Written By Braddon S. Williams

Queen: A Night at The Opera

Today I went to see the film Bohemian Rhapsody, so in tribute to its excellence I am going to review Queen’s 1975 magnum opus, A Night At The Opera.

This monumental creative masterpiece included the operatic Bohemian Rhapsody, a work of Freddie Mercury’s pure genius, and one of the greatest achievements in all of rock’s history.

As incredible as Mercury was (and he was astronomically talented), Queen were a team comprised of 4 very different musicians who together formed something greater than the sum of their parts, and all of them contributed songs to A Night At The Opera.

Guitarist Brian May wrote The Prophet Song, another epic sonic creation with layers and layers of Mercury’s godly vocals.

John Deacon brought in his first song for the band and hit the top ten in the charts with You’re My Best Friend.

Drummer Roger Taylor wrote I’m In Love With My Car and performed lead vocals on it.

All 4 members added to the layered opera section of Rhapsody, a track that contained so many overdubs that the recording tape nearly wore out before the song’s completion.

One of my all time favorite Queen songs is also on this staggering epic, the achingly gorgeous Love Of My Life, wonderfully sung by Mercury in the studio, and often sung by the crowds at Queen’s live concerts.

Do yourself a favor, go see Bohemian Rhapsody, and go revisit A Night At The Opera.

Freddie Mercury was a singer for the ages and Queen were royalty of the highest order.

https://youtu.be/fJ9rUzIMcZQ

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

On this date in history, 8/10/2018, I caught a magical evening of music at Deer Creek in Noblesville, IN. The show featured Paul Rodgers, Jeff Beck, Ann Wilson, and Deborah Bonham. Bonham started the evening’s festivities with a brief set of songs featuring her bluesy voice accompanied by a single acoustic guitar. She is the sister of the late John Bonham (Led Zeppelin’s immortal drummer) and proved conclusively that her brother wasn’t the only one with talent in her immediate family. I really enjoyed her style, and she was great with the crowd, even mentioning that she heard the venue used to be known as Deer Creek (gaining a big cheer from the crowd and making her our friend from that moment on). Up next was Ann Wilson, touring in support of an album that hasn’t been released yet (a tribute to legends who have recently passed away). Hearing Heart’s singer covering The Who, Amy Winehouse, Chris Cornell, Glen Frey, and Dusty Springfield was amazing. Wilson poured her soul and considerably powerful voice into songs that she personally picked for her record. I haven’t listened to a lot of Amy Winehouse’s stuff, but Ann crushed it on the song that she sang from the tragically short-lived British soul singer. My favorite living guitarist was next, and Jeff Beck did that thing that he does so well, conjuring miracles of sound from his Stratocaster. It had been 23 years since I had seen him last, and this time he had a singer with him for about half of his set. Jimmy Hall, from the band Wet Willie, did an amazing job on each of the songs he sang, particularly Superstitious by Stevie Wonder. Beck also had a female cellist and featured a couple of staggeringly beautiful instrumental pieces with her, playing cat and mouse with his guitar and her cello weaving a tapestry of magic tones. Both times I have seen Beck, his drummer has been an alumnus of Frank Zappa’s (Terry Bozzio in 1995, Vinnie Colaiuta this time). The female bass player was fierce, too. This would be my first time seeing Paul Rodgers live, and he was extraordinary. I am utterly in awe of the voice this man still has in his ’70’s…he literally sounds exactly like he does on all the old Free and Bad Company records from decades ago. His band was top shelf, too. Drums, bass, keyboards, and one guitar player (who had to follow Jeff Beck, not an easy task for anyone…but he was great) doing what all classic English rock bands do, which is play in the pocket, rock solid music to support one of the greatest voices in the history of voices. It was kind of mind-boggling to me that only about 5000 people were in attendance, but we sure did get a memorable night of music from some of the giants who still roam the musical earth.

Written By “The Concert Critic” AKA Braddon S. Williams

On This Day in History

I was way too young to have been able to truly appreciate this then. Nor was I into Rock and Metal as nearly as much as I am now. The timing was all off. Haha. Shoulda, coulda, woulda been there but nah… Haha. I wish!

On this date in 1996:

Lollapalooza came to the UNO Arena Grounds in New Orleans, Louisiana. Joining headliners Metallica were Soundgarden, Rage Against The Machine, (the) Melvins, and Screaming Trees, among others.

Bryson

On This Day in History

ZZ Top have been together making music since 1970 (having gone through a few lineup changes the previous year), and the bearded Texans first hit the big time with 1973’s Tres Hombres, a record that contained the immortal boogie anthem La Grange. Billy Gibbons employed a style of picking his guitar that is referred to as “pinch harmonics”, and the sound of that captivated me to the point that I decided I absolutely must learn to play guitar. Thank you, Billy Gibbons! Other amazing songs on this stellar collection of Southern fried blues/hard rock include Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers, Hot, Blue & Righteous, Master Of Sparks (a song about getting inside a home made round metal cage and being propelled out of a speeding pickup truck onto a desert highway!), and the tag team of Waitin’ For The Bus/Jesus Just Left Chicago. This stuff remains just as badass today as it did on the day it was recorded, and that is why ZZ Top is eternal!

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

The Band were legendary, earning their status by backing Ronnie Hawkins as the Hawks from the late ’50’s up until they became Bob Dylan’s backing group and assuming their nondescript but perfect name. Rock Of Ages was an epic live album released in 1972 and augmented by a 5 piece horn section and guest starring Dylan himself on a few tracks. Make no mistake, The Band were fantastic without any guest musicians at all. These guys more or less invented roots rock, and had amazing chemistry and versatility. Three of the 5 members split lead vocal duties, and several of them switched instruments to suit whatever style they happened to be playing at any particular time. The results were musical bliss, including such signature songs as The Weight, The Shape I’m In, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, Stage Fright, Don’t Do It, and many others. Their influence stretched far and wide, forever changing the course of popular music.

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Lou Reed Live, a live album by Lou Reed released in 1975, makes my list for several reasons. First and foremost, Lou was an incredible songwriter, penning some of the best lyrics in all of rock music. He wasn’t the greatest vocalist, but his deadpan New York voice fit his songs perfectly. Second, his band on this record (which featured the world class guitar tag team of Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter) simply played killer hard rock music to beef up those amazing songs. Alice Cooper knew this band was top notch and he bought them out from under Lou’s nose and used them to great effect on his Welcome To My Nightmare album. Lou Reed Live was recorded on the same night as the more well known Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal album. I’m hoping they are eventually released in sequence, because both records are truly amazing. My favorites on this one are Oh Jim, Vicious, a really cool Walk On The Wild Side, Satellite Of Love, and the incredible Sad Song, which got me through a really rough spot in my life. Every time I hear any of this stuff, it makes me want to go immediately to my guitar and play.

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

I have a distinct memory of being in roll room in high school and overhearing some girls talking about Parliament/Funkadelic and George Clinton. They sounded like the female versions of myself and my friends when we talked about Kiss. It took me a number of years to really explore Clinton’s funk empire and his genius in full, but I came to realize that P-Funk was basically the black Kiss, in that they tapped into the big show mentality and connected with their target audience in pretty much the same way that Kiss did. I chose this album (released in 1977 when I was in high school) primarily because of the songs Flash Light and Bop Gun, but any of Clinton’s myriad projects would have been an acceptable substitute. Between George, Bootsy Colling, Bernie Worrell, and the revolving cast of outrageously costumed musicians and singers that contributed their unique talents, George Clinton forged a funk dynasty that influenced countless artists from then until the present day and will continue far into the funky future. I was late to the party, but better late than never!

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

One of the best things Metallica ever did was the firing of Dave Mustaine, because his rage gave birth to Megadeth, so thank you Metallica. I was hooked on Megadeth from the moment I heard the intro to Peace Sells…that little bass hook that David Ellefson plays at the start of the song became iconic as the background music for MTV News back in the day. Of course the video and the song itself totally rip, with the sneering, venomous anger spilling from Mustaine’s lead vocals, and the crushing precision of his guitar, coupled with Chris Poland’s frenzied leads. Megadeth were equally as fast as their comrades in Slayer and Anthrax, but delivered nearly surgical precision of their thrash attack in addition to their socially aware lyrics, which had more in common with punk and hardcore than most of their contemporaries. Some of my prime cuts on this landmark album were Wake Up Dead, Devil’s Island, and My Last Words, but the title song will forever hold first place for me, because it was my point of entry into the Megadeth universe.

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Johnny Cash was legendary, not open for debate. His final album, American IV: The Man Comes Around, was full of magical interpretations of a variety of styles one wouldn’t normally associate a “country singer” to cover. Of course, Johnny Cash was much more than a one genre artist, and the entire American series that he produced with Rick Rubin in his final years were additions to a legacy of staggering proportions. I chose this one because the title song is just magnificently written, and because he took Trent Reznor’s Hurt and re-created it in his own image. Similarly, Desperado and Bridge Over Trouble Water received makeovers that were dignified and beautiful. Even the Depeche Mode hit, Personal Jesus (previously covered by Marilyn Manson) received a startling stripped down, bluesy reworking that carried plenty of attitude. The Man In Black went out in style, winning awards and making meaningful music until the very end.

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Tom Petty has inspired me and provided my ears with pleasure since his very first album, but I didn’t get the opportunity to see him live until 1994’s Wildflowers was released (the concert I attended was actually in 1995, but it was the tour in support of Wildflowers). This was technically Petty’s second solo album, but all the Heartbreakers with the exception of Stan Lynch played on it, and the guy who recorded the drums for the record (Steve Ferrone) joined the band in ’95. At any rate, like all Tom Petty albums, there were no weak songs, just hits and amazing deep cuts from beginning to end. Some of the highlights for me included Time To Move On, It’s Good To Be King, You Wreck Me, Crawling Back To You, Honey Bee, and the amazing title song. Oh yes, and there was this little hit single titled You Don’t Know How It Feels. He did pretty good with that one. It was quite difficult (actually virtually impossible!) to pick just one Tom Petty album for this list, so expect some more down the line.

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind