From the opening lick of the first single from Panic In Eden’s record In the Company of Vultures, It is clear that the swampy quintet is out to make a statement. The dirty fuzz of guitars sound louder than usual on a record that burns bright with the clearcut sound of raw energy. I guess it’s fitting that the band is from the grit of Los Angeles, the sound is vintage LA, but encapsulates a something that could be mid-70’s America. Three part harmonies, dual guitars, and an almost southern delivery, dare I say that it’s a rock n roll revival.
Thanksgiving Songs – Songs about “Thanks”
In honor of Thanksgiving, I started a list of great Thanksgiving songs. I got to my top three and the creative juices stopped; Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant,” Poi Dog Pondering’s “Thanksgiving” and Stephen Kellogg’s anthemic “Thanksgiving” offering are all strong Thanksgiving songs, but other than those three, only Adam Sandler’s horrible “Thanksgiving” came to mind. So, I shifted my focus to the Best Songs with “Thank” in the title, and one of the aforementioned makes the list. They’re not all beautiful, and often have nothing to do with gratitude, in fact most of them are more on the bitter side…
Legendary hard rockers, Great White are headed to Northern Florida for a show this weekend. The band has been a fixture on the rock landscape for three decades, and the talented musicians always put forth a killer show. We caught up with the band for a quick chat before they headed out on the road, and loved their unfiltered thoughts about today’s music, their future, The Allman Brothers and former front man Jack Russell.
Cretin: You guys have been rocking for over thirty years yet you still tour regularly these days; do you get more satisfaction out of making new music, like 2012’s Elation, or from touring?
Mark Kendall: Making new music is why we’re still here after 30 years. The key to our motivation has been allowing ourselves the freedom to make new music. Playing live is where we feel at home and making new music is what gets us there, so I would have to call it a tie.
Michael Lardie: Recording new material has always been the thing that drives the Great White machine. It’s the creative part of what we do that keeps it fresh for us. Then, by performing, we get lay the new songs in the fans. It’s circular for us. One feeds the other.
Audie Desbrow: I enjoy creating new music, things don’t get jaded that way. I also love to tour playing hits as well as new music. I get equal satisfaction doing both.
Cretin: During those three decades, you’ve seen the rock market evolve significantly over the years. What do you think of the new rock out today?
Mark Kendall: I like some of it. When it’s a band of people that have that human feel and are playing their instruments with melody, it’s probably going to get a favorable review from me. I’m just not a fan of music that comes from machines.
Audie Desbrow: There’s new rock?
Michael Lardie: There are some talented songwriters and performers. The sonics for me have changed dramatically. I must say I do miss the dynamics of a recording i.e. e. Zeppelin always had such a wide variance of sounds and textures. It made you want to really listen to their records.
Cretin: How true. Could you imagine today’s bands going to a castle, church, or Bron-Yr-Aur to capture a great vibe? (See our list of Led Zeppelin’s Best albums when you are done here)
Cretin: Are there any emerging bands that remind you of a young Great White, or whose music you particularly enjoy?
Mark Kendall: There was a band that I met that reminded me of a younger us from our early years, and that was a band called “Veins Of Jenna”. I believe they are from Sweden but live in LA now.
Audie Desbrow: I haven’t been up to speed on the new bands as much as before. Probably because there’s not much substance to them.
Cretin: You’re headed to Jacksonville this weekend – the place where Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Allman Brothers really broke through. Did those bands have any influence on your music?
Mark Kendall: Sure!!! When I was a young teenager I would sit and learn every Dicky Betts lick note for note for hours on end!! So the Allman Brothers definitely. Lynyrd Skynyrd was a great band from the 70’s also and the entire 70’s era had a huge impact on us.
Michael Lardie: Both bands were a staple in our record collections. Great songs. Great delivery, great performance bands.
Audie Desbrow: The Allman Brothers were part of my music upbringing I’d say. They had two drummers. It was harder learning the songs.
Cretin: Jack Russell was a talented front man, but even with that talent there seemed to be lots of distractions. Are both groups in a better place now that you’ve formally split the Great White baby?
Mark Kendall: We can really only speak for ourselves, and we are very happy to own the name, so there is only one Great White. Jack’s name is attached to his hired band and that eliminates any risk of confusion of who you’re going to see, and that’s all we ever wanted for our fans.
Audie Desbrow: We are in a better place, we never split anything, we own the name, we are Great White, period.
Cretin: The band is playing on the Monsters of Rock cruise this winter with a great line-up of classic rockers. Is there any one act you are excited to see and to be sharing the bill with?
Mark Kendall: We have history with several acts on the cruise so it’s like a class reunion really. Tesla is one that sticks out that we did a very long co-headlining tour with in the late 80’s. It will be exciting to see everyone again. It’s not just the bands, there are crew guys, fans, and photographers from the past, and so it’s just a lot of fun to see everyone.
Audie Desbrow: I really enjoyed watching Saxon, been a fan from early on. I’m always proud to be performing with all my friends from other bands.
Cretin: Finally, you see some of the bands that broke through in the Sixties still touring regularly, and they’ve got nearly 20 years on you – how long do you see yourselves touring?
Mark Kendall: As long I have the desire to be creative, I will continue to make music and tour. We’re in this for life ya know.
Michael Lardie: As long as it makes sense for us. Could be 5 years could be 20. That’s the journey of being a musician. You never quite know where it will take you. We are a family that has survived many ups and downs. To us it’s always been our career. I don’t think we are ready for retirement just yet.
Audie Desbrow: I often think about that, I will do this as long as my health holds out and especially if the fans are still coming to the shows.
Four Nights Gone’s Alex Basovskiy Six Pack Interview
Four Nights Gone formed in Staten Island, New York in the summer of 2010, and have built an avid local fan base, and they continue to gain more followers across the rock music universe on the heels of the release of Resilience, their new EP. They’re hard rockers, influenced by bands such as Breaking Benjamin, Thrice and Chevelle, now working on their second full length. RARA’s Farm recently shared a quick six pack of questions and got a chance to get to know bassist Alex Basovskiy a little bit better.
RARA’s Farm: What was the first album that moved you to want to be in the music business?
Alex Basovskiy: Second Stage Turbine Blade by Coheed and Cambria
RARA’s Farm: Who are your greatest influences?
Alex Basovskiy: I’d have to say everyone from Glassjaw to Miles Davis, Radiohead and Thrice.
RARA’s Farm: Which venue has benn your favorite place to play?
Alex Basovskiy: The Ottobar in Baltimore. We only played there once, but it was a good show and the venue has a great sound system.
RARA’s Farm: Best concert you have ever seen?
Alex Basovskiy: One of the best concerts I’ve been to would be Circa Survive, Touche Amore, O’Brother, and Balance and Composure at Terminal 5. I also recently saw Emery at Webster Hall Studio, and they were phenomenal.
RARA’s Farm: Favorite rock album ever?
Alex Basovskiy: It’s tough to pick but I’m going to have to go with Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy (See RARA’s Farm’s listing of the best Zeppelin albums ever to see where we ranked Houses of the Holy)
RARA’s Farm: One band you never saw, who you’d love to see re-formed to play for one show (dead or alive)?
Alex Basovskiy: I know it’s a bit of a cliche but I’m going to have to go with The Beatles.
Thanks to Rebeccah Milburn for her help pulling this together.
Still riding their “Glee”-ful resurgence, a revitalized Journey brought a few of their fellow 80’s rock stalwarts to the 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre in Tampa this weekend. Paired with Pat Benatar and Loverboy, it promised to be a fun flashback packed with iconic rock tunes.
Due to an absurdly long line of traffic entering the facility,and being re-routed to a lot which seemed to be in Clearwater, we missed Loverboy. We arrived right at the printed start time of 7:30, which turned out to be the time they wrapped up. Guilty pleasure confession: I always loved the band’s music and was kind of bummed I missed their set. The general consensus was that despite their considerably tighter black and red leather, the Canadians still sounded good.
Pat Benatar is sharing her billing with husband and long time guitarist Neil Giraldo on this tour. They sounded good and offered up a great setlist featuring songs from their entire catalog. The band kicked off the set with a trio of powerful hits, “All Fired Up,” Invincible” and “Promises in the Dark.” They then brought out a pair of stools, caught their breath, and slowed it down a bit.
Over the course of the 50 minute performance, the band offered up all of their biggest hits including crowd favorites “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” and “Love Is a Battlefield.” The highlight of the set was a great closing version of “Heartbreaker,” during which they deftly weaved in Led Zeppelin’s identically titled classic and Johnny Cash’s “Ring Of Fire;” a great version of a great song.
The headliners took the stage with a nice line-up reminiscent of that from the band’s heyday. Neal Schon, Ross Valory and Jonathan Cain, holdovers from the band’s epic 80’s line-up, are still performing and were joined on stage by Deen Castronovo who has been at the drums for the last dozen years. The new face is Filipino, Arnell Pineda, who was discovered by Schon covering Journey songs on Youtube (really). Pineda’s voice is eerily similar to Steve Perry’s and his vocals were damn near perfect throughout the show.
They immediately got the crowd engaged with a rousing version of “Anyway You Want It,” and did a nice job sampling hits from their entire catalog. Early highlights included “Feeling That Way / Anytime,” “send Her My Love” and “Faithfully.” The band took a quick break and Schon offered up a fantastic solo version of “The Star Spangled Banner.” Schon is an under-appreciated guitar legend with a slew of great, memorable riffs to his credit, and he truly shined during the solo.
The second half of the generous set included “Separate Ways,” “Lights,” and “Wheel In the Sky,” as well as “Just The Same Way,” with Cain taking over lead vocals. The band also offered up a few deeper cuts, which were generally received with ambivalence from a crowd that was there for the hits. Overall, the band offered up a nice, broad selection of hits, but at times seemed to be going through the motions. They closed the show with “Don’t Stop Believing” and came back with an anti-climactic version of “Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin.'” It was a nice end to a decent, yet unspectacular show.
I did have a priceless experience as the crowd sang along loudly to “Open Arms.” My friend Luc the Toque, belted out “I come to you with broken arms!” Nice, a priceless cross-up between Journey and Mister Mister… Thanks, Luc!
We had lawn seats in the equivalent of deep right field. I’d recommend the lawn if you’re just going to hear some classic tracks, chill with friends and sing along a bit, and that worked on this night. But, the truth is, the sound was muddy and the mix inconsistent throughout the night so far from the stage. If you are headed to the Amphitheatre and are looking for a mpre pristine sound, I’d definitely recommend moving up into the reserved seats.
Check Out the full Setlists below.
Pat Benatar Setlist
All Fired Up
Promises in the Dark
You Better Run
Hit Me With Your Best Shot
Love Is a Battlefield
Heartbreaker/Ring of Fire
Anyway You Want It
Ask the Lonely
Only the Young
Feeling That Way / Anytime
Send Her My Love
Neil Schon Solo – Star Spangled Banner
Stone In Love
Just the Same Way
Wheel In the Sky
Don’t Stop Believing
Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin’
Led Zeppelin’s Best Albums
…we rank them from 1 to 9…
When Led Zeppelin smashed their way onto the rock music scene in the late Sixties, no one could have foreseen the amazing success the band would enjoy over the next decade. They owned the Seventies, and created hard rock that is still as relevant today as it was three or four decades ago. They were the godfathers of hard rock and one of the driving forces behind the emergence of album rock. And for that reason, we decided we should rank Led Zeppelin’s Best Albums.
When they formed the band as Led Zeppelin, they had already earned enough street cred with Atlantic Records to control much of the marketing of their music, including their penchant for releasing their music as albums and not singles. The strategy worked pretty damn well; they released nine albums, selling more than 200 million copies worldwide and placing six at number one on Billboard’s list.
Years since their last real studio release, In Through The Out Door, we’ve decided to rank the albums from worst to best. “Worst” is all relative, of course…
(Links to all of the albums are provided at the bottom of the page)
9. Coda, 1982
This one actually never should have been released. It was a greedy money grab by the remaining members, following the death of drummer John Bonham. The word ‘coda’ means the final act of a musical performance; this was their final release, but it was really a collection of average stuff not good enough for previous albums, not quite a coda. The best track on the album is “Bonzo’s Montreaux” a fantastic 4 minute solo from the genius beating the skins.
8. Presence, 1976
This one was mediocre, but there’s good reason. This was the heavily anticipated follow-up to Physical Graffiti, but the band had encountered some huge obstacles. Robert Plant was in a wheel chair recuperating from a serious car accident and the band was literally rushed through recording, as they only had about three weeks to finish the album, before this little band named The Rolling Stones had the studio reserved. “Nobody’s Fault but Mine” is a great tune with superb vocals from Plant. Much of the rest is forgettable.
7. Led Zeppelin III, 1970
OK, now we’re in some rarefied air. The remainder of the albums are all classics, beginning with this 1970 release which featured more unplugged rock than the band had offered up previously. The genesis of most songs was a trip to a tranquil Welsh cottage without electricity, where Page and Plant recuperated from a grueling year on the road. The album kicks off with the powerful “Immigrant Song” which is a logical extension of the first two albums and the antithesis of unplugged. After that, the tracks meander a bit. “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp” (named after the aforementioned cottage) is a fun romp and different from anything else the band had done. “Gallows Pole” is a fantastic remake of a bluesy standard with some nice mandolin work. Only #7 on this list, but a fine album.
6. House of the Holy, 1973
Another great album. Interestingly, the song “Houses of the Holy” actually did not make the cut for this album, and was included instead on Physical Graffiti. It was better than a few that found their way onto Houses of the Holy. There’s still a slew of great cuts to choose from. Side 2 includes three fantastic songs: “Dancing Days,” “D’yer Mak’er,” and “The Ocean.” The fourth song on that side is the spacey “No Quarter,” one of John Paul Jones’ best bass songs.
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5. Physical Graffiti, 1975
If this was a single album, it probably would be at the top of the list, but, there’s some filler mixed in with the gems on this double album. Still, this definitely qualifies as great. The band finished their recording session with too much music for a single album, but not enough for a double album, so they reached back and included some previously unreleased tracks. This one is truly a showcase for Jimmy Page, including the “The Rover” a great guitar song ahead of its time and “Bron Yr Aur,” one of the leftover tracks, but basically a four minute beautiful Page guitar solo. I loved “Boogie With Stu” another fun tune with some groovy mandolin and drum work. Side Two is amazing: “Houses of the Holy,” “Trampled Underfoot,” and the band’s greatest song “Kasmir.” Great stuff.
4. In Through the Out Door, 1979
Many Led Zeppelin purists pan this album, mainly because Page’s guitar takes a back seat to Jones’ keyboards. True statement, but Jones saved the album, while Page and Bonham blew off many recording sessions as they battled addiction problems, costing the latter his life just after the album was released. And, the songs are all pretty damn good. Side One is near perfection, with “In the Evening,” “Fool in the Rain” and the rollicking “Southbound Suarez” and “Hot Dog,” which starts with a great riff from Page. Side 2 features the ten minute “Carouselambra,” and great keyboards from Jones, drums from Bonzo, and vocals from Plant. Not a guitar song but still a masterpiece. If the band had continued after this, they may have again changed the course of hard rock.
3. Led Zeppelin, 1969
They started out as The New Yardbirds and just before release were forced to change their name. Led Zeppelin will go down as one of the greatest debut albums ever; a fantastic fusion of blues and rock and a great showcase for Plant and Page. “Dazed and Confused,” the highlight of the album, featured Page playing the guitar solo with a violin bow. We hear a few Willie Dixon blues covers that were reminiscent of the Yardbirds, and then a handful of fantastic hard rock tunes that were clearly ahead of their time. The album includes “Communication Breakdown,” “Your Time is Gonna Come” and “Good Times Bad Times.” Clearly a great debut that changed the course of rock music.
2. Led Zeppelin IV, 1971
This album was officially untitled and also referred to as ZoSo or Runes. It’s almost perfect and features their biggest hit ever, “Stairway to Heaven,” and to many Zeppelin fans, it’s not even one of the top songs on the album. The album kicks off with two of the band’s best guitar songs ever “Black Dog” and “Rock and Roll” and wraps up with an amazing blues rocker, “When the Levee Breaks.” In between, there’s just a ton of great music, and some amazing guitar work. “Misty Mountain Hop,” “Four Sticks” and “Going to California” are all fantastic classic rock tunes. Truly a special album, and one that became the third biggest selling record in US history. I vacillated on and off whether or not this was the band’s best ever effort.
1. Led Zeppelin II, 1969
Perfect. It really is a perfect album and amazingly, this masterpiece was recorded quickly, on the road, as the quartet feverishly toured the US and Europe supporting their wildly successful release of their debut album. It is Page’s opus with some of his greatest guitar playing and also features his excellent production work. The album is a cohesive blending of guitar-driven bluesy rock, and balls-to-the-wall hard rock. The tracks offer a live feel and showcase all four members hitting their prime. The album ignites with “Whole Lotta Love,” and some of rock’s most memorable guitar riffs. Afterwards, we get into more of a Blues groove with “What Is and What Should Never Be,” and similar tracks “The Lemon Song” and “Bring it on Home.” The guitar on “Heartbreaker / Living, Loving Maid (She’s Just a Woman)” is ahead of it’s time. Plant seems to have been at his best and Jones and Bonham are in the zone, especially during the instrumental genius of “Moby Dick.” As if that all wasn’t enough, the album also features the band’s greatest ballad, the spacey “Thank You.”
So, there you go. A lengthy discourse, and many tough choices. As I chatted about this story with others, I had folks recommend 7 of these albums as the band’s best, so obviously there are many worthy contenders for the best of the best. I’ll stick with my selections, because tend to I agree with myself quite often. 🙂
In the meantime, let us know your thoughts in the Comments below (beneath all of the album links).
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In honor of this year’s Thanksgiving, I started a list of great Thanksgiving songs. I got to my top two and the creative juices stopped; Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant” and Poi Dog Pondering’s “Thanksgiving” are both decent, but other than those two, only Adam Sandler’s horrible “Thanksgiving” came to mind. So, I shifted my focus to the Best Songs with “Thank” in the title. They’re not all beautiful, and typically have nothing to do with gratitude, in fact most of them are more on the bitter side…
So, before the tryptophan kicks in, here’s our cornucopia: the RARA’s Farm Farmer’s Dozen:
Bonus Track – “Thank You For The Music,” ABBA – I know, this is not Rock and Roll, but I have a soft spot for this one. It was released by the Swedish pop icons in 1977, and ultimately released as a single in 1983. To many, it is viewed as their swan song. It’s a fun and addictive singalong.
12. “Thank You For Sending Me An Angel,” Talking Heads – This tune kicks off the band’s second album, 1978’s More Songs About Buildings and Food. This short ditty highlights Chris Frantz’s fine drumming.
11. “Thanks A Lot,” Third Eye Blind” – This song was kind of lost in the shuffle on Third Eye Blind’s hugely successful 1997 debut release, but it is another of the many solid tunes on the album.
10. “Thank You,” Dido – In my opinion, this is not a rock song, but I included it because my wife just loves Dido, and it’s a nice song, and it’s Thanksgiving…
9. “Thank You,” The Redwalls – This little known indie outfit from outside Chicago has a great sound. This song is Beatlesesque and deserved more notoriety. If you’ve never heard them before, make sure you check this one out.
8. “Thank You Girl,” The Beatles – This tune is almost fifty years old already! It was initially released as the B-side to “From Me To You” as a personal message to their female followers. It’s a nice tribute to their fans.
7. “Thnks Fr Th Mmrs,” Fall Out Boy – The record company wanted shorter song titles from the band, and this was their response. “Thanks For the Memories” was a Top 10 hit in 2007 and is a fun tune about an old relationship with benefits from these Illinois rockers.
6. “Thanks A Lot,” Johnny Cash – This one from 1959 is a bitter tribute to a relationship gone bad. Not one of is hits, but it features his powerful deep distinctive voice.
5. “The Thanks I Get,” Coconut Records – Coconut Records, is the hip brainchild of multi-talented Jason Schwartzman who basically sings, writes and plays all the instruments. “The Thanks I Get” is off of the 2007 debut effort, Nighttiming. It’s a fun pop tune about yet another relationship gone bad.
4. “Thank You For Being A Friend,” Andrew Gold – OK, I’ll admit, I succumbed to a a bit of peer pressure on this one. To me, the song is okay, but nothing special, but all of the relatives liked it, and sadly,he recently passed away, so I gave it a special holiday bump in the ratings. The song was one of the bigger hits on this list, reaching #25 in 1978.
3. “Thank You,” Sly and the Family Stone – This funk tune was reprotedly recorded during some of Sly Stone’s deepest periods of drug use. It’s got a great funky beat, powered by the fantastic bass of Larry Graham. It’s a timeless masterpiece from the early 70’s. I love the official title “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin).”
2. “I Thank You,” Sam And Dave (also covered wonderfully by ZZTop) – The Sam and Dave version was a gospel influenced song written by Isaac Hayes that peaked in the Top Ten in 1968. Ten Years later, ZZ Top released it on their 1979 album Deguello. For both artists, it became their second Top 40 hit.
1. “Thank You,” Led Zeppelin – This 1969 Plant/Page classic was actually the first song where the lyrics were penned by Robert Plant. The lyrics were a tribute to Plant’s relationship with his wife, Maureen. It wraps up the fantastic first side of Led Zeppelin II, and features beautiful keyboards from John Paul Jones. To secure it’s spot atop our list, it is truly a song about Thanks.
Thanks for reading – Mike G.