Monday, June 30, 2014

Good Song, Bad Video: Motley Crue: Looks That Kill

I'm old enough to remember the time when MTV was actually Music Television and played videos. And play videos, they did. Good videos. Bad videos. Any videos.

So let's revisit some of that. There is a plethora of content out there.

We'll start with a band that can take it. Despite this ill-conceived, misogynistic video, Motley Crue has withstood the test of time.

I don't fault the Crue, or anyone else in this series, for these atrocities. It was a part of the times.

From Shout at the Devil, here is "Looks That Kill".

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Southern Rock is Alive and Well

OK. So we are all annoyed by the guys yelling out "Play some Skynyrd" or "Freebird". And, yeah, that still goes on. The band doesn't appreciate it. Most of the patrons don't either.

But, you know what? There are plenty of bands out there keeping Southern Rock alive. Do they all play "Freebird"? Nope. Do they rock in the spirit of Skynyrd, Marshall Tucker, Molly Hatchet, ZZ Top, the Allmans, Charlie Daniels, etc.? A resounding yes to that.

In the past I've been more than willing to say "Today's music sucks".  Well, yeah, some of it does. But some of it is really good. Here are some bands doing Southern Rock justice.

Whiskey Myers: My personal favorite. And, as a caveat, I can be swayed by the fact that they hail from Texas. Their latest record Early Morning Shakes is pure, unadulterated Southern Rock, no matter how it's categorized now.

Blackberry Smoke: I have to give them proper credit.  They were my gateway into looking for more modern Southern Rock. I first heard them and was intrigued. Are there really still Southern Rock bands out there? Yes, yes there are. And Blackberry Smoke is at the pinnacle.

Preacher Stone is pretty unknown but they bring it. Although they don't want to be known as a Southern Rock band, but rather a rock band from the South I'm including them anyway.

There are many more. And that excites me. Search, dig and find the music you like. Don't let anyone else dictate what you listen to.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Brooke Ansley: Nothin' Fancy Demo

Courtesy of reverbnation
I really don't know much about Brooke Ansley other than this one time she was Miss Maryland, so there's that. (Her words not mine). Actually, you can check her out on her website.

What I do know is that the one-time Miss Maryland has written and recorded a demo of a fantastic country song. It has a story. It has a melody. It has a hook. And I like it.

And here it is:

Original Soundcloud version:

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Friday, June 20, 2014

Retro Album Spotlight: Night Ranger: Dawn Patrol

Inarguably, Night Ranger's greatest success came with the release of 1983's Midnight Madness with the anthemic "(You Can Still) Rock in America" and the prototypical power ballad "Sister Christian". However, their 1982 debut Dawn Patrol, still stands as one of their best, and my personal favorite.

I've found that debut albums are often some of my favorites. Why? The artist/band has had their whole lives to construct 10 good songs. After that, they have a year or two to put a record together. Granted, a lot of bands go on to make better records, but there is still something special about that first one, both as a consumer and an artist.

Dawn Patrol is one of those special records.

It starts out with the minor hit "Don't Tell Me You Love Me", which gives you a good idea of what Night Ranger is all about: Hair Metal before it was a thing.

The next track, "Sing Me Away" is kind of forgettable. Then we have "At Night She Sleeps" in which we get a taste of the lyrical genius of Night Ranger (tongue planted firmly in cheek here). But they really did have some interesting lyrics: "She's seals her fate in a car on a date with some loser from Birmingham". (Sorry Alabama or England, however you wish to interpret). 

"Call My Name" is one of my favorite songs of all time. And the 2nd verse has some of my favorite lyrics of all time:
"Your silhouette always appears in my window
I close my eyes and hear
The applause of at least a thousand different strangers
Every one seems sincere
Or did you notice?
Was it you that I hear?"

Okay, so it's not high brow poetry. But I like it. And that's all that matters.

This album came out in the cassette era (saddens me that kids today will never know the side one/side two element) and ends with "Eddies Comin' Out Tonight". The chorus is a bit trite, but the verses are quite interesting.

Side two (yeah, I'm still in cassette mode) opens with three standard rockers, "Can't Find Me A Thrill", "Young Girl in Love" and "Play Rough". While they are not throwaways or filler, they are not among my favorites. Others may disagree. And that's fine.

The next song, "Penny", is not that distinguishable from the previous songs, other than I like it better.  That's just personal preference.

The record ends with the eponymously named "Night Ranger'.  It's not bad, it's not great.

No, this is not an iconic record. It's just good. And underrated in the Night Ranger lexicon. 

My favorite song, enjoy before YouTube crashes everything.

You can still Rock in America. At least today.

Night Ranger on Amazon.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Soccer/Futbol: I'm All In on the World Cup

For me the World Cup is an Olympic-like experience. It happens once every four years and I'm all-in behind the Americans.

Hey, it's a big-time event. The entire world is watching, with passion.

Big-time events are fun. The Super Bowl. The World Series. The Stanley Cup. Wimbledon. The Masters.

Big-time events that happen once every four years? That is something every sports fan can get behind.

This whole soccer thing, in the last eight years, has become more than a once-every-four-years event. It seems to have become, in the words of Scott Van Pelt, a "movement".

There are passionate fans here in the United States. The twentysomethings who grew up playing the game and understanding the game. It's taken a while for this to come to fruition. But I believe it has arrived.

I know more about soccer than most of my fortysomething peers in West Texas. And that's just because I helped coach my daughter's team when she was eight. You know how it goes, the head coach that actually knows what he's doing needs someone to assist. The parents all check out their shoes at this point. I actually spoke up and said "I know nothing about soccer, but I can be here." Boom. Assistant coach.

I learned a lot in those three years. I can appreciate the game. I actually know things to look for. I'm not an expert by any stretch of the imagination. But I'm kind of invested in the American outcome in this World Cup. And I will also be watching intently when the women play next year.

Just don't ask me to care that much the rest of the time. Hey, it's a start.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

RIP Richard Durrett

The internet in general and social media specifically can be a very cruel place. It's very easy to hide in the anonymity it provides.

It also can be very uplifting. And tear-inducing. And poignant. And good.

Richard Durrett passed away today of a brain aneurysm. He's younger than I am. He leaves behind two young children and a wife.

I never knew Richard Durrett personally. He was a baseball writer, covering my Texas Rangers. All I knew about him was from his writing and appearances on radio. Until tonight.

Of course I follow many baseball writers and DFW sports people on twitter. With the news of Durrett's passing, there has been a flood of tweets about him. Not one negative word has been written. You wouldn't expect anything negative to be said so soon, but these were glowing remembrances of the man. Of the father. Of the colleague. Of the acquaintance.

Yes, there are times when I hate what social media does. Then there is tonight.

RIP, Richard Durrett. And prayers for those loved ones left behind.

Working Women's Wednesday: Stevie Nicks

Whether with Fleetwood Mac, solo or dueting with the likes of Don Henley or Tom Petty, Stevie Nicks possesses one of the most unique and instantly recognizable voices in all of music. There's not anything of real substance I can add in words, so let's just revel in the greatness that is Stevie Nicks.

From 1976 performing the classic Rhiannon with Fleetwood Mac.

With Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in 2006 with "Stop Dragging My Heart Around" from Stevie's first solo album Bella Donna, a record I still listen to today. Many good songs on that one from this one to "Edge of Seventeen" to the Don Henley duet "Leather and Lace" plus many more.

"Gold Dust Woman" from a 2011 concert in Chicago. Still has the voice and I love this extended version of the song.

Stevie Nicks on Amazon.

Fleetwood Mac on Amazon.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Artist Spotlight: Cinderella

Cinderella (the 80's hard rock band, not the Disney character/movie) had the unfortunate luck to come along just at the right time to become hugely successful.

That statement will confuse most people, but hear me out. Cinderella's debut album Night Songs came out in 1986  at the height of the hair metal explosion. And they played it up, initially. Just look at the album cover to the right.

They had the look, the hair (including bassist Eric Brittingham's perfect blonde waterfall 'do), the synchronized guitar spins, and the attitude. MTV ready and willing. But they also had the chops, especially lead vocalist/lead guitarist/bandleader Tom Keifer. And the songs. Cinderella was much more akin to AC/DC than Poison.

Cinderella was lumped in with the hair bands. And that was fair. Check out this video. They played the part.

What wasn't fair is that Cinderella and a handful of other quality bands from that era were swept under the rug with everything associated with Hair Metal. I've heard the story where Keifer was shopping new songs to labels and upon hearing the songs, the execs were intrigued. When they found out who it was, they dismissed it.

Had Night Songs come out 10 years earlier, or maybe even five, then the career narrative would have been different. Cinderella is much bluesier and much more diverse than the pigeon hole in which they've been relegated. Fortunately for us, Tom Keifer is still creating music and Cinderella is still performing.

"Shelter Me" is much more representative of what Cinderella was all about. Excuse the bad video and Little Richard cameo.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Working Women's Wednesday: Various Artists

I had intended to make to make this a weekly feature. I got through one week and then life kinda happened. Or maybe I just dropped the ball. Either way, it's my fault.

There are many women, both in rock and country, that are not getting enough exposure. Pop music tends to treat the ladies much better. My goal is to feature those that I like.

To re-kick this off, let's just take a look at some of the ladies I've written about previously:

Samantha Fish. Bluesier than rock, but rocking more than straight-up blues:

Orianthi: Pedigree includes playing guitar for Michael Jackson and Alice Cooper. Currently teaming with Richie Sambora. Guitar virtuoso.

Maggie Rose: She falls into the country genre, but is so much more.

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Sunday, June 8, 2014

Album Spotlight: Preacher Stone: Paydirt

Hailing from Charlotte, North Carolina's Preacher Stone does not want to be identified as a Southern Rock band, but a "rock band from the South." Okay. Whatever. I'll roll with it.

Their latest record Paydirt, released in March of this year, borrows liberally from other "rock bands from the South" such as Lynyrd Skynyrd, Marshall Tucker, the Allman Brothers, Charlie Daniels and Georgia Satellites. There are also hints of Classic Rock bands like Bad Company and Edgar Winter. There's also some very Country-like tendencies on the record.

Throw that all together and, in Preacher Stone, you get a very familiar yet unique sounding band. With Blackberry Smoke and Whiskey Myers, Preacher Stone is doing Southern Rock the right way. Even if they're just a rock band from the South.

Here is "Me and Mine" from the Paydirt album.

Preacher Stone on Amazon.

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Thursday, June 5, 2014

CMT Music Awards:Eric Church and Lzzy Hale: That's Damn Rock & Roll

Image from
I wrote about the Eric Church and Halestorm pairing before. I though it was an interesting, maybe even good, idea. Although that had to do with Halestorm opening for Church on his current tour.

At the CMT Music Awards this idea went a bit further when Church performed with Halestorm frontwoman and leader Lzzy Hale on Church's song "That's Damn Rock & Roll".

And it was damn rock & roll. Nope, wasn't country, but that ship left port a long time ago. The best country performance was put in by LeaAnn Womack and Kacey Musgraves in their Alan Jackson tribute. But I digress.

Full disclosure here. I'm a big fan of Halestorm and Lzzy Hale's vocals specifically. While Church is a good enough vocalist in his own right, he could never bring to that song what Hale did: soaring, powerhouse, straight up rock vocals.

Right now what I'm most disappointed about is that the Halestorm leg of Church's tour gets no closer than 13 hours away from me.

And if the YouTube video gets taken down, here's a link to their performance at the CMT Awards.

TheCheapSeats on Twitter.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Album Spotlight: Tyler McCumber Band - Saracene Sessions: Tape 1

Listening to Saracene Sessions: Tape 1 by the Tyler McCumber Band, I hear southern rock and country. I hear Merle Haggard and Bob Seger. I hear Lynyrd Skynyrd and ZZ Top. That's all good.

But what I hear mostly is Tyler McCumber. And that's even better.

Saracene Sessions is not going to be anyone's go-to summer feel-good record. No party anthems to be found. There's nothing wrong with that, this just isn't one.

Sometimes dark and brooding, this record has remarkable songs in the almost lost art of storytelling. And stories, it does tell.

You're not going to put this on the playlist for your BBQ or crab boil party. This is the record you put on while sitting on your deck/balcony/etc. with a glass of wine or bottle of craft beer and just take it in.

Here is "Don't Blame the Gun".

Dont Blame the Gun from Tyler McCumber Band on Myspace.

Tyler McCumber Band on Amazon