Archive for October 2013
Growing up in a house where I had parents who weren’t so keen on me listening to heavy metal, I had to be careful of what I brought home to listen to. Certainly a band called Satan wasn’t going to do me any favors with mom, no matter that the band wasn’t “satanic” at all. I believe I had an unmarked dubbed tape version for years which got me through my teens.
Satan’s full length debut, Court in the Act, came out in 1983 and it didn’t grace my ears probably until about 1984 or 1985 after Metal Blade Records picked the album up for USA distribution. To be straightforwardly honest, Court in the Act is probably my favorite NWOBHM release ever, Iron Maiden’s back catalog notwithstanding. The album was perfect, mainly because of the clean vocal stylings of Brian Ross. Easily one of my favorite singers of all time. After Brian left, they followed up with 2 other releases, Into the Future and Suspended Sentence, and to be honest I thought they were terrible. Looking back, it was the new vocalist that killed it for me.
Court has remained in steady rotation for the last 25+ years and will continue to be. A year or so ago new came out that Satan was reuniting with the original lineup to record a new album. To say I was hesitant about hearing a new album by a band that hadn’t done anything in almost 30 years is an understatement. Typically reunion albums suck.
Satan’s 2013 release entitled Life Sentence, however, does not suck. Not in the least. To be truthful, this album is pretty stellar. I finally picked it up last week and have listened to it at least 4 times.
Ross’ vocals sound great and not over-produced or “fixed”. The album as a whole has a very raw sound. Very natural and a perfect followup to Court. Sure, Brian’s no spring chicken now and hitting those sweet high notes like he used to do isn’t really possible, but it doesn’t detract to a great vocal performance on Life Sentence.
The whole album just sounds like Satan should. Clean, powerful, melodic. True NWOBHM. The songs are catchy and memorable. I am quite pleasantly surprised as to how good the album is. Time to Die, Twenty Twenty Five, Tears of Blood and Another Universe are the standout tracks for me. If I had to pick a least favorite, it would be the title track, Life Sentence. Not a bad song by any means, but just didn’t grab my ear like the rest of the album.
That being said, if you’re even a minor fan of Court in the Act, get Life Sentence ASAP. You shall not be disappointed.
I’ve gone on and on about how one of my brothers was such a huge influence on me in the ways of hard rock and metal, but he also influenced me in some non-heavy stuff, the main one being Elton John. As a kid I can remember sitting with him listening to the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album as much as we did KISS and Jethro Tull or Sabbath. The music has stayed a part of my life to this day and still listen to Elton quite regularly, sticking mostly to his late 60s/70s stuff.
Elton has been to Austin at least one other time since I have lived here and I am not sure why I missed that show. Bummer. When I saw this show announced, I knew I had to go…and I knew I’d pay a hefty price for it. The show was part of a benefit for the Andy Roddick Foundation and they were only selling show seats for the upper balcony. I logged in on sale day and couldn’t get a ticket anywhere in the theater. It sold out so fast and I’m sure that most went to ticket brokers/scalpers. Not once have I not been able to get a ticket to a show there through normal ticketing. Then again, this was a big show. I ended up getting a 2nd row balcony ticket through StubHub for almost double face value and I didn’t care. This was a show I just had to see.
I got to the venue a little after 9 when they opened the doors for us little people, the ones not in suits and gowns who were there to bid on auction items to benefit the Foundation. They had the balcony curtained off during the auction until the last few minutes of it. People were throwing around 1000s of dollars on items like it was nothing. Good for them.
Andy comes on stage and talks for a minute, plays a 3 minute video about his charity then intros Elton. They hug, he leaves the stage, Elton bows, sits behind the piano and says, “Hello again, Austin!” and goes right into Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me. It was just him and a piano and it was perfect. He followed it up with Your Song, another favorite of mine.
I’ll admit to getting choked up when Goodbye Yellow Brick Road started. Lots of emotions and had me missing my brother once again.
With only having less than 90s minutes to play, his set wasn’t that long but it was a decent cross section of his career. I would have been fine without Circle of Life and would love to have heard Madman Across the Water, Seen That Movie Too, The One, but oh well.
Elton’s voice sounded great. A little deeper but still very powerful. He certainly can’t hit those falsettos nowadays, but hell, he’s 66. His piano playing was immaculate. He’s a master. he played a new song called Home Again from the latest album and it sounded great. It was cool to hear I’m Still Standing. I’ve always liked that one a lot.
Before the show I was sitting with some friends at a bar and we were discussing the biggest bands we had ever seen. Elton would be #2 behind the Stones for me. Metallica probably #3.
I hate that I waited so long to see him live, but will not hesitate to go again.
Written by The Metal Files
October 18, 2013 at 10:14 am
ZZ Top is one of those bands that I can’t say I love or dislike. They’ve always just been there. If you were around in the 80s, you couldn’t get away from them because of MTV and radio play of megahits Gimme All Your Lovin’, Sharp Dressed Man and Legs. Eliminator was a huge album for them. HUGE. Their 70s stuff was prominent as well but that MTV era blew them up and they changed with the times by writing straight forward bluesy rock and roll pop hits, quite different from he previous decade. I’m not telling you anything new here.
I’d never seen them and when the show was announced for Austin’s ACL Live/Moody Theater, I decided to go and get them struck off the list of legendary bands that I hadn’t seen yet. ZZ Top and Austin have a long history, especially with them being from Houston. A guy sitting next to me last night was talking about seeing them in for the first time in 1971(?) at the now-defunct Armadillo.
As I generally do, I bought 2 tickets on the presale and got my favorite spot in the venue, which is front row, center balcony. The show sold out quickly. My friend Mariana quickly accepted the offer to join me when I asked a few weeks before the show. When we arrived at the show I liked the shirts that ZZ had and decided to buy one for myself and Mariana. We ended up with the same styled shirt and I swear that it was brown and not black. The vendor said it was black and compared to the black shirts on either side of it, it wasn’t…seriously. I ended up trading it in for a truly black one as seen below.
I didn’t realize there was an opening act until we sat down. When I saw a washtub and washboard, I wasn’t too excited. It was Joppa, MO’s Ben Miller Band. Americana/bluegrassish/hipsterish music. In general they weren’t that bad. I’d never heard a washboard played with a wah pedal and flange before, so that was interesting. Everyone in the band was multi-instrumental and that was impressive. That type of music, for me, is better heard and not seen.
ZZ Top came on a little after 9PM opening with Got Me Under Pressure. They smoothly ran through most of their hits and really threw out no surprises. Like a lot of older bands are doing these days, the setlist is set and very coordinated and ZZ’s performance was no different. They were obviously playing along to synched up tracks and that’s fine. It made their show a well-oiled machine.
Billy Gibbons made the statement that these 3 guys have been playing together for 4 decades…and the “same 3 chords.” Pretty funny. He’s been a huge influence on a lot of guitarists and the guy still has it. Get beyond the beards, hats, choreographed stage motions etc, and you’ve got one bad ass guitarist. Minimalist style that is about as flawless as you could want. Dusty’s solid bass lines provided the perfect bottom for the show. Frank played his steady styled beats while it was pretty obvious that his drums were triggered. He didn’t need to hit hard at all. The sound went out on the drums for a few seconds in one song and while I could see him hitting drums, you couldn’t hear any of it. He seemed to be the one most worn from the years of touring, but he played fine.
It was a fun show and while I wanted to heard Beer Drinkers and Heard It On The X, I’ve got no real complaints at all.