Monday, August 31, 2015

Steve Howe and Steve Hackett's GTR Album To Be Reissued

Esoteric Recordings are proud to announce the official release of a double disc deluxe edition of GTR, the self-titled 1986 album by Steve Hackett and Steve Howe’s band GTR.

GTR was formed in 1985 following guitarist Steve Howe’s departure from Asia. Teaming up with the equally legendary guitarist Steve Hackett, GTR was assembled with the addition of vocalist Max Bacon, bassist Phil Spalding and drummer Jonathan Mover.

The band’s sole album was produced by Geoff Downes and issued in July 1986. It became a Top 20  album in the U.S. and was also in the Top 50 in England. Two singles drawn from the record ("When the Heart Rules the Mind" and "The Hunter") were also hits in the States.

Although a short lived group, GTR also toured to promote the album (with the addition of Matt Clifford on keyboards) performing material from the album, as well as songs such as ‘Roundabout’ and ‘I Know What I Like (in Your Wardrobe),’ made famous by Yes and Genesis respectively. Although GTR ceased to exist as a band in 1987, the group’s sole album is an important moment in rock music of the 1980s.

This new edition has been newly remastered and includes a bonus 14-track CD of GTR live in Los Angeles in July 1986. There are also three bonus tracks taken from promotional 12-inch singles of "When the Heart Rules the Mind" and "The Hunter," two of which appear on CD for the first time.

This expanded deluxe edition of GTR also includes a booklet that fully restores the original album artwork and features a new essay.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Paul McCartney: "I Feared For My Own Life After John Lennon Was Killed'

Paul McCartney has admitted that he feared for his own life after John Lennon was killed.

The former Beatle said he was on "high alert" when Mark Chapman gunned down Lennon outside his New York home in 1980.

But McCartney said his own home in rural south England was still largely unprotected and in a remote woodland location.

He said he was left terrified days after the killing when he spotted several armed men advancing on the property.

McCartney told Uncut:"It was weird because in the days that followed it, I was sitting in the house. We had a little perimeter fence, mainly to keep foxes out, because we had some chickens. I'm aware of security threats, so I'm on high alert and I look out and I see someone with a fucking gun, like a machine gun, an assault rifle - 'Wha?!' He's in full military gear, and then I see there's a whole patrol of them. I'm going, 'Holy shit, what's going on?'."

He added: "I don't know what I did. I think I rang the police. It turned out to be army manoeuvres. (They said) 'Oh, sorry. Are these your woods?' I'd put two and two together and made a thousand. God, I don't know how I lived through it. You think you'd just faint dead on the ground. But they were all there, coming through these woods."

McCartney recently admitted that he felt "frustrated" by the change in public perception of Lennon following his death.

He added: "Post-Beatles George did his record, John did his, I did mine, Ringo did his. We were equal. When John got shot, aside from the pure horror of it, the lingering thing was, OK, well now John's a martyr. A JFK."

"So what happened was, I started to get frustrated because people started to say, 'Well, he was The Beatles'. And me, George and Ringo would go, 'Er, hang on. It's only a year ago we were all equal-ish'."

Monday, August 24, 2015

Walter Trout To Headline Inaugural Urban Blues Festival In Los Angeles

Blues guitarist Walter Trout is set to headline the inaugural Urban Blues Festival in Los Angeles this Saturday, August 29. The event, which benefits Ascencia, will be staged at Raleigh Studios (5300 Melrose Avenue, Hollywood, CA 90038), and begins at 11:00 AM.  Joining Trout will be Guitar Shorty, Trout Brothers Band, Arthur Adams, The Americans, The Scorch Sisters, Little Faith, and Jerron "Blind Boy" Paxton. 

"You know we are all struggling in this life,  trying to do well, " Trout says. "Some people have it better than others. This is a great cause for the folks who have slipped through the cracks and are homeless in our society. I have been there myself in the past a couple of times. It’s a great cause. All the money that is raised will go to the Ascencia Foundation. I hope you will come out, listen to the music, have a great day with us, and you can know in your heart that this is for a great cause – you will be doing something good.”

On October 23rd, Trout's next studio album titled Battle Scars will be released. With bristling energy, unflagging virtuosity and lyrics that cut to the core of human hope and willpower, Trout says the title chronicles his horrific battle with liver failure. The songs capture the international guitar hero on a new high — playing and singing at the peak of his abilities, infusing even his darkest numbers with creative joy that sweeps like a beacon.

"I’m thrilled about this album, about my life and about my music,” says Trout, who returned to the stage in June at the prestigious Lead Belly Festival in London’s Royal Albert Hall. “I feel that I’m reborn as a songwriter, a singer, a guitarist and a human being. I have a new chance at being the best musician and the best man that I can be. And I’m incredibly happy and grateful.”

Contrast that to early 2014, when Trout was lying in a hospital bed without the strength to move or speak, unable to recognize his own children, as he observed  his body waste away. But on Memorial Day, May 26, 2014, Trout underwent liver transplant surgery and the slow process of healing began.
“At first I wasn’t  strong enough to play a single note on the guitar, but as I regained my strength,  the music came back to me," Trout recalls. "Now when I pick up the guitar, it is liberating, joyful, and limitless. I feel like I’m 17 again.”

Trout is now moving triumphantly forward in his 50th year as a guitarist. He is in the midst of a global tour with his band: keyboardist Sammy Avila, drummer Michael Leasure, and new bassist Johnny Griparic, who joined in time to record Battle Scars in Los Angeles’ Kingsize Soundlabs with Trout’s longtime producer Eric Corne.

“I don’t take this lightly,” Trout declares. “Marie says that all of the people who donated to our fundraiser for my medical expenses” — which generated more than $240,000 – “bought stock in me and my liver. When I play for them now, I have a responsibility to give back and offer the very best that I have.”

More information about the Urban Blues Festival can be found at

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Beatles' First Recording Contract Up For Auction

The Beatles' first recording contract was signed in Hamburg, Germany, where the band honed its craft playing gigs in the city's boisterous nightclub district.

The 1961 recording session produced the single "My Bonnie." It was released on the Polydor label in Germany only and never hit the top charts. But the tune led directly to the Beatles' discovery back home, a contract with EMI the following year and their first hit, "Love Me Do."

Heritage Auctions will auction the six-page contract in New York on Sept. 19 for an estimated $150,000. It's the centerpiece of a Beatles collection spanning the band's entire career. It's being sold by the estate of Uwe Blaschke, a German graphic designer and noted Beatles historian who died in 2010.

"Not many people know that the Beatles started their careers in Germany," said Beatles expert Ulf Kruger. "The Beatles had their longest stint in a club in Hamburg at the Top Ten Club. They played there three months in a row, every night. The style they invented in Liverpool, they cultivated in Hamburg."

"Without this contract all of the pieces wouldn't have fallen into place," added Dean Harmeyer, Heritage's consignment director for music memorabilia, who said the band was "a ramshackle, amateur band" when they first went to Germany. "They were probably a C class in the pantheon of Liverpool bands."

But their stints in Hamburg between 1960 and 1962 changed that.

"It really is where they honed their musical skills to become the Beatles," he said. "They set about learning new material, they worked on their instrumental abilities."

But it was "crazy luck" that got them to Hamburg, he said.

Their booking agent fortuitously ran into a club owner looking for rock 'n' roll bands to perform in his Hamburg nightclub. The Beatles were not the agent's first choice and wound up going only after other bands declined.

When the Beatles — John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and original drummer Pete Best — were later hired to be the backup band for British singer/guitarist Tony Sheridan at the Top Ten Club, German record producer Bert Kaempfert signed them and Sheridan to record a rock 'n' roll version of "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean."

"My Bonnie" netted the Beatles about $80. It was credited to "Tony Sheridan and the Beat Boys" because Kaempfert felt the name "Beatles" would not cut it with Germans.

"The Beatles didn't care what they were signing as long as it was for a recording contract," said Kruger.

The only copies that made it out of Germany initially were the ones sent to the Beatles back home in Liverpool, England. After a local club disc jockey got his hands on one and started playing it, music fans began asking for it. That got the attention of Liverpool record shop owner Brian Epstein, who decided to hear them perform at the Cavern Club.

"He immediately sees their potential. He tells them 'I want to manage you and I'll make you successful'" — and he did, going on to secure them a record contract with EMI, Harmeyer said.

"Every great collector wants their collection to be illuminative of the subject, and Blaschke's collection does this so well largely because it also covers the German period," he said. "It covers everything else. He's got stuff from Sgt. Pepper and Abbey Road'and the later things ... but he's got this great trove of things that are specific to Hamburg.

That's really where the story started ... it's where they really become the Beatles."

The Beatles' 50 Biggest Billboard Hits

Other highlights and their pre-sale estimates include:

— A 1962 autographed copy of "Love Me Do," the first single recorded with Ringo. $10,000.

— A 1960 postcard Ringo sent to his grandmother from Hamburg. $4,000.

— A Swiss restaurant menu card signed by the Beatles while they were filming "HELP" in 1965. $12,000.

— A set of four psychedelic posters by Richard Avedon commissioned by the German magazine Stern in 1966. Estimate: $5,000.

The auction comes on the 55th anniversary of the Beatles' first trip to Hamburg and 50 years after the Fab Four's record-breaking performance at Shea Stadium in Queens, New York.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Deep Purple, Foghat Rock The PacAmp

Review by Shawn Perry
Photos by Ron Lyon
Who’d have thought that in 2015, you could see Foghat and Deep Purple together on the same bill. At the fair, no less. Before a full house of some 5,000, both bands reignited the hard rockin’ 70s with strong sets of their greatest anthems. Foghat and Deep Purple have played the OC Fair many times in recent years, so their match-up was dripping with inevitability. Foghat tour the States constantly, whereas Purple, until recently, only paid occasional visits to America, choosing instead to clean up on the European festival circuit where they are highly revered as the rock gods that they are. Here in the States, they get lumped in with a lot of other “classic rock” bands that are operating strictly on past achievements. Tonight’s show would change that perception.
It being a weekday at the Orange County Fair, time constraints meant that Foghat only got a 45 minute slot. They made the most of it with a tight set that highlighted everything that’s great about the boogie-fied blues the band fries up. The lineup of original drummer Roger Earl, bassist since 1975 Craig MacGregor, and the two “new guys,” singer and guitarist Charlie Huhn and lead guitarist Bryan Bassett, have developed an intuitive chemistry in the 10 years they’ve been together.
“Fool For The City” remains the perfect opener, and it definitely got the still-incoming crowd on their feet (even after they found their seat). “Driving Wheel” may well have been their highlight as Bassett ably scaled the heights on his guitar, proving once and for all he is the proper successor to the band’s original lead guitarist Rod Price. It was also Bassett’s birthday, so maybe when the audience joined in to sing “Happy Birthday,” it fired up his fingers to slip and slide even more wildly all over the fretboard.
Forty years on, and Earl and MacGregor are a well-oiled rhythm machine. Front and center, Huhn has taken the baton with great respect and reverence from “Lonesome” Dave Peverett and extended it to the heavens. He churned out a bluesy progression before diving into “I Just Wanna Make Love To You.” At the helm, Huhn and Bassett swapped guitar licks. “Slow Ride” pounded its trademark thud and the band hit their marks and brought their set to a close.
Strong openers build anticipation, and it was at fever-pitch by the time Deep Purple hit the stage at 8:30. A movement from Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” got everyone shuffling in their stead as the band took their positions. “Highway Star” was up first, and almost immediately the chugging guitar magic of Steve Morse transformed the song into a juggernaut. From there, things got real interesting.
Perhaps one of the big reasons Deep Purple was making a return appearance after a relatively modest 2014 tour that brought the band here and to Las Vegas for a free show is their 2013 studio album, NOW What?!. I spoke briefly with keyboardist Don Airey before the show, and we both agreed the album reinvigorated the band’s quest for immortality. He told me they recorded more material with producer Bob Ezrin, so the possibility of hearing new music from Deep Purple is definitely something to look forward to. In the meantime, with the album charting in parts of Europe, many of the songs have been rotated into the setlist.
Tonight, four songs from NOW What?! were trotted out and the reception was actually more livelier than you’d think, despite the fact that a majority of the audience was a unfamiliar with the material. Or in one case, the band themselves. One women nearby asked, “Who’s are the original members?” To which, I answered, “Only the drummer.” Then she asked, “Does the singer sound like the original guy?” I explained to her that Ian Gillan was the original singer of “Smoke On The Water,” and he was still in the band. It got complicated after that. It was a clear indication of how important band members and new songs are.

So “Après Vous” was rolled out to a mild ovation. “Weirdistan” or "Above And Beyond" may have been better choices, but “Après Vous” is one of the more solid tracks fromNOW What?! “Vincent Price” has its moments too, despite its trite macabre feel. Thankfully, “Hell To Pay” and  “Uncommon Man,” two of the more Purple-like numbers, made the cut, and both Morse and Airey rose to the occasion. Throughout the night, solo spotlights featuring these two, another set of “new guys” (even though Morse’s 21-year membership exceeds that of Ritchie Blackmore) reaffirm why the band still matters, nearly 50 years on.
What really made the night were those well-placed nuggets that Purple intermittingly sprinkle in with the mainstream stuff. “Hard Lovin' Man” from 1970’s In Rock album made enough of a splash in 2014 to remain in the arsenal for 2015. It was a real treat watching Ian Paice take the steering wheel for “The Mule” and blithely lay down the sweeping swirl of drums that drive the song. Yes, he is more than “only the drummer.”  Like Charlie Watts is to the Stones, Ian Paice is to Deep Purple — irreplaceable and untouchable in the role as their band’s timekeeper.
Toward of the end of the night, the crowd-pleasers started coming. After an enticing, multi-genre-encompassing solo from Airey, the tone was set for “Perfect Stranger.” As he had done all night, singer Ian Gillan stayed within his range and minimized the screeches he could, as a younger man, summon with relative ease. Nevertheless, he was sprite and spot-on during the choruses on “Space Truckin’,” and he eagerly lead the audience in a sing-along of — you guessed it — “Smoke On The Water.”
Remarkably, the one-two punch encore of “Hush” and “Black Night” sailed past the curfew, but no one was shutting down the power or running out the door. The members of Deep Purple may be older and a bit lighter in their attack, but the music still burns with intensity. Could more new music be added? Could other songs deep in their catalog be polished off and refreshed? The possibility is there. Could Deep Purple, a band often credited alongside Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath as one of the more influential pioneers of British hard rock and heavy metal, still have some tricks up their sleeve? We shall see.
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