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Concerts! Part II

This past April, I mentioned a number of concerts I would be attending this summer. A few more have been announced/come to my attention so I thought I’d provide an update as to who I’m going to see this summer. Here’s my complete dance card!

July 1st
Scorpions w/ Cinderella
DTE Energy Music Theatre
Clarkston, MI

Less than a month away! This was the second concert I had lined up this year and Scorpios are one of my all-time faves so I’m pretty excited about it. Cinderella’s great too, I just wish they had some NEW material to play.

July 16th
Alice Cooper w/ Tesla
Common Ground Music Festival
Lansing, MI

Finally bought my tickets for this last night. It’s all general admission so there was no rush to get’em, even though they’ve been on sale for close to month now. In addition to Sammy Hagar playing on another night, Buckcherry and Bret Michaels were recently added as headliners for the nights they play and Cinderella is now playing a date too (not as headliners though). I would love to see all three of them but I’ve seen Buckcherry three times already, saw Poison last summer and I’ll be seeing Cinderella with Scorpions, so I gotta go with Alice! I’ve wanted to see him forever, he’s one of my favorite acts and the fact that I’ll see Tesla too is a really cool bonus.

July 17th
Iron Maiden w/ Dream Theater
DTE Energy Music Theatre
Clarkston, MI

First concert tickets I bought for 2010. I just saw the set list for the tour and I’m kinda disappointed because it mostly focuses on their music from ’90s through today. It’s understandable since their last tour was built around their ’80s catalog but for this being my first time seeing Maiden, I wanted all the signature songs!

July 22nd
Huey Lewis & The News
DTE Energy Music Theatre
Clarkston, MI

I actually like this band a lot, at least when it comes to their “hits”. I have one of their albums and two greatest hits. Lawn tickets were only $7 so I figured why not? Should be fun.

Aug 31st
Aerosmith w/ Sammy Hagar & The Waboritas
The Palace of Auburn Hills
Auburn Hills, MI

Haven’t bought the tickets yet (they go on sale next Wednesday but I won’t be able to buy them until the Wednesday AFTER next Wednesday) but I’m really excited for this show. Tickets are pricey but it’s AEROSMITH! With Sammy Hagar! I don’t want to pass up seeing Aerosmith at least once in my life.

Sept 5th
Ted Nugent
DTE Energy Music Theatre
Clarkston, MI

Another $7 lawn seat ticket. Ted’s a really cool guy but he’s another act I’m not all too familiar outside of his signature songs. Still, I think it should be a fun show. Haven’t bought these tickets yet but I will the same time I buy the Aerosmith tickets.

Sept 11th – Saturday
KISS w/ The Academy Is
DTE Energy Music Theatre
Clarkston, MI

Definitely HAD to buy these tickets, got’em yesterday. Since the great ‘Rock The Nation’ show cancellation back in 2004 (Paul got heat exhaustion and the Pensacola, FL show I had tickets to got canceled and was never made up), I made a promise to myself that I would always go see KISS should they ever be in my neighborhood. How could you expect any less of me when they’re my favorite band? Well, I saw ’em last September as they were one of the last acts to ever play the historic Cobo in Detroit and I’ll see them this September too! DTE’s site lists The Academy Is as the support (they kinda suck and are way too indie rock/pop to be supporting KISS, IMO) but KISS is also holding a contest for a different unsigned band to get the opening slot in each city. Could be interesting…

So that’s my summer concert series! Should anything else pop up, I’ll be sure to report on it here and I’ll definitely be doing my concert reviews for each and every one of these shows.

Concerts!

I can’t remember if I mentioned it already but I bought my few concert tickets for 2010 a month or two back. I’ll be heading off to DTE Energy Music Theatre in Clarkston, Michigan (for my fourth time) to see Iron Maiden and their special guests Dream Theater on July 17th! Should be a great show. I like Dream Theater but the real draw for me is Iron Maiden. They’re one of those bands that’s been on my unwritten “must see live” list forever.

Well, I have some more good news to add to that. Today I found about THREE great acts coming to area. Here in downtown Lansing, there’s the week-long Common Ground Music Festival that takes place every summer. This will be the festival’s 11th year and in the past they’ve featured acts like Sammy Hagar, Snoop Dogg, Sheryl Crow. Last year, Stone Temple Pilots were one of the headlining acts.

Despite living in Lansing for nearly four years now, I’ve never gone before just because I couldn’t bring myself to spend $30 on a ticket to see only one act. I like Sammy, I like STP but thirty bucks was too much in my book to just see them (and them only) AND have to deal with the summer heat and huge crowd that gathers down by the Grand River. The Red Rocker is returning once again this year (I think this is his 4th performance at Common Ground) and appears to be sharing headliner status with none other than…

ALICE COOPER!

Alice is another one of my all-time favorite acts and just recently I had been complaining about how he never seems to get close enough to Lansing or Detroit (though he almost always pops up in Michigan somewhere during the summer every year). I noticed the newspaper this morning talking about Common Ground and they mentioned Alice will be performing July 16th and it will be full of his usual theatrics.

And the icing on the cake? Well, Tesla will also be performing on the 16th! Hagar performs on the 14th and I’d like to see him but Alice alone is enough to win out over Hagar and when you throw Tesla into the mix, it’s a no-brainer that this is the year I need to shell out $30. Heck, even if Tesla wasn’t performing, just seeing Alice is worth the money, in my opinion.

Common Ground still have a number of slots to fill and promises more artists to be announced but I can’t imagine anyone topping Alice Cooper! Tickets aren’t on sale yet. I think they go on sale next Wednesday and I’ll definitely be picking two tickets up then.

So what a great weekend I’ll have! Friday, July 17th: Alice Cooper & Tesla. Saturday, July 18th: Iron Maiden & Dream Theater!

BUT WAIT… There’s more!

I received confirmation earlier this afternoon that the Scorpions will be storming the stage of DTE on July 1st! Tickets go on sale this coming Saturday morning (gee, thanks for the heads up!). Ratt, Cinderella or Dokken are opening most of their shows but as luck would have it, the DTE show is one of the few where there is no opener. Oh well. I would’ve love to have seen Ratt but I won’t complain about an extended show from the Scorps! Scratch another all-time fave off the “must see” list. July is going to be a great month for me!

Do YOU have any concert plans for the summer?

The Best Albums of the 2000s

Welcome to 2010!

I’m going to start the year off with yet another list except I won’t be limiting myself to “Top 10” or “Top 20” or whatever. I’ll be going chronologically, year by year (I didn’t put the albums in any specific order though) and if I thought it was a really good album, I’ll list it regardless of whether one year has four albums listed and another year only has two.

Looking back, the whole decade was pretty good for this rock/metal fan. The scene suffered greatly during the ’90s, but by 2000, the genre was turning the corner and I think most people had grown tired of depressed drug addicts and angry no-talent white rappers playing rock music. The legends were laying low during the ’90s and the next decade was made up of many comebacks, but that’s not to discount many newer acts who stepped up and played a vital role in rock ‘n’ roll.

2000
Marvelous 3 – ReadySexGo
Halford – Resurrection
Bon Jovi – Crush
Cold – 13 Ways to Bleed on Stage
The Union Underground – …An Education in Rebellion
Alice Cooper – Brutal Planet

2001
Puddle of Mudd – Come Clean
Megadeth – The World Needs a Hero
Alice Cooper – Dragontown
Lit – Atomic

2002
Dio – Killing the Dragon
Butch Walker – Left of Self-Centered
Bon Jovi – Bounce
Sentenced – The Cold White Light
L.A. Guns – Waking the Dead

2003
Anthrax – We’ve Come For You All
Alice Cooper – The Eyes of Alice Cooper
Dream Evil – Evilized

2004
Scorpions – Unbreakable
Megadeth – The System Has Failed
Tesla – Into the Now
Dream Evil – The Book of Heavy Metal
Brides of Destruction – Here Come the Brides

2005
Judas Priest – Angel of Retribution
Alice Cooper – Dirty Diamonds

2006
Edguy – Rocket Ride
Paul Stanley – Live to Win

2007
Avenged Sevenfold – Avenged Sevenfold
Sebastian Bach – Angel Down
Scorpions – Humanity: Hour I

2008
Guns N’ Roses – Chinese Democracy
Edguy – Tinnitus Sanctus
Whitesnake – Good to Be Bad

2009
KISS – Sonic Boom
Steel Panther – Feel the Steel

TESLA – Bust a Nut

Tesla – Bust a Nut (1994, Geffen Records)

1. “The Gate/Invited” … 5:36
2. “Solution” … 3:55
3. “Shine Away” … 6:42
4. “Try So Hard” … 5:43
5. “She Want She Want” … 5:13
6. “Need Your Lovin'” … 4:18
7. “Action Talks” … 3:48
8. “Mama’s Fool” … 6:11
9. “Cry” … 4:58
10. “Earthmover” … 4:05
11. “Alot to Lose” … 5:11
12. “Rubberband” … 4:35
13. “Wonderful World” … 3:48
14. “Games People Play” … 4:55

Band:
Jeff Keith – Lead Vocals
Frank Hannon – Guitar, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Tommy Skeoch -Guitar, Backing Vocals
Brian Wheat – Bass, Backing Vocals
Troy Lucketta – Drums, Percussion

Producer: Terry Thomas

The final album from Tesla during their original run is actually a lot better than I initially thought it was. As if in answer to shifting tastes in the music industry, Tesla is a tad bit more dark and definitely heavier on this release but they still manage to retain their trademark classic rock-influenced blue-collar sound. Besides “Mama’s Fool”, most of the band’s flirtations with pop metal are gone.

This isn’t my favorite Tesla album, but as usual, they always deliver solid hard rock, so there’s not much to complain about here either.

It should be noted that even in the face of the emerging alternative rock scene this album still managed to go gold, but the band ended up going on hiatus anyway due to Skeoch’s substance abuse.

Highlights: “The Gate/Invited”, “Solution”, “Shine Away”, “She Want She Want”, “Action Talks”, “Mama’s Fool”, “Cry”

www.teslatheband.com
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TESLA – Mechanical Resonance

Tesla – Mechanical Resonance (1986, Geffen Records)

1. “EZ Come EZ Go” … 3:33
2. “Cumin’ Atcha Live” … 4:27
3. “Gettin’ Better” … 3:22
4. “Too Late For Love” … 3:50
5. “Rock Me To The Top” … 3:40
6. “We’re No Good Together” … 5:18
7. “Modern Day Cowboy” … 5:18
8. “Changes” … 5:02
9. “Little Suzi” … 4:58
10. “Love Me” … 4:16
11. “Cover Queen” … 4:32
12. “Before My Eyes” … 5:31

Band:
Jeff Keith – Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals
Frank Hannon – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Tommy Skeoch – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Brian Wheat – Bass, Backing Vocals
Troy Luccketta – Drums, Percussion

Produced by: Steve Thompson

Tesla always delivers at least a respect effort on their albums, but this album (their debut) is easily one of their best. I think one reason I like it so much is because it is very much influenced by the pop metal scene. Tesla would later go on to sound like a 1970s band rather than a 1980s on future releases, but I’m sure it is this album that unfairly has them lumped in the “hair metal” category they are generally regarded t o be a part of. Even the titles hear are downright hair metal: “EZ Come EZ Go”, “Cumin’ Atcha Live” and “2 Late 4 Love” sound like song titles any glam metal band we be proud to call their own.

Besides the hair metal connection, another noticeable difference is that Jeff Keith’s voice sounds less gritty here. I’m assuming age and just the fact that he wasn’t out there every night screaming at the top of his lungs while on tour has something to do with it.

Don’t get me wrong there, this isn’t a total slick glamfest — shades of what was to come (the “real” Tesla, if you will) is definitely here, I think they just used a more polished and popular sound to get their foot in the door. Regardless of their intentions, they still delivered one heck of a debut.

Highlights: “EZ Come EZ Go”, “Cumin’ Atcha Live”, “Gettin’ Better”, “Modern Day Cowboy”, “Changes”, “Before My Eyes”

www.teslatheband.com
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TESLA – Real to Reel

Tesla – Real to Reel (2007, Tesla Electric Company Recordings/Rykodisc Records)

1. “Space Truckin'” [Deep Purple] … 4:48
2. “Walk Away” [The James Gang] … 4:20
3. “Hand Me Down World” [The Guess Who] … 3:44
4. “Bad Reputation” [Thin Lizzy] … 4:40
5. “Thank You” [Led Zeppelin] … 4:47
6. “I’ve Got A Feeling” [The Beatles] … 4:26
7. “Day Of the Eagle” [Robin Trower] … 5:01
8. “Ball Of Confusion” [The Temptations] … 4:25
9. “Rock Bottom” [UFO] … 8:45
10. “Stealin’ ” [Uriah Heep] … 4:02
11. “Bell Bottom Blues” [Derek and the Dominos] … 4:58
12. “Honky Tonk Women” [The Rolling Stones] … 3:26
13. “Dear Mr. Fantasy” [Traffic] … 6:37

Band:
Jeff Keith – Lead Vocals
Frank Hannon – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Dave Rude – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Brian Wheat – Bass, Piano, Backing Vocals
Troy Luccketta – Drums

Produced by: Tom Zutaut

This was one of the soundtracks to the summer of ’07 for me. A lot of decent stuff came out that spring and summer and this was one of the albums I listened to. Honestly, though, it’s a good release, I don’t think it’s anyting special.

These are covers of primarily 1960s/1970s blues rock (though a Temptations cover manages to sneak in) and therein lies the problem — I’m not a fan of those decades. I’m certainly not a fan of the 60s at all, though the 70s did start to kick things up a notch in that decade’s later years. Out of all the bands who are being covered, there are only four I have a passing interest in: Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy, Led Zeppelin, and UFO. Even then, I wouldn’t really call myself a “fan” of those bands. I’ve committed rock blasphemy, I know.

So this album isn’t a home run (cover albums usually aren’t) but there are a few songs that held my interest. “Space Truckin'” is a great cover of the Deep Purple classic and Tesla does an amazing version of UFO’s “Rock Bottom”.

The packaging for this album includs a spot for you to place to the CD of Real to Reel, Volume 2, which was initially only available by buying tickets to one of their summer concerts. It was later released commercially.

Highlights: “Space Truckin””, “Bad Reputation”, “Ball of Confusion”, “Rock Bottom”, “Bell Bottom Blues”

www.teslatheband.com
www.myspace.com/teslatheband

The Top Ten Albums of 2008 (#6-10)

2008 has been a phenomenal year in the rock & metal world. Legends returned with a vengeance and were met with  praise and success (AC/DC, Metallica, Motley Crue) and other legends returned to be met with confusion and/or slower than expected sales (Judas Priest, Guns N’ Roses). There were a few surprises, and a few disappointment as well. Today, we take a look at #6-10, tomorrow #1-5.

6. Motley Crue – Saints of Los Angeles

The Crue really upped their game with this release. After hearing the new songs from Red, White and Crue, I was excited to hear a full new albums from these guys and they delivered. The title track is a killer Crue song and stands with all of the classics in their catalog. It also debuted with respectable sales and was supported by the fun and successful Crue Fest tour.

7. SteelHeart – Good 2B Alive

Out of nowhere, SteelHeart delivers in 2008! I was blown away by how good this album was. SteelHeart’s never been a bad band, so I didn’t expect anything horrible, but who knew modern hard rock and the 80s melodic hard rock sound could be fused together so perfectly? Milijenko Matijevic’s voice is STILL one of the most powerful in rock. Shame not many people seemed to notice this album when it came out. Many tracks were worthy of radio play.

8. Judas Priest – Nostradamus

I’ll admit, I was a bit disappointed by this album (though not as much as others) when it first came out. Concept albums don’t do much for me in general, but after giving the album a few closer listens, it’s really grown on me. It’s still bloated, overproduced and has way too much filler in the form of instrumentals, but underneath all of that, between those two discs, is a very good Priest album.

9. Buckcherry – Black Butterfly

Another album that took me by surprise. I’ve always been a fan of the idea and image of Buckcherry more than the music itself, but Black Butterfly has definitely proven the band’s worthiness to me. From top the bottom, the album is enjoyable and the band has begun to broaden their tastes a bit. This album seems to have failed to replicate the success of their last album, 15, which is a shame because it’s superior in nearly every way.

10. Various Artists – We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year

Seriously. Who woulda thunk an indie release full of heavy metal takes on Christmas songs would be good, let alone great? I absolutely love this album and I know I’ll be playing it for years to come. I almost feel a bit guilty for ranking it above some of the honorable mentions, but when I’m having this much fun listening to an album, I can’t worry about that!

Honorable Mentions. A couple of albums that were very good, but as whole, didn’t receive as many listens and weren’t as consistent. Not bad albums by any means, all are worth picking up, but they just lacked that extra something to warrant a Top 10 spot.

Tesla – Forever More

A solid effort, but just didn’t come close to Into the Now for me.

Journey – Revelation

This was actually another nice surprise, but as good as it was, I’m a hard rock guy at heart, not an AOR guy.

Avantasia – The Scarecrow

Avantasia started off 2008 in a great way, and it almost made the list, but I my interests wanes listening to nothing but an album full of power metal. That’s why Edguy made the list and this album didn’t.

Extreme – Saudades de Rock

Really strong record that featured one of my favorite songs of the year (“King of the Ladies”). A bit too slow at times to get into the Top 10 though.

Stop by tomorrow as I present numbers 1-5 of 2008! And be sure to check out these fine sites for even more best of ’08 lists:

All Metal Resource
Bring Back Glam
Hard Rock Hideout
Hair Metal Mansion
Heavy Metal Addiction
Heavy Metal Time Machine
Imagine Echoes
Layla’s Classic Rock
The Metal Minute
The Ripple Effect
Rock And Roll and Meandering Nonsense
Rock Of Ages

TESLA – Forever More

Tesla – Forever More (2008, Tesla Electric Co. Recordings/Rykodisc Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Forever More” … 5:03
2. “I Wanna Live” … 3:35
3. “One Day at a Time” … 3:12
4. “So What!” … 3:40
5. “Just in Case” … 4:39
6. “Fallin’ Apart” … 4:22
7. “Breakin’ Free” … 5:03
8. “All of Me” … 3:28
9. “The First Time” … 4:11
10. “Pvt. Ledbetter” … 3:24
11. “In a Hole Again” … 5:26
12. “The Game” … 4:51

Band:
Jeff Keith – Lead Vocals
Dave Rude – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Frank Hannon – Guitars, Piano
Brian Wheat – Bass, Backing Vocals
Troy Luccketta – Drums

Produced by: Terry Thomas

The first thing I noticed about this album is the cover itself. Very metal feel and un-Tesla like. But still pretty cool and if they wanna put two skeletons kissing on their cover, who am I to complain?

As for the music, it’s a more stripped down sound (meaning what you’re used to hearing from Tesla) than what was heard on Into the Now. Tesla is still fusing their trademark sound with modern hard rock spectacularly, but they left all the effects at home this time, possibly feeling a ‘back to basics’ buzz from their 60s/70s rock Reel to Reel cover albums.

A lot of the riffs here are still very modern though and I say it all the time about these veterans bands, if it was a new, younger band releasing these songs, they’d be radio hits. It’s unfortunate the music business rarely gives older talent a second look unless you’re so big that you can’t be ignored (AC/DC, Metallica, Ozzy, etc).

Most of the album is a highpoint, except for some of the slower songs scattered throughout. “Forever More”, “I Wanna Live” and “Breakin’ Free” are the standouts here and are what I’m talking about when I say they have hit potential.

Forever More doesn’t match the magic that was Into the Now, but it comes pretty close and that’s good enough for me. One of the year’s best releases.

Highlights: “Forever More”, “I Wanna Live”, “So What!”, “Fallin’ Apart”, “Breakin’ Free”, “All of Me”, “The FIrst TIme”, “In a Hole Again”, “The Game”

www.teslatheband.com
www.myspace.com/teslatheband

TESLA – Into the Now

Tesla – Into the Now (2004, Sanctuary Records)

Track Listing:
1.  “Into the Now” … 4:25
2.  “Look @ Me” … 4:16
3.  “What a Shame” … 4:29
4.  “Heaven Nine Eleven” … 4:38
5.  “Words Can’t Explain” … 3:14
6.  “Caught in a Dream” … 4:50
7.  “Miles Away” … 6:55
8.  “Mighty Mouse” … 4:14
9.  “Got No Glory” … 4:19
10.  “Come to Me” … 4:43
11.  “Recognize” … 5:00
12.  “Only You” … 4:33

Band:
Jeff Keith – Lead Vocals
Tommy Skeoch – Guitar
Frank Hannon – Guitar
Brian Wheat – Bass
Troy Luccketta – Drums

Produced by: Michael Rosen & Tesla; Roger Sommers & Tesla (“Only You” only)

Tesla came back roaring with this album sounding modern yet still sounding like Tesla. Though I have to admit, when their single “Caught in a Dream” hit radio, I originally thought, “Aerosmith has a new album coming out ?!”

Apparently, many others did as well because I remember the local rock station mentioning that people kept calling to request “that new Aerosmith song”. =D

Tesla has perfectly blended modern hard rock with their signature sound with songs like “Into the New” and “What a Shame”. And what a shame, indeed, that this album went relatively unnoticed. The album is very well-balanced with great ballads (“Caught in a Dream”, “Words Can’t Explain”, “Come to Me”, “Only You”) and wonderful heavy rockers (“Mighty Mouse”, “Got No Glory”, “Look @ Me”) and even manages to blend both with the awesome “Miles Away”.

A must have for Tesla fans as the band successfully proved themselves as more than just a good “80s band”… They’re a good rock band, period.

Highlights: Not a single filler track at all. One of 2004’s best releases and possibly Tesla’s best, for my money.

www.teslatheband.com
www.myspace.com/teslatheband

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