Monday, July 6, 2015

Reflections On...For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge

The sensational Van Halen album, For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, was released at a pivotal time in my young life. I had just graduated high school, and this was the first record one of my favorite bands released post diploma receipt. Thus, For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge became the first album that the newly graduated Ryo added to his collection.

This record also came out as I was entering my first summer with no clear path or plan on what to do with my life. I had already decided that I would not attend college. School and I had never been best friends, and the thought of doing two more years at a county college was not the most appealing to me. I was a drifter and a dreamer, and for the first time in my life I had what I felt was unlimited freedom. I was working part time at Roy Rogers fast food restaurant, living at home with my mother (when I was home, which wasn’t often) and I had gas money in my pocket. What more could an 18 year old male ask for? This was paradise.

And then life got complicated. As was usually the case, it was a girl that gummed up the works and turned my stupid happy summer on its rear. And as was usually the case, the outcome of events appeared so dramatic to my immature mind, that it caused a wave of life changing events to transpire. Teenagers are such idiots, especially the males.

As my high school years came to a close, I was dating Cheryl. She was an older woman (21 to my 18) who was a little bit crazy, not well liked by Mom, and extremely curvy. What wasn’t there to love? Unfortunately as our time together wore on, Cheryl got a little crazier in her daily life activities. She also started to get very clingy and needy. Clingy and needy are two words that any adolescent male has a hard time comprehending when it comes to the opposite sex. Why are they so clingy? Why do they have so many needs? Needless to say our relationship slipped on a downward slope and by 4th of July weekend, we were pretty much a non-item.

Yet, before our relationship came to a conclusion, I made a new friend. Yes, she was female. Yes, I was attracted to her. And yes, she had a boyfriend. To complicate matters, her boyfriend was a friend of mine. He was actually more akin to a “friend of a friend,” but we did all spend time together on a somewhat regular basis. Therefore, for purposes of clarification, he was a friend; a friend who was dating a girl that I took an instant liking to. All the ingredients in a recipe for disaster were present and accounted for.

And in the middle of all the turmoil, before the storm, during the storm, and after the storm, was the latest record from Van Halen. I remember buying this CD the week it came out. I went to my local music shop, purchased the disc off the rack, hopped into my automobile, and headed for the highway. The opening notes of “Poundcake” washed all over me. The drill launched against the guitar strings and the high pitch whine kicked in creating a musical atmosphere of bliss. I turned the volume knob to the right, lowered my windows and hit the gas as a big grin filled my face.

I would come to spend a lot of time with For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. There would be an intimacy with most of the songs as they were played repeatedly in my car, on my home stereo, and basically wherever I would roam. The album was a terrific one, and the more I listened to it, the more I found to enjoy about it. “Poundcake” and “In and Out” resonated with me the earliest. “Poundcake” held me because it was just such a damn good song. “In and Out” was on my radar because it reminded me about sex. And sex was one thing that 18 year old Ryo couldn’t get enough of.
And that takes us back to the friend of a friend who was really my friend and his quasi-girlfriend. I say quasi, because she never clearly defined their relationship. He would say they were an item, but she would say they were only, kind of, sort of, maybe dating. How girlish of her. I should have known then the trouble she was going to be, but I was too smitten to care about any warning signs.

The girl’s name was Beth and while she was (maybe) hooked up with my (sort of) friend, Doug, I was still with Cheryl. And yet Beth and I spent a lot of time together as late June became early July. During that time, we got to know each other very well. We became good friends, but not in the dreaded “ugh, I’m only a friend” label way. Sexual tension was certainly thick in the air anytime that the two of us got together.

And the two of us got together often. We were together during the daytime, nighttime, pretty much anytime. Anytime that we weren’t with our current dates, that is. And the more time I spent with Beth, the more I avoided Doug. Not that I was angered with him or anything like that, but just because it didn’t feel right. This was a girl that he thought he was dating, and I was in there stirring the pot and creating sexual sparks. It hadn’t gotten to a level of sexual contact yet, but Beth and I could both tell it was heading in that direction. And all the while, Doug was none the wiser. I would like to say that made me sad, or feel bad about what was happening, but young Ryo did not have the same morals that old Ryo has. Young Ryo kept thinking, “Hey, they aren’t married. She isn’t even officially an item with him. It’s still fair game.” I conveniently forgot that I had my own girlfriend to deal with.

That is, until that relationship came to a screeching halt. It was me that ended it. Cheryl, as I had mentioned previously, was just getting a little too crazy for my liking. And I knew, or at least thought, that I had Beth waiting in the wings. So it appeared to make perfect sense. It was time to cut the cord on Cheryl and be with the girl that I was spending most of my time with anyway. So, we had “the talk” one afternoon. It just so happened to be the same afternoon that Beth was around. How did I get myself in these situations?

As I told Cheryl I didn’t want to be with her anymore, she exploded. She said it was because of Beth and had a few choice words to say about her. I tried to explain that it wasn’t Beth, it was me. I just didn’t feel the same anymore. Deep in both of our hearts, though, we knew I was lying. Cheryl was in tears, almost pleading with me to stay together, and while I did feel for her, I stood strong as well. “We can’t be together anymore,” I said. She was devastated. She got out of my car and made a beeline for Beth, who happened to be nearby. She cursed her out and when Beth tried to explain that she and I weren’t an item, Cheryl was having none of it. She just got into her own vehicle and exited the scene. Beth and I looked at one another, neither of us certain of what to say.

I did not see Beth for the next few days. I realized it was because I had done the right thing making myself completely available, while she still had an ongoing “thing” with Doug. I spent the next few days to myself, working, seeing friends, and listening to For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge on an endless loop. At this point “Judgment Day” and “Top Of The World” were speaking to me the loudest. “Top of the World” rose above the rest as it created an avenue of hope for me. There was hope for the future and it was my hope that someday I would be on top of the world with Beth at my side. In order for that to happen though, we had to talk.

And so like a “Man On A Mission” I took the initiative and reached out to Beth. When I did make contact with her, I asked her why she had been avoiding me. She provided some lame response that she had been busy or some other such nonsense. She might as well have told me she was washing her hair. I told her that I missed her and that I wanted to see her again. She suggested lunch and thus our course was off once more. It was clear that she had missed me as well. After that lunch the roller coaster took off again. We started to see more and more of each other, and one evening while lying on the couch in my living room, the inevitable happened. We were “cuddling” tightly on the couch, enjoying each other’s company and just staring at one another, when I threw caution to the wind, leaned in, and kissed her hard on the mouth. With my heart thumping in my chest and “Spanked” ringing out in my head, she returned my kiss with equal passion. Whoa!

Apparently the kiss meant more to me than it did to her, because the next day, it was business as usual. She was still dating/not dating Doug, and I was still the extra in the soap opera of our lives. Even though we had taken the relationship up a notch, she didn’t want to change her status. And the more I spoke to Doug, the deeper he was falling for Beth. My conscience actually woke up and told me this was wrong.

It all came to a head while having a conversation with a mutual male friend who knew all of us, but none of what was transpiring. While speaking with our mutual friend, the conversation of Doug and Beth came up. Although uncomfortable with the subject matter, I couldn’t just shun the conversation. Our mutual friend told me that what Doug liked most about Beth was his feeling that she would never cheat on him. Hearing those words forced the wind out of my sails.

Our first make out session was clearly not our last one. And while we never raised our level of intimacy beyond long, lingering, passion filled kissing, we both knew that we could. Our moral compass stopped us thankfully. But, the fact that she was making out with me while spending time with Doug (and doing who knows what sexually with him) was still in the air like some stink filled laundry. And every time I brought the subject up she quickly diverted the topic. I was too much of a blockhead to hold my ground. I should have, but never did. That was when I knew I was being played.

Around this time, I started listening to “Runaround” over and over and over again. It was an extremely fitting song at that time in my life. Beth was giving me the runaround. She would promise me things and never deliver. She would talk about a future for us. There was even talk of us moving out of state together so we could pursue education (Illinois and Nebraska were bandied about). Basically we discussed running away together. And then, with a turn of the screw, she would be in Doug’s arms. She would be holding him. She may even have been talking about running away with him. What the hell was happening? Young Ryo was learning a hard lesson in life. Beth was giving me the runaround. And it sucked.

Now let’s travel back to the conversation with our mutual friend. After he laid that bombshell of a line on me, I got a little queasy. “Mickey,” I said. “We need to talk.” He looked at me with a sideways glance, unsure of what I was about to say. Then I dropped it on him. All of it. Right down to the makeout sessions. He was eerily quiet for a moment before sighing. “Well. That just figures.”

We talked until night became morning as I explained how awful I felt, but how hung up I was. I even told him about our plans to run away together, which was met with a deep, jovial belly laugh. It was not in any way mean spirited. It was a genuine laugh. He was extremely amused by that piece of information.  Our talk was highly productive and meaningful, because by the end of that evening, as the sun was rising in the East, I had come to the conclusion that I needed to be the one to do the right thing. I had to tell Beth that if she was going to continue to see Doug, then we couldn’t be together. Young arrogant me rationalized that of course she would stop seeing Doug after that demand. Young Ryo learned another hard lesson. Don’t give a woman an ultimatum.
The next night, Beth and I got together and I put it all on the line. I told her in no uncertain terms that she couldn’t have the best of both worlds. She needed to choose between Doug and me. It wasn’t fair to any of us for her to be selfish and want to be with both men. As I stood there smiling inside, knowing that she would ask me how to break the news to Doug, the unthinkable happened. She told me off. She turned it on me, telling me that I was being the selfish one and that she owed it to Doug for the two of them to stay together. I was speechless. Did that really just happen?

Unfortunately, it did. In an unbelievable ending to our summer romance, Beth put the kibosh on my ultimatum. She left, choosing Doug. In hindsight, I should have seen that coming, but young Ryo was dumb Ryo. I just didn’t know any better.

My summer went on and I continued to play For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge a lot, but other discs had slid into the mix as well. As my time with Beth instantly became less, my time spent with the new Van Halen album followed suit.

The last time I saw Beth was an odd moment. It was early September, neither of us had run away to the Midwest as we once plotted, and she was still with Doug---until that moment. She came into Roy Rogers (where I hung out even when I wasn’t working --- what a job!) near hysterics. She had tears running down her face and she came up to me immediately. I looked at Mickey, whom I was passing the time with, in a quizzical manner as Beth hugged me tightly. She invited me outside and of course I obliged.

Beth proceeded to tell me that she and Doug had split up. Her father basically made it happen and told her that they could not be together any longer. She wanted to secretly continue to see him on the sly, but she knew that if and when she got caught, it would just make things worse. She cried in my arms and begged me to let him back into the fold. She asked that I be there for him as a friend, because that is what he was going to need. She hugged me tight again and left me bewildered.  

Needless to say, Doug did come back into the fold. It wasn't the same as it ever was, but guys are very forgiving once the girl problems are out of the way. We move on rather quickly and just thrust ourselves into the next dramatic thing. For me, that would be finding my way in life and ultimately ending up in Cape Coral, Florida, on course for a new life. I never saw Beth again. That awkward moment in Roy Rogers was the last time I laid eyes on her. Yet, whenever I pull out For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, and especially when I listen to "Runaround," I can close my eyes and see her as clear as day. It always takes me back.    

Monday, June 22, 2015

Sending KISS Out On Top

Let’s face it---the hottest band in the land is not getting any younger. And while their two most recent members may be youthful in comparison to the founding fathers, KISS is not KISS without Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. I don’t care what garbage Gene spews about how the band could carry on without them. That’s baloney! KISS without Gene or Paul might as well be a tribute act.

Taking that into consideration, and given the current age of the two KISS centerpieces (Gene is 65, Paul is 63), the countdown clock is ticking fast. Given all that they have accomplished in the last 40 plus years I don’t think that the band has anything to prove to anyone. They could walk into the sunset tomorrow, focus on other projects in their lives, and still go out as being one of the best bands to ever play rock and roll music. Yet, my love for this band has me thinking that they should really depart at the top of the mountain (a place they have been to several times in their careers).

It’s no secret that attendance at KISS shows is waning, especially in the United States. Last year (2014) the band had to take Def Leppard on the road with them in order to drum up excitement for their tour. They continue to play the same tired setlist year in and year out and refuse to perform any deep cuts or new songs. I honestly cannot understand why they aren’t playing songs from Sonic Boom or Monster, as both albums were incredible and contain plenty of concert-worthy tracks. That, however, is another rant for another day. KISS is near the end and as a lifelong fan of the band I would love to see them go out on the very top, ala The Rolling Stones, or Bruce Springsteen. I would like them to be recognized as the cultural icons they are. I would love to see them finish on a high note and then walk off into the sunset, arriving occasionally to perform a festival here, or a short tour there.

There is a way that KISS can do this. Go out with their heads held high and their legacy intact. Leave as the kings of the mountain. And leave the fans screaming for more. It won’t be easy. And it would mean a 2-3 year commitment of epic proportions. I’m talking commitments like they did in the mid-70s. But all of the hard work will come with a fantastic reward. Sold out shows across North America and in some instances, perhaps even 2 or 3 sold nights in a row. In order to achieve this, the theatrics are going to have to depart and the heavy emphasis will need to be on the music (as it always should be anyway).

First and foremost, for this final tour to work, KISS would have to lose their signature makeup and costumes. I know, I know, some fans are crying blasphemy, and others are crafting death threat e-mails for even suggesting such a thing. But let’s be honest, the makeup gimmick was for a younger band. Do we really like seeing Gene in leather pants? Do we love to see Paul’s 63 year old chest hair? I know I don’t. Put some clothes on for crying out loud! And remember, the heart of this band has been, and always will be, the music. Long before I knew of their bombastic performances and theatrical look, I loved KISS’ music. That has never changed. 

I often point to their acoustic convention tour, which led to the MTV Unplugged performance, as one of the highlights of this band’s storied career. And that brings me to my next point. KISS should consider an acoustic set. It doesn’t necessarily mean that there has to be 2 sets. The band could do an acoustic bridge in the middle of their concert. It worked for Alive IV. Perhaps even set up a second stage for the more intimate portion of the night. “Goin’ Blind,” “World Without Heroes,” and “”See You Tonight” could make reappearances into the set for the first time in 20 years (not counting the KISS Kruise, of course). Or better yet, KISS could tryout some different songs in the acoustic portion. “Mr. Speed” anyone? “She.” “Forever.” “Let’s Put The X In Sex.” The list could go on and on. There is an endless supply of hit songs and forgotten songs that KISS could dust off for an acoustic performance.

Then the band could go right back to the electric groove. Open with a few classic songs in the electric setting, move over to the acoustic setting, and finish strong with a mixture of deep cuts and huge hits. Which is another point of contention that I must bring up---KISS needs to mix up their set structure. They have performed the same rotation of tired songs in the same spots for the last decade. At least in America that has been the case. Sure, they might mix in one or two new songs and play the occasional 80s hit, but that’s it. There are no surprises left. I know “Rock And Roll All Night” is going to end the show. I know Paul is going to fly over the audience and perform “Love Gun.” I know “Detroit Rock City” is going to be performed for the umpteenth time. In order for this band to go out on the very top, they have to take risks. Those risks include turning the setlist completely on its rear. And don’t forget the deep cuts and lost classics.

Now it is time to get my geek on. I ran the numbers. KISS has 217 recorded songs to choose from when making a setlist. This does not include any of their solo material. By way of comparison, The Rolling Stones have 439, Springsteen has 212, and U2 has 162. Do you know whose setlist varies the least from tour to tour? If you said KISS, you win a kewpie doll!

Here is the number of varying songs over the last four years:  5. Only 5 songs were different over the last four year’s worth of setlists. Out of the average of 20 songs performed per concert, 10 of them were performed each year, 13 of them were performed 3 out of 4 years, and 15 of them were performed 2 out of 4 years. The songs that were performed only one year: “Say Yeah,” “Hide Your Heart,” “Firehouse,” “Heaven’s On Fire,” and “Do You Love Me.” Out of those songs, three of them were too overplayed to begin with, leaving only “Say Yeah,” and “Hide Your Heart” as real surprises.

The common songs were more than plentiful. The 10 songs that were played each and every year included “Detroit Rock City,” “Shout It Out Loud,” “I Love It Loud,” “War Machine,” “God Of Thunder,” and “Lick It Up.” Look those are all classic KISS songs, I get it. But I am so tired of hearing “War Machine,” and “Lick It Up.” They are too overplayed! When you have 217 songs to choose from and you can only play 10 percent of them live on any given night, why would you continue to perform the same songs year after year? “Detroit Rock City” could easily be replaced with “Makin’ Love” or “King Of The Nighttime World.” “I Love It Loud,” could be booted for “Within.” All of the overplayed songs could be replaced with some real gems!

The bottom line is that KISS needs to add more variety and depth to their sets. They have a vast catalog of under-performed or never performed songs that need to be revisited. Do you know when the last time “Flaming Youth” was played live? 1976 (unless you count the aforementioned Kiss Acoustic Convention tour – it was played once or twice by fan request). Do you realize that KISS has never performed a song from Carnival Of Souls live? Never! There is some good material on that record! No songs on (Music From)The Elder have been performed live since 1981. And those were TV appearances only!

Every other band with a catalog of material as vast as KISS’ varies their setlist from tour to tour, if not from show to show (ala Springsteen). It keeps the fans coming back. KISS, however, puts on the same choreographed concert, year after year. If they want to go out on top, that has to stop! Perhaps my love for the band has made me cynical, but I truly believe that if they were to focus on just the music for one tour, it could be their best tour ever. It’s no secret that the band is nearing the end of the line. How many years do they have left, honestly? Why not focus on what truly matters the most---the music? Why not give the fans one last real treat before riding off into the sunset? Personally, I think it would be the best gift ever given to us by the band. It is my hope and wish that KISS will find it in their musical souls to take this one last challenge and deliver the concert of a lifetime.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Concert Review: Billy Joel - August 7, 2014

Perhaps you’ve heard that Billy Joel is serving as the resident house band for Madison Square Garden and will remain so for the foreseeable future. Perhaps you’ve also heard that every show he’s done at Madison Square Garden since taking up this residency has been sold out. Perhaps you’ve heard that every show for 2015 is already sold out and these are some of the hottest tickets to come by. All of those statements are true, which makes me feel blessed that I had the opportunity to see him during one of these monumental performances.

Last summer was a very interesting period in my life. I left a decent, secure job for a substantial pay raise, and then promptly left that job after 6 weeks due to horrendous quality of life. That decision found me unemployed for the first time in years. I went from a substantial raise to a substantial pay cut in a matter of weeks and scrambled to find decent employment. I went as far as applying for work at UPS and Target. Hey, I’m not too proud. Whatever it takes to put bread on the table. Unfortunately for me, the jobs were not answering the call. By the time August rolled around, I had been out of work for two months and was desperate and concerned. I needed to find work soon or my financial life was going to be destroyed.

About two weeks before the concert, I decided to go online to see what tickets for our Billy Joel concert were being sold for on the secondary market. After some quick research, I realized that I could easily get more than $500 for our pair of tickets. At a time when my income was zero, that was almost a no brainer. I had to sell those tickets. After a long conversation with my wife however, I was talked out of that idea. She helped me understand my panic and explained to me that everything was going to be okay, so we might as well enjoy the concert. I was still a little scared, but our talk was enough for me to agree to see the show.

It was a warm August night in the city and I felt great. I had been spending most of my summer stuck in the house, counting coins, and feverishly searching for a job. Being able to get out for a night of old school rock and roll was an absolute joy to me. And we had really great seats not too far from the left of the stage. They were definitely the best seats I ever had to see Billy Joel live.

As we settled in and waited for the opening act to take the stage, I noticed how packed The Garden was. I knew it was a sold out show, but it was also a show that no one wanted to miss. Before the opening talent of Gavin DeGraw even came onstage, every seat in Madison Square Garden was filled. It was near impossible to spot an empty one. That’s how hot these tickets were.

Prior to our arrival, I had no idea that Billy Joel had an opening act. So it was a pleasant surprise to see Gavin DeGraw take the stage before Billy Joel. I did not know much about Gavin DeGraw. I never really listened to any of his music for whatever reason. However, watching him live, I realized that the man is quite a talent. I was very impressed by his opening set. And although I haven’t run out to buy his music, I would certainly welcome the opportunity to see him in concert again.

After the warm up act left the stage, and the packed house grew restless, the lights went out and it was time for the main event. I felt the wave of euphoria wash over me as Billy Joel walked onto the stage, sat at the piano, and hit the opening notes of “Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway)”. A roar of approval was given and we were off and running. Before I was a Dave Matthews Band fan, before I was a Pearl Jam fan, and long before I was a KISS fan, I was a Billy Joel fan. He was the second rocker I fell in love with after Bob Seger. Throughout junior high school I listened to him endlessly and he was definitely my first favorite artist. Seeing him perform on that summer night in New York City was a real special treat for me and during that opening song, I was exceptionally pleased that we had not sold the tickets.

As was common practice for his residency run at Madison Square Garden, Billy Joel was playing the hits and the deep cuts. He was also allowing the audience opportunities to pick the songs they wanted to hear. The first opportunity came on the fourth song of the evening. Billy said that by way of audience applause he would perform one of two songs. The first choice was “Summer Highland Falls” which got a roaring ovation. It appeared that was going to win before the next choice was even announced. Then “Vienna” was laid out as the second option. The roar was even louder and I screamed as loud as I could. I wanted to hear that song live. Thankfully, “Vienna” won the first audience choice.

“Vienna” is one of my all time favorite Billy Joel songs and it also has a lot of deep personal meaning in my own life. During a dark time in my life, I listened to that song a lot. It taught me about slowing down, enjoying what I had in life, and it helped me to realize there is so much more ahead. It was just the reminder I needed at that time in my life as well.

Deep cuts were plentiful including “The Stranger,” “All For Lena,” and “Sometimes A Fantasy.” The latter two songs were both played due to a virtual tie in audience applause. That made me extremely grateful as “Sometimes A Fantasy” is my second favorite Billy Joel song. Hearing that and “Vienna” on the same night was a dream come true.

The last audience vote was so lopsided, it was comical. Billy announced the first choice of “Where’s The Orchestra” and almost nobody clapped. “Okay…” was his response. “I guess we’ll just play the other song.” He mentioned that he may have to take “Where’s The Orchestra” out of the setlist after that reaction, which got a great laugh. The other song, “And So It Goes” was then performed.

Throughout the night Joel talked about how he had the greatest job in the world being the house band for Madison Square Garden. He had no intentions of stopping and loved only having to work one night a month. As long as the tickets kept selling, he would continue to perform. Currently, all of his performances for 2015 are sold out and I have a feeling that 2016 dates will be announced soon.

Even in his mid-sixties, Billy Joel still gives incredible, high energy performances. His voice sounds great, his sense of humor is still intact, and he still connects with his audience. His performance that night was near flawless, proving that he is still a force to be reckoned with in the live setting.

My only complaint for the evening was his decision to perform the AC/DC classic, “Highway To Hell.” While I love the song, and have no problems with Joel doing a cover song, it was how the song was performed that bothered me. Billy brought someone up on stage to sing the song while he performed it on guitar. And while I do not know who the person brought up on stage was, I know that he did not know the lyrics and just flubbed his way through it. It was like seeing a bad, drunken, karaoke performance at the local gin mill. It was just awful. Thankfully there were still plenty of hits to come.

The main set closed out with “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant” and “Piano Man,” the huge crowd pleasers. The roar of approval was near deafening and everyone was up on their feet dancing and singing along. And although the main set was finished, Joel wasn’t even close to done.

The encore consisted of five huge hits starting with “Uptown Girl.” For whatever reason, Christie Brinkley was in the front row that evening and the house cameras found her during “Uptown Girl.” Joel even moved to the front of the stage and sang a couple of lines to her. It was a fun moment for all. “It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me,” “Big Shot,” You May Be Right” and “Only The Good Die Young” closed out the night in perfect fashion. Four huge, hard rocking hits to end the evening. Fantastic!

That summer night could have been the best performance I ever saw out of Billy Joel, rivaling his New Year’s Eve performance from many years earlier. At the end of the night, overwhelmed and overjoyed, I thanked my wife for talking me into keeping our tickets. I still had some tough times ahead, but for that one night, I completely forgot all of my worries and enjoyed a grand night of exceptional rock and roll.

Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway)
The Entertainer
The Downeaster Alexa
The Stranger
New York State Of Mind
Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)
All For Lena
Sometimes A Fantasy
And So It Goes
My Life
She’s Always A Woman
Don’t Ask Me Why
We DIdn’t Start The Fire
Highway To Hell
The River Of Dreams
Scenes From An Italian Restaurant
Piano Man
Uptown Girl
It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me
Big Shot
You May Be Right
Only The Good Die Young

Monday, June 8, 2015

Jet Black Motorcade - The Ghost And The Bones

Jet Black Motorcade is best summed up as a superb offspring of classic rock breeding with modern rock. Imagine all of your favorite bands converging together to form one stupendous rock band. That imagination is the sound of Jet Black Motorcade. Their latest CD, The Ghost And The Bones, is a superb statement that hard rock is alive and well; you just have to know where to look for it.

The Ghost And The Bones kicks off with the powerful title track. This is a fine way to open any record, and I was hooked by the first bridge. Lead singer Jim Gray’s voice has such a distinct style that it immediately drew me in. I instantly wanted to hear more. The heavy guitar work from Matt Hallahan accentuated the music and helped to carry “The Ghost And The Bones” into hit song territory.

Many influences are heard throughout this record. Blues, glam, thrash, heavy metal, and classic rock are all present and accounted for. There is a slice of perfection for fans of all styles of hard rock. Raw, real, edgy, and powerful, Jet Black Motorcade delivers exquisite rock music in The Ghost And The Bones. The music is fantastic and the fun factor of the album is a solid 10.

“Straight To Hell” is my favorite track on the record. An old school, hard rocking, classic of a song, “Straight To Hell” contains all of the necessary elements that make up an exceptional rock song. It has amazing guitar work by Matt Hallahan. The riffs are crisp and fun, while the solos are fantastic. The song also has solid vocals from Jim Gray. And the lyrics are about being wronged by a woman and the journey to hell for both parties in the relationship. What more can you ask a hard rock song to deliver? “Straight To Hell” is an exceptional song!

Listening to The Ghost And The Bones is akin to eating your favorite ice cream. Once you get a taste, you just want more. Jet Black Motorcade is real rock on every level---infectious and addicting. If you are looking for some exceptional music to add to your summer playlist, pick up a copy of The Ghost And The Bones. Rock and roll is alive and well and its latest breath is being drawn from Jet Black Motorcade.

Jet Black Motorcade Is:
Jim Gray – Vocals, Guitar
Matt Hallahan – Guitars, Vocals
Ken Beradinangelo – Bass
Jon Rutkowski – Drums

The Ghost And The Bones
Devil In The Door
Burn In This House
Straight To Hell
The Devil’s Right Hand
The Way I Do
I’ve Had Enough

Ryo’s Rating: 8 (out of 10)