Let’s talk Van Halen….again

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In a land before time…there were record stores, racks of magazines, radio stations that played real music, and rockstars who were like gods to us. Gods shining bright from Olympus, inaccessible to us mere mortals.

Like a tornado raging across the plains Van Halen took their place on high.

I was instantly floored and in love with their music, and style. I fancied myself in the same ilk as David Lee Roth. I had the long blond hair, I wore bandannas like him, and I was loud and boisterous like him. It wasn’t a party without me and when I entered a room, everyone there knew it.

David Lee Roth to me was the end all to be all. The force of David Lee Roth, Michael Anthony, Eddie and Alex Van Halen was out of this world.

I look back now and have to ask myself “What the hell was I thinking?” I can now say David Lee Roth was not the great vocalist I thought. But, at that time, he was the vocalist we all wanted.

Now we find ourselves older and wiser, well some of us any way, and Van Halen is once again on the minds of everyone.  Van Halen 2015 is, to me, an eight cylinder engine running on only six. Sure the music still sounds good but we are missing those outstanding backing vocals and the stellar stage presence of Michael Anthony. And David Lee Roth has become a parody of himself.

I have such a hard listening to the new live stuff coming out now. I cringe with embarrassment at the attempts to reclaim their status in the rock world. I will always love Van Halen now and forever, but it’s time to retire their jerseys….

 

P.S. STOP FIGHTING AND NAME BASHING EACH OTHER AND PASS THE TORCH ON!!! LET THE VAN HALEN LEGACY GO OUT ON A GOOD NOTE!!!

it’s loud, it’s dirty, it’s ROCK N’ ROLL!!!

-the Hellion

My top 10 Rock songs that never get old for me

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There are songs that you have heard a million times and you can’t take them anymore (Post about those songs another time), and those that remain eternally epic. This is my list of those songs I consider most epic.

10. “Tombs Ov Oblivion” – Crowned By Fire

     9. “Back In The Saddle” – Aerosmith

     8. “Breakin’ Down” – Skid Row

     7. “More Than A Feeling” – Boston

     6. “Now I’m Here” – Queen

     5. “Dance The Night Away” – Van Halen

     4. “River Of Deceit” – Mad Season

     3. “No Quarter” – Led Zeppelin

     2. “Love To Love” – UFO

     1. “Spirits In The Night” – Manfred Mann’s Earth Band

     These are the ten top songs which I could listen to over and over without them wearing out on me. I guess of I were to make a Hellion Rocks greatest hits CD these would be the ten songs that would make the cut for me. Why these ten songs? They each represent to me musical craft at its best. I can listen to these and be carried away on musical adventures in faraway lands. I encourage your feedback and responses with your own definitive top ten list.

     it’s loud, it’s dirty, it’s ROCK N’ ROLL!!!

     -the Hellion

 

Bleach Bangs Radio discusses Motley Crue, AC/DC, and Van Halen and should they hang it up?

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Well, like that irritating rash, WE’RE BACK!!! We at Bleach Bangs Radio are exploring out options to infiltrate your ear holes and burrow into your brains. This time we decided to discuss some bands and their lifespans. Should they pull the plug? Should the defibrillators be hooked up to them? Check out the show right here:

     Afterwards let us know your thoughts. Pay attention as well because you just might have your chance to participate in an upcoming Bleach Bangs show yourself!!!

     -Bleach Bangs crew

Van Halen….again

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1978- Who doesn’t remember when you first heard “Eruption”? Myself and my local group of ne’er do wells were stopped dead in our tracks when we did. It was a sonic assault unlike any we had heard before. How could this be a guitar? Who could be behind this? And when it lead into “You Really Got Me” (being a Kinks fan I knew the track very well.) their rendition blew me away. I finally got my hands on a copy of this tasty piece of vinyl and proceeded to wear it the hell out. The raw power and swagger of this band was unbelievable. I found my self lost in the music and fancied myself a DLR clone. I mustered up as much swagger as I could and failed miserably, there was only one David Lee Roth.

Throughout the years I caught them every chance I could (Van Halen today remains the band I have seen live the most) and was never disappointed. The albums changed and the music evolved as did the members of Van Halen.

Things started going south for me with the 1982 release of Diver Down. Some of the tracks were incredibly awesome, and others left me scratching my head in bewilderment. What was going on here? I sucked it up however, and remained a loyal fan.

1984- WTF?!?!? What happened to my band of badasses? “Jump” really? As much as I tried to like this record it never really happened for me. And then, the king of swagger was gone David Lee Roth was no longer a part of the mighty Van Halen.

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I had been a fan of Sammy Hagar for quite a while when I heard the news of his replacing DLR. I thought to myself “this should be interesting with Sammy being quite an accomplished songwriter and guitarist. I waited in anticipation for the results.

When 5150 hit the stores I snapped it up eager to see what direction they were taking. While not the dangerous “you’re gonna go to jail if you hang out with those guys” band they used to be, it was good. Different but good. Van Halen had become a more mainstream act and it seemed stronger song writers. I found myself at that point in my life more mature as well, and I enjoyed the music. The four studio albums with Sammy gave some great songs and the memories that went a long with them .

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And then, like a bad dream, Sammy was out and Gary Cherone (really guys, I thought to myself) from Extreme was in. it was 1998 and was a 34 year old family man now but still a loyal rocker. I put aside my misgivings and entered Van Halen III with an open mind. I actually found this record quite good, a departure from the VH sound but good. And then, again, Gary was out and so was Michael Anthony.

Van Halen then kind of faded away in the eyes and ears of most people. They remained ever present in the rotation of music that I played, never far from my ears. Rumors and stories abounded but never came to fruition.

A couple of Reunions with Hagar and Roth came and went and rumors of new album with Roth began. In 2012 we finally got A Different Kind Of Truth and learned that Wolfgang Van Halen was now the bassist for Van Halen. It was through this record I realized my precious Van Halen was no more.

I had been there though it all: Van Halen, Van Hagar, Extreme Van Halen, and now Van Halen3 plus Dave.

In the past few days Van Halen has been asplash on the internet with their appearance on Jimmy Kimmel. I watched with baited breath hoping to catch a glimpse of my heroes of old. Alas, I was disappointed and a little embarrassed for them. While Eddie as usual had killer tone and chops, and Alex still brought the thunder, Young Wolfgang was no Michael Anthony, and David Lee Roth, well, let’s just say sometimes it’s better to leave on a high note. I will not speak of the current Sammy project because this was about me and Van Halen and I want to keep it that way.

I will always love and respect the music Van Halen has given me throughout the years and yes I will buy any and everything they release, I just feel that it’s time to move on for them….

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Van Halen I love you guys (all of you) now and forever

-the Hellion

 

 

SHOULD KEYBOARDS BE IN ROCK MUSIC?

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This has been a  long fought debate among rock fans. I think that keyboards are an integral part of rock music. Keyboards have been around from the birth of rock, to its current evolution. Like everything else keyboards can be (in my opinion) misused in rock music. Again everything in this post is just my opinion and is open for (and welcomed) discussion. Let’s get crackin’:

Some early rock songs had a prominent piano sound in them that was integral to the sound. Let’s look at a video from Jerry Lee Lewis for 1957:

Jerry Lee Lewis made this song come alive with the piano. The song was rockin’ for it’s time and it would not be the same without the piano.

The Doors brought forth some great keyboard laden music on the late 60’s. Ray Manzarek took keyboards and made them cooler. The distinct sound of Ray’s playing gave the Doors  their signature sound.

Foreigner in its early incarnation brought some great songs. Who doesn’t recognize the intro by Al Greenwood to “Cold As Ice”? This song was rocking us back in ’77. Although I was personally unhappy with the direction Foreigner took later on, these early songs remain dear to me.

Up until the release of Van Halen’s “1984” keyboards were not a part of the band. “Jump” took me by surprise, it was even a cool keyboard riff. What was happening to my hard rocking band???? But, it was Van Halen so most of us forgave them….maybe.

In the 90’s Guns N’ Roses gave us “November Rain”. Axl Rose and Dizzy Reed provided the keyboard/piano work for this epic song. People liked the song but I felt it was the beginning of the end  for that hard charging five pieve (originally) band. Good song though.

“Du Hast” is one of those songs where the keyboard has no place in my opinion.  Christian “Flake” Lorenz is adept as playing but the “keyboard riff” just confuses me in this song.

Those are but a few of “keyboard” heavy songs that come to mind. Here are some keyboard players worth noting and you should definitely check out their work:

Billy Preston

Mike Garson (David Bowie, Smashing Pumpkins)

Jon Lord (Deep Purple)

Keith Emerson (ELP)

Stevie Wonder

Warren Zevon

Joe Jackson

Fats Domino

Paul Carrack

Rufus Wainwright

Donald Fagan (Steely Dan)

Roy Bittan (Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band)

Benmont Tench (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers)

Gary Wright

Jackson Browne

Richard Manuel (The Band)

Bill Payne (Little Feat)

Gregg Allman (The Allman Brothers Band)

Chuck Leavell (Session player, Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, The Black Crowes)

I am going to leave you with one of my favorite keyboard heavy songs:

“Bohemian Rhapsody”, Freddie Mercury’s piano playing on this is a beautiful thing. The song is timeless and is an art form to be cherished forever.

Thanks Freddie you will always live in our hearts and our ears.

the Hellion

(I will be revisiting this topic)

THE GUITARISTS OF OZZY

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I often wonder if Ozzy himself reflects on his history of guitarists. I know I have on several occasions. I have also wondered about other guitarists and how they would have fit in Ozzy’s band. Let’s look at the history of Ozzy’s guitarists and then we’ll imagine some other players and see what we think.

RANDY RHOADS 1979 – 1982

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Blizzard of Ozz (1980), Diary of a Madman (1981), Tribute (1987)

Any fan of Ozzy knows of Randy. When the world first got their ears filled with the sounds of Randy’s guitars they knew everything had changed. It is in my opinion that Randy changed the game forever.

“Crazy Train”  -Randy version

BERNIE TORME  1982

No albums made with Ozzy

Bernie was the immediate successor to Randy following his death. Big shoes to fill as he was hired to play makeup dates,  and he was playing through Randy’s gear, AND he had to learn all of the songs in a week. Bernie only stayed on tour for three weeks before leaving to form his own band.

“Crazy Train” – Bernie version

BRAD GILLIS 1982 – 1983

Speak of the Devil (1982)

Brad came in following the departure of Bernie. He filled in and recorded a live album with Ozzy before leaving for Night Ranger.

“Crazy Train” – Brad version

JAKE E LEE 1983- 1987

Bark At The Moon (1983), The Ultimate Sin (1986)

Jake E Lee was in the running with George Lynch for the coveted spot. He obviously won out which I think was good move for Ozzy as Jake seemed suited for his band. We got some good songs from the Jake E Lee lineup as well.

“Crazy Train” – Jake E Lee version

ZAKK WYLDE 1987–1992, 1995, 1998, 2002–2004, 2006–2009

1988: No Rest For The Wicked, 1990: Just Say Ozzy (live album), 1991: No More Tears,  1993: Live & Loud (live album),  1995: Ozzmosis,  2001: Down to Earth,  2002: Live At Budokan (live album),  2007: Black Rain

Zakk Wylde (he seems to make a lot of my blog posts) was, in my opinion, Ozzy’s strongest guitarist. The successful period with Zakk cannot be ignored. The writing combination of Zakk/Ozzy made some of the most memorable in Ozzy’s career.

“Crazy Train” – Zakk Wylde version

STEVE VAI 1994

No recordings

After one of Zakk’s departures Steve filed in temporarily for Ozzy. Vai began writing and recording with Ozzy Osbourne. One track from these sessions, “My Little Man”, was released on the Ozzmosis album. Despite Vai penning the track, he does not appear on the album.

No video found.

ALEX SKOLNICK 1995

No recordings made

Alex had a brief stay in supporting Ozzy and not much else was done other than that.

“Crazy Train” – Alex version

JOE HOLMES 1995–1998, 1999–2001

Song “Walk on Water” From Beavis and Butt-Head Do America Soundtrack (1996)

In 1995, after Ozzy Osbourne had finished recording the Ozzmosis album, a replacement for Zakk Wylde was needed for the tour. Joe got a call from Dean Castronovo (Oz’s drummer) to let him know they were seeking a guitar player. Joe went down to Audible studios in Los Angeles and played three Ozzy classics.  Holmes did not mention that he had taken lessons from Randy Rhoads as he thought it would hurt his chances at the job.

“Crazy Train” – Joe Holmes version

JERRY CANTRELL 2004–2006

Under Cover (2005)

Jerry did Ozzy’s cover album for him and it was a damn fine job. If you haven’t heard it you should definitely check it out.

No video found

GUS G 2009-present

Scream (2010)

Gus was brought in when Ozzy and Zakk parted ways. Ozzy was trying to get away from what he perceived as a blurring of the lines between himself and the BLS sound. We shall see what becomes of writing future records with Gus. More power to him!

“Crazy Train” – Gus G version

Whew! What an impressive list of players! But what if Ozzy had tapped Dime, EVH, Herman Li, Buckethead, John5, or DJ Ashba? Something to think about…..thanks for playing!

P.S. thanks A.J. Greene

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the Hellion