Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving. Much to be thankful for and I hope this finds you all well.

The music world was shocked to read about Ronnie James Dio falling ill. It was gutted to hear RJD has stomach cancer.

Terrible. However we hope everything goes well with treatment and he's back on stage soon.

I'm re-"printing" an old interview with RJD from Midwest Metal Issue #22 from 2000. Ronnie was in New York on a promo tour for the 'Magica' album. This interview stands out as my Son was very sick the afternoon the interview was to take place. Because of that I totally lost track of time and I forgot to call him!

I got a call from Wendy to remind me about 25 minutes after the scheduled time. I let her know my mind was elsewhere and why and moments later I was on the horn with the man himself.

He began the interview by stressing concern over my Son's well being, asking a ton of questions and just being, well comforting in such an honest way. Very memorable. He's a great singer and an even greater man.

Get well soon Ronnie.
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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Book Review: 'Anvil, The Story of Anvil' by Steve “Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner

Wow! The global Anvil assault continues as their ‘Anvil, The Story of AnvilDVD and This Is Thirteen’ album continue to fly off the shelves but (the paperback version of) the ace of spades of the Canadian trio has just hit the table!

Anvil, The Story of Anvil’ [VH1] is essentially the Anvil biography. Written by Lips and Robb Reiner and told from both in a first person narrative it’s the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth when it comes to Anvil. If you’ve seen the movie, and if you’re reading this blog I hope you have, but if you enjoyed it, lo and behold the book is actually better!

That’s the way it usually works and the Anvil story is no different. As good as the film is, and it is very, very good. I’ve watched it several times since the first time I saw it in the theater and it’s just one of those movies/stories that hasn’t gotten old. I mean the scenes that moved me back in April continue to do so in November and that say’s something.

So the power of this book is like watching an extended version of the movie. You get everything the film touched on but so much more. The book explores the essence of Anvil, the formative years, multiple members as Lips (the band) and the transformation into Anvil and all the dues these guys paid since they joined forces in the late 1970’s. You dig deeper into the family dynamics between the main characters and their parents and how each dealt with the pressures and expectations that come along with wanting to live as artists with a dream.

The relationship between the main characters, which is essentially what all this is about, is blown up and expanded upon and the depth at which these guys bond is just a beautiful thing. You also get to read the extended version of how the Sacha Gervasi tale is woven into a modern 30 year Heavy Metal Cinderella story. Everything I’ve read up to this point sort of glances over the Sacha/Anvil connection, simply associating the two as casual acquaintances who met in the mid 80’s and Gervasi becoming a roadie for the band who then reconnected some 20+ years later doesn’t even begin to describe the serendipity at play. Gervasi’s impact on the duo is yet another relationship that seemingly took 30 years to cement as legendary.

The business of Anvil was obviously a sore spot magnified by the documentary and in book form it’s stretched out over decades. Painful and rather depressing, so many times throughout the book you cringe when a decision is made or a partnership is formed knowing all too well the end result. The failed management deal between (then Aerosmith and Ted Nugent manager) David Krebs is something I think would’ve been beneficial to the movie as it was the brass ring the band had worked so hard for only to have it slip away.

True, it was partially their fault such a career advancing opportunity slipped through their fingers, but it’s a huge part of the Anvil story. There’s other incidents that when looked back upon it’s no wonder the guys dwelled in underground obscurity, a disastrous mid 80’s showcase in Brooklyn at L’Amour’s is a moment I’m sure the band would love to have forgotten but it’s all part of the past that leads us to the present and ultimately the future.

Which brings up a very valid set of questions. The words Anvil and future used to be a sort of Metal oxymoron, I mean pre DVD anyone with a set of ears really didn’t sit around wondering what Anvil’s next move was going to be, not since 1984/85 that is. However the landscape for them has changed drastically, they’re the stars of a hit documentary, they’re all over television, they’ve got this killer book and a fresh round of tour dates for ‘The Anvil Experience’ is set to launch in January 2010.

Without a doubt the eyes and ears of the greater Heavy Metal World are once again upon them, so the question is what do they do with them now?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Heavy Metal & Hollywood Hell, on canvas.

So if you read any of the major metal news sites, you'll have read about New York artist Tom Sanford and his soon to be auctioned controversial paintings. The one causing the biggest uproar is Sanford's depiction of the 2004 on-stage slaying of Dimebag Darrell Abbott.

So when I first saw it, yeah I was a little shocked. I'd be even more shocked or upset if he had, say a painting of the Lynyrd Skynyrd plane crash or something but I suppose the relation you have with the subject dictates your feelings.

Regardless, when I saw this Dime painting I thought of a photo I took at a House Of Blues a few years ago. Now this one I was just like "what the fuck?"

However the commotion the Dime painting is causing is also a "WTF."

I think the metal generation has been desensitized to death, no? I understand it's a brutal artist's rendition but it's no gorier than any Cannibal Corpse cover and those we don't even look at twice. It's just accepted.

Accept this too. You don't have to buy it, you don't have to look at it. If you went to the guy's site there's a lot of twisted shit and this is one of many. Slayer and Rob Zombie do the same shit and are celebrated.

This OJ pic is pretty fucked up though, ain't it?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Book Review: Dawn of the Metal Gods by Al Atkins and Neil Daniels

Let me start by saying I, obviously have much respect for the forefathers of Hard Rock/Heavy Metal. Their blood, sweat and tears creating what we know as Metal has given me a lifetime of enjoyment as well as a purpose here on Earth. Without it I do not know who or what I would be.

I also have a boatload of respect for those who perhaps were a part of the formation of the art but never got the credit or respect they so rightly deserved. The world is full of talented individuals that either were at the right place at the wrong time or vice versa. More often than not they either end up forgotten or worse a bit of an asterisk in the annals of music history.

An artist chasing success can be a lifelong uphill battle with many battlefields and many scars. Some soldiers never give up, we've all seen what perseverance did for Anvil, but this isn't Hollywood, this tale begins in Birmingham, England (the birthplace of Heavy Metal) and this is the other side of that reality.

Dawn of the Metal Gods’ is the autobiography of original Judas Priest vocalist Al Atkins which almost primarily focuses on these sentiments. If you’re scratching your head asking “who?” you’re not alone. Al’s greatest claim to fame is helping form and name Judas Priest back in 1969 and has writing credits on several JP songs including the classic “Victim of Changes.” Writer Neil Daniels does his best to champion Atkins' contributions to the band as well as his career after Priest.

However for every Rob Halford, the "replacement" who goes on to change the World there is an Al Atkins, the one "left behind". The guy who was there first.

That being said, I will ask the million dollar question…who the hell has lost sleep wondering about Al Atkins all these years? I mean have you laid in your bed at night wondering what Rob Halford’s predecessor has done musically since leaving the band in 1974 before their debut was even released? Because as a student and self professed geek of all things Metal I haven’t. So if I or other dorks like me haven’t, well who has?

Yes, that may be a bit harsh, but at the end of this 220+ page book I didn’t feel like a weight had been lifted or any piece of an essential Heavy Metal puzzle had been solved. But that aside there’s a few things worthwhile about this book, but you have to be prepared to practice some patience. The upbringing and childhood and formative years of one Al Atkins isn’t exactly what I’d call engrossing/page turning stuff.

You do get an inside scoop on the birth of Judas Priest and the scene in which they came up in. A much, much different collection of bands, fans and early stages of the business of music than what you’d find today and admittedly it’s rather interesting stuff. Reading about current JP members Ken (KK) Downing and Ian Hill and how they came to joining the group is cool but after Al leaves JP the book, like his career suffers greatly.

You’ll read about the bands that Atkins formed and the pros and cons of being done before he really started and probably the most interesting things in the book are his thoughts on Judas Priest’s moves from album to album, tour to tour and everything in between. Some of his views are rather harsh and petty but it’s something I’m sure a) doesn’t bother anyone in the band and b) are written from the point self admitted jealously.

I mean if you think that’s wrong, ask Dave Evans what he thinks of AC/DC, ask Pete Willis what he thinks of Def Leppard, ask Pete Best what he thinks of the Beatles and so on and so forth. There’s no way on Earth any of these guys, Atkins included, could have been "thankful" they weren’t going through the hassle of selling out Madison Square Garden or having to suffer through ‘another sold-out world tour.’

This book is only of interest to the hardest of die hard Judas Priest fans interested in the embryo stages of the future legends. Atkins as a main character subject doesn't carry the story strong enough to hold the readers utmost attention. For instance a lot of talks about bands that, for lack of better words never even went anywhere and songs 99.9% of the population has never heard!

Despite being very well written with some beyond great photos throughout, it's still a story, IMO of a guy whose demons of "what might have been" are still haunting him 35 years later.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Old Metal Mag Moment-Spastik Children

Not too sure if Spastik Children got any heavy coverage outside of the Bay Area and Ron Quintana’s Metal Mania, but here’s a rare interview from 1986 from the New York and not related to Ron's influential mag, Metal Mania.

For those who know, you obviously know, but for those that don’t…Spastik was a punk band that existed in many incarnations from the mid 80’s until around 1990 (maybe?), members of Exodus, Heathen and the lesser known Pillage Sunday made up the group’s initial line up.

In early 1986 the group gained “instant celebrity” status when James Hetfield and Cliff Burton were recruited to play drums and bass.

Check out the interview as it will explain a lot more than some boring intro of a band that, well I suppose it’d be a hell of a lot different to have seen em live, but for the most part was an admitted “joke”.

As the interview states the band carried on after the loss of Cliff Burton with Kirk Hammett and then later Jim Martin as well as Jason Newsted taking over on bass. Could you imagine the 100,000,000 album selling Metallica of now of ever being as care free as they were back then? Time is a motherfucker, so take a step back and enjoy!

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