Hard Rock Music Time Machine – 3/8/18
Each Thursday, Hard Rock Music Time Machine takes a journey back in time to feature a variety of songs that date back as far as the ’70s.
In addition to appearing on the embedded YouTube playlist below, all songs featured on Hard Rock Music Time Machine can be listened to individually by clicking on the hyper-linked song titles above each review.
ADAM WALDMAN – (Publisher, Hard Rock Daddy)
GUNS N’ ROSES – “Since I Don’t Have You” (1993)
If not for the fact that “Since I Don’t Have You” appeared on The Spaghetti Incident (a covers album), most Guns N’ Roses fans would probably think that it was an original song. I’m in the small minority of fans who knew the original version by The Skyliners long before GNR was even a band. That’s because my introduction to music came largely from the back seat of the car as my parents listened to Doo Wop on WCBS-FM (New York). Although my mom would listen to some other types of music, my dad had no interest in any music made after 1964. I remember him stating that specific year time and again.
Next week, I will once again be celebrating my father’s birthday without him here. Each birthday, I think about how old he would have been, and what life would be like with him here. I wanted to honor him this week by featuring covers of the music that he loved. The first song to come to mind was “Since I Don’t Have You.” It never dawned on me until I started listening to it again that many of the lyrics actually tap into my feelings about his loss. Like many of the lyrics from the ‘50s, this song is about love lost from a breakup, but it seems appropriate just the same.
There is another correlation that I didn’t really think of when choosing the song. GNR’s cover of “Since I Don’t Have You” comes from an album called The Spaghetti Incident? The title is an inside joke born out of a food fight between Axl Rose and Steven Adler. During Adler’s lawsuit against the band, his attorney referred to the food fight as “the spaghetti incident.”
So what does this have to do with my dad and me? We did not have a spaghetti incident, but there is an inside joke in my family that may as well be called “The Froot Loop Incident.” It was actually two separate incidents that took place over a decade apart. I’m going to keep the details in the family, but it’s actually fitting connection.
Back in 1992 and 1993, GNR performed “Since I Don’t Have You” as an intro to “Sweet Child O’ Mine” or “Paradise City” in concert. It’s a perfect tone-setter. GNR stayed true to the original melody, but once you add the signature anguished vocals of Axl Rose and the emotive guitar playing of Slash, the song takes on a whole new meaning and sound. The original version by The Skyliners will always be near and dear to my heart for sentimental reasons, but the GNR version is the one that speaks to me most.
If you want to get a true feel for what GNR did with the song, I highly recommend checking out the original as well.
RAMONES – “Do You Wanna Dance” (1977)
Keeping with the theme of rock versions of Doo Wop songs, I chose another song that most rock fans will not realize is a cover. The original version of the song by Bobby Freeman captures a moment in time, and takes you back to the ‘50s. Fans of the ‘70s TV show Happy Days will be able to imagine themselves drinking a malted and eating a burger and fries at Arnold’s as this song plays in the background.
Aside from the fact that the Ramones were able to keep their version of “Do You Wanna Dance” under three minutes, there isn’t much that resembles the original. The type of dancing that you would do when listening to the Ramones’ interpretation of “Do You Wanna Dance” probably wouldn’t be too romantic, unless you’re dating a punk rocker named Sheena, then it might be.
“Do You Wanna Dance” is quintessential Ramones…punk aggression with distinct vocals that drive the message home in short order. The original members of the band have all since passed, but their music and influence will live on for many years to come.
KURT ARFT – HRD Music Scout
SKID ROW – “Monkey Business” (1991)
Coming off of their successful debut album – which featured hits “Youth Gone Wild,” “18 And Life,” and the incredible power ballad “I Remember You” – Skid Row jumped back into the studio with Michael Wagener to create one of the greatest hard rock/heavy metal records ever in Slave To The Grind. It is easily in my top 10 albums of all-time. When this album dropped, my mind was blown. I couldn’t believe the band that did “I Remember You” put out some of the best, heaviest, grooviest music in years!
Slave To The Grind spawned five singles, went multi-platinum, and solidified Skid Row’s place on the music map. “Monkey Business” was the first single off the album. When I saw the video and heard the song, I knew it was on. This band had transformed into a killing machine (in musical terms). Sebastian Bach had laid waste to all the critics as he exorcised his demons by showcasing a darker, angst-ridden, edgier side to his already amazing vocals.
“Monkey Business” starts out with Bach’s trademark, beautiful singing voice, and then transforms into a beastly, angry delivery that absolutely is a tone-setter. It gave me a whole new respect for him.
The band delivered easily one of the best performances on Slave To The Grind, crafting an album filled with bombastic songs from top to bottom. It’s an unrelenting aural pounding of the senses that features great storytelling with deep subject matter that is still relatable today.
“Monkey Business” is one of Skid Row’s defining songs. It received heavy rotation on MTV and radio when it came out, and is still played today. Sophomore albums were typically a “make or break” proposition back in the day. Often times, it either put a band on the map or sank them. Slave to the Grind clearly put Skid Row on the map.
JUDAS PRIEST – “Painkiller” (1990)
The undisputed kings of Heavy Metal (in my opinion), Judas Priest, released one of the most insane, off-the-charts heavy metal songs of all-time in “Painkiller.” It’s one of those album openers that made your head explode and made you strap yourself in for a wild ride.
“Painkiller” is the title track on the first album that featured drummer Scott Travis (Racer-X). His drumming on this track sets off an unrelenting pace, enhanced by the dual guitar attack of K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton racing their way around the fretboard. Bass player Ian Hill locked in immediately with Travis, and like a locomotive, sped down the tracks. And of course, who could forget that voice? The Metal God, Rob Halford, brought the painkiller character to life with some of his best vocals and screams ever.
Painkiller is my favorite by Judas Priest, and easily in my top 10 albums of all-time. The song is in my top 10 songs as well. The album was the end of a chapter for Judas Priest as Halford departed afterwards, and didn’t return until the 2005 release of Angel of Retribution. What a statement this song and album made. It was as if they wanted to show the world that Judas Priest could still deliver the goods and we can do it bigger and better than anyone else. Mission accomplished!
Another side note to this record. It was released in September 1990, but was actually originally finished in March 1990. The delay of the release was caused by the highly publicized subliminal message trial that Priest was going through at the time.
SUZANNE BRACKEN – HRD Music Scout
KISS – “Parasite” (1974)
When the KISS Destroyer album was released in 1976, my younger brother and I were pre-teens. Like almost every other kid in America, we became huge fans. We were captivated by the makeup, the attitude, and most of all, the music. After playing Destroyer literally hundreds of times, my brother used his allowance money to get his hands on some other KISS albums. That’s how Hotter Than Hell made it into our home and onto our 8-track player.
During a recent conversation with my brother about his album selection, he said that he picked up Hotter Than Hell mostly because the title contained the word “hell.” It was about as rebellious a choice as a 10-year old kid from the suburbs could make in the ‘70s. Fortunately, our parents have always supported our love of music, so it didn’t present a problem for them when my brother bought the record. They even took him to the record store to buy it.
The Hotter Than Hell album sounded almost nothing like Destroyer. It wasn’t full of hooks, nor was it glossy or happy. It had a much darker, dirtier sound, containing no power ballads like “Beth” and no rock anthems like “Shout it Out Loud” or “Detroit Rock City.” It remains my go-to KISS album for precisely those reasons.
Hotter Than Hell was recorded before the KISS Army madness, and before the global level of mass merchandising. I love it because I consider it their metal album. They would never again truly record another like it in terms of its raw, heavy sound.
With Ace Frehley’s killer guitar riffs and Gene Simmons’ sinister delivery, “Parasite” is my favorite track on the album. It is a pure example of KISS at its heaviest and best. I was so thankful to find the video from 1976 that captured the essence of the moment perfectly (click on the song title to view).
In 2016, my brother and I attended a KISS concert in Bridgeport, Connecticut with his best friends from childhood. It was a great night, but mostly for nostalgic reasons. Long ago, I stopped connecting with the current incarnation of the band for various reasons. Topping the long list of them is the decision to allow to Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer to don the original Catman and Space Ace makeup and costumes. It’s such a turnoff to me (and many original KISS fans who have followed them for decades).
If I’m being honest, the highlight of the evening for me was the meet-and-greet for the opening act, The Dead Daisies, in the lobby of the Webster Bank Arena after they had performed (and before KISS took the stage). I am reasonably certain that many of the concert goers did not know this newer band before the show, much less the members of the band.
Admittedly, I was at this show to see the Daisies and, of course, to spend time with my brother and our friends. The opportunity to meet the members of the band (including Doug Aldrich and John Corabi) was unexpected icing on the cake. It was wonderful to be able to personally express my appreciation to them for keeping rock alive.
Based on my experience, it was apparent that they were grateful to interact with rock fans. In the cynical, commercial times in which we live, the chance to meet with a band with no real pretense is refreshing on so many levels (particularly at a show where the headlining act has become as much about the spectacle as the music).
MONTROSE – “Rock Candy” (1973)
What more can you even say about this song (and the album from which it is from)? It is as pure as rock gets on every level, with its loose, fun vibe. It is pure California sunshine on the gloomiest of days, with Sammy Hagar’s voice in the finest of form, Denny Carmassi’s iconic drum intro, and Ronnie Montrose’s instantly recognizable guitar riff. Simply put, listening to this album just makes you want to get on a bad motor scooter and ride…..to the West Coast and hang out on sunny beach.
That said, in April of 2012, when the opportunity to see guitarist Doug Aldrich and vocalist Keith St. John perform these classic Montrose songs at a small jazz club (The Iridium in New York City), with the Les Paul Trio as a part of the Les Paul Monday series, my friends and I were all over it, immediately purchasing tickets.
We arrived early to the show, and were seated at a table with a perfect view. The set list included Montrose songs, as well as songs from other great artists including Jimi Hendrix and Jeff Beck. The entire night was magical, including the opportunity to meet, talk with (and actually hang out with), Aldrich and, St. John as well That Metal Show hosts Eddie Trunk, Don Jamieson and Jim Florentine.
Like us, St. John is from the New York area. He echoed our sentiments that we, as rock fans, were not exposed to Montrose on the radio and discovered them later than most, but appreciated them just as much once we found them. I simply love that this album continues to grow in legend.
Music moves and motivates me constantly and you surely don’t have to go to shows to enjoy its power. But unforgettable nights at shows spent with friends who share your passion for all things rock and heavy metal provide priceless memories to look back upon, particularly during the daily grind of life. My friends and I all replay that night in our minds almost daily, and I will be forever grateful for it.