Saturday, July 31, 2010

Stones Deny Split Rumors Again

The Rolling Stones have been forced to deny yet another round of rumors about their demise circulated by a throwback tabloid rag.

The Sun – which recently lied about a Darkness reunion, even inventing a baby son for a former band member – has made up quotes which suggest the Stones will make one more trip round the world before splitting up.

The free-falling publication fibs: "It's almost certainly the last full-scale world tour. The band realize age is creeping up on them. They want to bow out on top of their game and not short-change their fans."

It's another round of rumor mill rubbish from a paper which excels in the art – and, like the last lot of lies, not a word of it has basis in fact.

Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood says: "We have all agreed this won't be the last time. Everyone's rocking."

On the upside, it's the first time concrete statements regarding a Stones tour have surfaced. Until recently there was no confirmation the band had agreed to hit the road again.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Mike Love Says No Beach Boys Reunion Plans For Now

The Beach Boys will celebrate the 50th anniversary of their first single "Surfin'" in 2011, but band member Mike Love says any specific reports about how they'll do that are premature.

"There have been a lot of ideas floated, but nothing decided," the senior remaining Beach Boy says. "So far it's just conversation. There are no big plans yet -- although there's a lot of interest from a lot of people to see what would happen if we got together and did some new music and maybe did some shows. But so far nothing's firm."

Former group member Al Jardine recently said the group -- including Brian Wilson, Bruce Johnston and early member David Marks -- would reunite in 2011 for at least one reunion show, probably free. And an early suggestion was made that Wilson and Love would be collaborate on some new material, but that was rebuffed by Wilson's management, who cited his focus on his upcoming Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin, due August 17.

"I've had a few conversations recently with my cousin Brian ... about doing some musical projects together," Love says. "But we're busy touring, he's busy recording and doing some dates, so in the fall we'll get more focused on it."

Love says he has recorded "18 to 20 songs that I have yet to come out with," including tunes inspired by his experiences with Transcendental Meditation and the Maharashi Mahesh Yogi and a song entitled "Pisces Brothers," which Love describes as "a reminiscence about George Harrison."

Meanwhile, Love offered a shout-out to Katy Perry's recent No. 1 "California Gurls," which offers a fresh take on Love and Wilson's homophonic 1965 hit.

"I think the part she did is pretty cool," he says. "There are a lot of writers on it, and I think it's probably a stroke of genius to have the king of canine cool, Mr. (Snoop) Dogg, do his thing. But I think her creative part, her musical part, is pretty hooky. I think it brings the Beach Boys' 1965 classic to mind, that's for sure."

Thursday, July 29, 2010

REO Speedwagon Plans 'Hi Infidelity' 30th Anniversary Reissue, Tour

Though REO Speedwagon frontman Kevin Cronin says that he's "not one for nostalgia," he's enthusiastic about the band's two-year plan to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its biggest-selling album, 1980's Hi Infidelity -- which includes a deluxe reissue and possibly a tour playing the full album.

"This is 2010, so we're kind of celebrating 30 years since we recorded the album," Cronin said. "Next year is 2011 -- 30 years since 1981, the year that rocked our world...The Hi Infidelity record was such a turning point for us, just on a personal and professional level. And an awful lot of people took this music into their lives, into their hearts. It's just too special of a time to ignore, so I just decided for this anniversary I'm going to embrace it and go for it...We're milking it for everything it's worth!"

Hi Infidelity was REO's only No. 1 album and the top-selling rock release of 1981. It's been certified nine-times platinum and spawned four Top 40 hits, including the chart-topping "Keep on Loving You" and the Top 5 "Take It on the Run." And, Cronin adds, it came at a time when REO was "literally on the brink of being dropped by our label. This was kind of our last chance."

Now the group and its fans will have multiple opportunities to relive Hi Infidelity. The group is performing the album's entire first side, with some subtle re-arrangements, on its current summer tour with Pat Benatar; meanwhile, Cronin says, REO is talking about performing the complete album in 2011 -- which it's only done once before, for an XM satellite radio broadcast.

Also on tap for next year is a deluxe edition of Hi Infidelity, which will likely include the original demos that REO's manager recently found in his garage.

"He found a box that said 'REO' on it," Cronin recalls. "It was mostly old photographs, but he dropped it off at my house and when I went through it there it was, a tape from Crystal Recording Studios, July 1980. No one knew where they were. We searched the vaults in New York, L.A. -- a full cavity search, you might say -- and no one found them. So we were like, 'All right, I guess that's our holy grail. We'll keep searching for them'. "

Cronin says it took significant work to get the tape into usable shape, but the results were as good as he remembered. "It's pretty fun to listen to -- no keyboards, no backing vocals, just guitar and lead vocals. On the finished Hi Infidelity, about half of it is performances that were on that demo tape. There was just some magic in those performances, so hopefully we'll include that in the deluxe set."

Other plans for the reissue are still being set, as are REO's tour plans for 2011. Meanwhile, Cronin says the current edition of REO is in a "creative spurt" that he hopes will yield the group's first set of new material since 2007's Find Your Own Way Home (not counting the 2009's holiday album, Not So Silent Night.)

Cronin is playing a new song in concert -- which he says will be called either "Can't Stop Loving You" or "Unfinished Poem" -- and he's pleased that "this is another one of those tight periods for the band. You can't take it for granted when you get five guys all in the same mindspace -- like we were for Hi Infidelity. It's a real special thing."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ohio Museum To Show Art By Stones' Ronnie Wood

Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood is coming to Ohio with a different kind of solo show, spotlighting his paintings and other art.

The Butler Institute of American Art says the exhibition opening is the first for Wood at a major American museum.

The 63-year-old British musician plans to be at the museum for a reception on the show's opening day, Sept. 21.

Butler chief curator and director Louis Zona describes Wood's art style as lively and appealing. The museum notes that the rocker picked up a paint brush at the age of 12, before he started playing guitar.

The exhibition includes 30 of Wood's paintings, 22 pen-and-pencil drawings and seven mixed-media works.

The exhibit runs through Nov. 21.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

London's High Voltage Festival Plugs Classic, Metal, Prog Rock

t was the weekend that many the long-haired, headbanging, vintage tour shirt wearing rock fan had been waiting for. High noon and High Voltage festival’s gates opened at London’s Victoria Park, with hordes of rock fans descending onto the city for two days of classic, metal and prog rock!

Concentrating on the more classic acts of rock, High Voltage festival waves aside nu-metal and emo, preferring to leave out the Fall Out Boy and Lost Prophet types of the genre to make way for the real monsters such as Saxon, Heaven & Hell and ZZ Top.

There is a great atmosphere in the air, which is noticeable as soon as you climb the stairs from the nearby tube stations. There’s a variety of antique band t-shirts on display, ranging from Johnny Cash to Black Sabbath dictating the kind of crowd that this festival caters for.

With the event organisers claiming that High Voltage festival is “built by rock fans for rock fans,” inside the gates there’s everything a rock fan wants. Three huge stages, an air guitar competition stage, classic muscle car and bike displays and not forgetting of course the Jagermeister tent!

Bathed in glorious sunshine for most of the festival’s two-day span, the High Voltage bill featured a number of “dinosaur” acts such as Gary Moore, Foreigner, legendary heavy metal group Heaven & Hell, who dedicated their final show ever to their late singer Ronnie Dio, Joe Bonamassa, Asia, Uriah Heep, Bachman & Turner, ZZ Top and many more.

It felt like the “glory days” of rock had never disappeared. Former Thin Lizzy axe man Gary Moore is superb on stage, playing a set list packed full of wailing solos, its enough for us to forgive him for leaving out a rendition of the haunting “Parissiene Walkways”.

Followed by the freshly shampooed locks of Kelly Hansen, the Foreigner frontman, with ever-present founder of the band Mick Jones on guitar, led the band through a number of classic tracks, finishing with one of the biggest sing-a-longs of the weekend to power-ballad “I Want to Know What Love Is”. If only it was dark enough for those lighters to show up!

Playing as support to the headliners, it was all about one man for this next act. Playing their final ever show and dedicating it to metal icon and former singer Ronnie Dio, Heaven & Hell delivered some thunderous riffs in an emotional set by the band formed from the ashes of Black Sabbath.

After losing his brave battle with Cancer last May, Ronnie James Dio was set to perform with the group at this year’s festival. With former Deep Purple and Black Sabbath singer Glenn Hughes as well as Masterplan’s Jorn Lande doing a sterling job at taking-over vocals, the duo, flanked of course by Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler, led an emotional tribute that also featured an appearance from Dio’s wife Wendy who gave a touching speech about the late legend.

Following the performance, Hughes revealed that a tribute album was in the making, which is also set to feature collaborations from “some mega stars”. The singer spoke of his joy of being involved in the show, saying, “Ronnie was more than a musician friend to me. He was a really good friend. Tonight I got to sing the songs that I saw him write. I was around when he got the gig in Black Sabbath. It’s been a very emotional week for us all. We’re all grieving and we wanted to come here and celebrate his life . . . the majestical magic of Ronnie. He was a dear, dear man.”

Next up, topping the bill, were dirty blues-rock trio ZZ Top. Playing across USA and Europe this year, the High Voltage show marks the only UK appearance from the band this year as they hit the road for another world tour. Delivering a masterclass in cool, the trio of Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard (he’s the one without the beard!) thrilled the crowd, which also included Jimmy Page stage side, with fan favourites including “Gimme All Your Lovin’,” “Sharp Dressed Man,” “Cheap Sunglasses,” “Legs,” and “Tush”.

“We’ve been coming here for four decades,” singer Billy Gibbons announces to the crowd. “Same three guys. Same three chords,” he continues with a sly smile. Appearing in the usual attire of trademark shades and hat, the guitar duo still have the full-beards while drummer Frank Beard also appears to have maintained his fuzz-free face. Together they groove through an electrifying set with Billy Gibbons now possibly the coolest guy I have ever seen. “Are we all having a good time? …Hell yeeeeeaaaahhh!”

Other bands at the festival included the reunited Emerson Lake and Palmer, who, celebrating their 40th anniversary, closed the event on Sunday night. There were also appearances from UFO, Saxon, who played a roaring set over on the metal stage as well as Zakk Wylde’s Black Label Society. Asia and Uriah Heep both played great sets over at the Prog stage too.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Jagger And Scorsese Team Up For HBO Rock Drama

Talk about an unadulterated duo which will symbolize all that is cool. Mick Jagger, who celebrates his 67th birthday today (July 26), and director Martin Scorsese have recently teamed up in efforts to produce a rock and roll drama which will be airing on HBO.

The show will be called A History of Music, and will be the tale of two friends and their 40-year-long ramble through the music industry, starting with the days of early R&B all the way down the line to contemporary hip-hop.

Scorsese and Jagger have teamed up before for the 2006 Rolling Stones film Shine A Light, but this time the two will be working on a full show. On board for the writing team so far is Terence Winter who is best known for his work writing for The Sopranos.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

KISS Tour Is for the Children, Says Gene Simmons

KISS For Kids could well be the theme of the iconic rock group's just-started North American tour.

In a novel move for its amphitheater dates, the costumed quartet is giving free lawn tickets to up to four children with each paying adult.

"It's time to give back," bassist Gene Simmons said, adding that KISS -- which is also donating $1 per ticket to the Wounded Warrior foundation -- hopes to show the youths "that there's another world out there besides Hannah Montana and the Jonas Brothers. It's important for them to see how the big boys do it. There's no tapes. There's no background singers backstage. There's no click tracks. It's important for the kids to see that whatever you see on stage is real. We want to spread this. I'm insulted by any act that goes up there with dancers and tapes. It's insulting."

KISS hopes to snare the kids more in the near future via an animated program that's being produced in partnership with E! Entertainment and will feature the four KISS members as characters. Simmons says he hopes to have the program on air "in the next six months."

Meanwhile, he and his bandmates are planning to give fans old and young alike a freshened KISS show after focusing on the group's "Alive!" album -- which turns 35 this year -- during last year's road trek. "Technology has enabled us to do all kinds of wacky stuff," Simmons explains, while the repertoire includes three songs from last year's Sonic Boom album -- "Modern Day Delilah," "Say Yeah" and "Animal" -- as well as the seldom-performed "Crazy Nights." And drummer Eric Singer will be taking over the Peter Criss-sung smash "Beth" each night.

"It's acoustic -- there will be no tapes, just two acoustic guitars and bass and that's it," says Simmons, adding that KISS had previously kept the song out of the shows "out of deference to Peter Criss," who has left the band three times, most recently in 2004. "We still have a tug of the heart...Peter and Ace [Frehley] are beloved, as well they should be for the beginning, for helping launch the band. But it's important to note that with them in the band today, KISS wouldn't be around."

Simmons says KISS is anxious to work on a follow-up to Sonic Boom, the group's first new studio album in 11 years. But he won't guess when that will be. "I think we'll do another one, but we need time," Simmons explains, noting the group's heavy touring schedule as well as his continuing Gene Simmons Family Jewels reality series on A&E and co-founder Paul Stanley's burgeoning art career.

The next KISS project will likely be a fourth version of the popular KISSology DVD series, which Simmons says is coming "soon" and will feature "some new stuff but some stuff nobody's ever seen before, going all the way back to 1973."

The group is also expecting to film a third commercial for Dr. Pepper in the near future.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Guns N' Roses Members, Past And Present, Stay Busy

It's not hard to get a Guns N' Roses fix these days, whether from members past or present.

The current incarnation of GNR, led by singer Axl Rose, has just announced an appearance on August 13 at the Rock 'N Rev Festival in Sturgis, S.D., the group's first big U.S. concert in four years.

Former Guns guitarist Slash is promoting his self-titled first solo album with a world tour that hits southeast Asia starting on July 29 and continues through Japan and Australia before touching down in North America on August 28 at the Sunset Strip Music Festival in Los Angeles.

"Not to sound cliche, but it's a pretty kick-ass rock band, and more high-energy than most," Slash, who has Alter Bridge's Myles Kennedy fronting the group, says.

Slash, who recently partnered with Epiphone for a limited edition "Appetite" Les Paul guitar model, plans to keep touring until the summer of 2011.

Also on the road is former Guns drummer Steven Adler and his new band, Adler's Appetite, which is promoting its first single, "Good to Be Alive," as well as his new autobiography, "My Appetite For Destruction: Sex & Drugs & Guns N' Roses."

"It's so healing, getting all those things out of my system," says Adler, who was fired from the band in 1990 and battled severe drug addiction, even suffering a stroke, before reaching his current state of sobriety.

"You can't take 30 years of pain and all that stuff and just get rid of it immediately, but at least I'm starting to get it out and I'm starting to become my own person again. I wasted so much of my life, it's great to have survived and be living again."

Former Guns bassist Duff McKagan, who played with Slash and Adler's replacement Matt Sorum in Velvet Revolver, is busy writing new material with Jane's Addiction. McKagan, who released a solo album last year, has played a few shows with Jane's Addiction, most recently a sweaty Sunset Strip gig at the Roxy on July 2.