Tuesday, 3 May 2016

ClassicRockRadio.co.uk NEW Music Review_The Hollywood Vampires

Classic Rock Radio (Dot CO Dot UK) 
03 May 2016 
NEW Music Review 
Spotlight: The Hollywood Vampires - The Hollywood Vampires (2015) 
By: Gary "Uncle G" Brown 
American Correspondent for ClassicRockRadio.co.uk 
Twitter @GBrown0816

After Alice Cooper released the sequel to one of his most popular solo records, Welcome To My Nightmare (1975) entitled 'Welcome 2 My Nightmare' back in 2011, my hope was that it would be followed up by a tour. One that would include the three other original surviving members of Alice Cooper (1969-1974); Michael Bruce, Dennis Dunaway, and Neal Smith. Reason being because they were included on the Nightmare 2 album. Three different tracks. But that never happened. Instead Alice toured like he's done since separating from the original members of Alice Cooper, with his own band. In my opinion, the three strongest tracks on Nightmare 2, was the ones written and performed by the surviving founding members of Alice Cooper (RIP Glen Buxton), and performed again as a group. Their first time doing so since 1974's Muscle Of Love album. And not that the rest of 'Welcome 2 My Nightmare' sucked. The track, 'I Am Made Of You', contains some excellent guitar work by Steve Hunter, and is one of the best solo tracks in my opinion that Alice has done in ages. The album was touched on live, and that's about it. Next came talk of a covers record, in which quite frankly I really wasn't that excited about. Not until it expanded / grew into what we have today. The debut album of; The Hollywood Vampires. 

The Hollywood Vampires self titled record that came out last September, is very much a Alice Cooper project. Produced by longtime associate; Bob Ezrin. The same man who dared recently to voice aloud what I thought was constructive criticism of rap music's, Kanye West. Of course that flew over like a lead balloon, as one would expect from Mister Kardashian, and his homies. Bob Ezrin, who was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame twelve years ago, is also a songwriter, and plays the piano / keyboards extremely well. On the Hollywood Vampires album, Mr. Ezrin plays keyboards / piano, gets partial writing credit for three tracks, does backing vocals, is credited as producer, and also gets partial credit again, this time for helping mix the recordings. A studio wizard, whose work and dedication to his craft helped sell millions and millions of records worldwide. 

The idea for this concept album originated from what lyricist Bernie Taupin labeled a; "drinking fraternity". A bunch of famous guys who putting their celebrity aside, would meet up to see who could out drink one another. All heavy drinkers / alcoholics, whose reputation for partying preceded them. Didn't take long for the Grim Reaper to start picking them off, one by one. Not all mentioned in this tribute to their memories died because of a result of abusing King Alcohol. The Beatles, John Lennon for example, was assassinated by a crazed fanatic on the 8th of December in 1980. Rumor had it back in the day, John was capable of being a very sloppy drunk. Yet it's said the last five years of his life he spent raising their son Sean. Am thinking he didn't do so in a constant drunken stupor. One can conclude that if not for the asshole who shot him multiple times, that John Lennon might be still alive today. 

Back in the seventies / eighties, I had my own battles with the bottle. Ends up some of us cleaned up our act some, while others unfortunately didn't. I loss my Mother who was a professional musician due to her drinking, when I was seven years old. Worked in bars. You'd think I know better, yet I went through and survived the DT's, back when I was just twenty four, after a decade of consuming any and all booze I could get my hands on. Withdrawal almost killed me. Made me learn to respect the bottle, and of course it's contents. Alice took on sobriety after damn near dying. Lucky for him because many try, and fail. 

Uncle G Reviews … The Hollywood Vampires (self titled debut album) 

Starts off with a very cool spoken word track entitled 'The Last Vampire', by the late actor; Sir Christopher Lee (1922-2015). Both Johnny Depp (guitarist for The Hollywood Vampires), and Alice Cooper worked with him in the Dark Shadows film they did together back in 2012. One of my all time favorite movie actors. His body of work with just Hammer Studios is simply outstanding. Who else but he could take the role of Dracula made famous by Bela Lugosi, and profitably make it his own? The opening track ... 'The Last Vampire' ... excellent intro! 

Next we get one of two original songs on the Hollywood Vampires album, called; Raise The Dead. Along with 'The Last Vampire' it helps set the tone for everything that follows. Here's the first track one gets to hear actor / musician Johnny Depp play guitar, and do backing vocals. That to me was a curiosity. My good friend Charles Zittle (drummer for Generation:landslide) informed me before I really dug into this release that Mr. Depp is actually quite a skilled guitarist, and was into playing guitar before becoming famous for his Hollywood roles. News to me. Listening to this album, I found what Charles told me, very much on the money. 

Next comes eleven tracks of not just cover songs, but songs that speak the name(s) for whom they were picked. Every track is enjoyable to listen to. Some rock harder than others. Most of the compositions picked, people will recognize pretty quickly. Here's a few highlights: 

01.) My Generation: Having The Who's drummer Zak Starkey (Ringo's son) playing drums on this track, is icing on the cake here. Always been one of my favorite Who songs. The song's a nod to the original Who drummer Keith Moon (1948 - 1978), who was a Hollywood Vampire back in the day. 

02.) Whole Lotta Love: I always dug Alice's harmonica playing, and if you do too, then you'll seriously dig this track. Also joining Alice on vocals is former AC/DC singer, Brian Johnson. The Hollywood Vampires version of the Led Zeppelin classic, has five guitar players, and again we have Zak Starkey pounding the skins. On bass, Kip Winger. All involved make it one of the coolest covers, being that it's not an exact copy of the original. Dedicated to Led Zeppelin's John Henry Bohham who died of alcohol poisoning (1948-1980). Came close to doing that myself, more than once. 

03) Come And Get It: Written by the Beatles Paul McCartney, and made a hit by the band Badfinger. Released in the States in 1970, it charted on Billboard's Top 10. This version is nothing short of being blessed, having Sir Paul's participation; vocals, bass, and piano. Sharing guitar duties; Johnny Depp and Aerosmith's Joe Perry. On drums, the very talented, Abe Laboriel Jr (Sir Paul's regular drummer). Hollywood Vampires producer Bob Ezrin joins in on backing vocals. Worth repeat plays for sure. 

04.) Jeepster: A fun rocker credited to Hollywood Vampire Marc Bolan (1947 - 1977), and made a hit by the band, T Rex. Includes a standout performance by singer Alice Cooper, who by the way, shines throughout the album. Another feather in the cap for the long time musician. Already inducted in the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame (Cleveland Ohio) for his work with the original Alice Cooper band, I say it's about time he was acknowledged for his solo work. Should be just a matter of time before we see him on the ballot again. 

05.) School's Out / Another Brick In The Wall part 2: Amazing how closely School's Out sounds like the original. Seeing how aging didn't change anything, we have three other people who participated on the 1972 hit School's Out, involved here; Dennis Dunaway (bass), Neal Smith (drums), and producer Bob Ezrin, who helps out here musically along with Kip Winger doing backing vocals. A tribute to Glen Buxton, original lead guitarist for Alice Cooper who passed away back in 1997. Noticeably absent from participating on this Alice Cooper group reunion; Michael Bruce. Main songwriter, rhythm guitarist, and keyboardist for the band. Still very much alive, and who recently came out retirement debuting his new band; Michael Bruce Force. Note, I believe it's Michael that is referred to in the last page of the Hollywood Vampires booklet that comes with the CD. Found listed with a bunch of other names under; "Johnny and Alice wish to thank." It's reads; "Mike Bruce". Those who know Michael, know that he seriously dislikes being called, Mike. So perhaps a typo, or maybe it's another person entirely? Regardless, always nice to at least hear Mr. Dunaway, and Mr. Smith on a record that includes Alice again. 

Pink Floyd's mega hit 'Another Brick In The Wall part 2', gels perfectly with School's Out. Alice has been including the mix (School's Out / Another Brick In The Wall part 2) in his live show for some time now. A natural to appear on this record. The Pink Floyd number, a tip of the hit I imagine to deceased Pink Floyd members, Syd Barrett (1946 - 2006) and Richard Wright (1943 - 2008). Guitarists on this track include Slash, whose a long time Alice Cooper fan. 

Original Track - My Dead Drunk Friends: Over four minutes, this is an excellent closing number. Just as the first two tracks did their job setting the scene, My Dead Drunk Friends, does a superb job ending the album. Containing a serious message in it's lyrics, the song takes a more humorous approach in it's delivery, both lyrically and music wise. 

Uncle G Rates … The Hollywood Vampires (self titled 2015 album) 

Using the one to five rating system, whereas one star means it's downright horrible, to five stars in which means one is safe to spend their hard earned cash on it, I rate The Hollywood Vampires debut album … (a Neal Smith drum roll please) … 5 stars! 

For a mostly cover record, this kicks ass! Due to it's storyline / presentation, it's not just another "tribute" / "cover" album. Is a wonderful introduction to the group. 

The live Hollywood Vampire shows critiqued by critics and fans alike that I have read so far, have all been good. The band smoked on television debut at this years Grammy's. The group played a new song called, As Bad As I Am, that comes with the new deluxe version of the Hollywood Vampires album, and as a tribute to Motorhead's Lemmy Kilmister (1945 - 2015), the Motorhead song, 'Ace Of Spades.' 

In closing, my hope is to see another Hollywood Vampire album follow. A super group for sure, even if hard to get everyone together, the effort I'm sure would be worth it. A mixture of cover / original material would be fine. And I'd also like to see these guys live. Catch them on the road if you can. Should be a solid night of entertainment / hard rocking. 

For additional information on The Hollywood Vampires, please check out their official website @ www.HollywoodVampires.com

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Yes 2016 UK & European Tour

Classic Rock Radio (Dot CO Dot UK)
27 April 2016
YesTour 2016 / UK & European Tour
By: Gary "Uncle G" Brown
American Correspondent For ClassicRockRadio.co.uk
Twitter @GBrown0816

Yes kicks off their 2016 Spring UK & European Tour tonight starting off in Glasgow Scotland. The band is said to be excited, as are the fans who plan on seeing them. According to Yes' bass player Billy Sherwood's official Facebook page, the group is well rehearsed and ready to go. Twenty five dates total, with the group finishing up on June 1st, in Vicenza Italy.
Yes Personal 2016 (brief history)
Founded in 1968, and releasing their first album in 1969 (self titled), we find in 2016 that no actual original Yes members are left in the group. Chris Squire who passed away last year, was the last remaining of the original five players to stay with the band. Still, the iconic progressive rock group still has within it's ranks, vital players that been around since the early days.
The one with the most seniority, is guitarist Steve Howe. He joined Yes after their second album, Time And A Word (1970). Not that he was with the group all this time. In and out of the band more than once, he's been Yes' guitarist for the longest amount of time. An outstanding musician whose abilities are admired around the globe, be it for his work with Yes, or any other of his achievements in professional music over the years.
Drummer Alan White came on board, right after the bands fifth album came out. The mega success, Close To The Edge (1973). Friends with then Yes Producer, Eddie Offord. Alan's been with the group over four decades now, and on paper has more consecutive time in with Yes, than any other player.
Keyboardist Geoff Downes came after a major personal shake up in the late nineteen seventies. Yes' third official keyboardist, he replaced Rick Wakeman, a favorite of fans. His Yes album debut was an album called; Drama (1980). Yes' tenth studio album. For a long period of time that would be the only Yes album Geoff would appear on. Until 2011, when he was back in the line up, participating on Yes' first studio album in a decade; Fly From Here. With the group ever since, he divides his time being keyboardist for Yes, and another mega successful rock band; Asia. An original member along with already mentioned Yes guitarist Steve Howe, who retired from Asia after leaving and coming back into the fold, three years ago.
American singer Jon Davison replaced Canadian singer Benoit David (Fly From Here), who was a replacement for another YesFan favorite, original Yes vocalist Jon Anderson. Before Yes, Jon Davison was best known for being lead vocalist for progressive rock band, Glass Hammer.
Bass player Billy Sherwood came on board after the unfortunate death of original Yes bass player, Chris Squire (1948 - 2015). Personally picked out to be his replacement by Chris, after being diagnosed with Acute Erythroid Leukemia, a rare form of Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Billy has worked on and off with Yes, be it behind the scenes or on stage since Yes' thirteenth studio album; Union (1991). Away from Yes, a multi-instrumentalist , and studio wizard, Billy is a founding member of Circa:, along with original keyboardist for Yes, Mr. Tony Kaye.
For those who will be lucky enough to see Yes on this tour, several treats are in store. For one, the band will be playing in it's entirety, all of 1980's Drama album. Joining them for two very special dates (Oxford / London) will be Yes - Drama vocalist, Trevor Horn. For myself, a long time YesFan, this is very exciting. And since I'm in America and cannot go, am hoping the shows will be professionally recorded, and released at the conclusion of the tour. What a stocking stuffer at Christmas that would be.
Yes will also be performing all of their 1972 studio album; Fragile. This is the one that contains YesHits; Roundabout, Long Distance Runaround, and Heart Of The Sunrise. I witnessed the band do this back on their 2014 tour. Blew me away!
Tickets I imagine are on sale right now for the various locations Yes will perform on this leg of their 2016 tour. A trip to America will follow. I'll try to catch at least one show myself. Am certain I won't be disappointed.

For additional information, please consult Yes' official website; www.YesWorld.com

YesTour 2016 Spring UK & European Tour Dates / Locations. Note the two dates with YesAlumni Trevor Horn are marked with asterisk.

27 April @ Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, United Kingdom

29 April @ Newcastle City Hall, Newcastle, United Kingdom

30 April @ Apollo, Manchester, United Kingdom

02 May, @ Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, United Kingdom

03 May, @ City Hall, Sheffield, United Kingdom

04 May, @ Colston Hall, Bristol, United Kingdom

06 May, @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham, United Kingdom

07 May, @ Brighton Centre, Brighton, United Kingdom

09 May, @ New Theatre, Oxford, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom *

10 May, @ Royal Albert Hall, London, United Kingdom *

13 May, @ L'Olympia, Paris, France

14 May, @ Ancienne Belgique, Brussels, Belgium

15 May, @ Tivoli De Helling, Utrecht, Netherlands

17 May @ Mehr Theater, Hamburg, Germany

19 May @ Alte Oper Hall, Frankfurt, Germany

20 May @ Haus Auensee, Leipzig, Germany

21 May @ Admiralspalast, Berlin, Germany

23 May @ Beethovenhalle, Bonn, Germany

24 May @ Liederhalle Hegel-Saal, Stuttgart, Germany

25 May @ Circus Krone, Munich, Germany

27 May @ Volkshaus, Zurich, Switzerland

28 May @ Barclays Teatro Nazionale, Milan, Italy

29 May @ Gran Teatro, Padova, Italy

31 May @ Obihall, Florence, Italy

01 June @ Teatro Olimpico, Vicenza, Italy

Saturday, 23 April 2016

In The News_Bathroom Wars_What Uncle G Thinks

Classic Rock Radio (Dot CO Dot UK)
23 April 2016
Bathroom Wars
Opinion Piece by: Gary "Uncle G" Brown
Rating: 16+
American Correspondent for ClassicRockRadio.co.uk
Follow on Twitter: @GBrown0816

Hot in the news are stories about musicians, and those associated with the entertainment industry about bathrooms, charges of discrimination, and boycotting. Since some big name classic rockers have come out canceling performances because of this, I figured I'd throw in my two cents on the subject(s). 

In one corner, transgendered / transsexual human beings trying to make life for themselves and others like them, more tolerable. I completely understand. Pertaining to the subject of having to eliminate waste, when the urge hits, it is my impression that Transgendered / Transexuals want the freedom to be able to use the ladies facilities when out in public, whenever mother nature calls. Problem is they still have a penis, because they were born male. They may look female, act female, and even talk like a female. Without clothing, and upon closer examination, doctors having all that schooling on the human body would conclude, they were male. 

In the other corner, those trying to defend children and females from the mentally sick individuals who will stop at nothing to fulfill their own deranged sexual desires. Those who can possibly kill after having their kinks. Not all sex crimes are violent. Those are the ones we as a community should be aware of, and always try to prevent. 

If a pedophile figures out all they got to do is dress the part to gain admittance so to sit in the next stall to little nine year old Susan who needs to go potty, finding this sexually exciting, they will. Here comes the dress, high heels, and blonde wig. What we have here is a wolf in sheep's clothing. Little Susan is prey. 

Using this one example, I just identified a serious problem. But maybe it's not a pedophile, and instead it's a rapist. Or a pervert just looking to take pictures and run video of people going pee or poop, for either fun or profit? So I ask myself. I say Self; How can a rational thinking adult human not at least acknowledge that safety issues could arise should just anyone for any reason be allowed into male or female designated public bathrooms? 

Some concerned men and women who, while trying to show compassion for the transgendered / transexual community, are putting their collective foot down on allowing men for whatever reason, access to a room in which females are in, to use a toilet. Allowing who they see as guys in women's clothing hanging out / sharing a bathroom with their moms, wives, daughters, and just females in general, is totally unacceptable. So strongly do they feel this way, that if provoked, violence can and will erupt. Just a matter of time. States have passed laws recently (Mississippi and North Carolina) or are considering to do so, that point blank say whatever your birth sex is, is what public bathroom you are allowed in...period. This angers others, including the President of the United States. 

Uncle G's Problem / Solution Time 

In my opinion, this has already gone seriously out of hand. The answer to this I believe, has actually been around for a few decades; Unisex Bathrooms. Also labeled; Gender Neutral Facilities / Restrooms. Not for all. I believe children / young adults (age 16 and under) should still have traditional boys / girls restrooms. And adults should realize before going in, what the word 'unisex' really means. 

Of course businesses and those places open to the public could still have traditional Mens and Ladies' rooms, along with the Unisex ones. Problem solved. Those running a public business in the twenty first century need to understand, this is the way it is now. That only offering the traditional Mens and Womens Bathroom, just isn't enough. That's the way it was. Man up, swallow the cost, and do it. Sadly some will fight that to the end. There they go dragging their knuckles on the ground again. The truth is if wanting to compete for today's dollars, that it's time to update ones thinking, and get with what's going on in today's world. Although the count may be low, there are numerous of people in today's America that would feel at peace using a bathroom that had them in mind when designed. 

Regarding Bruce Springsteen / Ringo Starr. Two normally, very cool classic rockers. Both have canceled appearances recently in states where they believe practices discrimination. Here's one law I would stand behind. After an announcement is made that so and so is coming to such and such venue, at such and such date and time, and one ticket is sold, from that point on, the show must go on. Am I wrong? Unless people for whatever reason could be in danger, or it's due to some unforeseen circumstance that could not be avoided; performer taken ill. What I'm saying is please cancel your shows if you MUST, for something legitimate, and not just a difference of opinion. Which is really what we have here. 

In closing I'd like to say that I personally commend those who stick up for others, on both sides of this issue(s). Saying that I understand business is business, and in my opinion, boycotting is not the answer. When canceling a concert, a ton of people are affected. Financially punishing a State, is also punishing it's population, including the ones who make a living selling hot dogs and beer at your shows. Are they heterosexual, gay, transgendered, or transexual? Why not ask them what they think on the subject, before pulling the plug on what would been money well earned, and probably due to not being millionaires like y'all, money needed to pay bills, and for everyday expenses? I'm saying everyone loses money. Gone because of you taking a stand. Something that can still be done, before or after your performance. But please not during the show. Believe me, not all in the audience feel the same way you do about everything.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Classic Rock Radio (Dot CO Dot UK) PRESENTS
Uncle G's FUN Movie Reviews
Spotlight: Cheech & Chong's Animated Movie (2013_20TH Century Fox)
20 April 2016

Note: In honor of it being April 20th & always enjoying the humor of comedy legends Cheech & Chong, this is a reprint of review(s) published back in 2013. 

Authored by: Gary "Uncle G" Brown 05 May 2013

So after viewing this DVD four times, I'm ready to comment. Four times? Let me explain. In the wee hours of the 4th or May, I entered my neighborhood Walmart is search of medical relief. A few days before I was diagnosed with strep throat. Am taking antibiotics. For the fever, runny nose, sore throat symptoms, something over the counter. Compliment the real medicine my Doctor prescribed. Once securing that and while working my way over to the orange juice, I walked past the new Cheech & Chong flick / DVD; Cheech & Chong's Animated Movie. Life should not totally suck when feeling under the weather. So along with the cold medicine, orange juice, and a box of snot rags, the kind with Aloe to help the nose from it's over use of being blown, I grabbed the second to last DVD available, and made my way to the check out counter.

Arriving home and while under the influence of...cold medicine...I laid up on the couch, and pressed play. Was so entertained at the end of it that when hitting special features, I decided to listen to all three bonus commentaries. The first one with the legendary comedians themselves; Cheech & Chong. Worth the price of admission, all by itself. May I point out that this is the legendary comedy duo reminiscing together in the year 2013. Semi-seriously discussing not only the movie, but their careers together. Not only funny, but fascinating. Learning the inner workings of what made all the pot / drug jokes so good to begin with.

Saying all that...I'm glad I don't pay attention to movie reviews. If I did, I would have passed buying the newest Cheech & Chong product. What a shame that would have been. From reading how the animation sucks, to the lack of new routines, the ratings are near the bottom of the ladder. I ask myself; I say Self...WTF? Plenty of reasons pop in my head. Let me spit out a couple:

01. The reviewers expect old school animation. Every item hand drawn like they did in the early days of Disney, and Warner Brothers. Guess what, it's not. Still, looks as good as what we currently have on television; The Simpsons, or South Park. I think the over all look to Cheech & Chong's Animated Movie totally fits the material myself. Quality well enough to pause the picture and admire everything in that frame. When watching more then once, one notices items in the background they might not have seen the first time around. Sight gags. A sign awarding Dick Chaney Water-boarding Champion for several years running. In the same sketch, Tortured Old Man, on the wall in the background it reads in BIG letters; Helliburton. About two blocks up the road from me, is a company called; Halliburton. A more modern reference then the original Nazi story line. Summing up picture quality...seriously...looks fine to me. I might even use the word, outstanding. We'll see a few paragraphs down if I do.

02. To say all this film consists of is OLD ROUTINES...duh....it's a visual greatest hits depicting some of the best Cheech & Chong sketches ever assembled in one place. Every word said in the classic routines is preserved, the way it should be. Because of the decades that has gone by, there are certain words, locations, and even objects, like a payphone, that has departed our existence. Cool references to days gone by. Stoner's are as a rule, not stupid. Just generally speaking. The under age 30 ones who watch this, are bright enough to use Internet search engines to look up whatever puzzles them. That or I suggest with them knowing this is the duo's original routines, watch it with an older pothead so to ask questions to. So the backdrops may be more 21st century, but done so without rewriting comedic / pop culture history. To me, the movie's a very cool way to archive / preserve some of Cheech & Chong's funniest bits. All details paid close attention to. A job well done by all involved.

As one views the movie, one grows in appreciation they have for the comedy duo. Example, every voice you hear in the sketches, are theirs. The joke is they were too cheap to hire anyone. The beauty of it, is that they were good enough to pull it off. Dialects from around the globe. All characters done in a way so to individualize and make memorable. Add to that, Cheech & Chong wrote their own material. When on stage or film, they project the words further by acting out the scenes fans heard and envisioned, mostly while under the influence of their favorite substance; pot. Not Cheech & Tommy. Sure they admit to using at times, but both for decades has been into a healthy lifestyle, including going to the YMCA between gigs in the old days to work out. Comedy is a business folks. Both men into their seventies now. Still going strong from a reunion a few years back. This writer lucky enough to see them twice in concert since the two started performing together again.

Uncle G's Rating: Using the one to five lid system, I give Cheech & Chong's Animated Movie, five lids. Trust me, that's a lot of grass. It's a DVD that one will give repeated views / listens to. Sound wise, it's like playing the old albums but without having to hear the scratches and skips. Visually, straight or high as a kite, it's catches, and holds your attention. Oh yeah...I almost forgot; outstanding! A solid new product in the Cheech & Chong official products category.

Note: The film has a soundtrack as well. Contains original...NEW...material from Cheech & Chong.

Spotlight: Cheech & Chong's Animated Movie!
Musical Soundtrack Album (2013 Ode Sounds & Visuals)

Authored by: Gary "Uncle G" Brown 23 Aug 2013

We'll resume with the regularly scheduled program already in progress...
Oh ho, oh ho, oh ho ho ho
It’s Cheech & Chong time
Oh ho, oh ho, oh ho ho ho
It’s Cheech & Chong time

Instructions: Repeat chorus and dance around like a fool. More fun in your underwear if listening to within the confines of ones own home.
Some of the coolest dudes to ever walk the planet man, are back; Cheech & Chong. And somehow they miraculously after decades of threatening to, found themselves in a recording studio with Lou Adler being one of the producers, and made a new album. I’m in shock!!

For a couple decades, fans of Cheech & Chong hoped for a reunion. And then it happened. After that, rumors of new movies, and various other projects including performing in concert again (yours truly seeing them twice in recent years) and television appearances.

So what’s the deal Man? The official 411 is that this is a part of the new Cheech & Chong’s Animated Movie project. May I please introduce you to, the accompanying musical soundtrack album; Cheech & Chong’s Animated Movie !! Musical Soundtrack Album.

Check it out Man. This is where the STUFF is. Includes NINE, count them NINE brand new songs (DON’T FREAK OUT) that are in essence NEW C & C sketches. So here it is mostly stoner folks who are reading this – word for word -- after all this time has gone by…A BRAND NEW CHEECH & CHONG ALBUM. Now YOU can say it; Like WOW Man!!

Not to give everything away, but I will tell you the new material celebrates the old, while making references to today’s twenty-first century world. It’s great hearing the old names / characters mentioned. Just as AWEsome is the guys new material. Put it all together and it’s an incredibly funny listening experience that begs for the repeat button to be hit once the disc stops playing.

Rating: Using the one to five bong rating system, Uncle G rates Cheech & Chong's NEW comedy record; Cheech & Chong’s Animated Movie !! Musical Soundtrack Album, FIVE BONGS MAN !! Uncle G's TOTALLY blow away. The whole production is tight…job well done to ALL involved. It's what you expect from Cheech & Chong, and that’s including having HIGH expectations for like FOREVER Man.

Cheech & Chong Official Website: http://cheechandchong.com/                       

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Uncle G_Stairway To The Courthouse

Classic Rock Radio (Dot CO Dot UK)
13 April 2016
Stairway to the Courthouse
Opinion Piece by: Gary "Uncle G" Brown
American Correspondent for ClassicRockRadio.co.uk
Twitter @GBrown0816

Note: This is a Gary "Uncle G" Brown opinion piece. His views may not reflect that of the station, the staff, or for that fact any other human being on the planet. You been warned!

While reading the news and drinking coffee this morning, I saw headlines on several websites mention that members of Led Zeppelin, will soon have to go to court. And then it dawned on me why. Over what is said to be similarities in music between a song by an oldies rock band called Spirit, and one of the biggest selling hits the mega popular hard rock band, Led Zeppelin, ever had; Stairway To Heaven.  

The subject of plagiarism is a very serious one. Ruins reputations, and flat out empties bank accounts. By definition, it's the stealing of someone else's work, and taking credit for it. Especially bad when done so for profit. There are serious laws in place that try to prevent this. And here is what Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, are having to face. The credited songwriters of, Stairway To Heaven. Lawyer-ed up I imagine, and in a federal courtroom this coming May 10th. The proceedings will be heard in a federal court, located in Los Angeles, California. Would luv to have a press pass for this. Main reason is because I believe Mr. Plant and Mr. Page will be exonerated of any and all wrongdoing. And here's why.

Exhibit A as found on YouTube; Spirit - Taurus. Released in 1968.

Exhibit B as found on YouTube; Led Zeppelin - Stairway To Heaven. Released in 1971. 

Uncle G's Analyst

I know the Led Zeppelin song 'Stairway To Heaven' so well, that it only took one listen to it, so I could be refreshed. For the record, it isn't something I listen to everyday. That was a few decades ago. I enjoyed playing / hearing the studio recording, as well as the live version from the band's album, The Song Remains The Same (1976), many many times. The live performance rocks more towards the end. Jimmy's guitar work is absolutely amazing throughout. Saying all that helps me establish that I know the song very well. Enough so to check for similarities.   

My first impression when hearing the first forty four seconds of the Spirit song, Taurus, is that it's totally different from, Stairway To Heaven. So far the Zeppelin guys are safe. What's in question happens when you hear a guitar at the forty five second mark. The next eight seconds after that. Played twice then, and twice another time. I broke up the descending guitar sound as a eight second bit, instead of connecting for sixteen. More convincing. Coming in at two minutes and forty seconds, the notes / chord progression I just pointed out, in my opinion is what motivates the lawsuit. Nothing else matters, or should be in question. In my mind, the accusations, or what we can call the bread and butter of this going to court, sprout from this. Eight seconds of guitar playing, and nothing more.

Let's FIGHT! If I was a lawyer, I'd want to make damn sure that the Spirit song 'Taurus' was indeed played live, and was a part of the band's set list, when Led Zeppelin was around them. Said to be written in November of 1967. Released the next year. For this is what Mr. Page and Mr. Plant of Led Zeppelin is said to have copied / ripped off. The opportunity given was when they both worked the same shows, in what would be referred to regularly by rock n' roll writers like myself, as Led Zeppelin's early days.   

One thing I want to get established is just how under the influence, Mr. Page or Mr. Plant was supposed to be, regarding their exposure to the under three minute song. Did Jimmy or Robert together or apart, hear it once, or so often they knew it better than their own material? I might even ask Mr. Page when being questioned, if he owned the record. And if so, I'd ask if he recalls about how many times he played it. And here's why. Only hearing the Spirit song 'Taurus' a limited questionable amount of time(s) if proven, and then not even owning the record, could be helpful information to the jury to take into consideration. Remember, all information no matter how big or how small, needs to be taken into account, to be properly judged by your peers. Being found liable as I already touched on, could prove to be disastrous for reputations, and future sales. For now, innocent till proven guilty. That's how it works here, in America. The band Spirit and those associated already state the Led Zeppelin rockers are guilty. We'll see.         

Still thinking about this, I wonder if Led Zeppelin even found a group like Spirit relevant. Sure they were a little popular, but The Beatles they were not. Being from the UK, and Spirit from the States, was the band members in Led Zeppelin, that up on them? Were they friends? Attended each other shows? Back stage every night sharing a bottle of Jack Daniels? Did the Zeppelin guys know other songs in the Spirit catalog, besides Taurus? I ask because information can be forthcoming, saying that the Zeppelin guys didn't like, and or pay any attention to Spirit. Sound believable? 

Was the song 'Taurus' that BIG a hit song for Spirit? Played on FM radio a lot? Both answers are; NO. Besides being a wise ass, why ask those questions? Point being it's hard to rip off what you barely know, or just plain don't realize, exists. 


Led Zeppelin's Stairway To Heaven is 8:02 minutes long (studio version). Song writing credit goes to Jimmy Page, and Robert Plant. 

Spirit's Taurus is 2:36 (studio version). Written by Spirit guitarist, Randy Wolfe (deceased). Randy Wolfe aka Randy California (Feb 20, 1951 - Jan 02, 1997) 

It's said Spirit and Led Zeppelin played at the same gigs, but never shared the same stage. That's an important piece of information. Makes it's possible that Spirit may have indeed played the song 'Taurus', while Led Zeppelin was on the same grounds. That being so makes me question the distance from the stage Spirit played on, to where the location of the stage Led Zeppelin appeared on? For sure if I was the attorney for Spirit, I'd want to make doubly sure Mr. Plant and Mr. Page was within earshot. Why you ask? Because from what I gather, it's being automatically assumed that Robert Plant and Jimmy Page learned / knew of the song based on them performing at the same shows. 

Question; "Was any or all of the Zeppelin men, even paying attention To Spirit?" Weren't they playing their own shows? Having to do whatever was required of them, to enable them to perform. I imagine so. Touring and playing live in concert, is a lot of work. I heard recollections from many a professional musician who toured and was accompanied by other bands, saying they never had the opportunity to check out the opening band we'll say, because of being so busy having to do other pre-show activities; bathroom break, prayers-meditation, pot smoking, press, meet & greets, more pot smoking, etc. Just saying. Might pertain, might not? Seriously so, all information needs to be considered. Millions and millions of dollars are at stake here.  

Another Question: Was the Spirit song 'Taurus' played exactly the way it appears on the studio recording, or was it altered any when played in concert? I have a hard time imagining it being part of a working set list. To me, the instrumental is kind of on the low key side. Even a bit artsy-fartsy. 

The main focus is on the eight seconds. This would be Mr. Page on guitar, playing a series of notes, whereas it should be known, that there is only so many. Where Mr. Page might start off with a note sounding close to what one can hear in the Spirit song, anything familiar sounding to their tune 'Taurus' stops very quickly after it's heard.  

Uncle G Concludes

I say to Spirit; I got a line on you. Lawsuit is bogus. Wishful thinking. This is a money grab. I hope to God as I am sitting here now, that it don't work. Eight seconds of music. Page and Plant must be fucking genius' to come up with what is one of the most popular songs ever created, out of just eight seconds of guitar playing that any first year guitar player could have probably dreamed up. Accounts for 32 seconds of music. And I repeat it's not thirty two seconds of original music, but eight seconds worth, heard four times throughout the recording. Eight seconds of material, and not in my mind, the building blocks of what is one of rock n' roll's all time greatest hit songs, Led Zeppelin's Stairway To Heaven. Am sure the trustee of late Spirit guitarist Randy Wolfe, will not be happy reading that. Grasping for straws defense. The attempt to grab the brass ring, should fail. 

It's NOT May 10th. Nothing has gone to trial yet. My calendar is reading the 13th of April. Fact is, no matter how wrong I think it is, the ruling could come in the trustee's favor. Personally, I'd be disappointed to hear it. The notes played on a guitar are not limitless, as I have already stated. Eight seconds do not make a 8:02 masterpiece of modern rock n' roll music. The Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame musicians either ripped off the estate of Randy Wolfe, or they didn't. It's yes or no, and I think not. My opinion. Will be interesting to find out the legal outcome. Good luck Mr. Page and Mr. Plant. Hope this all plays out to YOUR favor. Regarding Stairway To Heaven … GREAT song!   

Source: Daily Mail Dot Com

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

The Cars: The Elektra Years 1978-1987
Rhino/Warner Brothers/Elektra 

For many the first time they heard of The Cars was with the arrival of the band’s debut album in the summer of 1978. Made up of Ric Ocasek, Benjamin Orr, Greg Hawkes, David Robinson and Elliot Easton the band originated from Boston. Dubbed part of the then “New Wave” of American bands, the self-titled album reached the American top twenty in the album charts. The album also spawned three hit singles (Just What I Needed, My Best Friends Girl) and put the band immediately on the map in a commercial sense.

Following the debut album, the Cars released Candy O some twelve months after the debut and enjoyed another hit single in “Let’s Go”

The band would continue to release albums on a regular basis and the albums Panorama in 1980, and Shake It Up all consolidated the band’s ever growing popularity. Following the release of Shake It Up Ric Ocasek released a solo album and the Cars took a hiatus. They returned however with an album that was incredibly successful proving that the break had not weakened their popularity.
Heartbeat City was produced by Robert John “Mutt” Lange who was famous for producing more major rock bands than you could literally shake a stick at including AC/DC and Def Leppard. His production skills certainly paid dividends for The Cars and Heartbeat City again spawned a number of hit singles including You Might Think and Heartbeat City. It was however the single Drive that really took the band to another level thanks to its inclusion on a film report on the famine in Ethiopia during the Live Aid concert.

Following Heartbeat City, the band took time off to release solo projects and a “Best Of” was released to fill the gap until the band re grouped to record what would be their final album of the eighties before a lengthy lay off. Door To Door was released in 1987 and again contained a hit single in the shape of Tonight She Comes which reached number one on the American Rock Charts.
Whilst the band did get back together to film a documentary on the band they would never record again in their original formation as in 2000 Ben Orr succumbed to cancer.

This boxed set contains all the band’s original albums brought together in remastered and upgraded format and come in replica miniature album sleeves. My one gripe perhaps is that there is not booklet with full details of the band but the reality of the situation is that here lie sixty tracks drawn from the bands released archive. At a price that really is too good to leave this box on the shelf the contents will be regularly played on high rotation and remind you of just how good this band really were and also the consistency of the bands output over a ten-year period.

For those who perhaps want a distilled version of the box then Rhino/Warners/Elektra have done just that and will release the single disc  “Moving In Stereo” in May for a concentrated blast of the Cars recorded legacy

Thursday, 7 April 2016

CRR Dot CO Dot UK Music Reviews_John Wetton_Live Via Satellite

NEW Archival Classic Rock Release
Spotlight: John Wetton - Live Via Satellite (2015 Primary Purpose)
By Gary "Uncle G" Brown
American Correspondent - ClassicRockRadio.co.uk
Twitter @GBrown0816

Straight up, John Wetton is a favorite musician of mine. Am sure I come pretty close to at least having half of everything that's listed on John's official discography. That's a lot of product by the way. Thing is, he never really disappoints. Is fairly consistent putting out one good record after another. Does not really venture that far off base from the music that he knows his fanbase is into. Displays musical integrity. A fellow human being that lives life sometimes on his sleeve. Winning personal fights with the bottle / health. Has been quoted saying he's lived 'an extraordinary life'. Here's two nights where he entertained / warmed the hearts of those there in person, and others tuning in via man made machines orbiting the Earth; artificial satellite. Enabling those who subscribed, a front row seat of crystal clear tones, beamed down from outer space, and into the comfort of their own cars / homes. The old hippie in me can't help but say; "Far out!" 

If I had to describe John Wetton to a person who was totally unaware of any of his musical accomplishments, I would say he's an extremely well-versed rock musician. Introduced to me, compliments of Robert Fripp's art-rock band; King Crimson. Since that time I learned that John as a songwriter, knows how to pen a song worth hearing more than once. Has been a multi-instrumentalist / professional musician for several decades now. Considered a legend by those like myself, who are into music's progressive-rock scene. Has seen success in rock bands, and on his own, as this new archival double CD called, 'John Wetton - Live Via Satellite', demonstrates. If not a John Wetton fan before hearing either of these two live performances, one from the beginning of June in 1998, and the other four and a half years later, in December of 2002, then I predict you will become one. Especially if into music on a more serious level, and into all that makes everything tick. This guy does it all, including being a record producer. Speaking of which, this archival release, John Wetton - Live Via Satellite, is on his own label; Primary Purpose. Now, let's dig in.

About the release, John Wetton said: “Both of these shows are from the same time period, but come from very different sources. The first, a Circus tent-like venue in a funfair in Stockholm: the second, a state-of-the-art facility in Washington, DC, so the repertoire is similar, but venues could not be more different. Recording production is superb on both, it's a document of a slice of my life.”

Uncle G Discusses … John Wetton - Live Via Satellite (2015)
Disc One
Venue: Grona Lund, Stockholm, Sweden
Broadcast on Stockholm Radio 103.3 FM
Date: 2nd June 1998

A little background. The Swedish radio broadcast (previously unreleased) of John's appearance was believed lost in a fire. Luckly, a duplicate of the master tapes was found. Credited to a long and tireless search by John Wetton’s fans. I enjoyed hearing it for the first time, immensely. Repeat plays have been just as enjoyable. The setlist is solid! King Crimson fans, especially should be happy. A true reflection of John's musical journey, that leaves the Stockholm audience beyond satisfied.


Uncle G Discusses … John Wetton - Live Via Satellite (2015)
Disc Two
Venue: XM Radio Studio One, Washington DC USA
Broadcast on XM Satellite Radio
Date: 5th December 2002

I acquired a recording of this show, some time ago. Like disc one, it demonstrated that once the show starts, John Wetton immediately gets the attention of the audience, and does not let go till the last note is played. Their are some similarities as in the set list that appears on disc one. The same strong, giving it his all, performance. As John stated, the location of where performed, gives off a different vibe. So in my opinion, it's cool having the two performances. Besides, can one really have too many John Wetton concerts in their collection? His ability to play comes from the heart. The poetry / lyrics certainly stems from there. Not only is his ability to play a musical instrument impressive, but the words sung to accompany, have meaning, and depth to them. Lyrics that contain emotions I can't pretend to understand. Some about love, and others of heartbreak. Extremely well done. John's setlist a greatest hits, with songs that sold in the millions. More tracks demonstrating his participating in groups, than on his own. His solo music equally as well written / recorded. Two of my favorites; Battle Lines / Arkangel.

Uncle G Rates … John Wetton - Live Via Satellite (2015)

Using the one to five star rating system, whereas one star means it's rubbish, to five stars meaning you can spend what's left of your disposable income on it, I rate John Wetton - Live Via Satellite (2015) … 5 stars! Each disc deserves 5 stars as a matter of fact. If I had to pick a favorite, I dig the show from Sweden, the best. Again, I already had disc two in my collection. Disc one is fresh to me. Compliments disc two wonderfully.


For information on how to obtain this very fine live recording(s), please consult John's official website. That is: http://www.johnwetton.com/