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New Music Spotlight – “White Trash Millionaire” by Black Stone Cherry

When you think of “white trash,” you usually don’t think of millionaires, but Kentucky’s Black Stone Cherry has blended the two worlds brilliantly with their new song “White Trash Millionaire.”  The song is the first single from their upcoming album “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea,” which will be released at the end of May.

The raw, dirty guitar sound is the perfect backdrop for the message being delivered in “White Trash Millionaire,” a song that seems destined to become a modern-day rock anthem.

Money has a tendency to change people, especially those who seek out material possessions for status as much as for need or desire.  But it doesn’t change everyone, and it doesn’t buy happiness.  Since the economy crashed, many people have learned to live with less while focusing on the things in life that really matter to them.  Some may call it simple.  Others may call it practical.  Either way, “White Trash Millionaire” shows that wealth is in the eye of the beholder.

It has been nearly three years since Black Stone Cherry released their sophomore album “Folklore and Superstition,” which featured their hit song “Blind Man,” so BSC fans are undoubtedly anxious for the new album to hit the streets.

Black Stone Cherry will be hitting the road in April as the supporting act for Hinder, and will also be doing shows with Alter Bridge.  They are one of the many bands slated to play Carolina Rebellion on May 7, 2011 in North Carolina.

After just one listen to “White Trash Millionaire,” the song was already stuck in my head.  Check out the video below, and you’ll see why.

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You Can’t Kill Rock and Roll: 29 Years After his Passing…Randy Rhoads’ Guitar Legend Lives On

This morning, Ozzy Osbourne posted the following message on Facebook29 years ago today I lost my best friend, business partner and the greatest guitar player I have ever worked with. Loss is meant to get easier with time, it doesn’t.” Considering the talented guitarists who have played with Ozzy since Randy Rhoads’ untimely death in 1982, his message speaks volumes about what an incredible guitar player the world lost on that tragic day.

Over the years, Ozzy has put out numerous albums with a variety of different musicians, and while they were all memorable in their own way, none have come close to the legendary status of the two albums featuring Rhoads on guitar – “Blizzard of Ozz” and “Diary of a Madman.”

Because he died so young, Rhoads is not always mentioned as one of the greatest guitarists of all time, but even with his limited body of work, he belongs in the discussion.  There is no doubt that he would be right up there with every other guitar hero if he were still alive today.

Rhoads could play shredding solos with the best of them, but that isn’t what made him unique.  His songwriting ability and infectious riffs are the reasons why “Blizzard of Ozz” and “Diary of a Madman” are a level above all of Ozzy’s other solo records.  The chemistry between Ozzy and Rhoads is something that is nearly impossible to duplicate.

By combining the beauty and elegance of classical music with the power and energy of heavy metal, Rhoads created a sound so unique that it has never been captured again.  Many have learned to play the guitar parts that he created, but none have been able to create his magical sound in all of the years since his passing.

In an interview with Ozzy on the anniversary of Rhoads’ death a few years back, he talked about what it was like to hear him play guitar for the first time.  “It was so good that I thought that I was dreaming” said Ozzy.

After only three years and two albums together, Ozzy’s dream turned into a nightmare.  On March 19, 1982, a plane carrying Rhoads from Tennessee to Florida crashed into Ozzy’s tour bus.  The crash took the life of the rising star at the age of 25 and deprived music fans around the world of the chance to see him evolve into one of the greatest guitarists of all time.  No one knows for sure what Ozzy and Rhoads would have created over the years, but there is no doubt that it would have been legendary.

Although Rhoads died long before his time, his work still lives on today, and will continue to do so for many years to come…

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Egypt Central – White Rabbit: An Invitation to Step Out of Ordinary Time

February 17, 2011 1 comment

In June of 1967, Jefferson Airplane released a psychedelic, acid rock song called “White Rabbit.” The lyrics were derived directly from the story of “Alice in Wonderland.”  Nearly 44 years later, in May of 2011, a band called Egypt Central will release their sophomore album entitled “White Rabbit.”

Aside from the song title and inspiration, Egypt Central’s “White Rabbit” is an entirely different animal.  It has nothing to do with magic mushrooms or psychedelic trips.

Egypt Central’s “White Rabbit” is much deeper than that and much more powerful because it is about real life.  It is about the struggles that the band has gone through as a group and as individuals.  It is about a willingness to step outside of one’s personal comfort zone, to be open to unexpected life-altering experiences.  It is about letting go of preconceived notions and embracing the unknown.  It is about letting go of fear and doubt and choosing the road less traveled.

According to the band, the upcoming release is “a 12-song compilation of heavy riffs, lyrics from the soul and strong melodic hooks.”

While the band doesn’t go so far as to call “White Rabbit” a concept album (like Queensryche’s “Operation Mindcrime” or W.A.S.P’s “The Crimson Idol”), there is an underlying theme that threads the songs together…“a story of consequences that occur when one accepts or declines an invitation from the White Rabbit.”

Many bands would have rushed to put out their second album, but Egypt Central wanted to do it the right away, despite pleas from anxious fans to release the record.

The band will be touring extensively in support of “White Rabbit.”

According to Egypt Central drummer, Blake Allison, “Our secret weapon has always been our live show.” Allison continued “I can’t tell you how excited we are to play this new batch of songs for our fans that have stuck by us, and this is our invitation for anyone new to Egypt Central to come along on this journey…we hope you accept!”

Take a listen to the title track (below), which was just released this week.  If you love powerful, melodic hard rock, you will definitely want to take Egypt Central up on their invitation to join them on their journey.

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Hard Rock Music is Traveling “Back to the Future”

The year was 1985, and the world was a much simpler place.

In an attempt to escape from terrorists, Marty McFly (played by Michael J. Fox) put the pedal to the metal of Doc Brown’s DeLorean / time machine and ended up thirty years back in time.  While McFly was fighting back his mother’s advances in an effort to ensure that his parents got together in the future, hard rock music was thriving in the real world.

Hard rock artists sang about sex, drugs and rock-n-roll because it was what they knew.  For better or worse, it was how they lived their lives both on and off the stage.

Excess was the norm for hard rock artists back in 1985, as evidenced by the flamboyant wardrobes, the heavily-teased hair, the over-the-top stage shows and the sheer multitude of groupies who wanted to get close to these rock gods, if only for a night.

They were living the dream.  All of the girls wanted to be with them, and all of the guys wanted to be like them.  But most importantly, their music provided a great escape from the pressures of the real world.

W.A.S.P. brought out the “Wild Child” in all of us as we experienced “Crazy Nights” with Loudness.

Accept had us “Screaming For A Love Bite” while KISS took it a step further by encouraging us to “Uh! All Night.”

“In My Dreams,” I thought that Dokken had us all “Under Lock and Key,” but I was wrong.  Somehow, we had lost our way.   We thought that we had found Nirvana, but it turned out to be something else entirely.

It took a number of years, but we were finally able to wash the grunge off of us to once again become Dio’s“Rock ‘n’ Roll Children.”

After an extremely long journey, it seems only fitting that Motley Crue is at the forefront of welcoming hard rock music back to “Home Sweet Home.”

In January of 2008, Nikki Sixx came up with the idea for a summer tour called Crue Fest.

Dubbed “The Loudest Show On Earth,” Crue Fest featured a number of bands that Motley Crue felt“embodied the spirit of rock and roll.”

Motley Crue headlined the tour which featured four other hard rock artists: Buckcherry, Papa Roach, Trapt and Sixx: A.M. (Nikki Sixx’s side project).

In April of 2009, Nikki Sixx and DJ Ashba (Sixx: A.M.’s guitarist) produced the major label debut for a band called The Last Vegas, entitled “Whatever Gets You Off.” The album was released on Sixx’s Eleven Seven Records.

The Last Vegas represents everything that hard rock should be.  They’re dirty and sleazy enough to sound right at home on a dive bar stage, but their glam image, confident swagger and incredible songs make them ideally suited to one day fill arenas as a headliner.

The resurgence that hard rock music is currently experiencing will only be enhanced and accelerated by up-and-coming bands like The Last Vegas working with hard rock music icons like Motley Crue.

Once you’ve checked out The Last Vegas’ video for the song “Apologize” (below), you’ll realize that the only thing that they have to apologize for is not arriving sooner to help launch the next phase of the hard rock music revolution.

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Ozzy Osbourne and Slash: 2011 Scream Tour Review

January 22, 2011 5 comments

The first time that I saw Ozzy Osbourne in concert was April of 1986.  Ozzy was touring in support of “The Ultimate Sin,” with Metallica as the opening act.  It was a night that I will never forget.

Five years later, in the same arena, I saw Slash for the first time in concert.  Guns N Roses was touring in support of “Use Your Illusion I and II,” with Skid Row as the opening act.  It was also a night that I will never forget.

Last night, I took my son to see Ozzy Osbourne and Slash.  Once again, the night was unforgettable, but not for the same reason.

My son has been exposed to hard rock and metal since he was in the womb.  While he didn’t come out flashing Dio’s “metal horns,” he may as well have.  It didn’t take long for him to gravitate towards the hard rock and metal that defined my youth.

Most 8-yr olds are familiar with Ozzy and Slash through hearing their music on video games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero, although some may know “Crazy Train” and “Welcome to the Jungle” from hearing it at sporting events.    It is unusual for kids his age to be familiar with the catalog of these legendary rock stars, so it came as no surprise to me that there weren’t many kids at the show.

Slash and his band (featuring Myles Kennedy on vocals) took the stage first

The stripped down stage offered no visual effects outside of various Slash logos appearing on the screen hovering above the drum riser.  But it didn’t matter.   Slash and his band let the music speak for itself.

The crowd appreciated the tracks off of Slash’s self-titled solo album, but not nearly as much as the five songs that the band played off of Guns N Roses’ timeless debut album – “Appetite For Destruction”:

  • “Mr. Brownstone”
  • “Rocket Queen”
  • “Night Train”
  • “Sweet Child O’ Mine”
  • “Paradise City”

One of the biggest surprises of the evening was the masterful vocals of Myles Kennedy.  It is no easy task to bring Guns N Roses songs to life without Axl Rose’s distinctive voice, but Kennedy did that and more.

At 41 years of age, Kennedy can still bring it as strongly as those that are half his age.  The only thing that held him back at all was the misfortune of dealing with the squashed sound that opening acts are forced to contend with.  If Slash, Kennedy and the rest of the band were allowed to play with the same mix that Ozzy had, jaws would have been dropping at how good they were.

Kennedy’s presence alone would be reason enough to buy tickets to see Alter Bridge (Kennedy’s band) whenever they come around.

The crowd was pumped and ready for Ozzy after Slash’s performance

Ozzy’s signature “Crazy Train” laugh echoed throughout the darkness of the arena.  The crowd’s energy was palpable as the show began with clips of Ozzy spliced into various scenes from recent movies and pop culture events.

When the introduction ended, the words “Let the Madness Begin” flashed on the screen as Ozzy and his band launched into “Bark at the Moon.”

It only took a few notes to notice that the sound was much brighter and louder for the headlining act, although Ozzy’s vocals were buried in the mix. When it wasn’t fixed after a few songs, it was obvious that the mix showcasing guitarist, Gus G, was no accident.

Time eventually catches up to all of us

Last night’s performance made it abundantly clear that time has finally caught up with the Prince of Darkness.  His once-frenetic stage presence no longer exists.  It has been replaced by an awkward shuffle and an occasional look of confusion.

Ozzy has always put together great bands, and this one was no exception.  Throughout the evening, I couldn’t help but wonder how good they would have sounded if they were being fronted by the Ozzy of yesteryear.

The setlist featured only one song off of Ozzy’s latest album “Scream.” The rest were a mixture of classic songs from Ozzy’s solo records and Black Sabbath.

With all eyes on Ozzy’s new lead guitarist, Gus G, the pressure for a great vocal performance simply didn’t exist.  Ozzy’s vocals, while not nearly as strong as they once were, served their purpose for all of the heavy songs, but they fell short on the songs where the vocals were prominent.  For that reason, Ozzy would have been better off leaving these songs off of the setlist:

  • “Road to Nowhere”
  • “Fire in the Sky”
  • “I Don’t Want to Change the World”
  • “Mama, I’m Coming Home”

The concert also would have been better without the extended, self-indulgent solos from Ozzy’s band members.  As talented as they all are, the solos did nothing to add to the concert experience.  In fact, I would venture to say that the solos were less about showcasing the band’s talent, and more about giving Ozzy a breather during the show.

Because there was no clear delineation between where the show ended and the encore(s) began, it was a little surprising to see the house lights come on when “Paranoid” came to an end.

Having seen Ozzy several times over the years, I left the show feeling a little bit disappointed.  However, I do not regret going to see it at all.

I have always believed, and still do to this day, that Ozzy and Black Sabbath are perhaps the most influential band in rock history.  As a fan of hard rock and metal, I know full well that many of my favorite bands exist today because of the trail that was blazed by the “Godfathers of Metal.”

Someday, Ozzy will stop performing live.  No one knows when that day will be for sure, but it may be approaching sooner than anyone realizes.

Years from now, my son will be able to reminisce about the time that he saw Ozzy Osbourne in concert.  He doesn’t have the basis of comparison to understand the difference between seeing Ozzy in his prime and Ozzy towards the tail-end of his career.

Because my son is such a big fan of hard rock and metal, it would have been “The Ultimate Sin” not to have taken him to see Ozzy and Slash.  After all, opportunities like this don’t come around very often.

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You’re Never Too Old to Rock and Roll

It seems like yesterday that I was pulling into the Nassau Coliseum parking lot to attend one of the many rock concerts that came through town.  The windows of my red Camaro were wide open as the music blared out of my Blaupunkt car stereo.

Life was good in the mid 80’s!  I didn’t have a care in the world.  The part-time jobs that I worked paid terribly, but with no other bills to pay, I earned more than enough to buy the albums that I wanted and see the concerts that I wanted to see.

In what seems like the blink of an eye, I found myself rocking out to the same songs that once blared from my Camaro with my kids in a minivan.  A truly surreal moment to say the least!

Minivans serve a purpose for families, but no amount of hard rock will ever make them cool.  I still cringe every time that I see the Honda Odyssey commercial featuring “The Hellion” by Judas Priest.  This painfully ironic melding of rebellion and conformity serves as a stark reminder that, despite our best efforts, we simply cannot fight father time.  But it doesn’t mean that we should stop trying.

As a member of Generation X, I will shamefully admit that I have used the phrase…“these kids today…” Perhaps this is merely due to my nostalgic nature, but I suspect that it goes deeper than that since I often catch myself saying the things that my parents used to say to me.

One thing that has always stuck in my mind was my father’s steadfast reluctance to listen to any music made after 1964.  As a music lover, I just cannot imagine there being an expiration date on music.  That being said, I do admit that I think that the rock music of my youth was the best that there ever was.

To this day, I believe that the 90’s were a terrible time for rock music, and the malaise carried over into the new millennium.  Of course, this is only a generalization.  Unlike my father, I do not believe that the last great rock song was made in 1989.  While I always found a few bands and a number of songs that were memorable, the fact of the matter is that most of the rock music in the 90’s was kind of disposable to me.

Lately, however, I have felt a resurgence in rock music.  I don’t know if it is because the music is actually getting better or if it is just more easily discovered because of Internet and satellite radio.  More than likely, it is a combination of both.

The rock music that I grew up on will always mean a lot to me.  After all, it is the soundtrack to my youth.  But there is still great rock music being made, and I want to be a part of it.

One of the best things about discovering new music is sharing it with others.  Thankfully, in today’s social networking world, that can be accomplished in a matter of seconds.

I have to imagine that other rock music fans of Generation X have felt the same musical void as me, which is why I have decided to start a blog called Generation X Rock Music.  It will be a place to discover new music together and also to reminisce about the music that shaped our youth.  Please feel free to share your stories and links to music on the site.

Generation X may be getting older, but remember…we’re NEVER too old to Rock and Roll!

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