Clarence Yu If you’ve ever listened to the funky groove of Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” or the powerful percussion of “Sweet Emotion,” then you’ve heard Joey Kramer. Aerosmith’s legendary drummer has been with the Boston Bad Boys for the past 39 years since their inception in early 1970. Though you’ve heard Joey Kramer play, you might not have heard him as much as the Toxic Twins Steven Tyler and Joe Perry. Being a member of the “Lesser Known Three” with guitarist Brad Whitford and bassist Tom Hamilton, Joey has always let his musicality do the talking. Now, Kramer has decided to tell his own story in his new book, Hit Hard: A Story of Hitting Rock Bottom at the Top. In the book, Joey reveals his own personal battles with drugs and alcohol, and how he kicked his addictions, only to find out that he had many more battles to fight. Most interesting is the little known (to casual Aerosmith fans) story of Joey’s bout with depression and anxiety, most notable during the death of his father in 1997 when Aerosmith was recording their Nine Lives album. Caught up in a nervous breakdown, Joey had to take a break during the recording, forcing the band to hire session drummer Steve Ferrone to play on the demos. Joey eventually recovered to record the album and tour again with Aerosmith. “Not long after I had my breakdown, I was back on the Rock and Roll trail again,” Kramer states. “And during an interview, I chose to be forthcoming on my battle with depression and anxiety. Shortly thereafter, there was an overwhelming response from people thanking me. And if my story can help even one person, then the four years I’ve spent writing this book was well worth the effort.” More than just a rock and roll memoir, Kramer says that Hit Hard is a book about “life, about hitting rock bottom while my band was on the top of the world.” Hit Hard went on sale last June 30.
In one day, both iconic stars have died, sending shock waves throughout the world. As one tweet puts it, "MJ and FF is now news at the speed of light"--thanks to Twitter and Facebook. The King of Pop died of cardiac arrest, reports say. The beautiful and original Angel Ms. Farrah Fawcett succumb to cancer. MJ was 50, Farrah was 62. If you were already born at those times when both were at the peak of their careers, they drew a lot of attention. Of course, who can forget the lovely Mrs. Majors (yes, of the six million dollar man) and the moonwalk. Since high school, we've been attempting to emulate that space walk-inspired move but have failed many times. And Farrah. Oh my. 'Nuf said. I discovered Jackson during his "Thriller" days--same song which inspired hundreds of inmates in a Cebu prison. Every kid back then, including yours truly, admired MJ. He danced, he sang. I tried the former, but failed. I tried the latter and, er, somehow have made some progress. And his music videos were works of art. I've never seen so many screaming and crying fans on video when MJ goes on stage. To this day, one of my favorite guitar pieces is "Man in the Mirror." (Tuck Andress created this beautiful arrangement of that song for the guitar). When I entered college, my musical taste changed abruptly as I went for heavier sounds that bordered on noise. But while I headbanged to the music of Metallica and jumped around as I copied Van Halen, MJ's music was always there--(Beat It, for instance, was one song where Van Halen was asked to play a monster riff), hovering. MJ, has indeed made the world a better place for a lot of people, despite major bumps in his career. His music will live on. Thanks MJ!
Now that we got your attention. This is not about music piracy. This is about the new album of Coldplay, which they are actually allowing people to download for free. I was happily checking the Trending Topics on Twitter when I saw Coldplay popping out. Curious, I clicked on the topic and was led to talks about free music from the band. So I went in and checked it out and found that it wasn't a hoax. But expect to wait because a lot of people are now downloading this free live album LeftRightLeftRightLeft from band, which incidentally, was slapped with copyright infringement by Joe Satriani (I wonder whatevery happened to that case). This free album was announced earlier as a gift to fans. According to Coldplay's website, this free live album is its answer to the economic crisis.
...the give-away is meant as a recession-busting mark of gratitude to everyone who's supported them: "Playing live is what we love. This album is a thank you to our fans – the people who give us a reason to do it and make it happen." The album was recorded over the past year in various cities around the world on the Viva La Vida tour. Its tracklisting is as follows: 1. Glass of Water 2. 42 3. Clocks 4. Strawberry Swing 5. The Hardest Part/Postcards From Far Away 6. Viva La Vida 7. Death Will Never Conquer 8. Fix You 9. Death And All His Friends
By Clarence Yu MR. Big, the hard rock supergroup that formed in the 1980's and yielded the hits "To Be With You" and "Green Tinted Sixties Mind" has reunited. The band is comprised of bassist Billy Sheehan (of Talas and David Lee Roth Band fame), guitarist Paul Gilbert (formerly Racer X), drummer Pat Torpey (formerly of The Knack) and singer Eric Martin. The group debuted with their eponymous album in 1989. This album laid the groundwork for their distinct sound: crunching, shredding guitars, precision-pounded drums, booming bass and raspy melodic vocals. Soaring choruses combined with crunch delighted fans of the band the world over. Wait. This sounds like almost every other band that blossomed out of the 80's under the rock/heavy metal genre. What differentiated Mr. Big from other bands of their time was the fact that all of the members had previous successful careers in their own right and that all of them had a knack for writing pop-sensible songs. Eric Martin's (who had a semi-successful solo career beforehand) vocals were rough but really melodic, as if he could pass off as Steven Tyler's younger brother. Pat Torpey was renowned as an excellent session drummer in his own right, outside of the rock circles. Sheehan and Gilbert in particular, known for their work as guitar virtuosos, had a chance to show their songwriting skill, and it showed. Their follow-up album Lean Into It (1991) yielded the number one hit (albeit acoustic) "To Be With You." With the onset of grunge, the band's popularity waned in the United States; however they maintained their popularity in other parts of the world, most notably in Japan, where their fan base is tremendously huge. Paul Gilbert left the band in 1997, replaced by another guitar virtuoso, Ritchie Kotzen (ex-Poison). The band recorded two more albums with Kotzen which were released to the Japan market before finally calling it quits in 2002. Rising tensions and solo ventures (as with all others) reportedly caused the break-up. However, the fact that they lasted this long as a supergroup was testimony that this was no fly by night effort. As of February 2009, the band had announced their reunion with all the original members intact. A tour of Japan is scheduled for June 2009, followed by a possible release of a live DVD. With so many rock revivals, reunions and cross-unions happening, Mr. Big might be riding on a bandwagon, but they are certainly worth your ride as well. Catch this YouTube video of their recent Japanese promotional TV performance of their 1991 song "Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy," and you might catch my drift.
By Clarence Yu In continuing with the "tradition" of band-centered video games in their Guitar Hero franchise, Activision has finally confirmed that Guitar Hero: Van Halen is currently in development and, according to a report from Joystiq, will be due for release hopefully by the second half of this year. Previous band-centered games in the Guitar Hero franchise include Guitar Hero: Aerosmith and Guitar Hero: Metallica. In both cases, the band made a ton of money from game sales, while at the same time experiencing a boost in their album catalog sales. Arguably however, Van Halen might be a little more difficult to put down on a video game. First of all, Activision has confirmed that the game will only feature David Lee Roth era songs, which effectively narrows down the possible albums in the game to six: Van Halen (1978), Van Halen II (1979), Women and Children First (1980), Fair Warning (1981), Diver Down (1982), and 1984 (1984). The band had also recorded two new songs with Roth on 1996's Best of Volume I--the superb songs "Can't Get This Stuff No More" and "Me Wise Magic." Fans of the Sammy Hagar era might be disappointed in this choice. But, as most guitar purists would say, the Roth-era albums were more guitar heavy, while the Hagar era was devoted more to expanding Eddie Van Halen's "love songwriting" capabilities with keyboard/synth heavy songs such as "When It's Love," "Love Walks In," and "Why Can't This Be Love." These were the prime hits of the Red Rocker's era with VH. Second, is the question of who the bass player will be on the video game: will it be Mad Michael Anthony, or young Wolgang Van Halen, who replaced Anthony on the band's recent 2007-2008 concert outing? While Van Halen was always centered around the brothers Eddie and Alex, it can't be denied that Anthony's high-pitched back vocals, crazy stage antics, and tight, bottom end were part and parcel of the Van Halen sound and experience. And what to do with Extreme's Gary Cherone, the one-album singer (Van Halen 3, released 1998)? Will Michael Jackson make a guest appearance on "Beat It?" (Eddie Van Halen played the wild solo on Jackson's hit song). Third, Eddie's playing opened up a whole new dimension to the guitar world. His landmark instrumental, "Eruption," opened up a new generation of guitar players, centering on Van Halen's trademark (though not invented) hand-tapping fretwork, coupled with his signature whammy bar dive-bombs and the notorious elephant squeal. Can this be simply replicated on a plastic guitar controller by pressing a couple of buttons? With technology available today, perhaps it can, but would the gamer actually be able to learn these techniques on an actual guitar? Finally, Eddie Van Halen's playing has always been rooted in improvisation; his solos have always been off-the-wall, and, as a fan, I'd rather not see these solos conventionalized in a video game. I still get shivers whenever I hear any song off Fair Warning. Few things are more pleasurable than hearing the fret-slapping intro of "Mean Streets," or the unexpected jazz inspired solo of "Hear About It Later." I'd rather keep the sense of the unexpected rather than see it in a video game, but then, I remain hopeful that Activision can pull off a good job. I probably wouldn't play the game anyway, but it would be great to see the game-plays on YouTube while eating a bowl of brown M & M's. Eddie Van Halen has always cited Eric Clapton and Allan Holdsworth as his main influences, and I hope that he gives them due credit on this game. Gaming fans may re-discover Van Halen by buying his back catalog, but will they truly appreciate the genesis and roots of Eddie's talent? Perhaps I am hoping for too much. These may be the main challenges of Van Halen and Activision in developing the game to satisfy a rabid fan like me. Or perhaps, they just want to make a ton of money.
By Clarence Yu AFTER almost 45 years of wowing audiences and guitar freaks, and influencing a good generation or two of excellent guitar players, Jeff Beck has been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Finally. The legendary guitarist started his career playing with the Yardbirds, the band that was home to the great British “triumvirate” of guitar gods--Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Beck. From then on, the guitarist went on to revolutionize guitar playing with his innovative “flash” style of playing, partnering with a wide variety of artists such as Rod Stewart, Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones, and influencing the likes of Joe Perry and countless jazz, heavy metal and rock musicians. The guitarist was also one of the first artists to achieve commercial success in an instrumental format with the 1975 album Blow By Blow, widely regarded as one of his finest works; it also paved the way for other instrumentalists such as Joe Satriani to achieve the same success with his Surfing with the Alien. Beck was inducted alongside other artists such as Run DMC, Metallica, and the legendary Bobby Womack (who wrote an early ‘60’s Rolling Stones hit, “It’s All Over Now”). Beck has also won four Grammy Awards, has garnered massive critical acclaim, and is still actively touring as a solo artist. One wonders why the Hall of Fame only regarded him eligible now, but no one seems to be complaining, judging by the number of peers and guitar heroes who joined him onstage for a jam of “Train Kept A Rollin’,” a staple rock classic popularized by the Yardbirds in the ’60’s and Aerosmith in the 70’s. Check this out, and play Name the Guitar Hero:
By Clarence Yu AS reported on Rolling Stone Magazine, the long-awaited new album from Aerosmith has been delayed yet again. The band is citing several "health problems" as the reason for this delay. In lieu of releasing the new album, the Bad Boys from Boston are gearing up for a US summer tour with fellow veteran rockers ZZ Top, after which the band will either resume production or release the album. Hardcore Aerosmith fans might be disappointed at these turn of events, as the band has not released a full album of new material since 2001's Just Push Play. However, they may be in for a treat, as the prospect of seeing them co-headline with the great ZZ Top is quite exciting. Both bands straddle the same rock/bluesy genre, and have always been respected for both their image and their musical output and creativity. Similarly, both rock bands have touched on the disco/rap genre, with "Legs" from ZZ Top and "Walk This Way" from Aerosmith scoring big on the contemporary scene. Wouldn’t it be great to see both bands on stage jamming both songs as an encore? One can only hope. The good news is that Aerosmith is still keeping Brendan O' Brien on board for producing duties. O' Brien has proven to be the en vogue rock producer of the moment, and it's not just a fad: he’s worked his way up the hard way, producing Pearl Jam in the 90's and serving as engineer on several landmark records such as, coincidentally, Aerosmith's 1994 release Get A Grip. Currently, his work on AC/DC's Black Ice and Bruce Springsteen's Working On A Dream has reinvigorated both artists and have put them back on top at the cream of the crop. It almost seems that O' Brien has somehow replaced the late, great Bruce Fairbairn as THE eminent rock producer (Bon Jovi, Van Halen, Aerosmith). At any rate, whenever Aerosmith releases the new album, it should be worth the wait, and should usher in a new era in the band's long and storied career. Eight years without any new release is the longest dormant time that Aerosmith has ever had now.
By Anna Valmero INQUIRER.net Mr. "Pure Energy" Gary Valenciano and ten of Korea’s special artists performed in a one-night benefit concert Friday at the Cultural Center of the Philippines to help raise funds for Filipino street children. About 246,000 children under 18-years old are roaming the streets, of which 50,000 are highly visible street children, based on 2000 statistics of the United Nations' Children's Fund. “Children living on the streets of the Philippines are the most resilient, resourceful and determined children there are. But they also live in circumstances that leave them open to abuse of their rights and risks to their lives,” said Vanessa Tobin, UNICEF Representative. “This is an opportunity for us to raise funds for the country’s street children and have a platform from which to promote our advocacy for children’s rights,” said Tobin. The “Beautiful Children Concert” aimed to inspire its audience by showcasing how pure talent and belief in oneself can break barriers. True to its objective, the concert featured San Jae Lee, a visually impaired clarinetist; Hee Ah Lee, a pianist who plays the piano using only four fingers, and Philippine soprano Alexis Edralin, a survivor of acute myelogenous leukemia or cancer of the blood. Also showcasing their talents at the concert were the Beautiful Mind Charity Trio composed of cellist Il Hwan Bai, guitarist Jung Shil Suh and violinist Geenie Jung, the Clarion Chamber Ensemble, pianist Hye Young Park, and crossover artist Kyul. Now on his tenth year as UNICEF ambassador, Valenciano said: “My vision as an ambassador for UNICEF for the next 10 years is hopefully to encourage efforts to know more about UNICEF and unite our efforts for the rights of all children. We have seen great progress and I’m sure together we can achieve a lot for children here in the Philippines. I feel that is what I will be carrying out in the years to come.” Valenciano said he believes in the power of music to bring his message of strength to young people. Filipina Edralin said as survivor of cancer, she wants to use her “second life” to inspire hope and help people, especially Filipino children. Tobin thanked the Korean Embassy, United Korean Community Association of the Philippines and Korean NGO Beautiful Mind Charity for sponsoring the concert, adding 2009 marks the 60th year of friendship between the Philippines and Korea. All proceeds of the Beautiful Children Concert will be go to the child protection program of UNICEF Philippines. (Photos by author)
YOU might be wondering how that blog title relates to music. But that was the same question posed by band members of this new Supergroup, called Chickenfoot. A side project of former Van Halen members Sammy Hagar, Michael Anthony, Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith and (okay I didn't believe this until I read it), guitar god Joe Satriani. I've already heard two songs from their still unreleased album. Verdict? Imagine Hagar's familiar falsetto screams and wails amid the rockin' riffs of Joesat, Michael Anthony and Smith. (Okay, I must admit I thought I was listening to a VH song). I've heard "Soap on a Rope" and "Down the Drain." The "uuuhs" and the melodies do remind me of Van Halen, perhaps especially with Hagar on vocals. Now, how do you take a band whose name sounds like a joke, seriously? Well, they're not.
It's a silly name for a band -- and album -- that kicks a donkey's a^& six ways to Sunday and back again. Maybe that's because long before the four men who comprise Chickenfoot came together they already filled the pages of rock history with enough individual mind-blowing chapters to boggle the mind. The news that they've pooled their inordinate talents to one collective whole quickly spread across the Internet last year (and perhaps that crazy name helped just a little). The fact that they've succeeded artistically beyond anyone's wildest dreams (except perhaps their own) is all the more reason to celebrate.In any case, this is a band that you wouldn't want to miss.
If this news is confirmed, then the hordes of Trent Reznor fans in Manila will be glad to hear that Nine Inch Nails is set to play at the Araneta Coliseum on August 5.
NIN head to the Philippines Trent Reznor has just confirmed via twitter that Nine Inch Nails will play the Araneta Coliseum in Manila on the 5th August 2009.The official online forum of NIN has also the same news, but there are no details. ;-)