Ratt – Infestation (CD review)

Ratt – Infestation (Roadrunner) – CD review –

After sputtering for almost 20 years, Ratt finally has a CD they can be proud of.

It is dangerous territory trying to relive your past.  Many bands attempt it, and most fall flat on their faces.  Yet, with Infestation (Roadrunner), their first studio effort in 11 years, Ratt has set the “way back” machine to the mid 80’s and turned in their best effort in years.

Really, it’s simple: latter-day Ratt failed because they messed with their formula; whether trying to be bluesy or dancey, either way, it wasn’t what they did best.  With Infestation, only their seventh overall, they concentrate on their strengths: crunching guitars, wailing twin leads (with the tasty addition of Quiet Riot axeman Carlos Cavazo), and catchy, melodic choruses, all traits of the band’s best work in the mid-80’s, way before flannel became the rage.

At least some of the credit must be given to producer Elvis Baskette, who resists the temptation to update the glam metal band’s sound.  Instead, he captures a group that sounds downright re-energized.   The album’s first single, “Best of Me,” is a pop-metal gem, complete with chiming chorus, sadly missing in rock for years.  It’s as if the 20 years of hell the band went through actually benefited these guys. — Tony Peters

#5 – Bobby Blotzer of Ratt – Infestation

Hard rockers Ratt have just released “Infestation,” their first new CD in 11 years.  The band, whose hits include “Round and Round,” “Lay it Down,” “You’re in Love,” and “Way Cool Jr,” recently put the original lineup back together and have hit the road.  With singer Stephen Pearcy back in the fold after a hiatus, the band sounds re-energized and the new CD is proof.  Infestation is full of crunching guitars and memorable hooks straight out of 1984.  Icon Fetch talks with drummer and founding member Bobby Blotzer about the reunion, new album, and his new book, “Tales of a RATT: Things You Shouldn’t Know.”

Just interviewed Elvin Bishop

Elvin’s a pretty unassuming guy.  But, get him talking about his 1959 Gibson ES-345, the one he calls “Red Dog,” and he’ll perk right up.  We talked about his new CD, and how he picked some of the cover tunes.

He also filled us in on the annual “Blues Cruise” which he is a part of (along with Irma Thomas, Johnny AND Edgar Winter, and Los Lobos) in October.  I also had him give us a list of 3 essential blues albums to cut your teeth on.  His interview will air Tuesday, May 11th at 9pm EDT and be available for streaming anytime after that.

 

How Many More?

May 4, 2010 marks the 40th anniversary of the tragedy at Kent State.  No song better captured what the country was feeling at the time than “Ohio” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.  The song itself still stands as one of the greatest examples of the immediacy of music.

As the story goes, it was David Crosby who saw the article on the event in Life Magazine and challenged buddy Neil Young to write something.  Within twenty minutes he had finished the song.  The band convened that night and recorded the entire thing, guitars, drums, bass, vocals, harmonies–all live, in just a couple of takes.

As they were mixing the song, they realized they needed a b-side and chose to record another new composition, this one by Stephen Stills, called “Find the Cost of Freedom.”  The band sat in a tight circle and sang the song, with only Stills on guitar.  The tape was played back and they sang it again, adding harmonies.  In a span of about six hours, history had been made.

Both tracks were airmailed to New York and within days the record was out on the radio, pointing fingers and naming names.  Many AM stations refused to play the track, because of it’s criticism of the Nixon administration.  However, the burgeoning underground FM format embraced the song.

As a side note, the group already had a song racing up the charts at the time, “Teach Your Children,’ written by Graham Nash.  By releasing “Ohio,” it basically killed the momentum of the other song.  At one point in July 1970, both songs were in the top 20.  Despite it’s limited airplay, “Ohio” still peaked at #14.  It stands as the greatest achievement of C,S,N & Y.

#4 – Solomon Burke – Nothing’s Impossible & Robert Rodriguez – Fab Four FAQ 2.0

He is the King of Rock and Soul, Mr. Solomon Burke, and he’s just released his latest CD, “Nothing’s Impossible.” We’ll talk to Solomon about recording the new record with legendary producer Willie Mitchell, who weeks after wrapping up the sessions, passed away of heart failure. Mitchell was responsible for most of Al Green’s big hits and lends that same style to Burke’s disc.

Solomon had a great string of R&B hits in the mid-60’s, but is probably best known for “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love,” a song covered by the Rolling Stones and featured prominently in the Blues Brothers movie.  Burke’s other film credits include working alongside Dennis Quaid in “The Big Easy.”  He won a Grammy in 2002 for his album “Don’t Give Up On Me.”  Click below for the Solomon Burke interview.  {mp3}show4solomonburke{/mp3}  {enclose show4solomonburke.mp3}

For more information on Solomon Burke, visit his official site (www.thekingsolomonburke.com)

 

Also on the show is Robert Rodriguez, author of “Fab Four FAQ 2.0“.  He talks to Icon Fetch about his new Beatles book, covering the solo years 1970-1980.  Robert’s interview is at the end of our show with Solomon Burke.  Click below for the Robert Rodriguez Beatles interview.

Robert’s official site is: www.fabfourfaq2.com

 

Not Just Another Beatles Book

Recently, I talked with Robert Rodriguez, author of a new book called “Fab Four FAQ 2.0” (Backbeat Books).  This is actually a sequel of sorts.  Rodriguez co-authored the first book (or “1.0” if you will) back in 2007.  That book concentrated on the history of the Beatles while they were together.  “2.0” picks up with the breakup of the Fab Four and the subsequent solo releases from 1970 until 1980 when John Lennon was shot.

Just about every possible angle has been covered here: from reviews of all the solo Beatles albums, to which movies they were in, who played on which LP, and even the notorious spats between them over the years.

One of the tasty elements of the book is all the memorabilia that’s pictured, most of which come from the author’s own personal collection.

The book weighs in at some 450 pages.  But, if that isn’t enough to satisfy your solo Fab cravings, you can go to Rodriguez’s own website, to view unused chapters.

Solomon Burke – Very Best of (CD review)

Solomon Burke – The Very Best Of (Rhino) – CD review –

His best songs will make you shout, just like you were in a gospel meeting.

Solomon Burke never enjoyed the chart success that some of his contemporaries, like Sam Cooke & Wilson Pickett had.  But, that doesn’t mean he didn’t make incredible music.  On the contrary, the songs collected on this disc are so full of passion and grit, they make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

This budget-priced collection does a pretty good job of collecting his seminal sides for Atlantic Records during the sixties.  For money you could find in your couch, you get his early blend of country with R&B “Just Out of Reach,” plus the should of been smashes “Cry to Me” and “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love” (both covered by the Rolling Stones).  Another standout is “Gotta Get You Off My Mind,” written the night his friend, Sam Cooke, was murdered.  “Can’t Nobody Love You” is Burke at his pleading best.  As a bonus, the set contains “Soul Meeting,” a collaboration between Burke, Ben E. King, Joe Tex, Don Covay, & Arthur Conley.  A great set by an underrated legend. –Tony Peters

Solomon Burke – Nothing’s Impossible (CD review)


Solomon Burke – Nothing’s Impossible (E1 Entertainment) – CD review

This record finds Solomon Burke teamed with legendary Memphis producer Willie Mitchell, whose signature staccato horns, loud kick drum, and sweet strings adorned the great Al Green singles of the early 70’s.  Flash forward forty years, and everything is still intact.  No attempt has been made to update the sound; this is classic soul, through and through

They just don’t make albums like this anymore.  Real drums, real instruments, and Burke still growling away, like he has for the last 50 years.  But, there’s something here, not present in his previous releases: an underlying hint of regret in his voice.  Whether Burke is feeling his mortality or had somehow foreseen the tragedy that would fall his producer (Mitchell passed away just ten days after completing these sessions of cardiac arrest), the truth is, it’s there.  It’s also what elevates these tracks to another level.  Take for example the odd cover of Anne Murray’s “You Needed Me.”  Her original is schmaltzy and vanilla, while Burke imparts so much emotion, cutting to the true essence of the song.

One of the best songs is “Dreams” where Burke sings “don’t wake me from this dream / or I’ll scream scream scream”.  These are lyrics that will send chills down your spine.  Even Burke’s daughter, Candy, wrote one of the better ones, “The Error of My Ways.” Burke won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album for 2002’s Don’t Give Up On Me, With this new disc, Burke should find himself once again accepting award for a great collection of songs. — Tony Peters

Hear the Icon Fetch interview with Solomon Burke

Talking to the King

Man, what a trip!  I interviewed Solomon Burke the other day.  Before the actual interview began, I told him that I was calling from Dayton.  Here’s what he said:

Solomon:  “Dayton?  I love Dayton.  You know when I was younger, I used to want to go to Dayton, cause that’s where I thought I would get a DATE!”

I also told him about a treat from right here in southern Ohio…Esther Price Chocolate Covered Potato Chips.  I told him I’d send him a box.

Solomon: “Man, I know this is gonna be a great interview.”

Icon Fetch: “Why”?

Solomon: “Because, we haven’t even started and we’ve talked about my two favorite things…women and food!”

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