Fred LeBlanc Interview, Part 2


We continue with our conversation with Cowboy Mouth founder and front man, Fred LeBlanc.

You can read Part 1 of the Interview here: Cowboy Mouth’s Fred LeBlanc

Cretin: The first time I heard about the band, my brother told me about the show and how unique it was with the drummer front and center on the stage.  He said it worked, and obviously he was right.

Fred LeBlanc:  It’s something I always knew about myself.  I had a certain vision for the way I saw myself and the things I could do.  There are certain things I’ve had to adjust to make the whole drummer/front man thing work. I sit on a riser, so I’m not taller than anybody, but I’m not shorter either. I play with only one symbol and a small drum kit so people can see me.  There’s more of an eye contact approach, and that really works.

Cretin: Sure, that helps build that connection you have with the crowd.

Fred LeBlanc: Exactly. And, it also let’s me set the tone and pace of the show. If I feel something isn’t right, I can change it right away, or if the energy gets intense, I might speed up a little, but hey, it’s rock and roll, ya know?

Cretin: It’s more fluid, and your shows are definitely fluid.

Fred LeBlanc: All of the best rock and roll moves in and out, in and out. These days when you listen to radio, everything is so perfect. There’s no swing to it. Put on headphones sometime and listen to Sticky Fingers or Beggars Banquet from the Stones. It’s a mess, guitars are out of tune, drums speed up and slow down but you know what? It works, because it’s human. It moves, it interacts with itself. It’s an organic beast.

Cretin: You’re right. It was raw passionate stuff, whereas a lot of today’s stuff is over-produced, and devoid of passion.

Fred LeBlanc: Yeah. I’m not one to say that all music needs to be recorded on one microphone through a Victorolla.  I use pro tools, too.  It’s the standard, but at the same time you have to remember to master the machine and not have the machine be your master. I try to communicate an idea, an emotion, so that the listener experiences those same things. With music, a straight line is not always the shortest path.

Cretin: You and John Thomas Griffith have been together for all fifteen years, how did that pairing come about?

Fred LeBlanc: It’s funny, because I started Cowboy Mouth with two other musicians and we had rehearsed for two months, and it was just terrible. I was about to give up. Nothing was clicking at all. Nothing against the other musicians; we just weren’t compatible. I got the idea to call Griff in and gave him a couple of songs and he learned them fast. Literally, within three seconds we went from really sucking as a three-piece to really being great as a four-piece. It was really that instantaneous. It was one of the wildest moments of my life. I was like “Did everybody else hear that?”

Cretin: Good stuff.

Fred LeBlanc: I love playing with Griff. Lord knows we’ve had our ups and downs over the years. I’m sure as much as we both love each other, there are just as many times we drive either other nuts and want to kill each other. That’s just the nature of bands. He and I, we play well together. We both play with a lot of force. We’re the same kind of players, which is really good. The band that we have now with Cass and Matt is one of the strongest we’ve ever had. We’ve never had a bad version of this band, thankfully.

Cretin: What’s next for the band? We’ve heard rumors of another studio album being close to fruition.

Fred LeBlanc: I’m almost finished it. I have a studio here at the house and have almost all of the tracks done, and I just need to tweak it a bit and hope to have it out in the next month and a half. You’ll have to check out our website and Facebook page to see how we do it; we’re going to try something a little different this time.

Cretin: Sounds interesting. We’ll keep an ear out for it.

RARA’s Six-Pack. Six fun, mindless questions

You’re favorite Saints player ever ? Man, that’s like choosing your favorite child. I’d have to say Steve Gleason. He was always this happy get back to the earth guy, who sort of stumbled into football. A really cool guy. The first year after Katrina, the Saints made a great run. Cowboy Mouth had played outside the stadium before the first game of the season, and I was predicting we’d go to the Super Bowl. Early in the game he blocked a punt and I always say it was that moment the Saints fortunes turned around.

He’s a great guy and he’s been diagnosed with ALS. He’s started a foundation that people should look up, and give to, if they possibly could. (Editor: check it out here: Steve Gleason Foundation)

Your favorite city to play in? New Orleans. I’m biased, what can I say?

Favorite Cover Song: A band out of Athens called Five-Eight. They did a cover of the Velvet Underground’s “I Can’t Stand It.” They’re great and they’ve been around as long as we have. Their lead singer, Mike (Mantione) has one of the most under-heard voices in rock. He’s an insanely talented guy, and they’re a great band.

If you could share the stage with any one band, past or present? The Clash or Lee Dorsey.  That would be fun. (we proceeded to have a long conversation on The Clash, and both clearly agree they’re one of the greatest rock bands EVER)

Favorite local bar in New Orleans? I’m a big fan of Carrollton Station. Great vibe in a good little neighborhood, it’s easy. That’s my favorite place. It’s not a typical New Orleans bar, it’s away from The French Quarter. There’s places like Le Bon Temps Roule which is a good bar. The Balcony Bar is great, too.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever signed after a show? An infant. I signed his forehead “Trouble maker.”

Rock On (Are You With Me Edition) – Cretin

A Few Minutes with Fred LeBlanc – The Patron Saint of Mardi Gras

The moment these guys take the stage, you know you’re in for a special evening. They’re synonymous with New Orleans Rock ‘n Roll and their shows are a little bit different than the typical rock show. Cowboy Mouth performances are energetic, passionate and powerful experiences, driven by the heart and soul of the band, their front man, drummer Fred LeBlanc. Yup, that’s right, their drummer is front and center, belting out vocals, leading the band and energizing the crowd all while wailing away on the drums; and damn, it really works.

LeBlanc and lead guitarist/vocalist John Thomas Griffith have been together for 15+ years, playing straight from the heart rock ‘n’ roll and impressing throngs of fans with their one-of-a-kind performances.  They do it all with an unabashed connection to their beloved New Orleans, where they’ve basically become the Unofficial Band of Mardi Gras. If Cowboy Mouth is the Rock Band of Mardi Gras, Fred LeBlanc is surely The Patron Saint.  We were able to carve a few minutes of his studio time to chat about the band, his city and Cowboy Mouth’s unique connection with their fans.

Cretin: When rock music fans think about the New Orleans music scene, typically the first band they think of is Cowboy Mouth. Is that something you’re proud of?

Fred LeBlanc: Yeah, I’m definitely proud of that.  My whole career I’ve been trying to show that you don’t have to go to a big media center to make a living in music. But with the advent of the web and all of the other advances over the last ten to fifteen years (it’s easier). I tend to look at being in the music business like owning a small business. I’ve always found that it’s better when you’re that exotic visitor from out of town.

Cretin: Yeah, rather than being one of many in a large market?

Fred LeBlanc: That’s tough trying to come in and mark out some of somebody else’s turf. It’s always better to be a visitor, to go somewhere and get out. And it helps if it’s from some place colorful like New Orleans. Growing up I didn’t really have a sense that New Orleans was so different. It’s not until you’ve traveled around that you realize there’s no po boys in Atlanta, there’s no red beans and rice in Norflok, Virginia. New Orleans tends to celebrate its highs and lows. Our ability to laugh at ourselves for the things that are both positive and negative about the city is a unique spin on life.

Cretin: For folks from New Orleans, including Cowboy Mouth, you seem to wear your emotions right there for everyone to see, whether it’s joy or sadness.

Fred LeBlanc: You know, we played a show in New Orleans last Sunday at The Mardi Gras festival and before we played “I Believe” we mixed it with an older song I wrote called “The Avenue.” It was written right after Katrina. I didn’t want to write anything angry or pointing fingers, I wanted to write a song that was like a musical arm around the shoulders to say “Hey, this is bad, but everything will be okay.”  Coupling that with “I Believe” on this tour shows that we’ve been to the bottom, we’ve been to hell and back, and we got back due to our faith in each other as people and in our community.

Cretin: You’re right the city’s recovery came a lot from inside the community.

Fred LeBlanc: That’s kind of like the whole Cowboy Mouth idea. In the song “I Believe” it’s about how faith above everything else can bring out the very best of you in terms of strength.  It’s the act of having faith and what that creates inside the human spirit to make us go above and beyond.

Cretin: So, getting back to Katrina, you guys had some personnel changes right after Katrina. Did that event have any impact on the way you approached music and your shows?

 Fred LeBlanc: No, I think it reinforced what we did. We had some personnel changes after Katrina, but those were coming long before Katrina anyway. Keeping a bunch of musicians focused is a very difficult thing, because musicians by definition tend to follow their own muse. We’ve had people in the band who’ve wanted to go do their own thing, and that’s fine. When people part it’s never pretty, but you need to wish them the best and move forward. You go through all of the crappy emotions, but eventually time heels everything… It’s just life, and you learn as you go on.

Cretin: I think that’s why you connect so well with the crowd. A lot of the lyrics and themes to the songs are things people can relate to, even people who’ve never seen Cowboy Mouth before.

Fred LeBlanc: Well, thank you. When I formed the band, my goal was to create something kind of spiritual. I grew up Catholic.  I wanted to believe, but it was all about “you’re an original sinner, you’re terrible,” and then the things that took place with some of the priests; it shook your faith. I had a friend of mine in New Orleans, I’d sneak out of the house on Sunday morning because they had a black Gospel church and these people were just going to town, dancing and screaming, raising a ruckus, and they all left in the best mood, feeling great as a community. I left thinking “I want to do that.” And, I wanted to bring that to rock and roll.

Cretin: The Gospel roots definitely come through in your shows.

Fred LeBlanc: I wanted to bring that energy to rock and roll without limiting it to a certain religious message.  As far as religion goes, the worst thing you can do is limit the almighty.  I tried to write about things that everybody goes through, you know, “write what what you know.” It was not trying to make grandiose statements, it was more “Hey, this is what I’ve been through. Here’s how I got through it. Isn’t it great to be alive?”

Cretin: And, a lot of people resonate to that.

Fred LeBlanc: They seem to. I’ve been doing this 22 years, so obviously I’m doing something right. I also think that with Cowboy Mouth, I get a lot of attention for being the front man. It’s not about me just saying “Ain’t I wonderful, Ain’t I the shit?” No, I take all of that energy the audience is enthusiastic to give and I just focus it back on them.

Cretin: I’ve tried to describe Cowboy Mouth shows to people who have never seen the band nor know the music very well. It’s hard to compare to any other show, but I say it’s a combination of passion, good music and almost a feeling of togetherness, which no one else can replicate. It’s something unique that you guys do really well.

Fred LeBlanc: When people leave a Cowboy Mouth show, they feel good.  How much these days is designed to make people feel good about themselves? Look at mass media, it’s designed to keep us scared. A Cowboy mouth show is a celebration of yourself.  I’m not really into the status thing or trying to play cool. I have no problem of being looked at as some kind of musical court jester, because at the end of the day, the court jester is the only one who can tell the truth to the king.

Cretin: You mention how your shows are different; there are other drummers who play huge roles for their bands: Don Henley, Dave Grohl and Phil Collins, but none of them do it the way you do. You’re the only guy who is front and center. Was that something you drove?

Fred LeBlanc: I got tired of sitting in the back and watching guitar players butts who weren’t better singers. I thought “I’m a better singer, why am I in the back? My songs are more hooky and better than that guy’s songs.” The truth of the matter is I kind of just got tired of it. I got tired of the whole “You’re just a drummer shut up.” I had put together a nice backlog of songs, and I quit the band. As good as the band was, it was really just a crazy drug psycho-fueled, wild hayride, but I needed to get away from it. It got to the point where I needed to do something because this is killing me. It wasn’t just killing my body, it was killing my soul.

So, that’s it for part one. We’ll have part two posted on Fat Tuesday as we continue our chat with the Patron Saint of Mardi Gras...

Sweet and Sour Skull Candy

The deeply anticipated second album from Band of Skulls is available on iTunes now and hitting all other major retailers on Valentines Day. The album, Sweet Sour, shows how the British trio’s sound has evolved over the past few years.  It’s a fresh sound for them, yet one that hearkens back to the classic album rock of the Seventies.

The title track gets the album off to a powerful heavy soulful rock sound.  It’s got a big classic rock feel to it and sets the course for the remainder of the album. Russell Marsden’s vocals and guitar take a new turn for the band with good results. The drums of Matt Hayward are excellent, as well.

Overall, the album is quite diverse, as the band pushes new boundaries and tests new waters.  Most of it works great, and it is a fun listen.  There are a couple of tracks that don’t quite hit the mark, but they’re in the minority.

“Wanderluster” is a creative new approach that works perfectly.  It’s a fluid song where the tempo ebbs and flows fantastically and Marsden’s tender vocals pull it together nicely. Emma Richardson grabs the vocals and shines on “Lies.” This uptempo song is 2:30 seconds of rock and roll perfection, and my favorite song on the album. You’ll find a handful of other excellent powerful rock tunes, such as the bass-driven “Bruises” and “The Devil Takes Care of His Own.”

There’s also a nice selection of slower tunes on Sweet Sour, the best of which is Richardson’s beautiful “Hometown.” It’s got a sweet ballad feel, with lyrics that make you re-think its sweetness. “Navigate” is another of the slower tunes that works extremely well.  The vocals and guitar are hypnotic and memorable.

It’s not all perfect, and there are a couple of songs I could easily do without. The final track, “Close To Nowhere” feels like a B-Side. “Lay My Head Down” starts off as a delicate ballad with great potential, then suffers what seems like a random explosion of miscellaneous musical crap for a few seconds before sliding back into ballad mode. Sure, it’s creative, but it just doesn’t work, unfortunately, wasting a good song.

Overall, it’s a damn good album.  A nice flashback to the powerful arena rock from the classic Seventies with a great modern twist.  The Sweet far outweighs the Sour and we’ll be hearing cuts off of this one for years to come.

An All Day Buffett – Margaritaville Style

Jimmy Buffett brought his party to Orlando on his Welcome To Fin Land tour last night. I’ve seen Buffett a few times in the past, and his shows have become predictable.  It’s typically that same laid back, feel good, beach party vibe; a formula that he’s mastered.  Realizing that the pre-game festivities are typically as much fun as the show, I decided to focus on that aspect of a Buffett show this year.

For this year’s tailgate, our group ratcheted the experience up a bit by booking a party bus.  So, for this review, the beers were flowing almost as quickly as the fingers were hitting the keyboard.

  • Eight hours before showtime: My wife and I exit the house with a case of Yuengling, a case of water and a few pounds of marinating garlic shrimp.
  • T -7.5 hours to showtime: Arrive at the departure rendezvous point. There are 24 of us on the bus and enough coolers, bags, chairs, grills, etc… for a group 10 times our size. We learn the bus has a blown tire and is on the side of the highway somewhere.  Pacing myself, I grab a Diet Coke. Need to stay sober for awhile…
  • T-7.25 hours: We take advantage of our unexpected break and we pose for a group photo. I suggest all of the women get on their knees. They refuse…
  • T -7 hours: Tire still not changed.  Crack the lid on beer number one.
  • T -6.5 hours: Tire repairman is on the spot, somewhere on the ludicrously expensive toll roads of Central Florida. Bus will arrive shortly. Party in the driveway begins to pick up. Beer 2.
  • T -6 hours: Still waiting. Someone passes around some Cuban sandwiches. Not a fan of mustard nor pickles on my sandwich and our raw shrimp is probably not the best alternative. Stick with my liquid lunch. Beer 3. Flexibility is the key to a happy life.
  • T -5.5 hours: We’re enjoying the driveway party so much, we make plans to do it again the next weekend.  The neighbors hope we are joking, but look up the phone number for Code Enforcement just in case.  Suddenly, the pure white bus appears like a vision. Someone yells out “Looks like a bloodmobile.” It does.
  • T -5 hours: It takes us thirty minutes to pack.  We really have a lot of stuff, more than we could ever possibly need…
  • T -4.5 hours: We arrive at the arena. Our driver parks and rearranges the bus three times, as the clueless lot attendants can’t figure out where to put us. Twenty minutes later, we park right where we started. En route, another beer, two jello shots and dozens of photos. No one tries the stripper pole, but the ride is a blast.
  • T -4 hours. My wife hears “Escape (The Pina Colada song) at a neighboring tailgate and confesses it was her first 45.  Really? Shouldn’t that be disclosed during the dating process?  Where was the responsible parenting? Although I think I need a shot, I grab another beer.
  • T -3.5 hours. A confused Parrothead named Bridget/Gretchen adds the name of a Buffett song to everyone’s red Solo cup to keep us from getting confused.  By this time there are 40 happy people who already have song names on their cup. I don’t know 40 Buffett songs.  I’m okay with drinking out of a bottle the rest of the day.
  • T -3 hours. Cruise the tailgates and see a very diverse crowd. We visit the tailgate spot for the split personalitied Bridg-chen. Although confused she’s pretty damn artistic.  Here’s her posse doing Margaritaville Tequila shots.  Is there anything Buffett doesn’t slap his name on and sell? They are in front of her Cheeseburger in Paradise tribute. I passed on the shot.  Tequila is bad bad stuff.
  • T -2.5 hours. Damn the food is good. The grill is fired up. Awesome brats, appetizers and Jerk chicken wings. Go to cook the shrimp and realize we need aluminum foil to keep them from falling through the grate. Rest assured, there’s a roll in one of the many crates we spent 30 minutes packing.  These folks are like Boy Scouts, we have everything we could ever want (and great company, too).  The shrimp is pretty damn good, too.
  • T -2 hours. David and I kicking ass at beer pong.  Well, mostly David, but I still get to bask in the victories. We go undefeated, but the problem with Beer Pong is that even the winners still drink a bit. Afterwards, sit down in one of the 600 chairs our group packed and sip some water. Good idea…
  • T -1.5 hours.  Last tour through the lots. Very festive group, but truthfully  more subdued from past Buffett shows, either because his fans are getting too old to party, or because the new lot under I-4 just doesn’t have the same ambiance. We notice a huge cross on a nearby building overlooking the crowd as we talk to a nice group winding down their tailgate.  They’re all devout Christians.  Seems like kismet, or maybe just all of the beer I had consumed?
  • T -1 hour. The group packs up and most head to the Amway Center. A few of us stay behind, preferring our $1 beers to the $11 beers inside. We watch three people stop our driver and negotiate to use the bathroom. (Note to self on a future business idea).
  • T -15 minutes. We’re in the arena, and the place is alive, a very cool vibe. I make a rest room stop just as a haggard looking Parrothead Redneck stumbles in. Someone yells “We have a leaker.” There’s a small wet spot on the front of his jeans. The Dude turns the corner, stumbles, almost regains his balance then goes down.  The stain gets a lot bigger. So much for the cool vibe…
  • T -3 minutes. We step into the seating area as “Hot, Hot, Hot” pumps through the P.A. with beach balls flying, happy fans singing and swaying; the festive atmosphere is definitely back.

As for the show itself; the concert was classic Jimmy. Clad in boat shorts and bare feet, he seemed to be having fun, and the sold out crowd had a blast. Buffett and The Coral Reefer Band kicked off the show with “The Wino and I Know” and were sounding great right from the start.  Shortly afterwards, Mac McAnally slid into Alan Jackson’s role from “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere,” and the party kicked up a notch. The show was laid back throughout and generally just a fun time.

The two hour set featured all of the hits and a few nuggets, as well (see the setlist below), before wrapping up with a rousing version of “Fins,” “Brown Eyed Girl” and then Jimmy alone on stage with a nice acoustic version of  “Tin Cup Chalice,” a great way to put a wrap on two hours of buffet and eight hours of pre-game festivities.

Rock On! Cretin

Check out more photos on RARAsFarm’s FaceBook

Jimmy Buffett Orlando Concert
Jimmy Buffett Live in Orlando

Setlist

The Wino And I Know
License To Chill
It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere
Pencil Thin Mustache
Come Monday
Life Is Just A Tire Swing
Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes
Grapefruit-Juicy Fruit
Bama Breeze
Volcano
Cheeseburger In Paradise
One Particular Harbour
Creola
Floridays
Why Don’t We Get Drunk and Screw
Margaritaville
Son Of A Son Of A Sailor
School Boy Heart
Last Mango In Paris
Knee Deep
Woman Goin’ Crazy On Caroline Street
A Pirate Looks At Forty
Back Where I Come From
Southern Cross

Encore
Fins
Brown Eyed Girl
Tin Cup Chalice

Musical Manure – Random Crap from the Farm

OK – It’s been a few weeks since I emptied this fragile mind, and there are a slew of little tidbits threatening to drip out and disappear forever. With a full-day Jimmy Buffett tailgate experience looming, I need to free up some room for the insanity I’m sure to witness.

It seems like the rumors of a Queen tour with Adam Lambert on vocals is about to become a reality. TMZ is reporting it, so it has to be legit, right?  I love Freddie, and think he’s one of the greatest rock and roll performers ever.  His voice was powerful, passionate and unique, and no one will ever be able to replace him.  Still, Adam might just be the best choice to follow. I think he’s a better fit than Paul Rodgers who gave it a shot years ago. The greedy folks at MTV have some good video of the new incarnation but it’s a bear to access. Try Youtube for some lower quality snippets.

I recently stumbled across Sleeper Agent’s “Get It Daddy.” They’re a young garage band out of Kentucky with a ton of potential. The sixsome is led by 24 year-old singer-guitarist Tony Smith and features riveting vocals from 18 year-old Alex Kandel.  Check out “Get It Daddy and the rest of their album, as our album of the week: Celabrasion – Sleeper Agent.  And, here’s a nice bonus find, follow this link to get to know the band a little better: Prison Sessions

The Kaiser Chiefs exploded onto the rock scene at the end of the last decade and then just disappeared. The Brits took a hiatus.  Now they’re about to release a new album in March.  The first single, On the Run has hit the streets.  Good stuff!

Listening to Slow Poison The Bravery’s 2009 release.  I’m surprised it was never a bigger hit. Great song by an excellent band. Here’s the video which is actually pretty damn good, too: Slow Poison.

Remember The Neon Trees from their gigs opening for The Killers a few years ago?  They’re back with the first single Everybody Talks off of their forthcoming album, and it absolutely rocks.

About a month ago, RARA’s Contributor Kari wrote an interesting piece about the Emergence of the Banjo in rock music today.  Since then, I seem to hear it everywhere, particularly with music from the Great White North, with bands like The Acorn and Elliott Brood. It’s a welcome addition.

OK, that’s enough for today.  Have a great week, and look for my post-Parrothead tailgate experience shortly…

Chevelle – Hats Off to the Comfortable Old Model


The early generation Chevrolet Chevelle models were fast, powerful and muscular. Over the years, they morphed into a safer more reliable, and less exciting product.  Unfortunately I see the same thing happening with Chevelle, the hard rocking trio from Chicago.

Their sixth album, Hats Off to the Bull was released last month and generally has got their same comfortable feel, with a few strong songs.  Overall, it seems like the same old safe, mass produced rock and roll.

If you’re a fan of Chevelle, you’ll likely find this year’s model to your liking, especially the first single off of the album “Face to the Floor.”  It’s been a staple on rock stations since it’s release because it’s a powerful, memorable song with an excellent guitar riff and a nice hook that superbly features the guitar and vocals of front man Pete Loeffler.

A few songs later, the album takes a slower and deeper turn with “The Meddler” and it works extremely well.  After “Face to the Floor,” “The Meddler” is the best song on the album.  Unfortunately, it is surrounded by a lot of mediocrity.

Other than the two aforementioned tunes, the rest of the album is really quite average.  There are a few strong rockers in the mix, particularly “Ruse” and “Pinata,” but overall most of the rest of the album blends together.

The band also throw in their now standard offering of one ballad, and it’s one of the highlights of the album, “Prima Donna.” It’s a nice acoustic number and seems to be a good comfortable place for Pete Loeffler.  He’s toyed with the thought of an all acoustic effort in the past and it looks like it would be a nice future project.

All told, it’s a decent album, but like many other contemporaries in the post-grunge arena, this effort seems to be stuck in the same old rut as the prior models.

Van Halen’s Best – Our Farmer’s Dozen


The Best of Van Halen

Let’s be honest, the real Van Halen is the band we knew and loved in the seventies and eighties. We’re talking, Diamond Dave, Alex and Eddie and Michael Anthony. All of the other incarnations were weak imitations of the real thing. With that being stated, I took a look at the best Van Halen songs of the David Lee Roth era, which by default included the aforementioned line-up. Many of their best songs include brief intro songs – for those tunes, I’ve included both titles.

Only six albums over six fantastic years, from 1978 to 1984, but so many great tunes to sift through.

(You can click on each title to hear a snippet of the song or order from iTunes)

Bonus Track: Happy Trails – Diver Down – this one closes out the album, and is a happy singalong in perfect four part harmony and a damn near perfect way to close out what proved to be a great album.

12. Runnin’ with the Devil – Van Halen – the first track off of their first album. Great bass and harmonies from Michael Anthony, and the first of many great Eddie guitar solos. The perfect start to a perfect album side.

11. Eruption / You Really Got Me – Van Halen – the band’s first single and the second song off of their debut.  And, no, I am not just going to run through all of the Tracks on the amazing debut album. The band learned a few Kinks song as they started out and this one was probably their best.

10. Cathedral / Secrets – Diver Down – Starts with a clever instrumental featuring Eddie’s playing around with his guitar – using the delay and fast-rolling the volume knob to emulate church organ sounds.  “Secrets” has got a great bass driven beat and some nice bluesy vocals from David, who got some of the lyrics from old Indian greeting cards.

9. Panama – 1984 – Another fun video, this song was actually written about fast cars.  Panama is reportedly the name of a car. The music is great, but this is really a showcase for David’s vocals.

8. Intruder / (Oh) Pretty Woman – Diver Down – Another great cover version from the guys, this time putting a nice spin on Roy Orbison’s classic.  The instrumental intro featuring Alex’s powerful drumming is as good as the song itself.

Cool Van Halen items now available on eBay

7. Hot for Teacher – 1984 – It’s an incredibly fun song about a kid’s crushes on his hot high school teachers, and two decades before Debra Lafave’s notoriety. It’s David Lee Roth and Alex at their best.  This one beats out fellow 1984 hit “Jump” as their best video.

6. Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love – Van Halen – Great guitar intro that Eddie started as a punk rock parody. It’s a fun song about casual sex and it absolutely rocks from start to finish.  You have to love the lyrics: “You’re semi-good looking.”

5. Ice Cream Man – Van Halen – Another great cover song, this one a bluesy cover of John Brim’s 50’s hit.  This one actually features David on acoustic guitar for the first verse. It’s the best example of the band’s, especially David’s, love of classic Blues.

4. Little Guitars – Diver Down – Eddie on a miniature Les Paul.  On the intro he offers up some amazing finger picking (with his pick) in a beautiful solo.  After that, it’s straight forward rock and roll with a bit of Flamenco feel to it.  One of Eddie’s most diverse and entertaining songs.

3. Everybody Wants Some!! – Women and Children First – The song starts out with some tribal beats and Eddie on the whammy bar, then the guitar thunders into the song.  From there it’s just straight forward kick ass rock and roll.

2. And the Cradle Will Rock… – Women and Children First – The fantastic beginning is Eddie on guitar and Wurlitzer piano as well as a Leslie rotation speaker cabinet to get that cool dopler effect.  Cool stuff, and it absolutely rocks throughout.  Definitely one of Eddie’s most complete and diverse songs.  Crank it up!

1. Unchained – Fair Warning – The album was mediocre, but this song is just about perfect. Love the interlude where David and Producer Ted Templeman trade a few barbs, as well. This song epitomizes the DLR era.  David’s vocals are spot on, Eddie’s guitar riff is perfect, and Alex and Michael are great, too.

There you have it. Twelve amazing songs and I’m sure I left out a few great ones, especially off of the first two albums: songs like “Jamie’s Cryin'” “Little Dreamer,” “Beautiful Girls” and “Dance the Night Away.”  As I reflect on these choices, it’s interesting to note that my Top 3, are all of what I felt were their two weakest albums…

Let me know your thoughts.

Rock On – Cretin


Of Monsters, Men and a Nashville Muse



A friend of RARAs Farm recently made us aware of a nice offer for fans of Alt-Country / Folksy Rock. In advance of the release of her forthcoming album, Kate Tucker is offering a free download of her latest EP, Ghost of Something New, beginning today, January 9th. The talented singer songwriter from Akron, Ohio has relocated to Nashville where her music has taken a bit more of a country feel.

The first song on the EP, “Revolution”is fantastic. It’s got a great driving beat, excellent guitars and most of all superb, memorable vocals from Tucker. All-in-all, it’s a nice collection of songs from a talented singer songwriter.  Dwonload the EP for free during the month of January at Noisetrade.

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After downloading the EP, make sure you check out Tucker’s poignant cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire.” This video also features RARAs Farm favorite Michael Sheppard and his Lovedrug band mate Jeremy Michael Gifford.

In the same genre, Of Monsters and Men, a young band out of Iceland have found a bit of notoriety over the past few weeks.  Sirius XM’s AltNation has added their wonderful new single “Little Talks” into their rotation, and the single was the Free Single of the Week on iTunes (linked on our Free Music Friday page). The band reminds me a bit of Mumford and Sons, and even more of the under-appreciated and immensely talented English band The Beautiful South. Keep your ears tuned for this quintet – big things are on the way.

From these two hot new bands to the other end of the spectrum: Van Halen returns to the airwaves with Diamond David Lee Roth, nearly three decades from his last album.  The new single “She’s The Woman” is rumored to be released in the next few days. It’s actually not all that new, as it was originally recorded by the band in 1976.  Here’s Rolling Stone’s review of their preview show at NYC’s tinyCafe Wha last week.

I stumbled across this Youtube channel recently from FrontStepGames, where they feature good new Indie rock each month: check it out, good stuff: Songs You Wish You Found

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