Foghat: A 'Slow Ride' to the top, Part 2

The highs, the lows and the future
By Peter Lindblad

Foghat 2014: Charlie Huhn, Craig MacGregor,
Roger Earl and Bryan Bassett
(Photo by Steve Sirois)
Not everyone survived Foghat's seemingly endless touring cycles. There were casualties of the road, including bassist Tony Stevens, who had had his fill of it in 1974.

Weeks, months and years spent playing show after show after show left little time to record. Despite that they did manage to follow up their self-titled debut with a second self-titled LP – often referred to as Rock and Roll, due to the cover, which featured a bakery roll and a rock – as well as 1974's Energized and a pair of 1975 efforts, Rock and Roll Outlaws and the seminal Fool for the City LP.

All, except for Fool for the City, were recorded during Foghat tours, with the band entering whatever studios they could when they found a little free time.

"It was pretty weird, actually," said Earl. " Anytime you think that [if you spend] weeks or whatever in the studio, everything's getting improved. But we were going to studios for maybe a couple of days to try to lay down the stuff, and then we'd go somewhere else. It wasn't our idea. I think our second album and Rock and Roll Outlaws ... they were a little difficult and were made in a number of different studios and mixed in different places. It was okay, but whereas the first album, we did it all in one place, with the same producer and we had time, I thought that album worked really well."

For a long time, Earl wasn't so keen on either Rock and Roll and Rock and Roll Outlaws. Earl remembers the making of both being rather trying experiences.

Roger Earl behind the kit for Foghat
(Photo by Steve Sirois)
"We did both of those albums kind of piecemeal in different studios," explained Earl. "We didn't know exactly where. We'd go in for a day or two and do it. And then we'd go and do something somewhere else. That I found a little difficult, but having said that, both those albums I had to listen to about a year or so ago, because they were being re-released in Asia and Europe, packaging them all together. I had to listen to them and sort of talk to people about it. And I was surprised how much I enjoyed them. I'd forgotten how they actually sounded, and I thought, 'I don't remember them being this good (laughs).' At the time, you're always very critical, especially when you're in the studio, about whether it's good enough. That's probably the hardest thing to do is to let something go.

Fool for the City was a different experience. Foghat had time, and Nick Jameson, on their side.

Genius level
Along with producing the Fool for the City record, Jameson also took over for the departed Stevens on bass. His musicianship was almost supernatural, and Foghat made good use of it.

Earl became acquainted with Jameson during the recording of Foghat's first album.

"We mixed a couple of songs – a song called 'Gotta Get to Know You,'" said Earl. "He mixed 'Gotta Get to Know You' and he remixed a couple of other things with Dave Edmunds around 1970. So that was my first meeting, and then the second time I met Nick was at Bearsville (Studios in Bearsville, N.Y.). We were just doing some demos and stuff up in Bearsville, and Nick was the resident engineer at the label. Nick and I got real close. I loved the man, an absolute genius as a musician, and I loved working with him, even though that didn't quite work out apparently, but then he came in from time to time over the years."

Living up in Woodstock, N.Y., Earl and Jameson had the opportunity to hang out together often.

"We'd go and play badminton together, or we would go out and jam together at various places, up at the barn, because there were much better musicians up there," said Earl. "I was very closed off up there at Woodstock, and we became very good friends. I loved Nick. I probably learned more from Nick about music and musical things and playing and everything else than any other singular person."

A man of many talents, Jameson wasn't the first choice to replace Stevens, according to Earl's memory.

"So when Tony Stevens left the band in 1974, I think I'd moved to Bearsville, though I shared a house down there on Long Island with Rod Price," said Earl. "Actually, we auditioned (current Foghat bassist) Craig MacGregor, and I liked him, but I think our manager didn't think it would work. So I'm back at Woodstock, and I'm hanging out with Nick, and I said, 'Nick, do you play bass?' He said, 'Yeah, the first thing I picked up was bass.' I said, 'Do you want to join the band?' He said, 'Yeah.' I said, 'All right.' And then he said, 'Hold on. I don't have a bass.' I said, "Oh, so what do we do?' He said, 'I know somewhere we can rent one.' And I said, 'All right. Let's go.' And he said, 'It's 4 o'clock in the morning.' And I said, 'Oh, do you want to hit the bar?' And he said, 'Yes, Roger (laughs).' So then we rented a bass guitar."

Jameson's initiation would have to wait, but when the moment arrived, it was magical.

"At the time I had a 1967 convertible Corvette 427, a bit of a monster," related Earl. "I've always loved cars. I'm a car man. Picking up, we had the top down, and on the way down, the rear axle broke on the car. We were doing about 80 miles per hour, and the rear axle breaks, the swing axle on the back ... one of them broke, all of a sudden. I thought, 'Oh, shit!' Then we pull off the road, and there was a Chevy dealership there. We pull in there, and we could see the car wasn't doing very well at the time. It was sort of stuck up in the rear. They said, 'Well, this is an old car.' And I said, 'Yeah, I know. Can you fix it?' And they said, 'Well, yeah, but it'll cost a bit of money.' Then I call a cab, and Nick and I get in the cab, and we go out to Long Island, and then it started. In fact, we were rehearsing in the house Rod and I shared down there, where we soundproofed the basement. And that's where 'Slow Ride'came from, from a jam."

Jameson hasn't been given enough credit for his role in the creation of "Slow Ride," still a staple on classic rock radio.

"He had everything to do with it," said Earl. "And the fact that he didn't get a writing credit for it ... well, that was it. The arrangement was basically everything that we jammed that night. Nick obviously did the bass playing part, also the break ... every break that was there, Nick came in with. In fact, even the intro, although I claim I wrote it, it was Nick who actually suggested it: 'Hey Rog, just go back.' And I said, 'What do you mean, go back?' 'Just go back.' I said, 'Like this?' He said, 'No, no ... back.' I said, "Oh, you mean like ... bang. Oh, okay.' So I did ... got on to the bass drum. And he said, 'Yeah, that's it.' (laughs) It's basically a John Lee Hooker riff. Instead of playing it like a shuffle, you straighten it out. In fact, the jam part was very similar to what ended up on the record. We even sped it up like on the record, and the middle part, Nick wrote, like the rhythm playing and all that stuff. He didn't get credit for it, but he did get credit for producing it."

Around the same Peverett was trying to learn how to play the saxophone. He would practice at all hours in his hotel room and the house where Foghat was working on Fool for the City.

"And when you're hanging out with a bunch of musicians, you don't say to somebody, 'Here, can you shut the f--k up?'" laughs Earl.

When Jameson heard Peverett's sax, Jameson became inspired.

"So the next morning, Nick goes out behind this secondhand store, and he finds a saxophone, and when we got to the studio, Nick had probably had this instrument for maybe an hour or two, if that," said Earl. "He'd already learned to play it. Dave had been practicing for years to learn to play this instrument. So Nick now is writing charts for sax players, and Dave had a song called 'Going to the Mardi Gras' It didn't make it on the record. I don't know where it is, but anyway, Nick and Dave had all these horn parts written. We recorded the song, and I think Nick also put piano on it. So it had that Mardi Gras kind of feel to it. I don't know what happened to it, but that's typical of his genius."

There was cause for jubilation in the aftermath of Fool for the City, as the band garnered its first platinum record, the infectious, galvanizing anthems "Fool for the City" and the slide-guitar slathered "Slow Ride" fueling rising album sales.

Jameson, though, wanted to get off the ride. He had aspirations of working on his own solo material.

Fishing hole
Able to work at their own pace, with a skilled producer and engineer in Jameson always at their beck and call, Foghat made an album for the ages in Fool for the City, and the record-buying public ate it up.

"Fool for the City was an album we actually took time off and recorded in just one place, and it was just the band and our engineer and producer, Nick Jameson," said Earl. "And I thought that worked really well. Anytime we were just in one place, and we could lock ourselves away, I think the music benefited. Having said that, we were a touring band. We didn't have the luxury of time, where we were going to say take six months off and actually make a record. We did take time to do the Fool for the City album ... in the end, it we proved it to be the right decision (laughs)."

As always, Foghat's sense of humor helped ingratiate them with their fans. The cover for Fool for the City is one that's always given Earl and a lot of people a good laugh. Away from rock and roll, Earl loves to fish. Jameson thought they might be able to use that.

"I'm pretty sure Nick was the one who suggested it," said Earl. "I should ask him about it. I think it was his idea, because anytime I had some time off or I was wanting to unwind, I would go fishing. I'd grab a rod and go."

Foghat - Fool for the City 1975
Needing an idea for a cover photo, Jameson liked the idea of having Earl do some angling in an unlikely place.

"I think we'd finished the record actually, and we were out on Long Island, and we got up early one Sunday morning, drove to Manhattan with a pole, lifted up the manhole cover and started fishing," Earl related. "And a couple of New York's finest came along and said, 'Hey, you got a license?' Because I had a pole, and I said, 'Oh, shit.' And he said, 'Do you have a fishing license?' (laughs) They said, 'What the f--k are you guys doing?' And we explained to him what we were doing, and they said, 'Oh, okay.' So they just made sure the taxis and other cars wouldn't go down the manhole or anything. They're New York's finest, and they laughed at it. They were more worried about murderers, robbers and rapists ... not some rock 'n' rollers pulling up manhole covers (laughs)."

The fun didn't stop there for Foghat. In fairly short order, they found a replacement for Jameson, calling back Craig MacGregor to give him the job. In 1976, Foghat released another gold effort in Night Shift, which boasted another classic track, "Drivin' Wheel."

"'Drivin' Wheel' is probably one of my all-time favorite songs," said Earl. "I love the way it starts, and I thought Craig MacGregor played really cool bass on it.

Foghat - Night Shift 1976
Night Shift was not an easy birth, as Earl remembers it.

"That was a learning experience on that record," said Earl. "In the end, it turned out well, but you know, sometimes the music comes easy and everything sort of flows, and other times, you have to really work at it."

According to Earl, Foghat would lay down basic track in Long Island in a mobile unit, while also working on backing tracks in Manhattan. Dan Hartman served as producer.

"We'd been working with some stuff, and we went over to his studio, and I really like the way he plays," said Earl of Hartman. "He's a very talented musician, and he has great ideas. He's an excellent recording engineer, and we recorded in his house. And it is was this really nice big house, huge big rooms for the drums."

The accommodations were wonderful. Earl said, "What happened on that album was we were really working, but we were working in a really nice environment," said Earl. "We stayed in that house, and we'd get up anytime we wanted and play, and Dan had this fabulous cook ... I remember she was from Jamaica. This woman was absolutely beautiful and made some of the best food."

They ate well, but Peverett and Price were at loose ends, as Earl recalled. "The problem with doing that album was Dave and Rod, I think would come up against a brick wall." Still, it was an enjoyable time for the band, especially with guests like Edgar Winter lending a hand on backing vocals and keyboards.

Foghat - Foghat Live 1977
All of this was prelude to the biggest-selling album of their career, 1977's Foghat Live. It exceeded 2 million copies in sales, but Foghat wasn't about to rest on their laurels, as the band released Stone Blue in 1978, the studio tension between the band and producer Eddie Kramer resulting in a more aggressive sound.

Change of fortune
As Foghat headed into the '80s, however, their commercial fortunes waned and wholesale lineup changes added to their frustration. Price was the first to leave in November, 1980, and MacGregor followed him out the door in 1982, only to return two years later. Jameson came back, playing on In the Mood for Something Rude and Zig Zag Walk.

The biggest hit of all came in 1984, when Peverett departed and went back to England. That one forced Foghat to disband, but only for a short while, as Earl, MacGregor and Price's replacement, Erik Cartwright, regrouped with a new guitarist/singer in Eric (E.J.) Burgerson. Peverett returned to the U.S. in 1990 and formed his own Lonesome Dave's Foghat. Bassett was a part of it.

Three years later, producer extraordinaire Rick Rubin negotiated a reunion of the original Foghat lineup, which released a couple of albums in the '90s. Price would leave again after a second tour of duty, leading to Bassett being welcomed into the fold for good.

Joining forces again brought Earl and Peverett closer than ever. They spent a great deal of time together reminiscing and finding out that when they were much younger, they'd gone to a lot of the same concerts.

"Yeah, we talked about that on our last tour that we did together," said Earl. "It was kind of cool, because we had calmed down somewhat over the years, and afterward, we'd sit in the back of the bus and Dave would put on some music. He was the resident DJ. And we'd sit there having some cheese and crackers and drinking some wine, and we'd talk about stuff we did when we were kids, and who we'd go and see. And it would be like, 'Oh, were you there?' It was strange, because we'd been together since 1967, or something like that, playing together and we'd never really talked about it, seeing Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Chuck Berry."

Peverett died in 2000, complications from kidney cancer being the cause. Price shuffled off this mortal coil five years later. In 2010, the Foghat lineup of Earl, MacGregor, Bassett and Charlie Huhn – the one that's been together now for years and continued the band's legacy of busy touring – finally completed a project that Peverett and Earl had always dreamed of doing: the blues album, Last Train Home.

And Foghat is working on something that might just top it.

"Well, we've already done a couple of weeks of rehearsing and recording and writing, and we're going to start writing and recording again," said Earl. "We've already picked out a number of songs that we want to do. I've got three or four tunes, with lyrics and stuff, that are written, as I'm sure Bryan and Charlie and Mac do. And we're going to probably have some guests on this album. I find that rather refreshing. When (blues legend and longtime friend of Foghat)  Eddie Kirkland came up it gave us the idea (on Last Train Home). Eddie is no longer with us. I think we'll have some guests and other players joining us. It's always fun when somebody else sort of joins the band for a while, whether it's my brother (Colin Earl, electric keyboard player for Mungo Jerry) or somebody on harp singing or playing guitar."

For Earl, that's the good stuff.

"Playing music is a joyful thing, so playing it with someone else has got to be joyful, right?" said Earl. "Charlie and I were talking the other day about maybe doing a couple of blues songs, or maybe another thing I did back when I was in Savoy Brown. He's a big, huge Savoy Brown fan, so we might resurrect one of them as well. It worked. The idea of sitting down and picking out the songs you really like, and then there's also something to be said for four people being productive and writing original stuff, as well. It will probably be a year along similar lines, but hey, who knows?"

CD Review: Hatriot – Dawn of the New Centurion

CD Review: Hatriot – Dawn of the New Centurion
Massacre Records
All Access Rating: B+

Hatriot - Dawn of the New Centurion 2014
Charlton Heston wasn't going to give up his guns, not while he was alive anyway. Those enemies of freedom that dared try would have to kill him first.

Before God and country, and members of the National Rifle Association, this steely-eyed "cowboy" once held a rifle above his head and warned that the only way they'd take it was "from my cold, dead hands."

Michael Moore made a big deal about it in "Bowling for Columbine," his scathing indictment of the pro-gun lobby. And now, Steve "Zetro" Souza, the former Exodus front man who now heads up the unstoppable thrash-metal throwback Hatriot, is offering a counterpoint, unearthing audio of Heston's quote to introduce "My Cold Dead Hands," an intense and vicious defense of the Second Amendment and gun rights that opens the band's ferocious sophomore effort Dawn of the New Centurion.

Souza is just as passionate about preserving the basic tenets of thrash, as Dawn of the New Centurion provides the kind of visceral thrills, relentless sonic violence and startling energy that started the wildfire that engulfed metal in the early days of Metallica, Souza's own Legacy – which would morph into Testament – and, not to be outdone, Exodus. A seething cauldron of frenzied thrash, Dawn of the New Centurion is barely harnessed thrash-metal fury, comprised of indestructible song structures, hammering drums, a bewildering variety of raging, high-velocity guitar riffs – courtesy of the mysteriously named Kosta "V" – and Souza's demonic, almost reptilian vocals.

Gnashing his teeth in the midst of dizzying cyclones of sound, Souza loads lethal doses of venom into murderous, vengeful lyrics, his hell-spawned screeds coming through loud and clear in the chugging, surging monolith "Superkillafragadisticactsaresoatrocious," and its earthquake of a successor, the dangerously seismic, hard-charging "Silence in the House of the Lord." Even more brutal and punishing is the rampaging "World Funeral," a Slayer-like blitzkrieg of death and destruction with an explosive solo from Kosta "V" that is pure hell fire.

And that's not the only example of his electrifying speed and brilliant tonality, as Hatriot displays an innate ability to vary tempos, with the blistering "Your Worst Enemy" running smack dab into the heavy wrecking ball that is "The Fear Within," its building drama, stampeding blast beats and melodic guitars erupting into a riot that keeps escalating. The aggression is amplified, and so is the excitement, as Hatriot races toward the heart-stopping closer "Consolation for the Insane," bringing this crazed carnival ride to a blazing end.

At times, the sonic carnage not only threatens to overwhelm any semblance of melody, it burns the evidence, and because of this, Dawn of the New Centurion might be a powerhouse record with classy production that hits like a brick to the face, but its songs are far from memorable. Not quite as raw as its predecessor, Dawn of the New Centurion is, nevertheless, a shot of adrenaline to the heart, scary and bestial, moving with instrumental agility, a fast pace that would kill anybody with a heart condition and slashing sharpness. The family affair that is Hatriot – Souza's sons Cody, on bass, and Nick, on drums, round out the lineup – is not at all dysfunctional, at least not musically speaking.
– Peter Lindblad

Foghat: 'Slow Ride' to the top, Part 1

Leaving Savoy Brown behind to start something new
By Peter Lindblad

The one and only Roger Earl has
served as Foghat's drummer
since the beginning of the band.
There was no work for Foghat. Harry Simmonds, it seemed, was making good on his promise.

When Roger Earl, “Lonsome Dave” Peverett and Tony Stevens left British blues bashers Savoy Brown in 1970 to form their own harder rocking, blues-infused, boogie-rock outfit, dubbed Foghat, Simmonds – the brother of Savoy Brown guitarist and leader Kim Simmonds – was dead set on blackballing them from ever setting foot on any stage anywhere in the world.

Money issues helped drive them away, and, according to Earl, Kim wasn't about to stand in their way.

“Kim was kind of okay about it,” said Earl. “Everybody was getting about 60 pounds a week, and the band was earning like $10,000 a show or more. It might be a different number. I’d never been paid for any of the records we did. I got paid on the last one.”

Savoy Brown - A Step Further
It was Earl who replaced Bill Bruford in Savoy Brown, ending the future Yes drummer’s two-week tenure in the band. Earl and Peverett played on a pair of Savoy Brown albums recorded in 1968, Getting to the Point and Blue Matter, and drummed on the classic single “Train to Nowhere” in 1969, the year Savoy Brown put out A Step Further. Stevens had come aboard to replace Rivers Jobe.

After the release of 1970’s Looking In, Earl and company were looking to go off on their own. Harry wasn’t having any of that.

“It was going well, and Kim had just signed a new record deal, and probably for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and we weren’t getting any (laughs),” said Earl. “Anyway, we thought about it and said, ‘Look, we’ll stay in the band as long as you need us, and then we’re going to start looking to do something else.’ That’s when the manager told us that we’d never play again. Kim didn’t say that. In fact, Kim and I have remained friends over the years, and I have a great deal of respect for him as a player, and, as I’ve said, he gave me my shot.”

Nobody gave Foghat a chance in 1970, and Earl was started to get worried, although in December of that year, they did recruit a valuable new member in guitarist Rod Price, from the band Black Cat Bones.

“It was a little weird being told that you’re never going to work again,” said Earl, “and it was kind of scary for a while, but things turned out all right in the end.”

That it did, thanks to the formidable Albert Grossman, who set Foghat on a path paved with gold and platinum records that allowed them to become one of the hardest-working, and most successful, touring acts of the 1970s. Despite lineup changes and the deaths of original members like Peverett, they haven’t lost their ability to wow audiences with their musical prowess, as Foghat’s latest concert DVD, “Live in St. Pete,” makes abundantly clear.

Foghat 2014: Craig MacGregor (bass);
Charlie Huhn (lead vocals/guitar); Roger
Earl (drums); and Bryan Bassett (guitar).
"Yeah, we were rather pleased with it,” said Earl. “We’d been trying to put out a DVD. The last one we had was about 10 years ago, and it was taken from a whole bunch of shows. Over the last 10 years or so, we’d record regularly, or if there was decent filming equipment there (we’d film it), and we’d been going through all the DVDs and stuff that we had, and I’m trying to compile a bunch of tunes that we could put on a DVD. The problem I was having was that some films and shows sounded really good, but the video left something to be desired. Other shows looked really good, and like the bass drum or the bass guitar weren’t on there or we had no lead guitar, or (lead singer) Charlie’s (Huhn) voice was distorted. So, I’d gotten through all this stuff, and it was um … definitely a labor of love, but it really wasn’t (laughs).”

One more for the road
Even now, in his late 60s, Earl still loves the road. And so does Huhn, and so does Bryan Bassett, the former Wild Cherry and Molly Hatchet guitarist selected by Peverett himself to replace him in the band. And so does longtime bassist Craig MacGregor, although he did leave the band for a spell in the early '80s.

In 2011, the foursome had just fulfilled all their tour commitments for the year. They got an offer to do one more.

“So what happened was, we finished actually touring for the year, and our agent called us up and said, ‘Look, somebody’s canceled at this club down in Florida in St. Pete. ‘Would you guys like to play there?’” recalls Earl. “Myself, I was already down in Florida, staying at a house down there. Bryan lives down there, as does Charlie. And two of our crew were already down there. So we called everybody up and said, ‘Do you want to go out and do one more?’ And they all said, ‘Please (laughs).’”

Neither the recording nor the actual video was perfect. Still, it did manage the capture the essence of a band capable of performing with enthusiasm and dynamic chops, not to mention a youthful vigor that belies their age.

“We did it, and our families were there, so we had a big party afterwards, and our sound engineer came in with a CD from the night, and he said, ‘I think you sounded really good,’” said Earl. “And he really didn’t have much to do with it. He cleaned up most of the stuff he could, and then he handed us something. There was also video from it, and we went ‘all right.’ We were drinking some wine and (had some) cheese and vodkas, and having a party at the hotel, and we were listening to it, and going, ‘Wow! This is really good.’”

The alcohol did not impair their judgment. Although it sounded good, Bassett, who not only serves up masterful slide guitar licks for Foghat, but also works as the band’s studio engineer, had a little trouble cleaning up the mix, according to Earl. Some of the microphones weren’t working during the performance, but Bassett made it work.

“We were limited with the shots they gave us, and so sometimes Bryan will be playing and the camera will be on Craig or me,” said Earl. “Or, I’ll be doing something, and the camera will be on Bryan’s feet. Other than a few minor foibles like that, what we liked about it was the fact that everybody was playing well. I think Bryan even said he needed to get rid of a couple of feedback squeaks from the vocal mics. Other than that, it was just a question of getting everything in order. It took them a while, obviously, but it’s something I wanted to do for a long time.”

None of it would have been possible, however, without Grossman. 

Guardian angel
But before he became, in essence, their guardian angel, Savoy Brown had been an important proving ground for Earl, Peverett and Stevens, as they honed their chops to a fine edge.

“I had a great time with Savoy Brown, touring and the band itself,” said Earl. “Chris Youlden was a fantastic singer and songwriter, and Dave (Peverett) turned out to be that as well. Kim continued to get better and better every time he came out, and yeah, I loved touring with Savoy. We weren’t making any money, but that didn’t really matter to us at the time. It was always about the music, and it was a training ground for us.”

Until Grossman came along and signed Foghat to his Bearsville Records label in 1971, Foghat was going nowhere, although they didn’t sit idle.

“When we left, it wasn’t like we wanted to take a break or anything,” said Earl. “We jumped right back into it, writing and rehearsing and stuff like that.”

Peverett, in particular, got right to work.

“The night that we actually sat down with Kim and his brother, Harry, the manager, and we decided we would leave – well, Tony Stevens got fired, and Dave and I … well, it’s a long story, but anyway, we weren’t fired – we decided it time to move on," said Earl. "We went to my room, and Dave started writing and started playing ‘Fool’s Hall of Fame.’”

Foghat's 1972 self-titled debut LP
That song appeared on Foghat’s self-titled 1972 debut. It was Grossman who greased the wheels and allowed Foghat to make the record. Grossman was Bob Dylan’s manager. His named carried a lot of weight in the business.

“He did everything for us,” said Earl. “He was the only one who wanted the band. We’d already recorded seven or eight songs. All of them actually made it on to the first album. They were our demos and pretty close to what was on the album, with Albert coming over to us in 1971.”

There was a showcase was Grossman that clinched the deal.

“Albert was coming over to England, where we all were, to meet the band and Todd Rundgren was with him,” said Earl. “And our manager at the time knew Albert and called up, and he was coming down to see us at a club in north London one afternoon. Albert came down, and we played seven songs for him, and we were down at Albert’s place right away for tea and biscuits.”

Grossman made an immediate impression on Earl in their initial meetings.

“Albert was a very striking gentleman,” said Earl. “He had big, long, silver hair and small, brown glasses. We all knew who he was. He was the manager of Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul and Mary, Janis Joplin, The Band … he was like this giant of giants. He was really beautiful. He was very tall, and so we’re sitting there with tea and biscuits, and he had his hands together, not quite like a prayer. And sometimes he played with his cuticles, and he was sort of like looking around at us, and he said, with this grin on his face (Earl’s voice deepening), ‘All right. Let’s do it (laughs).’”

The memory of that moment still gives Earl a great deal of pleasure.

“Every time I say that, I just get a thrill, because I remember how I felt when he said it, because I knew that meant we were on our way,” said Earl.

Getting to work
Wasting little time, in two weeks, Grossman sent the band $10,000. He also set them up to record in Rockfield, Wales, and he did something else – namely, getting them a producer in Dave Edmunds.

“We had most of the songs put together before we went there,” said Earl. “It was just that we didn’t have anybody to produce it. We were sort of self-producing it, and we were using the engineers at Rockfield. We were musicians. None of us were producers. The engineers were engineers, not producers.”

As Earl remembers, Edmunds was working the night shift at Rockfield. When he had time, Edmunds would lend a hand, or an ear.

“He would come in at like 10, 11, 12 o’clock at night and work through until the next morning or mid-day,” said Earl. “And we were playing at the farm there; it’s a farm in Wales. And he sometimes would crossover to where we would still be playing, and Dave would come into the studio, and we got friendly. We’d sit down and listen to his stuff, and vice versa. And then sometime during the proceeding – I don’t remember when, but it was probably with our manager – we talked and said, ‘Let’s get Dave to give us a helping hand.’”

Edmunds was a godsend, and everybody who heard the results was impressed.

“Dave, he sprinkled some magic on it,” said Earl. “I didn’t know if everybody else liked it (laughs). But everybody liked it, and it went down great, and ‘I Just Want to Make Love to You’ was a Top 40 single over here. So we were on our way.”

The old Willie Dixon song was an old favorite of the threesome.

“We actually started playing it when we were in Savoy Brown,” recalled Earl. “Actually, Dave, myself and Tony Stevens would jam it at sound checks, or if Kim wasn’t there. I don’t know that Kim ever came in on that, but we would just jam that kind of riff and play in that kind of riff, and Dave would just sing that song. So that’s where it came from, but Rod Price came in and put his magic on it, and then Dave came in and he looked at Rod and said, ‘This is what you want to do, boyo, in this part (laughs).’ Yeah, that was well done, I think.”

Indeed it was, as the single shot to No. 83 on the Billboard 100. Foghat had their first hit on their hands, and they were eager to keep the momentum going.

"Having a year and a half off, it was a little tough," said Earl. "I think once we got a chance to play again, especially over here in the States, it was great and you sort of grab it with both hands. And we did. We toured incessantly. A couple of members fell by the wayside, but not many (laughs). And actually, Dave loved touring as well. Dave was always up for it no matter what, when or how. Dave never moaned about that. I mean, sometimes he'd get a little pissed off about the money. Other than that, Dave was great."

Piecemeal approach

Not everybody was as keen about Foghat's seemingly endless touring cycle as Earl and Peverett. That was the reason Stevens left the band in 1975.

Rock and Roll, due to the cover, which featured a bakery roll and a rock – as well as 1974's Energized and a pair of 1975 efforts, Rock and Roll Outlaws and the seminal Fool for the City LP. All were recorded during Foghat tours, with the band recording in whatever studios they could when they found a little free time.
The self-titled Foghat album that's
also referred to as Rock and Roll.
Despite the weeks, months and years Foghat spent on the road in those days, they did manage to record a second self-titled record – often referred to as

"It was pretty weird, actually," said Earl. " Anytime you think that [if you spend] weeks or whatever in the studio, everything's getting improved. But we were going to studios for maybe a couple of days to try to lay down the stuff, and then we'd go somewhere else. It wasn't our idea. I think our second album and Rock and Roll Outlaws ... they were a little difficult and were made in a number of different studios and mixed in different places. It was okay, but whereas the first album, we did it all in one place, with the same producer and we had time, I thought that album worked really well."

Fool for the City was a different experience. Foghat had time, and Nick Jameson, on their side.

* Look for Part 2 of our Foghat story in the coming days

Ace Frehley readies first new solo album in five years

Original KISS guitarist Ace Frehley
has a new solo album coming out in 2014
'Space Invader' drops in June

All the controversy over the induction of KISS into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame isn't keeping Ace Frehley down.

The guitar legend will release Space Invader, his first new solo album in five years, via Entertainment One Music (eOne Music) on June 24, 2014. 

The album will include at least nine brand new original songs, plus a cover of Steve Miller’s “The Joker.”  This album is the first release under Frehley's new universal deal on eOne Music.

Frehley has released an official statement regarding the exciting news:

“Life on Earth has been very good to me, and the body of work I’ve created over the years has withstood the test of time. Today I see no obstacles before me and my creativity has never been more fine tuned. Growing up in an Alien world has enhanced my senses and allowed me to succeed where others would have failed. The best is yet to come!” 

For 16 years, Frehley, the original “Space Ace" and a founding member of KISS, served as the guitarist for the multi-platinum selling rock band. Furthermore, Frehley has had the best-selling solo album career (vintage or current) among the original foursome. His self-titled Ace Frehley, released in 1978, went on to sell over one million copies, producing the only Top 40 single, “New York Groove,” from any of the legendary KISS solo albums (peaking at #13). Most recently, the song was featured in an episode of the cult TV show “Entourage,” and it was also KISS’ second-bestselling download in 2012, beating out, among others, such KISS Army anthems as “I Was Made For Lovin’ You,” “Beth” and “Calling Dr. Love” even after 36 years.

Since departing from KISS, Frehley went on to release four more solo albums and one live EP including his most recent effort, Anomaly in 2009, which debuted at #27 on the Billboard Top 200 chart and received a welcoming response among critics. "’Anomaly' shows why many rock and metal guitarists list ‘Space Ace’ as a prime six-string influence," said Rolling Stone.

Ace Frehley will participate in the 2014 REVOLVER GOLDEN GODS AWARDS show by presenting the Dimebag Darrell "Best Guitarist" Award alongside label-mate Zakk Wylde. The awards show will take place on April 23, 2014 at the CLUB NOKIA Theater in Los Angeles. Tickets are on sale now!

Frehley said: “It’s exciting to finally be part of the Golden Gods, awards and an honor to be part of any Dimebag memorial award. He was a friend, and I know everyone misses him, as do I.”

CD Review: KXM – KXM

CD Review: KXM – KXM
Rat Pak Records
All Access Rating: A-

KXM - S/T 2014
For his last solo record, the rocky, almost impassable, road that was the decidedly downcast Naked, dUg Pinnick turned inward to explore depression, an affliction the King's X front man has long battled.

A heroic attempt to illustrate, in stark and rather ugly tones, its effects on his art and his life, Naked was an emotional bloodletting, with stories and darkly soulful melodies that rarely let in any light.

Working with Korn's Ray Luzier and former Dokken guitarist George Lynch in the new supergroup KXM has, at least for now, brightened his disposition somewhat. An inspired collaboration, KXM welds gnarly guitar riffs to eclectic, but hard-hitting, drumming and some of Pinnick's toughest, and most tenacious, bass lines on the trio's grungy, groove-laden self-titled debut for Rat Pak Records.

Redemption songs like "Rescue Me," "I'll Be Okay" and "Faith Is a Room" are life-affirming expressions of belief and vulnerability, these almost religious awakenings that borrow a cup of King's X's sunnier psychedelia to bathe them in dirty radiance. A flashlight shines on the dark subject matter of "Sleep," exposing domestic abuse to the light of day in soulful, slow-burning build-ups that add emotional weight to every lyrical line, while "Do It Now," "Love" and "Burn" are similarly paced, prowling in the bushes or surging ahead rather than running full out, with the angry, in-your-face first single "Gun Fight" – this provocative defense of Constitutional and human rights – blazes with intensity and digs its hooks into you. (See the video for "Rescue Me" here):

More concerned about the riff than ever, Lynch balls them up into meaty, wicked fists of sound, while still tearing off searing, agile solos. And while Pinnick's vocals are captivating and passionate, it's Luzier's stick work that's the real revelation here. Freed from Korn, he explores a wide variety of textures with KXM and displays surprising skill, all while making the songs move at whatever gear they want to shift to. And while a couple of songs do not coalesce as tightly as they should, the great majority demand attention and keep it. Looking for a "Gun Fight" of the sonic variety? You'll get one from KXM.
– Peter Lindblad

CD Review: Marillion – Sounds That Can't Be Made Special Edition

CD Review: Marillion – Sounds That Can't Be Made Special Edition
Eagle Rock Entertainment/earMusic
All Access Rating: A

Marillion - Sounds That Can't Be Made
Special Edition 2014
Marillion did its homework for "Gaza," the 17-minute epic opener to 2012's Sounds That Can't Be Made. Unafraid to tackle an issue as thorny as that of the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip, these old neo-progressives with their heads in the clouds got their hands dirty with this one.

Attempting to separate truth from fiction, they talked to everyone involved, from aid workers and actual refugees who live there to Israelis who are sick of the fighting, before penning their heartrending and nuanced musical tale of a boy growing up amid violence and poverty.

Alternating between moments of quiet beauty and scenes of unbearable tension and fear, "Gaza," introduced by the ominous sound of a helicopter in the distance, is quite possibly the crowning achievement of Marillion's post-Fish era. Exotic, sublime melodies and passages of calm are abruptly interrupted by exploding bombs of angry discord and noise, as Marillion illustrates the bleak hardships of life in the war-torn region. After such a cinematic tour de force, the rest of Sounds That Can't Be Made seems somewhat less ambitious in comparison, but how could it not?

Given that it couldn't possibly match the high drama and emotional weight of "Gaza," the rest of Sounds That Can't Be Made strives for more soulful and resonant expression on songs such as the stylish "Pour My Love," a watery "Power" that turns radiant, and, awash in strings, the soaring "The Sky Above the Rain," not to mention the gorgeously rendered title track, with its blissful pop sentiments and airy synthesizers. Richly appointed, with lush piano, mature lyrics, earnest vocals and clever guitar parts, this is Marillion leaving bombast and inscrutable artiness behind to moonlight in a dimly lit jazz club, winning over prog-rock purists with their well-crafted melodies, lush tones and understated dynamics. It's a stunning about-face for Marillion, and one that's deeply affecting.

Those comparisons to Genesis that have always followed Marillion make less sense these days, especially when taking account of the six bonus tracks padding this Special Edition of Sounds That Can't Be Made – mostly different versions of songs off the original record. Radio sessions for "Wrapped Up in Time," "Power" and "Pour My Love" are stark and intimate readings, comprised almost entirely of just piano and vocals – with just a touch of electric guitar occasionally emerging – and even more gripping than the originals.

The demo arrangement of "Lucky Man" is quiet and gentle, betraying a gospel influence but barely registering a pulse and taking far too long to gain momentum, while a life-affirming concert version of "Sounds That Can't Be Made" grows more expansive and hits all the right emotional notes, as does Marillion blindingly radiant live take on "Invisible Ink." Coldplay should be taking notes.

Although Marillion has always been able to conjure up a vast array of sounds that can be made, rarely have those pieces coalesced into such lustrous, and wholly accessible, shapes, evolving ever so slightly and building into more magnificent structures. This edition is truly special.
– Peter Lindblad

A little 'Sweet Tea' with California Breed

First single, video from Glenn Hughes' new band premieres today
By Peter Lindblad

California Breed 2014
Photo by: Austyn Weiner
How about some afternoon tea with Glenn Hughes and his new band, California Breed? Instead of crumpets or finger sandwiches, there's powerful, swaggering rock 'n' roll to snack on.

Today, the newly formed power trio, featuring Jason Bonham on drums and young guitar phenom Andrew Watt, debuted the video for "Sweet Tea," the first single from their forthcoming self-titled album, at USA Today, along with a fascinating Q&A with Hughes, here:

California Breed's self-titled album is due out May 20 on Frontiers Records, and if "Sweet Tea" is any indication, it ought to be a raucous affair. Nasty and mean, "Sweet Tea" is a savory treat, a hunk of greasy proto-metal meat that's been sitting in the fridge of a truck stop diner since '73 and still manages to taste as fresh as if it was just butchered.

California Breed - S/T 2014
Although it borrows some of its testosterone-fueled strut from early glam-rock, "Sweet Tea," all cocksure attitude and tough hooks, sounds more like Mountain's "Mississippi Queen," with Watt's savage guitar riffs seemingly carved out of granite and Bonham breaking rocks in the hot sun with brutal violence, while Hughes stays true to his primal urges and unleashes mounting sexual frustration in vocals that really get the blood boiling.

An extension of Black Country Communion's all-too-brief existence, California Breed appears intent on sucking the marrow from the bones of the '70s classic-rock artists it wants to emulate. A performance piece, with the band's tropical eye logo covering its amps, the video finds the threesome playing the song with unbridled enthusiasm and raw machismo, with Watt dressed suspiciously like a young Ritchie Blackmore. All the while a comely lass cuts lemons and stirs up not only a pitcher of sweet tea, but also some raging male hormones to boot.

The album was produced by Dave Cobb, who's sprinkled his studio magic over works by Rival Sons and Shooter Jennings. It will be available as a CD, digital download and a Deluxe Edition CD + DVD that packages the original record with the bonus track "Solo," two videos and a documentary. Those that pre-order the digital download on iTunes will receive an instant download of "Sweet Tea" upon ordering. The iTunes and Amazon pre-order links are as follows:


Amazon CD:

CD Deluxe Edition CD + DVD:

Anthrax Memorabilia from Bello, Benante and Ian Takes Center Stage at Auction

Anthrax Artist Pass
There is no denying that Anthrax is and probably always will be one of the top collectible metal bands around. From guitars, drum heads, stage worn attire to promo items, passes, picks and sticks, fans and collectors snatch up Anthrax memorabilia – regardless of price or age, it simply doesn't matter.

Link: Anthrax Relics

The members of the band have a significant impact on the collect-ability of Anthrax memorabilia because collectively and individually they are so connected to their fan base and are highly approachable and open. That connection with the fans creates collectors (knowingly or not) and collecting is where it becomes fun.

This year’s Rock Gods and Metal Monsters Auction will feature personal items direct from the private collections of Scott Ian, Charlie Benante and Frank Bello. “We are super excited about having the three of them be a part of this year’s lineup and the items they have offered up are both personal and historically relevant,” says Backstage Auctions founder, Jacques van Gool.

Scott Ian's Gloves
Scott Ian – considered to be the heart and soul of Anthrax, is one of the most recognizable figures in hard rock. Influenced by KISS, British heavy metal and New York City hardcore, the powerhouse guitarist co-founded Anthrax with Danny Lilker in 1981. He also helped form the metal crossover act Stormtroopers of Death and has appeared in a variety of TV shows. He recently embarked on a no-holds-barred spoken word tour. This is Scott’s second auction that he has participated in with Backstage and the items up for grabs range from gear and stage worn attire to t-shirts, itineraries and posters.

Scott Ian Signed Randall Amp

Charlie Benante's
Personal Jacket
Charlie Benante is a whirlwind of activity behind his drum kit. A longtime member Anthrax, arriving just in time to assist in recording the band’s ferocious debut LP “Fistful of Metal”, Benante, a double-kick drum master, helped bring blast beats into fashion. Responsible for writing much of Anthrax’s music, Benante’s creativity and intense chops have made him one of the genre’s greatest drummers, fueling the energy of such landmark albums as “Spreading the Disease” and “Among the Living”. Also a fine artist, Benante’s estimable talents extend to the guitar, as he contributed lead to S.O.D.’s seminal “Speak English or Die”. Charlie has offered up some historical pieces used during the recording of “Anthems” and “Worship Music”, The Big 4 tour, many vintage t-shirts and even his personal 1986 Spreading The Disease leather jacket.

Charlie Benante Anthems Drum Heads

Frank Bello Fender Bass
Frank Bello started out as a roadie and guitar technician for Anthrax, before getting a big promotion in the aftermath of the thrash-metal pioneers’ debut LP “Fistful of Metal”. It was Bello, the nephew of Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante, who replaced co-founder Dan Lilker, joining the band in 1984. A wildly energetic presence on stage, Bello, playing bass with a fiery mixture of passion and precision, has held down the low-end in Anthrax ever since, taking time out only briefly for a short stint in Helmet. Also a philanthropist and an actor, Bello played punk legend Richard Hell in a film about Tim and Jeff Buckley called “Greetings from Tim Buckley.” He and David Ellefson (who is also participating in the auction) recently released “Booze and Cigarettes” which is firmly rooted in hard rock. One of the highlight pieces among Bello’s auction items is his “New York” Fender bass guitar that he has used both on tour and on several recordings. He took it out on the road, rehearsed with it and used it for the recording of “Sound of White Noise”, “Stomp 442” and the “Time” video. Like Charlie and Scott, Frank too has offered a great many exclusive and collectible t-shirts and personal items.

Collectively, Scott, Charlie and Frank have contributed over 100 items that will be showcased in the
Anthrax Spreading The Disease
upcoming auction and with each lot sold; a signed Certificate of Authenticity (signed by the contributor) will be included.

The 2014 Rock God and Metal Monsters Auction will include over 700  rare  pieces of rare hard rock and heavy metal memorabilia featuring Anthrax, Megadeth, KISS, Black Sabbath, Def Leppard, Van Halen, Pantera, Motley Crue, The Cult, Helmet, Nickelback, Overkill, Pantera, Ozzy, White Zombie and more. It is a not to miss opportunity for fans and collectors around the world to own an authentic piece of one of the most significant genres of music history. For more information and to get your VIP All Access Pass for the event visit

The online auction starts March 30, 2014 and will run through April 6, 2014. A special VIP All Access preview of the entire auction catalog will be available beginning March 23rd.

To get your VIP All Access Pass for the event visit:  VIP Auction Registration

Related Rock Gods and Metal Monsters Auction Posts:
Peter Criss' Original ‘73 – ’74 Kiss Tour Used Drum Kit Hits The Auction Block

Backstage Auctions Announces Line Up for The 2014 Rock Gods and Metal Monsters Auction

Backstage Auctions is a boutique online auction house specializing in authentic rock memorabilia. By exclusively representing legendary musicians and entertainment professionals directly, every auction event is unique, reflecting the artist's legacy and chronicles their legendary career. Backstage Auctions has represented dozens of notable and very talented musicians, producers and managers in the music industry. The very first online auction event featured the private collection of legendary producer Eddie Kramer (Hendrix, Zeppelin, Kiss) and since then, Backstage has represented Ted Nugent, Howard Kaylan (The Turtles), Ross Valory (Journey) and Michael Shrieve (Santana) Johny Barbata (Jefferson Starship), Kip Winger (Winger), John 5 (Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie), Al Jourgensen (Ministry), Rudy Sarzo (Quiet Riot, Whitesnake, Dio, BOC), Scott Rockenfield (Queensryche), Graham Bonnet (Rainbow, Alcatraz), Scott Ian (Anthrax), Charlie Benante (Anthrax), Sean Yseult (White Zombie) as well as managers of legendary bands such as The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, KISS, Journey, Joe Walsh, Pantera, White Zombie, Ringo Starr and His All Starr Band and Motley Crue. Backstage Auctions works closely with each client and incorporates their personal stories and memories throughout the online auction event. The end result is a unique, historical and unforgettable journey spanning decades of music history and turning fans into collectors one auction at a time.

Peter Criss' Original ‘73 – ’74 Kiss Tour Used Drum Kit Hits The Auction Block

Peter Criss Drum Kit '73 - '74 Kiss Tour
Kiss may not be performing at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony, but fans and collectors will definitely get VIP access to historical and some never before seen pieces of Kiss memorabilia in the upcoming Rock Gods and Metal Monsters Auction, hosted by Backstage Auctions

The online auction event contains over 200 auction lots of rare Kiss memorabilia dating back as far as back as 1973 and is filled with historically relevant Kiss relics. 

Peter Criss
Behind the Original Drum Kit
If you are looking for something in the "Holy Grail" range – Peter Criss’ personal drum kit that he used from 1973 – 1974 while on tour with Kiss should definitely be on at the top of your list of items to procure. 

As far as epic, historic and downright mind-blowing Kiss collectibles go, it is hard to imagine something more prestigious than his complete Ludwig drum kit, which was his very first official Kiss kit.

He premiered the kit in December of 1973 and played it all the way through 1974, before it was replaced by a stretch of Pearl kits. In addition to the super cool 24 inch glitter logo bass drum, it also contains the snare, various tom-toms, cymbals, cowbell, drum stool and even some of the original road cases.  

Original Peter Criss Solo Album
 Painting 1978
For the curators exclusive pop culture artwork, the original Eraldo Carugati painting used for Peter Criss’ solo album should be given serious consideration. In 1978 Bill Aucoin commissioned the artist to paint the images of all four band members to be used for the solo albums. To this day, the four solo face images are used on everything from posters to t-shirts and everything in between. This is the first time in history, that one of the original paintings will be publicly made available to the collectors market. 

"So often we think we have hit the peak of rare Kiss memorabilia and then another collection comes along, and collectively the pieces featured in this auction have moved us to a new summit with the private collections of Debra Svensk-Jenson (previously married to Peter Criss), Linda West and the late
Kiss Tour Promoter Bag 1970s
Ken Anderson, both  of Aucoin Management and rock photographer Chip Rock” says Backstage Auctions founder Jacques van Gool.

The auction will feature a wide range of Kiss memorabilia appealing to everyone’s taste and budget including; Gold and Platinum RIAA awards, rare t-shirts, jackets and crew attire, artist signed items, rare ephemera and personal notes, hand-written lyrics, sticks, picks and passes, rare vinyl and more. “There is enough historical Kiss memorabilia in this auction, that it would be worthy of a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame exhibit,” says van Gool. 

Kiss Plantinum Solo Album RIAA Awards
The Rock God and Metal Monsters Auction will also include hundreds of rare hard rock and heavy metal memorabilia from the private collections of David Ellefson, Frank Bello, Charlie Benante, Scott Ian, John Tempesta, Page Hamilton, Sean Yseult and several industry professionals. 

Of course giving fans and collectors direct access to authentic and rare pieces of rock history is always what the goal when we build our auction events, and this years Rock Gods and Metal Auction is no exception. This is a not-to-miss opportunity for fans and collectors around the world to own an authentic piece of one of the most significant genres of music history. 

Bidding will run from March 30 through April 6, 2014. A special VIP All Access preview of the entire auction catalog will be available beginning March 23rd.

For more information and to get your VIP All Access Pass: VIP Auction Registration 

Deep Purple 'Live in California 74' coming soon

Legendary concert made available on CD, digital audio

Deep Purple - Live in California 74
Deep Purple had the world by the tail in the mid-1970s. Bigger than just about anybody in hard rock, with some exceptions, of course, they co-headlined the historic California Jam Festival 40 years ago. To mark the anniversary of that life-changing event, Eagle Rock Entertainment is issuing Deep Purple Live in California 74 for the first time on CD and digital audio on April 1. 

One of the most in-demand live acts in the world at the time, Deep Purple was finishing up a 28-date tour promoting Burn when they hit the Golden State. The CD showcases the band performing before 200,000 people at the Cal Jam Festival. It was a triumphant coda to a glorious march, as the thunderous lineup of Ritchie Blackmore (guitar), David Coverdale (vocals), Glenn Hughes (bass), Jon Lord(keyboards), and Ian Paice (drums) blew the crowd away with a fiery set of songs from Burn, as well as classics like “Space Truckin’” and “Smoke On The Water.”

A legendary performance, the storied concert was previously released on DVD in 2006. The Live In California 74 album is essential stuff. To keep updated on this and other releases from Eagle Rock, visit and

Check the track listing. There's no filler.

Track Listing:
1.) Burn
2.) Might Just Take Your Life
3.) Lay Down, Stay Down
4.) Mistreated
5.) Smoke On The Water
6.) You Fool No One
7.) Space Truckin’

CD Review: Ringworm – Hammer of the Witch

CD Review: Ringworm – Hammer of the Witch
Relapse Records
All Access Rating: A-

Ringworm - Hammer of the Witch 2014
Batten down the hatches everybody. The Category 5 cyclone of hardcore and metal that is Ringworm's devastating Hammer of the Witch is about to make landfall.

Formed in 1991 in Cleveland, Ohio, Ringworm rose to prominence in a hardcore scene populated by fellow firebrands Terror and Earth Crisis, but they dropped out in 1993, only to rise from the ashes around the turn of the century and wreak sonic havoc on 2001's Victory Records release Birth is Pain and a succession of more audio vitriol.

Now comes Ringworm's roaring, high-velocity debut for Relapse Records, Hammer of the Witch. It's non-stop action from beginning to end, a swarming, all-consuming conflagration of scorched-earth thrash riffage that's diabolically complex and heavy at times.

Surging forward with anger and violence, Hammer of the Witch is Hatebreed on amphetamines, shattering land-speed records on "I Recommend Amputation," "Bleed," the raging "Psychic Vampire" and a blistering "King of Blood." The shouted, in-your-face vocals come courtesy of Human Furnace, while the whiplash breakdowns would draw the attention of a personal-injury lawyer. Hammer of the Witch is as chaotic as a prison break, with searing guitar solos and thickened, intense grooves for those who also appreciate full-throttle speed.
– Peter Lindblad

Keep calm and ask Alice Cooper

Alice Cooper - Super Duper
Alice Cooper 2014
New documentary on shock-rock icon comes with fan Q&A

Alice Cooper is coming to the silver screen. Hide the women and children, and the boa constrictors. 

Due to premiere at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, "Super Duper Alice Cooper" is a new documentary on the shock-rock superstar that's purported to be the first-ever "doc opera," combining animation, archival footage and rock opera tropes to tell the story of rock 'n' roll's first true villain. It will hit theaters nationwide beginning May 30. Here's a trailer:

Wanting to make the experience an interactive one, Cooper is compiling a pre-recorded "Keep Calm & Go Ask Alice" Q&A that will run following each theatrical screening. Fans are being asked to go to (click the "Keep Calm and Go Ask Alice" graphic) and ask the man himself whatever questions they want, as long as the submission period runs. He'll then handpick select questions and answer them via video. 

As for the film, it's another Scot McFadyen and Sam Dunn joint, those same guys from Banger Films that brought you "Iron Maiden: Flight 666" and "Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage." It traces the career arc of a preacher's son who became Public Enemy No. 1 to parents nationwide as Alice Cooper, following his career from its freaky Phoenix roots through his band's groundbreaking, demented theatrics and into the destructive decadence of the '70s, which set the stage for his rebirth as an '80s glam-metal icon.

Iggy Pop, John Lydon, Dee Snider and Elton John weigh on the art and life of Vincent Furnier, a man who fought to overcome his demons, all while trying to maintain the image of his crazed alter-ego, Alice. 

Looking for information on what Alice Cooper is up to, visit,, or

CD Review: House Of Lords – Precious Metal

CD Review: House Of Lords  – Precious Metal
Frontiers Records
All Access Rating: B-

House Of Lords - Precious Metal 2014
Much to the relief of longtime followers, House Of Lords has not fallen into a state of disrepair, although there was reason to believe it might given the 2004 departure of founder and keyboard wizard Gregg Giuffria. 

Having undergone a series of substantial lineup renovations over the years, this melodic-metal fortress is still standing, thanks to the efforts of singer James Christian, the sole remaining original member. Those who lost track of House Of Lords when the bulldozers of grunge almost plowed pop metal completely under will still recognize the place. 

Newer releases such 2006's World Upside Down, 2008's Come to My Kingdom and 2011's Big Money typically balanced the competing forces of gleaming, silvery keyboard rushes, big choruses and heavier, complex guitar constructions, all while making grand melodic gestures and occasionally succumbing to the temptation of throwing in a tender, if a bit treacly, power ballad or two. This is what Precious Metal, House of Lords' latest, is made of as well.

Forever immersed in the sounds and stylistic blandness of '80s AOR, House Of Lords, nevertheless, charges into Precious Metal with the galloping "Battle," where sharp-edged synthesizers flash like swords and Christian's forceful wail urges on the troops."Epic" is a thrilling chase, a euphoric rush of power metal that aims for the dizzying heights of Europe, while "Permission to Die" and "Swimmin' With The Sharks" are made of stronger, infectious grooves and driving rhythms, and "I'm Breakin' Free" is a slightly bitter pop-metal kiss-off that Warrant wouldn't have kicked out of bed.

Filled with fine, if cliched, sentiments about never wasting one single breath of life, the overly earnest "Live Every Day (Like It's the Last)" could have been that breakthrough single House Of Lords was looking for in the '80s, but the title track's exploration of male-female relationship dynamics is superficial at best, and the music is hopelessly melodramatic. Still, even if songs like "Raw" tend to fall apart after powerful intros and never fully coalesce into anything truly memorable, Precious Metal is well-produced, with a clutch of bracing, electrically charged riffs, various keyboard spells and impassioned singing carrying the day.
– Peter Lindblad