Tag Archives: Hard Rock

T.G.I.F. – Ten Bangers That Mash

Those too young to remember the allure of full-sized vinyl album covers (not to mention the functionality of the gatefold sleeve) cannot appreciate the passion of those of us who enjoyed spending hours perusing through a record store’s racks. Flipping cover after cover, the myriad or art ranged from the structure of classic jazz titles to the simplicity of an early rock album to the wonderscapes that bellowed forth from the mind of Roger Dean.

But then again, those were days when album credits could make or break the sale of an album – who was the producer, what musicians added their talents as guest artists, who wrote the songs…for those used to the process, it was both an enjoyable diversion and an educational process. Of course, the store employees actually knew something about the music they were selling – “can I help you?” was a sincere question that could be followed up with actual information rather than “Oh, the new Rush album…did you look under R?”

In the waning CD age we still have wonderful art, just smaller. I realize my eyes aren’t perfect, but some of the mouseprint font on CD jackets requires a microscope. Then again, a generation of people now only knows music as files with a name and title display. Progress, I guess, but something has been lost in the translation.

I did notice that hard rock bands haven’t lost the allure of the cover, knowing full well their target audience is primarily young men. But some pop bands figured that out, too…if you want to get noticed, use the visual to get their attention, then hopefully seal the deal with the audio.

So here are Ten Bangers That Mash…ten artists who might flaunt the flag of sexual innuendo but at least have something…um…under their covers to reward you with. And since they’re mostly headbangers, I framed them with a prog rock band from the 70s and one of the best pop bands around right now.

01)  FlashIn The Can

02) ZO2Ain’t It Beautiful

03) Poets and PornstarsPoets and Pornstars

04) Bullets and OctaneIn The Mouth of the Young

05) American SixgunThe Devil in Your Bones

06) WhitestarrFillith Tillith

07) Asphalt ValentineStrip Rock and Roll

08) American HeartbreakAmerican Heartbreak

09) StereosideSo Long

10) FratellisCostello Music

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New Albums From Old Friends

Al Jardine – A Postcard From California

Sure, a lot of this is older Beach Boys material, and yes, Alec Baldwin’s narration within “A California Saga” is a little off-putting, but the important things here are (1) Al Jardine released an album and (2) damn, he sounds really good! Guests on the album – in addition to most of the Beach Boys – include Glen Campbell, Flea, David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Steve Miller.

And Beach Boy fans will plotz when they hear the harmonies (including Carl!) on “Don’t Fight The Sea”. Obviously this album has been years in the making, and in keeping with Jardine’s personality it’s a tribute to the natural beauty of California rather than the cars/girls/surfing themes. Fans might have had demos and boots of some of these songs over the years but the sound here is first-rate.

Micky Dolenz – King For A Day

Despite the enormous success of The Monkees, Micky Dolenz still doesn’t get his due as one of the best vocalists of the rock era. I’ve heard it all – the fallacy of The Prefab Four and the lunacy of a fake band cast for television becoming a real one; even Dolenz discounts his own legacy (“it’s like thinking Leonard Nimoy was really a Vulcan”). But they’re wrong.

The Monkees had the cream of Brill Building songwriters at their disposal, and as unlikable a guy as Don Kirschner was, he knew what he was doing when it came to picking hit records. Now Dolenz takes a page from the past by recording an album of Carole King songs (hence the album title). Like most good ideas, there’s probably not a radio station format to match it up with, but I wouldn’t sell him short.

Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin

I guess a punster would call this album Adult Symphonies To God. After years of wondering whether an overweight and practically comatose genius would simply curl up and die in his sandbox, Brian Wilson fans have to be happy that he’s been able to get on a stage and play, open up his musical legacy to people who could help him (read: The Wondermints) and even create new works in his latter days.

Rumors persist that the surviving Beach Boys are going to bury the hatchet (and not in each other’s skulls) and reform, but whether or not that ever happens it’s good to know that there is work done above and beyond Mike Love‘s traveling circus.

Add these to the plethora of new releases from stars of yesteryear – Peter Frampton, Peter Wolf, Foghat, Steve Miller, Burton Cummings – in addition to old reliables like Tom Petty who just keep on going. Maybe the arena gig is now a club show in a Hard Rock showroom, and perhaps the radio play is limited to rockers turned DJ like  Little Steven and Alice Cooper, but for those of us who want to look beyond the top of the charts, there are plenty of great efforts sailing under the radar.

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