domingo, 23 de julio de 2017

Why Izzy Stradlin was the heart of Guns N' Roses

Former Guns N' Roses manager Alan Niven on Izzy Stradlin, true rock'n'roll outlaw

It was Izzy's fuckin' band... at least that's my perception.
Iz made the move to the city first. He packed his suitcase and went to lay the foundation of a band. Rattlesnake hide or not, you know that bag was worn and funky, not shiny, like a new Halliburton from Tim Collins.

Iz was the first to take the Night Train out of small town Indiana for Los Angeles. Axl followed Izzy once he was set up in L.A. - an easy move. He then retreated back to Lafayette. Couldn't hack it in L.A. according to Iz. He was relieved. He told me later he didn't want to deal with Rose, who he had known since High School. Axl couldn't deal with small town Indiana either so he moved a second time, loaded like a freight train with all his baggage. Iz was less than thrilled. So it went. On the third date of the band's first national tour, supporting The Cult, Izzy knocked on my hotel room door. He brushed past me and flopped on the sofa.

“That motherfucker makes us miserable every fuckin' day,” he groaned.

Axl was never so fuckin' easy, but he had that voice, a voice that reeked of Middle American white boy outrage and anger. He had that attitude that championed individualism and every individual. Especially himself. If that was what Axl brought to the band what did Izzy bring? He brought the Night Train, Mr. Brownstone, he brought the sweet street Jungle groove. When Mike Clink hit the wall, exhausted from the Appetite sessions, a concerned Tom Zutaut asked me to check the recordings.

“Mike can't fix a mix. Do you think we have it on tape Niv?”

I asked him to send me Izzy's Brownstone. Michael Lardie and I prepped the sound board at Total Access to do a fast mix. We put the two inch reel up. It was there. The groove, the edge. We were able to cook up a mix in four hours. Clink had got it on tape. We were good.
I first saw Izz on the stage of The Troubadour. He had an effortless offhand grace in the way he handled his hollow-bodied Gibson. He played his rhythm parts with a perfect insouciance, knowing exactly when he should leave a space, syncopate the groove. I have a picture on my wall of Izzy playing with Keef and Ronnie Wood. They not only play like kin, they look like Mama's kin. Imagine The Stones without Keef.

Izzy had the casual wisdom not to inject himself into the blind obediences of a conformist's life. As much as a C.C. Deville or a Bon Jovi might have contrived to be rock n roll outlaws, Izzy was to the manner born. His lyrics had an uncontrived, main vein, street vernacular. When Guns were slated to open for Aerosmith Izzy came to me with a concern.

“Niv, this might be a bit awkward, but I used to deal smack to Joe and Steven.”
“Don't worry Iz, if you don't mention it I am damned sure they won't.”

Izzy left GN'R three months after I was kicked aside by Axl. Iz found me, somehow, when I was with The Whites in Winterthur, Switzerland.

“I can't deal with it anymore,” he said. There had almost been a riot at a Guns show in Germany. Rose had stormed off the stage for some reason, and Izzy was freaked by the idea of submachine gun toting cops breaking heads. He had the jitters. The binding pressure and exposure of expectation and fame, the anxieties that Rose generated, were not worth it to him. They were burning him down. He was going to quit there and then. He did not intend to play the tour closing show at Wembley Stadium.

“You can't let the fans and the others down like that Iz. You're not the bad guy. Don't be seen as one.”

I reserved and paid for a suite at the Wembley Stadium Hilton where Izzy could chill, away from the backstage area, and wait to see if Axl would turn up. Only when he knew that Rose was at the venue did he join the others for his last performance as a member of the band that was mostly built on his insight, songs and style.

It was Izzy's fuckin' band. Izzy was the one I could reliably count on for a position on a decision – his was always the incontrovertible point of view that best served the band. He grounded them with his unimpeachable rock n' roll stance habitually maintained in his playing and writing. Izzy had provided the cool heart for the hot soul of the band.

When the band was inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, Izzy set up a meeting with Axl at a L.A. Hotel. He wanted to get an agreement for the original band to play together one last time - do the fuckin' re-union there in that moment and then say “thank you, good fuckin' night.” After waiting for two hours for Axl to show, he drove home to Ojai. No-show Axl had made him miserable one more fuckin' time.

A band is like a chemical molecule. Not all the elements are of the same size, power or energy, and perception does not always define significance, but remove even the slightest grain and the molecule collapses. When Steven lost his mind and got himself fired that changed the feel of the rhythm section, the rush was done, but when Izzy left it meant that the band was no longer the Guns N' Roses that I knew and loved, the band that I was addicted to. It was just Dust n' Bones - “just fuckin' gone.”

As I said, if it was anyone's, it was Izzy's fuckin' band.

Alan Niven managed Guns N' Roses from 1986 to 1991.

Motley Crue (K.R.MIX)

Mötley Crüe was an American heavy metal band formed in Los Angeles, California on January 17, 1981. The group was founded by bass guitarist Nikki Sixx and drummer Tommy Lee, lead singer Vince Neil and lead guitarist Mick Mars. Mötley Crüe has sold more than 100 million records worldwide , including 25 million albums in the United States, making them one of the best-selling bands of all time.
Their final studio album, Saints of Los Angeles, was released on June 24, 2008. Their final show took place on New Year's Eve, December 31, 2015, and was filmed for a theatrical and Blu-ray release in 2016.

Original/Final line-up
Nikki Sixx – bass, keyboards, backing vocals (1981–2015)
Mick Mars – lead guitar, sitar, mandolin, talkbox, backing vocals (1981–2015)
Vince Neil – lead vocals, rhythm guitar, harmonica (1981–1992, 1996–2015)
Tommy Lee – drums, percussion, keyboards, backing vocals (1981–1999, 2004–2015)

Other members
John Corabi – lead vocals, rhythm guitar, bass, keyboards (1992–1996)
Randy Castillo – drums, percussion (1999–2002; his death)
Samantha Maloney – drums, percussion (2002-2004) (session/touring member 2000-2002)

sábado, 22 de julio de 2017

Methods of Mayhem - A Public Disservice Announcement (2010)

A Public Disservice Announcement is the second album by Methods of Mayhem, released on September 21, 2010. It is the band's first album since their self-titled debut album, which was released in 1999.
The album, produced by Scott Humphrey, is unique in that it is composed partially of renditions and parts submitted by individuals from around the world based on the demos (stems) of each song that were posted online at Both the band and Humphrey listened to the recordings, which numbered over 10,000 – choosing the best and most fitting submission ideas to add to the song's final mix. In speaking about those who submitted their parts to the music, vocalist Tommy Lee said that:
"There is a lot of undiscovered talent out there, from kids just getting started, to shirt tuckers who have a 9 to 5 that just rock out in a bar band on the weekends. They don't want to be famous, but those guys are stars."

(*)After choosing the best ideas from over 10,000 submissions (and giving the fans credit where credit was due), and adding guest spots from artists like Chino Moreno (Deftones), Deryck Whibley (Sum 41), and Chad Kroeger (Nickelback), A Public Disservice Announcement was born. The rub is, the very thing that makes the album interesting conceptually ends up giving a kind of directionless feeling. The album spans a vast array of genres, covering rap-rock (“Drunk Uncle Pete”), nu metal (“Fight Song”), and dance-rock (“All I Wanna Do”). While all of these styles are pulled off competently, it leaves the album with a kind of “too many cooks in the kitchen” vibe, feeling more like a collection of assorted singles than a cohesive record. On the flip side of that, it’s good to see Lee changing with the times and branching away from the sound of the platinum-selling Methods of Mayhem, letting fans breathe easily knowing that while the album may sound like many things, it doesn’t sound like rap-metal circa 1999.
(*) from All Music

"Fight Song" was released as the first single and a music video was released for the second single "Time Bomb". The song has peaked at number 42 on the US Rock Songs Chart.

A really great idea about doing this album in that "collective" way. But is there any merit left for Mr. Lee?, ... yes . The sound and mix is awesome and listening is very enjoyable! In fact, I can't stop listen to it right now.

viernes, 21 de julio de 2017

The Beatles - Revolver (1966)

Revolver is the seventh studio album by the Beatles. Released on 5 August 1966, it was the Beatles' final recording project before their retirement as live performers and marked the group's most overt use of studio technology up to that time, building on the advances of their 1965 release Rubber Soul. The album's diverse sounds include tape loops and backwards recordings on the psychedelic "Tomorrow Never Knows", a classical string octet on "Eleanor Rigby", and Indian-music backing on "Love You To". The album was reduced to eleven songs by Capitol Records in North America, where three of its tracks instead appeared on the June 1966 release Yesterday and Today.
The Beatles recorded the album following a three-month break from professional commitments at the start of 1966, and during a period when London was feted as the era's cultural capital. The songs reflect the influence of psychedelic drugs such as LSD and the increasing sophistication of the Beatles' lyrics to address themes including death and transcendence from material concerns. With no thoughts of reproducing their new material in concert, the band made liberal use of studio techniques such as varispeeding, reversed tapes, close audio miking and automatic double tracking (ADT), in addition to employing musical instrumentation outside of their standard live set-up. Some of the changes in studio practice introduced by Revolver, particularly ADT, were soon adopted throughout the recording industry.
Revolver expanded the scope of pop music in terms of the range of musical styles used on the album and the lyrical content of its songs. The album was influential in advancing principles espoused by the 1960s counterculture and in inspiring the development of subgenres such as psychedelic rock, electronica, progressive rock and world music. Many music critics recognise it as the Beatles' best album, surpassing Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The album was ranked first in Colin Larkin's book All-Time Top 1000 Albums and third in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". In 2013, after the British Phonographic Industry had changed its sales award rules, Revolver was certified platinum in the UK. The album has been certified 5× platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.

The sessions for Revolver furthered the spirit of studio experimentation evident on Rubber Soul. With the Beatles increasingly involved in the production of their music, Martin's role as producer had changed to one of a facilitator and collaborator, whereby the band now relied on him to make their ideas a reality. Revolver marked the first time that the Beatles integrated studio technology into the "conception of the recordings they made".
For the first time at EMI Studios, the company's four-track tape machines were placed in the studio's control room, alongside the producer and balance engineer, rather than in a dedicated machine room.
The group's willingness to experiment was also evident in their dedication to finding or inventing sounds that captured the heightened perception they experienced through hallucinogenic drugs. The album made liberal use of compression and tonal equalisation.
In their search for new sounds, the band incorporated musical instruments such as the Indian tambura and tabla, and clavichord, vibraphone and tack piano into their work for the first time. The guitar sound on the album was more robust than before, through the use of new Fender amplifiers; the choice of guitars, which included Harrison using a Gibson SG as his preferred instrument; and the introduction of Fairchild 660 limiters for recording.
With no expectations of being able to re-create their new music within the confines of their live shows, the Beatles increasingly used outside contributors while making the album.

Already happened with Rubber soul, but in this one they went into experimentation that would make them eternal

Iron Maiden - Piece of mind (1983)

Piece of Mind is the fourth studio album by the English heavy metal band Iron Maiden, originally released in 1983 by EMI and then by Capitol in Canada and the US, where it was later reissued by Sanctuary/Columbia Records. It was the first album to feature drummer Nicko McBrain, who had recently left the Paris-based band Trust and has been Iron Maiden's drummer ever since.

Piece of Mind was a critical and commercial success, reaching No. 3 in the UK Albums Chart and achieving platinum certification in the UK and North America.

In December 1982, drummer Clive Burr ended his association with the band due to personal and tour schedule problems and was replaced by Nicko McBrain, previously of French band Trust, as well as Pat Travers, and Streetwalkers.
Soon afterwards, the band went to Jersey to compose the songs, taking over the hotel Le Chalet (as it was out of season) and rehearsing in its restaurant. In February, the band journeyed for the first time to the Bahamas to record the album at Nassau's Compass Point Studios.
Recordings were finished in March, and afterwards the album was mixed at Electric Lady Studios in New York City.
Lyrically, the album largely reflects the group's literary interests, such as "To Tame a Land", inspired by Frank Herbert's 1965 science fiction novel Dune; "Sun and Steel", based on Yukio Mishima's 1968 essay about samurai Miyamoto Musashi; "Still Life", influenced by Ramsey Campbell's 1964 short story "The Inhabitant of the Lake", and "The Trooper", inspired by Alfred, Lord Tennyson's The Charge of the Light Brigade (1854). Film influences are also present, such as "Where Eagles Dare", based on the Brian G. Hutton 1968 film, scripted by Alistair MacLean, and "Quest for Fire", based on the 1981 film by Jean-Jacques Annaud. On top of this, "Revelations", written by Dickinson, includes lines from G. K. Chesterton's hymn O God of Earth and Altar, while the remainder of the song is influenced by Aleister Crowley. More exotic influences include Greek mythology, albeit slightly altered, for "Flight of Icarus". "To Tame a Land" was meant to be entitled "Dune" after the novel. But after seeking permission from Frank Herbert's agents, the band received a message which stated, "Frank Herbert doesn't like rock bands, particularly heavy rock bands, and especially bands like Iron Maiden" and were forced to change the name.

Piece of Mind was released on 28 May 1983, peaking at No. 3 in the UK Albums Chart. It was preceded by the single "Flight of Icarus" on 28 April and its supporting tour, the World Piece Tour, opened at Hull City Hall on 2 May. Said tour concluded on 18 December, following 139 concerts in total, with a televised performance at Westfalenhalle in Dortmund.
Reviews for Piece of Mind were mostly positive. In 1983, Kerrang! magazine published a poll of the greatest metal albums of all time, with Piece of Mind ranking No. 1, and with The Number of the Beast at No. 2.

Fresh and timeless as few. 
The album in which Iron Maiden finished forging sound and style.

Motley Crue - Generation Swine (1997)

Generation Swine is the seventh studio album by Mötley Crüe, released on June 24, 1997. The album marks the return of lead singer Vince Neil following his last appearance on 1989's Dr. Feelgood and the last to feature drummer Tommy Lee until the 2005 album Red, White & Crüe.
Following the commercial failure of the band's self-titled album, Mötley Crüe was under pressure by executives at Elektra Records to return Mötley Crüe to the level of commercial success that the band enjoyed in the 1980s.

The band, then officially consisting of vocalist/guitarist John Corabi, bassist Nikki Sixx, drummer Tommy Lee and guitarist Mick Mars, were so frustrated with the failure of the previous album and tour sales that they fired numerous people around the group, including their accountant, manager Doug Thaler, and their producer Bob Rock. The band then hired Allen Kovac as their new manager and started looking for another producer to work with for their next record which was originally titled Personality #9.
After the mass firing, the band was called to a meeting with Warner Bros. CEO Doug Morris to discuss the current state of the band. At the meeting, Morris tried to convince Sixx and Lee to get rid of Corabi, as he wasn't a "star," and reunite with original singer Vince Neil. Sixx and Lee were not interested in the idea of working with Neil again, and insisted on keeping Corabi in the group. With some additional convincing from Elektra CEO Sylvia Rhone, Morris agreed and the band continued with their work.

After Rock was fired for being "too expensive and overproduc[ing] the music", the band eventually chose Scott Humphrey to take Rock's place, with both Sixx and Lee agreeing to serve as co-producers on the album. After Humphrey, Sixx and Lee took over as producers, the recording process became very disorganized, as Humphrey and Sixx regularly argued over ideas for the album. Mars' role in the band was greatly reduced due to an ongoing feud between him and Humphrey, and Corabi grew increasingly frustrated with the sessions as well, as he would learn and write material only to find it completely changed by the time he returned to the studio.
As the recording of the album continued, the band was still being pressured to reunite with Neil, and Corabi decided that he had had enough of the frustration of working under the pressure that the band and Humphrey were putting on him. With Corabi out of the band, the door was now open for Neil to return.

Neil, meanwhile, had been busy with his own solo career and the untimely death of his daughter Skylar, when Kovac had approached him with the same idea of reuniting with Mötley Crüe as Morris had presented to Sixx and Lee earlier. Neil, like Sixx and Lee, was against the idea of working with the band again, but Kovac had planted the idea of a reunion in Neil's head that eventually changed his mind. After meeting with Sixx and Lee, Neil agreed to rejoin the band and finish the album whose title had now been changed to Generation Swine.

Musically, the album shows Mötley Crüe trying to update their image and sound, experimenting with current trends such as electronica and alternative rock. The songs draw heavy influence from Cheap Trick in the first half of the record. Rick Nielsen and Robin Zander did backing vocals in some songs. Most of the album was written while Corabi was with the band, and as such Neil (whose voice is higher and cleaner than Corabi's) had difficulty adjusting his voice to the new material and sound.
Even with Neil back in the band, the album proved to be a departure from traditional Mötley Crüe albums. Besides the aforementioned experimentation with various types of music, the album featured Sixx and Lee on lead vocals for the first time. Sixx was featured on lead on the song "Rocketship", which was written as a love song to his new romance with model Donna D'Errico, and sang lead on parts of "Find Myself". Lee was featured on lead vocals on the song "Brandon", which was a namesake song to his first-born son, and his then-current wife, model Pamela Anderson, as well as the song "Beauty".

Lyrically, Generation Swine ranges from songs about drugs and prostitution such as "Find Myself" and "Beauty," to the anti-suicide stance on "Flush" and familial love on "Rocketship" and "Brandon."

The first time I listened the album was a "not good" experience. I found it "empty of ideas". 
After three or four times the feeling was the same, but... I kept myself playing the album and that feeling was changing. The songs are really good and different from the classics Crue albums. Some songs sounds like Iggy Pop, others like Smashing pumpkins, but in general is a great album.
Now I think that the big problem with this album in the production, the sound and mix is... is... strange. The drum sound, it’s so condensed and really sounds computerized.