New Tunes Tuesday – Loverboy

Loverboy "Unfinished Business"

Loverboy is ready to settle some unfinished business with their first album of all-original studio recordings in seven years. Unfinished Business consists of demos written as far back as 40 years ago. Guitarist Paul Dean and the band recently finished the tunes as a show of appreciation to their fans.

The album, whose title was selected through a Facebook fan vote, is a treasure trove of tunes that capture Loverboy’s iconic sound. Packed with catchy synthesizer riffs and blazing guitar solos, Unfinished Business instantly transports fans back to the ‘80s. “Countin’ the Nights” could have easily been one of the band’s hits in their heyday, while the power ballad “Come Undone” is the perfect soul mate to the band’s 1985 hit, “This Could Be the Night.”

Unfinished Business also showcases some out of the ordinary and fun musical arrangements from the band including surf rock guitar riffs by Dean on “Slave” and ragtime piano work by Doug Johnson on “Doin’ It the Hard Way.”

Unfinished Business is available on iTunes and Amazon.

New Tunes Tuesday – Ted Nugent

Nugent 6

The always outspoken rocker Ted Nugent has decided to let his music do the talking for him…at least on his new album, Shutup&Jam! 

“Shutup & Jam! You know who I am, you know where I stand, so Shutup & Jam! I am!” 

The release is Nugent’s first all-new studio album in seven years. Backed by his stellar tour band (bassist Greg Smith, drummer Mick Brown and guitarist/vocalist Derek St. Holmes), the Motor City Madman delivers a firestorm of high energy rock. Special guest Sammy Hagar adds fuel to the fire with scorching vocals on the track, “She’s Gone.” 

“When I first heard Ted’s demo of this song, I immediately responded with ‘I’m in,’” Hagar says.  “Ted’s ripping the guitar like the days old…very inspiring to sing to a track like that—old-school blues riff, hard-edged rock ‘n’ roll on fire!!!” 

Nugent is currently on a U.S. tour in support of Shutup&Jam! The tour ends in Ft. Worth, Texas on August 16th with Nugent’s annual summer show at Billy Bob’s Texas. 

New Tunes Tuesday – Bon Jovi Celebrates Anniversary with Deluxe Reissue

Bon Jovi New Jersey

Bon Jovi is celebrating their 30th anniversary with a deluxe remastered edition of their 1988 album, New Jersey. (Did anyone send a party invitation to Richie Sambora? I’m just asking.) 

The epic album contained five singles that reached the top 10 of the Hot 100, proving that the band was more than a one hit wonder (“Livin’ on a Prayer”). How appropriate that you’ll have more than one way to celebrate the reissue.  

Besides the single remastered disc, there is also a deluxe and super deluxe edition of New Jersey. The former contains a 32-page booklet, three bonus cuts, and a second disc of previously unreleased demos.  The tracks were originally intended for a double-LP that was never released.

But wait, there’s more!  If you get the super deluxe package, you’ll also get a 60-page soft cover book featuring rare photos of the band, and a DVD of the behind-the-scenes documentary, Access All Areas: A Rock & Roll Odyssey. The documentary chronicled Bon Jovi’s New Jersey world tour.  Also included on the DVD are seven full length music videos.


Concert Review: John Mellencamp / Night One at Winstar World Casino

John Mellencamp stage

John Mellencamp’s concert at Winstar World Casino Friday night was short but stellar. The performer and his band were on fire, tearing through hits with such intensity that at times it made the hall of 4,000+ fans sound like 40,000. 

Taking the stage just after 9pm, Mellencamp and band opened with “Human Wheels.” The 1993 hit featured a rousing violin solo by Miriam Sturm, one of many throughout the night from the talented performer. By the time the band tore into the third song, “Check it Out,” it had become clear that Mellencamp was going to give fans what they wanted to hear…the hits.  

Dressed in a black three-piece suit and blue dress shirt, Mellencamp occasionally worked his way across the stage, peering out into the crowd with a boyish grin. Those who have not seen the singer in a while may have had to do a double take at first as Mellencamp’s gray beard has given the singer a distinctive new appearance.

Mellencamp may have been ready to give fans the hits, but it would be on his own terms. Just four songs into the set, Mellencamp played a solo acoustic version of “Jack & Diane.” The folksy interpretation was probably the best performance of the song in its three decade history. The version gave dramatic emphasis to the lyrics (Life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone), while also allowing plenty of sing along opportunities for the fans…and sing along they did.  

Mellencamp played two more songs on acoustic guitar, “Longest Days” and “Small Town.”  On the latter, Mellencamp jokingly changed the line, “I married a small town girl and brought her to this small town,” to one that poked fun of his marriages. “I married a bunch of girls and took them to that small town. Don’t know if it’s the town or if it’s me. It’s probably me.”

Following a moving instrumental close to “Small Town” by Sturm and accordionist Troye Kinnett, the band launched into what I will simply refer to as the five-alarm fire portion of the show. Red hot versions of Mellencamp hits played with incredible ferocity and emotion. With drummer Dane Clark switching over to his full drum set, “Rain on the Scarecrow” took on a pounding and fierce anthem like persona.  “Crumblin’ Down,” “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A,” and “Pink Houses” were flat-out rockers that had many fans not just singing along, but screaming along. 

Following “Cherry Bomb,” the band and Mellencamp exited the stage.  By now, the energy in the hall was off the charts as the crowd anticipated an encore. But in actuality, they had just seen it.  Mellencamp performed his show, as set listed, straight through with only a mini-break near the end to introduce the band. While this may have thrown some fans for a loop, they did have a valid reason to want more. The show lasted less than 90 minutes and up until its sudden end was simply stellar. 

John Mellencamp plays another show at Winstar World Casino on Saturday. Let’s hope the earlier 8pm start time means the band will play a little longer.

What did you think of the show? Share your thoughts with Classic Rock Blog!

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Concert Review: The Doobie Brothers & Boston at Allen Event Center

Boston in concert at Allen Event Center

Classic rock fans found heaven on earth Wednesday night at the Allen Event Center as The Doobie Brothers and Boston delivered exhilarating performances that more than lived up to the bands iconic images.

The Doobie Brothers kicked off the sold-out show with their electric mix of rock ‘n’ roll, rhythm and blues, funk, and country. Comprised of two drummers, three vocalists/guitarists, a bass player, piano player, and a saxophone player, The Doobie Brothers easily combined their mass of talent and turned in an incredibly tight performance that quickly had fans on their feet and dancing.

Singer/guitarist Tom Johnston’s intensity and energy on stage were almost Springsteen-esque. All that was missing was a huge piano for him to jump on. Together with Pat Simmons and John McFee, the three shared vocal duties, harmonies and guitar solos throughout the night. Opening with “Jesus is Just Alright” and “Rockin’ Down the Highway,” the band then tore into “Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me),” featuring a lively saxophone solo by Marc Russo. 

The Doobie Brothers in Concert at Allen Event Center

Following one of the band’s more recent tunes, “World Gone Crazy,” McFee took a seat to play pedal steel guitar on two songs including “Neal’s Fandango” which featured a rousing instrumental jam session that resulted in a standing ovation. Fans also enjoyed Simmons’ lead vocals on “Takin’ It to the Streets,” the band’s monster hit from 1976. 

Simmons’ son, Pat Jr., showed off his own musical talents earlier in the evening with a crowd pleasing opening set.  Wearing shorts, flip-flops and a “Grow Something” t-shirt, the budding artist played a brief four song acoustic set. Father joined son on stage for the closing number, a cover of America’s “Ventura Highway.”

As The Doobie Brothers finished their set with “China Grove” and “Listen to the Music,” fans were drowning out the band’s vocals with their own, cutting loose and dancing in the aisles.

While The Doobie Brothers performance was tight, Boston’s show was slick and very dynamic.  Their stage was designed as the inside of a spaceship with three video monitors serving as windows.  Stacks of speakers and racks of electrical equipment with multi-colored lights lined the back of the stage. Fans were ready for blast off with the very first number, “Rock and Roll Band.”

Boston in concert at Allen Event Cente

Surprisingly, the only remaining member of the band, Tom Scholz, positioned himself towards the back of the stage, alternating between guitar and keyboards. His impressively assembled bandmates including Tommy DeCarlo (vocals), David Victor (guitar/vocals) and Kimberly Dahme (guitars/vocals) took up positions on the front of the stage. With the exuberance of the three and Scholz with his mop-top kid haircut, it felt at times like we were watching Boston in their early pre-fame days.

DeCarlo, who just a few years ago was working at Home Depot, did an impressive job with lead vocals. Victor, who earned his stripes playing in Boston cover bands, took over vocal duties on “Amanda” and “Walk On.” Dahme provided a sultry introduction to “Cool the Engines,” and later heated things back up with Victor on “Walk On.”    

Credit Scholz for not making fans wait to hear the hits. All the big songs including “Don’t Look Back, “More Than a Feeling,” and “Feelin’ Satisfied” were played early on in the set.  The most powerful and impressive song, however, was a ten-minute plus jam version of “Walk On.”  The song featured Scholz again on the organ, dueling it out at times with bassist Tracy Ferrie. Fans got a close-up view of the action as multiple video cameras captured Scholz’s rapid finger work. Not surprisingly, the songs that followed were “Foreplay/Long Time”…indeed, it was a long time coming.     

The ’70s may have called the Allen Event Center on Wednesday night wanting their music back, but the decade will just have to wait.  Music this good is timeless. Long live rock ‘n’ roll!

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Concert Review – 38 Special at Lone Star Park

38 Special at Lone Star Park

California Chrome’s attempt to win the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing was all the buzz Saturday afternoon at Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie. However, it was a different thoroughbred that stole the show after the sun went down.  38 Special, the wild-eyed southern boys who busted onto the music scene more than three decades ago, proved they are still worthy of being hailed as one of the thoroughbreds of Southern-rock.

Though co-founder Donnie Van Zant has retired from the band, fellow founder Don Barnes has done a remarkable job in the saddle, keeping both the magic and spirit of the band alive. Together with Danny Chauncey (guitar), Bobby Capps (keyboards/vocals) and Gary Moffatt (drums), Barnes led the group through a blistering 24 song, 90 minute set that featured every facet of the band’s musical history.

Fans were treated first to a string of 38 Special’s iconic Southern-rock tunes including “Rockin’ Into the Night” and “Rough Housin’” which featured a fiery harmonica solo by Barnes. Following “Wild-Eyed Southern Boys,” the band loaded up the chamber with hit after hit, firing off a 10 song medley of mainstream hits with rapid fire precision.  It could have easily been called 38 Special’s “Movie Mix,” as it included the soundtrack tunes “Teacher, Teacher” and “Back to Paradise.” In the middle of the medley, the band added a little bluesy swing to the mix with the Capps’ fronted “Honky Tonk Dancer.” Capps took over the spotlight again near the end of the medley singing the soft-rock hit, “Second Chance.”

38 Special at Lone Star Park

Around this time, a few of the fans in the crowd began shouting for the mega-hit, “Hold On Loosely.” But with so many hits in the band’s arsenal, fans had to wait patiently to hear their favorite tunes. 

The band picked up the tempo down the stretch with “Fantasy Girl,” “If I’d Been the One,” and the gritty “Trooper With an Attitude.”  Following a muscle filled drum solo by Moffatt, the band finished out the main set with their 1982 hit, “Caught Up in You.”  Barnes jokingly introduced it as a new song.

Returning to the stage amidst thunder sound-effects and strobe lighting, 38 Special launched into the fierce rocker “Chain Lightnin’.” As Barnes and Chauncey traded guitar solos on the now smoke covered stage, you could feel the crowd’s anticipation build for what was to come next…”Hold On Loosely.” As fans raised their voices to sing along, it became evident that “Hold On Loosely” is more than just a hit song. The tune has come to symbolize the relationship that fans have with 38 Special.  For more than three decades, fans have held on to the magic and spirit of 38 Special’s music, not letting go, for they know that this thoroughbred’s wild ride is far from over.

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John Mellencamp Receives Historic Lifetime Recording Contract

Cover of John Mellencamp's "Plain Spoken" album.

Heartland rocker John Mellencamp has received an unprecedented “lifetime” recording contract from Republic Records. Label co-founder and chief executive Monte Lipman says, “We’re thrilled to be working with John Mellencamp as part of this historic deal. Not only has he served as an ambassador of social consciousness in America, but he has also provided the soundtrack of a generation.”

Fans won’t have to wait long for Mellencamp’s first Republic release. Due out this fall is Plain Spoken.  Described as a “stunningly elegant, soul-searching gem,” Plain Spoken will be Mellencamp’s 22nd full-length album.

If the wait becomes unbearable, you can always check out Mellencamp’s new live album, Trouble No More Live at Town Hall, due out on July 8th from Mercury/Universal Music Enterprises.

And speaking of live, Mellencamp will embark on a brief summer tour later this month beginning with two shows at Winstar Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma.

What other artists should have “lifetime” recording contracts?  Share your thoughts with Classic Rock Blog!

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