Deriving their name from a Gothic horror flick starring Boris Karloff, their image from the diverse trappings of occult mysticism, mythology, and the supernatural, and their sound from an amalgam of late-60s blues-rock and progressive musics, Black Sabbath transcended all their influences to almost single-handedly write the first official chapter of heavy metal in the early 70s. Led by guitarist Tony Iommi and vocalist Ozzy Osbourne, they brought a new scariness and heaviness to the rock scene, presaging the arrival of today’s hard rock genre by decades. Paranoid, the title song from their second and perhaps finest album is a vivid case in point, standing as one of the most durable metal tracks of all time. (more…)
Counting Crows have defined heartland pop for the new age. This solid six-piece band, fueled by the guitar team of Dan Vickrey (lead guitar) and Dave Bryson (rhythm guitar), have laid claim to the turf established by Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, and John Cougar Mellencamp in the past two decades and are currently revitalizing and reinventing the genre with their inimitable blend of pop, country, and rock influences. Along the way, the Vickrey-Bryson pairing has become a classic pop-rock guitar duo of the 90s. Let’s examine some of the duo’s magic chemistry found on A Long December, the lead single from their long-awaited Rediscovering the Satellites album. (more…)
The Who’s first big hit imparted a metallic urgency to the British Invasion of the mid 60s. Simply stated, My Generation is one of those records that turned pop music into rock music – fierce, brash and a thoroughly unique statement. In it Pete Townshend aggressively established a tradition of rhythm guitar and a rock warrior attitude that is a cornerstone of the Who legacy. One of the first pop records to overtly flaunt berserk power chording, guitar feedback and noise-as-music, it doesn’t just stop there.
You have to consider Keith Moon’s bashing drum attack. John Entwistle’s groundbreaking (and ground-shaking) bass guitar breaks, and Roger Daltrey’s sputtered pill-head vocals to gauge its full impact. And those factors push its intensity needle fully into the red. (more…)
Combining the distorted crushing sounds of heavy metal a la Black Sabbath with the angst and irony of punk, Soundgarden kept hard rock alive in the alternative world. One of the seminal Seattle bands, Soundgarden had the largest local following prior to Nirvana‘s kicking down the music industry doors in the early 90s. Soundgarden’s 1991 release, Badmotorfinger, marked a high point for the group and remains a signature statement. One of Soundgarden’s most accessible and accomplished records, it is distinguished by more varied textures, tempos and tangents than its predecessors; the primal guitar riffs of Kim Thayil; and the much-touted track Outshined. (more…)
The Wallflowers are hardly what their name suggests. This energetic group has caught everyone’s attention by playing tight, no-nonsense American rock for a new generation – in the tradition of The Band, Tom Petty, The Traveling Wilburys, and mid-60s Bob Dylan. If pedigree accounts for anything, you can factor in the fact that Jakob Dylan. Bob’s son, is at the helm, and you can also point to the success of their 1996 album, Bringing Down the Horse. Bleeders is a leading cut from the record, loaded with plenty of crashing, jangling electric guitars, soulful organ touches, and a cooking rhythm section groove. (more…)
Lakini’s Juice, the leading single from Live’s new album, Secret Samadhi, further chronicles the band’s rise as one of today’s top alternative pop-rock acts. The song is somewhat of an anomaly, distinguished by brooding orchestration reminiscent of Zep’s “Kashmir” and a tough, semi-industrial riff – a clear message to all those disbelievers out there who bet on Live milking the formulas they introduced on their highly successful Throwing Copper record. “Lakini’s Juice” is also the first Live song written in an alternate tuning according to guitarist Chad Taylor, who remarked, “I’ve never written that way because every time I open-tuned my guitar, I sounded like Keith Richards!” (more…)