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Doom Drowning in the Mainstream

grammy.jpgThe Grammy awards are just a few hours away. Like the lead singer of Lamb of God, I plan on boycotting the telecast. (Lamb of God is nominated for best metal performance alongside Ministry, Slayer, Stone Sour and Mastodon).

For years, the Grammy awards have had little to do with real music talent, but more with the garbage the corporate America feeds to kids with extra cash to spend on CDs. Mary J. Blige leads the pack with eight nominations. She's followed by other music luminaries like John Mayer and Justin Timberlake.

Randy Blythe is the only member of Lamb of God to sit out the show. The rest of the band is excited and wants to attend the broadcast in the off chance they win. I get that. I guess if there was a Grammy award for best music blogger and I was nominated, I'd go too. Still, I've got to give Blythe credit: he knows what he believes in and won't be bullied into supporting an awards show that means precious little to the music industry.

Remember, glam fans Milli Vanilli won a Grammy and Jethro Tull beat Metallica for best metal performance!

By the way, Lamb of God is nominated for the track "Redneck" off the album Sacrament. I hope they win and when the other members of Lamb of Gob accept their award, I expect them to explain why Blythe is noticeably absent.

********Update: Lamb of God didn't win. According to, Slayer took home the statuette. Of course, the metal and hard rock awards were presented before the national telecast. The Grammy voters had to save time for all the pop princesses to strut their stuff and shake their hips.




Silent All These Years

After 15 years of silence, White Lion guitarist Vito Bratta has agreed to spill his guts on the Friday Night Rocks radio show. DJ Eddie Trunk hosts the show, but nowadays more people probably know him for his work with VH1 Classic.

Bratta will be live in the studio, strumming his guitar and answering questions about what it was like to be in a famously huge glam band.

Bratta wrote the song "Wait," featured on the band's biggest album Pride.

 For whatever reason, he left it all behind and chose a reclusive life, refusing interviews and new gigs in the industry. Now a sudden interest to talk about the past -- perhaps this is because the movement to bring back glam is gaining momentum?

You can listen to the show next Friday night by clicking this link






Sick as a Dog

kleenex.jpgSince I'm feeling rather lousy today and killing time before a dreaded doctor visit, I got to wondering about all the glam songs that feature the word "sick" in the title. Off the top of my head, there's "Sick Love Song" by Motley Crue and "Sick as a Dog" be Aerosmith. For the rest, I need to dig a little deeper.

He's not glam, but Bob Dylan wrote a pretty famous song called "Love Sick" and rock band Default have a song called "Sick and Tired." I've never even heard it, but I bet I can relate to those lyrics. Field Mob has a song I like called "Sick of Being Lonely."

Glam lyric master Jani Lane has a solo single simply called "Sick" on his album Back Down to One and then there's "Sick Things" by glam shock rockers Alice Cooper. Fountains of Wayne have a song called "Sick Day," which I'm sure we can all relate to at least a little bit.

There are a ton more songs out there with the word "sick" in the title, but during my research I came across an even more interesting phenomenon: band names featuring the word "sick."

Oh, there's Sick Puppies, Sick of It All, Sick and Wrong, Sick, The Motion Sick, and Sick Symphonies.

I'm not sure what all this means other than one of the most basic principles binding human civilization is music and the common bond of feeling lousy and missing a day of work.




Better to Burn Out, Than Fade Away?

leppard.jpgIt's a hallmark of 80s music to have that perpetual fade at the end of a song. Unfortunately, this production fade doesn't mesh well with music videos. I got to thinking about songs that have an abrupt end or long fade, and decided to compare videos, using Def Leppard as my study model.

Two songs that have a long, almost painful fade are "Rock of Ages" and "Love Bites." These are two of the Leps biggest hits, with "Bites" being their only number 1 single. Still, the video for each has a stalled paused, with singer Joe Elliot's face taking up much of the screen. Especially in "Rock of Ages" the slow end is hard to handle, but simply listening to the track I can't image the song with an abrupt ending.

Conversely, the songs "Animal" and "Let's Get Rocked" have an abrupt ending. I like to think of this as the Leppard ending because the British band transformed music production in the 1980s, with over the top effects and expensive studio elements. The no-holds bar tracks of "Animal" and "Let's Get Rocked" encompass what it means to be a great rock band, let alone glam group. In fact, "Animal" is my favorite Leppard video, and I can't imagine such a frenetic song without an abrupt ending. A slow fade would compromise the production, and undermine the ethos of the track. You can find all these Def Leppard songs on Rock of Ages: The Definitive Collection.

So, does the slow fade to abrupt track ending represent an evolution of modern rock music? I am not sure, but I do know that it is more common for current rock artists  to choose an abrupt ending for a track versus the more pop-oriented slow fade.

In fact, rock songs produced more than a decade ago such as Motley Crue's "Primal Scream" began switching to the abrupt ending format. It gives a track a harder edge, a special "in-your-face" punch. Plus, it works better for music video production, a now necessary evil in artist marketing.






Free Bird!

ozzy.jpgIn an announcement meant to shock the rock world, Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne announced yesterday that tickets to Ozzfest 2007 will be free!

The picture to the left was snapped by a great WireImage photographer during the Ozzfest 2007 announcement yesterday.

Now, there are already naysayers, complaining and reminding all of us about the economic mantra "there's no such thing as a free lunch."

While this is probably true, I do believe at least some tickets will be given out for free. While several press releases say to visit for tickets, there isn't a clear way to claim the prize. There is also no information on seating style, although I assume carnival because the festival will be open-air.

This new free format leaves a lot of open questions, including which acts will be part of the Ozzfest line-up. Right now, Ozzfest is set for 25 dates, starting July 7 in Los Angeles. Other cities on the tour include San Diego, San Francisco, Phoenix, Dallas, St. Louis, Chicago, Columbus (Ohio), New York, Boston and more.

Since it's unclear who will play on this "free fest," a lot of music fans are guessing a majority of the bill will be comprised of younger, lesser known bands. Only time will tell, but I'm excited. There's no excuse to complain about a free concert, especially one that you know will feature a legendary headliner.

Yes the beer, hot dogs and swag will cost a fortune, but I've never been to a concert where the t-shirts were less than 30 bucks anyway. Plus, who says you need to spend your entire allowance at the show?







Fast Cars and Freedom

delegancecustom.jpgRock stars love expensive and fast cars, so it's no surprise that Metallica frontman James Hetfield just won an award for restoring an old vehicle.

Hetfield won the "Most Elegant" award at the 2007 San Francisco Rod, Custom and Motorcycle Show for his restored 1953 Buick Skylark.

Now, here's the thing. In a picture taken during the auto show, James receives a check for seven thousand dollars. I certainly hope he donated that seven thousand dollars to a worthy charity, and didn't just slip the cash in his already swollen pockets. I mean, let's be honest: he won the award because he's filthy rich and can afford to do whatever he wants to any car he wants. Plus, if he did the work on the car, he most certainly had help. Still, to the mighty Hetfield I say "congrats!"

In celebration of the win, Metallica's "Sad But True" is our song obsession of the week. "Sad But True" is featured on the band's fifth studio album Metallica, originally released in August of 1991. So far, Metallica has sold more than 14 million copies in the United States.





In Through the Out Door

bangyourhead.jpgDavid Konow's book Bang Your Head: The Rise and Fall of Heavy Metal was originally released in 2002, and published by Three Rivers Press.

When I first saw the book, I was optimistic despite the bad title. After all, where had metal fallen? It's true that you should never judge a book by its cover, so I decided to give the text a shot.

At first glance, it seems Bang Your Head: The Rise and Fall of Heavy Metal would be the authoritative text on metal music. Oh, how I was wrong.

Throughout 386 pages, Konow fails to weave a common theme or even stick with one tense, two hallmarks of basic writing. Furthermore, Konow was a writer for Guitar World magazine, so he should know a thing or two about journalistic principles. The book is full of inaccuracies and half-stories, leaving the reader without an appropriate context in which to understand a key moment in a respective career.

Konow also glosses over some major moments in metal history, dismissing larger bands and spending an inordinate amount of time on artists that arguably didn't do much to further the specific music genre. For example, he spends nearly an entire chapter on Alice  Cooper, but jumps around so much the reader is left with more questions than answers about the shock rocker's placement in music history. Did Cooper ever get sober? Why is he such a golf junkie? What bands did Alice Cooper influence? Konow does a poor job explaining these key questions, paramount to setting up the 1980s metal scene.

Ah, the 1980s.

The music of glam, of Hollywood rock, of sleaze, sex and drugs. I'll give Konow credit in that a large hunk of the book is dedicated to the L.A. scene, but he still fails to capture the urgency of the movement. If you want to explain how everything came together to form a perfect storm, then you need to explain how radio stations switched formats, how magazines dedicated to metal popped-up all over the country, and how merchandising went hand in hand with MTV. Konow tries to accomplish this, but sadly falls short. Maybe if he'd spent more time outlining his work before writing, his history of the genre would be more complete, and less frantic.

I can usually devour a 400 page book in two days. This text took me two weeks to finish, mainly because I grew weary of Konow's poor sentence structure, bad grammar and failure to tell a cohesive story. The end of the book is just as cheesy as the beginning as there is no look to the future of metal music, only a sad look at the past.