Night Ranger to release new album

 

Night Ranger

Living up to the title of one of their most popular songs from the ‘80s, Night Ranger is proving that they can still “Rock in America,” or anywhere for that matter! In June, the band will release a new self-produced studio album entitled High Road.

“We’re so proud of this new record,” says drummer/singer Kelly Keagy. Fellow bandmate Jack Blades (bassist/singer) adds, “Our new record features classic Night Ranger feel-good, high-energy kick-ass rock ‘n’ roll.”

Check out a preview of Night Ranger’s High Road below, and visit Classic Rock Blog’s brand new Google+ page to see what secrets lie within the album cover’s artwork. 

 

Concert Review: Bruce Springsteen at the March Madness Music Festival in Dallas

Bruce Springsteen at March Madness Music Festival in Dallas

Move over Connecticut and Kentucky, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band shared a Final Four shocker of their own Sunday night at the March Madness Music Festival at Reunion Park in Dallas.  As rain-soaked fans expected to hear “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” “Let It Rain,” or even “Waiting on a Sunny Day” as the opening song,  Springsteen opted instead for some fun and games. Taking the stage to “Sweet Georgia Brown,” the Harlem Globetrotters theme song, The Boss and guitarist Nils Lofgren engaged in a center stage tip-off and then launched into Van Halen’s “Jump.”  The surprising and playful tune featured searing guitar solos from Tom Morello that would have even caught Eddie Van Halen off guard.  

What wasn’t surprising about Springsteen’s concert was that it turned out be yet another excellent show from a rocker who shows no signs of slowing down (even at 64). Springsteen and band played 25 songs over the course of three hours, not even stopping for a break before the encore.

Following “Jump,” Springsteen led the E Street Band on a scorching five-song blitz that included “Badlands,” “Death to My Hometown,” “Cover Me,” “No Surrender,” and “Hungry Heart.”  Just when it looked as if Springsteen would forgo his customary crowd surf during “Hungry Heart,” he took the plunge…making for some tense moments as it appeared that the younger fans had trouble keeping Springsteen afloat.

Tom Morello at March Madness Music FestivalJoining the E Street lineup Sunday night was Springsteen’s wife Patti Scialfa (guitar/vocals) as well as Tom Morello (guitar/vocals) - the collaborative force behind Springsteen’s latest album, High Hopes. Springsteen only played two songs from the album, the title track which featured Morello playing guitar with his teeth, and the remake of “The Ghost of Tom Joad.”  Morello fit in nicely with the band, but it would have been nice to have heard more from long-time E Street guitarist Nils Lofgren.

Springsteen slowed down the pace of the show  with “The River” and “Atlantic City,” but then picked things up again with a rousing dixie jazz/Seeger Sessions version of “Johnny 99.” The song allowed the E Street horn section to strut their stuff with engaging trombone and trumpet solos. There was even a crowd pleasing cowbell solo…it’s a Texas thang!

Bruce Springsteen concert t-shirt from March Madness Music FestivalFollowing “Land of Hope and Dreams,” Springsteen launched right into the encore. “I’m going to keep you warm,” Springsteen said before “Born to Run.” With “Glory Days,” “Dancing in the Dark,” and “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” on deck, the small but spirited (and wet) crowd turned in their show-long hoots and hollers for boisterous singalongs, almost drowning out Springsteen’s vocals.

As the band began to walk off stage, Springsteen appeared to ask Scialfa a question.  You could see her say, “Okay.”  Then Bruce went to get his acoustic guitar and harmonica.  What followed was a beautiful folk-style version of “Thunder Road” with Scialfa accompanying Springsteen on vocals. The crowd immediately fell into a hush, mesmerized by the classic song that — no matter how performed — never loses its magic. 

Similar to Saturday’s Wisconsin vs. Kentucky Final Four basketball game, Springsteen’s concert on Sunday night came down to the very last second. Both events had all eyes fixed on a stunning, well-played performance. Only on this night…everyone walked away a winner. 

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

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New Tunes Tuesday: Asia

Asia "Gravitas"

Asia is back with a new album entitled Gravitas, but missing is their long-time guitar player Steve Howe. Howe retired from the band last year to focus on his own projects, as well as touring with Yes. Enter Sam Coulson. The young guitar player definitely brings a bolt of energy to the band’s sound with fiery electric guitar solos on the title track and the power ballad, “The Closer I Get to You.” 

The strength of the album rests, however, on two of the band’s original pillars, John Wetton (bass guitar, lead vocals) and Geoff Downes (keyboards).  Wetton’s vocals are as strong as ever, and Downes’ entrancing performances on keys create perfect mood settings for Wetton’s introspective lyrics.

While Asia’s last album, XXX, was mixed with pop-rock undertones, Gravitas features a solid progressive rock sound. While it may not be the sound you fell in love with in the ‘80s, Gravitas definitely provides an exciting new chapter in Asia’s history.

What do you think of Gravitas? Share your thoughts with Classic Rock Blog!

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Album Review: Michael Stanley “The Job”

Michael Stanley "The Job"

He bought his first guitar because of Elvis and wrote awful love songs to his girlfriend. The title track of Michael Stanley’s new album, The Job, starts off innocently enough. An autobiography of the heartland rocker’s career, the song traces Stanley’s sudden rise to stardom where he finds his band playing to “a hundred thousand people underneath the stars.”  A reference to a string of attendance records set by the Michael Stanley Band at Cleveland’s Blossom Music Center in the early ‘80s.

But then the song and Stanley’s career takes a turn.

Locked and loaded and out on a roll/But there ain’t no dream doesn’t take its toll./ You could lose your wife, your health, your friends/You know how it starts, never know how it ends. 

Stanley goes on to sing…

The roads’ your home but it ain’t got a heart/Called my bluff and it blew it all apart.

A reference to Stanley calling his record company’s bluff during contract renewal negotiations in 1982…the label wasn’t bluffing and broke off talks, leaving the group without a contract. Soon after, the Michael Stanley Band broke up.

That was a million miles ago/Now it’s one more night, one more show/But that’s the job. Continue reading

New Tunes Tuesday: Mark Slaughter

Mark SlaughterOne of the most amazing voices to come out of the 1990′s hair band scene is back!  Mark Slaughter, lead vocalist and founder of Slaughter (“Fly to the Angels” and “Up All Night”), has just put out a rockin’ new single called “Never Givin’ Up.”  I guarantee this tune will have you digging out your old Slaughter cassettes in no time!

A portion of the proceeds from the sales of “Never Givin’ Up” will go to the Red Circle Foundation, a non-profit organization providing immediate gap funding assistance to the families of United States Operations Forces.

So what are you waiting for? Download the tune! Not only does it rock, it also helps a good cause! 

That’s what Classic Rock Blog is listening to this week. How about you?

Concert Review: The Westies at Bluebird Ranch

The Westies Prove They’re Warmed Up and Ready to Go

The Westies

If there were ever a concert in need of a “barn burner” status, it was Saturday night’s performance by The Westies in the open-air barn at Bluebird Ranch in Murchison, Texas. As an unforgiving chill set in, even the band from Chicago seemed to be taken back by the 45 degree temperature. “I don’t know whether to drink my coffee or put my hands in it,” frontman Michael McDermott declared between songs.

Having wrapped up a brief east coast swing and southern jaunt in support of their debut EP, West Side Stories (the full-length album will be released soon), The Westies decided to close things out with an intimate performance for friends, and friends of those friends, in the small East Texas town of Murchison.  Given the nature of the show, it would have been easy for the band to relax and “phone it in,” but that would have been criminal…even for a band named after a ruthless gang of Irish mob punks that ruled Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan in the ’60s (for more background on the band, read Classic Rock Blog’s review of West Side Stories). Instead, The Westies staked their turf and battled the elements, not backing down on their quest to conquer music lovers with their “ameri-gangsta-cana” tales of love, betrayal and redemption. 

Michael McDermott of The WestiesIn addition to playing songs from West Side Stories and a couple of tracks from McDermott’s solo records, The Westies performed four unreleased tunes that proved to be the highlight of the evening.  The first, “If I Had a Gun,” traces a man’s turmoil as he tries to own up to the mistakes of his past.  The intense lyrics, “If I had a gun, I might point it back at me,” were accompanied by fervent solos from Heather Horton (fiddle) and John Pirruccelo (electric guitar).  Take any song on Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska album and boost the intensity and energy ten-fold, and that’s what you have with “If I Had a Gun.”

Other new songs included the introspective “Parolee,” the romantic waltz “Full Moon Goodbye,” and “Broken from Birth,” a song about problems that we are born into the world with and the inner struggles they cause.

Nearing the 90 minute mark of the show, McDermott opted to play a song that he normally doesn’t perform with The Westies, his 1991 solo hit, “A Wall I Must Climb.”  An obvious treat for long-time fans, there were plenty of camera flashes going off throughout the number. The band then launched into a rocking version of “A Deal With the Devil.”  

Michael McDermott of The WestiesWith the climax of the show reached, and those in attendance all but forgetting about the chill, McDermott still wasn’t done.  As the rest of the band exited the stage, McDermott took to the piano for one more song…the beautiful ballad, “Carry Your Cross.”

If Saturday night’s Westies performance proved anything, it’s that the group is warmed up and ready to go.  So give this new band a listen and don’t let them fall off your radar…if you know what’s good for you!

Visit Classic Rock Blog’s Instagram site for more photos and video clips from The Westies show!
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Concert Review: George Thorogood in Dallas

George Thorogood and The Destroyers Treat Dallas to a Rock Party

George Thorogood at House of Blues Dallas

As George Thorogood and the Destroyers launched into their first song Thursday night at the House of Blues in Dallas, it was clear that this would be no ordinary concert. True to the title of the opening number, the show proved to be an all-out “Rock Party.”

With the House of Blues transformed into the House of Thoro-ly-good Blues, Thorogood and band delivered more than 90 minutes of hits and rockin’ blues tunes. Dubbed the “40 Years Strong” tour, the show featured Thorogood’s trademark growls and mean guitar work along with several video screens on stage that chronicled the band’s journey through the music biz. 

With the party atmosphere established, Thorogood ripped into the fan favorite “Who Do You Love?” adding, “I hope it’s me!”  From the reaction of the crowd, it definitely was.  Afterwards, Thorogood joked that it was a special evening because The Destroyers’ probation officers let them out for 24 hours just so they could perform in Dallas. What was arresting though was the band’s ease in keeping the tempo of the show intense with one rocking number after another, be it the hits (“I Drink Alone,” “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer”) or the special tribute to Johnny Cash (“Cocaine Blues”). 

George Thorogood at House of Blues DallasFinally, with the uttering of the words, “How bad do you want it?” Thorogood gave fans what they were waiting for…an extended version of “Bad to the Bone” that did not disappoint.  

Thorogood’s rock party reached fever pitch with the show ending “Madison Blues.”  The Elmore James song, recorded by Thorogood and the Destroyers in 1977, could have easily turned into an all-night jam session as Thorogood’s red hot guitar licks and rousing solos had the crowd bopping along with every note.

Through disco, hair bands, grunge and techno-pop, Thorogood’s music has remained strong, proving that the party is far from over. So mark your calendars rock ‘n’ rollers, I can feel a “50 Years Strong” tour coming on!  

A special round of applause goes to Destroyer guitarist Jim Suhler whose local band, Monkey Beat, opened the show…warming fans up and then some!

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