Off The Rails – The Review

I just finished reading Off The Rails by Rudy Sarzo this last week. Overall, I would say I liked it.

I’ve been a fan of Randy Rhoads since first hearing the Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of Madman albums in 1983 or so. He was a unique player for his time and these two albums are of the sort that they sound just as fresh today as they did when they were released.

As a Rhoads fan, I’ve always picked up any and all information I could get on him. Every guitar magazine he’s been in, I probably have or have had it. Each article or magazine never really gave you enough, as a fan, as to what Randy was like.

Off The Rails was written using Sarzo’s daily diaries that he had kept during the Blizzard of Ozz and Diary tours between 1981 and 1982 (at the request of his accountant) and gives you an interesting glimpse of what was going on in the band at the time. While this book is probably the most detailed about Rhoads as a person, the book for me seemed to focus more on how screwed up Ozzy and Sharon were during this time, which is actually the stuff I wound up getting more interested in as the book went on.

After reading this book, you will be amazed that Osbourne has gotten to where he did, and that he actually produced the music he did over the years. Rumors have always abounded about his alcoholism and wild antics, but Sarzo gives you a very detailed glimpse into the amount of abuse Ozzy exposed himself and everyone around him to during the early days of his solo career.

Most interesting to me was the circumstances around the planned live album that became Speak of the Devil and Randy’s resistance to doing the album. Given where the band was at the time, with two albums of solo material, its easy to understand that Randy did not want to do a live album of Sabbath material, but the most telling is how Ozzy reacted and treated Randy when he refused to do the album initially.

Over the last twenty some years, we’ve heard a lot of positive things about the relationship between Ozzy and Randy. This book, if nothing else, gives you a glimpse of the “real life” circumstances on the tour and paints a much less rosy picture of the time that the band spent on the road.

That is not to say at all that Off The Rails is negative. Sarzo manages to detail all of the goings on during this time without giving the reader the feeling of reading a “tell-all” book meant to smear the participants for the sake of making money. Rudy does a great job of reporting what happened in a very balanced way that manages to get the reader to close the book and walk away thinking.

Bottom line, the book is excellent. Sarzo does a good job of reporting the daily goings on in the tour, giving you a glimpse into the life of guitar hero, and doing it in such a way that it does not feel exploitative in the least. I would definitely recommend this book to those who are Rhoads fans, or even those who just want a third party addition to the biographies already out there on Ozzy and his crew.

Off the Rails by Rudy Sarzo Now Available At Amazon.com

I received an email yesterday from someone letting me know that Rudy Sarzo’s long awaited book, Off The Rails is now available at Amazon.com. The book chronicles his time with Ozzy Osbournes Blizzard of Ozz band, featuring the late great Randy Rhoads.

From what I’ve heard, this book is a one of a kind. I actually headed over to Borders yesterday to pick it up, only to find it listed in their computers as out of print. I guess I will have to forego my need for ‘immediate satisfaction’ and wait for Amazon to deliver it.

Rhoads fans have been waiting a long time for this release. I’ll let you know what I think once I get it.

I Had Forgotten How Much I Liked Iron Maiden

I was a huge Iron Maiden fan in the 80’s. I had quite a few of their albums and was I guess was one of those people who got extremely energized when listening to any of their albums. There was just something about the way the music was put together that I really liked.

Yesterday we went on our usual weekend mall trip and while browsing at FYE saw the album A Matter of Life and Death, the bands latest release. I’m not sure why I noticed it, except that someone Jonna works with had gone to a show in Chicago and she was telling me that he was rather disappointed in that they played more new stuff than old, and he didn’t recognize any of the music.

I couldn’t imagine being disappointed at a Maiden concert. They were actually the first concert I had ever gone to, at the now defunct Poplar Creek in Chicago, on the Powerslave tour.

This, coupled with our visit to the King Tut exhibit inspiring me to pop Powerslave on in the car last week has had me jonesing a bit for some new Iron Maiden.

So, this morning I logged into iTunes and grabbed the new album. I have to say, I love it.

The band sounds better than ever. I had forgotten how much Iron Maiden had meant to me back in high school. I remember spending hours learning songs like Number of the Beast, Phantom of the Opera, Wasted Years, and Hallowed Be Thy Name, still one of my all time favorite Maiden songs.

This morning has been pretty satisfying, music wise. I’ve grabbed all of my old Maiden CD’s and ripped them into iTunes. Those I’ve lost, that I really had the urge to hear again, I’ve repurchased (with a subsequent backup – just in case).

For those who were big Maiden fans back in the day, check out this album. If nothing else, it will inspire you to pull out the old stuff and give it a listen.

A Hard Landing At Galt Airport

Last night we attended the Hard Landing event at Galt Airport in Woodstock. The featured bands for the evening were Hudson McCoy, Rare Earth, and Blue Oyster Cult.

I had never been to a Galt Airport event, so I had nothing to compare it to, but we had a pretty good time. Rare Earth and Blue Oyster Cult are seriously at the top of their game. They sounded absolutely great.

Hudson McCoy was pretty good as well, if you like blues music. I’m one of those people who likes blues, but when I’m seeing a band live its more meaningful to me if I have heard their music before. I tend to me more receptive to unfamiliar music with an album than I am seeing a live band. Most of the Hudson McCoy set seemed to be originals that I had never heard before. So overall, for me, Rare Earth and BOC was the highlight of the evening.

We tried to get pictures throughout the night, but we didn’t get many that turned out well. Our camera just doesn’t do very well at long distances when it starts to get dark.

The event was quite a bit smaller than, say, a Ribfest – and it showed. One of the things that they really have to work on for next year is having more hand washing stations around the washroom area.

I’m a compulsive hand washer – its one of those weird things for me that I’ve never been able to get under control (though, thinking about it, it seems that if your going to have an obsession, hand washing is a good one). For me, there is nothing more horrible than walking around somewhere and having the urge to wash your hands and having one station available that is completely out of water and / or soap. Worse than that though, is watching so many people come out of these washrooms trying to wash their hands and having no water available to do so.

Last night there were two scenarios. In one instance there was no soap in the station. For a neurotic like me, washing your hands isn’t washing them without soap. The second scenario was worse though – only soap and no water. For some reason, having soap all over your hands with no ability to rinse it off just sends my brain off into a ‘tizzy’ – that’s my obsessive-compulsive side at its finest. I wound up going to the beer tent and asking the people attending there to drop large handfuls of ice in my hands so that I could rinse the soap off.

So to summarize, the event was fun. There was great music and the crowd was considerably more laid back and considerate than they were at the REO concert earlier this month. The organizers definitely have to make some improvements in the hygiene facilities moving forward though.

Jonesing for Metallica? Try iTunes!

I was quite happy today to find out that Metallica is finally offering their music via iTunes. I asked for Master of Puppets for Christmas last year (because I had lost it somewhere) and on top of it, when I tried to rip my “black album” to my iPod I found that it was scratched beyond repair.

I never really was good at taking care of things — thats why I like digital music.

Currently the albums “Ride the Lightning”, “Master of Puppets”, the “Black Album” (Metallica) and “… and Justice For All” are available through the iTunes Music store. I rebought my two lost and “mysteriously missing” this evening, for what amounts to about $12 below what I would have paid for both of them in any other channel, if my math is right.

Three of the four (excluding the black album) have live bonus tracks — a nice value add.

I’m glad to see Lars and the boys finally get their heads out of the sand and realize that they were missing the new wave. I’ve basically refused to replace these albums until I could do it online.

Update – 07/29/2006

When I checked iTunes at the time of this writing, only the four albums mentioned were up there. Now, the whole catalog is up on both iTunes and Napster (I had Jonna check Napster for me).

I like the way this article starts as it expresses the sentiment really well: “It’s official: Hell just froze over.”

Book: The Real Frank Zappa Book

The Real Frank Zappa Book Over the last 6 months, I have been getting more and more addicted to the music of Frank Zappa. It would stand to chance then, that when I saw the book The Real Frank Zappa Book on a bookshelf in a local book store, I had to pick it up and leaf through it. As I leafed through it, it became pretty obvious that this is a book that I needed to sit down and read in depth.

The Real Frank Zappa Book is written by Frank Zappa with Peter Occhiogrosso and is, essentially, Franks autobiography in his words. He talks about growing up, his introduction to music, his first band, and his struggles with getting his music played by orchestras. Here’s the way Frank describes the book in the introduction:

I don’t want to write a book, but I’m going to do it anyway, because Peter Occhiogrosso is going to help me. He is a writer. He likes books — he even reads them. I think it is good that books still exist, but they make me sleepy.

The way we’re going to do it is, Peter will come to California and spend a few weeks recording answers to ‘facinating questions‘, then the tapes will be transcribed. Peter will edit them, put them on floppy discs, send them back to me, I will edit them again and that result will be sent to Ann Patty at Poseidon Press and she will make it come out to be a ‘A BOOK.

The style of this snippet above is a pretty good picture of the writing style of the book. It is a humorous and informative and covers all spans of Franks life from his childhood growing up in Maryland and Florida, where he was a pretty sickly child, to his first exposure to music in high school, through his attempts later in life to get his music recorded by orchestras.

The book not only gives you background on Franks life, but really gives you access to the unique outlook Frank had on life and music. Frank talks about the early days of recording, his outlook on musicians (“Very few people choose to play the bass … electric bassists are often failed guitar players, demoted to this duty after a band meeting in a garage when they were thirteen.”), and why guitarists have to do the “big solo” (he calls it “squirting”, which is, in Franks words, “end[ing] your solo by going up the scale, then grab that last note and repeat it as fast as you can.”).

Other subjects covered in the book:

  1. The PMRC hearings in the 80’s, covered in the chapter “Porn Wars”
  2. Failure (“Success is rare – thats why people get so cranked up about it.”)
  3. Religion
  4. Marriage
  5. Parenthood
  6. Touring

One of the great pieces of the book is when Frank talks about progress. As a matter of fact, he says that he’s been quoted as saying that “Progress is not possible without deviation [from the norm]”. I liked this quote so much that I have it hanging on the door of my office. Its one of many little nuggets you get out of reading this book.

This intimate look at Frank Zappa gave me the motivation to really start listening to the work he produced during his life (and there is a lot of it) and I have to say, I’m loving it. Franks work was different. His compositional ability, coupled with his use of humor and drive to be unique make his albums an absolute pleasure to listen to. The music is different, entertaining, and timeless.

Over the last few months I’ve bought no less than ten of his albums – and each one gives a different look into the mind of a genius. Each album documents a stage in his musical evolution. This book gives the reader a glimpse of Frank from a different angle, in his own words. I would highly recommend that you give it a read. You may not be a fan of his music, but theres no denying what an interesting guy Frank Zappa was. I’m sure this book only covers the tip of the iceberg, but theres enough here to keep you entertained and fascinated.

Alright, I’m going to stop rambling now and start listening to Have I Offended Someone?, my latest purchase from the iTunes Music Store.

Links

Music: Dimebag is back with Rebel Meets Rebel

Rebel Meets RebelYesterday while at the mall I found Rebel Meets Rebel, the result of a musical partnership between, David Allan Coe, the late "Dimebag" Darrell Abbot, Vinnie Paul Abbot, and Rex Brown. The album is an interesting mix of country and Pantera / DamagePlan type heavy metal music.

I have to admit that I was skeptical that I would like the album. I’m not a big country fan. However, I have to say that not only is the music great, but it is so nice to hear Dimebag play again. I’ve really enjoyed his playing since starting to listen to Pantera in late 2004 shortly after his death and I think was in one of those “new fan” modes where I just wanted to hear everything he had played. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long before I was out of new stuff.

Now, the posthumously released Rebel Meets Rebel gives Dimebag fans something to listen to. Dimebags playing is excellent on this album, and surprisingly the mix of the two genres of music works really well, so much so that I’m tempted to pickup earlier DAC recordings to see what the pre-Dime music sounded like.

Its too bad Dime is gone. Its obvious that he was starting to really branch out and experiment with different ideas. This album gives us a glimpse into what I’m sure was only a small piece of it. I think these guys were on to something.

If nothing else, you can hear Dime again. That in itself is worth the price of the CD.

24th Anniversary of Rhoads Death

Plane Crash Kills Rock Guitarist
A small plane crashed into a mansion and burst into flames Friday, killing the lead guitarist of the Ozzy Osbourne rock group and two other people, police said. The plane twice buzzed the house, where the rock group was staying, and on a third pass clipped the rock group's tour bus and a tree, then slammed into the two-story colonial home, officials said. Killed were guitarist Randall Rhoads, 25, pilot Andrew Aycock, 36, and Rachel Youngblood, 58, the group's makeup artist and hairdresser, said Lake County Deputy Sheriff Mike Smalt. All were aboard the plane. Osbourne - known for such stage antics as biting off the head of a live bat - was in the bus but was not hurt, Smalt said. Several other group members escaped unhurt from the mansion before it was gutted by flaming gasoline that spewed from the Beechcraft Bonanza, officials said. Rhodes and Ms. Youngblood were from Los Angeles, Smalt said. Smalt said Aycock lived at Flying Baron Estates, the wealthy, private airport community about three miles east of Leesburg where the crash occurred. The group was staying at the mansion before a concert scheduled for Orlando today. Members of the group quickly left the crash site and it was not known whether they would perform. Jack Barker, Atlanta regional spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said the FAA flew an investigator to the scene Friday. He said the National Safety Transportation Board also would investigate. The bus - outfitted with plush chairs, video games and a stereo system - was punctured by the wing of the aircraft.

I found this Behind the Music video on YouTube and thought it was cool.

Notes

Article text courtesy of the Day The Music Died.