Reviewed by: Roger Scales
Two years ago when Tango Down released Identity Crisis, I called it my favorite album of 2012 in my review. It was full of everything that puts a smile on my face and it exceeded the standards of what I call the “Three H” method when judging a record: harmonies, hooks, holding power. That record still gets heavy rotation on this “80’s Guy’s” Listening Machine. ,24 months later, Tango Down is back with Charming Devil and I read a quote from Scott “Rif” Miller that TD has once again “raised the bar” and an expectation level from TD fans waiting to hear if the band can surpass 2012’s monster release. Did they indeed put on the jet packs and head even higher than they ever have before? “Charming Devil” has done just that with a 10 song selection of well written, well produced melodic gems full of harmonic flavor, a dash of metal and a smattering of memorable guitar riffs that just may put Mr. Miller on my personal pedestal of current guitar gods. Read more
Reviewed by: Roger Scales
Yes, this review will be 100% biased because its subject matter is near and dear to my “80’s Guy” heart but no it was not written for me, dedicated to me nor did I have any involvement in the creation of it whatsoever. However that’s not to say that I couldn’t have been added as a creative consultant or at the very least quoted in it somewhere! The Big Book of Hair Metal The Illustrated Oral History of Heavy Metal’s Debauched Decade is candid, funny, informative and is really one of the first truly year by year breakdown of the 80’s hair band genre in written form. The detail is what’s most encouraging about Martin Popoff’s take on this era in music of which he boosts in the book’s introduction that hair metal makes him “happy’. Why shouldn’t it? If you had a pulse from 1980-1991 (prior to Nirvana changing the culture within the industry) than you more than likely had just as many happy moments along the way listening to bands like Quiet Riot, Motley Crue, Bon Jovi and Dokken, as Martin did. Read more
Interview: Author Greg Prato on ‘Overlooked/Unappreciated: 354 Recordings That Demand Your Attention’
Interviewed by: Roger Scales
Your book Overlooked/Underappreciated: 354 Recordings That Demand Your Attention hits near and dear to my heart because it’s sole focus is to bring attention to albums maybe “lost” in the shuffle of music listener’s conscious whether it was just bad timing for its original release or poor sales there is something for everyone here to identify with. What made you want to write and research this book?
It all started when I began making a list of albums that I found myself going long periods of time not listening to – not because of the quality of their work, but because since I no longer own any CD’s, tapes, or records (I transferred all my music over digitally). And when you have countless albums on a digital doohickey, it’s easy to overlook albums that demand your attention. Once the list began to grow and grow, a thought popped into my head – why not put together a book of this albums? Read more
Australia and rock n’ roll have gone hand in hand for decades – AC/DC, Jet, and Wolfmother (among countless others) have all hailed from the land down under. And the continent has another hard rocking contender on their hands, Ragdoll. Comprised of members Ryan Rafferty (lead vocals, bass), Leon Todd (guitar), and Cam Barrett (drums), the trio has a new album, ‘Ragdoll Rewound’ that was released on May 23rd, and also recently had a successful performance at Rocklahoma on May 25th on the Retrospect Records Stage, which was part of a string of dates mostly in the Midwest and south.
Ragdoll Rewound is a compilation of Ragdoll’s first two releases (Ragdoll Rock and Here Today) plus four live recordings, one of which is a new composition, “Rewind Your Mind.” The trio revisited the first EP and had it remixed and polished the way they had always wanted to hear it. Any issues the band may have had with the original Here Today master have been fully rectified here too; while the new master of “Tell Me” in particular is a lot more dynamic and more true to the original mix. I caught up Leon Todd recently and got the full lowdown.
Interviewed by Roger Scales
For those unfamiliar with Ragdoll can you give our readers a little bit of a history lesson about how and when the band started and who came up with the name?
We are from Australia and we all grew up listening to Led Zeppelin, Rush, Whitesnake and those types of bands. We have been together a little over three years now as this lineup. The name Ragdoll doesn’t have a particularly cool rock n roll story attached to it. Cam came up with Ragdoll after his cat walked into the room when we were tossing around ideas for the name of the band. We kind of all agreed and just stuck with it. Fans kept asking us “Hey, did you take the name from the Aerosmith song?” That was just a nice coincidence. I guess it would be an easy transition if ever wanted to start an Aerosmith tribute band! Just learn a few songs and practice a few moves, oh and add two members!
Has the band always been a power trio?
Essentially yes. I’ve been playing with our drummer Cam for about 8 years now. We had always been on a quest to start that ideal band. Playing in other bands previous we had never really been satisfied. The three of us have been playing with lineups for 4 or 5 years but it wasn’t until about 2011 that we meshed as Ragdoll.
Let’s talk about your newest release Ragdoll Rewound a bit. Great idea to give new fans that may have missed your earlier recordings a chance to hear your first two EP’s which are virtually unavailable at this point?
Yea. That was the general idea. When Ragdoll Rock was first released back in 2011 it was a promotional only recording. There was never really any intent to release that we pretty much gave them out at our early shows. We were unaware what the market for our band would be at that point. That EP ended up in the hands of a promoter here in the US. He loved it and wanted to promote us here in the states. We put out another release at that point called Here Today to coincide with that tour. Ragdoll Rewound is a collection of those two EP’s. We had recorded a third EP in 2013 called All I Want Is Everything which pretty much put us on the radar with rock fans in America so than rather go back and record a whole batch of new songs we wanted to revisit the two EP’s that basically got the ball rolling for us. I think we really found our sound on the All I Want EP so we wanted to essentially update the first two and get it in line with that release. Also do have a definitive Ragdoll package for newer fans like yourself to have and hopefully latch on to it.
Now you have been touring in the US since early May correct?
Correct. We are currently finishing up the “Rewind Your Mind” tour that started on May 16 in Ventura CA and ending on June 13 in Las Vegas. We were lucky to get an opening spot opening for Skid Row at The Whisky A Go Go in LA. That was a great show. Love those west coast crowds!
Looks like the dates in 2014 are all mid west and west coast. Why no east coast dates?
Funny because a lot of the bands we have been playing with here in the US that originate from there keep telling us ‘you have to get up and play on the east coast. You play music that angry people will enjoy and those areas have a lot of angry people!’ Next time we play in the US we will make sure we try and hit the east coast. There are so many iconic venues up there I have only read about and seen in videos that I want to hopefully one day play.
What was playing Rocklahoma like this year?
This is our third time playing this festival. We got invited by the promoter right after the release of Ragdoll Rock who basically told us about 6 weeks prior to the gig that if we could get on a plane and get here he promised us a good spot on that bill. That really got the ball rolling for us then and generated a lot of buzz. For us coming from one of the most isolated cities in the world where we would play a single show every two to three months playing to such a captive audience at Rocklahoma who don’t have to paid to be convinced that they like rock music that was really huge for us. We planned this tour around that one great big gig and I think we will always look at that show as a turning point for us as a band.
Now you have a new video for the song “Tell Me” which almost makes you guys comic book characters. Tell me who came up with that concept?
Basically as we travel and we are essentially strangers in a strange land we take a lot of photos when we are on the road. When you let loose three young guys in a van touring America we basically look at this country as the land of plenty. Walmart to us is fascinating. We wanted to share that with the fans a lot of the photos that we took across the country. We wanted this video to be more lighthearted and had some humor with it. We wanted to push the song “Tell Me” as the first single and get it some exposure. How do we take all of these photos with the song and make it something fun? Cam came up with the idea of the comic strip style approach and throw all the photos together and see what happens. We approached a good friend of ours, who also happens to be a kick ass drummer in his own right, Chris Reeve to come up with something based on our idea. Within a week he had it 80% finished. We made a few little suggestions and basically not long afterward had the finished product. The feedback we have received so far the fans all seem to love it and I’m glad.
Are you working on new material currently for a new album?
We are playing a few new songs on this tour that we decided to roll out and get a real live feel to them. It looks as if the industry is changing and evolving to the point where bands are not always touring to support a new release but are now starting the reverse process. Having the opportunity to play them live gives us the opportunity to mold the songs into shape while taking the fans reactions to them during the show as part of the creative process. When I’m home I have my own small studio where you will often find me creating and writing new music. Not everything gets put out on a Ragdoll record but I have it. We plan to go home and continue promotion for the “Ragdoll Rewound” release and do some more touring. I mean even back home not everyone had the chance to own our first two EP’s so they are also getting the opportunity to pick them up as well. Hopefully by early 2015 put together another tour package for here in the states and play some different places as well.
Reviewed by: Roger Scales
Never has an album cover and title truly described a band at its core. Tesla, although first arriving in 1986 at the height of hair bands and commercial rock, were really never a band about presentation. They never had big hair, stage theatrics, spandex or racy videos filled with vixens. They did however tour with many of these bands and like it or not got lumped into that era, fairly or unfairly. My introduction to the band was from the first time I saw ‘Modern Day Cowboy” on MTV and my first Tesla show was seeing them opening for Def Leppard on the Hysteria tour. I thought they had boundless energy, were fun on stage and wrote memorable classic rock songs that were easy to sing along with. Read more
When I first heard about this book I basically expected a pretty vanilla offering from a very well known singer/songwriter/guitarist who just so happens to be a very devout Christian while fronting a heavy metal band called Stryper. I have been a very big Stryper fan going back as far as 1985, seeing them play in a small club in Boston and have never missed a single tour since. That being said, I was hoping that Michael’s book Honestly was going to give some insight to a number of questions I have had during the 30-plus year career of my fandom of Michael in Stryper such as who came up with the yellow and black outfit design? Why did Tim leave during the recording of To Hell With The Devil? Whatever happened to his short lived replacement Matt Hurich? Why in more recent years was their obvious reluctance to play songs off In God We Trust? Why did Michael essentially break up Stryper in 1992? Who got the band back together in 1999? Trust me, I got my answers and a whole lot more. Honestly is a no-frills look into the mind and soul of a man who has made mistakes, had musical and personal regrets but at the same time has been a loving husband and father while maintaining his stature as one of the top rock vocalists of his generation. Read more
It looks like 2014 is getting off to a killer start for Kivel Records with its latest release Unhinged, first from new labelmates Madman’s Lullaby. Right from the first track “What If” I could hear the influence from some of the late 80’s best hard rock acts such as Tesla and, especially vocally, early Lynch Mob. This record has tons of groove and some very clever lyrics. If you’re looking for a feel good kind of album with romantic tunes with everyone in a happy state, turn away! Read more
It’s really hard to imagine that Precious Metal is the 9th studio album from House of Lords but then again after 1992’s Demon’s Down who would have thought that HOL would have to wait another 12 years to get to record album number 4? In fact during those 12 years from 1992-2004 I played those first three albums constantly, always in regular rotation especially on long drives because those records were just that damn good. Read more
Well it’s great to see that even though RATT is hard at work on a new album for 2014 vocalist and sometimes solo artist Stephen Pearcy still feels like hitting the road (in the Northeast no less) in January for a round of dates performing with his RATT Bastards solo band.
Add into the mix local rock legends MASS as an opener (also soon to start work on a new record) and this has the potential to be a night of power rock with an old school flavor. That’s really what this show felt like to me. Stepping back in time for sure and kudos to Club Rain for making it feel like an 80’s rock show with spacious new amenities, great lighting and a world class sound system. Anyone who remembers Narcissus in Kenmore Square or The Channel recalls that Boston did have great clubs at one time. Let’s hope the management at Rain keeps booking national acts and the task of bringing in the crowds will take care of itself. Read more
Let’s talk about the brand new Heretic box set from Metal Blade Records From the Vault…Tortured and Broken. It must be very satisfying to finally have your original EP Torture Knows No Boundary (1986) and first full length album Breaking Point (1988) released remastered with bonus tracks for a new generation of fans that may have dismissed these back in the day or maybe were not even born yet upon their initial release?
Yeah, you know it was one of the first things when we reformed that we thought of doing. The EP and that first album were really hard to find. You had to go to Ebay to try and find them and pay like $50.00 or more for each of them. They were totally out of print and our initial thought was to maybe just put them out ourselves. After the release of A Time of Crisis (2012) Metal Blade contacted us about releasing them both and that started the ball rolling from there. It’s great to finally get these out there in this box set for the newer fans and also for the fans that maybe had it on LP to now be able to have them remastered with bonus tracks. Read more