Tag Archives: Rock
Do you dig Soundgarden?
Great, because they’re just aren’t as many Chris Cornells out there as Elvis impersonators.
But you’re in luck musically and vocally on a track called “Dream” by the Bihlman Bros., Jabo & Scot, of Northern Michigan. Yes there’s other musicians from that part of the world besides Kid Rock.
“Dream” is the Bihlman Bros. Magnum Opus off their amazing 2006 album American Son. It’s an epic, their “The End” (The Doors) , “Free Bird” (Lynyrd Skynyrd), “Twilight Zone” (Golden Earring) and not simply because it clocks in at a longer length of over 8 minutes. It’s beautifully atmospheric and feels as if emerging piercingly from deeper realms musically. It’s a soundscape study in sonic golden slumbers.
The opening chordal work takes on the morning dreariness of Pink Floyd’s “Us And Them” yawning from a proggy bed of Pete Townshend flavored low end musical Moiré pattern like on “Who Are You.” The intro alternative guitar overdub riff is a tasty nod to what I always dug about Kim Thayil’s playing style ever since “Hands All Over” and “Loud Love.”
And I absolutely love the descending middle eastern flavored riff that follows Jabo Bihlman expertly channeling his inner Kim. That descending dalliance down the fretboard made me an instant convert. You’d think I would have built up immunity towards it since The Cult’s “She Sells Sanctuary” and Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead Or Alive.” Nope. Some things forever remain crack pipes to our ears folks.
Jabo then follows Grunge up with a blues riff concocting a unique blend of sound stew for frequent flyer ears. So we journey from early 1970’s psychedelic England to 1990’s Seattle to the Middle East to the Mississippi River delta in under 2 minutes. And that’s what I love about music. Travel through time and space without a pat down or boarding pass.
On “Dream,” I was sold before I even heard the chorus.
And the song unwraps yet another surprise. During the chorus at 4:22, Jabo gets into Chris Cornell territory and it’s powerful. The dynamics of going from more laid back delicate singing to this gargantuan vocal declaration of freedom shouted from high on a plateau somewhere in the deserts of the Arizona in our minds.
This track triggered musical memories from when I first got Soundgarden’s Badmotorfinger and it became my new favorite album. Guitarist Kim Thayil (who interestingly claims much influence from Devo—yes “Whip It” good Devo) became an influence on my playing with his melodic use of abrasion and dissonance. And tension and resolution are the deep breathing of music.
The structure and various parts of “Dream” are quite interesting to delve deeper into to after repeated listening. It’ll hit you on the first listen, but when you slap the ear microscope on it, it’s even more interesting:
What’s impressive and satisfying about “Dream” is it’s edgy blues which I absolutely dig (SRV anyone?) mixed in with the seasoning of other more contemporary stylings while done seamlessly within the songs. It’s unnoticeable and not harshly abrupt like many a Prog tune, but that audience has a much higher musical tolerance for the WTF Factor in songs (the “Hey who cares man, they’re playing in 11/8 now!” mentality).
“Dream” flows in and out of what some may encapsulate as specific isolated styles. It’s all stardust people. Fusion is good. It’s got hard rock, alternative, and contemporary metal leanings.
The Bihlman Bros. song “Dream” is an incandescent stream of consciousness kaleidoscopic exposition into our inner spheres. It’s a study in dynamics as well as genres of music. “Dream” is a Rock n Roll rhapsody of raw and refined. Visualization is something I was taught as a music student to evoke different moods, feelings and memories, and this tune goes around the world in 8 minutes.
Elvis left the building escorted by the Dream Police a few decades ago. But you can do some Rock Star continent hopping of your own and fly Takin’ Care Of Business class anytime you like with music, the best travel companion there is.
© Composer Yoga
Related Posts To Check Out:
Closet Singles: Bihlman Bros. “American Son”
Sound Mines: Prince “Mountains”
A list of songs that draw their name from the world of finance (updated periodically)
Bitches & Money (Master P featuring The Real Untouchables)
For the Love of Money (The O’Jays , Utopia)
Gold (John Stewart & Stevie Nicks)
Last Dollar On Earth (Utopia)
Lawyers, Guns and Money (Warren Zevon)
Money (Pink Floyd)
Money For Nothing (Dire Straits)
Money Talks (AC/DC)
Take The Money And Run (Steve Miller Band)
The Big Money (Rush)
Rich Girl (Hall & Oates)
© Composer Yoga
A list of songs that draw their name from the animal kingdom (updated periodically)
A Horse With No Name (America)
Alligator Woman (Cameo)
American Horse (The Cult)
Animal (Def Leppard)
Beast Of Burden (The Rolling Stones)
Birdland (Weather Report)
Bird Mad Girl (The Cure)
Black Cat (Janet Jackson)
Black Dog (Led Zeppelin)
Blackbird (The Beatles)
Buffalo Stance (Nenah Cherry)
Cat Scratch Fever (Ted Nugent)
Catepillar (The Cure)
Cold Hearted Snake (Paula Abdul)
Crocodile Rock (Elton John)
Dixie Chicken (Little Feat)
Dog And Butterfly (Heart)
Dog Eat Dog (Ted Nugent)
Dogs Of War (Pink Floyd)
Elephant Talk (King Crimson)
Eye of the Tiger (Survivor)
Fly Like An Eagle (Steve Miller Band)
Fox On The Run (Sweet)
Free Bird (Lynryd Skynryd)
Great White Buffalo (Ted Nugent & The Amboy Dukes)
Godzilla (Blue Oyster Cult)
Grey Seal (Elton John)
Hair Of The Dog (Nazareth)
Hound Dog (Big Mama Thorton, Elvis Presley)
Hungry Like The Wolf (Duran Duran)
I Am The Walrus (The Beatles)
Mary Had A Little Lamb (Stevie Ray Vaughn)
Monkey (George Michael)
Monster Mash (Bobby "Boris" Pickett)
Pet Sounds (The Beach Boys)
Peace Frog (The Doors)
Piggy In The Mirror (The Cure)
Rock Lobster (The B-52's)
Rocking Robin (The Jackson Five)
Rocky Raccoon (The Beatles)
Shake Dog Shake (The Cure)
Shock The Monkey (Peter Gabriel)
Spiderman (The Cure)
Stray Cat Strut (Stray Cats)
Union Of The Snake (Duran Duran)
Waiting For The Worms (Pink Floyd)
Walk The Dinosaur (Was (Not Was)
War Pigs (Black Sabbath)
Werewolves Of London (Warren Zevon)
Where Eagles Dare (Iron Maiden)
White Rabbit (Jefferson Airplane)
Wild Horses (The Rolling Stones, U2)
Wooly Bully (Sam The Sham And The Pharaohs)
© Composer Yoga
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© Composer Yoga
The 70’s was the decade that paved the way making it cool to write songs about bitches.
Miles Davis was in the kitchen (albeit not with Dinah) making a brew with a recipe from some bitches.
Hall & Oates were having “issues” in their relationship with a Rich Girl (it’s a bitch, bitch girl…).
The Rolling Stones were in couples therapy as well trying to fix love but it was a bitch alright.
Elton John told us flat out the bitch is back. Yes indeed, the prophecy foretold came true: “the fever’s gonna catch you when the bitch gets back.”
It even became cool to call oneself a bitch. Yes SIRee, Elton admitted his bitchdom long before Meredith Brooks.
However, just like Yoda revealed there was another Skywalker, the bitch saga didn’t end here. Lo and behold she procreated—gestated and nurtured a baby riff which grew into this beautiful top shelf Slut Rock gem from Scotland’s Nazareth.
The song was unassumingly disguised from censors and parents suffering from generalized anxiety with the “fluffy” title, “Hair Of The Dog.” Nonetheless, we were thus aptly forewarned:
Now you’re messin’ with a son of a bitch.
Nazareth formed back in 1968 in Scotland as a hard rock band. The group’s original lineup consisted of S.O.B. vocalist and Talk Box maestro Dan McCafferty, Manny Charlton on guitar, Pete Agnew on bass, and Darrell Sweet on drums and cowbell.
Nazareth was named after Nazareth, PA not the Bible zip code Jesus’ old hood was located in. They named themselves after the Pennsylvania borough as they were influenced by The Band’s song “The Weight” which mentions “Pulled in to Nazareth…” in its opening verse.
Nazareth, PA is just northeast of Allentown, which Billy Joel sang about, and Nazareth is also home to the C.F. Martin & Company guitar factory. Aside from that, driving through rural Pennsylvania one would see lots of farmland and multitudes of cows roaming the pastures. Just avoid driving through in say July as ripe manure and summer heat do not go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Trust me. I was on the road with a band and we endured a torturous half hour dutch oven of that fermented cowpie cocktail on Interstate 80—windows fully rolled up and AC on full blast could not save us from this unfortuitously fecal fate.
The good news is, I doubt too many people get pulled over by Police in those areas. It’s probably the closet thing America has to an Autobahn save maybe some interstates in Texas where the speed limit is 80 mph, almost legal for Marty and Doc to go back to the 70’s and get down at Studio 54.
Nazareth toured with Deep Purple after their sophomore album Exercises was released (1972). Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover produced their 3rd album Razamanaz in 1973 and continued producing their next two albums Loud ‘N’ Proud (1973) and Rampant (1974).
Hair Of The Dog came out in 1975 and was Nazareth’s 6th and most successful album of their career. Two songs released from the album charted: The self titled track “Hair Of The Dog” served up with cowbell and a cover of The Everly Brothers song “Love Hurts” which became their biggest hit.
“Love Hurts” went platinum and was a top ten hit in 9 countries reaching the #1 spot in 6. Obviously “Love Hurts” if one is messing with a son of a bitch.
“Hair Of The Dog” is one of those songs where the song title is never actually sung or mentioned in the song. It is known better as “Now you’re messin’ with a son of a bitch.”
Back in high school, I used to play classic rock stations sometimes while I was working out and always dug when this tune came on. I also didn’t know the song was called “Hair Of The Dog” until later.
The album and title track were originally going to be titled “Heir Of The Dog”, a play on words for “son of a bitch.” The record company didn’t like it for whatever reason and it was changed to the spelling “Hair Of The Dog.” So the song’s title is not a reference to the slang idiom “The hair of the dog that bit you” which seems the folk “homeopathic” cure for a hangover—to drink more alcohol to alleviate it.
This 70’s classic rock tune is the kissing cousin to The Beatles “Paperback Writer.” If you know how to play both songs or have a listener’s ear not prone to ADD, you’ll notice the main riff is similar in both:
“Hair Of The Dog” is more laid back and leisurely while “Paperback Writer” has a faster tempo. The first part of the riff is essentially the same notes while the ending differs:
“Hair Of The Dog” is super fun to play and sing—although when I do, I have to plan on not doing much talking for the next few days. It’s a party song, tongue and cheek, sung balls out but maintains a fun playful vibe and doesn’t come off as angry or malicious. And it has cowbell to boot!!
The Hair Metal vocal stylings on “Hair Of The Dog” were a stray puppy back in the 70’s and that spandex & aqua net Lassie came home to the Hair Metal 80’s. Hair Metal may have started with “Hair Of The Dog” , and Hair Metal itself may indeed be the son of that bitch.
Musical geneology wise, I consider “Hair Of The Dog” a proto Hair Metal song. It was early Hair Metal before it’s time and before there was even a genre label for it. You can hear the Dan McCafferty Nazareth stamp a decade later on hair metal bands like the following to name a few:
Cinderella (“Nobody’s Fool”, “Gypsy Road”, “The Last Mile”),
Britny Fox (“Long Way To love”, “Girlschool”)
Kix (“Don’t Close Your eyes”, “Cold Blood”)
Britny Fox even did a cover of “Hair Of The Dog.” The Hair Metal vocal stylings on “Hair Of The Dog” were a stray puppy back in the 70’s and that spandex & aqua net Lassie came home to the Hair Metal 80’s. Hair Metal may have started with “Hair Of The Dog”, and Hair Metal itself may indeed be the son of that bitch.
“Hair Of The Dog” is such a cool tune Guns N’ Roses also did a version of it on their 1993 cover tunes album The Spaghetti Incident? Axl actually wanted Nazareth to play at his wedding but for some reason, they turned down the request. Sometimes life is a son of bitch even for rock stars.
But let’s not let that stop us from playing…(Cowbell and drumroll)
The 6 Degrees of Axl Rose!!
Kevin Bacon won’t mind nor call his lawyer so here goes:
Nazareth was a hard rock band from Scotland. Axl Rose often wears a kilt, the paragon of Scottish men’s fashion.
“Hair Of The Dog” has cowbell; Gun’s N’ Roses “Nightrain” has cowbell.
“Hair Of The Dog” has the word “bitch” in it; Guns N’ Roses “It’s So Easy” has the word “bitch” in it as well.
Nazareth was where Jesus lived and he was crucified on a cross. Axl and the members of Guns N’ Roses were also positioned on a cross on the Appetite For Destruction debut album cover.
Nazareth scored their biggest success with “Love Hurts” first recorded by The Everly Brothers. Axl Rose dated the daughter of one of The Everly Brothers (Erin Everly, daughter of Don Everly). The lyrics of Guns N’ Roses biggest hit, “Sweet Child O’ Mine” are about Erin who also stars in the music video.
Both Nazareth and Guns N’ Roses had their biggest success connected to The Everly Brothers.
Pretty freaky actually Eh? All this from a Scottish band who named themselves after some random place in Pennsylvania. By the way, the slot is still open for band to name themselves “Winslow” after Winslow, Arizona mentioned in The Eagles song “Take It Easy.”
I’ve been to Winslow, and on the famed Route 66 going through downtown, there’s actually a “Standing On The Corner Park” with a red flatbed Ford truck parked by the curb and a mural on the adjoining building facade with an eagle perched atop.
Perhaps Nazareth, PA could up it’s tourist magnetism quotient by having an “Fanny” to take a load off, public benches with seated Fanny statues for selfies, or better yet, install “Entering Nazareth Pennsylvania—Sons of Bitches Welcome” signs on all major throughways entering the town.
On a side note, if this is the same “Fanny” Freddie Mercury sang about in “Fat Bottomed Girls”, she REALLY gets around, having showed up in two different rock songs on both sides of the Atlantic.
In the meantime, wake up and smell the cowbell not the cowpie like I was forced to in rural Pennsylvania.
“Hair Of The Dog” is good ‘ol slutty 70’s rock at it’s finest. It’s another Rock ‘n’ Roll parlay into taking the law into your own hands like Alice Cooper’s “No More Mr. Nice Guy.”
Nazareth cut the ties, disregarded leash laws, and marked it’s territory on a few pop charts around the world with this cowbell classic.
And now we know who let the Hair Metal dogs out and who ate the homework of the Paperback Writer.
© Composer Yoga
Related Posts To Check Out:
What’s low income housing called in the Progressive Rock neighborhood?
The Alan Parsons Project
© Composer Yoga
They've been around since 1981. They've sold over 10 million albums worldwide. They have several certified Platinum selling albums as well as one certified Diamond. They were the first band from their country to play the Stade de France to over 80,000 fans. And you've probably never heard of them. This is possibly a tragedy worse than the Bee Gees could ever wax falsetto about.
Yes folks, there are rock stars in other countries your ears have never met. The band in question here is Indochine---a band that's been famous in France and many European countries since the early 1980's. If your French is a bit rusty, Indochine is the French word for Indochina and "3 Nuits Par Semaine" translates to "3 nights a week." If your geography is a bit rusty from excessive 4th grade love notes to Sally whoever who sat 2 seats behind you, Indochina refers to the territories between India and China.
One of the best selling French acts of all time, Indochine formed in Paris back in 1981 when Nicola Sirkis and his friend, guitarist Dominique Nicolas decided to start a band. Dimitri Bodianski (keyboards & saxophone), the cousin of one of Nicola's friends joined shortly thereafter then Nicola's own twin brother, Stéphane Sirkis (guitar, keyboards) became a member. This Indochine Mark 1 lineup recorded 4 albums together lasting til the late 1980's. Aside from Tesla, he's the other famous Nicola (or Nikola) most French and European people will know of on a first name basis.
Stylistically, Indochine encompasses several genres including French Pop, Rock, New Wave & Goth. "3 Nuits Par Semaine" is a track off Indochine's 1985 album entitled 3 as it was their third album---big surprise there. Several singles from Indochine 3 charted in France and several other countries: "Canary Bay", "3e sexe" (3rd sex), and "Tes Yeux Noirs" (Your Black eyes) which French pop culture icon Serge Gainsbourg directed the music video for.
I first came to know about French popular music simply through having friends from France. While visiting them overseas, I'd get exposed to different acts not at the Moulin Rouge (hehe) but on CD and through RFI (Radio France International) which you can get listen online. There's also other numerous French internet radio stations streaming classic and current French pop music as well as uploads on YouTube. Personally, I love hearing French spoken as it's a beautiful musical sounding language all by itself---combined with music, it's an added bonus.
Serge Gainsbourg came onto my cultural radar through one of my friends, a dancer/choreographer/dance teacher who is a longtime fan. She had an apartment walking distance to the Louvre and one of the times I was visiting her in Paris, I wandered around and found Serge Gainsbourg's former home. It's another of the world's "freak shrines" like Oscar Wilde's and Jim Morrison's grave in Père Lachaise Cemetery. I still laugh at the time two French girls came up to me in Père Lachaise Cemetery saying they've been looking for Jim Morrison's grave for close to an hour with no luck. I'd been there several times previously and took them to it. You owe me one there Lizard King. I also took them to Frédéric Chopin's grave which is near Jim Morrison's. For any pianist, composer, dancer or music lover, Chopin's grave is a personal Spiritual pilgrimage---a musical Holy place as so much beauty entered the planet's musical heritage through just one person.
Getting back on track here, Indochine were the French parallel to England's Duran Duran in their early days when the New Wave sound was sweeping across Europe and America. One of my musician friend's band out of New York City actually opened up for THOSE British lads back in Philadelphia Pennsylvania when they were just starting out touring the United States. At the time, the Duran Duran singles "Girls On Film" and "Planet Earth" were getting airplay stateside.
"3 Nuits Par Semaine" is as cool as any 80's track I've heard from any country. Problem is, if it wasn't in English, it wasn't going to cross the pond. That held true back then and sadly that language barrier is still largely in effect today with minor exceptions like some Latin (Spanish language) music. Early crossover success came from Ricthie Valens with "La Bamba" in 1958 and this was further solidified in the 1980's thanks to groups like the Miami Sound Machine with Gloria Estefan. However, Indochine did cross the pond in Canada (touring there) as well as Latin America but not the United States. The "Sound barrier" of English is why German New Wave band Nena recorded an English version of "99 Luftballoons" and German Synthpop artist Peter Schilling did the same with his track "Major Tom." The irony being, when these songs became popular, the original German versions were also being played on American radio stations. Go figure.
An interesting exception here is somehow Austrian musician Falco got away with the unstated English prerequisite as "Rock Me Amadeus", "Vienna Calling" & "Der Kommissar" (later covered by British rock band After The Fire) all became hits in German---and didn't affect his album sales as Falco still is the best Austrian selling recording artist in history---Su Su Su Superstar. Perhaps Falco was using some Disc Jockey Jedi mind tricks and MTV Voodoo to get his tracks spun stateside.
German rock band The Scorpions had massive commercial success in the 1980's singing in English. Language differences of course are more readily noticeable for the average listener. I mean how many times do you hear people say, "Hey, that's a German guitar riff" or "I just know that dude's from Stockholm Sweden from the way he plays those chords." That's because Music truly is the Universal Language we all understand and express ourselves at a deeper than thought, language and cultural level. Germans also seem very welcoming to English songs on their pop charts perhaps due to David Hasselhoff and his sensible selection of fine black leather jackets.
The original sound recording of "3 Nuits Par Semaine" off the 3 album combined new wave, techno pop and rock. The guitar riff has the edge (pun intended) of early U2 if you can hear a similar energy to "I Will Follow." You can also hear some Depeche Mode in the keyboard riffs which are reminiscent of the main riff in "Enjoy The Silence." Indochine has also been compared to England's The Cure musically and visually of course sans the white makeup. There's also some sister sounding similarities with INXS in the guitar and keyboard riffs in terms of energetic intensity. Let your ears time travel back to the 80's and picture how this song could have been a hit in America as well if there had been an English lyrical version---you might have even wondered if it was the new single from any popular British, American, Canadian or Australian act of the time:
In this next clip, Indochine performs their classic "3 Nuits Par Semaine" live in Lille, France on the 2007 Alive & June Tour. And no, that's not The Cure's Robert Smith out front---it's Nicola. French people including musicians wear black frequently and not necessarily because they're into Goth---it's just a favorite color for them to dress in, so you can have some fun playing "Is he/she Goth or is he/she French?" over there. Alas, singer and guitarist do enjoy a special David Bowie & Mick Ronson moment onstage during the opening guitar riff reprise at 2:58 for those who'll get that. "3 Nuits Par Semaine" is a flat out French rock anthem and you'll see why here. It's a pretty safe bet that when you don't need to sing the effing chorus yourself, you've written a FREAKING anthem:
Indochine are about as big as you can get in French pop music. Still touring, packing stadiums like the Stade de France. It's a shame the language barrier prevents many listeners from becoming fans. It's called music because it is primarily about sounds and melody lines isn't it? Otherwise words by themselves are usually referred to as poetry. Do people really need to understand all the lyrics to enjoy a song? Seems they don't even need to understand the lyrics or lyrical meaning in their own language to like a song. A slew of Beatles songs testify to this.
In 1999, Indochine guitarist & keyboardist Stéphane Sirkis died of hepatitis---he was only 39 years old, the same age Frédéric Chopin was when he passed on. Prior to his passing, Stéphane requested Indochine continue in his absence. And continue on they did. Indochine has been actively recording and performing for over 30 years now. Currently, the only original member of Indochine since the very beginning is singer Nicola Sirkis (the runner up in the Robert Smith look alike contest as shown in the previous video clip). Sirkis also plays guitar, harmonica, and synthesizer aside from being known as Indochine's lead vocalist and founding member.
In 2002, Nicola and Indochine garnered additional critical acclaim and further widespread appeal with their album Paradize. This being 20 years after the band was formed. How many bands can actually do that---Keep making relevant music after their early successes? It just goes to show, when you love what you do, there's no reason to retire because you're doing what you would do even if you weren't being paid to do it. Or put a different way, you only retire from that which you didn't really want to do in the first place. That's how I feel about being a musician and my love for music in all it's different genres. Nicola Sirkis and Indochine seem to have the same mentality. To "Die with your boots on" as a musician is living a life like guitarist/inventor Les Paul---still learning, still playing out at 94 and passing on with gigs still on the calendar.
There's more to French culture than French fries, French bread pizza and Edgar Degas dancer paintings compiled into yearly calendars you can find in a dollar store. You'll have to reach for this a bit further than the frozen section of your grocery store or a display rack near a cash register. There are whole worlds of music on this planet waiting to be discovered to add to your Joie de vivre (the Joy of being alive) as the French expression goes. And remember: It's never too late to put on your best Screaming Beatlemania poodle skirt and become a fan retroactively.
© Composer Yoga
This series highlights those masters of intestinal intensity and the tracks they do it on: The lion roars in rock, metal, and other genres of music; The bonecrushing Banshee screams, throat thunder, diaphragm hammers, and sonic salvos from the lungs of Zeus. We’re not down with PYT here…we’re down with PST, so let’s get on that ferocious Freudian couch and show me a Roar Face!!
Today’s appointment is with Dr. Ian Gillan, vocalist of Deep Purple and Jesus Christ Superstar alum, and his prescription is a certain unidentified “Woman From Tokyo.” This therapy was first originated and practiced in 1973 on the album Who Do We Think We Are. As a testament to it’s potency and efficacy, this therapy made Deep Purple the top selling musical act in the United States that year. Clients were lining up to buy the new Woman From Tokyo (WFT) prescription therapy like it was a midnight HDTV sale at Walmart or the latest weight loss supplement the Dr. Oz zombies were told about the previous day’s episode.
Years before David Bowie had a China Girl, Ian Gillian had a Woman From Tokyo and long before he was Knocking At Your Back Door, Ian was knocking at your eardrum. If memory lane isn’t all that foggy, I think I first heard “Woman From Tokyo” being played by my father’s brother one day when we went to visit him. Either that or while I hanging out at an older neighbor’s house and it’s a safe bet to guess it wasn’t Mister Rogers. I am clear however, that the first time I heard a woman from Tokyo was in a Godzilla movie.
“Woman From Tokyo” fascinated me with its arrangement, mixtures of style and tempo changes. Deep Purple pianist/keyboardist Jon Lord became one of my early keyboard heroes as I was a classical piano student and could hear the influence in his playing. Many times after completing my John Thompson’s Modern Piano Course lesson or lessons for the week, I’d have my music teacher show me some classic rock riffs and one fine day (a Thursday evening) he showed me Ritchie Blackmore’s opening guitar riff in E major.
What made Jon Lord appealing to me was he played several styles often within the same song more so than his other classically trained 70’s Dr. Terwillikers and virtuoso ivory ticklers like Rick Wakeman (Yes) and Keith Emerson (The E in ELP) whom I was also into. I loved Classical Piano yet also had loads of fun ripping up Ragtime and Jazz and Jon Lord seemed a kindred spirit in stylistic exploration and fusion of new musical stews.
Jon Lord’s classical flourishes and textures in the cantabile middle section of the song are like listening to a mini ballet or geisha performance where you can visualize a music box dancer version or bobble head of the unnamed mystery Woman From Tokyo. There’s chiffon and chaînés turns visually as it tapers off into the ether before Mr. Blackmore’s guitar alarm clock takes us out of our momentary reverie. Ian Gillan sings delicately here in a kind of rock aria, the calm of the storm before the Woman From Tokyo tsunami hits us a bit later. There’s some vocal preludes to the money earshot earlier in the song before the big kahuna scream makes earfall.
Where Jon Lord really earns his paycheck on Woman From Tokyo is with the euphoric celebratory pseudo southern Honky Tonk bluesy outro solo. I’ve always LOVED this part—it’s a jam that gives the song an injection of pure elation, infuses a nice “lift” as it ends like Chicago’s “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day,” which coincidentally also came out in 1973.
The money earshot happens around the 3:57 mark when Ian sings “I get high” and goes supersonic on the word high, then goes back to normal gritty burly muscular lead vocals. He goes from ballsy to blood–curdling in one word. When I first heard “Woman From Tokyo”, Ian Gillan’s scream made my hair stand and still does creating a psychic mohawk at the specific moment:
Over 4 decades later, that Woman From Tokyo still turns heads and plenty of dog ears. Hopefully she can help Ian with some Japanese lessons and get him to pronounce Tokyo in 2 syllables instead of 3. Perhaps she can even tutor Jon Bon Jovi as he grew up mispronouncing it on “Tokyo Road” off of 7800° Fahrenheit, the appetizer album before the megahit Slippery When Wet. Jon seemed too busy on tour for Japanese lessons and erred once again on the Slippery When Wet track “Raise Your Hands.” Thankfully we all learned to say “Bonsai” correctly thanks to The Karate Kid. Maybe we should watch Godzilla movies more often as well—then again, it didn’t seem to help Blue Öyster Cult either. But sometimes, it seems Bonsai’s does matter.
© Composer Yoga
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Chunkage makes the world go around. At least it does for me.
You know that low single note groove that accompanies a riff or rhythm often palm muted and detuned from standard tuning for more Industrial Strength Chunkage?
While it may be a bit early for the Chunkage Hall of Fame to break ground, this Eddie Van Halen tune is a shoe in.
Pure gargantuan nastiness. Those are the words that come to mind when I listen to the intro to this EVH song (:06–0:33). I don’t know who wrote the Book of Love either, but I do know Eddie wrote a few chapters in the Book of Badass and “Little Guitars” is just one example albeit one of my fave Van Halen riffs.
The track is from their 5th album Diver Down, which came out (or resurfaced) in 1982. Diver Down contained several cover tunes including Roy Orbison’s “(Oh) Pretty Woman” although with more electrified belligerence.
“Little Guitars” is also in the video game Guitar Hero: Van Halen so fans can slice some slinky soundwaves a step up from air guitar.
The groove in the beginning of “Little Guitars” is so nasty it hurts—kicks me in the nads and stops my heart at the same time. It’s like sounds a really horny elephant would make right before it tramples you to death.
“Little Guitars” turns into a different tune in the verses where Van Halen employs the same pinching the strings technique he does in the “Hot For Teacher” main riff.
Still, the price of admission for me is the intro of “Little Guitars.” Eddie used to play this song live on a miniature Les Paul the size of a ukulele for sh*ts & giggles—a joke on the song title “Little Guitars” when the sound is so HUGE:
EVH’s bag of tricks here is dropping that low E string down a bit to Eb and palm muting the low Eb note to get some limbo low end chunkage. Indeed sometimes standard tuning is for wimps. Then Van Halen adds some rippin’ descending suspended chordal riffs over the top of Alex’s percussion where the accents fall on the 1 and an anticipated 3 (if you’re counting it like I am) giving it an overall dripping meaty bite factor.
Alex Van Halen lays down a slow deep heavy groove as sumptuously sabre–toothed as Slayer’s “South Of Heaven.”
And for the record, Alex Van Halen is quite underrated as a drummer, but hey, when your brother is a Guitar God that kind of thing tends to happen. But listen to his chops on “Girl Gone Bad,” “5150,” and his signature drum groove, “Hot For Teacher” and you’ll see what I mean.
Alex Van Halen can sure pummel his toms especially on the outro of “Girl Gone Bad” where he does NOT go gently into that good night.
And where oh where shall we build the Chunkage Hall of Fame? In Pasadena, CA to honor Eddie as one of the pioneers of Chunkage? In Amsterdam where he was born? Wherever it’s located, Chunkage is a house Eddie helped build that shakes the foundations of fans when paired nicely with nasty badass riffs.
© Composer Yoga
Hair Metal Heaven: Cinderella “If You Don’t Like It”
Timeless Riffs: Cream “Badge” (Eric Clapton)
Amazing Instrumentals: Eric Johnson “Trademark”
Primal Scream Therapy: Deep Purple “Woman From Tokyo”
Going Solo: Iron Maiden “Caught Somewhere In Time”
Rock Stars Takin’ Care Of Business