Stones Open A Store

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The Rolling Stones  open their first “flagship” store, “RS No. 9 Carnaby,” at 9 Carnaby Street in London’s Soho district.

The new store, created in partnership with Bravado, Universal Music Group’s merchandise and brand management company, features all of the hallmarks of the iconic band and includes exclusive new fashion label “RS No. 9 Carnaby.”

The store is a product of the group’s long-term deal with UMG inked in 2018, which encompasses the band’s recorded-music and audio-visual catalogs, archival support, global merchandising and brand management.

The store will also introduce “Stones Red,” the official color from Pantone established from the first use of the band’s iconic logo. A collection celebrating the Rolling Stones official Pantone color along with exclusive limited-edition vinyl will also launch with the store.

The Rolling Stones said in a statement, “Soho has always encapsulated Rock ‘n’ Roll so Carnaby Street was the perfect spot for our own store.

We are confident this exciting project that our friends at Bravado have created will be an unrivaled experience for everyone to come to London and enjoy.”

Jointly curated by the Rolling Stones and Bravado, the shop follows the brand colors of red and black and the glass floor features lyrics, while the fitting rooms are adorned with album artwork.

The 1973 LP Goats Head Soup is now a deluxe box set featuring rarities, outtakes and alternative mixes from the sessions, a new stereo mix of the original album, a complete show from the accompanying tour and three previously unreleased tracks from the period.

One of the new songs, “Criss Cross,” dropped Thursday with a new video. (It was originally known to fans as “Criss Cross Man” from various bootlegs.) The other new tracks are “All the Rage” and “Scarlet,” which features guitar work by Jimmy Page.

The collections include fashion and accessories, along with a special glassware developed with Baccarat engraved with the Rolling Stones tongue logo, as well as chairs and scarves from The Soloist, and raincoats and hats from premium Swedish raincoat brand Stutterheim.

This new addition to Carnaby Street in London’s Soho District has been open since September 9th, 2020. The location was at the heart of swinging 1960’s Britain for which the band played a big part.

The Rolling Stones said in a statement, “Soho has always encapsulated Rock ‘n’ Roll so Carnaby Street was the perfect spot for our own store. We are confident this exciting project that our friends at Bravado have created will be an unrivaled experience for everyone to come to London and enjoy.”

Jointly curated by the Rolling Stones and Bravado, the shop follows the brand colors of red and black and the glass floor features lyrics.

Mat Vlasic, CEO, Bravado said: “With this innovative partnership, the Rolling Stones add yet another cultural touchpoint to their rich legacy. 

RS No. 9 Carnaby is the result of years of planning and decades of building one of the world’s most recognized brands.

 It creates a destination where fans can connect and immerse themselves in the music, style and spirit of one of the world’s most iconic and beloved bands.”

Morrison Hotel Art Gallery Grants

Backstage Access

Drawing from the archives of Pattie Boyd, Henry Diltz, Lynn Goldsmith, Neal Preston, Ken Regan, Ethan Russell, Timothy White, and other photographers granted utterly intimate access to the green rooms and sidelines where music legends are truly made, Morrison Hotel Gallery presents its latest online exhibition, Backstage Pass.

From the trans-Atlantic breakthrough of Beatlemania to the off-stage antics of rock royalty, this online exhibition of 40+ fine art images offers fans an all-access (and socially distant) glimpse behind the curtain and some of the most legendary nights in music history starting Wednesday, September 16, 2020. 

Just who are these mere mortals-turned-gods when the roar of the crowd dies away?

In many moments captured, the backstage behavior lives up to the sex, drugs, and rock and roll legend.

Jack Daniels flows freely in the Lynyrd Skynyrd and Led Zeppelin dressing rooms, while KISS romps in a wild backstage “orgy” at the Capitol Theatre.

Meanwhile, Keith Richards is ever-present – clutching a whiskey bottle with his signature cool as Tina Turner and David Bowie embrace and sip together from a bottle of champagne. 

For better or worse, rock & roll has soundtracked a shifting American culture since its mid-twentieth century genesis.

With powerhouse hits and primally-charged world tours, rockstars may be the stuff of fear, fascination and die-hard fandoms.

Freddie Mercury at Wembley Stadium 1986 by Neal Preston is $800.
Led Zeppelin by Bob Gruen is $400.

Elton John’s Jewels

Coming in November, this new career—spanning set features 60 unreleased tracks!

The entire set was hand—picked by the singer and he will release the massive 8-CD Jewel Box collection on Nov. 13 , packed with rarities from 1965-1971, deep cuts and obscure B-sides.

The 148-song set, will chronicle his early stages collaborating with lyricist Bernie Taupin, and comes with a hardcover book as well as extensive notes and track-by-track commentary by John for the two Deep Cuts discs.

It will be available in three different vinyl versions (4LP, 3LP, 2LP) as well as on digital download and streaming services, with all audio remastered at Abbey Road Studios by Grammy-winning mastering engineer Sean Magee.

The previously unreleased 1969 song “Sing Me No Sad Song,” the first taste of the collection, was released on Thursday (Sept. 17) and it provides a fascinating glimpse into John’s musical evolution. The rollicking track features lyrical precursors of both 1984’s “Sad Songs (Say So Much) and the 1976 hit “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.”

“To delve back through every period of my career in such detail for Jewel Box has been an absolute pleasure. Hearing these long lost tracks again, I find it hard to comprehend just how prolific Bernie and I were during the early days,” John says in a statement.

“The songs just poured out of us, and the band were just unbelievable in the studio. I always want to push forward with everything I do and look to the future, but having time during lockdown to take stock and pull these moments from my memory from each era has been a joy.

As a devout record collector myself, this project has really excited me, and I couldn’t be happier with the level of craft involved in such a carefully curated, lovingly constructed boxset. I’m sure my fans will enjoy it as much as I have.”

The format of the discs is described as follows:

Discs 1 & 2: Deep Cuts – A selection of personal favorites, curated by Elton. The box set book includes a track-by-track commentary by Elton.

Discs 3, 4, and 5: Rarities 1965 -1971 – Elton’s much sought-after 1960s and early 1970s demos and music that cemented the foundations of the iconic Elton John/Bernie Taupin writing partnership. The compelling, previously unreleased, missing piece in his illustrious career. Daryl Easlea narrates this fascinating story with contributions from those who were there at the time. These discs encompass 65 songs, all but a few of which have been stored in the vaults for more than 50 years.

Most of these demos were recorded during sessions before Elton was signed to a recording contract or released his first album. Also included are the first song ever written by Elton and his debut appearance on a record (both “Come Back Baby” – 1965), Elton and Bernie’s first composition (“Scarecrow” – 1967), and newly unearthed piano/vocal demos of some of Elton’s most acclaimed songs from his early albums. The packaging appropriately contains rare archival artwork and select original lyric sheets.

Discs 6 & 7: B-Sides 1976-2005 – Non-LP tracks and flipsides, never before compiled together. Thirty-six gems that are now given another chance to sparkle – 17 previously only available on vinyl, resulting in all of Elton’s studio B-sides now being offered digitally for the first time in his career.

Disc 8: And This Is Me . . . – To coincide with the release of the updated paperback edition of Me, the final collection celebrates the songs mentioned by name by Elton in his acclaimed autobiography, closing Jewel Box with the 2020 Academy Award-winning duet with Taron Egerton, “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again.”

The box is available on November 13. Click here for a preview: https://youtu.be/74PNORDK8lo

ELW Photography

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Dedication

To my beloved Brian, who’s never ending encouragement and support made these galleries and this blog possible.

Dear readers this week I begin to feature my photography as the sole content of the blog. Living in New York City gives you a lot of opportunity to create images. Everyday people make the best extras.

During this time of crisis I felt like taking more photos around my neighborhood & Central Park. To preserve for all—time a version of this fabled town nobody ever expected to see.

I hope you enjoy seeing these pictures today and in the Summer season ahead…

Please be assured that other posts will be made during this period.

As of this writing New York is in Phase 1 of re—opening. This means construction, retail, and some outside dining have returned. Retail stores must limit capacity with curbside pick—up service.

As a lifelong New Yorker this pandemic has been nothing short of life—changing. Walking around my part of town has preserved my sanity. My loving husband, Brian has been the core of why I can remain whole during this awful period.

Dear readers, thank you for spending part of your day here on Evan’s Gate! More photography from yours truly will be posted. Stay healthy and safe. Remember love and healing are the forces that will get us all through this time.

Peace.

Use Your Imagination

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Crafty Childhood

Rainy day activities we used to call them. When there was nothing else to do kids had their favorite stock phrase, I’m bored! Then our parents would reply with their stock phrase, “use your imagination.”

We came up with games, fantastic worlds, and kept ourselves occupied for hours on end. All without the tech of today. It was never present. Our minds would become stronger in the process of inventing. You cannot miss things that were not invented yet.

Finding discarded refrigerator boxes was common during the 1970’s. We used them to build forts, roll down hills, and pretend just about anything our minds could invent!

A carboard box became a spaceship or a time machine. Adventures got played out complete with hand to hand melees to overcome villains. Then on our television sets came perhaps some of the most imaginative television programs on Saturday mornings to compliment our rainy day adventures.

There were 3 commercially supported networks, CBS, ABC, and NBC. New York City also had 3 locally based independent channels: WNEW–5, WOR–9, and WPIX–11.

These independent channels picked up the first ever re-runs in TV history. Network execs did not think people would watch repeats of old shows.

But to the children of that era every single re-run was a first time viewing. Every series from the 1950’s and 1960’s would get aired again. More on this topic in a future entry.

This week I want to talk about the programming of the 1970’s, my childhood. Saturday mornings became a special time of the week for millions of us.

Sid & Marty Krofft

Network TV in the 1970s programmed Saturday mornings just for kids. Cartoons, live-action space operas/adventures, and the brothers Krofft who had series on all 3 networks! At the top of their game there was a variety show based in Atlanta in 1978 called The Krofft Supershow. Hosted first by the Scottish hitmakers Bay City Rollers then the made up Captain Kool & The Kongs, featured 3 series: Dr. Shrinker, Wonderbug, and Magic Mongo.

When their first series originally aired on NBC in 1969 no one knew their everlasting impact. H.R. Pufnstuf was that first show. A fantasy adventure starring Jack Wild as Jimmy (Oscar Nominee for “Oliver!”), Billie Hayes as Witchiepoo, and Lennie Weinrib as H.R. Pufnstuf (he starred later as the Genie Mongo).

How the Krofft Brothers Named Pufnstuf

Of course the famous Mayor of Living island was named after Puff The Magic Dragon, a folk tune that at the time was a popular hit.

In their interview for TV Archive, Sid and Marty Krofft talked about the naming of their now iconic series. There are fun facts brought up as well.

My favorite fact was that The Beatles watched it every week. In England Pufnstuf was broadcast at 6 in the evening. Manager Brian Epstein asked for a 16mm copy of each week’s show!

At the end of every episode Pufnstuf and Jimmy tell viewers to keep those letters and postcards coming. Their fan mail was on average 10,000 letters per week!

Many college kids were watching the show. A lot of them thought the name Pufnstuf was drug related. Naturally the network’s standard and practices would have never allowed it.

A lad named Jimmy and his golden flute, Freddie, are lured away in Witchiepoo’s boat. The vessel attacks Jimmy sending him into the water. He finds himself washed ashore on the Oz-like Living Island. Its Mayor, the friendly dragon H.R . Pufnstuf, and his staff Cling and Clang rescue Jimmy. The rest of the series’ 16 episodes are Jimmy’s attempts to escape the island and various other adventures.

The Krofft shows featured musical numbers too. On Pufnstuf Jack Wild’s character Jimmy sang on several episodes. ‘Walking, Talking Boy’ and ‘Mechanical Boy’ are examples.

“The Magic Path” episode had the discovery of a special walkway that could lead Jimmy off the island! Then there was the scheme of using a box kite to fly him home.

Another big hit was “Sigmund and The Sea Monsters”. Star Johnny Whitaker sang the theme song, ‘You Gotta Have Friends’. He also sang on many episodes.

Sigmund was a misfit. Brothers Burp and Slurp were genuine monsters. Big Daddy and Big Mama were their parents, modeled after Hollywood gangsters of the 1930’s.

Johnny and Scott find Sigmund. They take him in to their clubhouse. Each episode has the boys protecting him from his awful family.

The popularity of these shows propelled stars Jack Wild and Johnny Whitaker to teen idol status. They performed beside the costumed Krofft characters at the Hollywood Bowl in L.A.

Krofft Series Roundup

  • H. R. Pufnstuf________________________16 Episodes (1969)
  • Land Of The Lost___________________43 Episodes (1974–76)
  • Sigmund and The Sea Monsters____29 Episodes (1973–74)
  • The Lost Saucer____________________16 Episodes (1975)
  • Lidsville____________________________17 Episodes (1971–72)
  • The Far Out Space Nuts_____________12 Episodes (1975)
  • The Bugaloos_______________________17 Episodes (1970–71)
  • Dr. Shrinker________________________16 Episodes (1976)
  • Electra Woman and Dyna Girl______16 Episodes (1976)
  • Wonderbug _______________________ 22 Episodes (1976–77)
  • Bigfoot and Wildboy________________20 Episodes (1977–79)
  • Uncle Croc’s Block___________________16 Episodes (1975)
  • Pryor’s Place_________________________13 Episodes (1984)
  • The Krofft Supershow________________16 Episodes (1976)

I watched all of these programs when they aired. The Krofft brothers had some star power too. “Lidsville” featured Butch Patrick of “Munsters” fame, he played Eddie! Charles Nelson Reilly also starred on the show as villain Hoodoo and with Phyllis Diller on “Croc’s Block.” “The Lost Saucer” starred Ruth Buzzie and Jim Nabors as androids named Fi and Fum. Richard Pryor starred on “Pryor’s Place”. Bob Denver of “Gilligan’s Island” starred in the “Far Out Space Nuts”. Martha Raye was Benita Bizzare on “The Bugaloos”.

The cost of producing so many live-action fantasy shows took its toll. Pufnstuf had 16 episodes that were reran throughout the 1970’s. To widen their audience, Sid and Marty Krofft produced a 98 minute feature film, Pufnstuf”, that featured Martha Raye as The Boss Witch and Cass Elliott as Witch Hazel and the original featured series cast.

“Land of the Lost” ran the longest. Eventual re–boots were produced in the 1990’s and 2000’s and a really bad feature film Starring Will Ferrell.

In 1978, Sid and Marty Krofft opened an indoor amusement park that took up 5 floors of Atlanta’s Omni Center, now home to CNN. It featured a giant sized pinball machine that people could ride through on specially designed vehicles.

Visitors rode the escalators to the top floor that featured a carousel. Then working their way down through the other floors and attractions. Upon exiting there was the familiar Krofft TV Productions logo.

Despite the financial failure of the Atlanta park, the brothers designed Krofft show themed rides for Six Flags in Georgia and in other theme parks across the U.S.

Krofft Gallery: (L–R): The movie ‘Pufnstuf’ (1970), Atlanta based indoor Amusement Park, the book ‘Pufnstuf & Other Stuff’ by David Martindale, and the Krofft TV Production logo seen at the end of each series’ episode.

When ABC Premiered “Scooby Doo Where Are You! Saturday mornings for kids was born.

The Stone Age and Future Age Enable The Scooby Age!

“The Flintstones” appeared in primetime a decade before its debut followed by “Jonny Quest” by Hanna–Barbera in the 1960s. At the dawn of the seventies ABC put Scooby Doo on the air. A group of teenagers along with their pooch and hippie owner Shaggy took on investigations of mysterious happenings in spooky houses and other nefarious schemes.

The series was an instant smash. Unheard of in TV Land that a cartoon would become such a cultural touchstone that a repeated phrase at the end of each episode would ring down through the decades: ‘we would have gotten away with it too if it hadn’t been for those meddling kids!’.

The program portrayed teenagers as responsible, caring, and ultimately wiser than the adult villains they would apprehend each week. There were ghosts and ghouls aplenty. Shaggy was always scared to death but with the help of Scooby Doo would overcome his fears usually by accident to win the day. Fred, Velma, and Dafney were the trio of calm and cool. Many viewers later stated that Velma was Lesbian. The series had plenty of camp value in it.

As seen in the gallery below, Shaggy and Scooby were often the first to face each week’s featured ghoul. The ‘NEW’ Movies series brought a lot of guest stars to the show including Laurel & Hardy and Batman & Robin. Campy 1970s fun!

I woke up with my sibs every week to tune in for their latest adventure. You learned how to overcome adversity in a way. Scooby and Shaggy despite being scared out of their wits somehow rose to the challenge of catching crooks disguised as ghosts and monsters.

The show became the longest-running of that era. It spawned numerous spin-offs. ‘Scrappy-Doo’ also got his own series! As seen in the gallery below, Scooby’s offspring Scrappy proved so popular there was a spin-off.

I admit by the time I hit my pre-teens the magic of Scooby had waned. There were a lot of spin-offs too. I was hitting those pre–teen years when Saturday morning early wake-ups had lost their magic.

Today the streaming services like Amazon Prime premiered “Scoob!” a brand new animated movie. And of course there were the live action Scooby Doo movies. Puppy power indeed!

Public Television Introduced Sesame Street

PBS Introduces Zoom & The Electric Company

We’re Gonna Zooma Zooma Zooma Zoom! was sung by a group of children who were not professional performers. Each week they scripted the show! This included creating a made-up language called Ubby Dubby.

Skits were performed. Games were invented. And there was a Zoom Guest too. The Guest segment was a real kid who had a hobby/interest to share.

At the end of each show the kids invited the viewers to write in on a postcard to request a Zoom Card. On the front was a color photo of a Zoom kid and on the back was instructions on how to do a craft featured on the show at home.

I sent in for a card once. I got the instructions on how to make a calendar with drawers using matchsticks.

The Zoom kids would sing the address Boston, Mass 0-2-1-3-4….send it to ZOOM! at the end of the show.

Channel Thirteen (PBS) is the flagship station for Public Television in the U.S. Zoom and The Electric Company were produced following the enormous success of Sesame Street which premiered in 1969. Although these shows aired every weekday I always felt like they were part of my Saturday morning media diet.

“Hey you guys!” would be yelled loudly at the top of every episode of The Electric Company. This program taught reading comprehension to kids. Proper sentences, grammar, punctuation, and the rest would be featured in silly skits.

Fargo North was a detective character who used a decoder machine to put words in their proper order to form a sentence.

Rita Moreno (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony winning actress) was a featured player. Morgan Freeman played Easy Reader, a hip guy who read a lot.

There was animation too. The Adventures of Letter Man showed a superhero who had a letter on his chest he would use to spell the correct word to save someone from peril.

There was also a special appearance of a popular superhero—Spidey Adventure Stories! Spider-Man in live action!

Groovy Times

The 1970’s made for a great childhood. The influence of the previous hippie days showed up in the various series featured this week. Commercial TV began to exploit the popularity of rock music, had kids who were not always show-biz types, boys with Red hair became idols, and there was a sense of escape from adult authority.

The following years Cable TV replaced Saturday Morning TV with Nickelodeon, the first Network for Kids. And MTV became the channel for rock music.

As you can see from this blog entry I treasure the memories I have in front of our black and white TV during those groovy times. They had a big influence on me.

For the full 5 minute interview with Sid & Marty Krofft regarding the naming of their Pufnstuf series just click here: https://youtu.be/MPW-8Db0LFI

http://www.BillieHayes.com is the website of the actress famous for playing Witchiepoo, she raises money for her animal rescue charity! Check it out!

“See you next week!”

Thank you Dear Readers!

Album Cover Art In Our Digital Age

Since the 1960s the covers of long-playing records have undergone many changes.

Before the Beatles and Stones most records were just simple photographic images of the band leaders or crooners of the period.

During the 1960s when the counter-culture movement arrived albums underwent a major alteration.

The new artists had album covers that were more than just their mugs in close-up.

Before I continue let me be clear about what the cover of a record means to me.

I think covers are a canvas to be used to draw in would be listeners. It does not have to be literal or easy to understand.

After decades of releases before the internet we have thousands of covers to gawk at in pleasure and disgust.

The images can excite, enlighten, and become stand alone pieces of art.

In some cases they can also offend certain sensibilities.

The Beatles’ infamous butcher cover was censored by their record company upon release.

Capitol records pulled this album from circulation after distributors complained the cover image was revolting. If you can find this album with the offending picture it’s worth a lot today.

Guns N Roses biggest seller, “Appetite For Destruction” had its cover banned.

It featured a cartoon image of a flower girl being raped by a robot.

Guns N Rose’s original art got banned by their label. The cross and skull art is the cover now.

The aforementioned covers became highly valued on the market for collectors.

Their rarity increased the value of original prints. Digital representation of album art will never be valuable.

Many classic (old) rock groups hired artists to paint, photograph, and collage their cover art.

Roger Dean, Derek Riggs, and the firm Hipgnosis are good examples of why artists commission painters, graphic designers and illustrators.

The progressive rock group Yes compiled a catalog of music along with covers by Roger Dean.

His dreamscapes were colorful, fantastic, and surreal. This fit well with Yes’ music.

Fragile by Yes features the above art by Roger Dean to promote a greener planet.

Derek Riggs painted the first 8 Iron Maiden album covers.

His art became instantly part of the band’s image.

Each cover features the mascot Eddie, a decaying corpse reanimated back to life.

The art collective Hipgnosis was hired by British art rock icons Pink Floyd.

The indelible photographic elements are imprinted on the memory of any classic rock fan forever.

Their cover images include a cow for Atom Mother, a flying pig for Animals, and a prism for Dark Side of the Moon.

The records pictured above included extras you cannot enjoy digitally.

Styx and Pink Floyd had posters within their sleeves.

One more artist I want to mention is Michael Doret a designer, lettering artist, and illustrator based in Los Angeles, California.

He has created logos, album covers, magazine covers, and art for various brands in media, advertising, and sports.

The illustration he created for Kiss in 1978 was so eye catching the band worked with him again in the 21st Century!

Rock N Roll Over by Kiss was the last album in which all four original members performed. Ace Frehley had no writing credit.

Sonic Boom was released in 2009. The art is sort of a follow up to its 1970s predecessor.

On vinyl the album was issued with vinyl platters in six different colors.

The Rock N Roll Over album was reissued in 2015, complete with a sheet of full color stickers replicating the cover art.

The art is the original size meant for public view when it’s on a physical item.

Digital cannot transmit how vivid these covers actually appear.

Many albums have gatefold sleeves. This means they open up to show a two panel artwork.

Queen used an image by scifi illustrator Frank Kelly for News of the World in 1977. A two panel gatefold is featured.

Today album frames are sold as a means to display album cover art.

There are many examples of art for record covers. I have covered a few of my favorites for this article.

Keep in mind none of this art looks great in digital form. In physical presence you must stop and stare.

Record albums are cherished items. The extra goodies inside like posters are really cool too.

To be fair, digital music files can show the art. It’s tiny and trapped under the glass of your smart device.

MP3 files can become corrupted. I have had to stop my PC many times due to bad playback.

Records force you to take better care of your music.

It is much more of an experience to play an album on a turntable. You value it more. And the art is for keeps!

Defenders Of The Faith

Rocka Rolla

Their debut release in 1969 on indie label Gull was a bluesy hard rock affair that went unnoticed by most.

Naming the band for a Bob Dylan song seemed off. “The Ballad Of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest” is a crossroads tale of two strangers meeting on a road in the forest.

Only in hindsight does this become an ingenious origin for their moniker. If you listen to the song the idea is really cool. Judas Priest is a dark figure. Embued with a mystique that fits the band’s image.

Black Sabbath are widely acclaimed as the fathers of heavy metal music. The formative period for Judas Priest were spent in the shadows cast by the bigger acts of the time.

Until Deep Purple’s Roger Glover produced their major label debut, “Sin After Sin” on Columbia.

Sin After Sin released in 1976.

Covering Joan Baez’s “Diamonds & Rust” would broaden their sound. Their composition, “Vicitm of Changes” became a live staple during this era.

Early Priest at their best. The Ripper was revived as a live track in the 1990s.

Killing Machine

The late 1970’s was quite exciting for heavy music. Van Halen debut. Queen’s ‘News Of The World’ album goes multi-platinum in America. Judas Priest were about to unveil two metal masterworks.

Hell Bent For Leather became the band’s signature.

Judas Priest unveil their best work to date. The name of the record is changed to ‘Hell Bent For Leather’ in America (‘Killing Machine’ in the rest of the world). The band present a new image wearing leather and studs.

L-R: Glenn Tipton, Rob Halford, K.K. Downing, and founding member Ian Hill.
Concerts feature Rob Halford on a Harley-Davidson bike.

Songs celebrating the biker lifestyle incorporate new guitar techniques that would become part of the heavy metal art form.

“Rock Forever”, “Take On The World”, and the title track formed a trio of anthems. “Before The Dawn” is a power ballad that I think tops them all.

Stained Class introduces the now famous logo associated with the band.

The record brought a sound that would continue to develop over the next three decades.

The band’s cover of the haunting ‘Better By You, Better Than Me” by Spooky Tooth became a fan favorite. The song was at the center of a trial years later.

Proving Their Steel

The dawn of the 1980’s would bring Judas Priest into the long out of reach limelight.

The album ‘British Steel’ stripped down the music to a lean muscular form. “Living After Midnight” became a rock radio hit. The song began their music video history.

British Steel heralded heavy metal’s rise in pop culture.

Priest continued to evolve using different sounds on each album. “Point Of Entry” followed in 1981.

Three singles with videos: ‘Headin’ Out To The Highway’, ‘Don’t Go’, and ‘Hot Rockin’ were all catchy songs that took pop melodies into metal.

Visions of motorcycle rides in the desert was the overall feel of the work.

‘Desert Plains’ was part of the current Firepower tour playlist.

“Screaming For Vengeance” became the defining statement that Priest were the metal band. The anthem ‘You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’ hit radio rising to the top. The band toured extensively. American rockers fell in love.

Their best selling album in America.

The album featured the first in what became a series of mythic metallic monsters on their covers.

The Hellion is a metal Eagle soaring above looking for justice for those who have been wronged. ‘Fever’ , ‘Devil’s Child’ , and ‘Ridin’ On The Wind’ are stellar songs often overlooked.

By 1984 heavy metal music was a primary force in the American rock scene. Small towns/suburbia felt besieged by the culture. Long haired kids in denim and leather; patches of bands decorated their jackets.

“Defenders of the Faith” in my opinion is still the modern most influential metal record. Every fan owns this record. The Metallion is the beast of choice on its cover.

It’s a take no prisoners anthemic, macho declaration of heavy metal glory.

The radio smash ‘Some Heads Are Gonna Roll” followed by the sex driven ‘Eat Me Alive’ and ‘Love Bites’ alarmed conservatives.

Defenders of the Faith laid down the metal gauntlet.

The band rose to the top. Then hysteria in the form of local teen suicide being blamed on the music. Judas Priest were blamed for a fan death. They were acquitted in court.

Pushing the art form of metal into new directions was part of the band’s mission. Their records always incorporated the latest technologies.

The Turbo Age

Then in the summer of 1986 the Priest changed direction. ‘Turbo’ featured guitar synths. Giving their sound a much more pop friendly polish. There was a decidedly mixed reaction.

Singles like ‘Turbo Lover’ and ‘Locked In’ gave the band great top 40 success. A lot of kids at the time listened to Priest for the first time.

The record was envisioned as a double record by the band. Columbia records would decline to allow such an ambitious project despite the band’s popularity.

Bound For Glory

“Ram It Down” was the second half of “Turbo” released separately. No metal beasts on their covers; anthems & ballads. I love both albums. Some fans became disgruntled by the new sounds.

The band even recorded a cover of Chuck Berry’s ‘Johnny B. Goode’ for a movie soundtrack. Quite a commercial move for a metal group. This track appears on ‘Ram It Down’.

The ups and downs are inevitable in the music business. Opinions change over time. Some of the more pop oriented moves are now seen as a blip in a history full of mostly metal glories.

After leaving the band for solo albums in the early 1990’s, Rob Halford returned as lead vocalist for an album that would once again raise the bar for metal music.

Ripper Owen’s Era

Things change. When their iconic frontman left the band the future became foggy.

A singer in a Judas Priest tribute band by the name of Tim ‘Ripper’ Owen’s became their vocalist. His nickname from a classic Priest song.

Two albums are released. It’s the 1990’s. “Jugulator” features a metallic beast on its cover. The music is solid metal. Fans were indifferent.

I had the opportunity to meet them after a show at Roseland ballroom here in New York. It was gratifying to tell them how much I loved their music and concerts. I gave Tim Owens a pat on the back. No one could fill Rob Halford’s boots.

Back On Top

“Painkiller” is arguably the best metal record ever made. The metallic biker on the cover is a winged hero. Every song is heavy. Halford’s voice was never better. The twin guitars of Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing are at their peak.

The best of all their albums.

I got to see them in their peak years. Never a disappointment. The songs were always representative of their entire career.

“Angel of Retribution” was Rob Halford’s return to the band. A solid effort. During this time the band’s albums showed a marked return to their late 70’s early 80’s sound.

“Redeemer of Souls” was a great follow-up album to “Painkiller”; “Nostradamus” was a double album that returned the band to their roots. A decidedly non-commercial epic aimed at their most dedicated fans.

Today the band enjoys their fame. Rob Halford has the nickname, Metal God, for the song and his amazing voice. Always proud to be metal, the community loves Judas Priest.

“Firepower” was their 18th studio album released in 2018 and the tour is still going strong. Well received by critics and topping the charts the group is poised to celebrate their 50th Anniversary in 2020.

Firepower was a solid comeback album.

They are nominated for induction into the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame in 2020.

Motley Crue/Def Leppard/Poison

A famous band does everything in their power to close out their career. Then fans get restless. Reunion rumours are spread. Then comes the press release announcing a new tour.

Following reunion news of My Chemical Romance, Rage Against The Machine, and The Black Crowes comes official word of a three act line-up sure to fill stadiums from coast to coast.

Motley Crue will tour with Def Leppard and Poison. If you came of age during the 1980s you may have owned their records and seen them live.

MTV had their videos in heavy rotation in that era too. Perhaps you saw Def Leppard’s ‘Photograph’ or ‘Rock Of Ages’; Motley Crue’s ‘Looks That Kill’ or ‘Dr. Feelgood’; Poison’s ‘Unskinny Bop’ or ‘Nothin’ But A Good Time’ to name but a few of several clips to have come out in those days.

For Motley Crue it’s the fan demand that pushed them to blow up their no more tours contract. Cynics will cry foul. A well orchestrated money grab after their biopic succeeded on Netflix.

Adding the Crue to the list of rock giants who played official farewell shows only to return a few years later seems a matter of course.

I think we are seeing and hearing how much acts like Queen, The Who, Kiss, and Ozzy Osbourne mean to their listeners. They have crossed generations.

Their style of music is not saturating the ears of streamers. Perhaps, the big sound of these groups are missed by the mainstream.

Motley Crue and Poison still have all of their original members. Def Leppard also has their line-up mostly complete. Guitarist Steve Clark died.

Although there have not been any new albums in the last 4 years their catalogs continue to be mined.

Motley Crue: L-R: Nikki Sixx, Mick Mars, Vince Neil, and Tommy Lee

Fans know they will get a massive stage show backed with classic songs.

Poison L-R: C.C. DeVille, Bobby Dall, Brett Michaels, & Rikki Rockett.

Having toured with Def Leppard in the past was a sign of things to come. Over the past 20 years they have been a consistent draw.

2018 image of Def Leppard band members: Phil CollenVivian CampbellJoe ElliottRick SavageRick Allen.
Their “Hysteria” is the biggest selling hard rock album. Last year they were inducted into the Rock Hall Of Fame.

Part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal in 1979, Def Leppard forged a new style of melodic metal music.

The number of fan favorites from all three of these groups should find healthy ticket sales.

Deservedly so. AC/DC are also expected to tour. It seems we music fans just can’t let go of our passion for hard rock in the pop vain. A renewed injection every few years keeps us going.

Zappa The…

strange or extraordinary character ODDFANTASTIC

synonyms for weird

Synonyms: Adjective

bizarrebizarrocrankycrazycuriouseccentricerraticfar-outfunkyfunnykinky, kooky (also kookie), oddoff-kilter,  offbeat, , outlandish, outrépeculiarquaintqueerqueerishquirkyremarkablescrewyspaced-outstrangewacky , way-outweirdowild.

The above comes from the Merriam—Webster dictionary definition of Weird. For myself this was the word that always popped into my head when I thought about Frank Zappa. Not surprising that a single word could then be translated in many colorful ways. Much like the sonic experiments Mr. Zappa created, his listeners would receive a bounty that would never get exhausted.

This entry is happening now because on Friday May 31, 2019 for the first time on vinyl since 1976 comes a re-issue of “Zappa In New York” on 3 Lps. Recorded during a 4 show stint at The Palladium in New York City. Originally a double LP, the third record is a bonus!

Before I delve into my thoughts about the work, how did it come to be?

In 1964 Frank Zappa took over leadership of the American band The Soul Giants. He renamed the band The Mothers, referring to the jazz compliment of mother for a great musician. However, their record company, Verve Records , objected to the insinuation (i.e., “motherfuckers”) and by necessity Zappa had to change the name, creating (and defining) The Mothers Of Invention.

Necessity is the mother of invention” is an English-language proverb. It means, roughly, that the primary driving force for most new inventions is a need.

Mr. Zappa’s need drove him to create music that would provide new pathways for musicians and listeners.

As a music lover I am relieved that my appreciation of his work comes after my obsessions with mainstream groups. Music is exploratory by nature. As a listener I need to be challenged. Following the former years of passive media consumption I want to be more actively engaged. Music does this for me. But like many of my fellow countrymen I listened to what was put before me, not what I actually made an effort to get. In an age where over produced pop is drowning us in simplicity I need complexity.

Now, in this age of information, the legacy of his vast body of work can be understood as a rigorous expression of subjects Mr. Zappa cared deeply about. Nothing to do with easy access or top 40 popularity. This music is label free. Fusion is the word used to describe what is the core of his output. He puts styles together to form a new sound.

Remaining outside the mainstream culture of mass consumer popularity Mr. Zappa is being reached for the first time by people like myself who remained in a fractured mindset. Applying self-made restrictions on what to hear or think about prevented finding this revolutionary sound.

Tellingly, Mr. Zappa spoke openly about the damaging effects of television that enable a crippling passivity. People become narrow and confused, bogged down in just one form of expression. Taught to consume without much thought. Creativity becomes necessity in such a culture. In his lifetime he released 60 albums of original work. The Zappa Family Trust, since his death in 1993, has put out 62 more works.

For a complete list of the 112 studio albums and 40 tribute albums use this link:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Zappa_discography

Even back in the late 1960s the idea of free thought was constrained by profit. His albums beginning with the debut, “Freak Out!”, sought to obliterate this filter. Without a filter he put out a record titled, “We’re Only In It For The Money”, with cover art that mocked the lionized “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”. The rock era is filled to overflowing with artists that sought nothing more than commercial acceptance. Nothing wrong with it. There is more to art than just profit.

I admit that my first impression of him was typical of a kid too young to understand anything more than top 40 drivel. Here was a guy with looks I found peculiar playing music that had sounds I could not readily decipher or pigeonhole. My prejudices were taught. Today there are more people with Zappa’s looks of otherness. I think this is encouraging. He brought humor into forms considered serious like jazz and blues.

Way-out experiments are not the commercial fruit bearing endeavors record companies want from their talent. Frank Zappa did it because there was within him a strong need to invent sounds that could not exist otherwise. He sought out musicians that could play this no boundaries music.

On YouTube there are several hours worth of interviews from different countries and years. His opinions were direct, smart, and well thought out. Knowing full well that America’s self-deception was the thing hurting the nation from era to era, Zappa spoke about our deep backwardness regarding sexuality and free expression.

“The American dream is to always be young, always be rich, and always be cute”— Frank Zappa

Sexuality was the pressing issue. He felt strongly that sex is as natural a function as going to the bathroom. In American culture many are taught to repress sexual expression. Look at what the result of this has been. Zappa did not believe in pornography or dirty words. Filters like religion and television have done damage in dictating that there is something wrong with sex. Notice how absent most expressions of sexuality are from our media. He recognized most license holders in television are right-wing.

I admire his tenacity when expressing these things. I agree with a lot of it. To fix the economy he stated that churches should be taxed. Then legalize prostitution and drugs. Both should be highly taxed and regulated. Make sure our politicians get what they need, especially sex.

Everyone in the country would have better jobs because America would be manufacturing goods. The economy would then be quite strong. And stop overfunding the military. I think this is why so many wanted him to run for President during the 1980s. Boldly put, do you really want sexually repressed people in places of power?

Speaking of power nobody was more aware of television’s deliberate consumer mission: to sell products. His 1978 appearance on Saturday Night Live was my first exposure to his music and personality. “Dancin’ Fool” was the catchy number I remember most. Re-watching it I discovered how relevant the other two pieces were in presenting his ideas. Click here to see it: https://youtu.be/PGWE7t3qO1I

Actually, after seeing it again now as an adult I think of Frank Zappa on the simple level of a George Carlin type with musical talent. Intellectual, probing, and skeptical of what we as a society think culture should be.

Mr. Zappa was a champion of First Amendment rights. In the 1980s when the Parent’s Music Resource Center, a group made up of politician’s wifes including Tipper Gore tried to censor rock music, Mr. Zappa testified before Congress. He defended the rights of all. He knew an attack on any form of music was an attack on him as well.

I think he would find the current state of things typical. We are still fighting over race, sexuality, gender, censorship, and inequality. The continuing legalization of marijuana would be progress, slow, but a forward step he might have been happy to see. Just imagine the Zappa response to ‘reality’ TV and ‘social’ media that do the opposite of what they pretend to be. Zappa was quite real and social. A real mother.

Searing instrumentals.
“Hot Rats” is a must listen. The second solo album.
Don Van Viliet (Captain Beefheart) featured on the only vocal track, “Willie The Pimp”.
The 112th release in the ever expanding Zappa Catalog.

Details of the 40th Anniversary release of Zappa In New York set (seen above) are here:

https://www.zappa.com/news/frank-zappas-beloved-live-double-album-zappa-new-york-celebrated-suite-40th-anniversary

In April a new concert experience played 9 sold out dates in America. A hologram of Frank Zappa performs alongside 6 musicians. The European dates are coming up.

According to Mr. Zappa’s family he hoped there would be a hologram tour after his life.

Getting back to how I started this entry. Can we define Zappa? I think we cannot. Fluidity is the main thing in art. Zappa the musician. That’s enough for me.

I have started listening from the beginning with the first 4 albums by The Mothers Of Invention. The first two solo albums were added too.

There may be more entries about Frank Zappa in the future. Although I still need to write about the albums and artists that were at the core of my love of music, the boundaries are ever expanding. The gate is always open.

June is Pride Month.

Coming Up: Stonewall At 50.

Thakn you for reading and following Evan’s Gate!

Exclusive Funko Pop!

All the retailers that carry the Pop! collectibles offer specific items that are only sold by each outlet. There is currently a George R.R. Martin pop at Barnes & Noble only. This is a B & N exclusive. There is a sticker on the front of the Pop box to indicate this status.

Retailers began exclusive packaging on things like Blu-rays a while back. To increase traffic they started to offer items you could not get online. The treasure hunt aspect of finding a desired item enabled retailers to get some folks away from just clicking their mouse at home.

The demand for certain releases across the collectibles landscape has been quite eye-opening. Last month Amazon offered pre-orders for the new Queen Pops. Now they are only offering third party sellers for them. And the prices can become insane.

If you are lucky to live in a place where there are lots of choice you can usually still find them at a reasonable price.

For exclusives you should check online to see what items are being released. When visiting retailers you can browse through to find their exclusives. Always look for the sticker that says Exclusive.

My local B & N had a Hermione Granger Pop that was an Exclusive from a Funko Pop Convention! The price was $14.95. Cool item.

FYE will have an exclusive Freddie Mercury Pop! A diamond glitter pop styled after the rock icon’s stage wear on Queen’s Rock N America Tour in the summer of 1982 in support of Hot Space. This turned out to be his final US appearances.

Hot Topic carried an exclusive Bellatrix Lestrange pop, a villain in the Harry Potter series.

Store to store; region to region. These factors decide what figures you will find in your local shops. My closest B & N loves Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, and the video game Fortnite. These are heavily carried.

Check out your local places first. Then branch out to see what you can find elsewhere.

A B & N Exclusive!

A Hot Topic Exclusive!
FYE Exclusive!

Next Blog: Rock Stars At Home/Book Review

Year of the Leppard

2018 has been a very productive year for a band of lads from Sheffield, England who arrived in America way back in 1980!  Def Leppard has been around a long time.  Back in those early days a lot of people were wondering how long they could last.  At the time the oldest member of the band was twenty.  You have to start young in rock n roll. Now they have arrived in a time when being a legacy act is a great thing to be.  

As seen in the picture above from L-R are: 
Rick Savage (Bass),   Phil Collen (Guitars)
Joe Elliott (Vocals),  
Rick Allen(Drums)  andVivian Campbell (Guitars) the line-up since 1992.  Original guitarist Steve Clarke died in January 1991 from drug and alcohol problems.  A fine player who performed on the first 4 albums of their career, including their first blockbuster album “Pyromania”.   Their first break in the USA came with their second release, “High N Dry” and the very catchy heavy rocker, “Bringin’ On The Heartbreak”.   Mr. Clarke is seen in the band’s first music videos too. 

Among their influences are Queen.  Joe Elliott said then he hoped they could become at least half the band that they were.  Def Leppard would perform at The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in Wembley Stadium in April of 1992!  To this day Brian May remains a close friend.  And the band’s layered guitar sound is quite distinctive.  Later on this sound would change into a synth heavy guitar and percussion driven monster.

I became a fan of the band way back in 1982 when High N Dry was released.  I never missed a record, although much to my chagrin have not seen them in concert yet.  Their videos were on MTV a lot.  Following the release of Pyromania in 1983 American fans shortened their name to Def Lep ( the moniker sounded like Led Zep) although not at all close musically.   The singles, “Rock of Ages” and “Foolin” would enjoy frequent airplay on MTV and radio.  But the first single, “Photograph” would be the biggest hit up to that point.  As a Queen fan I was amazed by Def Lep.  They had a unique sound and a big image.  I felt they were one of the rarest heavy rock bands in the 1980s.   Never resting on laurels.  

A never say die group.  It was hard to imagine their biggest selling record was yet to come.  Funny how music works.  On a recent interview in New York Joe Elliott gave to the YouTube sereis,  BuildWorks,  said that hit songs are impossible to predict.  That is why there are so many one hit wonders.  There’s nothing wrong with that because it’s hard to write hits.  

According to their Wikipedia page, both “Pyromania” and “Hysteria” are certified Diamond by the RIAA, Def Leppard are one of only five rock bands with two original studio albums selling over 10 million copies each in the US, alongside the BeatlesLed ZeppelinPink Floyd and Van Halen.[11] Both Pyromania and Hysteria feature in Rolling Stone‘s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Their success never ruined them even after drummer Rick Allen had a car accident and lost an arm!  The band stayed united.  Altering his drum kit so he could still play the band would record again with producer John ‘Mutt’ Lange (AC/DC’s Back In Black).  He made “Pyromania” with them.

In 1987 the album “Hysteria” would solidify their status as a classic rock act.  7 hit singles including their now signature number, “Pour Some Sugar On Me” arrived.  The band played a massive world tour in the round.  They could draw hardcore heavy metal fans as well as mainstream pop listeners.   

This year Def Lep finally allowed their back catalog to go digital.  They spent some time making sure their recordings would sound great and they got a deal with Universal Music Group to do so.

All of their albums are now on platforms like Apple music and Amazon Prime.  A box set of their first four studio recordings has been issued on vinyl.  All 7 hit singles from their monster seller, “Hysteria” are on a 7″ vinyl box set.  They have been touring with Journey in stadiums.  And are nominated for the rock n roll hall of fame.  They currently lead the fan vote by a wide margin too.  This is the year of the Leppard.  I just hope Brian May will be on hand to induct them.

The just released box set includes:  “Through The Long Night”, “High N Dry”,  “Pyromania”, and “Hysteria”.  A concert performed at the LA Forum on the Pyromania Tour.  An album of rarities and a booklet.  This set is billed as Volume 1. 

To vote for them go here:  http://www.defleppard.com/

The Class of 2018 will be announced soon.  Voting closes after Friday Dec 7th.

For videos and interviews plus their new Christmas song, “Everyone Needs Christmas” go to their official YouTube Channel.  

   

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QUEEN For A Day/Essay

This first entry in my writing regarding music, television, and politics is about a rock group that began in the United Kingdom in 1971.  Queen could not get a record deal until De lane Lea studios allowed them free studio time in exchange for demonstrating the use of equipment to would be clients.  This was how they came to record their self-titled debut album.  Not released until 1973 on EMI in Europe and Elektra in America.  The competition was fierce.  Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Elton John, and David Bowie were already in the mix by the time Queen had introduced themselves to the public.  Many critics dismissed them as latecomers to a scene that had already come and gone.  I strongly believe that nothing is guaranteed.  This blog will discuss music, television, and politics through this lens.   Adversity became the group’s call to arms for listeners of a distinctly more sophisticated type of theatrical rock n roll.

This week sees the release of the 20th Century Fox film biography of the late Queen singer Freddie Mercury who passed away in 1991 due to bronchial pneumonia brought on by HIV/AIDS virus.   Freddie named the band, wrote many of their greatest hits, and created a stage persona that was over the top.  To many people around the world he was the tabla rasa for sexual freedom and open ideas.   Critics often derided his overt self importance as pretension.  Queen fans secretly knew he was just being himself for a couple of hours on stage.  The rest of his life was kept quite private.  Up until his death he attempted to keep his illness out of the spotlight.  Many people misunderstood him as a star.

The film about his life uses his most autobiographical song, “Bohemian Rhapsody “, as the focal point of his life’s story.  For where would Queen have been without it’s worldwide success?  The music really did set him free.  In turn as a fan of the group I took the ride with him.  I think for many gay fans Freddie was an example of someone who overcame adversity by connecting with so many people through music.  He refused to allow Queen to be pigeonholed into any one genre of music.  This became their legacy.

After their decline in popularity in America they went on tours of stadiums in South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. This was proof that Queen still had something to offer fans new and old alike.

Many people have mixed feelings towards their favorite music groups.  Sometimes they do things we don’t agree with like creating music that does not fit neatly into a narrative, real or imagined, of their own design.  Musicians like to create new sounds with each album.  Queen were enabled to explore different musical directions all because the song “Bohemian Rhapsody” hit it big.  The movie will celebrate Freddie Mercury’s life.   Millions of fans are anxiously awaiting its release.  I hope a new audience will be inspired by his legacy.