Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Reflections On Owning Celebrity Skin

When Hole’s third album, Celebrity Skin, was first released, there was no way I was going to purchase it. I simply refused to give Courtney Love any of my money. I did not like her at all. I felt that she was a large reason for Kurt Cobain’s death, she was intolerable, and she milked her husband’s success to push herself into the spotlight of fame and notoriety. To this day, I still feel that way, but not as strongly as I did back in 1998. 

Yet, after the release of Celebrity Skin my best friend purchased the album immediately, which drastically affected my decision making process. Tommy and I would spend endless nights driving to Hoboken and other such places to drink at all of the local hot spots (and maybe meet a young woman or two in the process). Since he was obsessed with Celebrity Skin, it was played constantly during these rides.

The more the album was shoved down my throat, the more I came to realize how exceptional it was. Despite my feelings for Courtney Love, I enjoyed listening to Celebrity Skin over and over again during those long night rides. It got to a point where I would slide into the passenger seat of Tommy’s car and immediately dig up the CD and put it into the player. I had to hear it. Yet, I was still torn and still refused to give Courtney Love my money. The only way I would listen to the record was if it was someone else’s. 

In the spring of 1999, I had to take a business trip to the San Francisco area. It was my first time on the West Coast, and even though I was making the trip to inform our West Coast office they were being shut down, I was generally excited. It was a chance to see California and learn what the west was all about. I planned to enjoy it all after the stated mission was accomplished. 

I arrived in San Francisco in the early part of the afternoon the day before I had to deliver the horrendous information. I drove from the hotel where I was staying to the office to ensure that I would know how to get there in the morning, and then I had the rest of the day/night free to do whatever I wanted. I decided to drive around the San Francisco area and see what they had to offer. During this drive I passed a gigantic record store. I immediately pulled over and parked the car. 

In 1999, I was a music buying machine, and I guess to a certain degree, I still am, but back then I was known to drop over a hundred dollars anytime I visited a CD store, and I made frequent trips. Finding a record store on the left coast was akin to seeing a familiar face in a far off land. It was still early. I had a credit card in my hand, plenty of time to shop, and an amazing selection to choose from. It was time to purchase some music that I could enjoy for the rest of that trip. 

The store was enormous with endless albums to choose from and I spent well over two hours in there, browsing, previewing, and enjoying the music. There was even a used section that took up almost half of the store. To me, it was Heaven! As I strolled through the aisles of the used merchandise, an interesting and familiar album caught my eye. Celebrity Skin. I hadn’t heard the record for a few weeks (Tommy and I had moved on to something else by that point, Kid Rock, I think), and of course, I didn’t own a copy. I thought how wonderful it would be to drive around California on a spring evening listening to that record. I rationalized that I wouldn’t be breaking my integrity either, because the album was used, meaning Courtney Love would not get a dime from that sale. It would all go to the CD store. With that clarity in place, I added Celebrity Skin to my growing stack of music and continued to shop. 

The decision was a solid one on my part. As soon as I got back out to the rented vehicle, I put Celebrity Skin in the stereo and let it rip. Having absolutely no plans that evening, I drove around aimlessly, listening to song after song after song and loving the California weather. And although it was just me, the open road, and that album, it was a special night. I bonded with the music and Northern California. I don’t know where I drove to or how far I travelled, but I know that night was an amazing evening of musical bliss. “Malibu” was played several times because I felt it was fitting (even though I was several hundred miles away from the city). Regardless of the distance, it just seemed appropriate. 

The remainder of the trip was spent closing the office, seeing the sites, and listening to Celebrity Skin constantly. It just brought me a feeling of home. Even now, when I dust that disc off and give it a few spins, it still takes me back to the nights in Hoboken and my first trip to California. It’s funny how quickly music can do that. With “Malibu” playing in my ears I can close my eyes and instantly be ported back in time 17 years.
To this day I still believe that Celebrity Skin is one of the finest records ever recorded. And I still don’t want to give Courtney Love any of my money. Some things just don’t change over time. 

oceans of angels/oceans of stars/ down by the sea/is where you drown your scars…  “Malibu” by Hole

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Extreme II: Pornograffitti Gets 25th Anniversary Treatment

Extreme II: Pornograffitti (A Funked Up Fairy Tale) first came out on A&M Records in August 1990, the follow-up to the band’s 1989 debut. The album is considered, according to the newly penned liner notes by Metal Hammer’s Malcolm Dome contained in the accompanying booklet, as the “definitive album” of the band’s career.

“This was the album where we found ourselves,” says vocalist Gary Cherone. “Our first album showed us to be the bastard sons of Queen, Aerosmith and Van Halen. But on the second record, we discovered our style and sound.”

The deluxe edition reissue includes a full second album of rare mixes and B-sides re-mastered from the original tapes, and is scheduled for release on January 20, 2015. The original album, which went double platinum in the U.S. with more than two million sold, cracking the Billboard 200 Top 10, featured the chart-topping single “More Than Words,” the Top 5 “Hole Hearted” and the rock radio standout “Get the Funk Out,” which included vocals by Pat Travers. Dweezil Zappa, (whose solo album guitarist Nuno Bettencourt was about to produce) added some guitar riffs to “He-Man Woman Hater” when the band recorded some of the album at Scream Studios in Studio City, CA.

Bettencourt was instrumental in initially composing the original songs, leaving Cherone alone to write the lyrics, which Cherone describes as “a coming of age tale… about an innocent boy who is growing up and exposed to sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.”

Bettencourt himself doesn’t see the disc as “a concept album,” but admits in the liner notes, “I suppose what happened was a little like writing a play, and then trying to make sure the songs fit into the plot.”

Among the collectibles on the second disc of the package are a B-side a cappella version of “More Than Words,” rare B-sides “Nice Place to Visit” and “Sex N’ Love” and 7” and 12” remixes of “Get The Funk Out.”

The album has come to define the band’s career.

“I still constantly have musicians say to me that the album meant so much to them, and that proves what an impact it had. Its success established us as a major band,” recalls “decadent drummer” Paul Geary.

“We came into our own on this album,” admits bassist/vocalist Pat Badger. “We honed in on our hard rock sound. The songs were riff-driven yet also had a little funk groove. But we were still diverse, which has always been one of our trademarks.”

“It seems like another lifetime to me,” says Bettencourt, “I listen to it, and I can criticize some things. But I am still proud of it. And so many fans do still say it’s their favorite album.”

Extreme will support the release of the reissued Extreme II: Pornograffitti (A Funked Up Fairy Tale) on their ‘Pornograffitti Live – 25th Anniversary Tour, with a series of concerts in the new year where they will play the entire album front to back, including the following January dates:

January 16: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, CT
January 17: State Theater, Portland, ME
January 18: The Chance, Poughkeepsie, NY
January 20: Bergen P.A.C, Englewood, NJ
January 21: House of Blues, Boston, MA
January 22: Penn’s Peak, Jim Thorpe, PA
January 24: The Space at Westbury, Westbury, NY
January 25: Baltimore Soundstage, Baltimore, MD
January 27: Bogart's, Cincinnati, OH
January 28: House of Blues, Chicago, IL
January 29: Mill City Nights, Minneapolis, MN
January 31: FireKeepers Casino, Battle Creek, MI
For more information, go to

I got to see Extreme last summer at M3 and they were on fire! Definitely check this show out if they are coming near your hometown. Extreme rocks!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Life Leone - I Can't Say No

One part Strokes, one part exceptional music, one part fantastic guitar riffs equals one awesome song. Life Leone recently released a video for “I Can’t Say No,” and I can’t stop listening to it. Get yourself hooked by checking the video below.

“I Can’t Say No” rocks!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

I Know Leopard - Perfect Picture

Following the release of their debut EP, Illumina, earlier in the yearSydney four piece I Know Leopard have wasted no time jumping back into the studio, unleashing Perfect Picture, the first taste of the band’s sophomore EP.  The offering is trademark I Know Leopard –celestial, swimming, string-enhanced pop, a bit of synth and all of the feels.
Added straight to full rotation on Australia's national radio tastemaker network Triple J,  ‘Perfect Picture’ sees I Know Leopard keeping to their heady sonic intent but this time with a kraut-rock inspired groove.  Despite the lively tempo, the song remains meditative like its predecessors with dizzying layers of the lushest of strings and synths throughout. 
Check it out for yourself:
I Know Leopard rocks!

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Greatest Album Is...Destroyer

Every band that has been around for a while and released great records runs into this debate; what is their greatest album? The greatest album is…is a column dedicated to tackling that age old question. What is the greatest album recorded by Kiss? Join with us now as the question is answered and arguments are made that the greatest Kiss album is Destroyer. 

After releasing their first live album, and one of the first double live records in the history of rock, Kiss went back into the studio to work on a record that was going to live up to their new found popularity. They were faced with a daunting task, but these four young, hungry New Yorkers were up for the challenge. Working with producer Bob Ezrin, Kiss entered the studio and came out with an album that not only exceeded expectations of all their fans, but also became what has been considered the greatest Kiss album ever recorded.

Destroyer is an absolute pleasure from start to finish. There is not a bad song on the record. From the opening introductory scene that sets up “Detroit Rock City,” to the final note of “Do You Love Me,” Destroyer is a masterpiece! Filled with themes of rock and roll superstardom, lusting groupies, and the rigors of life in a rock band, Destroyer is an album that resonates with hard rock fans throughout the world. It is an album that any fan who calls themselves a lover of hard rock music must own.

One of the many components that make Destroyer so amazing is the fact that it was written by all four members of the band. And while Ace Frehley doesn’t sing any lead vocals, he was the one who wrote the lyrics and melody for “Detroit Rock City.” Every member of the band came into the studio with something, looking for ways that they could contribute. Every member fought to deliver only their best work and to get it on the record. In the end, the fans were the biggest winners. Kiss had never worked as hard on an album. Not before and not since. Their hard work still holds up nearly 40 years later.

Destroyer sold well upon its release. The album was certified gold almost immediately, and initial sales in the first month were estimated around 850,000. However, by the end of the summer of 1976, sales of Destroyer stagnated and the album fell down the charts in rapid fashion. Critics were very hard on the record, slamming it for “pedestrian drumming,” and calling it the band’s “least interesting record.” Decades later, those same critics would be adding the record to the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time and similar lists.

Destroyer does contain one of the greatest Kiss gems that most fans, die-hards included, seem to forget about. “Sweet Pain” could be one of the best Kiss songs ever recorded and yet it receives almost no fanfare. It is a mid tempo hard rocker, about the pleasure of pain, desire, and sexual tension. Written and performed by Gene Simmons, a majority of the Kiss Army forget this song exists, and several have written it off as filler or a throw away. Make no mistake about it, “Sweet Pain,” is anything but filler. If the band ever wanted to up their live performance, they would do well to dust off this beauty and give it a much deserved performance.

Song for song and note for note, Destroyer is Kiss’ finest piece of work. While there may be arguments for other Kiss records (Love Gun, Revenge, Dressed To Kill), it is Destroyer that stands above the rest. The band’s most beloved songs are present and accounted for. The overall fun factor of this record is through the roof, and if there was one Kiss album that anyone should own, it would be this one.

The greatest Kiss album is….Destroyer.

Vital Statistics
Released:  March 15, 1976
Produced by Bob Ezrin
RIAA Sales: 2x Platinum
Peak Position On US Charts: 11

Shout It Out Loud
Flaming Youth
Detroit Rock City

Track Listing
Detroit Rock City
King Of The Nighttime World
God Of Thunder
Great Expectations
Flaming Youth
Sweet Pain
Shout It Out Loud
Do You Love Me?

Band Members
Gene Simmons – Bass, Vocals
Paul Stanley – Guitar, Vocals
Ace Frehley – Lead Guitar
Peter Criss – Drums, Vocals