Re-Machined More Than Just A Tribute Record

Courtesy:  Eagle Records/Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Records/Eagle Rock Entertainment

Famed British hard rock band Deep Purple is set to drop its new album next month.  The album, titled Now What?! will be released in the United State Tuesday, April 30th.  While fans wait for the release of this highly anticipated album, they have another recent release to tide them over in the form of the tribute album, Re-Machined: A Tribute to Deep Purple’s Machine Head.  It may be a tribute album, but it is still a great album for both new and long-time fans of Deep Purple.

The new honorary compilation hit stores in late 2012 as part of the 40th anniversary of the landmark album’s original release.  It features all seven tracks from Deep Purple’s original iconic album plus a pair of bonuses.  One of those bonuses comes in the form of Metallica’s cover of ‘When A Blind Man Cries.’  As Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich notes in the compilation’s liner notes, “I have a list of songs in my head that Metallica should play before we either break up or die, and Deep Purple’s ‘When A Blind man Cries’ is one of those songs.”  The song in question is a bonus in that it actually never made the record.  Again, the liner notes shed light on this.  The notes, written by Classic Rock Magazine’s Mark Blake note that the song in question was originally a B-side to the song, ‘Never Before’ but has become a fan favorite throughout the years.  So it only made sense to have it included on this tribute record.  And it’s just one of the pieces that make this album a must not just for any Deep Purple fan but for any hard rocker, period.

‘When A Blind Man Cries’ is just one part of what makes Re-Machined such an impressive album of covers.  Going back to Ulrich, he and Metallica constitute just one of the acts brought together to record this album who openly tout Deep Purple as an influence in their own career as musicians.  Blake writes of Iron Maiden’s front man Bruce Dickinson (whose band also covers a track on the disc) that he [Dickinson] was also a “serious Purple aficionado.”  He quotes Dickinson as saying, “I cut my teeth as a kid on Deep Purple.  It’s what I grew up with.  It’s what got me out of bed in the mornings.”  Now if that isn’t a tribute in itself to the importance of Deep Purple in the music world, it’s anyone’s guess what is.  Dickinson and company ended up recording ‘Space Truckin’’ for the record, which is an absolutely outstanding piece both originally and as a cover here.  The way that it drives (no pun intended), it will have fans pumping their fists and singing along loud and proud. 

If Iron Maiden’s ‘Space Truckin’’ isn’t enough to convince fans of this compilation’s importance, then maybe the album’s opener will.  Carlos Santana (yes, that Carlos Santana) joins Papa Roach front man Jacoby Shaddix for a cover of what is arguably the band’s most famous song of all time, ‘Smoke on the Water.’  What’s really interesting about this cover is that while it is a cover, it doesn’t feel or sound like one.  Far too often, bands and artists try to take classic songs and update them.  That’s not the case here.  Shaddix and Santana have taken the classic and made it their own while still paying homage to the original.  It makes perfect sense as to why the album would open with this cover in hearing Santana’s guitar chops and the solid vocals of Shaddix.  It also serves one more purpose that at a passing glance is missed.  But in really thinking about the generational mix presented here, one sees the purer purpose of using it as the compilation’s opener.

On the surface, having a bunch of bands and artists resurrect one of rock’s most important and iconic albums is a great thing.  Having the album resurrected by a collection of rock’s greatest names past and present is even greater.  What this does is it makes it more than just a tribute album.  It makes the album a music history lesson in and of itself.  As evidenced in the opening number, young audiences will be pulled in by the inclusion of Papa Roach’s Jacoby Shaddix.  Older audiences will be pulled in from both the fact that it’s Deep Purple and that fellow veteran musician Carlos Santana is on the track.  Also because of the inclusion of Santana, those same younger audiences will potentially be introduced to the music of not just one great classic act, but two in both Deep Purple and Carlos Santana, thus preserving both acts’ legacies for a whole new generation.  The same could be said of the inclusion of Chickenfoot’s live cover of ‘Highway Star’ and Black Label Society’s cover of ‘Pictures of Home.’ 

It should be clear by everything noted here that Re-Machined is more than just a tribute to a band.  It’s a tribute, yes.  But it’s also a tribute to everything that was and still is right with rock and roll.  It’s a musical love letter to real rock and an excellent way to get a whole new generation of hard rockers and metal heads into what is without a doubt, one of mainstream rock’s greatest bands.  The album is available now in stores and online.  Audiences can get more information on this album, the band’s upcoming new full length studio release and its tour dates online at http://www.deeppurple2013 and http://www.facebook.com/officialdeeppurple

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Steel Panther’s New Live BD A “Solid” Release For Fans

Courtesy:  DC3/Universal Republic/3 dimensions/AGPS Management

Courtesy: DC3/Universal Republic/3 dimensions/AGPS Management

Benjamin Franklin, one of America’s founding fathers, once said that death and taxes were life’s two constants.  If he were alive today, Franklin would change his tune and say that there are in fact three more constants in the twenty-first century.  Those constants are sex, drugs, and rock & roll.  Many bands have tried to live those constants.  Many have succeeded.  But few have truly lived those constants like the glam rockers of Steel Panther.  This California based band actually started in 2009.  Since that time, its members—Lexxi Foxx, Michael Starr, Satchel, and Stix Zadinia—have become the poster boys for everything that was at one point all that rockers lived for.  The band has already released two albums under its current moniker.  And now thanks to Universal Republic Records, audiences get a new chance to experience all the testosterone fueled, alcohol infused bombacity that is Steel Panther live in its new live release, British Invasion.

British Invasion was recorded live at the famed Brixton Academy during its most recent live tour in support of its most recent album, Balls Out.  Brixton Academy has hosted some of rocks biggest names including both Machine Head and Sepultura.  Now Steel Panther can add its name to the list of huge names that have performed there.  Fans of the aforementioned bands got quite the show with each one.  And Steel Panther’s fans get a show that they’ll enjoy in this new release, too.  Not only do fans get a full set from its performance at Brixton, but there’s also the bonus of five extra songs recorded live at the band’s performance at the Download 2012 Festival.  The audio and video mix on both of the main and bonus performance are quite clear.  And whether one has seen SP live before or not, audiences get a show that has all the over the top antics and music that audiences have come to expect from this band.  To sweeten the deal, the band and its label, Universal Republic Records, have included a booklet complete with lyrics to every song performed in the main set.

The booklet included with the Blu-ray is just part of what viewers will appreciate from this performance.  Audiences get out of this performance, a band that actually interacts with the audience in attendance.  And it’s not just your standard back and forth banter, either.  The entire band gets in on the act.  It’s little things like that that make a performance memorable.  Though of course, the band’s interaction with its audience is just half of what will make the band’s fans enjoy this recording.  There’s also enough T & A to make any college frat boy happy for quite some time.  The band even brings in some “adult entertainers” to help with its show in more than one song.  Add in the impressive audio and visual editing and mixing and fans get in this recorded performance a show that fans of Steel Panther will be watching time and again.  The band’s new DVD and Blu-ray are both available online and in stores now.  Regardless of whether or not fans manage to pick it up, they’ll still have the chance to see the band live as it’s currently touring in support of the new live release now.  Fans can get all the latest tour dates and news from the band now online at http://www.steelpantherrocks.com, http://www.facebook.com/steelpantherkicksass, http://twitter.com/#!/Steel_Panther, and http://www.myspace.com/steelpantherkicksass.

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Giant X’s Debut LP Is Giant Fun

Courtesy:  Steamhammer/SPV

Courtesy: Steamhammer/SPV

Giant X, the brainchild of Running Wild band members Rolf Kasparek and Peter J. Jordan brings back all the flare and bombacity of rock’s golden era.  Right from the first moments of the album’s opener, ‘On A Blind Flight’, audiences are instantly transported back to the days of big rock and in many cases, big hair.  ‘Blind Flight’ is a solid mix of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden with its solid driving guitars and soaring vocals.  The duo hardly let up from there as it launches into what is sure to be a fan favorite in ‘Don’t Quit Till Tomorrow.’  At this point, there are no plans for Giant X to tour.  But should the band ever manage to h it the road, there’s no doubt that this song would become an instant arena anthem for the band.  The song opens with the simplest of chants that conjures the image of a massive crowd singing along, fists pumping in the air.  Lyrically, this is an equally empowering song.  Kasparek sings near the song’s end, “When the times are getting crazy…don’t quit till tomorrow.  Raise your hands for rock and roll.”  Simply put, what is being said here is don’t let the tough times get you down.  Don’t give up.  Keep pushing through.  The positive message mixed with a solid rocking musical baking makes this one of the album’s best songs, hands down.  Things don’t let off here though.

As the last tones of ‘Don’t Quit Till Tomorrow’ fade away, listeners are able to catch their breath just enough to get ready for even more solid rock in the form of ‘Badland Blues.’  This blues based southern rock style piece is a rock song, plain and simple.  It’s just a great near five minute musical experience.  The only time that the record slows down any is on the semi-ballad, ‘Nameless Heroes.’  This one seems to be a tribute to the men and women in uniform the world over, as Kasparek and Jordan sing, “This goes out to all the nameless heroes/This goes out to all the ones that paid.”  The band leaves little doubt as to whom they are singing for here.  And it’s a fitting tribute to those individuals, too.  It’s one more that’s bound to be a fan favorite regardless of whether or not Giant X tours in support of this record.

‘Don’t Quit Till Tomorrow’ and ‘Nameless Heroes’ are both bound to be fan favorites from Giant X’s debut.  There is at least one more (if not more) that will be another fan favorite.  That song is the album’s very next track, ‘Go 4 It.’ It makes for a perfect transition from ‘Nameless Heroes.’  The song instantly kick starts its listeners after the more emotional ‘Nameless Heroes.’  The first thing that listeners hear from this song is a rather fast guitar intro that leads into Kasparek singing, “You feel the gasoline in your blood…You reek of gas/And you’re kickin’ ass/You are hell on wheels.”  There’s a certain something about this song that oozes the likes of Poison as an influence.  It’s just one more of so many tracks that any fan of big hair and big guitars will appreciate on this upcoming new album.  And for those wondering, Giant X’s debut album, I is due to be available in stores and online in the U.S. on January 22nd.  To find out if the band will be touring in support of its debut, I, fans need just go online to http://www.running-wild.net, and http://www.facebook.com/pages/Giant-X/176387661550

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Glee Hits Lots Of High Notes Again In Season Three

Courtesy: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment/20th Century Fox Television

Fox’s Glee has been one of television’s big hits since its very first season.  This little show that could has earned the adoration of fans of all ages with every episode.  Now with the show’s third season the show is just as much a hit with fans as ever.  It keeps the standard of crossing musical genres and brings in even more guest stars.  And of course, Jane Lynch is just as entertaining as ever.

Glee has been a fan favorite largely because of its array of musical choices.  From the likes of Journey to Madonna and Britney Spears all the way to Van Halen, Duran Duran and others this season, the show has kept audiences rocking with its selection.  But the song selections are just one part of what makes Glee’s third season worth the watch.  Sure it covers the drama that its younger viewers will continue to appreciate and relate to.  But it also covers some much more important topics such as bullying and the dangers of texting and driving.  Being that this year’s election recently ended, audiences will appreciate the school’s class election episode.  Not only does it somewhat spoof bigger elections, but it also ties in the major problem of bullying among teens.  And it does it in a way that will reach older audiences, too.  And when a couple of the cast are about to get married, audiences are left with a cliffhanger when one of their friends is hit by a truck as a result of her texting and driving.  The episode that follows drives home the message to the show’s intended audience about the dangers.  The show’s writers are to be highly commended for taking the responsibility to help in the movement to drive home this point.

Season Three’s episodes make for an enjoyable watch.  They however are only part of the overall success of this new set.  Just as with the show’s previous seasons, the packaging goes a long way towards its overall success.  The set is placed into a slim case without placing the discs on top of each other.  Rather, each disc has its own spot inside the case.  They are placed back to back on an insert and on the front and back of the box.  Not only does this save space inside the box, but it also helps to save space on DVD and Blu-ray racks.  Add in episode menus on each disc with a short summary to introduce each episode, and audiences get a fully enjoyable viewing experience.  With the holiday shopping season here, it comes together for a good gift idea for any fan of this hit musical show.  It’s available in stores and online now and can be ordered online direct via 20th Century Fox’s store, http://www.foxconnect.com/glee-the-complete-third-season-blu-ray.html.

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The Burning Of Rome’s New LP Is One Of 2012’s Sleeper Hits

Courtesy: Surf Dog Records

The Burning of Rome is a breath of fresh air in the music industry today.  This San Diego, California based band mixes elements of college rock with psychadelia, dance, and something almost impossible to pinpoint for a sound that’s seemingly different from any other band out there today.  On its new album, “With Us”, the band has separated itself from the masses even more with its eclectic mix of sounds.  It starts off sounding like any other college rock band.  But it only gets better from there.  Things really start to pick up on the album’s third song, ‘Cowboys and Cut Cigars.’  This is a solid, straight ahead rock song with great driving guitars and drums.  The song’s chorus sections mixed with the guitars and drums really drive the song.  Together, they’re bound to make this an instant hit for the band.

‘Norman Bates’ is an equally intriguing track.  Some may argue, but the way the song opens, there’s almost a touch of The Mamas and the Papas’ ‘California Dreamin’ in it.  From there though, things pick right back up with another song that’s bound to be a major hit in ‘Wake Up Edamame.’  The chorus sounds like Van Halen’s ‘Janie’s Crying’ while the guitar work has more of a grunge tinge.  The combination of the two makes for quite the interesting listen.  The band keeps the energy moving after ‘Wake Up Edamame’ in the form of the quirky ‘Island.’  The vibe of this song is a prime example of that sound that’s seemingly different from anything out there today.  It’s something that simply can’t be compared to any other band.  Any comparison that could be made would be difficult to find as it is such a unique sound.

The band continues setting itself apart from anything else out there today both in terms of college rock and the mainstream across the remainder of the album.  Songs such as ‘Opus for Sleepwalking’, and the equally bizarrely titled, ‘Why Can’t I Stop Killing My Friends’ make this record stand out amongst the crowds even more.  And then there’s what seems to be a tribute to the classic 1960 Roger Corman cult classic, Little Shop of Horrors in the song, ‘Audrey II.’  It takes audio from the classic movie and sets it against its own semi-eerie carnival-esque musical background for a song that simply cannot be compared to any other act out there today.  And ‘Opus For A Sleepwalker’ maintains that eerie vibe too, mixing electronics and guitars together for something that would conjure thoughts of a very dimly lit carnival funhouse.

It goes without saying that considering all of this, one has to wonder about this band.  But the thing is that as different as the band’s sound is on this record, it’s actually surprisingly catchy.  It won’t be an instant hit.  But it will grow on audiences with each listen.  It may not make most critics’ lists of the year’s best records.  But it definitely can be noted that this record is one of the year’s sleeper hits.  Anyone looking to break away from the musical norm and is open minded enough may actually find themselves enjoying it.  “With Us” is available now.  It can be downloaded via iTunes at http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/the-burning-of-rome/id215256207.  The band will be performing tomorrow night at the famed Viper Room in Los Angeles in support of the newly released album.  To keep up with any new tour dates and all the latest news from the band, go online to http://www.theburningofrome.com, http://www.facebook.com/theburningofrome, http://twitter.com/theburningofrome, http://www.youtube.com/burningofromemusic.

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Long Live The Foot!

Courtesy: Entertainment One

Nearly a year has passed since rock supergroup Chickenfoot–Sammy Hagar (vocals), Michael Anthony (bass), Joe Satriani (guitar), Chad Smith (drums)–released its second full length studio album.  In the time since the release of “Chickenfoot III”, this band has continued to make as many waves as its album.  “Chickenfoot III” picks right up where the band’s debut album left off.  It wastes no time, kicking right into gear with the album’s opener, ‘Last Temptation.’  [Sammy] Hagar and company show that they’re in prime form on this new release.

There’s no letting up from the band after ‘Last Temptation’ as the band launches right into the equally up-tempo, ‘Alright Alright.’  The band is a fully cohesive unit, not missing a single beat with this album.  Who would have ever thought that the band singing one simple word over and over again would be so much fun.  Go figure.  Somehow though, the band manages to ame doing just that something so fun.  So fun in fact, that it makes this song, one of the album’s best tracks.

As much fun as the band’s new album is, it does have a more serious moment on ‘Three and a Half Letters.’  This track comes across almost as a sort of spoken word piece, with Hagar reading letters about people who have lost their jobs and singing.  While it’s not outright, being that the song is included in this album, and that the album was released when it was, this is a direct reflection of the current job market and economic state of the country.  It is easily the single most powerful piece on the entire album. 

‘Three and a Half Letters’ is a truly powerful song.  It’s one song taht will leave a lasting impression for any listener.  While it makes for a great addition to the overall sequencing, audiences are brought back from the seriousness of the world right after that in another of the album’s best songs in ‘Big Foot.’  It brings listeners back to the fun that opened the album in ‘Last Temptation.’  There’s never an easy way to transition from the serious issue of unemployment to something happier.  That’s even the case here.  But Chickenfoot is deserving of some credit for making the attempt.  That’s because along with ‘Dubai Blues’, ‘Big Foot’ helps to ease lisenters back to a more positive mindset.

“Chickenfoot III” offers fans so much great material.  But the music isn’t the only star of this album.  The inclusion of old school 3-D glasses to check out the pictures and “hidden” information on the included cards makes for a fun little experience in itself.  All said, Chickenfoot III is an excellent album from one of modern rock’s greatest supergroups.  One can only hope that with each members’ main projects, fans will still see another Chickenfoot album sooner rather than later, as great as this album and its predecessor are.

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