippi"
The Dead Weather - "New Pony"
Sammy Hagar - "Rainy Day Women No. 12 & 35"
Kenny Wayne Shepherd - "Everything Is Broken"
U2 - "All Along the Watchtower"
Johnny Winter - "Highway 61 Revisited"
Rolling Stone guitarist Ron Wood hopes to persuade his fellow Stones to headline the U.K.’s Glastonbury Festival this summer. Asked about Glastonbury by London’s The Independent, Wood said, “Wouldn't it be nice? We've got a meeting next month and that's going to be my first question to them. It's something I've always been interested in. I'm going to twist their arms.” Wood added he would like the band to do more shows along the lines of their performances in London, New Jersey and Paris last year. “I've got lots of high hopes this year, now that we're all rehearsed,” he said. “Let's get it cracking this summer!”
Last month, Mick Jagger hinted that a Stones performance at Glastonbury was indeed a possibility. “There are other things in the world, you know, apart from Glastonbury,” Jagger said. “But then again, Glastonbury is very important. It seems to be very important to my children.”
Tony Iommi turns 65 on February 19. The Black Sabbath rifflord is a legend of rock guitar, having a huge influence on heavy metal and all riff-rock for over four decades. The title of his autobiography, Iron Man – My Journey Through Heaven and Hell, is also well-named: Iommi recently had to undergo cancer treatment to finish recording the new Black Sabbath album due summer 2013.
You’ll know the numerous classic riffs Tony Iommi has written. But what about the man himself? Here are 10 things you may not know about Tony Iommi.
He grew a mustache because of spiders and fireworks
As a child, Iommi was scared of spiders. A boy neighbor – “Bobby Nuisance, which is the right name for him,” recalled Iommi in 2011’s book Iron Man – collected large spiders, and once chased Iommi down the street with them. “I was s**tting myself and running down this gravel road when I tripped, so all the gravel went into my face and along my lip. The scar is still there now. The kids even started calling my Scarface, so I got a terrible complex about that.” Later, Iommi even had a “sparkler” firework go off in his face. “As soon as I could, I grew a mustache.”
And yet, here’s Sabbath at 1974’s California Jam with Iommi clean-shaven.
He lost his fingertips on his last day of work
Most know that Iommi lost the tips of two fretting fingers in an industrial accident. But it was actually in the final hours of his final day working. The young Tony was a welder, joining together components that a fellow woman worker bent into shape. But the woman wasn’t in work that day, so Iommi had to take over the pressing machine. He’d never done it before, and this was last afternoon at the factory. He didn’t even want to return after lunch, but his mother insisted.
An afternoon accident then ripped the tips off his middle and ring finger: “The bones were sticking out of them. There was blood everywhere. I was so much in shock it didn’t even hurt at first.”
Iommi likes jazz
When he injured his fingers, gypsy-jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt became a huge inspiration. The Belgian had badly burned two of his fingers in a fire, but continued playing, and his never-say-die example gave Iommi the inspiration to continue. Iommi is also a keen fan of Joe Pass and Wes Montgomery – listen to the middle-8 guitar octaves of “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.”
Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham was one of his best friends
“John was a good friend, best man at my first wedding, and he liked us,” says Iommi. “Sabbath jammed through “Supernaut” [from 1972 Sabbath album Vol. 4] with John on drums once. John loved that track. Though we ended up just jamming 12-bar blues at the end. “Supernaut” got too complicated for John! He was going all over the place.”
Iommi “Invented” Ultra-Light Gauge Strings
After Iommi lost his fingertips he had to apply thimbles to extend his two damaged fingers. Originally, he self-made the thimbles with the plastic bottle caps of Fairy dishwashing liquid (think Dawn, in the U.S.) His thimbles are now leather. But regular strings were still too painful too play. He bought banjo strings and used the lightest for B and high E. “This way, I managed to get rid of the low E string, using an A string instead.” Iommi tried to persuade string manufacturers to make such a “complete” set but most told him, “Nobody’s ever going to buy them.” He wasn’t successful until the U.K’s Picato company agreed in 1970.
Iommi’s strings had a .008” gauge for the top E. Jimmy Page, Brian May and Billy Gibbons have all since used .008” top E strings. Compare that with Stevie Ray Vaughan, Pete Townshend and Malcolm Young from AC/DC who all use (or used) .012″ or heavier.
Iommi says he’s been told by producers that he needed a set of thick strings to get a big sound. “I’ve never used a set of thick strings and I do have a big sound.”
For D# (root) tuning, his gauges are .008, .008, .011 (unwound), .018 .024, and .032. For C# tuning, he uses .009, .010, .012 (unwound), .020, .032 and .042.
Iommi is a motorhead
Iommi is a car lover. When he got his driving licence in his late teens, he immediately bought an MGB sports car. He crashed it soon after, though, smashing into trees. “It all happened in slow motion. It sounds mad, but I saw three figures come down, one to the left and two to the right, like angels. And I thought, this is it… Everyone who saw the car said, ‘you should have been killed.’”
His young and reckless driving didn’t deter him. He later bought a Maserati, a Lamborghini, a Rolls-Royce and numerous other flash autos. He later sold his Rolls-Royce to Osbourne, even though Ozzy couldn’t even drive. Ozzy’s then-wife would drive the singer around, with Ozzy’s dogs in the back.
Iommi blew up Richard Branson’s fish!
Ozzy Osbourne is always known as Black Sabbath’s crazy one. But Iommi has had his moments. With new vocalist Ian Gillan, Sabbath recorded 1983’s Born Again album at The Manor Studios in Oxfordshire, owned by record-mogul Richard Branson. For reasons only known to the ex-Deep Purple singer, Gillan wanted to stay in a marquee outside the residential studios. Seeking fun, Iommi and the rest of Sabbath got together spare pyrotechnics from their band’s last tour and put them around the singer’s canvas abode. On detonation, they successfully destroyed Gillan’s garden hideout, but his tent was pitched near Branson’s private lake – Iommi’s firebomb stunt also killed / maimed many of Branson’s prize carp. “He was not happy at all,” Iommi remembers, with typical dryness.
Iommi was asked to write the score for “A Nightmare on Elm Street”
Tony got as far as reading the script and meeting with producers of the 1984 slasher movie, but his manager then asked for a higher fee as it disrupted his Sabbath work. The project fell through. But one track written, “Nightmare,” turned up on Black Sabbath’s 1987 album The Eternal Idol.
Iommi Has Recorded With Over 20 Singers
In Jethro Tull, it was Ian Anderson. In Black Sabbath, it’s been Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie James Dio, Ian Gillan, Ray Gillen, Glenn Hughes and Tony Martin. On his 2000 “solo” album Iommi, he wrote and recorded with Henry Rollins, Skunk Anansie’s Skin, Dave Grohl, Pantera’s Phil Anselmo, System Of A Down’s Serj Tankian, Billy Corgan, The Cult’s Ian Astbury, Type O Negative’s Peter Steele, Billy Idol and Ozzy. For Rock Aid Armenia’s version of “Smoke on the Water,” Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson and Free’s Paul Rodgers sang. You can add quite a few others, such as Cathedral’s Lee Dorian – Iommi guested on their 1995 album The Carnival Bizarre. Iommi still reportedly still has unreleased Iommi tracks with Corgan, Idol and Anselmo. Weirdest singer? Iommi once auditioned Michael Bolton to front Black Sabbath, after Dio had finally left.
His Friendship with Ozzy Osbourne
Ozzy and Tony’s relationship has sometimes been tense, but they remain close friends through their music and good humor. As Ozzy joked over Iommi’s recent cancer scare, “If he dies, I’ll kill him.”
Jon Bon Jovi gave his views on the current state of modern music in an interview with British magazine Star. Online music publication music-news.com reports on how the 50-year old rocker is concerned that young people aren't "paying attention" to music in the same way that teenagers used to when Jon himself got his start in the industry. He also points out that with shows like American Idol and X Factor, young talent don't get the chance to mature on their own: "It's hard because they're thrust into a huge spotlight and they're expected to have a record on a par with the greats six weeks later."
On the question of whether Bon Jovi would have made it under such circumstances, Jon answered, "No, I had 21 years to write my first record." In fact, Bon Jovi did not hit the big time until their third album, Slippery When Wet, went multi-platinum. The first two albums, while moderately successful, allowed the band to mature in peace.
Jon does realize that there are plenty of talented musicians around today, no matter what genre they might belong to, saying "But you can't compare One Direction to the likes of Adele or Mumford & Sons. Their talent is invigorating. I'm glad to see talent continuing because I worry this generation isn't paying that much attention to music."
Foo Fighters main man Dave Grohl has announced that he will be bringing his Sound City Players to London for a one-off show. On February 19 the all-star band will take the stage at The Forum. It will be their first concert outside the United States.
Sound City Players are made up of, among others, Grohl, members of Foo Fighters, Krist Novoselic of Nirvana, Stevie Nicks, and Brad Wilk of Rage Against The Machine. During the band's set in Hollywood on January 31, they played for a stunning three and a half hours, where each performer would do original compositions as well as their contributions to the Sound City documentary soundtrack.
Tickets for the London gig have already gone on sale, and the day before the show the Sound City documentary will be shown on selected screens across the UK. The screening at Vue Leicester Square in London will be followed by a Q&A with Dave Grohl.
Sure, ‘80s rock ballads can be hilarious and nonsensical at times. But there’s something to be said for a big-sounding, from-the-heart arena ballad with cheesy lyrics and grandiose guitars. In other words, there’s nothing quite like a ‘80s rock ballad to see you through Valentine’s Day, whether you’re alone or newly in love. Check out 10 Rock Ballads for Valentine’s Day below (in alphabetical order), and keep that loving feeling alive!
Valentine’s Day brings out images of cherubs and angels, so Aerosmith’s “Angel” seems a good fit. Steven Tyler croons, “Come and save me tonight,” the girls come running. Proof lies in the fact that “Angel” was one of the band’s highest charting singles of the era. What can we say? People love a good love balled.
Bon Jovi, “Livin’ on a Prayer”
Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” is a good ‘80s track for those facing hard times, and we’re sure some couples out there will be dealing with obstacles this year. So, turn to your loved one and sing, “Take my hand and we'll make it - I swear,” as you face whatever adversity comes your way.
Cinderella, “Don't Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)”
Cinderella’s “Don't Know What You Got (Till It's Gone)” is possibly one of the best breakup tunes to come out of the ‘80s. While it may not provide someone who’s newly single much comfort, what’s not to dig about this piano and string-heavy ditty of misfortune?
Def Leppard, “Love Bites”
Maybe things aren’t going well for you, romantically speaking, this year. Rest assured Def Leppard has the cure for you: their seminal hit “Love Bites.” This is of the decade’s biggest rock ballads, complete with a storyline about heartbreak and shiny, bass-heavy ‘80s rock.
Foreigner, “Waiting for a Girl Like You”
Baby, I’ve been waiting my whole life for a girl like you! Okay, that line may not work so well in real life, but it sure does in this song. Foreigner’s “Waiting for a Girl Like You” is the perfect ‘80s nugget to let your sweetheart know she’s the one.
Guns N’ Roses, “Sweet Child O' Mine”
What’s not to love about this bad-boy-tuned-good song from Guns N’ Roses? Those party-happy rockers show off their romantic side in this classic, and it’s about as romantic as Guns N’ Roses gets.
Journey, “Open Arms”
Journey’s “Open Arms” is the perfect tune for someone taking back their ex. The song tells the tale of a love asking for forgiveness after some mistake. So, if you cheated on your girl or guy (which we don’t recommend, by the way), this may be the tune to help make things right again.
Poison, “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”
Who can’t relate to a story about a man finding out his love has been cheating? Apparently, that’s the story behind Poison’s “Every Roes Has Its Thorn.” Brett Michaels has stated that he was inspired to write the song after calling his girlfriend and hearing a male voice in the background. Out of that heartbreak came one of the biggest ballads of the ‘80s. Fair trade!
REO Speedwagon, “Can’t Fight This Feeling”
Say you’re in love and just can’t fight it anymore? Then don’t! Crank up REO Speedwagon’s “Can’t Fight This Feeling” to maximum volume and shamelessly proclaim your love for your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day. Graceful piano, soft guitars, warm vocals-- what more could you want?
Whitesnake, “Is This Love”
Whitesnake are known for their rockin’ power ballads, and “Is This Love” is a keeper. This tune featuring David Coverdale is a catchy one, and back in the day, the song’s video starred his then-girlfriend Tawny Kitaen, adding to the romance.
When you go to a rock show, there are usually one or two people in a band that stand out the most. The singer of course gets a lot of attention, and tends to be the one that many casual fans associate with the band in question. The guitarist, or lead guitarist in a two-guitar band, is usually second in line. All the cool guitar solos and poses make him a focal point of the show. But what about the rhythm guitarist? Easily one of the most overlooked band members, he is often neglected simply because he's not at the front of the stage ripping through solos in every song. Well, a solo last for maybe a minute, but what about the rest of the song, where does the solid groove come from? And who is actually playing that instantly recognizable riff that you know and love? That's right – the rhythm guitarist. Here we will take a look at some of the most well-known rhythm guitarists in the business, each with his own trademark sound and approach to rhythm guitar.
There's no doubt who is the guitar hero in Aerosmith. Joe Perry, with his unique blend of blues and hard rock riffs has been the face of the band alongside singer Steven Tyler for the band's 40-year career. Rhythm guitarist Brad Whitford has stood in Perry's shadow for all these years. Brad spoke to MusicRadarabout how he and Perry work together when playing live, and how they are able to decide who's playing what part: “We're very intuitive. We have a natural ability to complement each other's playing. [...] It makes my life a lot easier when we can both work together the way we do. Certain guitar players I've worked with, either you blend very well or you clash.”
Perhaps the ultimate rhythm guitarist is Malcolm Young. Having spent his entire career playing rhythm to brother Angus' scorching solo's and on stage antics. Malcolm has the groove necessary to carry AC/DC's live shows. In an interview with Guitar World, Angus had nothing but praise and admiration for his brother, saying “My part in AC/DC is just adding the color on top. Mal's the band's foundation. He's rock solid and he pumps it along with the power of a machine. He doesn't play like a machine, though. Everything he does grooves and he always seems to know exactly what to play and when to play it. He's a very percussive player too, his right hand just doesn't stop sometimes.”
A rhythm guitarist who doesn't stand in the shadow of the lead guitarist is Metallica's James Hetfield. James is the ultimate master at playing fast precise riffs while singing, something that is not all that easy as most of you fellow musicians know. Hetfield has perfect timing, and is the brainchild behind most of Metallica's riffs. According to Hetfield, downpicking is a major ingredient to his precise hard rocking riffs, and the technique developed out of a competition with drummer Lars Ulrich, as he told MusicRadar: “It was always a kind of contest – who could down-pick the fastest – and mostly it was a battle between me and Lars, actually. It's a hard thing to do well, because your timing has got to be dead on. If you're playing eighth or sixteenth notes then you've got to get cooking. A lot of practice is called for to build up your strength.”
But playing rhythm guitar doesn't have to be all about playing perfectly synched riffs, it's just as much about groove and swagger. If you put your soul in to your playing you're going to get an organic sound that makes the music come alive, rather than playing like a robot to a metronome. There's no better example of a guitarist who has understood this than Keith Richards. The lifelong Rolling Stone is responsible for some of the grooviest riffs in history. It doesn't matter that Richards isn't completely in synch with drummer Charlie Watts, or the other way around. In fact, this is what gives the Stones their special sound. Now, of course Richards play lead as well, but in the Stones the roles between lead and rhythm are pretty much interchangeable between Richards and Ronnie Wood. But one thing's for sure: Richards' five-string setup with open-G tuning is what allowed him to write some of the best rhythm riffs for the Stones.
So all you lead guitarists out there, make sure you appreciate what a gift it is to have a solid rhythm player to back you up, and make your solos sound good. Try to put egos aside and just play what feels right within the band. Keith Richards sums up the idea of a two-guitar band pretty well in an interview with GuitarPlayerback in 1977: “What’s interesting about rock and roll for me is that if there are two guitarists, and they’re playing well together and they really jell, there seems to be infinite possibilities open. It comes to the point where you’re not conscious anymore of who’s doing what. It’s not at all a split thing. It’s like two instruments becoming one sound.”
Last week Esquire magazine named Cream's Ginger Baker as the world's craziest drummer, coinciding with the film Beware of Mr. Baker (as we reported here).
Now it's been revealed that Baker was under consideration for the drum throne in Black Sabbath for their reunion album, 13.
In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Tony Iommi reveals that producer Rick Rubin suggested Baker as a replacement for Bill Ward. The band shot the idea down. "I thought, 'Bloody hell?'" Iommi says. "I just couldn't see that." Rubin then suggested Rage Against The Machine/Audioslave drummer Brad Wilk, and the band agreed.
"I wanted to make an album that stood alongside their first four albums," Rubin says. "The first album wasn't a straightforward heavy metal record. You could hear the jazz influence, so that was the goal, and to capture that live interaction."
As for the album, which is due for release in June, Ozzy Osbourne describes it as "Satanic blues" - which feels like a good title for a Sabbath album. Song titles include God Is Dead ("It starts off, 'God is dead, but at the end it says, 'I don't believe that God is dead,'" Osbourne says) and a pair of roughly eight-minute tracks, End Of The Beginning and Age Of Reason.
Bruce Springsteen will be honored by MusiCares today, on February 8. Jackson Browne, Emmylou Harris, Faith Hill, Jim James, Elton John, Tim McGraw, Tom Morello, Sting, Eddie Vedder and Neil Young will also perform at the tribute concert in honor of 2013 MusiCares’ Person of the Year, Bruce Springsteen.
The MusiCares honoree is chosen by the Recording Academy for their artistic achievements as well as philanthropic work. Springsteen, a 20-time Grammy winner, certainly qualifies. In his 40-plus year career, Springsteen's 17 albums have often chronicled, according to him, "the distance between the American dream and the American reality."
“Bruce is a unique artist on a variety of levels, starting with the array of talents he brings to his craft,” says Peter Ames Carlin, author of Bruce, a new biography on Springsteen published in 2012. “He's a powerful lyricist who also has a great ear for melody and song structure; he arranges and produces much of his own work; he's a top-drawer lead guitarist, a strong singer and one of the best showmen in the history of American popular music.”
What does a blockbuster rock band do when they’re in need for a last-minute drummer? They call on a buddy, of course! That’s the situation the Who found themselves in during last Tuesday’s (Feb. 5) show, when drummer Zak Starkey got sick just a few hours before the group’s show at San Diego’s Valley View Casino Center. In the end, Who frontman Roger Daltrey and guitarist Pete Townshend tapped Scott Devours to fill in, who sat behind the drum kit during Daltrey’s solo “Tommy” trek a few years ago.
After the show, the Who posted a note on their official website giving Devours big props: “Scott was magnificent. He played the whole of Quadrophenia note perfectly with only a two-hour run through to the delight of everyone – onstage and off. Scott performed the ‘greatest hits’ encore with no rehearsal at all.”
“Quadrophenia’s not an easy piece,” Roger Daltrey added on the site. “To do what Scotty did took real guts.”
Curious how the whole thing shook out? Fans can view photos from the concert up at The Who.com. We wish Starkey a speedy recovery.
Are Steve Nicks and Oprah bffs? We can’t say for sure, but the Fleetwood Mac singer is set to be featured on a new episode of Oprah's Master Class, which will kick off its third season on March 3. Specifically, Nicks will stop by the March 24 episode of the show, which plays on the OWN Network, owned by Oprah Winfrey, on Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT.
It’s likely Nicks will get personal on the show. Judging by a trailer teasing the upcoming episode, the singer will open up about her battle with drug abuse and addiction. Here’s an excerpt from the video teaser: “If you’re gonna start doing coke, save your money, because it’s gonna cost you $50,000 to go to rehab.”
Other celebrities scheduled to appear on Oprah’s Master Class this season include Alicia Keys (March 3), Cindy Crawford (March 10) and Tom Brokaw (March 17).
In other Nicks news, the singer will perform at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on May 4.
Say you’ve always wanted to ask Paul McCartney a question about music or anything else you can think up? It looks like you’re going to have that chance.
The singer and guitarist has announced that he will answer one question each month in a new segment on his official website called “You Gave Me the Answer.” Of course, the feature’s name is a reference to a song that appears on the 1975 McCartney & Wings album, Venus and Mars.
Fans may submit their questions online, and every month, the staff behind Sir Paul’s website will pick the question they think is best for him to answer, and he’ll post the answer online. Fans may ask as many questions as they’d like, to boot. Whoever’s question is selected will receive an email with the good news. So, gather up those Beatle-related queries and sent them off!