Wednesday, February 27, 2008

What's up compadres. Grab your self a frosty mug and prepare to chug from the keg that is this weeks ORotW spotlight. First, let me set the stage for this weeks trip down heavy metal-lane. I'm chillin' in my room the other day when my mom's boyfriend Randy sticks his head through the door. "Hey dude, you got a spoon and a lighter I can use"? "My skull lighter is on the floor over there" I tell him. "Be careful with it..I had to pump Ben on my bike to 7-11 six times to get it". "And don't lose the spoon this time....we only have like 3 left. What the hell are you eating in that bathroom every day anyway"? "What's this crap you're listening too" he adds. "Crap...CRAP....this is Patience dude...only the most soulful and deeply poetic song to ever come from the pen of the mighty Axl Rose" "Is that the gay one where he whistles in the beginning lke it's the Andy Griffith song or some ...what kind of heavy metal singer whistles"?? He grabs my lighter (which I never saw again) and leaves. As the tide of rage ebbs, I'm left standing on a beach of doubt. Could Randy be right? Is it possible for a rocker to transcend the genre of heavy metalurgy using atypical means?

As I ponder the question...I glance down, and I see the album cover for Steppenwolfs Gold question is answered. One look at this glorious five-some and you find yourself questioning the very convention of hard rock. Does rock live in the mind? In the heart? in the soul? Does a man have to don the electric guitar to pluck the strings of thrash metallry that vibrate within each one of us? From the picture above, any reasonable person would say they don't. Steppenwolf has been challenging the stereotype of traditional heavy metal since the late 60's (approximately 10 years before it was even born!!!) Anyone can challenge something that exists, but to stand up and give the finger to something that hasn't even happened yet...that my friends is something to be noted. If this picture could speak I believe it would yell at you the following:

"We don't need your fancy gizmos or high tech doodads to rock peoples bones till they break". "We'll have a few guitars maybe...but we'll plug one into a broken down plane...and the other one we won't even plug in at all"!! (and PS the dude will be totally stoked about that). "You think you're so special with your drums and symballs...we can rock just as hard with a dude that sits and claps"!! "And synthesizers...don't even get me started on synthesizers. We just stole Schroeders piano from the Charlie Brown prop closet and slapped some guy in a tiger print jacket and some bellbottoms" "And then there's the guy we kidnapped from the mariachi band. HE DOESN'T EVEN DO ANYTHING!!!" "RAAAAAAAAAWR"!!!!!!

So my friends, I've learned something this week. the pageantry and razzle dazzle of todays (or rather 2 decades ago's) metal concerts might be a fun thing to see now and then. But I ask you this really Rock? Is rock something more intangible than a flying devil with flames coming out of his eyes while he eats the souls of innocent people depicted by white things that kind of look like bed sheets wrapped aound a basketball are flying into his mouth and he wealds the reapers scythe in his hands kind of making a back and forth motion like it's kinda mowing down the crowd but is actually way too far away to hurt anyone probably for insurance puropses and then it flies directly over you and you see some of the cables which is kind of disappointing even though you knew the chance of it being the real devil was pretty remote to begin with? I personally find is somewhat refreshing when a band says "You know what... screw that action I'm relying on nothing but 2 non working guitars, a 12 key piano from a cartoon, a guy who claps, and some other dude to make some of the worlds most bad ass rock".

So my friends I ask you to please raise your skull shaped lighters (which I had to steal back from that jackass Randy) Steppenwolf!

Friday, February 1, 2008

A Wolf in Sheeps Clothing

March 14th 2005
9:31am: I walk past a marquee out front of the high school on my way back from 7-11 and almost miss the writing. "Saturday 7 PM one night only, live music featuring Bach....Admission FREE" ...I drop my slurpee.

9:54am I hear fuzzy voices in the background laughing and jeering "Stoner peed his pants" and "you dropped your stoner shake stoner" as I realize I have blacked out. My brain must've hit the reset button before I had time to die from over excitement....and yes I peed myself. But this didn't matter....Sebastian Bach was coming to MY town, and I was going to see him....for FREE

Time and space hold no sway over an existence in which a person is about to attend a free concert featuring the wailings of a musical grand master the likes of Sebastian Bach. I tell you the next few days took no less that 7 months to pass. The passage of time so slow and painful each passing second felt like a rusty nail being forced under my fingernail.

At long last, Saturday night was upon me. I don my Slave to the Grind Tee shirt, and affix a black bandana over my glorious locks.....Lets do this. I walk the 8 blocks to the high school. I'm a bit taken aback to see the crowd of fans that have gathered for the show. Old folks, kids wearing ties and slacks, a few teenagers. I can't help but notice I'm getting a few looks myself, but I'm sure it's just jealousy. But this is death metal...if you're here to salute the one eyed monster of musical mastery, I don't care if you're wearing a banana hammock and a whirly cap. We're all brothers. The doors open and a short dude with a suit announces "this way please ladies and gentleman"...swanky. I press my way through geriatric bodies and nerdily dressed youngsters to the front row. The house lights come life is about to change.

So, it turns out there is some european boner named Bach. Is that even legal? How does someone who was born hundreds of years ago steal the name of a rock icon of today? And what's worse, his music is the very antithesis of the face meltingly awesome rock I had come to listen to. Fast forward some 3 and a half hours of the most excruciatingly dull music of my life. The smiling withered faces of those around me mocking me like some sadistic clown balloon. I get dirty looks as people who recall the various times the conductor asked me to lower my lighter or trying to get the old fogies to mosh with me, this only worked twice. At one point, before I realized this lame group wasn't the opening band, I was so amped up I wanted to stage dive. Upon further consideration I couldn't find a landing zone that looked robust enough to catch me without breaking a hip.

So in conclusion my friends, Be aware that not all that glitters is rock.
Until next time......V

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The buzz on Stryper? Jesus gives it 2 thumbs up!

Welcome back to the Motherland of all things rock my friends. Let's light this candle!

Do you ever just sit and ponder the mysteries of the universe? Why are we here? What is our purpose? What would happen if I threw a bible, a honey bee, a Gibson Flying V Guitar, and 4 dudes from so-Cal into that machine form The Fly? Well, I can't tell you why we are here, or for what purpose. But as to the fly making machine.....I'll tell you what would happen muchachos, Stryper would happen! If you were to walk up to band leader and lead vocalist Michael Sweet and say "Michael I want to create a band that balances my 3 greatest loves in life...Jesus, Heavy Metal, and Honeybee's, but it just can't be done" he would use his christianity to reach down your throat and rip your still beating heart from it's tethers and make you eat it in repentance. Stryper has been blasting their own brand of bee themed christian death metal for almost 30 years! Appearing before audiences around the globe in their trademark yellow and black leather (which they insist is made of 100% bee leather by the way), Stryper screams our lords message to thousands of maladjusted teenagers every year. And as they mosh around punching and kicking eachother, you can see the message of peace and acceptance enter their scody little hearts. In his excerpt from a 1986 interview for Hustler Magazine, drummer and co founder of Stryper, Robert Sweet, talks about how very devoted the band is to their cause:

Hustler: "So Robert, what exactly is it that Stryper is hoping to accomplish here"
Robert: " Well, if just one kid goes back to the hotel room they rented to get drunk in and trash after the concert, and steals the Gideon Bible from the night stand...then it's all been worth it".
Hustler: "What has been worth it"?
Robert: "You know...everything"
Hustler: "You mean the money, women, drinking, drugs, fame....all that"?
Robert : "Ya man, all that's been totally worth it if we can save one person, you know"?

I get so mad when people try to convince me that Metal bands don't make good role models. I want to shove this article in their face, but the library computer won't let me do a search for "Hustler" so I can't find it.

Well anyhoo, I was never quite down with the idea of going to heaven to be honest. It sounded kinda weak. But if they pipe in some To Hell with the Devil from time to time, it might just be tolerable. So, lets all raise our homemade dandelion schnapps to Stryper!!

Till next time

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Ratt....Causing gender confusion since 1977

Put away the brillo pads and spoons ladies and gents, it's time for this weeks ORotW spotlight. 30 years, it sounds like a long time doesn't it? But consider this my friends, it took that guy over 100 years to paint the Mona Lisa. So comparatively speaking the contribution that Ratt has made to humanity absolutely dwarves that of some painter. With a discography that tops a whopping 6 albums, what kind of celestial adding machine would it take to tally the influx of sleaze rock awesomeness that has flowed into the universe since the band formed in 1977. With a repertoire that features the likes of songs such as Round and Round, and Wanted Man, the bus was pulling out of the station for this fivesome...and the destination was Glamrockstardomville USA. To quote Wikipedia's Ratt entry "Ratt's music was influenced by 1970s hard rock and rock bands such as Aerosmith, Sweet, Led Zeppelin, and Kiss, They fused this with heavy metal influences from the likes of Van Halen and Judas Priest." And even though I've never heard of any of these bands, I can't help but wishing they too would have made it in this big crazy merry go round called Rock N Roll for their inspiration to Ratt's development.

But just as stardom was beginning to caress our beloved hero's to her sweet perfumed bosom, tragedy was about to strike. In 1984 as the band was headlining through the deep south they were asked to be the celebrity judges of a competition in Makin Georgia. Bleary eyed and hung over from the previous nights thrash metallry, the band stumbled onto the stage and waved as the crowd boomed it's applause. After some perfunctory introduction the announcer got to the heart of the competition and across the speakers came the phrase " your midgets". Horror gripped band member Matt Thorr, as the world fell out of focus. Reeling from fear Matt tried to cry aloud, but found his voice to be impotent amid the terror. Matt groped his way around the stage like a drunken sailor that had just been punched in the face with some sort of fist that makes you stumble around a lot.

No one could have seen that Matt's fear was driven by memories of roaming packs of midgets that would strike like tiny handed piranha's from the shadows of rural Vermont where he grew up. Vicious bandits that could strip a man of his money and his dignity in seconds. One night in particular rang in Matt's memory like some bell that rings memories like a bell. He had made the mistake of waiting till after dark to walk home from a friends house. Suddenly there was a movement in the shadow....was it just the wind?? Quickening his pace Matt made a crucial error in judgement as he turned down a dark lane that would be a short cut to his house. He froze as the words cut through the cold night air "can I help you find somethin' tall boy"? The head midget had a wicked mullet and rode on a doubt stolen. Matt's judgement completely broke down as he tried to lighten the situation with a little humor..."sorry guys, did I accidentally wander down the yellow brick road"? Tiny tempers errupted as the scene deteriorated into pandemonium. Matt was dragged down and felt a thousand tiny kicks which by themselves were laughably weak, but together made for discomfort somewhere in between a pink belly and falling off your porch. As the midgets ran out of steam Matt stood back up and shuffled off toward home. "And don't you for.. forget it"! Called the head midget as he clutched his side.

Fast forward 14 years to a stumbling Matt Thorr on a stage in Makin Georgia. The panic worsening as midgets from the competition rush to come to his aid....the world goes black. As the world came back into focus, Matt was lying backstage on the floor with dozens of people around him. Suddenly a high pitched tiny voice came from the throng..."let me speak to him please". As the crowd parted Matt's horror was redoubled as he saw a small scooter approaching. "Easy there tall boy" came the voice..."I'm here to help" As the tiny figure climbed down off the scooter and pulled his flowing mullet back behind his ears he smiled and said "long time no see". he held out his cabbage patch sized hand and offered to help Matt stand up. Matt, not realizing that this gesture was actually only symbolic, grabbed the little hand and pulled hard causing his would be helper to do a face plant into Matt's crotch, but after a moment of tension everyone laughed as Matt hugged his new friend, his face covered in tears of joy. Years of fear washed away.

So where is he now? Matt Thorr is the countries foremost arbitrator of midget/regular people related grievances. In 1997 Matt was inducted into the midget hall of fame as an honorary midget with the words "There' nothing little about his heart" on his plaque.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

To Roadies...the Umpa Lumpa's of Death metal!!

According to my estimates, approximately 1 person in a billion will be born this year with the talent and drive to reach the zenith of hard rock stardom. Who knows what strands of fate and destiny must intertwine to cause such an event to take place? Truly you could travel the universe for eternity and not find it's equal. But this machine of heavy metal cogs and camshafts is oiled with one all important lubricant....the Roadie. For those unfamiliar with the term a "Roadie" is any individual who performs the behind the scenes work for any band. Upon entering the world of the roadie, the individual forfeits all their rights as a human being, and becomes an object owned by the band and must do anything they say. A roadie on his first gig might be asked to eat all the cigarette butts off a stage before the band goes on to ensure adequate traction while they rock the crowd to their very souls. Legendary roadie Miles "Meat Whistle" Hancock reported that a monster rocker, who he insisted remain nameless, made him try out eating the heads of many various small animals testing them all for safety and rating their "tastyness" until said rocker finally chose the bat as his signature victim.

But I don't wish to paint the roadie with just a single brush. They are a rich and diverse community of hard core rockers who would do anything to see their favorite bands play. They are the carnies of the music world. Their tireless efforts often going unnoticed and unappreciated by the millions of fans who pack themselves into these venues every year. Living off the food people leave behind, checking every single roach on the ground for just one more hit, wearing clothing that was tossed aside in a moment of hard rock frenzy....these road warriors scrape a living any way they can. You don't become a roadie for the money. Often times bands will be so constantly high that they will forget to pay their roadies for months. "I usually send about 8 bucks to each of my 74 children who live across the world for child support" says Metallica roadie Kevin "Forehead" McCallister. "But some months the band forgets to pay me, and I have to send them things I find on the ground ". This sounds shocking until he explains "but people toss out some totally sweet s***, like once I found a Taco Bell bag, and there were 3 Gorditas that no one had even, this is a sweet gig some times"!

So ladies and gentleman, I would ask you to please be upstanding as we raise our bottles of Crown Royal that we stole from our mom's boyfriend Steve's Roadies!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Silly Rabbit....Trixter is for Badasses!

I have long suspected that I have powers that reach well beyond this mundane existence into a realm of magic and awesomeness. As I blew out my birthday candle this year on the triple decker ice cream birthday explosion from PJ McFudgeingtons Ice Creamatorium, I called my powers to my aid. My mind focused on the one true wish of my heart....please let Trixter re-unite for one last tour this year. I opened my eyes not knowing that the powers of the cosmos would hear my wish and conspire to grant aforementioned wish. But today....this most splendid of days...I found out my wish was to come true. Trixter has indeed announced that they will re-unite for one last glorious tour to be known as the "Give it to you good" tour.
My sources have revealed inside information to me that the "Give it to me ok", and "Give it to me sufficiently" tour names were also considered. But, upon consulting a marketing agency the band learned that consumers like things that are "good", and hence the name was finalized.
People these days are so quick to judge. They say things like "well. maybe the band shouldn't have gone 8 years in between albums from 1984 to 1992" or "Maybe if lead vocalist Peter Loran could have teased that rock-fro out just 3 more inches, they would have been more popular". I would like to smite these people down with my "Sceptre of Holy Might" which has +3 to damage to all non-troll humanoids....unless of course I roll double 6's in which case I have to do a single dice roll and score higher than a 4 to avoid taking 1 D6+8 magic damage.....cause seriously, they piss me off! Did Picasso paint more than one painting....NO. Did Shakespeare write more than 1 play...NO. So why are people baggin on Trixter for only really making one album?? Did you ever stop to consider the amount of Hard Rock nuclear fission would have to be expended to create a song like Surrender or One in a Million? I wouldn't be one bit surprised to learn that some entity had traveled back in time from the future to warn Trixter that their music was too awesome and that humanity isn't ready for it's message thereby averting some sort of tragedy that the awesomeness of their music created. I personally thank the rock gods every day that Trixter only made one album, probably saving humanity.
So, lets raise our goblets of homemade raisin wine,clear our schedules, and prepare to have our faces rocked off by Glam Rocks most under appreciated band.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Ronnie James Dio...You Can't Fight Heredity

The birth of an individual like Ronnie James Dio takes place, the only possible explanation can be the convergence of musical cosmic energy with some type of super potent glam-rock radiation from the sun or something. An event so epic in it's scope, one has to question the validity of Nostradamus for not prognosticating it. The lead vocals, and namesake for the Thrash metal band Dio, Ronnie's roman candle of stardom was lit in 1972 and has burned ever since. Built upon the age old platform of Good vs Evil, Dio's numerous albums have featured such titles as Holy Diver, Lock up the Wolves, Killing the Dragon and We Rock. I like this last one particularly because it lays to rest any thinking that the band may not rock.

But like all things in this universe, the Ying to Dio's superstar Yang was about to reveal it's ugly head....literally. The karmic energy of their mega fame was about to be balanced. In 1981 as the band was touring through the Bible belt, they lodged at a Super 8 motel in Kansas city MO. A booking error forced Ronnie to have to room with fellow band mate Simon Wright. The morning routine started the next day like always, Ronnie hopped in the shower and began to towel off as Simon prepared for his shower. As Simon went to step into the shower he stopped short. "What the hell is that" he asked pointing toward the drain. Ronnie dropped the towel and fell face first into the tub in his scrambling to pull the long rock infused hairs from the drain. Simon looked down upon his weeping twisted body and asked "dude, are you losing your hair"? An emergency band meeting was called. Ronnie wore a knit hat, but the tear streamed face was too much to hide. "I need to tell you all something" he choked out. "I've been seeing a doctor for several months now, and....there's no easy way to say this so I'll just say it....I'm suffering from male pattern baldness" Rudy Sarzo's quick reflexes were the only thing that kept Scott Warren from doing a faceplant into the coffee table as he fainted. As order was restored in the room, and Scott regained consciousness the talk turned to what the band was to do. The first suggestion was that Ronnie should kill himself and allow the band to split the life insurance policy he held, but this was defeated when a call to the insurance company revealed a gap in the policy that doesn't allow for suicide due to hair loss. Talk turned to developing a wicked comb over or perhaps using a toupee, but the degree of physicality in Ronnie's personal style of on stage rocking wouldn't allow for this. Forehead painting, chia forehead, extreme face lifting, all of these ideas were considered and ruled out. "Listen you guys....I have to go, there's no way around it" Ronnie said with a brave determination etched in his face. And with that, he turned and walked out.

There was a somber feeling that night as the band prepared to play it's gig at the Horny Sailor bar and grill. Ronnie had come along to help the roadies move equipment. As the band began to play, the crowd was noticing a definite lack of singing. Some got up and walked out, some started to jeer and make comments like "I wish they had a singer". As the crowds rage continued to grow they started lashing out violently. Bottles were thrown, bras and panties that had been thrown to the band members were taken back by their owners, cigarette buts were flipped at the musicians. The band members looked over at Ronnie with "what do we do" looks in their eyes. And right at that moment he realized something....he could sit there sidelined by his hideous condition, or he could get back in the game and give male pattern baldness the finger! He stood up straight, and with stoic heroism he took off the knit hat.....and walked out on stage.

So where is he now.....
The ORotW wasn't able to track down any of the six remaining fans from the crowd that night for comment, but I think we can all visualize what it must have been like to have been part of that historic event. Ronnie James Dio continues to tour and make the music we have all come to love. But he also wears another, not the knit hat of shame, but an imaginary hat of not being ashamed to have a receding hairline. He always finds time when on tour to appear at local support groups for men with this most fiendish of afflictions. Stopping men on the street with combovers or really obvious toupees and giving such words of encouragement as "Rock the dome bro", or "Bald is beautiful man". Finally, our insiders from the biz tell us that Ronnie is planning to attend and host a hairline intervention with Donald Trump at the unveiling of the Trump towers in Las Vegas, we'll have more details as they emerge.