The Metal Files

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Posts Tagged ‘doug morrison

Asia – Concert Review – Austin, TX – August 21, 2010

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1982. I was in 6th grade at Southwestern Intermediate School in the middle of nowhere Virginia. Heat of the Moment was the number one song dominating the charts. Asia was huge already and everyone knew them. We were in some class and someone had a boom box with this song playing and one of my classmates, Kevin F., was playing along to the song on his desk. Kevin was a drummer. For as much as I was into music, I never really thought about playing an instrument until that day in class when I asked Kevin t show me what he was doing. Just as simple as that, he showed me what Carl Palmer was doing on the drums. I wanted to be a drummer. Right then. Boom. It took 2 more years before my parents actually bought me a drum set, but I finally got there. And thanks to Kevin taking 10 minutes to show me “how” to play something, a new chapter…a very important chapter of my life had begun.

For all of the following school years after that, I constantly heard, “Sean, stop banging on your desk!” “Sean, stop tapping your feet!” “Sean, stop tapping those pencils!” and so on. The drums became a way of life for me between 1984 and 2000 when I was forced to give them up due to permanent hand injuries due to drumming. I loved playing the drums and still miss it every day. Fortunately I was able to pick up the bass in 2000 and able to continue on as a musician (yes, drummers are musicians too!).

So basically it was because of Asia and Kevin that I ended up playing drums. Sure, something else probably would have happened to get me there, but that was, as I remember it, the catalyst. So…blame them!

It’s also a big reason why the debut Asia album sits so very near and dear to my tiny black heart. It’s one of those albums that I can never grow tired of, no matter how many times I hear it. Their follow-up album, Alpha, wasn’t too bad either, but the debut is the one.

Being that I was also a YES fan, thanks to my older brother, it gave me an interest in Asia. Steve Howe is a great guitarist.

When I found out a month or so ago that Asia was coming here on their Omega Tour with the original lineup, there was almost no way that I could or would miss this show. I bought tix the instant they went on sale and ended up 7th row on the left side. My friend John ended up scoring front row on the same side the day before the show. Curses! Haha. But whatever. I was there and that’s all that mattered. The guy I play bass for, Doug Morrison, also wanted to go so I ended up getting 2 tix.

The show was at the Paramount Theater here in Austin and I had only seen one other show there, Return to Forever, which was quite awesome in its own right. We get to the venue around 7ish and the band was slated to start at 7:45PM. We were both a little tired from playing a gig of our own the night before. I was checking out the merch and ended up buying the shirt for their current tour as it had the tour dates on the back. One thing I noticed after I bought it was that the band’s name was nowhere on the shirt. Odd. No biggie, I know what it is and that is all that matters.

So finally the lights go down and they open up with I Believe from the Omega album. Everyone stands up to applaud them coming on stage and then we all sat for pretty much the remainder of the show. Kind of odd sitting at a rock show, but oh well. The Paramount is an old theater and the seats aren’t very comfortable, but we suffered through it.

Asia plays songs from the debut, Astra, Phoenix and Omega. The overall sound mix wasn’t that great in my opinion. It may have been because we were 7 rows back from the mains on that one side, not sure. The drum mix got better though the night but his snare was still pretty quiet. Wetton’s bass was almost silent. I even put in earplugs to see if it would help but it didn’t.

The band looked good. I mean these guys are all in their 60s now, so you don’t expect too much. Steve Howe looked like he was about 104 years old, almost like a combination of The Cryptkeeper and Dr Jim from Taxi combined. His playing was great. Nice to see those old fingers still doing those fast runs. He was solid as a rock. He wasn’t very animated but then again he never was. He was playing a double cutaway Gibson semi-hollowbody through 2 Line 6 amps. It was cool that the band took a break and he sat down and did an acoustic solo which included Ram, a great little acoustic number of his.

John Wetton was playing an old black Gibson Victory bass through a 1×15 Ampeg combo amp. Like I said before, I never really heard much of what he was doing but saw some flashes of his talent in the runs that he was playing in a few tracks. I liked that he rarely looked at the bass, he knew what to do and where. He was, however, using a teleprompter and relied on it quite often. I’m not the biggest fan of those things in general, but hey, I guess he’s gotta do what he’s gotta do. His voice was stellar. I don’t think they tuned down at all and he was hitting almost every high note with relative ease for a 60-something year old dude.

Geoff Downes really looks the same as he always has, just a little chubbier (I feel his pain!). He had the usual 3 stacks of keyboards surrounding him and his playing was fine. He also handled all of the backing vocals. Some were synthed but most were raw and he sounded great. He’s a fine keyboardist.

Finally…Carl Palmer. In general I’ve never really paid attention to him as a drummer other than what he did on the first album to inspire. It surely wasn’t because of his “badassedness”. My opinion of his playing changed a bit last night. Even as a drummer, I usually didn’t care much for drum solos. I never did them in bands I was in and most of the time would get bored seeing them by other bands. There were always a few exceptions. Carl Palmer became one of those exceptions. His solo was tasteful and entertaining. He did a lot of jazz stuff, which is what I prefer to see in drum solos. Super fast quads and triplets and blistering double bass is just so cliché. Carl played traditional grip on his left hand the whole night and during his solo he threw in some cool Buddy Rich licks, both aurally and visually. It was pretty cool. The dude has some chops. I just wish the drums were mixed a bit better. But…nice work, Carl.  By the way, Carl looks like Richard Mulligan from the TV show “Soap”.  Pretty funny.

One thing I noticed was the interaction (or lack thereof) of the band members. I’d see Wetton and Downes make eye contact a few times and I’d see Palmer and Downes smile at each other a bit. But there was no eye contact between Howe and Wetton, not even once. I sensed a little animosity. It may also be because Howe seems like he is blind nowadays. He was wearing some thick glasses.

We found out before the show that there was a no camera policy for this night. No biggie. People were still snapping shots with their camera phones (me included). By the last 2 songs, everyone seemed to be taking pictures and Howe seemed pretty annoyed by it. He made some funny faces to a few folks who got up and walked to the stage to take pictures and actually took one guy’s camera and acted like he was taking pics of the crowd. People were laughing but I don’t think Steve was doing it to be funny at all.  I was also surprised that the show didn’t sell out.  The venue isn’t that big and there were several empty seats.

Overall the show was better than I had expected. The band took a 15 minute break mid-set and the whole show was over at 9:45PM. I was very glad that I went and it was worth the ticket price for sure.  So…Thanks Kevin.  Thanks Asia.

Here’s the setlist:

  1. I Believe
  2. Only Time Will Tell
  3. Holy War
  4. Never Again
  5. Through My Veins
  6. Don’t Cry
  7. Steve Howe Guitar Solo
  8. The Smile Has Left Your Eyes
  9. Open Your Eyes
  10. Go
  11. Time Again
  12. An Extraordinary Life
  13. End Of The World
  14. The Heat Goes On
  15. Carl Palmer Drum Solo
  16. Sole Survivor
  17. Days Like These (encore)
  18. Heat of the Moment (encore)

Asia 2010 @ The Paramount Theater, Austin, TX

Doug Morrison – solo from Primeval – 040910

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This is my current main band with Doug Morrison and the solo from our song “Primeval.”  Sorry for the poor video quality.

Enjoy.

Written by The Metal Files

May 12, 2010 at 12:45 pm

Back on stage again.

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Tonight is the first show I’ve done with Doug Morrison since Summer 2008.  It’s been far too long.  Doug played with the likes of Neil Turbin, Pete Way, Fred Coury and tons of others during his lifetime in the LA music scene.  he moved here to Austin, TX right around the same time I did in late 2006.

I fell into a band pretty quickly after moving here and only did one show with them before parting ways.  Doug and I were in contact that whole time and started playing together in May 2007.  We went through a handful of drummers and found Larry.  Larry was great.  Hard hitter, good drummer, cool dude and great timing but circumstances dictated him leaving the band in 2008.  We auditioned several drummers in 2009 and just couldn’t find the right one.  Then comes this new kid in town, Ryan who started playing with us around November 2009.   Nice guy, good drummer.  He learned the stuff quickly and we’re doing our first show with him tonight.

I’m excited.  Doug is easily the best guitarist I have ever played with.  After 3 years I’m used to playing in an instrumental band and it’s nice not having to deal with a singer.    He’s a GIT grad and former instructor and is really just an incredible player.

I think this is the beginning of a brand new chapter with this band that should be fruitful and successful.  Adding lots of new songs all the time.  I’m finally excited about music again.  You can hear some stuff on the Myspace page, but it’s not a good representation of his/our sound.  There’s also some clips on YouTube.  We seem so different than when those were made.  we have a Facebook fan page as well.

One unique thing about Doug, especially in this town, is that he uses Strats.  Everyone here is primarily a Les Paul player.  Doug will be using one of his Hendrix Anniversary stacks tonight.  I’m likely using 2 of my Ashdown 4×10 cabs and my rack (heavy bitch!) and my mid-80s Japanese Fender P-bass.

It’s going to be fun.  Wish you could be here!

Written by The Metal Files

April 9, 2010 at 1:12 pm

A little self-indulgence about one of my bands

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So my main band is really getting things fired up again and I am pretty excited about it all.  I just moved (again) and am now all settled in and can devote more time to playing music again…original music.  Sure I love doing my Motorhead tribute band but there’s nothing better for me than to be a part of an original band.

The main project that I have been a part of for almost 3 years now (*gasp* has it really been 3 years?) is with a phenomenal guitarist named Doug Morrison.  Doug was one of those LA guys his whole life until moving to Austin, Texas right around the same time I did a little over 3 years ago.   I think we both arrived here within a few weeks of each other.  Doug’s background includes playing in Neil Turbin’s post-Anthrax band in the mid 80s which also included Dave McClain from SA Slayer and Machinehead.  There are a few good big hair shots of him on Neil’s page.  Doug was a graduate of GIT in LA and graduated with Paul Gilbert and taught there with him around the same time.

We’re an instrumental 3-piece and I would say the best comparisons to the music are to Eric Johnson, Steve Vai with flashes of Allan Holdsworth and Akira Takasaki (in our heavier moments).

So if you’re into instrumental guitar rock, shred etc, check out the stuff @ our Myspace page.

We finally secured a great drummer and will be playing out again hopefully by the end of this month.  Our last gig was over a year ago and it’s about time again.  Auditioning drummers was a bitch.  What a bunch of monkeys.  I was a drummer for most of my musical life and damn if I would have ever shown up to an audition as unprepared (or untalented) as many of these guys did.  What was great was the lashbacks we would get when Doug would let them know they wouldn’t get a 2nd audition or accepted into the band.  Hilarious stuff.

We’re finally getting the album done as well.  Drum tracks have been completed for over a year and Doug is finally laying down guitar tracks.  My bass stuff should follow soon for the tracks that I am to appear on.

Motorhead – Concert Review 092009

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Motorhead!  I’m always excited when they come to town.  Last night was my 6th time seeing them since 1993.  They DSCN2416never let me down with the live show.

Until last night.

So let’s backtrack and put some story along with this.  If you don’t know this already, I have the Another Perfect Day album cover tattooed on my back…my whole back.  88 hours worth of tattoo work.  No regrets!  I’ve met Lemmy a few times but not since getting my backpiece done.  I was hoping last night would be the night.  Just wanted a picture of him with my tattoo.  Didn’t happen.  No big deal, I can live with that.  Like I said, met him a few times and always a good experience.

So my guitar player, Doug Morrison, (Turbin, Waysted) and the drummer of Reverend Horton Heat have been close friends since the late 70s and with the Rev on this tour, we got the hookup.  Doug and I get there early and have dinner with Paul Simmons (drummer for the Rev) and some of the roadcrew guys from Rev Heat and Motorhead.  The guy sitting next to me was pretty special though.  It was Hobbs!  Hobbs has been with the band for almost 30 years and is mentioned in the song Going to Brazil.  I think he may even be the one who screams on We Are The Roadcrew from No Sleep Till Hammersmith.  Not important.  Hobbs!  Talk about a weathered old British soul.  He was extremely polite in a typical British sort of way yet as foul mouthed as an old Greek sea captain.  He was awesome!  Hobbs!

After dinner we headed backstage.  Nashville Pussy was setting up their gear and there it was…Lemmy’s bass rack.  From a distance I snap a picture and Paul says, “Come on, man.  Step over here and get a real look at them.”  His beautiful Rickenbacker 4004LK and one of his old Rics with the original hand-carved oak leaves.   I got to hold history in my hands!  And I couldn’t believe how high the action was on those.  Seemingly about 3/8″ off of the fretboard.

So after hyperventilating over that a bit, we all just hung out backstage while Nashville Pussy played.  I’ve never been a fan so I had no interest in seeing them.  Paul was telling the Motorhead roadcrew guys about my backpiece and they flipped out over it.  “Lemmy needs to see this!”  Yes sir, I agree!

NP finishes their set and Paul had to get prepared for the Reverend Horton Heat set.  Doug and I stayed backstage a little longer.  Matt Sorum, (GnR, The Cult, Velvet Revolver) came in and said hi.  I mentioned that I had just seen his episode of the Dog Whisperer.  “Did Ace and I look like total idiots?”   No man, you guys were fine, no worries.  Apparently he hadn’t seen it yet.  The dude is a class act even if I never cared for his other bands.

So after that, Doug and I just went out in to the crowd to watch the Rev’s set.  As always, they were tight.  The Rev works the crowd very well.  I opened for them back in like 93 or 94 and he’s still the same old cool laid back guy.

The gig was at Stubb’s in Austin, TX.  It’s an amphitheater type set up.  I’ve never really cared for it all that much.  Too narrow and when it gets packed it’s difficult to get around.  So we hung out towards the back.  Run into several friends, of course.  Ran into my other guitarist, Jason McMaster (Broken Teeth, Watchtower, Dangerous Toys) and he says, “Hey man!  You need to meet an old friend of mine, Craig Behrhorst.”  I said, “From Ruffians?”  Craig said, “How did you know that?”  Sir, I am an 80s metal nerd.  Plain and simple.  Turned out that Doug knew him as well.  I guess Craig’s sister used to hang out with Doug and his friends back in the old Sunset Strip days.  I also ran into Art Villareal and Bob Catlin, both of SA SLayer/Juggernaut fame.  They are both in Martyhead, a Motorhead tribute from San Antonio.  Of course I have a Motorhead tribute here in town called Capricorn USA.   That’s the band with Doug and Jason.

Whatever, you don’t care.  You want to know about the Motorhead show!

Light’s go down and they open with Iron Fist.  Sweet!  I love that song.  But I swear it sounded a little slower than album speed.  Stay Clean was next.  Same thing.  The band was tight.  Sorum held his own pretty well for the whole night but they really seemed lifeless to me.  Everything seemed slow.  To be honest I was bored until mid-set when they played a few tracks from Another Perfect Day.  Matt’s drumming on everything was pretty good.  Who knew the guy could play double bass?  But then, they played Ace of Spades.  Of course everyone knows that songs and the drunks in the crowd and the kids who only know it from Guitar Hero were freaking out.  Matt’s drumming killed it.  His bass drum pattern was all wrong.  It put the song in a weird dynamic.  I recently saw a vid from one of the shows a few weeks ago with him and it was the same thing.  I hate to say it (again), but I was so bored for most of their show.  They were missing a key element to their modern sound…MIKKEY DEE.

Mikkey’s a phenomenal drummer.  I’ve known it since I first heard King Diamond’s Abigail and got to experience his playing live on the Them tour.  Mikkey was the main reason why I ever went to see Motorhead the very first time in 1993.  I wasn’t into them at all at that point and oddly enough I don’t like but a handful of songs from his era.  But the live show with him is intense.  If you’ve seen him play, you get it.  He’s a monster.  And with Motorhead, he certainly tightened them up.  They were always fast, vicious.  “We may not be the best band in the world, but we’re certainly the fastest” Lemmy said years and years ago on their famous No Sleep TIll Hammersmith album.

Last night they weren’t fast.  There was just no electricity.  Sometimes I think I am just getting old and crotchety.  I do tend to get hyper-critical when it comes to live shows, but I’ve always been that way.  I can never just sit back and enjoy it, I always have to dissect it.  Oh well.  My problem, not yours, eh?

The setlist was pretty good overall, it was just the feel and the pace of the songs that got to me.  Most people I know loved it and I am glad they had a good time.  I did too, actually.  I got to see some people I hadn’t seen in a while and got to meet a few new folks.

Setlist:

Iron Fist
Stay Clean
Be My Baby
Rock Out
Metropolis
Over the Top
One Night Stand
I Got Mine
The Thousand Names of God
Another Perfect Day
In the Name of Tragedy
Just ‘Cos You Got the Power
Going to Brazil
Killed by Death
Bomber
Whorehouse Blues
Ace of Spades
Overkill

Sure Lem’s in his 60s now and not everyone can do it like they used to. No matter the performance from last night, I’ll always go see them.  It’s Motorhead!

He said something last night that I heard him say the previous 2 times I saw them, “Don’t forget us.”

That line saddens me.

After all, who ever could?

Race With The Devil On Spanish Highway

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Right about the time that Riot released Privilege of Power (which I still love), I was reading the credits in the cassette’s liner notes. Remember cassettes? Anyhoo, I went to the mall record store and looked DiMeola up on their database B00000B4J1.09.LZZZZZZZand purchased Elegant Gyspy (on tape). At that time it was a name that I was unfamiliar with as I really wasn’t listening to any jazz/fusion at the time. Mahavishnu Orchestra was really the only band I was familiar with from that genre. I remember popping the tape in my car’s cassette player (1982 Pontiac Trans Am!) and just sitting in the parking lot with my mouth wide open. I was completely blown away. All I could think was “This dude is a badass! Holy shit. Listen to that drummer!”

I had a full time job with VDOT at the time but was also working a few hours a week at a local drum shop, helping the owner build his new store. I brought the tape in one evening and said, “What do you know about Lenny White?” He was already sitting behind a drum set and started playing some of the amazingly fast paradiddles and other licks from this album. Again…mouth wide open. Drew was a fantastic drummer.

I listened to this tape incessantly and even practiced drums to it…as much as my abilities let me anyway. I was no Lenny White.

It’s easily in my top 10-15 albums of all time. Al’s playing on this is so fluid. It’s jazz, it’s a little rock, it’s a little metal, it’s flamenco…it’s everything. The album flows so smoothly from beginning to end. I usually listen to it at least twice every time.

A few years ago (2006?), Patrick (Buzzard) and I got tickets to see DiMeola in downtown Norfolk. We were both pretty excited to see the show as we were both big fans. We parked near the venue a while before the show so we could grab some food and a beer or 2 prior to going in. We had some NY style pizza and a few beers and walked over to the theater. As we got closer I could see that something was taped to the door. “CANCELED” My heart sunk. What a total letdown. We were both pretty annoyed. Apparently Al’s drummer quit that day or something. Damn! So we ended up going back to our neighborhood and barhopped.

Last year it was announced that Return to Forever was reuniting and that their first 2 shows would be in Austin at the Paramount Theater. Doug Morrison and I scored 2nd row center seats on the balcony. $125ea and worth every penny. The view and the sound were perfect. You could hear Al’s footswitch when he changed channels on his amp. Everyone was quiet and attentive while RTF played. It was pretty impressive. It was doubly special for me because I finally got to see Lenny White play drums live.

Of all of Al’s other solo works, I really only liked Land of the Midnight Sun and Casino. The others got a little too modern sounding for me…But Elegant Gypsy is the cream of the crop.

So Mark Reale, if you’re reading this, thanks for turning me on to DiMeola.  I owe you bigtime! :)

The Best of Metal Blade Vol 2

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bmbv2aka “One Of The Greatest Compilations Ever”

Let’s just say that Metal Blade Records really helped shape my metalness during the mid-80s.  For the most part up until about 1989, if it was on Metal Blade Records, there was about a 90%+ chance that you were getting quality metal.  There were exceptions of course…like Canada’s Sye.  Terrible.  Really.

But Metal Blade was great at putting out cool compilations like the Metal Massacre series and the Best of Metal Blade series.  Today we take an in depth look at the Best of Metal Blade Vol 2.

1. LIZZY BORDEN “Notorious” – Let’s make something clear here…right now.  I’m a Lizzy Borden fan and have been since I first heard them.  I’m pretty sure the Give ’em the Axe EP was my indoctrination.  My interest was first piqued when I saw a little blurb in Circus Magazine about the band and there was Lizzy standing there with the band on a rooftop with this huge double-bladed axe.  They looked totally badass.   Great albums overall but I’ve always been a little partial to Menace To Society and especially to this song.  Great hooks, cool lyrics, nice production.  This song has it all. 

2. OMEN “Teeth of the Hydra” – Not my introduction to Omen (thanks Daniel!) but one of my favorite songs by them for sure.  JD Kimball’s vocals (RIP) really set this band apart from most metal bands.  He could add a tone of despair in his voice that I have never heard too many other singers do.  Mustaine had that quality on the first 2 Megadeth albums as well.  Something about the way they wail, it’s a bit haunting.  While not my favorite of the classic 3 Omen albums, this ranks as one of my top songs from them.

3. FATES WARNING “Prelude to Ruin” – John Arch.  You are the man.  Fates Warning offered us another treat with Awaken the Guardian.  As good of a song as this is, it’s certainly not my favorite from this album.

4. HALLOW’S EVE “Lethal Tendencies” – Yes!  Great song from a great album.  Sure, not the most technically proficient thrash band, but they delivered it well.

5. SLAYER “Black Magic” – (classic) SLAYER!  ’nuff said.

6. DESTRUCTION “Eternal Ban” – see below
7. SODOM “Deathlike Silence” – You know, these 2 songs never did much for me.  In general, was never much of a fan of either band.  I think the production really ruined them for me on this early stuff.  One day I’ll revisit their back catalog again…maybe.

8. SENTINEL BEAST “Dogs of War” – Awful.

9. DETENTE “Holy War” – I always dug Detente.  One of the few female fronted metal bands that I could tolerate.  This album was pretty good as is this song.  Dawn Crosby (RIP) was a rough one.  My current guitarist lived with some folks from this band back in those days and the stories and video I’ve seen of them is trippy.  Talk about drinkers?  wow.

10. HIRAX “Criminal Punishment” – Another band I never got into mainly because I never tried.  I don’t dislike this song, but I never really paid much attention to the band.  I do respect that Caton is still out there proudly flying the flag of metal. 

11. FLOTSAM & JETSAM “Der Fuhrer” – Oh man.  One of the greatest thrash songs ever.  Period.  Everything from this album just rules.  But this song…oh man.

12. JUGGERNAUT “Slow Death” – Juggernaut was always hit an miss.  This song is no exception.  Miss!

13. HERETIC “Whitechapel” – But this song is a hit.  It’s perfect.  It’s mid-paced fist-pounding metal.  Nice shrill-style vocals and it was about Jack the Ripper.  What more could one want in a metal song?

14. SAVAGE GRACE “Trial By Fire” – Love it!

15. SOUND BARRIER “Gladiator” – I think I am one of the few who actually like these guys.  This is a cool song too.

16. CIRITH UNGOL “Blood & Iron” – Ahhhhh…Cirith Ungol.  How I have always held a soft spot in my heart for these guys.  There were the old men of metal in LA.  very unique band, very dark.  Plus they had the best album covers (Michael Whelan).

17. LIZZY BORDEN “Live & Let Die” – I detest Paul McCartney.

18. CITIES “Burn Forever” – Burn burn burn…burn foreveeeeeeeer!  Awesome song.  The album was pretty good too.  Love the vocals on this.

19. EXXPLORER “Run For Tomorrow” – Again, out of my circle of metal metal head friends, I think I was/am the only one who got into these guys.  Great vocals.

20. KRANK “Rented Heat” – This is one of those songs like Crazy Night (Loudness) or Balls To the Wall (Accept) that just makes you nod your head to the mid-paced beat and want to put your fist in the air and sing along.  Too bad the album was one of the worst things Metal Blade ever put out.

21. DEAF DEALER “The Fugitive” – I adore this song.  One of these days I hope to run across this on CD.  Hey Kelz, you still have yours?

If I think about it later, I’ll upload this for your listening pleasure.