Powerline: The Resurrection

Founded in 1985, Powerline began as an undergound hard rock/heavy metal mag, distributed mostly in record stores worldwide. As it evolved a few years later, it embraced more commercial hard rock
 (the popular genre at the time was classified as “hair bands”) and the mag was distributed as a high-gloss publication on American newsstands with a circulation of over 100K.

By 1992 the party was over. The magazine became defunct (for various reasons). The staff went onto other jobs. And the name gathered dust. Until now.

Resurrected online, Powerline covers hard rock/heavy metal music in general (truly From Glam to Slam!), as well as reminisce about the old days in the form of time-capsuled articles and experiences.

Backstage Auctions sat down with Pat Prince to talk about all things hard rock and heavy metal, the new online version of Powerline and the industry in general.

How did you start Powerline? And why?
I grew up reading magazines like CREEM and Kerrang! But I then became obsessed with seeking out and collecting metal fanzines – I loved Bob Muldowney's Kick Ass monthly and Metal Rendezvous — and the pure excitement of discovering new metal bands. Powerline was really born out of my love for fanzines and the metal underground but also my frustration of not being able to get enough of my photographs published in the metal press. I'd been sneaking my 35mm camera into metal clubs like L'amour in Brooklyn for years and taking photos of all the latest bands. Finally, in 1985, I figured I'd take my photographs and put them next to my ramblings about the bands I loved, so I started Powerline with a typewriter, pasteboards, and veloxes from my photographs. And, at first, I dropped off copies to sell in all the record stores in the tri-state area that carried metal. It progressed from there.

Since Powerline started as a fanzine. How much did the editorial content change upon hitting the newsstand?
After I teamed up with my friend Mike Smith in 1988, we merged the essence of the fanzine with the more popular hard rock/ metal acts of the time like Ozzy, Motley Crue, Bon Jovi, Skid Row, etc. It was really a great combination because it covered everything. Soon we were able to hire renowned metal journalists like Mick Wall (a favorite of mine from Kerrang!). And the graphics and quality became really fantastic. Some might of seen it as a sell out. But it was really an evolution.

What was your favorite issue to put together?
Each issue had its own great experience. But I would have to say the Metallica issue, September 1989. I was into Metallica from the very beginning of their existence but by the time I started Powerline in 1985, Metallica became too big to get access to. Finally, we were able to get an exclusive interview and make it a cover story, with great color live shots.

What was the strangest interview you've done?
L.A. Guns. It was in a hotel room in New York City and the band had their rock star hats on. They were rude and seemingly drunk out of their minds. My questions were repeated back at me and answered in a nonsensical manner. Steve Riley was laying on the bed and bouncing a rubber ball off the walls and giving me a juvenile play-by-play of it. I had brought Powerline t-shirts to give the band and Phil Lewis stood up and said sarcastically, 'Oh, great, t-shirts.' He picked one up and rubbed his crotch with it and then threw it across the room. Up to that moment Powerline had been a big promoter of LA Guns — not that that demanded my respect, but it certainly hurt witnessing this kind of behavior. I walked out of the room with Riley, Lewis, and Kelly Nickels in a laughing/giggling fit. I had loved Lewis' singing since he was in the UK band Girl, but I thought 'F*ck you. I don't care who you are.' The PR woman finally directed me to Tracii Guns' room. And walking in, you can clearly tell Tracii was in the middle of getting hardcore stoned. It was like walking into a hash den. But, completely opposite of his bandmates, Guns was one of the coolest musicians I've had the pleasure to meet. That's why when people ask me nowadays which faction of LA Guns I support — Tracii Guns' L.A. Guns or Phil Lewis' L.A. Guns — it becomes quite an easy question to answer.

How is the metal genre different than it was when you started Powerline?
Today's metal now has standardized extremities — it seems too forced at times. I like all kinds of metal for its musical value but I don't agree with this way of thinking. You don't have to be extreme to be intense.

Is it harder for a metal band to be recognized nowadays?
Metal seems to be making a comeback. Genres can be cyclical as far as popularity. But hard rock and heavy metal will always be there. It was very hard for metal bands to get recognized in the early - to mid-'80s— which made it seem more exciting, actually.

How are Metal fans/collectors unique? Do you collect metal memorabilia?
When you listen to a genre exclusively, you like to think that your music is the most unique, and its followers are the most enthusiastic. And there are some aspects of it that are unique. But, basically, fans and collectors are the same all over, no matter the genre. After being the editor of Goldmine I certainly realized that!
A lot of my favorite memorabilia, unfortunately, has been lost over the years. I had almost all the metal demos from the '80s, including Metallica's. And the heavy metal demos of the '80s were the most fun to collect and trade. It was a world onto itself — almost a secret society. And, unlike today's MP3s, bands wanted you to trade demos -- get the music out there. I'm glad I experienced it. The demos from bands like Malice and Mercyful Fate were better than a lot of the stuff that made it onto their studio albums. Brilliant stuff that you'd could only hear if you were part of that scene. And then you had bands like Surgical Steel that you can only hear on demo tape. It's a moment in time that you really can't recapture.

Why did you resurrect Powerline as a Web site?
I listen to all kinds of music now, but I had missed Powerline and the music it cherished being an important part of my life. Plus I got kind of sick of bands like Korn being seen as the face of heavy music. What about bands like Saxon, Riot, Accept, Raven and the hundreds of other great bands from the '80s — the ones that started it all?! They deserve the most respect!

What are Powerline's future plans?
To have Powerline conitnue to represent vintage Hard Rock/Heavy Metal bands. I love the idea of turning kids onto all that old school stuff for the first time. Kind of like how Kerrang! turned me onto it in the early '80s.

Powerline Social Media: 

Metal Evolution - "Shock Rock"

Metal Evolution - "Shock Rock"
Sam Dunn
VH1 Classic

All Access Review: A

Along with his similarly desensitized boyhood chums, a teenaged Sam Dunn took great delight in poring over the violent, gore-splattered imagery that bled all over the lyrics of death metal titans like Cannibal Corpse. The heavy metal-obsessed filmmaker waxes nostalgic for such warped innocence in his acclaimed documentary “A Headbanger’s Journey.” As someone with a strong stomach for such horrific scenes of human depravity and sick fantasies, it takes something truly frightening and unsettlingly dark to scare Dunn out of his wits. Des Moines, Iowa, mental ward escapees Slipknot had that effect on him.

On his way to the Midwest to interview Slipknot co-founder Shawn Crahan, otherwise known as Clown, during “Shock Rock,” the latest installment of his “Metal Evolution” series on VH-1, Dunn reveals how “terrified” of Slipknot he was the first time he saw them live. Intensely chaotic onstage, with an angry, relentlessly bleak nihilistic streak lyrically, Slipknot’s grotesque masks and matching uniforms, hellish growls, aggressive, multi-dimensional percussion and borderline psychotic stage shows make KISS seem cuddly by comparison. In fact, Monte Conner, A&R guy at Roadrunner Records, a regular on “Metal Evolution,” recounts how Clown would inhale deeply while holding a decomposing crow to his nose and breathe in all the evil and blackness that bird represented before shows. The stench often made him vomit, according to Conner, and sometimes, he would throw up in his mask and continue wearing it while playing whole concerts with that awful smelling spew in his face. Holy God, how do you top that?

The answer is … well, probably, you don’t. Although circus performer Danny Vomit, also interviewed for “Shock Rock” to provide commentary on how freak shows may have influenced shock-rock theatrics, cautions that somewhere some kid is dreaming up something even more appalling, it’s hard to imagine anything more assaulting to the senses than Slipknot or Marilyn Manson. Even the godfather of the genre, Alice Cooper, admits in the most recent episode of “Metal Evolution” that it’s probably impossible to shock anybody these days, and Rob Zombie concurs. And now that people are so anaesthetized to violence that we’ve gotten to the point where “Faces of Death” passes for entertainment, what’s left? Forget trying to shock people, says Cooper. That’s pretty impossible now. It all comes down to providing them an imaginative show, according to Cooper, who equates his own elaborately bloody stage show these days with Cirque du Soleil.

Dunn pretty much leaves it at that in what is quite possibly the best episode of the “Metal Evolution” series. “Shock Rock” has it all – controversy, a fascinating history, lively debate, and unflinching social commentary. There’s the gutsy Little Richard, strutting his gender-bending fashion sense and blatant homosexuality in the Deep South of the late 1950s, which earns the undying respect of one Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead. Next up is the campy horror show of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, complete with still shots of him arising from his coffin and vintage clips of him performing “I Put a Spell on You.” Perhaps more surprising, however, is how much crazy, manic footage there is of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown doing “Fire,” and Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickenson admitting to copping much of his onstage persona from Arthur, who emerged from the psychedelic safe house of Paris in the ‘60s with wild ideas about confrontational performance art and challenging music – all of which Brown, with a red stripe of makeup running across his face, discusses in great detail with Dunn. That connection that Dunn establishes between Brown and heavy metal is a fascinating one and Dunn displays a deft touch in making it. There’s nothing heavy-handed about his storytelling technique; he’s a natural when it comes to interviewing, and the editing work that he and partner Scott McFadyen, who co-directs and co-produces “Metal Evolution,” keeps everything flowing naturally.

Not forgotten in the story of “Shock Rock” are Alice Cooper and KISS, of course. The infamous chicken incident is dissected with Alice, who goes on to regale Dunn with rehashed tales of how the band was banned in certain countries and how the “bad” publicity they received actually served to increase the band’s popularity – all with the help of former band mates Dennis Dunaway and Neal Smith. Whole books have been written about KISS’s makeup and the genesis of the band’s outrageous stage craft. Somehow, Dunn manages to squeeze all the essential information about KISS, as it relates to the subject at hand, while segueing into KISS’s gradual morphing from every parent’s nightmare into a somewhat more innocuous, family-oriented act that saw children arriving at shows made up as their favorite KISS character. While Criss bemoans the increasing commercialism that enveloped KISS, Frehley talks about having to tone down the sexual congress he used to perform with his guitar every night and reluctantly back off on his cursing. This is where things take a turn for the really, really weird.

With KISS having become sort of a kid-friendly cartoon, a shock-rock void developed. Nobody was testing the boundaries of good taste and social convention. Then along came Marilyn Manson. Taking on conservative Christian values with a fierce intelligence and a brutally tortured, gothic aesthetic that seemed to bring to life the inner workings of a serial killer’s scrambled mind, Manson and his deranged crew put on a stage show that was like some fascist S&M rally in a dystopian nightmare. When things got too real, though, as they did when responsibility for the Columbine massacre was placed squarely on Manson’s shoulders, this sinister creature went on MTV and took umbrage with the media for its ghoulish, uncaring coverage of the tragedy and the grief and sadness of those it affected the most. Interestingly, Manson’s one-time co-conspirator, Daisy Berkowitz, criticized Manson’s reaction, basically calling him out for being soft. That, combined with the bizarre, intensely personal stories of Clown and Slipknot, makes the second half of “Shock Rock” the most compelling television produced so far by Dunn.

“Shock Rock” alternates from lighthearted kitsch to serious debate on its effects on society and whether rock music could ever produce anything that could be considering “shocking” ever again. Again, it must be difficult to keep this train on the tracks, to maintain focus on the role “shock rock” plays in the evolution of heavy metal. And yet, Dunn does it, even while occasionally detouring into ancillary subject matter that would threaten to derail less talented filmmakers. Over and over, Dunn and McFadyen stitch together interviews, vintage live footage, still photography and any other ephemera he can get his hands to effortlessly tell a story that deserves this kind of exhaustive study. The world of heavy metal owes him a debt of gratitude.

Peter Lindblad

Metal Evolution - Shock Rock
Watch the Full Episode - Here and Now! 

DVD Review: The Rolling Stones - Some Girls: Live in Texas '78

DVD Review: The Rolling Stones - Some Girls: Live in Texas '78
Eagle Vision
All Access Review: A-

The punks were sneering at them from afar, and to the blow-snorting, booty-shaking hedonists living it up at Studio 54 and other less glamorous discos, the Rolling Stones might as well have been dead for all they cared. As big as they still were in the mid-to-late 1970s, the Stones were in danger of becoming irrelevant, of fading into the background. The black magic of 1972’s Exile on Main Street had long since worn off, and the Stones, with stardom further inflating Mick Jagger’s grandiose ego and drug addiction robbing Keith Richards of his bohemian talent and ambition, foundered. Satisfaction was becoming ever more elusive for the self-proclaimed world’s greatest rock and roll band.
Each succeeding album sunk them ever deeper into a quagmire of mediocrity – at least according to their lofty standards. The crass excess of 1973’s Goats Head Soup obfuscated the nasty sparkle of its brightest diamonds. It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll, released a year later, lacked cohesion and consistency, even if it did, more often than not, make the blood run red hot. And while training Ronnie Wood in the ways of the Stones, Mick and Keith messed around with extended, funky grooves and stylistic experimentation on 1976’s Black and Blue and got lost (I know that’s The Eagles’ line and I’m mixing my classic-rock metaphors, but I don’t care).
With their desire to indulge in regrettably long jams and the suspect mixing of incompatible genres out of their system, the Stones, perhaps stung a bit by the criticism leveled at them, sought inspiration from a contemporary music scene dominated by polar opposites. On the one hand, there was the seething fury and cynical anger of punk doling out its own brand of street justice on bloated, fatuous rock stars who had lost touch with what once made them great. And then there was disco, glitzy and lacking anything resembling substance, while also guilty of delivering the kind of hypnotic beats and head-spinning action that compelled its coked-up consumers to lose their inhibitions and get freaky on the dance floor and in the bedroom.
The Stones, up to this point, hadn’t had much to do with any of it. That was about to change with 1978’s Some Girls, an album that lashed out at those ready to write them off as has-beens. Of its time and yet something that couldn’t ever possibly be considered dated, Some Girls was as nasty and mean as the Stones wanted it to be, with sharp, tightly wound tracks like “When The Whip Comes Down,” “Shattered” and “Respectable” all spoiling for a knife fight and not caring a whit for anybody who gets cut. Even the relatively laid-back country charms of “Far Away Eyes” break out into a menacing sneer that has bad intentions behind it, and the nod to disco, “Miss You,” sounds dangerously seductive . The Stones were not going to be pushed around – not by the Sex Pistols and certainly not by Bee Gees.
And so, with Some Girls still brandishing its razor-sharp songwriting and explosive recorded performances at a suddenly reinvigorated fan base, the Stones toured, adopting a lean, stripped-down approach that showed they meant business. On July 18, 1978, they rolled into Fort Worth, Texas, eager to show everybody who came to the Will Rogers Auditorium that night that they’d regained their swagger – something that was apparent to anybody who’d seen them on previous stops, the 1978 tour being one of the Stones’ finest hours. Tickets went fast, even though the band shrouded itself in the mysterious pseudonym “The London Green Shoed Cowboys” that nobody fell for. Onstage, the Stones caught fire, and that rip-roaring performance was filmed for posterity by the Texas outfit Showco. Colorfully packaged and riotously filmed, “The Rolling Stones: Some Girls Live in Texas ’78,” released in late 2011 by Eagle Vision in three formats – DVD, Blu-Ray, and special edition DVD + CD and Blu-Ray + CD packages – is stunning visual and sonic proof that the Stones could throw down with anybody.
Backed by faithful Ian Stewart on piano and Ian “Mac” McLagan on organ and piano, plus Doug Kershaw on violin, the Stones tear into 17 tracks with fire in their eyes and raw, edgy energy to burn. Following a savory version of “Let It Rock,” a celebratory spin around “All Down the Line” and a predatory “Honky Tonk Women,” Mick and the boys burn and pillage their way through the notorious “Star Star,” otherwise known as “Starf**ker.” Ready again to rumble, after a brief respite, they flex their sinewy rhythmic muscles on “When the Whip Comes Down,” with Mick joining the fray on guitar – he has one in his hands through much of the show – sporting a t-shirt that says “DESTROY,” a yellow coat, a red hat and black leather pants. Feeling their oats, the Stones generate plenty of throbbing, sexual heat in a stretched-out “Miss You,” before turning a bit more innocent and sincere in their fantastic reworking of The Temptations’ “(Just My) Imagination,” one of the true highlights of Some Girls.
Always the showman, Jagger is in rare form, full of bravado while shucking and jiving his way through “Miss You” before grabbing the crowd by the throat with tough, commanding vocals in “Shattered” – the vicious guitars of Keith and Woodie exuding attitude and filled high-wire tension – and spearheading a vigorous run through a snotty “Respectable” that sweats bullets. While clearly sticking it to anybody who would dare question their live prowess or their passion, there’s also a playfulness and unabashed exuberance that shines off the Stones’ gleaming performance and is readily apparent in the almost gleeful, child-like interaction – however naughty these man-children are – between all parties. And make no mistake, this is a party.
Transitioning out of the deliciously boozy, countrified drawl of “Far Away Eyes” and “Love in Vain,” the Stones let it all hang out on “Tumbling Dice” and “Happy” before kicking Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little 16” square in the ass. By the time “Brown Sugar” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” draw to a close, you are satiated, worn completely out like after the greatest sex of your life but not quite ready to see it end. And if the live portion of “The Rolling Stones: Some Girls Live in Texas,” so gloriously restored by Bob Clearmountain from the original multi-track tapes and shot from a variety of visually exciting angles, were all that one had to go on, it alone would be worth the $200 you were going to spend on hookers and drugs to make it through the night, but it doesn’t cost anywhere near that. Throw in a booklet full of memorabilia and detailed, well-written liner notes by James Karnbach and you have an essential piece of musical history.
What weakens the overall package are some of the extras: a throwaway interview with Jagger comprised of nothing but softball questions and bland, pat answers; a dull, poorly written Saturday Night Live skit with Dan Akroyd’s painfully unfunny turn as Tom Snyder doing the “Tomorrow” show with Jagger and the Stones’ subsequent flat SNL performance; and a segment of ABC News “20/20” interviews with the Stones from that era that hold some interest, but ultimately, don’t add much in the way of information or historical perspective. Don’t let that deter you from picking up “Some Girls Live in Texas ’78,” a landmark live DVD that makes for a great drinking buddy for Some Girls the album.

- Peter Lindblad

Official Trailer from Eagle Rock: 

DVD Review: The Doors - Mr. Mojo Risin' - The Story of L.A. Woman

DVD Review: The Doors - Mr. Mojo Risin': The Story of L.A. Woman
Eagle Rock Entertainment
All Access Review: B+

In a very real sense, after Jim Morrison’s infamous Miami arrest on morals charges and public drunkenness, The Doors as a whole were subject to house arrest. The south Florida homecoming for Morrison at the Dinner Key Auditorium, packed with 14,000 people, was the first stop on The Doors’ 1969 tour, and it was a night nobody would ever forget. Perhaps it even signaled that the end was near.
Three sheets to the wind, and perhaps inspired by seeing the confrontational performance of the experimental theater group The Living Theatre the night before, the Lizard King was in no mood to sing. And so, during “Break on Through,” he began a confused rant that at once embraced the slavish adoration of the crowd – noting his Floridian roots – and then turned on them with blazing hostility, rebuking them as conformists and calling them “f**king idiots” and “slaves,” while expressing his love for a weirder and wilder locale, his adopted playground Los Angeles.
It’s all there on screen in the documentary “Mr. Mojo Risin’: The Story of L.A. Woman,” which follows the making of The Doors’ magnificent coda, the slice of gritty, sinister blues and dark, surreal jazz known as L.A. Woman that would turn out to be Morrison’s last studio recording. There’s Morrison threatening to expose his genitalia for all to see. There’s Morrison feigning oral sex on guitarist Robby Krieger. And then, of course, there are the clueless cops hauling away a bemused Morrison, who seems completely satisfied with the circus-like chaos and complete disorder he has so diabolically orchestrated. But, maybe, just maybe, there was more to Morrison’s actions than a simple desire to create all-out anarchy. By this time, Morrison’s notoriety had already become the stuff of legend – people had taken to calling them the “dirty Doors” as Manzarek relates in the film – and the alcohol was doing a lot of the talking, leading to arrests and tales, whether made up or true, of incredible hedonism. But, as Manzarek explains, Morrison had some questions for the Miami audience and everybody else who wanted a piece of The Doors, one of them being, “What do you want from us?” Morrison might have been asking the same question of himself.
As longtime music writer David Fricke argues, the implications of Morrison’s actions probably affected him the most. The threat of going to Rayford Penitentiary and losing his freedom, even if for only a matter of months, weighed heavily on a man who valued that above all else. In the short term, all the legal complications forced The Doors to cancel that ill-fated tour. Left with nothing better to do since they really couldn’t go anywhere to play – nervous venue owners didn’t want anything to do with such outrageous behavior and banned them from most of the halls in the U.S.  – The Doors responded by going back in the studio to record what would become L.A. Woman, and “Mr. Mojo Risin’” offers a competent, if somewhat pedestrian, creation story.
The sessions, as producer Paul Rothschild tells it in vintage interview footage, did not begin well. Morrison seemed disinterested, and the music, at least to Rothschild’s ears, was uninspiring. Even Manzarek admits the playing was sub-par, and Krieger relates that Rothschild even felt “Riders on the Storm” sounded like lame cocktail music. In a move that stunned The Doors, Rothschild parted ways with the band, leaving The Doors to their own devices and top-notch engineer Bruce Botnick. The story of Rothschild’s departure and how it resulted in the band taking control of its music is handled with the utmost care, as all sides are given equal time. In fact, there is great honesty and detail that emerge from interviews with all the living Doors, Botnick and a cast of seemingly thousands.
Musicologists will wet themselves over the attention paid to the recording process behind L.A. Woman and the studio magic – which returned for The Doors when they left the drab, lifeless Sunset Sound studio for the livelier environs of their rehearsal and office space on Santa Monica Boulevard, where their music was “seeped into the walls,” as drummer John Densmore so vividly recounts – that gave birth to some of the most memorable songs in the band’s catalog. One moment, Manzarek is telling how the soft, rain-like piano parts for “Riders on the Storm” developed and how Elvis’s bassist Jerry Scheff, who sat in and played on L.A. Woman, was dumbfounded as to how to recreate thosee bass parts on his instrument; the next, the disagreement over whether “Love Her Madly” should have been the first single is rehashed, with Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman recalling how it raised the hair on the back of his neck and Krieger saying he thought it was “too commercial.”
Packed to the gills with revelatory and enthusiastic interviews and vintage photography and video footage of both candid, behind-the-scenes moments and blood-pumping live segments, “Mr. Mojo Risin’” is nothing if not comprehensive. The story of every song on L.A. Woman, with the possible exception of “Cars Hiss by My Window,” gets its own time in the sun, and the filmmakers take great pains to examine the bones and the guts of tracks like the stomping, swampy blues of “Crawling King Snake” and the simmering heat and seedy noir of “L.A. Woman,” a song that captures the essence of the city, it’s literary underbelly and its women and pays tribute to them all in Morrison’s vivid poetry. With Botnick at the sound board and Densmore, Krieger and Manzarek at their instruments, the musical evolution of key moments in each track are intensely explored, as are Morrison’s lyrics, pregnant with metaphor and primal, dream-like imagery.
What crashes the party is … well, the lack of anything resembling a good time. On occasion, “Mr. Mojo Risin’” begins to drift off and become tedious and dry, an academic paper come to life in documentary film form. While smartly emphasizing the actual blood, sweat and tears behind L.A. Woman rather than the sensationalism that seems to dog other Doors’ biographies, the filmmakers treat the subject matter with little wit and a seriousness that colors it in grey rather than the rich, bold hues and apocalyptic psychedelic paints the Doors brushed onto the canvas of their music. Still, the documentary doesn’t pander to the lowest common denominator. It is an intelligent and affecting history, especially as it relates to Morrison’s jetting off to Paris with girlfriend Pamela Courson after his vocals for L.A. Woman were done and the sense among friends and band mates that he wasn’t coming back.
One of the draws to this DVD is the appearance of a new Doors song, “She Smells So Nice,” included in the bonus features. A swinging, bluesy number that jumps off the dance floor of a southern backwoods juke joint, “She Smells So Nice” sweats heavily and steps lively as a cavalcade of Doors still pictures from days gone by passes through – that is before the song morphs into a slow-cooked, tantalizing stew of savory guitar notes, subtle brushed drums and neon electric keyboard lights. Even if the film isn’t quite as glorious or as transcendent as The Doors were, it does its job with workmanlike attention to detail and a tenacious desire to get the story right, to do it justice. And, in the end, isn’t that what we all want from a music documentary?
 - Peter Lindblad

Official Trailer from Eagle Rock:

CD Review: Yes - In The Present – Live From Lyon

CD Review: Yes - In The Present – Live From Lyon
All Access Review: B-

The last few years or so have been some of the most dysfunctional in the long, storied history of progressive-rock institution and psychedelic chameleons Yes, and that’s saying something. Seemingly forever beset by internal strife, whether over creative differences, legal battles over the band’s name, personality conflicts, or even debilitating health problems, Yes’s instability has, at various times, threatened to tear the very hull of the band apart and cause it to sink down into the deep of a Technicolor, Roger Dean-imagined lake of lava on some distant, undiscovered planet. Through it all, bass wizard Chris Squire, the only remaining original member, has managed to guide Yes through the choppiest of waters and still keep the good ship seaworthy with an ever-evolving crew. He’s still at the helm and shows no signs of giving up the wheel.
Though he’s been in and out of the band more often than a hopeless addict shuffles through rehab, Jon Anderson, a founding member no less, is, without question, the one true voice of Yes. But, respiratory issues have, on occasion, caused him to excuse himself from a number of possible Yes tours as the loud cheering died down after the 35th anniversary excursion in 2004. And while Squire and the rest of Yes entertained the notion of recording new music, Anderson, perhaps still stinging from the disappointing commercial results of 2001’s orchestral Magnification, was intractable in his opposition to the idea, certainly skeptical that Yes still had it in them to chart new musical territory. Here’s where things get sticky. In 2008, Yes again was set to tour the world, this time for its 40th anniversary. However, the “Close to the Edge and Back” jaunt crashed before it left the launching pad, as Anderson was diagnosed with acute respiratory failure. On doctor’s orders, he opted to rest the pipes. Not willing to wait around for Anderson to recover, Squire, Steve Howe, and Alan White – along with Oliver Wakeman, son of the veteran Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman – shanghaied a new singer, Benoit David. And wouldn’t you know it? David was Anderson’s vocal doppelganger.
Leaving Anderson behind to fume over this breach of loyalty – even though he’d left the band plenty of times before, including that well-publicized first split in 1980 – the rest of Yes embarked on what would become known as the “In the Present” North American tour, while Anderson twisted in the wind, not knowing if he was still a part of Yes or not. Interrupted by Squire’s leg surgery, “In the Present” was delayed, but in 2009, Yes went back out and on December 1 of that year, the reconstituted Yes played Lyon, France. In late 2011, Frontiers Records released a double-CD set that documented the beaming, if somewhat spotty, performance and paired it with a 55-minute DVD in a package titled In the Present – Live from Lyon. And it feels like the dawning of a new era for the band, with its mix of elder statesmen and hungry young lions.
Still, from sound of things on In the Present – Live at Lyon, this version of Yes has yet to reach its full potential. Despite some imaginative and diverse guitar soloing from Howe, “Owner of a Lonely Heart” drags its feet, the playing sluggish and sapped of Yes’s usual vitality, as is the hum-drum version of “I’ve Seen All Good People” that follows it on Disc 1. When it’s supposed to pick up steam and drive ahead, at that precise moment when the song shifts from a psychedelic-folk meditation on living unselfishly into a muscular, triumphant jam of spiritual uplift, it lazily, almost reluctantly, comes to its feet and tiredly walks to its destination.
Not everything on In the Present – Live in Lyon comes off seeming so distracted and disinterested. “Machine Messiah,” boasting Oliver’s beguiling keyboard runs and the twirling spirals of notes rising from Howe’s guitar that answer them, offers exuberance and haunting beauty, while “Heart of the Sunrise” dazzles with its complex musicianship and shape-shifting movements, as do the jazzy interludes of “Astral Traveler,” showcasing the head-spinning interplay of Howe and Wakeman and the controlled chaos of White’s drum solo.
Maddeningly inconsistent, the sometimes uninspired and masturbatory Disc 1 gives way to a more confident and wide-ranging Yes in the second CD. Lush and extravagant, “Siberian Kathru” is an epic flight over some of the more mountainous terrain Yes traverses, and the fan favorite “Southside of the Sky” explores the many moods of Yes, from dark, sloping sonic valleys to lofty peaks of emotion. “Tempus Fugit” is more expansive and radiant, a blast of light and balled-up energy that explodes all over the quietly reflective and romantic “Onward,” which features David’s most stirring vocals of these recordings.
Though it contains fewer hits from Yes’s catalog, Disc 2 surpasses Disc 1 in vim and vigor, with a rugged, captivatingly bright “Roundabout” leading the charge. Overall, the sound is clean and vibrant, and while David’s vocals aren’t quite as warm or as nuanced as Anderson’s, he handles the material with grace and power. Historically, a bone of contention between Anderson and others in Yes was how he always pushed for an increased dosage of pop sensibilities into the band’s otherwise classically influenced arrangements, where others argued for a heavier, more daring direction. Those tensions apparently have been resolved, and though Anderson’s up-in-the-air status with Yes remains controversial – Squire of late hasn’t ruled out future collaborations with Anderson, who’s been playing out as a solo artist in recent years – it appears they are capable of carrying on without him.
-        Peter Lindblad
Official Trailer from Frontier Records

Metal Evolution - "Nu Metal"

Metal Evolution: Nu Metal - Episode 108
Sam Dunn
VH1 Classic

All Access Review: B+

Woodstock ’99 was burning and blame for the mayhem was placed squarely on Fred Durst and the rap-metal hooligans of Limp Bizkit. Destruction of property, flat-out arson, even the reports of rape that allegedly occurred in the mosh pit – at least in part, Limp Bizkit was responsible for all of it. Witnesses for the prosecution, some of whom give their testimony in “Nu Metal,” the most recent episode in Sam Dunn’s “Metal Evolution” series, which appears on VH-1 Classic, say Durst, in particular, fanned the flames of the riots that forced organizers to prematurely bring Woodstock ’99 to an ugly end. Even Korn’s Jonathan Davis, a one-time Bizkit ally, turns on Durst, telling Dunn that instead of attempting to calm a crowd that was growing increasingly mad, Durst egged them on. He exhorted the crowd to “break stuff,” and the mindless thugs followed his lead.
Durst, unapologetically, remembers things differently. Expressing little, if any remorse, Durst recalls the Bizkit Woodstock ’99 show as the “greatest concert ever.” And then, showing a little of that adolescent petulance that Durst is infamous for, he sulks about how nobody ever wanted Limp Bizkit playing in the same sand box as the nu metal children. The rap guys didn’t want to be lumped in with metal and the metal guys didn’t want anything to do with hip-hop, continues Durst. That’s too simple of an explanation of why Limp Bizkit has been ostracized from the music community since the violence at Woodstock’99. Battles with other bands, the departure of guitarist Wes Borland and lukewarm albums in the aftermath of Three Dollar Bill Y’All and Significant Other all combined to doom Bizkit, and to his credit, Durst admits to Dunn that this monster that he created called Fred Durst could have handled things better. Clearly, some anger management counseling would have done him a world of good. Or, maybe he just needed to grow up a little.
The story of Limp Bizkit dominates much of the second half of Dunn’s look at “Nu Metal,” and with good reason. Bizkit blew up in the late ‘90s on the strength of Significant Other’s massive single “Nookie.” As crazy as it sounds, considering his explosive temper, Durst even became a label executive at Interscope Records – that fact escaping Dunn, along with the failure to mention that Bizkit’s Woodstock ’99 performance came a day before the disastrous riots. Still, there’s something unsatisfying about placing so much emphasis on Limp Bizkit, especially considering there are far more influential nu metal bands Dunn could have spent more time on. Ah, but perhaps that’s just a personal preference, even though you get the feeling from “Nu Metal” that Dunn – who plainly admits to not being a big fan of nu metal, while also reluctantly admitting that it does, indeed, have its place in the history and developmental of heavy metal – also wish he could give more attention to the Sepulturas, the Korns, and the Rage Against The Machines of the world.
All of them get their moment in the sun in “Nu Metal,” and this is where Dunn gets it right. Where the Limp Bizkit segments seem to focus too much on the controversy surrounding the band, when the subject turns to Pantera, Rage, Korn and Sepultura, Dunn digs his fingers into the groundbreaking nature of nu metal. With Pantera, Dunn’s interest lies with the band’s adherence to deep grooves and an unyielding devotion to what Phil Anselmo refers to as the “money riff.” As for Rage, it’s the combination of music and message that gets top billing, with guitarist Tom Morello also talking about the band’s meshing of ‘70s hard rock riffs, thick grooves and his own role as a sort of DJ bringing his six-string “eccentricities.” And Korn’s Fieldy and Davis discuss at length about the band’s Sacramento origins and its innovative use of detuned strings.
But, it all goes back to Anthrax and the band’s monumental summit rap-metal summit with Public Enemy on their collaborative 1991 reworking of “Bring the Noise,” and Dunn starts his exploration of “Nu Metal” there before moving on – at Scott Ian’s request – to Faith No More. Even if nu metal has its detractors and those who aren’t so sure that the integration of metal and rap was done as artfully as it could have been, there were, and still are, bands that do it well. Dunn’s interviews nicely hone in on what was crucial to the rise of nu metal, and his dexterous use of concert images and video footage, as always, is on display here, as is Dunn’s singular ability to make you feel as if you are accompanying him on this journey and that his interest in the subject matter is genuine and sincere. Time, again, is his enemy. There’s only so much a filmmaker can pack into an hour’s program, and Dunn’s fills to the brim with insightful commentary and well-paced storytelling. Woodstock ’99 may have been nu metal’s Altamont, but as Dunn shows, it didn’t end there. And neither does the story of heavy metal.
-        Peter Lindblad

Metal Evolution Nu Metal
View the Full Episode -  Right Here, Right Now

Metal Evolution - "Grunge"

Metal Evolution: "Grunge" - Episode 107
Sam Dunn
VH1 Classic

All Access Review:  B+

Seeing it as the province of dumb jocks and sex-crazed hair-band charlatans, one-time Hole bassist Melissa Auf der Maur steadfastly resists the notion that Grunge, in its original form at least, had much, if anything, in common with heavy metal. Fastbacks bassist/lead vocalist Kim Warnick, while admitting to some nebulous connection between the two genres, insists that Grunge artists never thought of themselves as having a single cloven hoof in the metal world. And when the conversation turns to what musical black arts influenced Soundgarden, Kim Thayil still bristles at the suggestion that he and the rest of the band based their recipe of sonic sludge around equal parts Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. This even though Chris Cornell, bare-chested and sweating machismo from every pore in old live footage, bellows like Robert Plant and Thayil’s own guitar riffs seem stained with the same industrial soot and smoke that smudged those conjured by Tony Iommi at the dawn of Black Sabbath.
The relationship between Metal and Grunge is, indeed, a thorny one, as the amiable and insatiably curious Sam Dunn discovers in the latest installment of his acclaimed “Metal Evolution” series, “Grunge,” which aired on Saturday on VH-1 Classic. At the mere suggestion that they were, in fact, cozy with one another, Grunge’s OGs are likely to squirm in their seats and turn defensive. Then again, in talking to Dunn, Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover of The Melvins freely admit a love of metal, and Tad’s Kurt Danielson owns up to fawning over Iron Maiden and the first Van Halen record, while, at the same time, being blown away by the Sex Pistols’ Never Mind the Bollocks – anything to tweak the parents. As for Mudhoney’s Mark Arm, he’s not at all ashamed to confess to borrowing a few tricks from proto-metal monsters Blue Cheer and Motorhead, as well as Sabbath.
So, what to make of all this falderal? That there happen to be strong opposing opinions as to Grunge’s place in the growth and development of metal is hardly surprising – especially to Dunn. After all, getting everyone involved in the Grunge movement to agree on anything regarding heavy metal and the role it played in its formation is next to impossible. That’s par for the course, though. Grunge was never the most homogenous of genres, even if a lot of acts did share an affinity for angst-fueled emotions.
The great thing about Dunn is he doesn’t set out to prove an already established hypothesis. There is genuine sincerity in this probe, because he himself is not entirely sure that Grunge belongs in heavy metal’s family tree. What emerges from Dunn’s quest is a sense that Grunge artists don’t really see themselves as having much of an impact on metal because they don’t feel a part of that scene. That view isn’t shaped by Dunn through creative editing or his own prejudices; instead, it extends naturally and organically from the extensive interviews he does with journalists, writers, producers, and artists who observed and participated in the early ‘90s explosion that blasted Grunge out of Seattle’s underground and into the public consciousness of a nation.
It’s not just that Dunn is comprehensive in the range of interview subjects he corrals or the issues related to the episode’s topic he attempts to cover. Time being the harsh mistress it is, there’s always something that’s going to be brushed under the rug or left out entirely. For example, in “Thrash,” as a reader so passionately pointed out to me, no mention was made of Overkill or Metal Church, and Hanoi Rocks should have received way more attention for their groundbreaking sound and look in “Glam.” As for “Grunge,” it’s the women who get short shrift. L7, Hole (aside from the Auf der Maur comments) and The Gits – none of them get any play, and that’s a glaring omission. But, remember, Dunn’s aim is not to present a history of Grunge, although he does, in fact, do a fine job of weaving its tale with subtlety as almost a sort of sub-plot. Establishing the “who, what, where, when and how” is not so easy when, first and foremost, there are important questions to be settled.
And there are moments of dazzling insight, including writer Michael Azzerad (“Our Band Could Be Your Life” and “Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana”) citing Black Flag’s 1984 Seattle tour stop in support of the LP My War as a turning point for Grunge, the line of demarcation where local bands weaned on metal found that punk could slow things down, become unremittingly heavy and take on an apocalyptic feel. There’s DJ and journalist Jeff Gilbert and Sub Pop co-owner Jonathan Poneman confirming that Grunge messiah Kurt Cobain did, indeed, incorporate not only the pop sensibilities of The Beatles and the punk nuclear fallout of bands like Flipper into his tortured oeuvre, but also welcomed in the massive riffage and controlled chaos of metal. Or, how about Steve Albini, the famed indie producer who guided Nirvana during the In Utero sessions, proclaiming that while heavy metal was often all about flamboyance and camp, it did breed virtuosos, while Grunge artists practiced a more “functional musicianship.” And at the same time, another of Grunge’s more ubiquitous producers, Jack Endino, provides a lot of the background information about Seattle’s music history – specifically, the energy and spark of rebellion found in the music of garage bands The Sonics and The Wailers – and links it to the wide scope of Grunge’s sonic achievements.
All of this and more is here, and once again, Dunn skillfully meshes the interview footage with rare live and video clips of bands like Tad, Mudhoney, Soundgarden (check the dark, brooding, and heavy performance of “Loud Love”) and Black Flag, among others, while comparing Pearl Jam’s more classic-rock leanings with the rest of the genre’s more punk-ish or metallic progenitors. And with the briefly told story of Alice In Chains, he is able to establish that connection between metal and Grunge, once and for all.
Toward the end of “Grunge,” Dunn tackles a sore subject with Grunge’s main innovators, like Arm, Endino and Osbourne, and that is the rise of “Grunge lite” acts like Creed and Nickelback. Fearlessly, Dunn asks point blank how people like Arm feel about Grunge creating this more “pedestrian,” as Osborne calls it, Grunge monster, and Arm expresses his misgivings, saying that if he had anything to do with it, “Just kill me.” Likewise, the men of Creed try to distance themselves from the real thing, boasting in fact that they are not Grunge at all and that they feel they’ve created something new. It’s a little hard to swallow when the singers of Creed and Days Of The New try so, so hard to sound like Eddie Vedder – doing their “yarling” form of singing, as Endino calls it. It’s an uncomfortably humorous segment, and an issue that needs to be addressed, though the popularity of Nickelback gets perhaps more time than it deserves, even if Alice In Chain’s Jerry Cantrell does give them his stamp of approval. It’s a minor drawback in what is another in-depth and compelling installment of a documentary series that is fast becoming must-see TV for anybody interested in aggressive, rebellious music – as heavy metal is. 
- Peter Lindblad
Metal Evolution - Grunge
View the Full Episode -  Right Here, Right Now

Episode Summary - Sam explores grunge, a.k.a. the Seattle Sound, from a decidedly fresher approach, inspiring two fundamental questions: "Why did grunge polarize the Metal community?" and "What are the true roots of grunge?" While grunge was enjoying its meteoric rise, replacing the MTV face of Metal that was glam with its own brand of telegenic, easy to digest "rebellion," diehards within the Metal community struggled to adjust. We'll explore how fans and musicians felt a profound sense of disillusionment with the ascent of grunge, alienated by its lyrical obsession with depression and endless self-examination, and suspicious of the flannel-wearing façade that was deemed antithetical to the ethos of Metal. At the same time, there were other metallers who felt a connection with grunge-legends like Geddy Lee and Sabbath's Bill Ward discuss their admiration for the Seattle Sound, and how they incorporated elements of grunge into their own music and in doing so, shed light on a profound irony that was at play. We'll also reveal why the leaders of grunge were publicly shunning their Metal roots, preferring to advance the dubious notion that their music was an offspring of the American punk movement. But, through plain-spoken dialogue with Sam Dunn, surviving purveyors of grunge like Kim Thayil, Jerry Cantrell and Thurston Moore, will, for the first time ever, "come out of the closet," and own up to the enormous debt-technically, viscerally and aesthetically-they owe to Metal giants like Led Zeppelin, Blue Öyster Cult and Black Sabbath. In Episode 6, the history of grunge will be rewritten.

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Collectible Posters: 

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Thirteen appears to be a lucky number for Dave Mustaine

Written By:  Patrick Prince / Powerline

There’s quite a lot going on (or about to go on) in Megadethland. Of course, there’s the latest studio release of “Thirteen,” one of the finest metal albums in years, and then the December 10th jam of Dave Mustaine and Metallica, back on stage together again, playing old songs, for one of the 30th Anniversary Metallica shows at the Fillmore in San Francisco, California — a remarkable event that brought everyone from Jason Newsted, to Lloyd Grant and Ron McGovney out to celebrate.  And soon will be the launch of Gigantour on January 26 in Camden, NJ — the mega-Megadeth tour with Motorhead, Volbeat and Lacuna Coil (all bands hand-picked by Dave Mustaine, of course).
The following is an interview with Dave Mustaine on December 13, 2011.

This new album sounds fresh and exciting. Do you think the reappearance of David Ellefson had something to do with that?

Dave Mustaine:
Oh, he had everything to do with it. I sucked without him.

Well, I didn’t mean it that way, man (laughs).

Mustaine: (laughs) I know, I’m just playing with you. Yeah, Dave added an element of excitement and fun to the band. Every player who plays an instrument is gonna have their own way that they handle the neck and the strings and stuff like that. We could have had the last guy [James LoMenzo] who was playing before Dave do this record and play exactly what Dave played but it still wouldn’t have sounded the same.

Dave was in the studio while we were getting ready for the Rust In Peace tour and I said ‘Hey, you want to try and record on (the song) “Sudden Death”?’ And he did and we just knew it was gonna work out. So, yeah, I think he added a really great element but I think there are a couple other guys in the band [Chris Broderick on guitar and Shawn Drover on drums] that aren’t so bad either.

In all sincerity, I think Thirteen is one of the best metal albums in years. I’m a traditional metal guy and the thing about it is that it sounded a lot more like traditional metal … songs like “We the People” and “Deadly Nightshade” … Was it intentional to bring back some of that classic sound?

Mustaine: There was no intention of anything on this record. Honestly, we just went into it with the desire to make our last record for Roadrunner and to make a really great offering and who knows where this record goes because I hadn’t had my surgery yet [neck surgery] and I pretty much thought as soon as this record was turned in I was gonna crawl off into a retirement home somewhere because my neck and back were becoming such a problem. But the record turned out pretty well and the label’s done really good with it and I got the surgery and, man, everything is just going great right now.

And some of the songs were written years ago, right? “Black Swan,” “New World Order” …

Mustaine: “New World Order” was really, really old. We had never really officially recorded that and some people had said stuff about Nick [Menza, drummer 1989-1198, 2004] and, you know, yeah, he wasn’t a really busy writer but he did write a couple good things and “New World Order,” he had a hand in writing some of it, so it’s kind of cool. I don’t know what he’s doing right now but I do know that when he wrote that, it was very modern sounding. So when I came to do that song on this record, because we hadn’t done it officially, it was a no-brainer.

And it still seems to fit seamlessly on this new record, it’s hard to tell it was written way beforehand.

Mustaine: It was. (laughs)

Looking at the lyrics on Thirteen, you lay out your political and spiritual views and it doesn’t come off as preachy, at least not to me. Do you agree?

Mustaine: I’ve become more active in politics and more concerned in my fellow man because of my own discoveries and decision-making. I know if someone would have told me ‘You couldn’t do that,’ I would have said ‘Watch me.’ Because it’s just part of my nature. Not that I’m defiant just for the sake of being defiant because that would become kind of predictable, and there’s nothing cool about being predictable. It all just kind of goes back to what you want to do with your life.

And you still feel strongly that we’re headed towards a global government?

Mustaine: Yeah, I do. You hear China say that they are preparing to go to war with the U.S. — they said that on Fox yesterday — that’s not small potatoes, bro.

Don’t you think that the government sometimes seems like a puppet for banks and corporations?

Mustaine: Yeah, it is. It is the elite that are doing this. But I gotta tell you, the elite have been running the government and all this stuff for a long time. People with the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and with the Fed and it’s all the Rockefellers and the Rothschilds, they’re the ones that call the shots. I just think right now that the American people are getting screwed so bad and they just don’t know it. They cannot see the forest for the trees. Actually I think there’s lot of stuff that’s going on right now — I read a lot, I study a lot, I watch the news a lot because I’m a political writer. Not by choice. I started off writing about cars — “Mechanix” — and jumping into the fire. That had nothing to do with peace selling. …

You do say it best in the song “We The People”: “The devil’s henchmen in suit and tie.” That sums it up a bit.

Mustaine: Yeah, yeah, I think so. This whole nonsense … if you watch what’s going down with the super committee [on deficit reduction]. I called that before it even started — that it’s a joke and it’s not gonna work. And it didn’t work.

Do you agree with the Occupy Wall Street movement?

Mustaine: I think that the intent was very misguided. I believe that people going out into the streets to demand change — they went to the wrong address. They needed to go to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. You don’t go out and tell a bunch of guys who are working on Wall Street that you want change. You go to the President.

Or Congress.

Mustaine: Well, Congress is pretty much completely gridlocked right now. And the President is insulting them every chance he gets. So, I think the Occupy Wall Street people, if they really really want to see this happen, they need to go (to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue), instead of going to the ports and shutting down commerce ,which is hurting people like the truck drivers and longshoremen and all the people on the boats. It’s just ultimately hurting us because that’s just gonna raise the price of food and stuff. And there’s that old saying: He who controls the water and controls the food, controls the people. Well, these guys are handing our control over to the elite by taking the food off of the shelves. If you’re gonna have anything to do with these guys, somebody smart has to tell them what to do.

Recently in an interview you called yourself a survivalist — and the song “13″ expresses that — but if this were a reality show like Survivor you’d probably be the finalist.

Mustaine: (laughs) Maybe.

And it looks like you’ve had a guardian angel over the years.

Mustaine: That I have. I still have it.

And good luck comes into play, too. And maybe 13 isn’t such an unlucky number after all.

Mustaine: Well, it wasn’t on the day I was born. The number 13 was bad for the Templar Knights — the knights who helped Solomon’s temple — those dudes were all rounded up on Friday the 13th and burned at the stake or something like that. I think people don’t know about that and they kind of just connotate the number 13 with marijuana and that it’s bad, you know. I was born on the 13th, I started playing guitar when I was 13 and this record’s my 13th record.

As far as spirituality in the lyrics, as a born again Christian, the less challenging creative road would have been to write songs like Stryper. But you do a pretty good job at being provocative.

Mustaine: Music is something that we listen to give us a change in our mood, to help us get out of a bad mood or continue to perpetuate a good mood. And I think if you put on music and someone’s condemning you and making you sad or making you cry … that ain’t my gig. Somebody else can give that. You know, I like listening to stuff that’s sentimental and emotional and stuff, too, but I don’t want to be the guy who does that. I’m good at beating my guitar until it throws up and I think people got a good look at that this weekend when I went up and played with Metallica again. That was really fun. I know a lot of people were really surprised because they never saw me play with the band.

It must have been a great feeling going up there onstage again with them.

Mustaine: I had some mood swings. There was some ups and downs and stuff. And, you know, got excited, and kind of got impatient, ‘Let’s go. I’m okay. Well, lets go!’ and this kind of thing and that’s just the artist in me. I’m just squirrely like that.

Playing some of those old Metallica songs — did you have favorites or are there still favorites now?

Mustaine: You know, it felt fun to play them. I wish I would have had a little bit more opportunity to get prepared with the band. You know, because I’m a perfectionist. I would have liked to have had my sound just so and make sure when I did the solos they would jump up the volume and stuff like that that I’m used to, but we were at a club and playing at a club and playing like a club band. It was fun to take off all the rules and regulations and stuff and kind of shoot from the hip.

I was surprised you didn’t play “The Four Horsemen.”

Mustaine: I think there’s a reason for that. I think I know why we didn’t play that song but I’m not going to go out on a limb on it. I think one of the things was because we recorded “Mechanix” and they recorded the other way, there’s not really a need to do that. There were several other songs that were really important — like “Jump in the Fire” was the first song I brought those guys. And “Phantom Lord” and “Metal Militia” were songs that I brought to them, too, and the only other song was “Mechanix” which later changed to “Four Horsemen.” And the rest of those songs were written by James (Hetfield) or by Hugh Tanner or Lloyd Grant and that’s why those guys were there .. and a little weird for me, too, you know, standing onstage. I thought it was cool to be just with Metallica but Ron McGovney’s up there and Lloyd Grant’s up there. I was kind of like ‘Alright, well, I’ll bite the bullet. I’ll be cool. This is not so terrible.’ I got up there and, you know what, I didn’t even notice them. I was having so much fun they weren’t even there.

Well, you mentioned mood swings. You should have had flashbacks with McGovney ….

Mustaine: Actually, you know what. I didn’t even see him the whole time I was up there. It was cool that he was there. He was pretty nervous, too. Ron’s a good guy. I was locked into Lars’ playing and James’ playing. Me and James, we were like the the Toxic Twins back when we played together and we were a very very dangerous duo. And for a moment I think I stirred some of those old feelings up. I saw one of the videos and it looked like he was having fun. I know I was having fun. I had a smile that I went to bed with.

Do you remember the very first Metallica gig? I think it was in Anaheim, 1982.

Mustaine: You know, I remember a lot of those shows but not which one was the first one. One of them, when we played there .. this is funny, I was just saying this to somebody the other day, and I don’t even know if James will remember this. He used to go partying with me and we used to go out drinking all the time and we found out that when we were up there, there was a contest, a battle of the bands and the winner got to open up for this new band from Ireland — a band that had just come on MTV and had this song “I Will Follow.” I told James: ‘These guys are gonna be huge, dude. You watch.’ It was U2, when they came over and if we had entered the battle of the bands we probably would have gotten to open up for them which would have been pretty interesting. You know, there’s been a lot of firsts for Metallica but I don’t think that they’ve opened up for U2 yet.

Lastly, Gigantour. Are you glad you picked bands like Lacuna Coil for Gigantour?

Mustaine: Yeah, I ‘m glad I picked Motorhead and Volbeat, too. I think that all the bands that are on Gigantour this year are gonna be great. They all have a certain type of cool factor. Motorhead has that straight-forward, ‘I’m gonna kill you’ kind of music, and Volbeat is that kind of dangerous kind of music — kind of like Elvis metal — and listening to Lacuna Coil with the two singers, it’s very dynamic and they’ve got good guitar players in there. It’s also cool that at one point we had Christina (Scabbia) sing a song with us. We haven’t discussed having her come up and sing “À Tout le Monde” with us each night. We probably should but we haven’t talked about that yet.

Megadeth Official Site

Vintage Megadeth Posters


About Powerline: Founded in 1985, Powerline began as an underground hard rock/heavy metal mag, distributed mostly in record stores worldwide. As it evolved a few years later, it embraced more commercial hard rock (the popular genre at the time was classified as “hair bands”) and the mag was distributed as a high-gloss publication on American newsstands with a circulation of over 100K.
By 1992 the party was over. The magazine became defunct (for various reasons). The staff went onto other jobs. And the name gathered dust. Until now.

Resurrected online, Powerline covers hard rock/heavy metal music in general (truly From Glam to Slam!), as well as reminisce about the old days in the form of time-capsuled articles and experiences.
Spread the word and enjoy.

CD Review: Paul Rodgers & Friends - Live at Montreux 1994

CD Review: Paul Rodgers & Friends - Live at Montreux 1994
Eagle Records
All Access Review:  A-

In 1993, Paul Rodgers was a free man. The Firm had dissolved, the legendary front man was above and beyond The Law, Bad Company had become a distant, but still treasured, memory and the revered Free was long gone. Left with nothing to do, the singer with the brawny, torn-and-frayed pipes and expressive, denim-clad delivery looked again to the blues, his one true love, for inspiration. He found it in the music of Muddy Waters.
Keen to pay homage to the great man, Rodgers didn’t break character. Muddy Water Blues: A Tribute to Muddy Waters may have contained the spark of the Chicago-style electric blues that Waters once perfected, but it was powered by the blues-rock combustion of Rodgers’ work with Bad Company and Free. Not all of the tracks on Muddy Water Blues, the second of Rodgers’ solo albums, were Waters covers, but his spirit haunts the record, inhabiting its grooves and inspiring Rodgers and his collaborators. In 1994, a year after Muddy Water Blues’ arrival, Rodgers brought much of that record to life in a blustery, sweaty concert at Montreux, where he was joined onstage by the likes of Journey guitarist Neal Schon, drummer Jason Bonham, guitarist Ian Hatton and bassist John Smithson, as well as several guests, including Queen’s Brian May, Toto’s Steve Lukather and blues veterans Luther Allison, Eddie Kirkland, Sherman Robertson, Robert Lucas and Kenny Neal.
Though a star-studded affair, Live at Montreux 1994 has more of a blue-collar feel. This is a workingman’s record, with dirt under its fingernails and calluses on its hands. Sprinkled with plenty of songs that Rodgers made famous with Free and Bad Company, Live at Montreux 1994 also finds Rodgers digging his hands into the earthy soil of blues classics like Waters’ “Louisiana Blues,” which simmers with menace and pure nastiness on the stove here, letting all the rich flavors – including a particularly tasty guitar solo – sink into its meaty textures. In a surprising turn, May gets down and dirty on the Sonny Boy Williamson number “Good Morning Little School Girl,” his distorted guitar becoming a careening crop duster that dives and climbs with all the daring of pilot with a death wish. The highlight of a sensational set, “Good Morning Little School Girl” is simply mean, burning with intensity and passionate playing. To finish off the night, Rodger and crew slam into Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads” and the closer, “Hoochie Coochie Man” by Willie Dixon, with all the force of a hurricane. The guitars sound like switchblades on and cut deeply with every note on “Crossroads,” as the rhythm section works up a mean, mean thirst crawling through the gutter on “Hoochie Coochie Man.”
Three of the songs Dixon wrote for Waters, including 1954’s “Hoochie Coochie Man” and “I’m Ready” and 1961’s “Let Me Love You Baby,” are included here and performed with all the righteous fervor of a tent revival ministry, as is Booker T. & the MGs’ “The Hunter.” Just as propulsive and muscular are the Rodgers’ classics “All Right Now,” the old Free hit, and rust-covered Bad Company diamonds “Can’t Get Enough (of Your Love)” and “Feel Like Making Love.” Ever the professional, Rodgers’ nuanced vocals add richness and depth to each track, while his handpicked group of hired guns plays the daylights out of this material almost all the way through, with the exception of the rare uninspired moment. The recording quality is pretty sound and world-class music writer Malcolm Dome does the show justice with well-written, informative liner notes. All of this makes you wonder if, or when, Rodgers will delve even deeper into the blues down the road.

- Peter Lindblad

Purchase CD: Artist Link 

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Bad Company