Written By Braddon S. Williams

Rod Stewart: Every Picture Tells A Story

The early 1970’s was a golden time for Rod Stewart. He spent some time with the mighty Jeff Beck Group, then went on to front The Faces and made great music with both bands. After that, he launched an incredibly successful (and profitable) solo career.

Every Picture Tells A Story (1971) was Stewart’s third solo outing, and contained some of his most legendary work, including the #1 International smash hit, Maggie May. Other classics included a cover of Tim Hardin’s (Find A) Reason To Believe, a Bob Dylan song called Tomorrow Is A Long Time, the Motown hit (I Know) I’m Losing You (with The Faces as backup band), a song that was Elvis Presley’s first single, That’s All Right (Mama), a wonderful original by Stewart, Mandolin Wind, and the superb title song (with female vocals by Maggie Bell). My favorite part of the song Every Picture Tells A Story is the section where Bell and Stewart harmonize and sing together…perfection!

Ron Wood contributes some distinctive bluesy guitar throughout and Stewart sings with that raspy, blues drenched signature style of his, and rock music had another hall of fame album.

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

AC/DC: Let There Be Rock

AC/DC were touring in support of Let There Be Rock (1977) when I saw them open for Kiss in December of that year.

To be completely honest, I hadn’t heard a note of AC/DC’s music at that point in time, but I had heard of the band. Little did I know that they quite nearly stole the show from Kiss (who were my undisputed favorite band at that time). Oh yes, and I was in the front row, so I witnessed AC/DC with Bon Scott at the peak of their formidable powers!

Anyway, Let There Be Rock has been claimed by Angus and Malcolm Young to be the first fully formed AC/DC album.

They were in danger of being dropped by their label at the time (crazy, right?) and they were pissed off about it. The result? Guitars…LOUD guitars…and a legend was born.

Bon Scott’s whisky drenched howling banshee of a voice rode atop the Young brothers’ wall of sound, and Mark Evans (bass) and Phil Rudd (drums) provided the granite foundation.

The songs would go on to be concert staples in the live show for decades to come…Problem Child, Whole Lotta Rosie, Bad Boy Boogie, Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be, and the crushing onslaught of the title track, Let There Be Rock.

Even the songs that didn’t become live classics (Go Down, Overdose, Dog Eat Dog) are completely badass.

Let There Be Rock is basically a perfect album…all killer, no filler…crank it up and bang your head!

https://youtu.be/3f2g4RMfhS0

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

St. Vincent: Actor

Of any new musical artists I have grown attached to in the past 5 years, St. Vincent is near the top of the list.

St. Vincent (Annie Clark) released Actor in 2009, and it is a work of genius. I love her quirkiness, her courage, her individuality, her brilliant song arrangements, her subtle and subversive guitar work, her voice (both vocal and spiritual), but mostly I love St. Vincent because she sounds original…and in this day and age that is a remarkable achievement.

Actor contains quite possibly the best song she has ever written, Black Rainbows, a work of absolutely mesmerizing beauty.

Marrow is another slice of perfection, juxtaposing jarring rhythms with lush keyboard swirls and a melody that worms itself into your psyche and sticks around for eons.

Actor Out Of Work, Laughing With A Mouth Of Blood, The Strangers, The Party, The Sequel, Save Me From What I Want, and Just The Same But Brand New are all delicious tracks, too. If you haven’t discovered St. Vincent yet, why are you still reading this? Go find some of her music and prepare to fall in love!

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Tool: Undertow

Tool released their debut studio album, the outstanding Undertow, in 1993. This set in motion a career of enigmatic mystery, profound lyrical and artistic content, and just staggering musical accomplishment.

Tool put out music at their own pace (currently it has been 13 years since their last album), rarely do press, never appear in videos, and in the case of lead singer Maynard James Keenan, are even absent from the stage for some live performances. Yet somehow they increase in popularity despite obviously not playing the celebrity game.

Perhaps it is the combination of the unknown and the deliberate nonconformity mixed with the intensity of the music that sets Tool apart.

When Undertow came out, I immediately identified with the progressive elements of the music and with Keenan’s cryptic lyrics. Songs like Sober and Prison Sex were amazing with or without those creepily effective videos, Bottom benefited from the intense spoken word passage from Henry Rollins, and Flood, Swamp Song, Intolerance, and Crawl Away were all winners, too. The final track, Disgustipated, was a tripped out sonic experience (with or without the aid of mind altering substances).

I salute Tool and their overall creativity. They have never played it safe and I doubt they ever will.

https://youtu.be/kOvwc8_QXiY

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Led Zeppelin: IV

Shadows and Light…the monolithic grandeur of Led Zeppelin IV looms large over the landscape of ’70’s (indeed, everything to the present) popular music. Combining the best hard rock, heavy metal, blues, folk, and classic rock, Led Zeppelin IV set a standard of excellence in rock that imitators have yet to replicate.

Jimmy Page’s production, vision, writing, and guitar magic were at their peak, as was the presence of the Golden God himself, Mr. Robert Plant.

Plant composed some of his best lyrics and sang like a man possessed.

John Paul Jones, always the unsung hero of the band, played bass, mandolin, electric piano, synthesizers, and recorders. Jones has always been one of the most underrated musicians among elite bands, but true fans know Zeppelin would not have been the same without him.

John Henry Bonham laid down the thunderous drums and kept the rhythms flowing in unexpected ways. His drum intro to When The Levee Breaks is the absolute blueprint for how rock drums should sound (and was sampled in about a million rap and hip-hop tracks back in the day).

Stairway To Heaven was the big masterpiece that became the most-played song in FM radio history, but Black Dog, Rock And Roll, Going To California, Four Sticks, and Misty Mountain Hop were all absolutely brilliant and perfectly executed.

I think Battle Of Evermore may be my favorite Zeppelin tune of all, just something so astonishing going on between Plant and Sandy Denny’s vocal duet; the acoustic guitars and mandolins, Lord Of The Rings inspirations…like a Renaissance fair comes to life every time I hear that song!

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Dimmu Borgir: Death Cult Armageddon

Norwegian Symphonic Black Metal…sounds intimidating, doesn’t it? Norway’s Dimmu Borgir unleashed Death Cult Armageddon to terrorize the earth (in the best possible way!) in 2003.

Dimmu Borgir means “dark cities” or “dark castles/fortresses” in Icelandic, Faroese, and Old Norse. The band’s lineup has changed frequently from its inception in 1993, but singer Shagrath and rhythm guitarist Silenoz have been along for the entire ride.

Shagrath’s singing style is reminiscent of what Satan himself may possibly sound like fronting a metal band.

Progenies Of The Great Apocalypse is my favorite song from this release, and it has a video if you are curious as to what these guys look like.

Other choice cuts include, Vredesbyrd (Burden Of Wrath), Allegiance, Unorthodox Manifesto, For The World To Dictate Our Death, Heavenly Perverse, and Lepers Among Us.

If you like your metal on a grand scale, with majestic, epic, and diabolical impact, Dimmu Borgir just might be the one you’ve been looking for.

https://youtu.be/NiNTrKsQ8TU

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Mothers Of Invention: Freak Out

Frank Zappa hailed from the “Go big or stay at home” perspective. His debut album, 1966’s ambitious Freak Out!, was one of the first double albums in rock (indeed the first double debut album), and quite probably the first concept album from anyone.

Zappa hit the ground running and never looked back, taking over a cover band named the Soul Giants, convincing them to start playing his original music, and subsequently renaming them The Mothers Of Invention.

Freak Out! was Zappa’s impressionistic view on popular culture, particularly L.A. culture of the swinging ’60’s. Every song served the story, and the cynical humor and inventive songwriting became hallmarks of the Zappa blueprint.

The titles provide some insight into just how different The Mothers were from any other bands of that era; Who Are The Brain Police?, Hungry Freaks, Daddy, Wowie Zowie, Trouble Every Day, Help, I’m A Rock, and The Return Of The Son Of Monster Magnet are some prime examples.

Another hallmark of Zappa’s sound was a love for ’50’s vocal groups and early r & b, displayed in I Ain’t Got No Heart, How Could I Be Such A Fool?, You Didn’t Try To Call Me, and Any Way The Wind Blows. Freak Out! was influential to some of the more progressive English bands, including The Beatles and Pink Floyd.

Frank Zappa had arrived, and the world of music would never be the same!

https://youtu.be/ToQWHNFZ2RE

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind