Rod Stewart: The Tears Of Hercules

Sir Rod Stewart’s rekindled love of songwriting grows stronger on his 31st album, The Tears of Hercules. It’s Stewart’s fourth new album of original songs since 2013, when he reconnected with his songwriting muse to record Time, the chart-topping album which entered the Top 10 in the US and 10 countries worldwide, including #1 in the U.K., where it’s been certified platinum double-platinum. For his latest, Stewart wrote nine of the album’s 12 songs, including the first single, “One More Time.” Now that the full album is here, is it any good? Read on for my thoughts.

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A Conversation With Tony Brock

Photo: Song Seven Photography

Rod Stewart is the first concert I ever attended and I’m a big fan of The Babys, so it was a pleasure to speak with Tony Brock. He is a founding member of The Babys and the band’s drummer, and he spent 12 years drumming for Rod Stewart, starting with the 1981 album Tonight I’m Yours.

The Babys have a new album coming out, Timeless: Anthology II, and you can be a part of it. Check out the band’s Pledge campaign for all of the great reward and benefits you can get by support this effort. It’s going to be a fantastic record, and I highly recommend that all music fans check it out.

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Carmine Appice: Rock’s Most Influential Drummer Tells All

IMG_6983Carmine Appice, the most influential drummer in rock and roll history, recently released his autobiography: Stick It! My Life of Sex, Drums, and Rock ‘N’ Roll. I met Carmine at his book signing here in Philadelphia and shortly afterward I interviewed him. We touched on everything from how Sharon Osbourne fired him from Ozzy’s band to the revelation that there are a handful of tracks from Paul Stanley’s 1978 solo album featuring Carmine’s drumming that’ve yet to see the light of day. Check out the interview below and pick up a copy of Carmine’s autobiography, which is available now.

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Rod Stewart Releases The Greatest Rock Song of 2015

ded5f91591e38982683a19a685c36e0439ef997cRod Stewart just released the greatest rock song of 2015 and it’s called “Please.” It’s the second single from his forthcoming album, Another Country, and it’s easily one of Rod Stewart’s greatest songs ever. It’s got a funky groove, a fabulous horn section, bluesy guitar, and smokin’ vocals from Rod “The Mod.” And the song is made even better by the official music video below, which features Rod dropping the mic in a sharp pink and black outfit that only he could pull off. Enjoy!

 

New Music: Neal Schon, Rod Stewart and John Waite

303If you’re a classic rock fan there’s a lot of good music that was recently released or is going to be released soon. Three of my favorites include a double-album by Journey guitarist Neal Schon, an album of all-new material by Rod Stewart and a remastered deluxe edition of a live album by John Waite.

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A Conversation With Dionne Warwick

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Dionne Warwick is one of the greatest female vocalists of all time. She has 75 hit songs and has sold more than 100 million albums. From Barry Manilow to Burt Bacharach, she’s worked with the best in the business and won five Grammy awards along the way.

Her new album coming out September 2, Feels So Good, is a collection of duets with some of the most talented musicians in the industry, including Cyndi Lauper, Gladys Knight, Mya, and Jaime Foxx, just to name a few.

Dionne is also currently touring and I’m attending her August 15 performance in Atlantic City, NJ at Revel Casino, so stay tuned for my review of the show. For more information on additional dates, make sure to visit her official website.

Below is my interview with Dionne Warwick about her illustrious career that has spanned more than 50 years. I hope you enjoy it.

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KISS: The Best Show On Earth

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On Sunday I had my best concert experience ever when I attended KISS’ 40th Anniversary Tour performance in Camden, NJ. Not only was I front row for this concert, I attended a backstage meet and greet with the band, including an unmasked acoustic set and autograph session. I also did a separate guitar meet and greet with my favorite member of KISS – Paul Stanley – where I had the opportunity to interview him and leave with an autographed guitar that he’s never given away before. And lastly, I got to see Def Leppard perform too. It was an amazing night of epic proportions that may never be topped. Below is a run-through of all the night’s festivities that I took part in.

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2013: It Was A Very Good Year

New Year - Philadelphia2013 was my first full year of blogging, and it was a great one. I wrote 174 posts and exceeded 20,000 views, reaching people in 118 countries. I also had the honor and privilege of interviewing some of my favorite authors, actors and musicians, including:

  1. Lisa Scottoline
  2. Andrew Gross
  3. Melissa Manchester
  4. Michael Des Barres
  5. Douglas Preston
  6. Jon Land
  7. M.J. Rose
  8. Steven James
  9. Taylor Stevens
  10. Donald Bain
  11. Thomas B. Sawyer 
  12. Dick Hill

And 2014 is shaping up to be an even bigger year with interviews already scheduled with 2014 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductee John Oates and bestselling author Stuart Woods.

Thanks to all of you who regularly read my posts, as well as those who take the time to comment. Speaking of which, below are my top commenters’ great blogs. Make sure to check them out:

2013 was my best year yet, both personally and professionally, and I plan on making 2014 even more special.

Happy New Year!

Rod Stewart – Live in Philadelphia

Rod Stewart LiveRod Stewart was the first concert I ever attended, and on December 11 I saw him live for the fourth time. As always, he put on a terrific show. While not quite as powerful as it was back in the 1990s, Rod’s voice still sounds great and he knows how to wrap himself around a song and convey emotion like very few singers do. He also jumped, danced and kicked soccer balls around the stage – dressed in dapper attire, of course – with such energy and enthusiasm that it’s hard to believe Rod’s almost 69.

Steve Winwood opened the show with an unremarkable set list that included only two hit songs: “Gimme Some Lovin'” and “Higher Love.” He didn’t perform “Valerie,” “Back in the High Life Again,” “While You See a Chance,” “Roll With It,” or “The Finer Things.” When you’re an opening act, you have to knock people’s socks off and give them what they want. Winwood did neither. Yes, he’s a great musician and performed well, but there was much left to be desired.

Thankfully, Rod knows how to work a crowd and please his fans. He kicked off the show with two upbeat hits and rolled into classic material, including deep cuts like “Sweet Little Rock & Roller” and “I’d Rather Go Blind.” Rod also highlighted his new album, Time, with two great tracks: “Can’t Stop Me Now” and “Brighton Beach.” He also brought out his daughter, Ruby, to sing a song on her own, “Just One More Day,” and one with him, “Forever Young.” However, the highlight of the show was Rod singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” while backed by an orchestral ensemble, with snow falling down from the ceiling.

If you have a chance to see Rod Stewart live, go. He’s an iconic singer that still puts on an excellent show that won’t leave you disappointed. He had the crowd on its feet and kept everyone dancing and singing along from start to finish. He wasn’t inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame twice (once as a solo artist and the second time as lead singer of the Faces) by accident; Rod was honored two times because of his spectacular body of work and legendary live performances. Do yourself a favor and buy a ticket next time he’s in town. You’ll have a blast.

Below is the set list from the show and four videos I shot. Enjoy!

Set List

  1. “This Old Heart Of Mine”
  2. “Having a Party”
  3. “You Wear It Well”
  4. “Stay With Me”
  5. “Tonight’s The Night”
  6. “Some Guys Have All the Luck”
  7. “Rhythm of My Heart”
  8. “Just One More Day” (sung by Ruby Stewart)
  9. “Forever Young” (sung with Ruby Stewart)
  10. “The First Cut Is the Deepest”
  11. “Brighton Beach”
  12. “Have I Told You Lately”
  13. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”
  14. “Can’t Stop Me Now”
  15. “Sweet Little Rock & Roller”
  16. “I’d Rather Go Blind”
  17. “Proud Mary” (sung by Rod Stewart’s backup singers)
  18. “You’re In My Heart”
  19. “Hot Legs”
  20. “Maggie May”
  21. “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?”

A Conversation With Michael Des Barres – Part 1

Michael Des Barres 2I recently had the opportunity to speak with one of my favorite musicians and actors, Michael Des Barres. Many of you may know him for his role as the sinister Murdoc on the TV show MacGyver. Others may know him from his tenure as lead singer of Silverhead, Detective and The Power Station. While music is Des Barres’ main priority, he still makes time for acting, including his recent role in the wonderful film California Solo.

Below is part one of the interview. Stay tuned for parts two and three. And at the end of each part I’m including live clips from Michael Des Barres’ concert in New York City on March 7, 2013 at the Bowery Electric. I was in attendance, and it was an awesome show. Enjoy!

Hello, Michael. You recently announced your new radio show, Roots and Branches. How did this come about?

I had a relationship with David Lynch because I had done Mulholland Drive with him when it was a TV show. And what happened was he cast me to play the bad guy in the pilot for a TV show for ABC but ABC passed on it because it was incomprehensibly Lynchian, ya know? (laughs) So, a couple years go by and he invites me to the premiere and I realize I’ve been absolutely cut out of it and replaced by these two chicks fucking. And I thought, oh man, this is very exciting, but where the hell’s my footage? (laughs) So, we’ve had a relationship for a while. 

But he’s got this amazing TM (transcendental meditation) movement going, and he just created this network, Transcend Radio, and he’s contacted people and asked them to produce some content for that and it ended up my door. And I came up with a show called Roots and Branches, which is essentially about influences, where lots of musicians got their influences and passed it on to the next generation, and the next generation. I deal mainly in American blues music and also the edginess of  Manhattan rock and roll, heroin rock and roll, I call it – the psychosis of rock and roll. So I do various genres. I play a song and then I play a song that was obviously influenced by that song or artist, hence the title Roots and Branches, because it’s very important for me. And I do it in the vein of Stevie Van Zandt, who flies the flag of the lineage of rock and roll, the history of rock and roll, soul, pop, and rockabilly, and all of the wonderful music that is, in a sense, threatened by extinction today because of the advent of technology.

If you can see relationships between artists, you can go deep into it and that’s what I want to create: A sort of atmosphere of research, ya know? You start at Zeppelin, then you back to the blues and where that came from. You listen to Jack White and then who influenced him, and equally groundbreaking musicians that inspired them. And it becomes this enormous organism, and hopefully an enormous orgasm (laughs). 

I recently read Rod Stewart’s autobiography, and in it he talks about how his music as well as other artists’ music, including The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck, was influenced by the blues. What was it like during this time period?

I was in the clubs at the time you’re describing with Mitch Mitchell saying to me, “Why don’t you come see me play with this black bloke?” And I did, and it was Jimi Hendrix. I was there in London at the birth of the skinny rock and roll dudes being inspired by the blues. It was a phenomenal hybrid, which I’ll explore deeply in my show. It’s why working working class English boys and girls would turn to the oppressed black slave music that came out of oppression – out of Chicago and the Delta. Why would that be? I think it’s because it’s almost the same today: You get out of the ghetto by being a rapper or a sports figure. It’s the same man, you know?

Yeah, Jeff Beck was heavy. But there were a lot of people that were plugging in and turning up because rock and roll was blues real loud, essentially. And if Chuck Berry hadn’t existed, there wouldn’t be a Mick Jagger or Keith Richards. I mean imagine a world without Chuck Berry in it. What a horrible thought. (laughs). But they were smart enough to marry that with the poetry of Arthur Rimbaud and the style of Oscar Wilde. It was this pop-hybrid of Muddy Waters, Oscar Wilde and Lord Byron with a slide guitar. It was this incredible cocktail of stuff.

Your modern music seems to harken back to that classic three-chord rock and roll. 

Yes, because what happens is, as an artist in the beginning it’s all about passion. Then you learn how to do it and you learn the chords that are complicated, and to keep yourself interested you start experimenting. And you lose sight of why you did it in the first place. Rock and roll is a synonym for having sex. It’s not a synonym for meditation. So you’ve gotta roll with it. And, for me, I went on all sorts of tangents because I was thinking too much. But when I got back to it three years ago, when I was in Texas recovering from an accident, I broke a lot of bones, I had time to reflect on what I really wanted to do, so I started to write. I couldn’t write with my right arm because it was smashed, so I wrote with my left hand these social media updates and people started to respond. So I took those ideas and put them to simple chords, blues-based music and I wrote “My Baby Saved My Ass,” (laughs) which sounds funny and cute but it’s true. It’s a redemptive song about the redemption of love transcending a drug addict’s downward spiral. 

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Stephen King once stated that, “The idea that creative endeavor and mind-altering substances are entwined is one of the great pop-intellectual myths of our time.” Like King, you’ve overcome drugs and alcohol. Do you agree that these substances don’t enhance an artist’s creative work?

He and I are the only ones that have said that. I mean, I’ve been saying that for 30 years. The myth of the self-destructive genius is bullshit. And I can give you one and only one example: Jim Morrison did not write the “Great American Novel” … and he could have. And it’s as simple as that. Genius is divine; it’s a talent you’re given by the universe. It’s like being born beautiful and you fuck yourself up.

I always think of Chet Baker and his beautiful face and how ravaged it was at the end of his life when he fell out of a hotel room window and smashed his skull because of heroin. So, I’m with Stephen King. It is a myth, and I’m 100% more creative with clarity than I am in a fog. I might think I’m a genius, but I’m not.

What made you stop using drugs?

I looked in the mirror and I looked like a monster. And I’m way too narcissistic and vain to look like that. I can honestly say vanity got me through it (laughs). I felt like a fool, and there’s nothing worse for me than feeling foolish. And being a slave to something? Good lord! I can’t be owned by a bag of white powder…unless it’s foundation. It’s absurd; it’s childlike. Unfortunately many of our greatest artists capitulated to it and died, and that’s a shame.

To answer your question, I’m not being glib when I say I looked in the mirror and didn’t like what I saw. It was absolute vanity. But once I got into that spiritual groove, I woke up from the trance of drugs. And I wrote “Obsession” within the first few weeks of being sober. Everybody around me was saying “I’m obsessed with this” and “I’m obsessed with that.” Is it an obsession? Yes. So I thought, OK, and I wrote that song, which was a worldwide hit because people could relate to the thing.