I am a little behind on reviews, so excuse the lateness of this one. I almost passed it over due to the lateness, but I felt this one needed to be done. Nita Strauss’ ‘Controlled Chaos’ is nothing short of spectacular so I had to talk about it.
Instrumental albums are hard for me to write-up as I am not a guitarist (although learning) or a musician. I mean how many times and how many ways can I say the guitar work is sensational. Well, I will say it at least a few times. Nita’s guitar work is sensational…she is a beast…she is one of the most exciting guitarists out there today. Plus, you know she is one of the best if Alice Cooper has her in his band. I saw them tour last year and she was quite phenomenal!
And another way I can tell you it is great is the fact I actually bought a physical CD. I normally stream new music and buy used vinyl and special edition box sets. New releases only get bought, if they are beyond exceptional and well, this is just that. So, I showed my support by actually spending my hard in dollars on her album. People should do way more of that.
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For My Sunday Song #129, we are tackling the Jeff Beck classic, “Beck’s Bolero”. The song was recorded back in 1966 and released by Beck in 1967. This was the first release after Beck left the Yardbirds in hopes of quieting everyone that were upset about him leaving the band. The song would wind up on his 1968 debut album ‘Truth’.
Now, before we get in to the song, I think we need to discuss the musicians that were on this track. The songwriter is said to be a guitarist by the name of Jimmy Page with contributions to it by Beck himself. The line-up was Jeff Beck (of course), Jimmy Page, Keith Moon, John Paul Jones and Nicky Hopkins. Damn!! That is a line-up. It was later confirmed that was the early incarnations of a little band you might have heard of called Led Zeppelin!! Pretty dang cool.
Okay, back to the song…the song is inspired in part by Ravel’s “Bolero” obviously. The song is made up of three parts. The first is Page giving us that Bolero sound and then Beck bringing in the melody and almost spiritual, spacey sound going. Part two kicks in with a scream and Keith Moon beating the crap out of the drums. The tempo picks up with some distorted guitar sounds and the song rocks out with some slamming keyboard as well. And part three brings us back to the earthy sounds of the beginning with some added fills and more melody. It is a sensational journey.
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For My Sunday Song #128, the instrumental this week is the great “Frankenstein” by The Edgar Winter Group. The song was off the band’s 1972 album ‘They Only Come Out at Night’ and went all the way to #1 for one week in May 1973. The song sold over a million copies and you probably know it and don’t even realize it.
The title of “Frankenstein” is interesting. The title came from the fact the song was pieced together from a very long version of the song as the band would often just jam. So pieces from that jam were spliced together to form the 4 minute album version. It sounds seamless, but the song is an amalgamation of so many different sounds and styles from funk to progressive rock to just plain experimentation. It is a monster for sure.
Speaking of monster, what a monster line-up on this song. You have Dan Hartman on bass, Chuck Ruff on drums, Ronnie Montrose on guitar and Edgar Winter synthesizers and keyboards as well as Rick Derringer producing the song. What a fine group of musicians.
Back to the song, the song is also famous for the double drum solo between Chuck Ruff and Edgar Winter. Chuck on the drums and Edgar playing a set of timbales. It really adds to the song. And don’t forget all the synthesizers music, sound and whatever strange noises were being made. It was just such a weird song sandwiched in between those awesome Montrose guitar riffs. And Ronnie Montrose is a beast on this one.
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For My Sunday Song #127, I am covering the instrumental classic Steve Vai song “For the Love of God”. The song is off his 1990 album ‘Passion and Warfare’ which was my first Steve Vai album. After hearing him play with David Lee Roth and with Whitesnake, I was a huge fan of his and had to have this on CD.
The song has this dreamlike feel to it as if it is floating around you in the heavens. It is strange and wonderful all at the same time. His playing is exceptional and out of this world. Per Wikipedia…
Vai recorded the track on the fourth day of a ten-day fast. During an interview, he explained, “I do try to push myself into relatively altered states of consciousness. Because in those states you can come up with things that are unique even for yourself”.
The song goes on for over 6 minutes and actually ends with some spoken words. Those words are spoken by David Coverdale and are “Walking the fine line between Pagan and Christian.” So, does this still count as an instrumental? Yes, it most certainly does.
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For My Sunday Song #126, the instrumental we will be covering is “Switch 625” by none other than Def Leppard. For a band that is not noted for doing instrumentals, when they did one, they definitely got it right. The song is off the band’s second album ‘High & Dry’ and is still played today in concert as a tribute to the writer of the song, the late, great Steve Clark.
The song bleeds effortlessly after “Bringin’ On the Heartbreak” with such a smooth transition you would swear it is part of the song. The long, unedited version of the song. The song itself is a beautiful representation of all that was great about the god-given gift of Steve’s guitar playing.
I love the dual guitars battling it out. I can picture Pete & Steve going back and forth and playing off each other (now I am making an assumption that Pete played on the recorded version). It also has such a great melody and if it had lyrics would have made for another great Def Leppard ballad I am sure.
In fact, producer Mutt Lange wanted to add lyrics but after battling out with Joe Elliot, no lyrics were added. Joe felt the song was perfect the way it was and no need to mess it up with his voice (of course that isn’t a direct quote, I’m making assumptions but the story itself is true).
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For My Sunday Song #125, the instrumental this week is one that blew my mind and I think changed the way guitar solos were done for most of the 80’s. The song is “Eruption” by Van Halen. Often thought of as the introduction to the band’s cover of the Kink’s song “You Really Got Me”, it is considered one of the greatest guitar solos of all time. In fact, Guitar World Magazine ranks it at #2. For me, it might be #1.
The Van Halen debut is considered one of the greatest debut albums of all time in no small part to the work that Eddie Van Halen did on this song. At only 1:42 in length, it is the most exciting and electrifying 1:42 you will ever experience in music. The song is accompanied by Michael Anthony on bass and brother Alex Van Halen on drums, but there is no denying the star is Eddie Van Halen.
The introduction of the song is based on a song by Cactus called “Let Me Swim” and it has a little piece of “Etude #2” by Rodolphe Kruetzer, but the rest is all Eddie. The song is famous for a guitar technique using the two-handed finger tapping. Finger tapping was not new, but never before had it been showcased in such an amazing way.
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For My Sunday Song #124, the instrumental this week is none other than Eric Johnson’s “Cliffs of Dover”. The song was released in 1990 and is off his album ‘Ah Via Musicom’. The song garnered Eric a Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance in 1992 and it has been named #17 in the list of 100 Greatest Guitar Solos by Guitar World Magazine. That should tell you something about how great this song is.
The song starts off with one wicked guitar solo before kicking in to that familiar riff of the song. What I really love about the song is the melody. It is so infectious and gets stuck in your head. When you hear the song, you immediately strap on your air guitar and strum along. It is taking everything for me to not stop typing and do just that as I am listening to it. Forget, I will be right back…(air guitar strumming)…(still going)….(almost done)…okay, I’m back.
Eric Johnson claims the song came to him quickly and he was done in about 5 minutes. I guess he knew a good thing when he heard it. If it was only that easy for every song. Now, that creative output occurred back in 1982. Eric being the perfectionist that he is spent a lot of time tweaking the song and trying to get it right. He was going to included it on his 1986 debut, but it was nixed by the powers that be. And some 8 years after he first created the song, it was finally released. At least the idea was quick!
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For My Sunday Song #122, the instrumental this week is “Satch Boogie” by my favorite guitarist Joe Satriani. The song is off his 1987 album ‘Surfing With the Alien’. This album was what I would compare all instrumental albums against. It was how an instrumental album should be and sound.
The songs should be that, songs. They don’t need to be just showcases of your shredding because that would get old, fast. The songs should be songs. They should tell a story, have melodies, a chorus even and just be awesome. Joe normally does just that. Makes a song. And sometimes, he just shows off and this one is him showing off and having fun. Heck, the name of the song is fun…”Satch Boogie”. And boogie he does.
Form the opening light touches of the high-hat to his frantic fret work, it is a shredding good time. There is technique Joe uses in the song called “pitch axis theory”. Thanks to wikipedia, it is the following:
Pitch axis theory is a musical technique used in constructing chord progressions. The tonic is used as the bass note, and melodic scales are chosen according to the chords that lie beneath them. “A variety of scales or modesare used, all built around the same tonic pitch.”
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For My Sunday Song #121, we are going to explore the instrumental classic by Ace Frehley called “Fractured Mirror”. For the next 10 posts, I am going to go through 10 of my favorite instrumental songs. I figured I would start with the first instrumental song I ever got into. The song is from Ace Frehley’s 1978 Kiss Solo album and it was the last track on an album that made me wish I could be Ace Frehley and a guitar god.
“Fractured Mirror” was actually the first instrumental that Ace would release would end up being a total of 5 pieces released in total on most of his solo records. You have “Fractured Too”, “Fractured III”, “Fractured Quantum” and finally “Quantum Flux” on his latest release. For me, they are usually the highlight of the albums.
On Ace’s 1978 solo album, Ace showed he could be the frontman, he could survive on his own and do songs just as good or better than Kiss. It was the start of things to come. With “Fractured Mirror”, Ace showed that he was a technical guitarist and that he had the chops to hang with the best.
From the opening bells of the song, the opening guitar riff and throughout the beautiful melodies he created to the ending of that same opening guitar riff, Ace delivered a masterpiece that all his other instrumentals would be compared against. Sadly, all were good, but none were this good.
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