Hard Rock Music Time Machine – 1/25/18
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)
COREY TAYLOR – “Snuff” (2016)
I stumbled upon this incredible acoustic version of “Snuff” when I was compiling the Top 100 Hard Rock Songs of 2017. Stone Sour’s “Song #3” was named the #1 song of the year.
Although Slipknot is the band of Corey Taylor’s that gets more attention, I’ve always favored his work with Stone Sour because it shows the sides of him that I appreciate most. “Snuff” is a Slipknot song, but it feels more in line with Stone Sour’s sound. Regardless, this acoustic version of the song from Taylor was taken from a live solo performance.
Hearing this version of “Snuff” actually inspired the unplugged theme for Hard Rock Music Time Machine. After listening to it on YouTube the first time, I replayed it several more times that day, and many more times since.
Taylor can scream with the best of them, but in my opinion, when he sings from the heart, he is at his absolute peak. Not only is he one of the best vocalists of this generation, but of all others as well. When it comes to tapping into the emotion of a lyric, few are as good as Taylor.
As a writer, Taylor challenges you to think, with poetic, poignant lyrics that straddle the fence between ambiguity and clarity. His vocal performance on this version of “Snuff” takes you on a journey inside his tortured soul. To truly capture the emotions of each lyric, Taylor offers up dynamic acoustic guitar playing. Like his vocals, the guitar playing is soft and tender at times, and almost angrily defiant at others.
I cannot explain what it is, but I find this acoustic version of “Snuff” to be incredibly stirring. This is especially true when the live crowd gently and sweetly sings along with the following lyrics…“I still press your letters to my lips, and cherish them in parts of me that savor every kiss.”
In a day and age when technology seems to be used to enhance both live and recorded music, there is something special about the magic that Taylor creates with nothing more than a guitar, a microphone, and an impassioned crowd.
CHRIS CORNELL – “Nothing Compares 2 U” (2015)
An extensive database of all songs featured on Hard Rock Music Time Machine is kept to ensure that songs don’t get repeated, especially by the same writer. I did feature Chris Cornell’s acoustic cover of “Nothing Compares 2 U” a few years ago, but I decided to feature it again this week for a specific reason…
This song was always moving, but since Cornell’s tragic passing, it hits home in an entirely different way. When I heard this song years ago, I was in awe of Cornell’s ability to vastly improve upon such an incredible song. Listening to “Nothing Compares 2 U” these days, serves as a stark reminder that life is short, and that we don’t know what battle someone is fighting internally.
So many of these lyrics stir up emotions, but one particular verse sends chills down my spine every time that I listen to it…
“All the flowers that you planted, mama, in your backyard, all died when you went away. I know living with me baby is sometimes hard, but I’m willing to give it another try.”
Flowers come and go with the passing of each season, but the world of countless Cornell fans has been forever changed since he’s gone away. In my youth, Cornell blew me away with his powerful, once-in-a-generation vocals. As an adult, his more emotive acoustic work is amongst my favorite music.
When it comes to unplugged music, and covering classic material, Cornell remains unrivaled to this day.
MYLES KENNEDY – “Watch Over You” (2014)
The ability to hit ungodly high notes with power is what initially drew me to Myles Kennedy. Amazingly, Kennedy flew below my radar until 2010 when he sang on my two favorite tracks on Slash’s first solo album. He was also the touring vocalist in support of that album, which led to him becoming the permanent lead singer for the project.
Kennedy’s work with Slash helped to introduce me to Alter Bridge that same year. Anyone who reads Hard Rock Daddy is well aware of the high regard that I have for Kennedy, both as a vocalist and as a songwriter.
While his unbelievable high octave power is what introduced me to Kennedy, his dynamic range is what has made me into a lifelong fan.
On his unplugged performance of Alter Bridge’s emotionally charged song about death, “Watch Over You,” Kennedy showcases every note in his range with equal grace and beauty. From the more soulful, subdued moments to the higher octave moments of anguish, Kennedy shows why he is arguably the most underrated singer in the history of rock.
Unlike most vocalists, Kennedy seems to be getting better with age (which is a good thing since he didn’t start getting noticed until he was in his forties).
KURT ARFT – HRD Music Scout
BON JOVI – “Livin’ On A Prayer/Wanted Dead Or Alive” (MTV Video Music Awards 1989)
I figured for this special themed edition of Hard Rock Music Time Machine, I would start at the beginning of what many consider to be the genesis (or catalyst) for acoustic/unplugged performances in rock. This performance by Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora was the inspiration for what MTV would call their very popular Unplugged series. It began airing in November 1989, and ran regularly until 1999 (then less frequently from 2000-2009). The program showcased many artists stripping down their popular songs, which not only created new interest in those songs, but also garnered new fans.
Many songwriters/artists/bands’ biggest hits have been penned simply with an acoustic guitar, pen and paper. It has long been said that you know it’s a great song if you can play it on an acoustic guitar and it still holds its luster…its greatness…its magic. I am one of those who firmly believes that is true.
Unplugged performances are also a new way to connect to audiences and to bring a different angle or sound to a hit song. It’s one of the most pure, raw, and personal ways to convey music to an audience.
Take a look at the list of names that performed on MTV Unplugged: Eric Clapton, Aerosmith, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Neil Young, Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, Alice in Chains, Rod Stewart, Alicia Keys, Lauryn Hill, Page & Plant, and many others…
On a September night in Los Angeles, CA in 1989 at the MTV Video Music Awards, Bon Jovi and Sambora walked on stage with two acoustic guitars to a rousing, stirring ovation (and many screaming ladies). This performance came hot off the heels of their landmark Slippery When Wet album, while supporting their follow album, New Jersey.
As Sambora starts playing the popular intro to “Livin’ on a Prayer,” Bon Jovi banters with the crowd as if they were in a bar somewhere on a small stage.
Following “Livin’ On A Prayer,” the duo breaks into their iconic song “Wanted Dead or Alive,” a song about their lives and experiences on the road. About midway through the performance, you could tell they were in their element, strumming their guitars hard and trading off vocal lines, before Sambora nails the guitar solo with confidence. You could feel the energy through your television screen. By the end of the performance, you knew that you had just witnessed something cool, something special.
This moment in time, captured for all to see and hear, lasted for a little over seven minutes. Those seven minutes inspired unplugged performances from artists of all genres and styles. That momentum carries through to today.
Many established bands/artists continue to perform acoustically to this day, even putting out acoustic albums. Newer artists have continued to master the acoustic sound and experience. In my opinion, it inspired a whole new generation of guitar players. By turning the acoustic guitar into a rhythmic, singing, stringed instrument (not requiring a human voice), a whole new level of artistry and creative expression has been created by outside-the-box players.
What started with a spot-on awards show performance has since turned into many generations of players, musicians, and songwriters honing their craft, utilizing the acoustic guitar as their instrument, and using their voice to express themselves to the enjoyment of the masses.
CHRIS CORNELL – “Thank You” (2011)
In March – May 2011, Chris Cornell (Soundgarden, Audioslave, Temple of the Dog) embarked upon a solo acoustic tour through the United States. On the tour, he recorded performances of songs that he had written and performed with Soundgarden, Audioslave, and Temple of the Dog. He also performed some covers in those sets. Cornell released songs from that collection of performances in November of 2011 on an album simply titled Songbook.
One of the covers on the album, “Thank You”, was originally written by Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant and Jimmy Page. Cornell’s singing and playing on “Thank You” is nothing short of amazing, putting his own spin on the song, while still maintaining the essence, emotion, and integrity of the original.
To this day, I still can’t listen to this song without getting choked up. It’s a love song originally penned by Plant for his (then) wife, Maureen. Cornell took this song and made it his own. You can see just how talented of a singer/songwriter/performer Cornell was by listening to his entire acoustic album.
Something about Cornell’s performance of “Thank You” really stood out to me and touched me. It gives me chills just thinking about it. This particular performance of the tour was recorded on 4/27/11 at the Esplanade Arts & Heritage Centre in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada.
The album Songbook was released in November 2011. If you are a fan of Cornell’s, or just a fan of acoustic albums, check it out. I think that you’ll really enjoy it.er Invasion dissolved, Vincent would go into hiding and not show his face again. He is said to be making his first public appearance in 21 years at the Atlanta Kiss Expo this month.
SUZANNE BRACKEN – HRD Music Scout
THE WINERY DOGS – “I’m No Angel” (2013)
The Winery Dogs are a perfect example of a band that sounds equally at home acoustically as they do on stage live and loud. This unplugged performance of “I’m No Angel” is a fine example of just how in-sync they are, no matter the style.
Richie Kotzen’s voice is rich with emotion, and his range is one of the best that you can find in music today. He has been touring extensively as a solo artist over the last couple of years. His show is a must-see if he comes to a venue near you. As for me, I would (and often do), see any of the members of this supergroup in any incarnation. I’m still hoping for a Winery Dogs reunion in the not too distant future.
SCORPIONS – “The Best Is Yet To Come” (2013)
Scorpions are beloved the world over, having firmly established themselves as one of the best bands in the history of hard rock/metal. They have done everything from heavy guitars and screetching vocals to soaring orchestral arrangements. Their acoustic version of “The Best Is Yet To Come” speaks to the power of their music for the past 50+ years.
Originally released on 2010’s Sting In The Tail album, this live acoustic version is both joyous and anthemic to the audience who sings right along with the uplifting chorus.
The melodic guitar work of Matthias Jabs, combined with Klaus Meine’s heartfelt vocals (which are as powerful and beautiful as ever), somehow make you a believer that the best really is yet to come. It’s a perfect song for the start of any new year.