Generation X – “Your Generation” 7″ Record Store Day Release – Single Review (The Billy Idol Series)

This is the last in the Billy Idol Series.  I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have in writing it.  There could be one more in the series if I get the Generation X Deluxe Set that was just released, but I have not grabbed a hold of yet.  When I get it, I will do a review of it, but for now, we will end the series with this beauty right here.  I started with a Generation X release and I will end with one as well.

For Record Store Day 2019, Generation X released a special 7″ Single of the band’s debut song “Your Generation”.  The song is not the original version, but the Winstanley Mix which is done in conjunction with the release of a Deluxe Edition of the band’s debut album.  This remix is not on the box set, but in addition to and a must grab for Generation X fans.

The original song was released as a single in 1977, however, it did not show up on the debut album.  It wasn’t until the 2002 re-issue of the debut that this song saw new light.  The B-Side of this single  is “Trying for Kicks” which was also on the 2002 re-issue and not used for the original album.

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The 7″ Single release was on red vinyl and is absolutely beautiful and a nice add to the collection.

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Ed Sheeran – “Blow” (with Chris Stapleton & Bruno Mars) – Single Review

I know what you are thinking, Why am I writing about an Ed Sheeran song?  Well, I will tell you, I am not real sure.  His new album is nothing but collaborations with mostly hip hop and pop artist and honestly, it isn’t that great.  It is pretty stale for me.  I would rather hear just Ed as to me that is where he shines.  Now, I am an old fart and don’t get today’s music, all that crap, but I do know a good song when I hear it.

Oh yeah, now I remember.  There is one song on the album, the very last song, that totally kicks ass.  It is his collaboration with Chris Stapleton and Bruno Mars.  The song is called “Blow” and is the heaviest and most rocking song Ed Sheeran has ever done…at least from what I have heard of his work.

The song starts off with a gritty, distorted guitar riff and a scream all reminiscent of Greta Van Fleet and lyrically it is all about sex.  With a heavy drum beat and a great rhythm section that funks it up a little, the song blazes through all the hooks and melodies that make a great little rock song. Oh yeah and there is a guitar solo…What!!!!…yep, they threw everything in and then some.

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Billy Idol – “Speed” (from the Speed Soundtrack) – Single Review (The Billy Idol Series)

After the lack of success of ‘Cyberpunk’, Billy Idol was pretty quiet for many years with one minor exception.  He reunited with Steve Stevens for a song on the 1994 Soundtrack to the movie Speed starring Keanu Reeves.  Billy was having some disagreements with his label and having many issues with drugs (still), he needed something to get back in the fans good graces.

Billy and Steve were contacted by the soundtracks music director, Ralph Sall, to come up with the movie’s title song and Billy thought this would be a good opportunity.  The song was inspired by the movie and the rest of the soundtrack included songs that were either inspired by the movie or were just songs about Speed such as the Kiss song “Mr. Speed”.

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Track Listing for the Soundtrack

I am not reviewing the whole soundtrack as this is a Billy Idol series so we will focus only on Billy’s song.  And what a song it is.  It didn’t do well upon its release as this was 1994 and Billy’s style of Rock was no longer in fashion.  The movie did way better than the song for sure.

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Mr. Mister – “Kyrie” (The 45 Single)

Back in 1985, Mr. Mister were blowing up the Billboard Hot 100.  All of it a result of one song…”Kyrie”.  “Kyrie” is off the album ‘Welcome to the Real World’ and the song went all the way to #1 in the U.S.  Not just the U.S., it was #1 in Canada and Norway as well.  Mr. Mister were a four-piece band out of Phoenix, Arizona with lead singer Richard Page.

The song, “Kyrie”, was written by Richard Page, Steve George & John Lang.  John wrote the lyrics while Steve and Richard wrote the music.  “Kyrie” means Lord, Have Mercy in Greek and the song actually feels like a prayer. It was inspired by John Lang’s time in church as young child.  It was believed that the song was written due to a traumatic incident with Richard Page, but thankfully that is not the case and it is only an urban legend.

Richard’s vocals on this uptempo song are so smooth and so powerful.  When I said it felt like a prayer that is what it feels like.  Richard is screaming out to God to have mercy on him during his travels.  It was so impactful, it helped drive this song to the top.  However, people didn’t realize at the time that it was religious (even though Mr. Mister are not a Christian band).  People thought he was singing about a girl named Kyrie.

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Scott Stapp – “Purpose of Pain” – Single Review

Scott Stapp is back and he is back with a vengeance.  Scott is set to deliver his first solo album in 6 years since the sensational ‘Proof of Life’ back in 2013 which I think is his best album he has ever done.  So for me, anticipation is high for the new album called ‘The Space Between The Shadows” to be released in July.

As it has been well publicized, he had a meltdown back in 2014 as he suffers from addiction, depression and bi-polar disorder.  Scott is sober now and seems to be ready to take on the world again.  The first single from that album is “Purpose of Pain”.  It is a hard rocking, melodic song that seems to tackle Scott’s struggle with the pain he feels. It has heavy guitars and for me picks up where he left off with the last album.

Scott’s songs really shine when they are personal and this one is no different.  The darker tone and theme are a big draw for me.  You can feel his pain and the emotion in him which adds so much texture to it.  If this any indication of what is to come, I can’t wait!!

Per blabbermouth.com…Scott’s take on the song…

‘Purpose For Pain’ is about seeking a higher meaning, a spiritual mentality when dealing with our struggles and life’s painful moments,” says Scott. “There are unexplainable, dark times that everyone goes through, and that pain is real. If we can dig deep and hold on to hope during the most difficult situations, believing there is a purpose waiting for us on the others side, we can find meaning and clarity that gives us the strength to keep fighting.”

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Gary Clark Jr. – “This Land” – Single Review

I have not done a single review in awhile, but not many songs have impacted me as much as this one in a long while. Gary Clark Jr. has a new album out called ‘This Land’ and the lead sing, “This Land”, is something that needs to be heard.

The song is about race relations in Trump country and Gary lays it all out with no holding back.  The song is powerful, angry and scary all at the same time.  It is scary because it is true.  It is scary because race relations are getting worse and not better.  We are in 2019, over 50 years after the death of Marin Luther King Jr., and still having the same conversations.  It is sad.

I see it in the news every day and when people get angry enough, you get great songs.  Great protest songs that are brutally honest, trying to shake things up, trying to get people talking, trying to make a difference.  That is why I want to highlight this amazing song.  Discrimination of any kind is unacceptable and needs to be stopped.  This Land is everyone’s land.  That is what this nation was built on and no one should be told to go back to their country.  This land is Mine, This Land is Yours, This Land is Everyone’s!!

The song opens with some menacing electronica sounds before Gary tears into with his blazing guitar.  It is rock, it is blues, it is wonderful.  The song itself, is inspired by Woodie Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” and Woodie even gets writing credits for the song.  The song has all the characteristics a great song needs…a good groove, a hook, an awesome guitar solo (oh that solo is something else) and lyrics that mean something.

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a-ha – “Take On Me” – (The 45 Single)

How many times should a song be released as a single before it becomes a hit?  In a-ha’s case, the answer is twice.  a-ha released “Take on Me” twice before it became a big hit in 1985.

The first release was in 1984 and it was a decent hit in Norway from where the band was born, but it failed miserably in the UK and no one in the States had heard of it.  However, the record company still had faith in the song and the band. They brought in another producer, Alan Tarney, and he spiced things up a bit taking the song all the way to #1 in the US and #2 in the UK.

He took the song and turned it in to a New Wave, synthpop masterpiece.  His version was re-released in 1985 and is the version on the 45 Single that I am writing about.  The song is upbeat, synth music with some acoustic guitars, some drums and drum machines and is such a frantic pace that it gets you moving.  The tempo is like 100mph and a blast.

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There are two other things that are special about the song other than that catchy synthpop sound.  One is the voice of lead singer Morten Harket.  As the song progresses, Morten’s voice gets higher and higher until the climatic part of the song he hits this killer falsetto that just makes the song.  It is so high that only the dogs can hear it and wine glasses shatter.  He captures the emotion of the song and its plea for love.

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Billy Squier – “The Stroke” (45 Single)

Back in 1981, Billy Squier came screaming on to the scene with the classic track, “The Stroke”.  This was the song that introduced me to him and kept me a fan all these years.  The song did fairly well on the charts reaching #17 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the song comes from his second album ‘Don’t Say No’ which went on to be a triple platinum selling album.

Now admit it.  You have always thought this song was about masturbation, didn’t you?  “Put Your Right Hand Out / Give a firm handshake”…always led you to believe that Mr. Squier was manhandling his little…”guitar” for lack of a better word.  Ok, I didn’t want to say dick, so there, now I have said it.  However, the song is actually not about that at all.

The song is about the Music Business and how it treats it’s talent.  How with “the stroke” of a pen, the musician signs their life away and becomes the property of the record label. They promise them the “big break”, get their music everywhere (“spread your ear pollution”) and promise fame and fortune.  However, when the hits dry up, the label drops you (“when you’ve found you bled me / slip on by”).  And when you look at the song from that perspective it is really a great song…okay…when you look at it the dirty way it is also a great song…either works!

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Run DMC & Aerosmith – “Walk This Way” (12″ Single)

 

I came across this 12″ Single in someone’s collection I was buying and I knew I had to have it.  I am rocker at heart, but this hip hop version of a classic Aerosmith song is quite groundbreaking and I knew I needed it in my collection.  Mainly, because it adds to my Aerosmith collection as I don’t really have a Run DMC collection (until now I guess).

“Walk This Way” was released back in 1975 (and re-released in 1976) and reached #10 on the Billboard charts.  The song is off the band’s album “Toys in the Attic” (great album by the way, but that is for another day) and it is that producer Rick Rubin pulled out and played for Run DMC while they were recording their album “Raising Hell” back in 1986.  The band had sampled the song before, but didn’t know the song.  Rick suggested the band cover the song, but the band was not too keen on the idea except for Jam Master Jay.

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The band recorded the song and even were able to get Steven Tyler to sing and Joe Perry to actually play on the track.  I said earlier it was a groundbreaking song and that was because it was really the first big hip hop & rock collaboration that crossed-over into the hip hop world and to the rock & pop world.  The song helped take hip hop and rap mainstream.

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Ace Frehley – “Bronx Boy” – 12″ Single

Back in April 2018, Ace Frehley released his first single from his upcoming (yet unannounced) album.  The day was actually April 27th which was Ace’s birthday…do you think they planned that??  This the first new track since his 2014 album ‘Space Invaders’.  He did have a new album back in 2016, but it was a cover’s album so nothing new there.

The reception of the new music was so great, that a special limited edition 12″ Single has now been released (3 months later).  They had no intentions of releasing a physical copy of the song, but the people spoke and Ace & the record company listened and BAM!!  Physical product.

I was able to pick up one of these Limited Numbered Edition 12″ Singles with the White/Black Marble vinyl.  And they weren’t kidding about being numbered.  I am #3701 out of #4000, I believe.

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The new song “Bronx Boy” is a heavy guitar driven track…what else would you expect, it is Ace “freakin’ Frehley.  There is a raw, grittiness to the song that harkens back to his early days growing up in the Bronx, New York.  The song opens with a quick, nasty guitar riff and jumps right into the vocals describing Ace’s life as a “street kid” and his “street life”.  The vocals are rough and classic Ace which is what is great about the song.  Plus, the guitar solo is what we know and love from the Spaceman and he doesn’t disappoint.

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