AC/DC, High Voltage

Posted in AC/DC, Youtube Favs on November 16th, 2011 by Willie

High Voltage is my favorite AC/DC album, and the song “High Voltage” is one of my favorite songs on there.  I think its a near perfect rock and roll song, the only thing nicking it up for me is the pre-chorus when Bon Scott chants, “HIGH…HIGH…HIGH…”  Always sounded a bit cheesy to me, but goddamn when that refrain kicks in, the song explodes in rock and roll overdrive.  The rest of the song is a funky little number with patented tongue in cheek AC/DC lyrics about embracing an idealized rock and roll lifestyle.  This version is a live TV performance from 1975 on Australia’s “TV Week King of Pops Awards.”  It’s a classic AC/DC performance with Angus vamping around and Bon losing his crazy jacket.  I also love the general presentation TV shows used to have for rock bands in the 60s and 70s.  A big well lit stage with a live band, dramatic camera angles, and just an all around simplistic approach.  It’s the perfect setting for the strait ahead yet outrageous rock and roll band like AC/DC.

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AC/DC Week, Hells Bells

Posted in AC/DC, Youtube Favs on July 16th, 2011 by Willie

And thus the bell tolls for the end of AC/DC week, and what better way to close it out then with “Hells Bells” from Back in Black. A lot of my fellow baseball fans know this song mainly from all time saves leader Trevor Hoffman, who used the song whenever he entered a game for the San Diego Padres.  Other people might recognize the song from their astral dream journeys to Hell…hah!  Did you know that bell that starts the song off chimes exactly 13 times?  Freaky right?  This song, like the “Back in Black” song itself, is another tribute to Bon Scott, funny because all his tribute songs are the darkest nastiest jokes about him being some evil ghost or him burning in eternal hellfire.  Maybe they were happy he got “dragged to Hell.”  Probably not, they loved him, but the song is amazing piece of exciting heavy metal drama, and the perfect cap for what has been a memorable week of AC/DC ass kickery.  To all the AC/DC fans around the world, and all fans of hilariously to the point rock and roll, this is Willie Simpson signing off, and I’ll see you down the road…(i.e. tomorrow.)

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AC/DC Week, Shoot to Thrill

Posted in AC/DC, Youtube Favs on July 15th, 2011 by Willie

AC/DC is really good live.  For this installment of AC/DC Week, I have them live in Houston, Texas in 1983 performing “Shoot to Thrill” from Back in Black. It blows my mind that Brian Johnson can sing the way he can for hours.  There are rumors that now, in 2011, he is finally considering retirement.  I’m surprised he didn’t retire after his first show.  I don’t have much to contribute to this blog post other than a recommendation to check out this utterly hard rocking exercise in kicking ass.

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AC/DC Week, Back in Black

Posted in AC/DC, Youtube Favs on July 14th, 2011 by Willie

So Bon Scott died and in comes English native and Geordie lead singer Brian Johnson.  Johnson never would match Bon’s rock star charisma, but he would out sing him in every demonic capacity.  Scott had a high raspy McCartney/Plant like voice, not nearly as good as those guys, but similar.  Johnson had something altogether different; a screeching high octave voice of dark power.  The vocal gymnastics this guy was able to achieve is mind-blowing, continuously topping his highest notes while never going into a falsetto while always maintaining his vaunted rock and roll roar.  It was pure cartoon attitude, not only a perfect fit for the likes of AC/DC, but a voice that was able to elevate them to a higher level of abstract universalism.  A match made in rock and roll heaven.  Teaming with famed 80s rock producer Mutt Lange, the boys put together their Back in Black album, which was their first true world wide smash.  The song that carries the album’s name was a tribute to Bon Scott, a crazy celebration of his nutty life all wrapped up in a hilarious dark banner of victory.  Check it out.

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AC/DC Week, Highway to Hell

Posted in AC/DC, Youtube Favs on July 13th, 2011 by Willie

AC/DC week won’t stop, but Bon Scott’s contributions will.  Highway to Hell was released in 1979, and it would be the last album to feature the legendary front man.  Ten days after the video below was created, Bon Scott died from choking on vomit.  Whether it was his vomit or not, no one knows, because you can’t dust for vomit.  Anyway, its an appropriate ironic send off for the man who sang hard and drank hard.  I don’t know much about Bon’s personal life, but I’d like to imagine he’s in rock and roll heaven with 72 groupies…hah!  Oh, religion…Bon’s death was a turning point for the band obviously, and who they would replace him with, and the type of songs they’d create are all stories for tomorrow.  So stay tuned!

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AC/DC Week, Live Wire…LIVE!

Posted in AC/DC, Youtube Favs on July 12th, 2011 by Willie

For today’s AC/DC tribute, I got “Live Wire” from 1975’s T.N.T. and it’s LIVE…in London!  This is a GREAT video performance.  AC/DC were fantastic because they could easily recreate the energy from all their recorded tracks live.  It’s no surprise that they achieved massive international success.  All they had to do was show up, turn the amps to 11, and proceed to rock..hard.  On top of that, Bon Scott was a born rock star.  He  was always having a blast.  At times he tries to project masculinity and toughness with his stage presence, but he can never help his smiling because he is filled with so much joy doing what he’s doing.  And why not…AC/DC songs maybe hard rock, but it’s more like hard rock candy.  All their songs are catchy, buttoned up, and fun.  At their best, they are never really menacing and dark.  It always has to be fun first.  STICK THIS IN YOUR FUSE BOX (best line.)

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AC/DC Week, Girl's Got Rhythm

Posted in AC/DC, Youtube Favs on July 9th, 2011 by Willie

AC/DC week…why the hell not.  AC/DC is one of my guiltier pleasures.  Adored by a fan base that never understood that they were probably a parody band, AC/DC took rock and roll to a comical level of extremeness.  The Young brothers who founded the band were very talented rock and roll artists, but were also performance artists.  All you have to do is look at Angus’s school boy suit to get the idea.  They sing about Satan, extreme sex, hardcore drinking, and breaking the law, but they do it with tongue firmly in cheek.  Their music is all about boiling rock and roll down to its philosophical essence, sex and drugs, and then juicing it into overdrive.  Musically, its a stripped down, bare bones, and highly electric attack, but very fun.  Lyrically, its confrontational, sophomoric, and dark minded, but very funny.  They created this persona of what a hard rocking band should be singing about and doing, thus influencing the creation of heavy metal, but it was all based on the simple well-worn formula of making sure to have catchy driving songs.  Even though it was all an act, they did really live a crazy life, especially original front man Bon Scott who drank himself to death.  Perhaps he was the spiritual embodiment of the band’s crazy attitude, perhaps he was just a fuck-up, either way, he was quickly replaced by Brian Johnson, who helped take the band to even higher commercial heights in the 1980s.  More on Johnson later.  Right now I have a classic Bon Scott era song, “Girl’s Got Rhythm,” from their 1979 album Highway to Hell.  Like all great AC/DC songs, it rocks your bones and that’s all that matters.

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The Kinks, You Really Got Me

Posted in The Kinks, Youtube Favs on May 8th, 2011 by Willie

Welcome to part 57 of my never ending youtube countdown.  Today, I present another one of England’s best, this time, The Kinks!  I start off this blog with an understatement, the Kinks are an interesting group.  Led by lead singer/songwriter and all around musical genius, Ray Davies, the Kinks are the all time kings of garage rock in my opinion.  The rest of the band, which originally featured Mick Avory on drums (who nearly killed lead guitarist Dave Davies (Ray’s 17 year old brother) by knocking him unconscious with his drum set in an on stage brawl), and Pete Quaife on bass.  Also, Ray and Dave were constant bickering brothers who fought constantly for decades.  Yea…the Kinks had a slew of problems which led to a crazy ban from US touring at the height of the British Invasion and their commerical breakthrough success with “You Really Got Me.”  This ban cost the Kinks a potential army of fans, tons of money, and a greater spotlight that the likes of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and the Who all happily lapped up.  For the rest of their existence, though still managing to churn out hits because of Ray’s sheer brilliance, and still influencing the very bands listed above enormously, the Kinks never got their proper recognition and were forced to carry on throughout the years in a Spinal Tap like state, embarrassingly embracing heavy metal schlock and stage craft by the 1980s in an attempt to stay relevant.  It’s one of the biggest crimes in rock and roll history because the Kinks were that good.  Ray Davies basically invented garage rock with “You Really Got Me,” a song which the Who admitted to copying for their breakout single, “Can’t Explain.”  Ray’s songwriting was also heavily influential on the likes of John Lennon, who considered “Wonderboy” one of his favorite songs ever, and used it years later as the inspiration for “Beautiful Boy.”  Not only that, he turned into one of rock and rolls greatest lyricists and melody makers, basically as good the Beatles, sometimes even better considering he had to put the whole band on his back and never had a partner to share the load with.  The most inspiring thing about Ray is the legacy of gorgeous, honest, and uncompromising music he left behind (well at least through the first half of the 70s,)  and “You Really Got Me,” is his undeniable greatest splash hit.  So here it is, rev it up, and toast one to Ray folks, one of the greatest ever.

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Motorhead, Let it Rock!

Posted in Motorhead, Youtube Favs on March 4th, 2011 by Willie

Part 15 of my youtube favorites continues with Motorhead covering Chuck Berry’s Let it Rock on the old David Letterman show.  Now, you’ve probably never heard of Let it Rock.  It’s one of Chuck’s lesser known tunes.  It’s basically Johnny B Goode with different lyrics and no choruses.  But the lyrics are amazing, featuring an incredible intro, “In the heat of the day, down in Mobile, Alabama, working on the railroad with a steel driving hammer…”  AMAZING, and Motorhead knew this.  I love this hard thrashing performance that basically proves the Marty McFly maxim; play any Chuck Berry song hard, and thou shalt rule the universe.  Also great to see Paul Shaffer as a temporary member of Motorhead, just legendary.



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