Book Review: I Am C-3PO – The Inside Story By Anthony Daniels (DK)

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By: Jesse Striewski

There’s no denying Anthony Daniels will always be best remembered for portraying the golden droid/servant C-3PO in each of the Star Wars films, going as far back as the original in 1977. And if you’re skeptical as to how this could possibly be an entertaining read because Daniels isn’t your typical big name Hollywood movie star, toss out your doubts and just dive in, because it is completely worth the ride.

Daniels doesn’t even waste much time digging into his own personal background much, or try to preach some political agenda to his readers here. Instead, he simply offers an honest, heartfelt summary of his journey as C-3PO, starting with his first meeting with George Lucas back in the mid-70s, and leading up to his last round as everyone’s favorite humanoid protocol droid in last year’s The Rise of Skywalker. Every detail he can possibly seem to think of (including the passing of his beloved co-star Carrie Fisher) is included in this well thought-out account. And with a forward by current Star Wars director J.J. Abrams, fan boys (present company included) should eat this up. Go in this with an open mind, and you won’t be disappointed here.

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

 

Overkill/ Exhorder/ Hydraform at House of Blues Orlando on 3/10/20 Words and Photos By Jesse Striewski

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There’s times when going to a metal show can seem like a tedious affair, often being subjected to three, four, sometimes maybe even five opening acts you didn’t care to see before finally reaching the headlining act you were waited to see. Last Tuesday night’s show at the House of Blues in Orlando was by far the exception, where each band on the bill was worth their weight in their own respective rights, as Overkill, Exhorder, and Hydraform stormed through the H.O.B. with as much fury humanly possible (and allowed) in Disney Springs. Concert goers had other options that night in central, FL as well; just down the I-4 corridor, pop star Billie Ellish was playing at the Amway Center. But the dedicated metal maniacs of the region showed up in droves to support the music they love.

Colorado-based newcomers Hydraform were first up on the bill, and immediately I was reminded of Queensryche (albeit a heavier version of them). I only caught about half of their set (admittedly, I had arrived fashionably late), so I can’t really give a full, fair assessment of their set, though what I did catch seemed like a tight progressive rock band with a promising future.

Exhorder were up next, and I have to admit, my knowledge of their catolog prior to the show didn’t go past a handful of songs.  The crowd definitely seemed to be into the New Orleans-based grove rockers as they trudged through the likes of “Slaughter in the Vatican,” “(Cadence Of) The Dirge,” “Legions of Death,” “Hallowed Sound,” and “Desecrator.” Also of interest worth noting; lead vocalist/band founder Kyle Thomas is also doing double-duty as the current front man for classic doom metalheads Trouble, and current bassist Jason Viebrooks did also time in the band Grip Inc.

And finally, the mighty Overkill took over. I’ve seen many bands from my home state of New Jersey (The Misfits, Skid Row, etc…), but for whatever reason, Overkill has escaped my radar up until now (although they were on the same bill as Megadeth the first time I saw them in 2006, but missed their entire set, again due to arriving late). I always knew we were destined to cross paths eventually; not only did we both emerge out of the gutters of NJ, but we were each born around the same time (with Overkill beating me by just a year, forming in 1980). At one point, lead vocalist Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth even asked the audience who was from NJ, then proceeded to jokingly taunt the crowd with both fists in the air, claiming “I’ll take all of you motherfuckers on!”

The band did not disappoint. Neither did they rely on only their ‘classic’ material, as they kicked off their set with a hard-hitter, “Last Man Standing,” off their latest studio album Wings of War.  Another semi-recent number, “Electric Rattlesnake, followed, before the band packed a 1-2 punch that included “Hello From the Gutter” and “Elimination.” From then on, it was a mix of old and new tracks alike (some obviously more effective than others), including “Bring me the Night,” “Head of a Pin,” “Necroshine,” “Under One,” “Bastard Nation,” and “Mean, Green, Killing Machine.”

A short bass/drum solo lead up to an epic, nearly 10-minute rendition of the 1985 classic “Feel the Fire” (arguably the best performance of the night) before closing things out with “Ironbound.” There was no doubt the band held the stage captive that night; core members Ellsworth and bassist D.D. Verni (the band’s two remaining original members) have held complete control of their vision for over four decades now, and showed absolutely no signs of slowing dow.

Album Review: Brian Posehn – Grandpa Metal (Megaforce Records)

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By: Jesse Striewski

There’s no doubt that many of us old-time headbangers can relate to a title like Grandpa Metal, the latest release from comedian Brian Posehn. But although the humorous subject matter may be centered around seniors, most of the lyrics are just your typical, juvenile fare far better aimed at the likes of my 13-year-old kid.

That’s not to say the album’s a total waste; Posehn actually assembled a host of impressive metal royalty to guest on Grandpa…, including Scott Ian (Anthrax/S.O.D.), Kim Thayil (Soundgarden), Steve Souza (Exodus), Chuck Billy (Testament), Michael Starr (Steel Panther), Corey Taylor (Slipknot/Stone Sour), and the late Jill Janus from Huntress, who all add to the overall fun of such songs as “New Music Sucks,” “One Quarter Viking, Three Quarters Pussy,” and the title track. Even Weird Al makes a brief yet amusing appearance at one point. There’s also a few surprisingly inventive covers that work in the form of “The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?),” as well as a fairly epic rendition of Ah-Ha’s “Take on Me” that’s definitely worth checking out.

Sorry to say that some tracks do just fall flat (“Monster Mosh” and “Big Fat Rock” are actually kind of embarrassing), and Posehn’s voice isn’t always enough to carry many of the songs. If you’re not looking for anything too serious that’s up the same alley as Ian’s less-than-serious S.O.D., give it a try; just don’t expect to be blown away.

Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

Book Review: Take It Off: KISS Truly Unmasked By Greg Prato (Jawbone Press)

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By: Jesse Striewski

One of the most intriguing eras in the nearly five-decade history of KISS for many has always been that moment in time the band went without their trademark makeup from 1983 to 1996. Though a slightly awkward, yet indeed underrated period for the band, it’s finally brought back to the forefront thanks to the meticulous detail author Greg Prato has put into researching said time frame.

Starting things off with a forward by Fozzy front man Chris Jerhico, Prato covers everything from the early stages of the band’s non-makeup period with guitarist Vinnie Vincent, to the band’s eventual reunion of the original lineup in the mid-’90s. Various musicians, songwriters, producers, and others close to the band during this era, help tell the tale of one of the most storied periods of the band’s career. Even Mark St. John’s (extremely) brief stint with the band in 1984, is covered here like never before, and Prato also enlists the help of such KISS alumni as former guitarist Bruce Kulick (who replaced St. John) to help complete the story.

As an avid KISS fan, this one’s a no brain-er; most die hard fans of the band should find it easy enough to agree, while newcomers should find it enlightening.

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

 

Album Review: Ozzy Osbourne – Ordinary Man (Epic Records)

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By: Jesse Striewski

It may have taken him some time, but the Godfather of Metal himself, Ozzy Osbourne, has finally unleashed his twelfth studio album. To say it was worth the wait would be an understatement.

It was apparent last November when the world received first listen to the album via the cryptic “Under the Graveyard,” that old Ozzy had put something truly special together here. Granted, most of the singles released since haven’t been as impressive; “Straight to Hell” is somewhat generic, the ballad “Ordinary Man” (featuring Elton John) a tad predictable, and “It’s a Raid” (with Post Malone) somewhat of a strain itself.

But it’s the non-single tracks that pack the heaviest punches (isn’t that usually the way though?) – “Scary Little Green Men,” “All My Life,” and “Holy For Tonight” all echo the epic levels of forgotten classics in Ozzy’s catalog such as “Devil’s Daughter (Holy Wars)” or “No Bone Movies.”

Although longtime guitarist Zakk Wylde might be missing in action here, there’s plenty of other rock icons that more than make up for his absence; Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Duff McKagan and Slash of Guns N’ Roses (among others) all make appearances throughout.

I don’t mean to get too sappy, but for as long as I can remember, Ozzy has been there almost like a second father of sorts to me; the first riff I ever learned to play on bass was “Crazy Train,” and the second concert I ever attended was Ozzy, both doing a solo set, and performing with a reformed Black Sabbath, in 1997. I can’t remember a time when his music was not deeply ingrained in my mind, and I’m glad he’s still making music comparable to his most classic of material.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Album Review: Anvil – Legal at Last (AFM Records)

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By: Jesse Striewski

At first glance to the cringe-worthy cover of this latest effort from everyone’s favorite Canadian metalheads Anvil (their eighteenth overall), one might not expect much. But these canucks have actually compiled another catchy, straight-forward collection of crowd-stompers.

Most of the tracks here are short but effective. The title number/lead off single kicks things off appropriately, giving listeners a fair representation of just what they’re in for. “Nabbed in Nebraska,” “Bottom Line,” and “Said and Done” are all also worthy anthems in their own respective rights.

Doubtful it’ll win any album of the year awards, but compared to their last two releases, it’s a definite step up. Worth cranking it if you’re looking for some good old-fashioned, head-banging escapism.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

The Motels/ Bow Wow Wow/ When In Rome II at the House of Blues Orlando on 1/25/20 By Jesse Striewski/Photos By Brooke Striewski

When In Rome

The 1980’s might be long gone, but there’s no doubt that the spirit of that decade lives on via the music it gave us, as well as both the bands – and fans – who continue to keep it alive. This was evident last Saturday night, January 25, when the House of Blues in Orlando hosted the Totally ’80s Live Tour, which featured a trio of acts who each made their own respective marks on the era at the time.

When In Rome II originally spawned from England in the late ’80s, and are best remembered for their 1988 synth pop hit “The Promise.” This version of the band (another version still occasionally performs, hence the “II” in this one’s name) is led by original keyboardist Michael Floreale, and has been going strong for over a decade now. The band recently added former Ultravox singer (and ex-Enuff Z’Nuff guitarist) Tony Fennall to their lineup. Rather than focus only on their older material, the group actually included a heavy mix of recent and semi-recent numbers in their set, including “Metropolis,” “Kings and Queens,” “Don’t Tell Me,” “All Stood Still,” and “Haunted” before of course closing things out with “The Promise.”

Shortly after their set, I briefly interviewed Floreale in the band’s backstage area, where he told me how “surprised” he was regarding the crowd reaction the band has been receiving when performing said newer tracks so far on this tour. Be on the lookout for the full interview to post shortly on all of Rewind It Magazine’s social media accounts, as well as YouTube. 

Another underrated band from the ’80s time frame, Bow Wow Wow, were next on the bill. Much like When In Rome II, the band is held together by one sole original member, bassist Leigh Gorman, yet are still as tight as ever. Energetic newcomer Kristen Dinsmore does a more than admirable job filing the shoes of beloved former front woman Annabella Lwin, and current guitarist Erik Ferentinos keeps the post-punk spark that influenced the likes of the Red Hot Chili Peppers back in the day alive and well. Fan favorites such as “Aphrodisiac,” “Do You Wanna Hold Me,” “Baby, Oh No,” and “Louis Quatorze” all made their way in the band’s set list before closing out strong with their rendition of “I Want Candy.”

And finally, The Motels took the stage to great applause. At 68, it’s no small feat for band leader Martha Davis to still perform as well as she does. Slightly reserved at first, things picked up quickly once she took off her hat and truly let her hair down (or in this case, up!). Classics both old and new graced their set, with “Suddenly Last Summer,” “Total Control,” “Careful,” “Cry Baby,” “Punchline,” and “Only the Lonely” being among the highlights.

Without a doubt everyone who was at the House of Blues in Orlando was taken on a trip down memory lane they won’t soon forget. Be sure to catch the tour when it comes to your town, and don’t forget to keep an eye out for our exclusive interview with When In Rome II keyboardist Michael Floreale!

 

Album Review – Blue Oyster Cult: Hard Rock Live Cleveland 2014 (Frontiers Music srl)

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By: Jesse Striewski

Blue Oyster Cult have always been terribly underrated in my book, and I tend to forget just how much I actually like them until I go back and give their music another listen. I was fortunate enough to catch the band live once a few years before this album was recorded, and I was reminded just how good they are live after listening to this.

Although somewhat puzzling why they chose to wait six years to release the audio for this live effort, the quality here is top notch. All of the expected hits are of course here, including “Burnin’ For You,” “Godzilla,” and “Don’t Fear the Reaper.” But aside from the usual suspects, the tracks that stick out most are the ones you’re not likely to hear on the radio anytime soon; “The Red and the Black,” “Shooting Shark,” and a 10-minute rendition of “Then Came the Last Days of May” are all stellar. But hands down the track that sticks out the most goes to the epic “I Love the Night.”

I would have liked to have seen a few more of my personal favorites make their way in here as well, including somewhat forgotten classic “Joan Crawford,” and the slightly more modern “See You in Black.” Still, there’s seventeen nearly flawless tracks found here, and very little to complain about.

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

The Radolescents at Shovelhead Lounge on 1/3/2020 By Jesse Striewski/Photos By Seth Johnson

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It’s been a minute or two since the last time I made it to a really good (or “rad”), old school punk show, especially one that represented as many sub-genres as the recent Radolescents show I caught at the Shovelhead Lounge this past Friday, January 3.

For those who don’t already know, The Radolescents are made up of former members of classic Orange County, CA punk outfit The Adolescents (who are still active to this day as well), centering around core members Rikk Agnew (guitar), and Casey Royer (drums), who also shared time together in such legendary punk acts as D.I. and Social Distortion. The two have also enlisted Agnew’s nephew, Frank Agnew, Jr. (also the son of former Adolescents guitarist, Frank) on vocals, and original Adolescents guitarist John O’Donovan (who was briefly a member of the band during their inaugural period back in 1980).  But before I get to their set, there was a host of other bands who played beforehand in support.

Orlando’s own Grave Return opened the show with much enthusiasm. Their slightly-snotty sound was reminiscent of early punk acts such as The Dead Boys, noticeable on tracks like “Night Visions.” It’s clear these guys should be around for awhile.

Tommy Frenzy’s Hard Drive were next up in line. Originally hailing from the New York punk scene of the mid/late ’70s, Frenzy’s set list consisted of classics from his time fronting the Tuff Darts, as well as brand new numbers off his latest release on Violent Breed Records, You Yeah You. Backed by the husband and wife rhythm section of Roger (bass) and Suzy Lamoureux (drums), Tommy & co. ripped through a set of tracks that included “”That Girl is Stupid,” “Hottest Thing,” “Don’t Play Shy,” “She’s Dead,” “Phone Booth Man,” “Businessman,” and “Here Comes Trouble” (among others).

Hard Drive bassist Roger then pulled double-duty, performing next with the more hardcore-influenced local act Swift Knuckle Solution. Aside from regular members Tony Marks (drums/vocals), and Lance White (guitar), Roger was also joined by guitarist and former Suburban Lockdown band mate Mike Roberts. The guys plowed relentlessly through tracks like “Spinning Sides,” “Loss of Control,” and “One Wrong Step” before making way for Radolescents tour mates The Hajj.

I must admit, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from The Hajj. But as soon as they started their set, I totally got it. This two piece act, lead by brothers Freddie and Phil Al-Hajj, played more laid back, ska-influenced jams. It was clear by the time they finished their set they had left an undeniable impression on the central, FL crowd.

And finally, The Radolescents finished off the night, running through their 1981 self-titled debut album (a.k.a. the “blue” album) in its entirety. From the album’s lead off track “I Hate Children” to album closer “Creatures,” every track got its due, with classics such as “Who is Who,” “Kids of the Black Hole,” “No Way,” and “Amoeba” of course receiving the highest praise. The band then played the first two tracks from the Welcome to Realty EP, including the title track and “Losing Battle,” before rather unceremoniously ending their set.

Still, the band sounded as spot on as can be, and every note played felt like it was right off the records themselves. I’ve actually seen the “other” version of The Adolescents live before (back in 2013), then-consisting of vocalist Tony Reflex and bassist Steve Soto (rest in peace). But I think this version of the band not only sounded tighter than that one, it somehow felt even more authentic (especially now without Soto remaining in that band). Those in attendance last Friday night were lucky enough to witness a night of some epic, old school punk. Truly a trip down memory lane that I’m glad I took.

-J.S.

 

Interview with Former KISS Guitarist Bruce Kulick By Jesse Striewski

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What a time it is to be a KISS fan; the band is currently embarking on their End of the Road tour well through 2021, and, a new book about the band’s non-makeup years titled Take it Off: KISS Truly Unmasked by Greg Prato was recently released by Jawbone Press.

Recently I was able to talk with former KISS (and current Grand Funk Railroad) guitarist Bruce Kulick, who spent 12 years with the former during said “unmasked” era from 1984-1996. The first thing I wanted to know was what his thoughts were on Prato’s new book, to which he said, “It’s very in-depth and informative. There’s a lot of interest in my era (with the band) lately, so it’s great timing for Mr. Prato.”

I also asked Bruce how it was recently playing the KISS Kruise IX, and he says; “It’s always a perfect fit, KISS fans that know I will serve up a huge buffet of my era with the band. The guys in my band are total pros, and amazing to work with. And doing the Animalize medley was so much fun…the press really jumped on it!”

I had to know what Bruce’s favorite KISS albums – both with and without him – were. He informed me; “I think Destroyer was my favorite. It has so many good songs on it. And although I do have highlights from each LP I did with the band, I do feel Revenge is a great album.”

I was also curious if Kulick ever felt left out at all being one of only two members of KISS to never don their famous makeup (the other being former guitarist Mark St. John, R.I.P.), to which he replied, “Not a big deal to me at all. It was the way it was meant to be.”

Some might not realize that in addition to guitar, Bruce is also a talented keyboard player. I asked him if he was self-taught, and he tells me, “I did take keyboard lessons in my late teenage years, and it is a great instrument. I should play it more!”

Of course I asked how things were with his current band, Grand Funk Railroad, as well. Bruce says, “Pretty amazing. The band in its current version is going on 20 years. Great players, and we all get along, so that helps! We know how fortunate we are to be performing in the “September” of our years (laughs)!”

With the final days of KISS also coming to a close, I asked Bruce how he felt about the band retiring, and if he had any plans to possibly join them at some point on their farewell tour. Bruce tells me, “I am happy for them to go out big. No firm plans are actually made yet for me sitting in, but I think it’s a strong possibility, especially for their last show.”

And finally, Bruce informed me what else might be in store for him in 2020; “I did recently discuss with ESP Guitars doing more guitar clinics, and I hope to record with my KISS Kruise band this year, I think fans would love that.” Visit Bruce’s site at http://www.BruceKulick.com to keep up to date with everything Bruce is up to.