WHAT ABOUT NOW
Every couple of years, a new Bon Jovi album comes across my desk. This reminds me every couple of years that there was a time when Bon Jovi was actually a solid rock band. For all the metalheads that want to instantly dismiss this band, those of us that grew up in the early 80s remember very distinctly that in the world of popular rock and metal that for the first time dominated the radio, it was Bon Jovi and Motley Crue that were the first of the massively popular. To be honest, Bon Jovi's popularity dwarfed that of the Crue. It was so big, in fact, that you saw bands like Def Leppard change their style and mimic it to find superstardom for themselves. Now though, and really for the last 20 years, Bon Jovi has been a sellout joke that has led with an overplayed radio single that program directors at middle of the road stations eat up, and then they disappear until halftime at some corporate NFL event here and there. They have become more of a brand than a creative entity, and most of their albums since KEEP THE FAITH have been universally below average.
Black Star Riders
ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE
For so many people, it's a constant complaint when bands with one or two original members continue on with a band name instead of forming a brand new project. The topic of "how many original members makes a band a band" has been debated on literally every rock music show that's existed over the last 20 years, and there's never been a definitive answer to any of it. For some people, if there's one original guy then it's OK to use the established name. For others, nothing short of all original members qualifies. For others, it's a question of which original member is there. Across the board, there's a lot of indecision regarding just how many members of a band make that band still exist. A couple of years ago, guitarist Scott Gorham reformed and toured a "new" Thin Lizzy comprised of himself and, pretty much, all new players. Having seen them, I will give them a lot of credit for carrying on not only the sound of Thin Lizzy, but the spirit of the band with full respect paid to the heart and soul of the original band, Phil Lynott. When they decided to record a new studio album, they could easily have chosen the easy, better selling idea to call it Thin Lizzy. Instead, they chose a new band name and chose to leave the integrity of the original band intact. So, first and foremost, bravo to them for that tough move that was PROBABLY not well received by their record company.
24 STRINGS & A DRUMMER: LIVE AND ACOUSTIC
Night Ranger and Loverboy were two bands that were, pretty much in my eyes, linked together back in the 80s. There was something about the two of them. They weren't quite metal bands at the time, and there was something that was catchy about both but never led you to think they were anything more than cookie cutter hard rock bands. Night Ranger was my favorite of the two, because they weren't all whiny and wrote better songs than Loverboy. I'm sure many of the chicks that were 15 or so during that era would probably disagree with that assessment, but so bet it. It's interesting how at this phase of their careers, both have re-recorded their hits right now for releases to appease the old guard. For Loverboy, their re-recordings was an abortion of epic proportions that pretty much proved they should retire. While Night Ranger is probably a few decades too late to be releasing an UNPLUGGED effort, I'd be lying if I said this wasn't fairly catchy and fun.
Blue Sky Riders
The term "supergroup" is thrown around very loosely these days. In the most general terms, most people associate that term with a collection of "name" players. By name, we generally mean famous. Certainly, if a band was formed featuring Mick Jagger, Joe Perry, John Paul Jones and Neil Peart, that would qualify in the broadest terms as a "supergroup". That said though, peripheral fame is all relative, while a collection of unquestioned talent that has had tremendous success in the music industry should also be considered as a "supergroup". For many reasons, Blue Sky Riders are a musical supergroup. They do have a very name player in Kenny Loggins, but probably more impressively they have a unheralded in public yet legendary songwriter in Country Music Hall Of Famer Gary Burr, and a tremendous, well heard songwriter who's written massive hits for other artists in Georgia Middleman gracing this group.
You know, I regularly get my ass kicked by readers and friends for claiming that Kid Rock is the most talented, and best artist out there today that's making music. That's fine. I know that as primarily a metalhead, I'm supposed to loathe what Kid Rock stands for. Let's face it, he did make his mark as a rapper, and then sold that out to do what he actually wanted to do, which was make primarily rock music. I guess I see that. I also guess I don't care. I thought he was really good as a rapper. I think he's better as a modern day classic rock artist. The one thing that's never changed with Kid Rock has been his attitude. He's done whatever he wanted from day 1, and he's made it big in spite of the expectations that people in the industry throw on him. Every album now comes with a heavy dose of "fuck you" combined with a side order of "you don't know shit" that he happily throws in the face of an industry that's hellbent on defining trends instead of listening to fans and their desires. Thank God for Kid Rock.