Texas Hippie Coalition
I tell this story often, but it's one of my favorites of the past year. I had the chance to interview the Texas Hippie Coalition earlier this year at Rock On The Range in Columbus, Ohio. I was in a small tent with a bunch of photographers. The tent was fairly quiet really, as the much bigger adjacent tent was where most of the radio guys were set up. It took all of 3 seconds for Texas Hippie Coalition vocalist Big Daddy Ritch to change the entire attitude of my quiet little tent. "I hope you motherfuckers don't plan on me keeping it down," he bellowed. "Big Daddy and the boys are here and you're gonna know it!" And with that, he grabbed me and belly bumped (as two fat guys are not going to chest bump) me damn near through the back of the tent. From there, it was just a fun, no bullshit interview with Big Daddy and the boys that EXACTLY complimented any preconceived notion you might have about these guys from hearing their music.
...THE STORIES WE COULD TELL
As a fan of Mr. Big, I can't honestly say that many people thought that their reunion was much more than a cash grab opportunity for the guys in the band who, while immensely talented, failed to find solo success to match their collaborative efforts. It was never a question of if they could still play. Let's face it, this is a band that features Billy Sheehan and Paul Gilbert - two of the most gifted rock musicians history has ever seen. It was more of a question of if all that creative energy could find a way to not only co-exist again, but mesh like they did in the old days. The answer was an overwhelming "yes". Their return release WHAT IF...was on par with most of the material from their past. It was a fun, energized effort with some truly great moments. Well, the long and the short of it is that ...THE STORIES WE COULD TELL keeps it going. Some great songs, some really good ones, and zero fillers - this new release is pretty much what you would expect from Mr. Big.
WORLD ON FIRE
Hey Gene Simmons. The corpse of rock n' roll just had a baby. That baby is not an average baby at all. That baby was not stillborn, but came out kicking and screaming with an intensity rarely seen. This baby is destined for greatness. This infant is out to prove you wrong. While your days of spitting fire and shitting out records people care about may be over, assuming that the genre that abandoned you is dead is premature, sir. The legendary Slash, along with the great Myles Kennedy and his band The Conspirators, have delivered not only the best rock album of 2014, but one that's so strong that it might remind you of the impact Slash had once before around 1987. Simply put, WORLD ON FIRE is as good a rock record as has been released since the turn of the century. Rock n' Roll is dead? My ass!!
ROCK YOUR FACE OFF
Kix might just be the last of the '80's bands to release new material. By now, it seems like everybody else you could name from the glory days of yesteryear has made a stab at making music in the new millennium. Of course, a lot of them, we wish they hadn't, and just left us to our misty-eyed memories. Others have released music that, while not stacking up against the old favorites, at least doesn't embarrass the band or tarnish the legacy. A bare few have been able to create something that rivals the classics.
Am I the only one that is tired of not only Ace Frehley, but all members of Kiss past and present? Since they were nominated for the ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF CORPORATE, it has been a steady stream of nonsense, bickering, anger, hurt feelings and now emotional trauma. It's over already. Get over it. It's 2014. Kiss is Gene, Paul, Tommy and Eric. It's not Gene, Paul, Ace and Peter, no matter how much you want it to be. Gene Simmons is the owner and ruler of Kiss, and as far as he's concerned, those of you that are still whining for a reunion can jump off the same bridge as those 20 year olds from Seattle that are depressed and threatening to end their lives. That said, Frehley has returned with SPACE INVADER, his first release the the below average ANOMALY from 2009. While not expecting much, SPACE INVADER has done well to surprise me. This is a damn good release, arguably the best Ace has done solo or with his other projects (ie: Frehley's Comet).