Hard Rock Music Time Machine – 6/9/16
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, the ’80s (the glory days of hard rock), hidden gems of the ’90s and hard rock/metal songs of the new millennium (as recent as a few years ago).
Whenever possible, it will also contain interviews from featured artists discussing the inspiration and meaning behind their songs. On the last Thursday of each month, we will be doing special themes that feature songs based on specific categories or years.
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)
NOTE: Both of my selections this week were chosen because of their association with the Blue Angels (the Navy’s flight demonstration squadron). These songs were chosen to honor the memory of Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss, who was tragically killed while practicing for a Blue Angels Airshow on June 2nd in Tennessee.
The Blue Angels have become a part of my family’s summer tradition. We didn’t know it at the time, but on Memorial Day weekend, we watched Capt. Kuss perform in his last show before his untimely death. This is a news story that deserved a lot more attention than it received, especially given the circumstances of the crash.
Capt. Kuss is an American hero who sacrificed his life to protect the lives of innocent people. He had the opportunity to eject from the F/A-18 fighter jet that he was flying, but chose to not to because it would have endangered lives on the ground. This decorated pilot, who served in Afghanistan, put the lives of others before his own.
RIP Capt. Kuss. Thank you for your service!
VAN HALEN – “Dreams” (1986)
If there is one song that is universally associated with the Blue Angels, it is Van Halen’s “Dreams.” The second single off of 5150 (the debut album with Sammy Hagar fronting the band) is said to be one of Hagar’s favorites. This was an album that saw a transition in the Van Halen sound, largely due to Hagar’s contributions. Hearing this song playing as the Blue Angels flew overhead over Memorial Day weekend is one of those moments in life that sends chills down your spine.
The uplifting feel of the song is the perfect complement to the precision, jaw-dropping, aerial maneuvers that the Blue Angels perform. The message of the song goes hand-in-hand with the feelings that Capt. Kuss had about flying. After his passing, his grandfather was quoted as saying…“It’s hard to put into words right now, but it’s beautiful that a person can live and die engaged in their life’s pursuits. This was his dream since he was a child, to be an aviator, a flier.”
To get a better understanding of how “Dreams” is the defining song of the Blue Angels, please watch the video as you listen.
AUDIOSLAVE – “Cochise” (2002)
Throughout the Blue Angels performance, there are a number of songs played, many of which were hard rock. It’s hard to recall them all, but one that sticks out (aside from “Dreams”), was Audioslave’s “Cochise,” the opening track on the band’s self-titled debut album. Originally titled “Save Yourself” (a line in the chorus), “Cochise” was named after an Apache Indian chief, who declared war on the Southeast and drove out thousands of settlers.
Speaking about the song, guitarist Tom Morrello stated…“Cochise the Avenger, fearless and resolute, attacked everything in his path with an unbridled fury…the song kind of sounds like that.” This description is also fitting of Capt. Kuss.
ANDY CHEUNG – HRD Music Scout
MEGADETH – “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due” (1990)
With the recent passing of one of my most inspiring drummers of all-time, I thought that it would be fitting to showcase one of my favorite Megadeth songs from the album Rust in Peace. “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due” is one of those metal songs that kicks you in the face from its opening riff to the last note of the ending solo. What ties it all together is not just the “shredfest” of Dave Mustaine and Marty Friedman, but the rhythm section of Dave Ellefson and the late Nick Menza.
What made Menza such a great drummer? Listen to the beginning of this song; hear how precise his drum fills follow Mustaine’s guitar notes, as well as the syncopated tom fills on the second part of the main riff. His playing of the up notes and down notes in conjunction with the main guitar riff was also what set him apart from other bands in the same genre. I had the pleasure of watching him perform live, and can honestly say that his live playing is just as polished and brutal as his recordings. My memories of this song include my teenage self, sitting in my room and learning every beat, fill and time change to every song on this classic album. “Rust in Peace” Nick Menza…you were an inspiration to many…myself included!
SHADOWS FALL – “The Power Of I And I” (2004)
Metal music was at a strange time in the early 2000s. A slew of Nu Metal bands arrived on the scene, and good metal was slowly pushed to the wayside. This time period also saw a resurgence of the “New Wave of American Metal.” Shadows Fall was one of those bands that made its way to the forefront of this resurgence (along with other bands like Lamb of God and God Forbid). Listen to the beginning of this song, and you’ll understand how fans of metal would be ecstatic that metal was alive and well in 2004. From their fourth album, The War Within, “The Power of I and I” is a true tribute to the classic thrash metal sound and attitude.
Listen to Jason Bittner’s drumming on this track; solid double-bass and lots of power. Add in Brian Fair’s screams, Jonathon Donais and Matt Bachand’s flashy guitar work, and Paul Romanko’s pounding bass lines, and you have the perfect recipe for a classic thrash metal band. I dare you to listen to this and not want to move!
ROB DELL’AQUILA – HRD Music Scout
BLUE OYSTER CULT – “Astronomy” (1974)
“The clock strikes twelve and moondrops burst out at you from their hiding place”
The lyrics are other-worldly, the composition sublime. Metallica’s 1998 cover did much to re-popularize this song, but nothing compares to Blue Oyster Cult’s 1974 original from Secret Treaties. The words and images for “Astronomy” are borrowed from producer Sandy Pearlman’s poem, “The Soft Doctrines of Imaginos.” BOC would release the song two more times: first as a live version on Some Enchanted Evening (1978), and then as a retooled version for the fittingly named Imaginos (1988).
SHAW BLADES – “Come To Be My Friend” (1995)
Tommy Shaw of Styx and Jack Blades of Night Ranger made for a winning combination on 1995’s Hallucination. The two had previously teamed up to much acclaim in the supergroup Damn Yankees, and they quickly found all the harmony and synergy together again on this collaboration.
CHRIS HERZEGOVITCH – HRD Music Scout
OHM – “System Of A Clown” (2008)
In tribute to the recently departed Nick Menza (Megadeth), here’s a great track from his work with OHM, the jazz-fusion rock trio that he was playing with when he passed away. Aside from a showcase of Menza’s technical skill and pure talent, “System of a Clown” is a terrific jam with Chris Poland (Megadeth) on guitar and Robert Pagliari on bass. Enjoy these really great musicians. RIP Nick!
EUROPE – “The Loner” (2011)
Europe salutes the great Gary Moore by covering one of his magnificent songs, “The Loner” (1987). This amazing rendition was recorded live at Sherpherd’s Bush in London. No vocals necessary, as the guitar sings better than anyone could.