Hard Rock Music Time Machine – 2/15/18
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)
APRIL WINE – “Sign Of The Gypsy Queen” (1981)
The songs for Hard Rock Music Time Machine are usually chosen at least two or three weeks before publishing. It just so happens that recent events have once again triggered my Canadian wanderlust on the day that I’m featuring an underrated band from north of the border. Serendipity? A “sign of the gypsy queen” perhaps?
In America, you may think that April Wine was a band that had a couple of hits back in the day, but they actually enjoyed quite a lengthy career. The band released their first album in 1971, and their 16th album back in 2006. The release of their 9th studio album – The Nature of the Beast – just happened to be in the same year that MTV began. It is surely no coincidence that this was their first album to go platinum internationally.
MTV had both “Just Between You And Me” (a soulful, bluesy power ballad) and “Sign Of The Gypsy Queen” in regular rotation. For many years, I thought that the latter was an original, but in doing research for this feature, I learned that it is actually a cover of song by Lorence Hud (a Canadian singer/songwriter who originally released it in 1973).
In my opinion, the April Wine interpretation is far superior to the original. From the intensity of the driving rhythm to the beautiful vocal harmonies, “Sign Of The Gypsy Queen” is a song that stands out from other MTV songs from that same time period. Not only is the sound unique, but it also doesn’t feel dated at all. The song came out in the ‘80s, but it really has the timeless blues rock sensibilities of the ‘70s.
JONATHAN TYLER AND THE NORTHERN LIGHTS – “Gypsy Woman” (2010)
In 2010, my family and I had briefly relocated to the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas. Why is that relevant? Because that is where I discovered the funky, soulful “Gypsy Woman” on a local radio station while driving in the car. I can still remember where I was when the song came on the radio. I immediately drove to the store to buy the album after hearing this song once.
Jonathan Tyler – of the band that carries his name – is from Dallas. I honestly have no idea if this song got airplay outside of the DFW metro, but it certainly deserved it. The band only ended up making three studio albums, but they had a sound that led you to believe that the sky was the limit.
“Gypsy Woman” has the soulful vibe of Lenny Kravitz’s more rocking songs, the straightforward, riff-driven approach of classic AC/DC, and the bluesy mystique of Led Zeppelin. With the current trend of Zep-influenced bands getting airplay these days, I can help but wonder if this song was just ahead of its time.
KURT ARFT – HRD Music Scout
OZZY OSBOURNE – “Crazy Babies” (1988)
In 1988, I was fresh out of high school and starting my stint at the local community college to begin my journey to become an elementary school teacher. That was until I rediscovered my love for the guitar and began a different journey.
I had it all planned out…take guitar lessons, grow my hair long, get tattoos, join a band, and become a rock star! Just like that. I mean, we’re talking 1988 here folks…the height of the ‘80s rock revolution. Rock music was everywhere…the radio, MTV, in the local arenas and venues. There was nothing getting in the way of making this happen. And the chicks LOVED it! Another perk to becoming a rock star, but I digress.
My guitar teacher and I hung out together outside of my lessons. One day, we walked into a record store (when there were record stores) and I saw this guitar magazine…Guitar for the Practicing Musician.
On the cover, I saw a guy with long blonde hair, a leather jacket, no shirt, a pair of leather bell bottom pants, and strapped to his shoulder, a Les Paul guitar with a bullseye. That was my introduction to Zakk Wylde, Ozzy Osbourne’s newest guitar player at the time.
No Rest For the Wicked was released in September of 1988. This was my introduction to the world of this new guitar hot shot. The album features “Miracle Man,” “Breaking All The Rules,” and my pick this week, “Crazy Babies.” When I first heard it I was blown away!
The guitar tone of the opening/main riff of the song is sick, and the sudden starting and stopping of the riff is mesmerizing. If you play it loud enough, you can actually feel it in your chest every time that it kicks in.
I had known about Ozzy Osbourne and heard the stories, but this was the first Ozzy album that I ever owned. As you can tell, I was a late bloomer to this rock n roll/metal music thing. My parents were really strict about what I listened to as a kid.
When I saw the video for “Crazy Babies” on MTV, it sealed the deal for me. I could not get enough of the song (or the album for that matter). As I watched Wylde’s hair flipping and guitar playing, I knew I was witnessing something special, and that he would be around for a long time because of the aura about him.
The band’s lineup was rounded out by the rhythm section of bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Randy Castillo (RIP). Bob Daisley recorded all the bass tracks in the studio, but Geezer ended up being Ozzy’s bass player for live shows.
To this day No Rest For the Wicked is still one of my favorite Ozzy Osbourne albums (and my favorite that Wylde played on). It has a raw, almost reckless, vibe.
Ever since that day in the record store, I have followed Wylde and his career. Everything with Ozzy, Pride and Glory, BLS, Book of Shadows I and II. He is definitely one of my favorite guitar players.
As for my journey to rock stardom? Well, I did everything I said at the beginning of this piece EXCEPT become a rock star. After a couple of years, I switched from guitar to bass because, back then, there were guitar players everywhere and no bass players. The band my buddy and I were trying to form needed a bass player. Best decision I ever made. Still doing it and still loving it!
SAIGON KICK – “What You Say” (1991)
I was introduced to Saigon Kick by one of my friends (and former band mate) shortly after their debut self-titled release came out in 1991. “What You Say” was the first song that I heard; it immediately hooked me on their sound. Their vocals (both lead and harmonies) were fresh, and stood out as something different for the musical landscape at the time.
The whole “hair metal” movement was still riding high, but Saigon Kick didn’t fit into the category in my eyes. Yes, they had long hair, but there was so much more to their music.
For one, the lead vocals of Matt Kramer had some depth and emotion to them. In his delivery of the lyrics, you could feel his pleasure and pain. Then there’s the harmony vocals and guitars of Jason Bieler, which completely blew my mind. Kramer’s and Bieler’s voices together was something to magical to behold. It was as if they had been singing together since they were kids because they were so locked in.
Tom Defile’s bass playing was very refreshing and not at all typical of that era. Phil Varone was (and still is) a very solid drummer, the engine that drove the music if you will.
The band’s debut album was produced by Michael Wagener, who was the “it” guy back then. If you had him on one of your records, you were rock royalty. Wagener has worked with some of your favorite artists (Ozzy Osbourne, Motley Crue, Metallica, Megadeth, Alice Cooper, etc.).
My first time seeing Saigon Kick live was in Chicago playing (from what I was told) at their first show after getting signed (opening for Ratt). The crowd didn’t really know what to make of them, as nobody really knew who they were at the time. The response to them was, in my opinion, fairly lackluster. That changed as time went on, and the release of their second album, The Lizard, which featured the radio hits “Love Is On The Way” and “All I Want.”
Saigon Kick is another band that I still listen to today, while also having fond memories of their beginnings. They’re still getting together and doing some shows around the country, albeit without all of the original members.
SUZANNE BRACKEN – HRD Music Scout
RUSH – “A Passage To Bangkok” (1976)
My first memory of hearing “A Passage To Bangkok” was in the fall of 1977 when I discovered the 2112 album. Geddy Lee’s voice was unlike any that I had ever heard before. The opening riff combined with the exotic lyrics drew me in, and made me a Rush fan for life.
2112, along with many others, was in constant rotation in my friend’s basement, which was pure ‘70s teenage America in both visual and audio ambience. My friends and I have compiled an entire playlist from the records that take us back to that basement. We refer to these albums quite often when discussing that time in our lives. It was decades before social media, and music was our constant companion. It was what bonded us then, and still does to this day.
Neil Peart’s lyrics are intricate works of poetry, Geddy’s vocals (whether you love them or not) have become iconic, and Alex Lifeson is one of the greatest guitarists of my generation (or any other for that matter). Lifeson recently confirmed Rush’s retirement from touring. As sad as this is, they have given us so much in the past 40 plus years that it would be kind of selfish to even ask for more.
I will always be thankful to have seen Rush at Madison Square Garden on the Time Machine Tour in April of 2011, which was to be on one of their last big tours. Everything about it was perfection. They held nothing back, from the stellar set list with songs from every point in their career, to their individual and collective performances of the songs that we all have cherished for so many years. It was one of my favorite shows and I will always be one of their most grateful fans.
FOO FIGHTERS – “Arlandria” (2011)
“Arlandria” is my favorite from Wasting Light, a solid overall album. The best thing about the album is that it actually made so many of my friends (and me) excited about an album again. In a digital world full of cherry-picked singles, it was one of the albums in most recent memory that was enjoyed as whole. Most importantly, each song mattered. I think that most of us miss the days when albums were infinitely more important than just the songs that got radio play.
Wasting Light is the first album that my youngest daughter knew in its entirety…every song, every lyric, and even the stories behind each. She has read everything that she could get her hands on about the band. Although I have exposed my kids to all of my music since birth, this album took it to another level because my daughter viewed this as her music and not mine. The fact that we equally shared the love of a band and an album was priceless to me (it’s something that every music loving parent eagerly awaits).
I saw the Foo Fighters on the Wasting Light tour in New Jersey in September of 2011 with my friends. We miraculously worked our way up to the front row (no easy feat with general admission seating). After that experience and seeing them live, playing our favorite album, I knew that I had to take my daughter to see them. I got tickets and took her to the November 2011 show at Madison Square Garden.
Although we were not in the front row this time, it was just as great, and even more meaningful as I was sharing this moment in time with my daughter. We had previously been to many shows together, seeing both my bands as well as countless boy bands (because that’s what we do for our kids). However, this was our first true rock experience together…our band, our album and now, our show. It was truly the best.
Neither of us know why this song is both of our favorites from Wasting Light. It doesn’t really matter anyway. The fact that it is a rock song that moves both of us is quite enough for me. In the end, rock is to be felt and not explained.