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Van Halen: 125 Minutes Live

Who: Van Halen, plus me, Eric and thousands of our closest friends.
What: Van Halen “reunion” tour, featuring David Lee Roth on vocals, Wolfgang Van Halen on bass, Eddie Van Halen on guitar, and Alex Van Halen on drums.
When: Sunday, October 14, 2007. 8:30 p.m.
Where: Conseco Fieldhouse, Indianapolis
Why: This tour is legendary!
How: Good credit. Thanks MasterCard!

vanhalenwide_wm.JPGI’ve been looking forward to my chance to see Van Halen live for months now. The “on-again, off-again” tour has put of the rock world on edge, and now it seems things might actually be halfway decent in the Van Halen camp. By the time the band took the stage, the crowd was rowdy and ready to go. These people wanted their Van Halen! The set list seemed pretty similar to the one leaked on the Internet around a month ago. Here’s what the mighty Van Halen performed:

You Really Got Me
I’m the One
Runnin' With the Devil
Romeo Delight
Somebody Get Me a Doctor
Beautiful Girls
Dance the Night Away
Atomic Punk
Everybody Wants Some
So This Is Love?
Mean Street
Oh, Pretty Woman
Drum Solo
I'll Wait
And the Cradle Will Rock
Hot for Teacher
Little Dreamer
Little Guitars
Jamie's Cryin'
Ice Cream Man (both acoustic and electric)
Eruption/Guitar Solo
Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love

DLroth_wm.JPGDiamond Dave acted as ringmaster, and wore about a six different circus-style top hats throughout the show. He was in his element last night, and he seemed to be having the time of his life. That man has a huge smile, which makes me wonder if he wears dentures, but I digress. He did say “Look at all the people here tonight!” which made the crowd go crazy. Everybody screamed, I don’t recall any laughing (at least from my section). At one point, Roth said “Welcome to the show. We’re three-fourths original and one-quarter inevitable.” This seemed to make Wolfgang smile.

I may have a crush on 16 year old Wolfgang. The boy has taken a lot of criticism, both in the real world and on the Internet, but he sure seemed to know what he was doing on stage. My favorite part of the entire show was when Wolfie took the top riser of the multi-platform stage and strummed the beginning of “Runnin’ With the Devil” with his bass outstretched over his head. I wasn’t the only one impressed: I noticed a lot of ladies screaming for the adolescent, who also proved he knows a thing or two about finger tapping a fret board.

eddieguitar_wm.JPGMy word, Eddie Van Halen can still play the guitar. No, he doesn’t play, he charms the instrument. Last night was an interesting exercise for me: it’s been more than a decade since I last saw Van Halen live (on the Balance tour, with Sammy Hagar singing vocals) but Eddie sounded better last night than when he was so much younger. He looked good too. Perhaps I was too young to appreciate his guitar mastery when my parents took me to see Van Halen so long ago, but I get it now. The man is a downright genius. Eddie’s solo lasted about 15 minutes. He would go in and out of “Eruption” and play other bits, striking the guitar from upside down, over his head, laying on the stage: you name it, he did it and won. It was interesting to watch the faces of the people in the capacity crowd while Eddie performed. When “Eruption” kicked into high gear, people screamed, but when Eddie moved on to improvise, the stadium went kind of silent as the crowd watched in awe. True to form, there is no living guitarist as good as Eddie Van Halen. Dare to dispute me, but I urge you to see this band live. If you do, you’ll know I’m right.

I’ve never been a gigantic fan of drum solos, but Alex Van Halen’s solo last night was pretty good. It was a decent length and he kept standing from the behind the kit to get the crowd involved, and last night he wasn’t confined to a neck brace. Still, it was a little hard to see Alex since the drum riser wasn’t all that high. I had very good seats, so I’m not sure people in the upper balconies could see the elder Van Halen very well.

Diamond Dave was his usual self, cracking jokes within songs and pushing a lot of sexual innuendo. When it was time for “Ice Cream Man,” Dave gave his bandmates a short break, and came out on stage with an acoustic guitar. He told the crowd about his Indiana roots and then started the song. It wasn’t long before Eddie made his guitar wail once again, and we were back to electric hysteria.

vanhalenwide2_wm.JPGAs an encore, “Jump” makes sense. After all, it is the band’s most famous song with Roth, and every single person inside Conseco Fieldhouse knew the words – and sang along! Even the eight year old girls in the row in front of me knew the words and jumped around…just like their parents. During “Jump,” there was a Van Halen blimp that chased Roth on stage (these same blimps circled the crowd before the show) and lots of confetti. There was a giant disco ball, and inflatable microphone emblazoned with the classic Van Halen logo. Much to my chagrin, Diamond Dave didn’t ride the microphone. Eric decided it was bigger than the one he used in all those old music videos. By the time the last chord bounced off the walls, the entire crowd was pumped. People were screaming as they exited the building…and most people agreed that the reunion was worth the cash – and the wait.


From Girl to Man Raze

manraze.jpgDo you know Man Raze?

The band features Phil Collen (Def Leppard, Girl) Simon Laffy (Girl) and Paul Cook (Sex Pistols). Some define the band as "alternative" but I'm going to say they are "post-glam." Many of the early Man Raze songs were originally written for Def Leppard, and I know you'll agree the Leps are anything but alternative!

Man Raze created their own label, Surrealist Records, and released the Skin Crawl  EP in 2005. It's available on as an import, but for domestic pricing.

Skin Crawl features these tracks:

Skin Crawl
You're So Wrong
Runnin' Me Up
Skin Crawl (remix)

Man Raze is different for Phil Collen because he sings lead in addition to his guitar duties. Laffy plays bass for Man Raze, as he did with Girl and Cook plays drums.

According to, the release of the band's full length debut has been pushed back, thanks to external commitments. My guess would be that Phil Collen underestimated how hard it would be to record with his side project while touring with Def Leppard and contributing lead guitars to the upcoming Songs from the Sparkle Lounge, due sometime next year. As with anything connected to DL there's usually a delay, but I'm confident Man Raze will release their much anticipated disc as soon as possible.

Here's the promotional video for "Turn It Up"


Girl: My Number -- The Single

On this exact date back in 1979, UK based Sounds magazine posted an article about Girl. Here's some of that article, via

cleargirl.jpg"Girl, a five piece heavy rock band, have signed to Jet Records and will release their first single called 'My Number' on October 19. Bur for reasons best known to the compilers, the single - which will be released as a one-sided record in clear vinyl selling at 55p - has already entered the Sounds heavy metal charts."

Yes, the mythical clear vinyl.

After reading this little excerpt, I knew I had to have the "My Number" single. That fact that this is just about my favorite Girl song (next to "McKitty's Back") didn't hurt the issue.

I assumed it was going to be hard tracking down the rare record. I was wrong. A quick eBay search landed me in some sort of rare record heaven and within minutes, I found myself bidding in an auction for the clear vinyl release.

Five bucks later, the record is mine. The actual picture (above) seems to indicate that the record is in good condition. I have big plans to play it all of one time, then frame it for my new basement. I think it will look very glam amongst other music memorabilia.

While we're talking about new acquisitions, I can proudly announce that I finally tracked down a copy of the Sheer Greed LP at a reasonable price. Finding the record was never really the issue, it was the money. I won that record for a mere $6, plus shipping. I'm still on the hunt for Wasted Youth -- I just refuse to drop $50 on the endeavor.

Now, I wait. I'm really looking forward to the arrival of my new records. I think I'll be the envy of all my friends.



Girl: Live at the Marquee

marqueegirl.jpgIt’s finally Friday, and that also means my last Girl album review. Today, a look at Live at the Marquee, released in 2001 by Receiver Records (I don’t know the date of the recorded performance). Girl played the Marquee Club in the early 1980s, a mainstay of British pop music. Many other bands like Genesis, The Yardbirds and the Rolling Stones also have recordings taped during Marquee Club performances amongst their discographies.

The track listing for Live at the Marquee looks like this:

Ice In My Blood
Icey Blue
Mad For It
Overnight Angels
Old Dogs
Big Night
Sweet Kids
Wasted Youth
Nice N’ Nasty
My Number
Standard Romance
Thru the Twilight

Now, these are songs I’ve mentioned all week, but it’s always interesting to hear a live interpretation. Plus, it’s pretty cool to hear Phil Lewis scream “Come on, you closet headbangers!” at the beginning of “My Number.” Sadly, my favorite part of “My Number” often falls flat on this live issue: I really like the chorus echo, but the backing microphones are not loud enough to tackle the over-modulated bass.

The crowd isn’t so rowdy, and Lewis tries to pump up his fans before “Overnight Angels.” Lewis and rest of Girl seem to be having a good time for themselves, and that’s important for fans. The good news is that the bass isn’t so loud on “Overnight Angels” and it’s actually possible to hear the backing vocals. Plus, Lewis’ voice sounds eerily close to the actual recording, proving that he really does have a nice set of pipes.

“Thru the Twilight” is another highlight (internal rhyme notwithstanding). The band has a nice groove going by the end of the performance, even if the sound recording isn’t perfect. At one point, there is audible feedback. Still, the band clearly opted to not fix every error during the performance. I think it’s important to leave flaws on live recordings because they are a snapshot in time: every band, through out the world, sounds different on any given night. No one can be spot on 365 days a year and flaws give us character. Plus, it’s often those flaws that equate to a concert story or two. That being said, “Thru the Twilight” closes the disc. At the end of the song there’s no loud screams or clapping, save for one loyal fan. In this regard, the album seems detached because I’m fairly certain Girl had a loyal enough following in their native U.K. to garner some whoops and praise. Still, Live at the Marquee is a good record if you’re in the mood for a concert in your living room. Otherwise, I might just opt for the regular recordings.


Girl: Killing Time

killingtime.jpgMusic groups disband all the time, and Girl broke-up right when they could have become huge. The band cites a variety of reasons for the break-up including poor management, bad A&R, and a lot of drugs, specifically heroin. I find this a little ironic if Phil Lewis was dabbling in heroin and, years later, replaced Paul Black in L.A. Guns because he had a junk problem. Of course, I don’t know any member of Girl personally and wasn’t around, so I don’t know if Phil – or any other member – was really doping. As it stands, several factors contributed to the break-up of Girl right after the release of Wasted Youth. While Girl was no more, Jet Records still had plenty of new material and eventually released Killing Time around 1987. The track listing for Killing Time looks like this:

Nut Bush City Limits
Mad For It
White Prophet
This Town
Aeroplane Food
Make It Medical
Nothing But the Night
Big Night Out
Killing Time
Naughty Boy
King Rat
Love Is a Game
Black Max
Sound of Cars
You Really Got Me (Kinks cover)

Killing Time is an odd little mix of tracks. Perhaps this is because the songs were never recorded for a future release and were outtakes of the Sheer Greed and Wasted Youth sessions. Believe it or not, a highlight is the Kinks cover of “You Really Got Me.” It’s pretty true to the original, while maintaining a unique sound. “Mogal” is interesting in a post-hippie, New Wave of British Heavy Metal sort of way. The album’s title track is somewhat predictable for a Glam release, although I can see how this song would be suitable for a proper album. It has a harder edge and some good drum work. In some ways, it’s like listening to very raw L.A. Guns. Other times, it seems the song is a throwback to classic rock. It’s interesting to note that all week, I’ve been immersed in my Girl but haven’t really noticed a connection between the band and Def Leppard. While I can hear L.A. Guns in nearly every track, I really have to strain for some early Lep. I’m not sure what that says about Phil Collen and Phil Lewis respectively. Perhaps Collen is more of a collaborator in Def Lep, or able to break boundaries more freely? Maybe Lewis really did write a lot of early L.A. Guns songs, or he helped shape the guitar mastery of Tracii Guns? Whatever the case, it’s fascinating the listen to the musical progression of Girl, Def Leppard and L.A. Guns.

Back to Killing Time. In the way of rock, “Lucky” has a solid tempo and Lewis stylistically croons his way through the groove. Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether Phil is singing or speaking, but he gets a pass because he’s British and accents are hot. Not to be outdone, “Love is a Game” is even better. Here, the production sounds a little better than “Lucky” and the guitar work and backing harmonies are impressive. This song sounds like it was intended to be a radio-friendly single. Oh, what might have been had the planets aligned.

Editor's note: I wonder if Janet Jackson ripped off the Killing Time cover for her multi-platinum, self-titled release.


Girl: Wasted Youth

girlwastedyouth.jpgIt’s Wednesday, and time for another Girl review. Today, a look at the 1982 Jet Records release Wasted Youth.

Wasted Youth picks up where Sheer Greed left off but features a slicker, more heavily produced feel. The track listing looks like this:





Thru the Twilight
Old Dogs
Ice In The Blood
Wasted Youth
Standard Romance
Nice N’ Nasty
McKitty’s Back
Overnight Angels
Sweet Kids

Just like Sheer Greed, Wasted Youth has some killer songs. Here, Girl pulls from their 70s rock influences, but also come into their own a bit more. Tracks like “Nice N’ Nasty,” “McKitty’s Back” and “Old Dogs” are highlights. This album again features Phil Lewis on vocals, plus Phil Collen and Gerry Laffy on guitars and Simon Laffy on bass. New drummer Pete Barnacle rounds out the rhythm section.

“McKitty’s Back” features a unique tempo change, good dual guitar stylings and Phil’s signature rasp. Not to be outdone, “Old Dogs” has interesting lyrics and punched-up production. For much of the song, Lewis’ voice is front and center until the chorus comes into play. Then, the song is a hybrid of early Hollywood Rose and the Doobie Brothers. Seriously.

My favorite song on Wasted Youth is “19.” The track is Montrose-meets Led Zeppelin-meets modern sleaze. Perfect. I love that Phil Lewis just about screams all the lyrics and the timing is off ever so slightly. Sometimes the pure charm of an album is lost in post-production. Here, a (very) few mistakes remain, and it really adds to overall listening experience. Plus, I love the line “19, I feel like 92.” No truer words were spoken.

To me, the most obvious Aerosmith-like song on Wasted Youth is “Overnight Angels.” The track is a solid little rocker about, well, rock.  Sometimes it’s best not to try and reinvent the wheel. Wasted Youth is a very strong effort from a band that should have been huge.

Here's the video for "Sweet Kids."


Girl: Sheer Greed

girlsheergree.jpgGirl week continues here at Bring Back Glam! with a review of Sheer Greed. The 1980 debut was released by Jet Records and features Phil Lewis on vocals, Phil Collen and Gerry Laffy on guitars, Simon Laffy on bass and Dave Gaynor on drums. The track listing looks like this:





Hollywood Tease 
Things You Say 
Lovely Loraine 
Little Miss Anne 
Doctor Doctor 
Do You Love Me (KISS cover) 
Take Me Dancing 
What’s Up? 
Passing Clouds
My Number 
Heartbreak America

Girl was definitely part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, and their influences are typical 70s rock fare. In many songs, I can hear Toys in the Attic-era hear Aerosmith, especially on “Take Me Dancing.” This is also my favorite songs on Sheer Greed.

“Things You Say” is downright brilliant. By listening to this effort, it’s pretty clear that every member of Girl is a gifted technician. While Girl didn’t necessarily break any musical boundaries with Sheer Greed, they did cover a lot of ground and encompass a lot of rock influences. The dual guitar work is more than impressive and probably helped Collen years later while collaborating with Steve Clark in Def Leppard.

“My Number” is a precursor for what Phil Lewis would later do with L.A. Guns. The song has a catchy riff and thumping bass line. This is one of the hardest tracks on the album, and it fits nicely.

Girl playfully mock the greatest country in the world with “Heartbreak America.” Of course, the Brits are not singing about the America, rather one of my fellow countrywomen. After all, American girls can be trouble at times. “Doctor Doctor” is an upbeat rocker about lost love. Lewis strains his voice on this song, just like he would years later on “Rip and Tear” from L.A. Guns most successful released Cocked and Loaded.

A unique tempo, staccato beat, and guitar tone set the tone for “Strawberries.” It’s a fabulously odd little ditty with clear punk influences. It’s also rhetorically interesting to simply call the song “Strawberries” when Lewis croons over and over “Strawberries and Cream/That You Could Break My Heart…/You’re Breaking My Heart…”This brings back the age old question professional rhetoricians ponder for a living: was the word choice intentional, or subconscious? I can’t imagine the band unknowingly giving such a complex song a simple name, but stranger things have happened.

There are drawbacks to Sheer Greed: the production, at times, is spotty. Some tracks are crystal clear, others muffled. The drums could be kicked up a notch album-wide, and sometimes Lewis’ voice sounds weak. Still, Sheer Greed is one great album. Giving these Glam classics a spin makes me feel like an music archeologist: knowing the roots of L.A. Guns and Def Leppard is infinitely exciting.