RIP Randy Rhoads

Today is the 26th anniversary of the death of Randy Rhoads. What better way to remember him than an 8 minute guitar solo from the Quiet Riot days? You’ll find a lot of familiar pieces in this solo. Enjoy – and RIP Randy.

I also have pictures of the grave site from a trip I took back in 2005. You can find a lot more at the Diary of an Axeman web site – the definitive site on the net for Randy Rhoads “stuff”.

I Think I’m A Zappa Addict Now

I am so on a Zappa kick.

I remember back in high school, the only album I had heard from Frank was Frank Zappa Meets the Mothers of Prevention and I really enjoyed it – but it never really got its hooks into me in a big way. I went through a mini-spell back in 2006 after reading Zappa’s book The Real Frank Zappa Book, but back then I stuck to the two albums I had. It was nothing like this.

Since the Vai concert last September I’ve been listening to Zappa almost non-stop. Almost every weekend I’ve gone out and bought two CD’s, and I’ll listen to them the rest of the week. Luckily, Frank had a pretty big catalog, so this could go on for a while.

I think what got me interested more in Frank’s stuff was watching the Vai soundcheck. They did some pretty heavy practicing (it was actually more of a rehearsal than a soundcheck) and I was enthralled watching the detail in which the band practiced. They spent about 20 minutes on one small piece of a song, because the phrasing of a particular lick wasn’t correct for the violins. It reminded me of what I had heard about how particular Zappa was about his music being played correctly and I began to get really curious as to just how much of an influence Frank was on Vai during his “formative years”.

As is typical when I get really interested in stuff like this, I take it to the ultimate extreme. I’ve been looking for any information related to Frank and found a book at Borders called Zappa: A Biography by Barry Miles. I’ve found it a pretty interesting read so far.

I can tell you that musically for me its been an interesting few months. Zappa’s music is hard to get into initially (at least it was for me – and definitely is for Jonna), but once you’re hooked your really hooked.

I love the humor and the “off color” nature of his music and lyrics to be sure, but I think the thing that blows me away about Frank (and Vai for that matter with his latest album Sound Theories, Vols. 1-2) are how well the songs translate to an orchestra. Its interesting to me how music that starts in a “rock” vein can be musically viable enough to be played by an orchestra and in many cases be better than the original. If you didn’t know any better, you would never know that they started out as rock music.

My favorite albums so far are Frank Zappa Meets the Mothers of Prevention, the first album I heard back in high school, with Strictly Commercial: The Best of Frank Zappa and Apostrophe (‘) a close second and third. Strictly Commercial is a great cross section of Franks more “commercially acceptable” stuff and is a good introduction to his music. The “single versions” of these songs edit out all of the things that some may find offensive.

As I mentioned earlier, Franks music translates well to an orchestra. If you want an introduction to Zappa that even your grandmother wouldn’t find offensive, you might want to check out Strictly Genteel: A Classical Introduction to Frank Zappa.

Whichever path you take, I’m sure you’ll find it rewarding. I certainly am.

Evo Experience on 9/21 – Quick Post and A Few Pictures

Jonna and I attended the Steve Vai Evo Experience at the House of Blues last night. Jonna played photographer and took about 300 or so pictures. We are in a rush this morning, but I have gotten a few up. Throughout the week I will continue to sort through and upload pictures.

Real quick review, too many people at the EVO experience this time. Last time it was about 25 and was really nice. This time it seemed there were close to 40. However, given all that, watching the soundcheck and rehearsal was completely fascinating. This guy gets better every time I see him and the new band is absolutely incredible. Probably the best Vai show I’ve ever seen. Definitely check them out if they come to a town near you.

I hate the House of Blues as a venue, however. We basically stood for 7 or so hours. We were completely dead by the end of the show. All and all though, the music and the band were second to none. Best show I’ve seen so far – ever.

More pictures will be added to the set as we have time to sort through them, and I plan on putting together a more extensive post as I have time.

The Beatles : LOVE

On A Beatles Kick

I picked up the new Beatles release Love this afternoon and am completely blown away. The 26 tracks on the album have been completely remixed. You’ve never heard The Beatles sound so good. If you are a Beatles fan, this album is a MUST LISTEN TO.

One odd thing about the album though. For some reason, I was unable to rip it into iTunes to pull it into my iPod. The disc just wasn’t able to be read properly. I wound up finally pulling out the old Gateway Windows machine and ripping the disc to MP3’s at the highest quality, moving them onto our network server, pulling them down to the Mac, and importing them into iTunes that way.

I don’t recall ever seeing this happen before – where a disc cannot be read by the Mac at all but is fully rippable through Windows Media Player (I tried iTunes on Windows as well to no avail). I looked around, and couldn’t find any reference to anyone else having problems with iTunes. Weird.

Anyway, the album is phenomenal and I highly recommend it. While I was at it, I picked up The Beatles 1 as well. Its amazing how completely timeless the music they produced is.

Paul Stanley: Live To Win

Its been 9 years since anything good has come from the KISS camp that wasn’t a rehash of the days before they took their make up off. The last KISS release of original material was Psycho Circus back in 1998, which wasn’t necessarily their best effort.

In 2004 Gene Simmons released Asshole his first solo album since 1978, which is hardly something I would recommend you to buy. However, being one of those goofy KISS fans that have to buy anything new from the band, I just had to buy it for some reason, a decision I regretted soon after making the purchase.

This year, Paul Stanley has released his first solo album since 1978, called Live to Win.

This album is one I’ve actually enjoyed listening to. Its quite obvious when listening to this album where most of the song writing skills within KISS actually reside. I found the songs to be strong and catchy. Its been a while since I’ve bought an album that I’ve been able to listen to all the way through and then start over again.

Some of you might have heard the title track of the album without even knowing it, as it appears in the South Park World of Warcraft episode during the scene where the kids are practicing for hours on end killing boars to up their strength in order to confront the character in the game that is killing everyone within the game.

I felt the rest of the songs were pretty strong on the album as well. This is a good effort by Stanley, and its nice to hear his voice on something new for a change, rather than rehashes of KISS’s 1970’s catalog.

I have thought for a while that it is about time that KISS let go of the make up and old catalog performances that strike one as something to just fill their coffers and get out and do something new. Stanley has made a really good effort in putting some new material out there and this is one KISS fan who actually appreciates the effort and has enjoyed listening to something fresh and new from the KISS front man.

Its pretty obvious. If the band were to break up and stop putting out “Best Of” CD’s, Paul would be the one that still has a career when the dust settles.