Tuesday, August 26, 2014

NFL Has Turned Its Attention to Fleecing Someone Besides the Fans

I haven't been an NFL fan for years. I'm still a fan of my favorite team. But will I consume anything the NFL shoves down my throat? Nope. Not even close.

I kinda pay attention to what's going on throughout the league, but that's only because I'm in a Survivor Pool.

The NFL has been fleecing fans for years. Especially the season ticket holders.

Hey, maybe they should pay a fee for the privilege of being fleeced. Seat licensing? Check.

Those two home exhibition games that are pointless and poorly attended? Let's build that into the season ticket package. Check.

Football is best consumed on your couch or in your recliner on a nice TV from the comfort of your own home. Best television show going. That's a problem because you're not spending two weeks worth of grocery money on two beers and a hot dog. If those ingrates aren't gonna show up in person for the game, we won't let them see it at all. Blackout rules? Check.

Can we bilk them out of a little more? There's parking fees. Check.

What else? Whoa. They seem to catching on. Let's move on (until they forget). Hey, did you realize that ratings for the halftime show were better than overall ratings for the game?

Yeah, but it was a crappy game by the 2nd half. Many had tuned out. Keep that under your hat, there's another revenue stream to be had here. These artists get a boost in sales after the Super Bowl (it won't sustain, but it's real). They already play for free, but they should be paying us.

Don't you think ratings were so high during halftime because of who the artists are? I mean, we don't get the garage band from down the street.

You're fired!

Yep, that's right. The NFL wants to make the halftime talent make a "financial contribution" to the NFL. That's just a bit grotesque.

You know who I want to see at the 2015 Halftime Show? An empty stage. I know it won't happen. Someone will cave. But a guy can dream.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Good Song, Bad Video: Bon Jovi: Runaway

Bon Jovi is one of my favorite bands. "Runaway", off the self-titled debut album, is the first song of theirs I ever heard. And still one of my favorites.

But, oh my, what a bad video.

From this video, we can glean that hair metal, along with lavender leather pants, emerged from some post-apocalyptic nuclear accident from the '50's. At least that's what I'm getting.

For all the female fans, Jon shakes his ass. And has great hair. Enjoy.

Previous Good Song, Bad Video submissions:

Dokken: Breaking the Chains
Motley Crue: Looks That Kill
Def Leppard: Foolin'

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Nashville Outlaws: A Tribute to Motley Crue - Full Review

I posted a knee-jerk quickie review on the Nashville Outlaws Motley Crue tribute record when only one minute snippets were available. I have now had the chance to listen to the record in its entirety. While I've had some slight changes of opinion after listening to the whole songs, I will say that my quick hits were fairly spot on.

With 15 songs all done by different artists, this record can't be judged as an album, but rather the individual songs deserve to be critiqued on their own individual merits. Because this thing is all over the map, I'll do a song-by-song breakdown.

First a little background. While I'm not the biggest Motley Crue fan in the world, I grew up listening to hair bands and sleaze rock. The Motley songs that I really liked, I judge the covers a little differently than the songs I thought were meh. I'm also a fan of country music. So I come at this from both angles. Or maybe neither. Or a combination.

I wouldn't even bother with this if it had turned out to be the trainwreck I initially thought it would be when first hearing of the project, but there is some really interesting stuff on the record. Let's get to it.

If you can get past Rascall Flatts' "Kickstart My Heart", things get better. I promise. It's not that it's awful, it's just that there's nothing original there. It's a straight-up cover of the original. With Gary Levox on vocal. The studio musicians are good. But as in most of the straight covers, they should have consulted Mick Mars on how to get that bathtub guitar sound. It's just bland and pointless.

I really don't like saying nice things about Florida Georgia Line, but although they did a pretty straight cover of "If I Die Tomorrow", it sounds pretty good. After the first verse the singer loses some of his drawl and it starts to sound real. Wisely, they didn't try to replicate Mars' guitar sound and infused some banjo?, mandolin?, but it doesn't sound out of place. I would be much happier if FGL would stick to this kind of stuff and leave the EDM and rap somewhere else.

Odd song choice for Lee Ann Rimes with "Smokin' in the Boys Room". Which is actually a cover of Motley's cover of the old Brownsville Station song. While I initially didn't care for this song at all, the bluesy, jazzy vibe is kind of cool. The problem is that Rimes stretches the song out about two minutes too long. It just starts getting tiresome at the end.

The lead single from the record, Justin Moore's "Home Sweet Home" with Vince Neil is a watered down version of the original. All 80's power ballads translate easily into country music. So, it makes sense. This was just unnecessary. The original was all that was needed.

While Cassadee Pope's "The Animal in Me" doesn't stray too far from the original, it's interesting to hear the song with a female voice. It's obvious she feels comfortable in this type of music, although it's not much different from what she puts out for country radio now. I do like this one.

Now we get to something truly original and interesting. Aaron Lewis turns "Afraid" into a very classic sounding country song. I really didn't care that much for the original song. If anyone didn't know this was originally a Motley Crue song, they might think it was an Aaron Lewis original. Let's take a little time here to give a little credit to Nikki Sixx as a songwriter in general and lyricist specifically. I mean, just listen to lyrics in "Afraid". Lewis took those lyrics and constructed a very country song around them. This may be my favorite track on the record. May be.

Big and Rich's "Same Ol' Situation" just doesn't do it for me. That may be just

because I really liked the original so well. Or it may be because the cover is crap. I will give them credit for not going straight cover. I really can't say it's bad, it's just not for me. Moving on.

"Without You". Another 80's power ballad. Again, easy transition. But Clare Bowen and Sam Palladio do it as a duet. And pretty much acoustically. And it works. This is one that after hearing the full version, I've changed my opinion. I like it. It really has more of an Americana feel than country. It's well executed.

The Eli Young Band's "Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)" is another straight cover that is pointless. I'm sure Eli Young's fans will think it's great. It's not bad. It's just not anything other than a cover.

That brings us to the second really big departure from the original, Lauren Jenkins' "Looks That Kill". Lauren Jenkins has that kind of smoky Kim Carnes voice. And a definitive musical style that she does not depart from. I think this is genius. A lot of people are going to hate it. The melody is recognizable, but the instrumentation is totally divergent. This is another of my favorites.

"Live Wire" by The Cadillac Three, I hated the first time. It's grown on me, just a little bit. It's just a bit sludgy and swampy. Just the subject matter of the song, not to mention what the original was, lends itself to more energy. "Live Wire". Electricity. This was when Motley was wild, young and living free. This sounds a bit like grandpa's version of "Live Wire".

OK, so I said "Afraid" may be favorite track. The Mavericks' "Dr. Feelgood" is right there. The Mavericks take this cautionary tale from the dark alleys of Los Angeles and transport it to Miami. Musically anyway. It feels just a real as the original, but in a very different way. I really like interesting covers. This is very, very interesting. And good.

Brantley Gilbert does "Girls, Girls, Girls". Of course he does. This is a sleazy song about strip clubs. And Gilbert manages to just make it creepy and uncomfortable.

Gretchen Wilson's "Wild Side" is another straight cover. It shows that Gretchen has metal pipes on par with Lzzy Hale and Doro. Little else.

Lastly we come to "Time For Change" by Darius Rucker. Give Rucker credit, he's been doing Hootie for a long time. He gives this song the Hootie treatment. And it works. If you're a fan of Hootie and Blowfish and/or Darius Rucker, you'll like it.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Album Spotlight: Sunny Sweeney: Provoked

For my 2.5 readers, sorry I've been away for a while. But I'm back with a strong recommendation.

Sunny Sweeney's latest album Provoked is nothing short of brilliant. I tweeted earlier "Smart, witty, poignantly funny at times." That's the short version. And that could be the entire version and be accurate.

Let's get this out of the way early, Sunny Sweeney does not possess the soaring vocal capabilities of Carrie Underwood or Ann Wilson or Lzzy Hale. But she does have the ability to convey plenty of emotion in the songs that she wrote. And what a fantastic songwriter she is.

Heartache, heart break, the other woman, the flawed partner, the bad girl, the snark, sarcasm and playfulness. And a lot of real life. It all comes together seamlessly.

We are almost to September, and this is in my top two records this year.

I don't know if this is my favorite track on the record, or just my favorite lyrics. But either way, I like "Second Guessing".

This next song is on the record, but it's just more fun in any live setting. There are plenty of youtube videos of it as she has been doing it for over three years, that I know of, maybe longer. I like this one.

Sunny Sweeney on Amazon.

TheCheapSeats on Twitter.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


I haven't posted much lately. I've been busy with life, but more importantly, with family.

In the past three weeks, we have been to family reunions with my wife's family and my family.

I know. Many people have horror stories of family reunions. Or at least uncomfortable stories. And a lot of families are not like our families. I understand, and that's okay.

My wife's family had a reunion this year for the first time in a long time. There were some members there that I have known for a long time. There were some that I met for the first time.

At my family reunion, which has been rekindled for the past several years, we had semi-estranged family members re-connect.

Both families are dysfunctional, but in today's world, whose aren't?

I look forward to my family's reunion every year. Some can make it, some can't. We always have a good time.

I hope my wife's family will continue with their reunion in future years.

You can pick your friends, but you're stuck with family. I'm happy to be stuck.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cinderella Deconstructed

Cinderella, one of my favorite bands from the 80's, apparently have no plans of getting back together and making new music. But that hasn't stopped the individual members of the band.

Tom Keifer, lead vocalist, lead guitarist and chief songwriter for Cinderella put out a solo album a while back and has just released a new lyric video for the song "It's Not Enough". It sounds like Cinderella, well, because Tom had the voice of Cinderella and was the main songwriter. No mystery there. I like it.

Guitarist Jeff LaBar recently released his own solo project with a corresponding video for "No Strings". I'm guessing Jeff never got enough credit for the Cinderella sound because this is pretty good, except for the vocals. It's kind of akin to the Ace Frehley solo stuff. Good songs, suspect vocals. Maybe Jeff should lay off the cigs or hire a singer. That's my only qualm, otherwise it's a good song.

Bass player Eric Brittingham has teamed up with Tracii Guns (L.A. Guns) and Rikki Rockett (Poison) and some singer named Eric Gibbs to form an 80's glam supergroup of sorts called Devil City Angels. They have a single out called "All My People". Not great, not horrible. Would like to hear more from them before making a judgement.

I don't know what drummer Fred Coury is doing. I'll take what I can get, but personally would love to see all the guys get back together and record another album as Cinderella.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Album Review: Night Ranger: High Road

If your familiarity with Night Ranger begins and ends with "Sister Christian", well, you're not alone. And that's a shame. While "Sister Christian" is the quintessential ballad of 80's hard rock, Night Ranger is, and always has been so much more.

Night Ranger released their 11th studio album last month, High Road. It may just be their best effort yet. Over 30 years after their debut release Dawn Patrol, Night Ranger is still bringing it. While years of hard living and age have taken something away from Jack Blades and Kelly Keagy in the vocal department, the musicianship has only improved.

This is probably the most diverse record Night Ranger has put out. From classic 80's-style rockers to KISS meets Loverboy to a Styx/Kansas/Deep Purple 70's style mashup, it's all good.

Here's the shame of it all: Nobody outside of hardcore Night Ranger fans and good music archaeologists is going to hear it if left up to traditional outlets.  If you're reading this, you don't rely on traditional outlets, so I'm going track-by-track here.

The record starts off with the title track "High Road". Fun summertime song. Big chorus. "You don't need us, you need a mind of your own." Favorite line from the song. Roll down the windows and blast this one.

"Knock Knock Never Stop" is pure 80's-style fun. Catchy chorus. Big guitar solo. Which is a good time to mention guitarists Brad Gillis and Joel Hoekstra. Killer guitar riffs throughout this record.

"Rollin' On" brings on the heavier side of Night Ranger. This is the KISS meets Loverboy song. If you don't see the connection, listen to more music.

"Don't Live Here Anymore" is a 70's style ballad the evokes the sounds of Styx and Kansas with a touch of Deep Purple and Lynyrd Skynyrd. This may be my favorite song on the album, but I may change my mind tomorrow. There are so many layers to the song. Lyrically it's mature and introspective. Musically it goes so many places, and all are good.

"I'm Coming Home" is a classic country lyric set to Thin Lizzy style rock music. Or maybe it's just reminiscent of Thin Lizzy. It's catchy and it rocks.

"X Generation" falls a bit flat, especially lyrically, but the guitar work almost makes up for that.

"Only For You Only" is the kind of ballad Night Ranger made famous. It's not bad. It's not great. There's no place in current rock radio for it to find a home, but it would be better than 90% of what's being played on current country radio. And no, it's not a country song. But neither is mainstream country radio.

"Hang On" is a very Classic Rock sounding song that would be very much at home on an early Foreigner record. But it doesn't sound dated.

"St. Bartholomew" starts out with the chug of early Judas Priest, but seamlessly transforms by the chorus into a melodic rock track.

"Brothers" is very Beatles-esque. I don't know how else to describe it. Probably my least favorite track. But it's not horrible.

"L.A. No Name" ends the record and is very un-Night Ranger like. It's an acoustic guitar instrumental. And it's fantastic.

Night Ranger on Amazon.

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Will There Ever Be a New Wave of Hard Rock?

I have been searching out new music that has in-your-face guitars, melodic vocals, good musicianship and is just a little over-the-top. Pretty much, 80's-style hard rock. I'm not talking about hair/glam/pop metal. Though I'm not dismissing that either. I'm talking about the hard rock that dominated the 80's with such acts as AC/DC, Scorpions, Motley Crue, the Cult, Guns 'N Roses, Bon Jovi, Whitesnake, Cinderella, etc.

There is some good stuff out there. And I have a theory as to why: Now is the first generation of musicians that have 80's hard rock as an influence. They are far enough removed from the atrocities that became of hard rock in general and hair metal specifically to be able to connect with the quality stuff that did exist. Also, they had parents who grew up with this music. And they have probably played with older musicians who played this type of music. It all rubs off.

I doubt there will ever be a new wave of hard rock, but for those of us that enjoy fun, loud guitar-driven rock, there is hope.

The members of Australia's Koritni, named after lead vocalist Lex Koritni (and let's just get this out of the way: horrible name) make no bones about naming Motley Crue, GnR, RHCP among others as influences. Listening to their most recent studio album Welcome to the Crossroads, the influences can't be denied. You can hear the Cult, Aerosmith, Tesla and the funk of RHCP or maybe more accurately, Extreme.

Million Dollar Reload, hailing from Northern Ireland, have definitely taken hold of the dirtier, sleazier side of the 80's rock scene. Reminiscent of Faster Pussycat, early GnR, L.A. Guns, but also holding onto an Aerosmith and AC/DC vibe. M$R knows how to write a hook as evidenced by songs such as "Wicked" and "Tatoos and Dirty Girls".

Unfortunately, I don't see this type of music taking hold in the United States anytime soon. But as long as there are thriving rock and metal communities in Europe and Australia, then we can at least get our hands on it.

Both of these bands bring the old sensibilities while not sounding dated, in my opinion. Judge for yourself.

Koritni on Amazon.

Million Dollar Reload on Amazon.

TheCheapSeats on Twitter.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Good Song, Bad Video: Def Leppard: Foolin'

Def Leppard's Pyromania still stands as one of the best hard rock albums ever made. I don't know if there was really a bad song on the entire record. And Def Leppard came along at just the right time to take advantage of MTV becoming, for all intents and purposes, the world's biggest radio station.

Back in the days when Rick Allen was not the one-armed wonder and Phil Collen still owned shirts, Def Leppard graced us with one of the cheesiest videos ever with "Foolin'".

While this is mostly a performance video set on a cheap soundstage, this video gets high cheese marks for the inane, disjointed imagery interspersed throughout.

It starts off, for no apparent reason, with some strange harp player engulfed in flames. This harp player returns a couple of times throughout the video, again for no apparent reason.

When we move on to the pre-chorus, Joe Elliott is strapped to what appears to be some triangular shaped torture device. It's a recurring theme in the video. But the torture aspect is lost on me. Unless, of course, we count the torture of having to endure this.

The second verse introduces us to some sorceress witch-like character who apparently through her crystal ball is the one behind Elliot on the triangular torture device. Or maybe she is the one who sets Joe free. We never see her again.

Then there's just cheesy explosions following Joe Elliot through a poorly constructed narrow hallway of sorts.

Oh, then we have the band rising out of some pit with angel of death and skull imagery. That is just SO Def Leppard.

It's a great song from a great band and I probably spent way more time deconstructing this video than what was put into crafting it. Judge for yourself.

All in all, good fun. Back in the day it made for good video viewing. Now it makes for good fodder.

Monday, July 14, 2014

My Texas Rangers at the All-Star Break: It's Not Pretty

Yes, I included "my" in the title of this post. I've been through a lot as a fan of the Texas Rangers over the years. Yes, this is bad right now. Losing 9 of the last 10 and 22 of the last 25, there are no
two ways about it, they are pitiful right now. Firmly in last place of the AL West, behind (gasp) Houston.

But for all of you Johnny-come-lately's who have bandwaggoneered your way into becoming a Rangers fan the past four years, this is how it used to be on a regular basis. And without all the injuries.

I turn on the TV and see a bunch of guys I've never heard of donning Rangers gear. And some of them will be gone the next day.

But here's the thing. This organization has done things the right way and this is just a blip. Hopefully. The Rangers have used approximately 432 pitchers and 157 position players before the All-Star break. I think both are records. This is a lost season.

Look on the bright side: plenty of good seats available at the Ballpark. And no matter how bad the team is, a bad day at the Ballpark is better than a good day at work.