Hard Rock Daddy presents Music Discovery Monday – 2/22/16.
Each week, the HRD team shares songs that fly below radio’s radar, ranging from lesser-known artists to deeper cuts from both up-and-coming and established artists.
In addition to exposing the Hard Rock Daddy audience to new music that isn’t getting the attention that it deserves from radio, Music Discovery Monday also features a segment called “Hard Rock Music Time Machine,” which showcases older songs (from the ’70s to today) that hard rock music fans may have missed at the time of release.
In addition to appearing on the embedded YouTube playlists beneath each section, all songs featured on Music Discovery Monday can be listened to by clicking on the hyper-linked song titles.
This week, Music Discovery Monday features an exclusive interview legendary guitarist Leslie West. In addition to discussing an interesting story about a classic Mountain song, West also shares the backstories behind collaborations with Ozzy Osbourne, Dee Snider, Peter Frampton and Mark Tremonti.
ADAM WALDMAN – (Publisher, Hard Rock Daddy)
Leslie West’s incredible version of “You Are My Sunshine” was featured on Hard Rock Daddy’s “Top 135 Hard Rock Songs of 2015”. Below is the review as it was featured on the list, followed by an interesting story from West himself about the recording of the song…
LESLIE WEST (f. PETER FRAMPTON) – “You Are My Sunshine”
Legendary Mountain guitarist returns with his latest solo release, Soundcheck, an album that features some high profile guest musicians (including the late Jack Bruce) and a mixture of original songs and covers. As expected, there is a great deal of impressive guitar work on the album, but the song that stood out most for me is Leslie West’s haunting interpretation of the classic, “You Are My Sunshine.” The song (which was first recorded in 1939) has been covered numerous times, but never like this. With bluesy guitar parts that are simultaneously beautiful and forlorn, and West’s soulful vocals, this version of “You Are My Sunshine” (featuring Peter Frampton) would have been ideally suited for a dramatic scene in Sons Of Anarchy if it were still on television.
In a Hard Rock Daddy exclusive, Leslie West shares the inspiration for covering “You Are My Sunshine”…
“I was watching the television show Sons Of Anarchy. All of a sudden, I hear in the background an acoustic guitar playing ‘You Are My Sunshine,’ except that it wasn’t the happy-go-lucky, major key that we’re so used to; it sounded dark. I knew that Peter Frampton was going to play on the album, and I said…‘let me do this arrangement, I’ll send it to Peter and see what he thinks.’ So I sang it, did my guitar parts and sent it to him, and he flipped. He wrote me back right away and said that he couldn’t believe how good it sounded changing the song to a minor key. I played slide guitar, and Peter played regular guitar. We’ve known each other for over 40 years and had toured together, but had never recorded together before this song. Peter and I weren’t even together when we recorded the song, which ended up being my favorite cut on the album.
I wanted this version to sound totally unique, because I see no sense in doing songs that sound like the original. I don’t really call doing songs like these covers. It’s like if you took a recipe from a chef and tried to make the dish yourself, it’s not going to come out the same. Or, if I gave you Reggie Jackson’s bat and uniform, you’re not going to hit like him. To be honest, I don’t even know who wrote the original version of this song.
The way that I worked it out with Peter is that we alternated solos, and then played one line together in harmony (which was Peter’s idea). I had never done anything like that before. It was great to finally be able to record with him. I couldn’t be more proud of this song.”
LESLIE WEST (f. MARK TREMONTI) – “Dyin’ Since The Day I Was Born”
Leslie West is one of the most influential, yet underrated, guitarists of all-time. He has had many rock legends appear as guests on his albums. One of the more interesting collaborations came when he joined forces with one of the most talented (yet also underrated) guitarists of this generation, Mark Tremonti (Alter Bridge, Tremonti). The duo brings something exciting to the table as they feed off of each other’s energy. As you would expect, the guitar work is impressive throughout, mixing gritty riffs and bluesy leads. Just as impressive as the guitar work are the soulful, southern vocals of West. The concept of this song is something that really hit home for me on a personal level as a constant barrage of rock star deaths has shined a light upon the fleeting nature of life. Ultimately, everyone is dying; it’s just more tragic and sobering when it happens to someone way before their time.
Leslie West on how he came to work with Mark Tremonti and what helped to inspire “Dyin’ Since The Day I Was Born”…
“Mark Tremonti’s brother (Dan) produced my DVD (The Sound and the Story). I met Mark through Dan at one of the Dean Guitars parties in Tampa. He was perfect for that song, the way that he plays…very fast and melodic. I think that everybody is dying since the day that they were born. As soon as you’re born, the clock starts ticking. It’s like when you get a new car, and drive it off of the lot, it depreciates right away. Part of the inspiration was when I lost my leg after Unusual Suspects came out. I was pretty miserable for a while. I’ve gotten used to it now, but I still can’t play on stage standing with a prosthetic, so I have a special seat that I use.”
LESLIE WEST (f. DEE SNIDER) – “Feelin’ Good”
“Feelin’ Good” has been recorded many times since it was published in 1964, but for my money, never as well as this collaboration between Leslie West and Dee Snider. Unlike “Dyin’ Since The Day I Was Born,” where you naturally focus on the guitar work because of the collaboration, this track shifts your focus to the unlikely (but incredibly powerful) vocal duet of two dynamic singers. Prior to hearing this song, the only connection that I would have made between these two rock icons is their longtime standing as guests (and friends) on the Howard Stern Show. This song showcases another side of Snider that most wouldn’t expect based on his work with Twisted Sister. One of the highlights of the song (and an unexpected twist) is when the duo trades acapella lines in the middle. The other highlight is West’s emotive, bluesy guitar which adds another layer of emotion to the song.
Leslie West on why he chose to collaborate with Dee Snider on “Feelin’ Good”…
“I’ve known Dee Snider for a long time. People think of him as just a heavy metal guy, but he can sing pretty well, so I wanted to do this as a duet with him. This song is nothing like what you would expect from Dee. I chose this song because it’s got some nice changes and it allowed us to go back and forth vocally.”
JON LOVELESS – HRD Music Scout
GHOST – “From The Pinnacle To The Pit”
It’s difficult (if not outright impossible) to discuss this Swedish metal band without acknowledging their controversial image. They are most certainly not for everyone and, frankly, I’m not always entirely comfortable with them myself. That being said, I’m impressed by the artistic growth that they’ve shown with their third album, particularly their recently released second single, “From The Pinnacle To The Pit.” Radio-friendly with solid underpinnings and an almost eerie ear-worm quality, it’s a song that is definitely worth a listen if you aren’t put off by their image.
DAVID BRAZIL – “Steal My Thunder”
This Tupelo, Mississippi guitar virtuoso looks to expand his audience with the first single off of his debut album. The project features artists with strong musical connections (current/former members of Hinder, Dark New Day, Creed, Alter Bridge, Evanescence, and Fuel just to name a few) and has the potential for multiple highlights. David Brazil is currently on the road with a similarly pedigreed lineup for what could be the start of a breakout 2016.
ROB DELL’AQUILA – HRD Music Scout
RAGE OF ANGELS – “All Your Own Way”
One of my earliest reviews for Music Discovery Monday came from this band’s debut album. They are following up that compilation of high-end melodic rock with another promising effort, The Devil’s New Tricks, and I am very excited by what I’ve heard so far. Founded by former Ten keyboard player Ged Rylands, the band has settled on the smooth vocals of Rob Moratti (Final Frontiers, ex-Saga), abundantly supported by three lead guitars and Rylands himself on rhythm guitar.
AXEVYPER – “Brothers Of The Black Sword”
Italian power metal band Axevyper will release their third album, Into the Serpent’s Den, later this week. This first single gallops out at the listener with speed and fury, showcasing some compelling guitar work and a great bass solo to boot.
CHRIS HERZEGOVITCH – HRD Music Scout
BEORN – “Star Ocean”
Beorn is a symphonic power metal band from Russia. “Star Ocean” is a relentless, upbeat, inspirational track that implores you to “keep your dream.” Solid, driving metal chords and a trace of tech-funk thrown in. The melodic chorus of this song really stands out, punctuated by Gregory Kryukov’s unbelievably high vocal register.
KOBRA AND THE LOTUS – “Sign Of The Gypsy Queen”
Kobra Paige fronts Canadian metal band Kobra And The Lotus on an EP of covers that they grew up on. “Sign of the Gypsy Queen” (originally recorded by April Wine) is updated nicely with a strong metal undertone, solid vocals from Kobra, and really good guitar work from Jasio Kulakowski and Jurekk James.
To be considered for Music Discovery Monday, please e-mail a link to the song being submitted on YouTube and an artist bio to – submissions@MusicDiscoveryMonday.com
HARD ROCK MUSIC TIME MACHINE
LESLIE WEST (f. OZZY OSBOURNE) – “Masters Of War” (2007)
The more that you listen to Leslie West collaborations, the more you are left to wonder how the majority of his work isn’t instantly recognizable to legions of rock fans spanning the generations. Not since Jimi Hendrix turned “All Along The Watchtower” into one of his signature songs has another artist taken the writing of Bob Dylan and turned it into something so memorable. West and Ozzy go back almost as far as Mountain’s performance at Woodstock. Before Black Sabbath was looked at as one of the greatest hard rock/heavy metal bands of all-time, they were the opening act for Mountain, a band that never got the recognition that they deserved (at least in the mainstream). On this inspired Dylan cover, West displays an uncanny ability to make you feel the lyrics with his vocals and the emotion of the song with his guitar work. West gives the song a theatrical, Quentin Tarantino-esque Western vibe, while Ozzy’s signature vocals provide a potent change-of-pace.
Leslie West talks about his relationship with Ozzy, and how this collaboration came to be…
“I’ve known Ozzy since around 1970 when Black Sabbath opened for Mountain. The album Masters Of War was all Bob Dylan songs, but I arranged them to sound like Mountain songs. A couple of years before that song was recorded, Ozzy covered ‘Mississippi Queen.’ He asked me to come out to his house to record it with him. Since ‘Mississippi Queen’ has been done so many times, I felt funny doing it by myself again, so we changed it a little bit. There’s a new riff in there and some background singers. I thought that Ozzy did a really good job with it.
When the time came to record Masters Of War, I thought that it was the perfect song for him. The problem was that (at the time) we were on the same stupid label, and Ozzy had just done an album of cover songs. They didn’t want him to do anymore covers, but I think that Sharon (Osbourne) was a big help in getting it done. When Ozzy sings ‘Masters Of War,’ I believe the words even more than when Dylan did it.
Funny story about Ozzy…
When I lost my leg, I was in the hospital in Biloxi, MS (of all the fuckin’ places). It was supposed to be the last concert that Mountain would ever do at the Hard Rock Casino. I’m in the hospital and it was two days after I lost my leg, and Ozzy calls me and says…‘What happened? You fuckin’ lost your leg man!’ I told him that I knew (laughs), and that it was in the Mississippi River.
So, I come back home to New Jersey a few days later, and went to a famous rehab place (Kessler) where Christopher Reeve went. All of a sudden, the phone rings in my room. It was Ozzy on the phone, and he says… ‘What fuckin’ happened man?’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ Ozzy says, ‘You lost your leg!’ I said, ‘Ozzy, do you remember calling me in Mississippi a couple of days ago to talk about this?’ He says, ‘I did?’ That guy is so fuckin’ funny, man. He was a great, bright spot during a difficult time.”
MOUNTAIN – “Nantucket Sleighride” (1971)
Most rock fans think of “Mississippi Queen” when they think of Leslie West and Mountain. While that song is a timeless classic that is known to the masses, Mountain is far from a one-hit wonder. Another one of their classics is 1971’s “Nantucket Sleighride,” which has a sound that marks a moment in time, but is still timeless to those who have an appreciation for music history. Unlike “Mississippi Queen,” which has West front and center, his contributions on this track are more subtle for the most part. That being said, his guitar playing in the middle of the song gives it an added dimension and intensity.
Leslie West on how he found out that “Nantucket Sleighride” was even more popular in Europe than “Mississppi Queen”…
“I really hated this song in the beginning. It was so complicated. I wrote some a nice riff in the middle of it; Felix (Pappalardi) wrote all of the other soft stuff. Most people think of Mountain, and think ‘Mississippi Queen’ or ‘Theme From An Imaginary Western.’ When we played this open-air festival in Knebworth (England), and we started doing ‘Nantucket Sleighride,’ everybody started screaming a clapping. I was wondering…‘how the fuck do these people even know this song?’ It turns out that there was a TV show that was on in England for about 20 years called Weekend World. The show just so happened to have used ‘Nantucket Sleighride’ as the theme song, and as the bumper for every commercial. Weekend World was like a four-hour show. When I met Ringo Starr’s son (Zak Starkey), he said…‘me and me dad used to watch the show just to hear your song, mate.’ So, over in Europe, they knew this song even more than they knew ‘Mississippi Queen.’ You never know when you write songs, who is going to use it for what.”
BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION – “Man In The Middle” (2011)
“Man In The Middle” is a showcase of the potential that was left unfulfilled by the breakup of this relatively short-lived supergroup. While it may have ultimately been simply “one of those things” where the details didn’t work out, it’s difficult to listen to this and not wonder sadly “what might have been.”
ROYAL BLISS – “Cry Sister” (2013)
While the band appears to be repositioning themselves in a more country direction for the future, I’ll likely always remember this track (along with “Turn Me On” and “Crazy”) as a highlight of their catalog. Nothing short of a disgrace that rock radio didn’t embrace them (and this song) more fully.
ERIK GRONWALL – “Take Me On” (2010)
In 2009, when vocalist Erik Gronwall won Sweden’s version of American Idol, a record deal was quickly in the works. His debut album that year was half covers, all of which were done stunningly well. This original is from his sophomore effort the following year, Somewhere Between A Rock And A Hard Place. Since then, he has gone on to further acclaim as the lead singer of the melodic rock band H.E.A.T.
PRIDE OF LIONS – “Interrupted Melody” (2003)
When Survivor’s Jim Peterik (guitar, keyboards) discovered and teamed up with vocalist Toby Hitchcock, they hit on something very special. This plaintive tune from their self-titled debut captures the magic that they brought together.
ENDLESS – “The Playwright” (2006)
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is home to the melodic heavy metal band, Endless. “The Playwright” boasts a great rhythm line and deft guitar work in support of Vitor Veiga’s powerful vocals.
STRATOVARIUS – “S.O.S.” (1997)
Power-metal greats Stratovarius released “S.O.S.” (Save Our Souls), 18 years ago. This track has great tempo with a grittier, less technical production sound than recent releases. Top-notch performances all around. Today, only Timo Kotipelto and Jens Johansson remain from one of their best lineups that featured Timo Tolkki on guitar, Jari Kainulainen on bass and Jörg Michael on drums.