Blog Archive

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Y&T releases acoustic renditions of classic tunes

The summer before my junior year of high school, I saw Y&T for the first time on MTV's Headbanger's Ball via their new video for their forthcoming release Contagious.  The video was for the song of the same title.  I was immediately drawn into Dave's guitar playing and singing.  It reminded me of my favorite artist at the time, Sammy Hagar.

In a few months, after the album was released, I ordered a copy from Columbia House.  The first copy I received had a defect, so I returned it and finally received a copy of the cassette in November or December of that year.  I was immediately taken with the band.  From that point forward, I had a new favorite band.

Flash forward to 2002, and the band had broken up, reformed and had an appearance on a San Francisco bay area radio station, 107.7 The Bone, performing a number of their songs acoustically, which was also streamed via the radio station's website.  Someone had the presence of mind to capture the audio from this performance and share it online. This showcased the band's music's versatility.

In December of 2017, a photo appeared on the Y&T Facebook page of the current lineup inside a recording studio, with Dave holding an acoustic guitar.  It turns out that the band had entered the studio to cut acoustic versions of several of their songs, which were recently released via as an EP titled Acoustic Classix Vol. 1.

The tracklisting is as follows:
1. Contagious
2. Rock & Roll's Gonna Save The World
3. Summertime Girls
4. Black Tiger
5. Barroom Boogie
6. Rescue Me


The record opens with the title track from the band's 1987 release I mentioned earlier.  Unplugged, this song still has the power of the original studio recording.  Dave's vocals are more powerful than ever.  Few singers from the 1980s can still pull off their songs from their heyday.  Dave is not only an exception, but his voice has continued to improve over the years.  This song actually translates well acoustically.  Normally, I'm not keen on guitar solos played on an acoustic guitar that were originally performed on an electric, but Dave's solos have always been so melodic that removal of distortion has no ill effects on the vibe.  And vocally, the band recreates the vibe of the original recording with vocal harmonies.  And thanks to Aaron Leigh's bass playing, the full audio spectrum of the original recording is recreated here.

Rock & Roll's Gonna Save The World

This song, originally released on the band's 1984 record, In Rock We Trust also translates well to acoustic instruments, again, thanks to Aaron Leigh holding down the low end of the spectrum.  Also like the previous track, the vocal harmonies help to recreate the vibe of the original recording, but the band might as well be sitting in your living room.  Dave's licks become tasty fills without distortion.  I am loathe to call this "stripped down", because, as I've stated, all of the power of the original recording is still there.

Summertime Girls

People seem to either love or hate this song. I'm not sure why.  I fall in the former camp.  There's nothing wrong at all with a song that makes you feel happy.  Thank 90's grunge for pushing that narrative.

Again, the vocal harmonies are spot on.  John Nymann has a beautiful voice that fills in the space that was previously held by Phil Kennemore.  And Dave's guitar solo, while slightly altered, kind of evokes a feeling that Peter Frampton would be proud of.

Black Tiger

Normally, I wouldn't expect a song like Black Tiger to translate well to an acoustic version, but this is Y&T.  There's really nothing this band can't do.  I am nothing short of ecstatic about the low end these songs have.  Phil may be gone, but, I think he would appreciate the fact that Aaron has stepped in.  Aaron claims that "he's just playing bass lines", but I contend that he brings something special to the band.  Yes, Phil is still missed.  He always will be, but I can't deny the power of the bass in these recordings.

Barroom Boogie

This is a fan favorite and it translates well to an acoustic version.  After all these years, Dave is still able to add a little flavor to the lyrics while remaining true to the original version of the song.  Even including "Unless you a star or got a PHD" from the original studio recording (in live versions, "got a PHD" becomes "into Y&T"), something that was a little unexpected, but welcome.

This is another guitar solo that is ever so slightly modified from its original version to sound right on an acoustic guitar.  And Dave nails it.

Rescue Me

Probably one of Y&T's most loved ballads, "Rescue Me" appears in this collection.  And, translates acoustically as well, if not better, than all of the other tracks.  But, ballads often do.  The way the song was arranged for acoustic makes it almost better than the original version fans have come to know and love.

In the end Acoustic Classix puts the band's talent for writing and arranging and performing on display.  Having recently seen the band perform for myself, I can tell you that if you attend a Y&T show, that's what you have in store.  Sure, I'm a fan, and you'd expect to hear that, but, in this case, I honestly haven't seen a better live performing band.

Because of the band's somewhat limited notoriety compared to other acts from the era, we can't all see them live.  But we can all pick up a copy of this record and enjoy their music.  If you like powerful rock music, you should consider getting yourself a copy of Acoustic Classix Vol. 1.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Circle

I just got At Your Service, the new live album from Sammy Hagar and The Circle (Michael Anthony, Vic Johnson and Jason Bonham).  Listening to it now, for the first time, I'm impressed at how tight the band is.  I don't know how much post production was done on the album, and I don't really care because it sounds great.

And the Van Halen songs sound like, well, they sound like Hagar era Van Halen.  The reason for this is Sammy's got Michael Anthony there providing his signature background vocals.  And say what you want about Vic Johnson, but he nails the guitar parts. And, let's face it, Jason Bonham is an incredible drummer. He's got good DNA.

It's really a great live CD.  Sammy & Co. really nail it.  Probably for the first time since Right Here, Right Now was on record shelves, a live CD captured the Van Halen songs as true to the originals.  This includes the much-anticipated Live At The Tokyo Dome.

Well done, Mr. Hagar.  You've still got it.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Open Letter to Edward Van Halen

Back in 1986, I had the utmost respect for you.  Even during a time when  you were bashing David Lee Roth at every turn.  I guess I was blinded by your incredible music.

Most of that respect for you flew out the window in 1996 when you unceremoniously gave Sammy Hagar an ultimatum that ejected him from the band.

But, over the years, I started to forgive you.  After all, you were an addict, and oftentimes, that's the way addicts behave.  When you finally cleaned yourself up a few years ago, and put the band back together with DLR and your son, I decided to give you the benefit of the doubt.

As a guitar player, myself, I couldn't help but have been influenced by your playing, along with a plethora of other players.

But the way you feel the need to elevate yourself over other players that incorporated some of your techniques into their playing by bashing on them is, quite frankly, disappointing.  In your latest interview you make the claim that, because you grip the guitar neck when you tap, it somehow affects your sound.  Got any evidence to support that claim?

But, the final straw was the way you threw Michael Anthony under the bus in that interview.  Before I go on, I'm going to go on record and say that, yes, there are bassists out there that are better than Michael Anthony.  Flea. Les Claypool. Billy Sheehan.

But, let's get one thing clear.  I heard your bass playing on I Never Said Goodbye. You couldn't carry any one of those three guys' jock straps.  Your bass playing isn't anything special, mister.  So, you can go ahead and elevate yourself over other guitarists all you like. In some cases it's true that you're the better player.  In other cases, it's not.  For example, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and Dweezil Zappa can all blow your sorry ass away.

But, I digress.  You had absolutely no right to say what you said about Michael Anthony.  I sincerely doubt the veracity of that claim.  If you're going to make claims like that, you better be ready to provide some evidence to back up that claim.  See, I've changed over the years.  I don't accept too many claims without evidence.  I'm a skeptic.

But, even if it's true, it's about the least classy thing I think you've ever done. And that says alot, considering that you fucking airbrushed Mike out of the album covers.

And you actually complain that Dave doesn't want to be your friend?  I wonder why, considering the way you treat your "friends".  Sammy Hagar called you friend at one time.  Michael Anthony called you friend at one time.  If that's how you treat your friends, I wouldn't want to be your friend either.  I am so done with you, I don't care if you never release another note of music again. Not interested.

Really, go fuck yourself, Ed.

Eddie Van Halen

So Eddie Van Halen recently told Rolling Stone that David Lee Roth doesn't want to be his friend.  Well, no shit, Sherlock. Why should he?  It's clearly good business for both of you to put your differences aside and perform for your fans.

Really, when you have thrown everyone you've ever performed with, with the exception of Alex and Wolfgang, under the bus publicly, it's no surprise he doesn't want to be your friend.  But here's the thing, so many of your fans are willing to overlook the fact that you have backstabbed pretty much everyone you've ever been professionally involved with if you'll just swallow your pride and get on stage with the people that made your last name a household word.  Including Michael Anthony.

I get that you want to perform with your son.  That's admirable. But it would be a whole lot more admirable if you didn't trash talk Michael Anthony in the process.

And, what's the deal with you thinking that you can prevent Sammy Hagar from performing the songs you wrote with him while he was with your band?  Unless he signed away his publishing to you at some point, you're just wasting everyone's time.

It's pretty sad whenever you see someone trying to erase history.  But here's a fact that you're going to have to live with: Michael Anthony was a member of Van Halen for years.  Van Halen was a successful band while Sammy Hagar was singing with the band.  Iconic music was recorded over the course of both eras of Van Halen.  The fact that you were too drunk and coked up to remember writing the tunes doesn't mean it didn't happen.

As far as Sammy goes, it would be really nice if he would just stop bringing up Van Halen in his interviews.  His autobiography was a pretty good read, when he wasn't dishing gossip about shit that went on offstage with his former bandmates.  I really would have liked to hear more about how he came up with some of the iconic music he created over the course of his career and less about how fucked up his relationship with the brothers became.

It sucks that you guys parted ways in the manner in which you did, but, really, get the fuck over it. Great music was made. Fortunes were made.  You really want to look back on it with vinegar and sour grapes?

Life is short. As far as anyone knows, this is the only one you get and there is no lovely world you go on to after you become a lifeless pile of meat. Why not make the most of what time you have and stop talking trash at each other.

For my money, the only guys in all of this that have shown any class are Michael Anthony who has, generally, taken the high road every time he's been asked about Van Halen, and Wolfgang, who hasn't said much of anything, publicly, about Van Halen.

I hope Wolfgang is paying close attention to the damage that Eddie has done to his own reputation over the years as he embarks on his career.  I'm sure he loves his old man (at least, I hope that Eddie has treated his son in such a way that he can love him), but I hope he can see that all of this public back and forth has done nothing but alienate fans.



Interestingly, Sammy Hagar had something to say about Eddie's bashing of Michael Anthony.  Normally, I think Sammy shouldn't address Van Halen at this point in his career, unless it's necessary.  But in this case, I think he's spot on.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The dangers of air travel

So a friend of mine just related a story to me about an airline flight that had to return to Heathrow Airport because some guy took a crap in the loo. 

Now that's a powerful dump.  It makes me wonder a few things:

  1. Has Rush Limbaugh been traveling to the UK recently?
  2. What does one have to eat to take down an airline with just a dump?
  3. Did they have to call in a cleanup crew?
I've taken some nasty dumps in my time, but I haven't ever managed to get an airline return to the airport as a result.  I'm going to have to add that to my "to do" list.

Sunday, May 31, 2015


The web has changed an awful lot since I got my first computer in 1996.  Back then, social media didn't exist like it does today.  But it wasn't difficult to find communities of like-minded people.  There were message boards, newsgroups, chat rooms, and e-mail groups.  It wasn't difficult at all to become a member of a web community.

When I first got online, I had an AOL subscription, because I wanted access to their message board communities.  I met a number of really cool people on those boards.  I also got bogged down in sending, receiving and re-sending jokes through e-mail.  This was the equivalent to shares and re-tweeting.  This only went on for a few months before I realized how annoying it really was to open your inbox and see 43 messages, and nothing of interest.

Back then, if you wanted to have an online presence, you needed a personal website.  There were WYSIWYG applications that you could use to build your website without having to know anything about HTML, but if you really wanted to have control over the way your website appeared, you really needed to learn markup.

And there were tons of really crappy websites.  Mine included.  Nobody really surfs the web anymore.  These days, everything's pretty much presented to you via Facebook, Twitter and a host of other social media options that I'm not hip enough to even know by name.  In many ways, Facebook has turned the internet to an even more passive experience. 

I've found that Facebook is better for a community experience, while Twitter is better for keeping up with what celebrities are up to.  There's often a lot of complaining going on about the way the masses follow celebrities, but I think we can all name at least a few celebrities that we enjoy keeping up with.

So, it's under these circumstances that I've brought my website back from the dead.  I'm sure there's no real purpose to doing it, because I don't really expect to get any traffic.  I never really got much traffic back in the day to begin with.  But one thing I like about having a website is that it gives me someplace to upload the things I create so that I can share them with my friends if I like.

I also like to record guitar riffs that I come up with, and make them available to anyone that might need bumper music for a podcast or their own videos.  As long as I receive proper credit, I don't mind it being used royalty-free.  I'm never going to make a living at it, so the idea of someone hearing my music for whatever reason is appealing.  Even if it's just background music that's largely ignored.

So, while it's really unnecessary for me to have a website in 2015, I am happy to have brought it back.  I've enjoyed, for the most part, re-designing it these past few weeks.  Even if I've struggled a bit to make some of the content work the way I'd like.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Why do I do this to myself?

So, I figured it would be a nice feature to have the latest episode of the podcast embedded in the web page.

Initially, I did it the easy way, which would be the hard way in the long run, meaning I'd have to update the code that embeds the audio in the page every time we issued a new episode.  So I decided that I should have the page read the rss feed for the latest episode title and location.

This was a mistake.

Not because I broke the page or anything.  Initially, it was pretty easy to do, until I realized that my synchronous request was poor programming practice.

I could have been lazy and said, "yeah, well, screw it, it's my site."  But, dammit, 13 years working in IT made me realize that, yeah, that's not right. So I spent another couple of hours figuring out how to make an asynchronous request with a callback so that I would be doing it the right way.

So, the upshot is, I've spent far more of my off time programming than I would like to.  I mean, I took a vacation day this week because I was about to start losing time, and what did I spend the day doing?  Coding my fucking website.

Shoot me.  Just fucking shoot me.

Oh, and the embedded audio of the latest episode thing works.  All that work for something that will probably never be used.

Oh well. At least I learned something about asynchronous HTTP requests that I'm sure I'll forget by Monday.  Hell, I probably learned this at work at some point and have promptly forgotten it.  Why?  Because I do it so fucking often.

Fuck me.