Black Sabbath: Paranoid Classic Albums DVD

It’s been said that Black Sabbath’s landmark Paranoid album spawned the genre of heavy metal, and if you watch this awesome video from Eagle Rock Entertainment, you can see why.  The four members of Black Sabbath – Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward -created music their own way, and it was a powerful sound that appealed to stoners and those craving stuff equal to or heavier than Led Zeppelin.  The band also appealed to the masses who were protesting the Vietnam War in 1970, because making music that went against the grain was something these folks could relate to.  But this DVD is just outstanding in that every member of Black Sabbath is interviewed, as well as folks like sound engineer Tom Allom and long-time fan and recording artist Henry Rollins.  There is awesome archived footage of the band playing live, and detailed descriptions of how each song on Paranoid was written or how it began.  Fans of Black Sabbath, or anyone who is too young to remember them but curious, should all grab this DVD, because not only is it a history lesson, it’s a lesson on how music should be made – with the artist driving the proverbial bus.  (Eagle Vision 2010)

  

The Whigs:In the Dark


RIYL: Dinosaur Jr., Foo Fighters, The Replacements

In the Dark starts out by rolling over you with a wall of guitars that, far from dissonant and buffeting, instead envelops you like the wind before a promising storm, and like some great thunder, the Whigs continue to prove they are an experience not to be missed.

Coming off their well-received second album, Mission Control, and a series of acclaimed live shows (not the least of which was a standout performance at the 2008 SXSW), it is evident that the hard core touring and energetic playing has only invigorated their songwriting. In the Dark is the Whigs’ best album yet, and one that engages from beginning to end.

The album is power rock, through and through, but it never forgets that melody and rhythm shouldn’t be sacrificed for that power. It is the same for the lyrics, as throughout Parker Gispert is clearly singing from those hidden places where anger and regret fester, but he refuses to either rage or mope. There is as much a sense of resolute energy as anything, even when he sings “Kill Me Carolyn” or questions his lust for “Someone’s Daughter.”

Most of the album openly embraces their primary influence, the more hard-rocking post punk of the Replacements (most evident on “Automatic” and “So Lonely,” with no little bit of the Godfathers thrown in there on the title track and the opening “Hundred/Million.” The production is just tight enough and the arrangements original and lush enough to push it beyond any assumed imitation, and the first five tracks are solid Whigs.

Then, just when it feels like you have a handle on the album, they throw you a hard curve right in the middle. “Dying” comes on and everything shifts into a heavy rhythmic chant full of psychedelic influences. It tosses you into dark places only hinted at up until now. That is the flow of the album. An energetic, but evident descent into the viscera of the music, but then the steady, strong drive that leads us back out; an inverted emotional parabola that never slows, but never lets us off the ride, either. Check out “I Am for Real” as the perfect catharsis moment.

In the Dark ends with a mini-jam session of a song, “Naked,” at times minimalist and echoing, while at others a pulsing rocker. It is one of the more inventive and original works that lets the Whigs flaunt their talent, energy and idiosyncrasies.

Check out In the Dark. It is one of the better albums to come along so far this year, and it should win them new fans while pleasing their faithful. Listen loud! ATO Records 2010

The Whigs MySpace page

  

Anthony Bozza: Why AC/DC Matters

Aptly priced at $16.66, Bozza’s tribute to the “greatest living rock band” is packaged like any of a million little impulse-buy, gift books that clutter the front counters of chain stores and independents alike. Unlike those books, which tend to be scant collections of unfunny jokes, sappy homilies, or sound-bite life instructions, Bozza has written a fiery, fast paced, aggressively written love cry to one of the most indestructible and eminently powerful rock bands ever.

Like AC/DC itself, Bozza’s writing is both straightforward and accessible, while challenging in its condemnation of rock criticism in general and unquestionably catchy as any good story should be. His introduction is as short and hard-hitting as the intro to Back in Black, quickly setting down the purpose behind his book and giving us a personal feel for his relationship with the band and music that has been nearly lifelong. It also provides a quick, but important critique of modern music writing that is a must read for anyone (this reviewer included) who wants to be an authentic voice in musical journalism.

The chapters are divided into small bios of the band members, crossed with succinct but erudite studies of the various musicalities. While getting the story of the “youngest Youngs” Malcolm and Angus and their rise to iconic status, we also get a fine analysis of their guitar method and idiosyncrasies. What comes across is the surprising quality of brotherly support that is not only at the heart of AC/DC’s professional success, but also their self-taught musical skill; skill that can be lost in the visceral impact of the songs themselves. When telling the truth-is-stranger-than-fiction tale of Bon Scott and the transition to Brian Johnson, Bozza not only grants us an immerse sense of the musical history behind the band, but we get a physiology lesson in hard rock singing. Continuing through Mark Evans, Cliff Williams and the amazing Phil Rudd, he manages to deconstruct AC/DC’s music without killing the magic.

The book ends with a heartfelt ode to the fans who have stood by this band for 36 years, providing a sense of continuity that provides an excellent case study in AC/DC of the massive changes to the music industry; massive changes the band has navigated with an unrelenting forward momentum based on honest, blood & guts, rock & roll integrity.

Bozza loves AC/DC, and with this short, gut punch of a book, he proves you should to.

For those about to rock… read this book!

Click to buy Why AC/DC Matters from Amazon

  

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