Author Archives: Perry Schwartz

Back To The Future: Bruce Springsteen’s High Hopes Reviewed

High_Hopes_album_Bruce_SpringsteenIf you had the opportunity to catch Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band on their triumphant Wrecking Ball Tour in 2012/2013, you’ll recall that one of the show’s highlights was the reworking of the 2002 The Rising track “My City Of Ruins”.  Springsteen turned the track – originally written about the deterioration and abandonment of his home town in Asbury Park, NJ and later adopted as a song of hope and faith following the 911 attacks – into a moving gospel performance where he introduced the band on stage as well as the ‘ghosts’ who were missing from the stage.  Fallen members of the E Street band no longer with us were remembered and the audience was asked to think about their own missing ghosts.

In a way, Bruce Springsteen is revisiting some of these old ghosts with the release of his latest studio album, High Hopes.  The album features performances by deceased E Street Band members Clarence Clemons and Danny Federici on tracks dating as far back as the mid-1990’s. It must be nice to have a tickle-trunk of idle music to mine from as deep as the material Springsteen had to work through in putting together his 18th album.  The album features a collection of tracks culled from outtakes, covers and do-overs of songs written over the past decade.  Whether these songs didn’t fit thematically or sonically with the vibe Springsteen was going for on recent standout albums like The Rising (2002), Magic (2007) or Wrecking Ball (2012), The Boss felt he had the makings of a meaningful album with these once orphaned tracks.

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Pink and Richie Sambora? In The Same Article?

There have been a ton of solid new releases over the past few weeks.  Green Day, Grizzly Bear, Band Of Horses, The Killers and Mumford & Sons all have new albums out there definitely worth checking out.  But there are two new releases that I keep coming back to for repeat listens.

When I listen to music most of the time I’m looking for great songs or melodies, interesting or meaningful lyrics, and great performances either vocally or from the musicianship on the tracks. The latest releases from Pink and Bon Jovi guitar player Richie Sambora have all of the above on display.

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My First Guitar – Tales of True Love and Lost Chords Reviewed

If you’re a guitar player, or if you’ve ever owned or purchased a guitar, you have a story.  There’s something romantic about owning a guitar and especially about your very first guitar.  It’s kind of equivalent to never forgetting your first kiss.

Julia Crowe captures this feeling beautifully in My First Guitar (published this month by ECW Press). A well-known guitarist herself, Crowe has written numerous columns and feature articles for several international guitar magazines, so she knows her way around a six-string.

Find out more about the book after the jump!
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Exclusive Album Review – Bob Dylan`s Tempest Takes Us On A Dark Journey

Bob Dylan has spent the last decade-and-a-half criss-crossing the world on his ‘never-ending tour’ while releasing four critically-acclaimed albums and one head-scratching holiday record. Next week Dylan releases Tempest, his remarkable 35th studio album and a bold if not brooding statement from a man in his 70’s.

iTunes has been streaming the album all week which has led to tremendous online buzz as well as pronouncements of ‘Dylan’s return to greatness’ and ‘best album since…’ declarations.  I won’t pretend to be a Dylan historian or attempt to rank this album within his incredible cannon of work.  Instead, let’s just take his latest offering for what it is…an amazing record.

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BIFF BAM POP! Presents The Essential Back To School Playlist

It’s the time of year where parents rejoice and children across the country begin counting the days until summer.  Somehow, the back-to-school season is upon us again, and summer 2012 is all but over.  Here are BBP’s Top-10 Back ToSchool songs to help you get back to your regular September routine.

Hot For Teacher, Van Halen – ‘What do you think the teacher’s gonna look like this year?’ Diamond David Lee Roth asks on the band’s 1984 hit.  I was ten years old when I first heard this track and saw the video.  The first day of school was never the same again.

Check out the rest of our list after the jump!

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Fall Music Preview – Looking At New Singles From Green Day, Matchbox 20, Bob Dylan And More!

While August has been fairly lacklustre in terms of solid new album releases, there’s a ton of great material on the horizon for Fall 2012.  Many artists have released singles from their forthcoming releases and here’s a look at the hits and misses so far.

Green Day, “Oh Love” – If you’d have told me in 1994 that Green Day would be one of the most consistent bands over the next 20 years, releasing hit singles, critically acclaimed concept albums and inspiring a successful Broadway production, I would have suggested that perhaps you took one too many shots of mud to the head during their Woodstock ’94 performance.  65 million albums and multiple Grammy awards later, the San Francisco, California power-trio continues to deliver radio-friendly tracks while somehow maintaining their punk rock credibility.  “Oh Love” is the first single from their upcoming trilogy of albums ¡Uno!, ¡Dos!, and ¡Tré! to be released between September and January.  The track finds lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong in strong voice delivering a catchy, power-pop anthem that works as both a sing-a-long and arena rocker.

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Will The South Rise Again? Lynyrd Skynyrd Return With Last Of A Dyin’ Breed

Lynyrd Skynyrd, or at least the group of musicians currently using the name made famous in classic rock circles back in the mid- 1970’s, have a new album titled Last of a Dyin’ Breed out this week.  The current lineup features one original member (Gary Rossington on guitar) and singer Johnny Van Zant, little brother of founding member and original lead singer Ronnie who died in the infamous plane crash of 1977.  Filling out the current lineup is a host of well-accomplished session and touring musicians as well as former Marilyn Manson guitarist John 5 and original Black Crowes bassist Johnny Colt.

Find out if Last Of A Dyin’ Breed is worth hearing after the jump!
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KISS Revisit Destroyer & Prepare to Unleash a Monster

KISS may have released their debut, self-titled album nearly 40 years ago but, it wasn’t until the release of 1975’s ALIVE! live album that the band received mass notoriety beyond being known as the band who wear Japanese Kabuki makeup.  ALIVE! captured the spirit and energy of the live KISS experience and introduced the world to the band’s anthem, “Rock And Roll All Nite” which has remained a staple of their live shows ever since.

Hot on the heels of ALIVE! the band headed back to the studio to record their fourth studio album and brought in producer Bob Ezrin (Alice Cooper, Pink Floyd) to guide the ship.  The resulting Destroyer album is perhaps KISS’s most successful studio recording and definitely their most ambitious to date.

Read more about Destroyer and its resurrection after the jump!
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Mariah Carey Joins American Idol, But Who Will Bring The Viewers Back?

Back in May when rumours started swirling about changes to the American Idol judging panel we made some suggestions for getting ‘AI’ back on top as the preeminent singing/talent reality shows.  You can check out those suggestions here , but basically we were calling for a shakeup on the judging panel and the introduction of some judges with street cred, personality and maybe a little chutzpah along the lines of original judge Simon Cowell or America’s Got Talent (AGT) rookie Howard Stern.

Mariah Carey – YOUR new American Idol judge

Well, Monday the first shoe dropped with confirmation that songstress Mariah Carey will be joining the AI judging panel.  While Carey certainly provides Idol an equal, if not greater, level of star power to the departed Jennifer Lopez, I’m not certain she adds much else to the show. Find out why after the jump!
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Are You In The Club? How Some Rock n Roll Fan Clubs Reward Fan Loyalty

Last week’s new releases left me feeling completely uninspired, so instead I decided to take a look at the lengths some bands will go to make their fans feel special.

The notion of a fan club is nothing new.  Elvis’ manager, Col. Tom Parker, may have invented the pop star fan club back in the 50’s and The Beatles, with the help of business guru Brian Epstein, certainly monetized their fans’ insatiable appetite for all things Beatles.  The Liverpudlians merchandised everything from t-shirts and badges to plastic instruments, lunchboxes and mop-top wigs.

As today’s music business struggles to figure out how to make more money, bands have turned to selling loyalty rather than selling music.  The tunes themselves are often secondary marketing tools as artists and their management put together fan club membership packages, concert tour experiences and even one-of-a-kind/once-in-a-lifetime merchandise and meet ‘n’ greet opportunities.
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