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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Matt Nathanson – “Way Way Back” – Single Review

Just a few short weeks ago, Matt Nathanson brought us a Def Leppard Tribute E.P. titled ‘Pryomattia’ which was a really nice surprise and damn near perfect.  Well, now Matt brings us an actual new song called “Way Way Back” which is supposed to be from a yet unannounced new album coming “soonish” as Matt puts it.

If there is one thing Matt Nathanson can do and that is write a great song.  The man has a way with lyrics and he delivers another sensational song.  The story is of a love lost but letting that person know that they won’t find someone that loves them as much as you did.  That when they realize what they lost they can find you in their memories.

I love lyrics like “Didn’t know that forever only meant forever till you found someone better” which is what I think most people really believe.  And “Radio just wanna hurt me, put you in every song” as who hasn’t gone through a break-up and every song on the radio reminded you of that person.  The song is so relatable and Matt has a way of making everything simple and crystal clear.

It is a love song that only Matt can write.  It is a fun, catchy little tune that will get you singing and “do-do-doing” right along.  If this is any indication of what is to come on the new album, I guess Matt will get more of my money as this will go on pre-order immediately when available…in vinyl of course!!

I would give this one 4.5 out of 5 stars if I had to rate which I guess I do since this is a review.  Give it a listen or go buy now and help support the artist.  It is the least you can do so we keep getting great new music from them.

 

 

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My Sunday Song – “Still Loving You” by Scorpions

For My Sunday Song #98, we take it back to the 80’s and hand it over to Scorpions with their ballad “Still Loving You” off the album ‘Love At First Sting” from 1984.  With “Rock You Like a Hurricane”, I became a Scorpion fan and this song sealed the deal for life.

The song was the second single from the album and it only reached #64 on the Billboard Hot 100 which is crazy considering this song hit #1 in France.  Yes, France.  The Scorpions are credited with starting a baby boom in France in 1985 because of this song.  I am not kidding!

The song is about a man who is in love with woman, but they fear the end of the relationship is fading and almost over. So what do they do, they try again to reignite that passion and flame and give it another shot.  France is the country about love so that might be why it did so well.

At around 6:30, the song isn’t your typical power ballad..well at least in length.  In style, it is exactly like every power ballad which is why it is a power ballad.  The song’s slow crescendo throughout the song is it’s magic.  The song keeps building and adding instruments and it gets more powerful and louder as it goes.

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The Tubes – “She’s A Beauty” (The 45 Single)

In the fledgling days of MTV, they didn’t have a ton of videos so a lot of bands that weren’t getting played on the radio, suddenly had prominence on MTV simply because they had a video.  One lucky band was The Tubes with their amazing song and video for “She’s A Beauty”.  The song was released in 1983 and was off their album ‘Outside Inside’.  The song reached all the way to #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 thanks to MTV.  I know I became a fan off that video and the constant rotation on MTV.  When I came across the 45 a few months back, I had to grab it.

The song was written by Fee Waybill, famed producer David Foster and Steve Lukather from the band Toto.  And the inspiration for the song came from a San Francisco peep show where Fee paid $1 to talk to a naked woman.  The conversation was rather frustrating and that frustration turned into the song.  There is a line in the song that references that conversation…”She’ll give you every penny’s worth / But it will cost you a dollar first” (thanks to Fee for discussing this in a YouTube video for the song).

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The Wild Feathers – “Big Sky” – Single Review

The Wild Feathers are back with a new single, “Big Sky”, and a new album coming on June 29th titled, ‘Greeting From the Neon Frontier’.  If you are not familiar with them, they are a cross between southern rock, country, folk and what ever label you want to lay on them.  For me, their songs are a country rock blend that harkens back to the 70’s and this one is exactly that and more.

The song kicks off with some harmonies that take you immediately to sound of The Eagles and it has guitar playing that would fit perfectly in that era with an Allman Brothers feel.  What you get is the feeling of the great outdoors and that you are driving down some Montana road with the top down and the wind in your hair, the radio blasting and you are in paradise looking at the mountains, the forests and whatever other scenery is around.

It also feels like a campfire song, so pop up a tent, start a campfire, grab the s’mores, pull out that old guitar and sing along.  The Wild Feathers never disappoint and I am hoping this is a good sign of things to come.

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