Welcome to Rock of Agers

Welcome to Rock of Agers

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Story Behind Jethro Tull's 'Aqualung'

Jethro Tull had already hit the top spot on the U.K. charts with their 1969 release, Stand Up, but success in America was a harder nut to crack.

Their third album, 1970's Benefit, came close to the U.S. Top 10, but stopped one mark short, landing at No. 11.

It wasn't until the band issued their landmark album Aqualung in 1971 that the doors to mainstream acceptance flung open in a big way, with the record going all the way to No. 7.

To keep reading this article, click here. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

How Gloria Became the 1st Lady of Garage Rock

"Gloria" is a classic rock tune built on just three chords that any garage band can play and that almost every garage band has.

Yet the list of artists who have covered this tune, originally written by Van Morrison (Them) and made wildly popular in America by the Shadows of the Night, has been covered by such revered artists as:
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • The Doors
  • Patty Smith
  • Tom Petty
  • David Bowie
  • Bruce Springsteen
So how did such a minimal song have such a huge impact? And why does it still reverberate today in arenas, festivals, and bars?

To keep reading this article, click here.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Story Behind the Album Chicago II

Right at the start, Robert Lamm make one thing clear about Chicago II: "Nobody in the band - Chicago, that is - refers to their second record as Chicago II. 

"We actually just say 'the second album or the third album, and so on," Lamm says. When we started out out, we were called Chicago Transit Authority, which was the title of the first album - we call that one CTA. After the second album, we got into the numerals."

Released on January 26, Chicago II built on the success of the band's audacious debut a year earlier and put the genre-spanning group into the Top 5.

To keep reading this article, click here

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

What Happened to Mitch Ryder?

For two years in the middle of the 60's, Mitch Ryder couldn't have been any hotter: the frenetic, soul-inspired frat-rock that he and the Detroit Wheels manufactured was one of the most exciting sounds on radio, a blast of purely American noise that drew on James Brown, Little Richard, and Motown.

There was, it seemed, no stopping Ryder and his band from becoming one of the decade's biggest acts.

You will not find many things that Bruce Springsteen and Ted Nugent agree on, but you will find each of them testifying on behalf of this raucous band from Michigan.

To keep reading, click here.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

10 Cool (But Weird) Backward Messages on Records

Lots of songs have cryptic meanings (I'm looking at you, Bob Dylan), but sometimes, the hidden message is, literally, backwards. 

In a recording technique known as "backmasking", a vocal snippet is dubbed backwards onto an otherwise forward-sounding track, concealing the meaning of the original vocal. The secret message is revealed only when an enterprising listener plays the track backwards. 

In the golden age of vinyl, ferreting out the secret backwards message was usually a three-person operation. One person carefully spun the LP backwards with his index finger. A second person lit something to smoke. And a third person stood by in case he had to rush out to buy a new record needle or other supplies.

To keep reading this article, click here.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

A Year-Plus Review of Atlanta Music Concerts

The historic Fox Theatre in Midtown Atlanta
The Tabernacle: A great concert venue in Atlanta

The Last Waltz concert in 1976 was the legendary last performance of the Band. The re-creation of that concert I saw 2 nights ago marked the last live show I will see in Atlanta before my wife and move back to Washington, DC in 2 weeks.

In the 14 months we lived in Atlanta to spend time with our grandchildren, I got to see 15 shows. Here is the list:
  1. Widespread Panic @The Fox Theatre
  2. A Night with Janis Joplin @The Fox
  3. Chris Stapleton @Braves Field
  4. Tom Petty w/Mudcrutch @The Tabernacle
  5. Windborne Music Presents the Music of David Bowie w/The Atlanta Symphony @Symphony Hall
  6. Dolly Parton @Infinity Energy Center
  7. Cyndi Lauper @Symphony Hall
  8. Alice Cooper @Symphony Hall
  9. Phish @Chastain Park
  10. Blackberry Smoke (Laid Back Festival) @Lakewood Amphitheater
  11. ZZ Top (Laid Back Festival) @Lakewood Amphitheater
  12. The Greg Allman Band (Laid Back Festival) @Lakewood Amphitheater 
  13. Eric Burdon and the Animals @City Winery
  14. Don Henley @The Fox
  15. The 40th Aniversary of the Last Waltz Concert @Symphony Hall
My wife Judy attended some of the shows with me. I went to the rest by myself. All the shows were good to fabulous, but obviously both Judy and me had our favorites.

Here are the 3 shows Judy enjoyed most:
  1. A Night with Janis
  2. Don Henley
  3. Cyndi Lauper
Here are my top 3:
  1. The 40th Anniversary of the Last Waltz Concert
  2. Eric Burdon and the Animals
  3. Alice Cooper
So that's it for now for live music in Atlanta. But the shows will resume in DC. Here are the concerts I'm planning to attend during of first months there:
  • Voodoo Dead
  • Tedeschi Trucks Band
  • The Flower Power Cruise (15 bands from the late 60s and early 70s at sea)
  • Dan Baird and Homemade Sin
  • Ann Wilson of Heart
  • Dana Fuchs
  • Willie Nile
If any of you are in the DC area when these shows are scheduled, come on and join me.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Last Waltz Concert Redo Rocks @Atlanta Symphony Hall

Can a redo outdo an original?

Especially if the redo involves The Last Waltz, the legendary final concert of The Band in 1976.

Well, music fans in Atlanta got a chance to decide that last night when an all-star band featuring Warren Haynes on guitar and Michael McDonald on piano performed 24 songs that were originally played at the historic concert at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco.

Now I have been attending live rock concerts since 1965 (Herman's Hermits at Steel Pier in Atlantic City, New Jersey) and I have seen some great shows. I would place this concert, the last I will see in Atlanta before moving back to Washington DC next month,  in the top 10 of shows I have witnessed.

So what made this event so special?

Well, of course there was the historic nature of the original production, which was captured in a film that many critics believe is the best rock documentary ever made.

But most of all it was the musicianship and vocal work. Haynes and McDonald were joined by Hammond organ virtuoso Jon Medeski, country guitarist and vocalist Jamey Johnson, bass player and producer Don Was, and New Orleans drummer Terrence Higgins. The 6-man nucleus was augmented on many numbers by a 4-piece New Orleans-style horn section. The group was joined on some numbers by Dave Malone, the guitarist for The Radiators. Bob Margolin, a member of blues great Muddy Waters' band, also sat in for few songs.

Obviously, the sold-out crowd of Band fans spent most of the night on their feet. In Atlanta, judging from the reaction, 2 of the most well-received songs were Alabama native Johnson's stirring rendition of "Georgia on My Mind" and the Band's southern story classic "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," with Haynes, McDonald, and Johnson sharing the singing.

But almost all the songs were gems.

For me, the highlights were:
  • a mesmerizing extended version of Bo Diddley's classic "Who Do You Love?"
  • a back-to-back wallop of "Down South in New Orleans" followed by "This Wheel's on Fire"
  • Jon Medeski incredible organ intro to "Chest Fever"
  • a 3-pack of Van Morrison's "Caravan," Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young's "Helpless," and Little Junior's Blue Flames version of "Mystery Train"
  • The trio of 2nd set closers before the 2-song encore: "Forever Young" and "I Shall Be Released", both written by Bob Dylan, and the Band's best known song - "The Weight"
  • Every time Haynes, who is currently my favorite guitarist to hear live, touched the strings on his guitar.
Originally, the Last Waltz 40 Concert was to be a one-and-done special performance at last year's Jazz Festival in New Orleans. But the concert was so well received - with some critics going so far to claim it was the best thing at the famous festival - that a short tour was scheduled. 

Last night's show was the 3rd in the 11-show tour. The special outing concludes on Feb. 4 with a final show at the just opened MGM Theater at the new casino at National Harbor just outside DC.

Encore - The Set List
  1. Set 1:
  2. (The Band cover)
    Play Video
  3. (The Band cover)
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  4. (The Band cover)
    Play Video
  5. Play Video
  6. (The Band cover)
    Play Video
  7. (The Band cover)
    Play Video
  8. (The Band cover) (with Dave Malone)
    Play Video
  9. (The Band cover) (with Dave Malone)
    Play Video
  10. (Bo Diddley cover)
    Play Video
  11. (The Band cover)
    Play Video
  12. (The Band cover)
    Play Video
  13. Set 2:
  14. (The Band cover)
    Play Video
  15. (The Band cover) (>)
    Play Video
  16. (Van Morrison cover)
    Play Video
  17. Play Video
  18. Play Video
  19. (The Band cover)
    Play Video
  20. (Muddy Waters cover) (with Bob Margolin) (without Michael McDonald,… more )
    Play Video
  21. (Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five cover) (with Bob Margolin) (without Michael McDonald,… more )
    Play Video
  22. (Bob Dylan cover)
    Play Video
  23. (The Band cover)
    Play Video
  24. (Bob Dylan cover)
    Play Video
  25. Encore:
  26. (Dr. John cover)
    Play Video
  27. (The Band cover)
    Play Video

Monday, January 23, 2017

Don Henley Live @The Fox in Atlanta

Now I was never a big fan of the Eagles when they emerged on the music scene in the 70s. At the time, their county-tinged harmonies were too light for me.

Finally in 2009 I saw the Eagles live for the first time and I was impressed.  Their sound was as clean as any band I had ever heard, even though the concert was staged in a sports area in Philadelphia.

Last night, my new, more positive attitude to the songs of the Eagles and at least one of their members was solidified as  I took my wife to see Don Henley in concert at the historic Fox Theatre in Atlanta.

Backed by 6 instrumentalists, 3 female singers, and, on some songs, a 5-piece horn sections, Henley, the former drummer and vocalist for the Eagles, presented a perfectly-paced show, 2-plus-hour show, mixing Eagles hits, solo offerings, and a few well-chosen covers.

Included in the 20-song set were my favorite Eagles' song "One of These Nights" and my favorite Henley solo hit "Dirty Laundry." Of course the Eagles songs "Witchy Woman," "Life in the Fast Lane," "Hotel California," "Wasted Time" and "Desperado" proved to be  crowd-pleasing, singalong classics.

But I thought the real inspiration that made the show special came from its surprises which included:
  • all 10 members of the band opening the night with a stirring A cappella cover of Steve Young's "Seven Bridge Road"
  • a soulful, funky version of the rarely played "Shangri-La" featuring the 5-piece horn section
  • The Tears for Fears 1990s hit "Everybody Wants to Rule the World"
If I had to single out the highlight of the show it would be the inclusion of the great "Rainy Night in Georgia" by Brook Benton cover, which Henley said the band had never performed before and learned at the soundcheck earlier in the afternoon.

So, as a long time classic rocker, I want to thank the Eagles, and especially Don Henley, for proving it's never too late to revisit the music you passed over when it was first released. You might just like it.

The Complete Show Set List

  1. (Steve Young cover)
    Play Video
  2. Play Video
  3. Play Video
  4. Play Video
  5. (Eagles song)
    Play Video
  6. Play Video
  7. (Eagles song)
    Play Video
  8. Play Video
  9. Play Video
  10. (Garth Brooks cover)
    Play Video
  11. (Brook Benton cover)
    Play Video
  12. Play Video
  13. (Eagles song)
    Play Video
  14. Play Video
  15. (Tears for Fears cover)
    Play Video
  16. Play Video
  17. Encore:
  18. (Eagles song)
    Play Video
  19. (Eagles song)
    Play Video
  20. Encore 2:
  21. (Eagles song)
    Play Video
  22. (Eagles song)

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Route 66 Justs Keeps Rolling Along

For six decades, Bobby Troup's (Get Your Kicks on) Route 66 has been a musical guidebook, transcending styles and fashion, recognizing no boundaries.

You could just as easily hear it in a dusty honky-tonk or a swank cabaret, slashed out by a three-chord guitar band or swung by a three-piece combo.

It has zipped along without aa break through all the years, from genre to genre, constantly in motion, speaking to the national impulse to get behind the wheel and start moving.

It's our quintessential American tune, a mythic travelogue.

To keep reading, click here.

Friday, January 20, 2017

President Trump vs. Classic Rockers: The Battle Continues

Donald Trump‘s ascension to the presidency has not exactly been met with classic-rock jubilation.

In fact, many bands have fought him tooth and nail on everything from policy to his use of their music during political events.

Not that the latter arguments did any good. Trump and his wife, Melania, walked down the steps of the Lincoln Memorial while a Rolling Stones song played during inaugural activities. Still, artists continued to push back.

To keep reading this article, click here.