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Welcome to the ninth edition of The Story of Rock and Roll newsletter. This newsletter covers shows from S6E27 through to S6E30. You will find these episodes on the various podcast sites if you missed them or need a refresher. Quick links to all things TSORR are at the end of the newsletter if you need them.
There were a couple of highlights in August, one of which was a great catch up with Mark Haze. Mark and I go back to when he was just finishing High School and doing his first gigs with his band 12th Avenue. We spoke about the work he is doing with his brother Gareth who was his drummer for many years but now has a solo career in the UK. We got a chance to hear their new track ‘Home’ about 8 hours before the official release. Find it at around [1:30] on S6E28 or right here.
Rebel Rock Radio, the Internet Station I co-own with three of the other presenters, got a huge boost in July when The Rock Doctor, Mario Petrella, joined the RRR line-up and brought his Rock Power Play to the Thursday night line-up. TSORR Turbo goes out between 18h00 and 19h00 every Friday on Bulldogs Radio and opens for Mario who comes on at 19h00 with The Rock Power Play. We figured let’s swop it on Thursdays on Rebel Rock, and Mario warms up the airwaves with The Rock Power Play Turbo as a prelude to the TSORR long form show at 19h00.
In other news the Ultimate Challenge got a makeover and has been rebranded as the Diabolical Challenge. This change is as a result of loads of feedback from listeners saying that choosing one out of the four albums presented weekly is an “evil, evil game” designed by the devil himself.
There is now a WhatsApp group called TSORR Central which is open for chat and updates on all things TSORR. Let me know if you want to be added to that group, contact details are at the end of the newsletter.
Finally, for those of you who missed it, you can hear the TSORR – Best of June 2023 Spotify Playlist here: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/09LcE6IFRMROXd4dw6W6Ie
THE DIABOLICAL CHALLENGE
Each week we look at four albums from a particular year, the idea is you are only allowed to choose one. As mentioned in the introduction the name of the challenge has changed from The Ultimate Challenge to The Diabolical Challenge due to how devilishly difficult it is. We are not looking for a winner or a best album here, choosing only one is unique each individuals. Many of us have a deep personal attachment to certain albums because they remind us of points in time, happy days, relationships, friendship, situations, and they were a soundtrack to events we still remember. This month we looked at:
S6E27 = 1974
S6E28 = 1983
S6E29 = 1995
S6E30 = 2004
The tracks we listened to were:
1974: ‘Diamond Dogs’ (David Bowie), ‘Doctor, Doctor’ (UFO), ‘Father to Son’ (Queen), and ‘It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll’ (The Rolling Stones). This was an amazing year in rock, Queen II was an album I grew up on. I was eight when it was released, and it was like nothing around at the time. I still do not know how or why my best friend Mike’s folks had it in their record collection amongst all the Elvis and Springbok Hits albums. To this day I know every word of Queen II. I only heard the other albums once I got to high school, and they are all favourites of mine. There were votes for everything but in the end Bowie got the most votes by a long way.
1983: ‘Rock, Rock (Til You Drop)’, (Def Leppard), ‘Flight of Icarus’ (Iron Maiden), ‘Don’t Talk to Strangers’ (Dio), and ‘Seek and Destroy’ (Metallica). This was a battle of note, it actually ended up causing the name change from Ultimate to Diabolical Challenge. I was called many things for insisting that people choose here. 1983 was without doubt one of those incredibly wonderful years for Rock and Metal. Pyromania sold the most, Kill ‘Em All changed Metal completely and gave the world Thrash, Holy Diver is one of the most classic Metal albums ever released and Iron Maiden were in the middle of a 3-year purple patch that gave us Number of The Beast, Piece of Mind, and Powerslave. People were changing votes with every track played and, in the end, there was no clear favourite.
1995: ‘Supercharger Heaven’ (White Zombie), ‘Old L.A.’ (Ozzy Osbourne), ‘Ballbreaker’ (ACDC), and ‘Some Might Say’ (Oasis). 1995 was tricky, nothing really stood out. Both ACDC and Ozzy put out great albums but neither of these albums would be considered their best. White Zombie and Oasis however were peaking, and both put out what is generally considered to be their best album. I have deep personal affection for ‘Old L.A.’ the track I played off the Ozzy album but the consensus in the end was Oasis.
2004: ‘Mein Teil’ (Rammstein), Blood and Thunder (Mastodon), ‘Duality’ (Slipknot) , and ‘Year of the Wolf’ (Motörhead). Motörhead got the nod by a long way, Rammstein and Slipknot trailed with Mastodon left in the distance. Something noticeable about Diabolical Challenge is that it shows very clearly how albums are just getting heavier and heavier over the decades.
The Immortals continues to get a lot of support from listeners. The first track in this cycle was Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Fourth of July, Ashbury Park (Sandy)’. We raised a glass to American listeners and said cheers to Independence Day. More on this track later in the newsletter.
The next week it was the turn of Dire Straits with ‘Tunnel of Love’ The opening track off their third album Making Movies. This album clearly showed that Mark Knopfler was moving away from the blues, country, Chet Atkins type style of the first two Dire Straits albums and this change would culminate in the Love Over Gold two years later. We may well check out a track off that album in the future.
We also heard Van Halen’s track ‘Cabo Wabo’ which comes in at just over 7 min. In a most excellent Guitar World Interview from July 1988 with Bud Scoppa they describe what this track sounded like when they listened to it in the studio for the first time. Engineer Donn Landee turned it up and in Scoppa’s words ‘…. the monumental roar of Cabo Wabo shakes the building”. Eddie had the basic idea and played it for Sammy who was looking for a track where he could sing about Cabo Wabo, his bar in Mexico. He reckoned this was perfect, they recorded the whole thing in a day.
The final track for the month was by The Outlaws, a track called ‘Green Grass and High Tides’. I did not know the track, or the band and it was suggested by a listener. Formed in Tampa Florida in 1967 Outlaws are one of the original Southern Rock Bands. This track is considered a classic for its wonderful guitar solo jams, reminiscent of other classics like ‘Free Bird’. The interplay between Hughie Thomasson and Billy Jones is spectacular. Much like The Band they boasted three front men and four-part harmonies. We will be playing more of the Outlaws in shows to come.
NEW RELEASES & NEW DISCOVERIES
The infatuation with Butch Walker continues. Every now and then maybe once every five years you may be lucky enough to find an artist you missed and if they have a huge back catalogue it is like finding treasure in a lost city. I refer to this in my book The Story of Rock and Roll https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01KECQBOW as a Bowie moment where in ‘Young Americans’ he says “Ain’t there one damn song that can make me break down and cry”. Anyway, I have bought a lot of Butch’s stuff in the last few weeks, and you will probably find a tracks on every show this month. Here is a clip where he does a quick duet with Pink for whom he writes and produces. Watch how easily he hits this little shred intro when he walks on stage and then later how he carefully puts back the picture Pink got from a fan. He knocks it over and then instead of leaving for a roadie he puts it back without missing a beat and is back at the mic right on time. Class act indeed.
IT’S WHAT YOU SAY THAT COUNTS
As mentioned before one of the greatest things about growing up in the ‘70s and ‘80s was having the lyric sheets printed out on the inside album sleeve. Listening to the album while reading the lyrics was one of the most pleasurable activities I had growing up. I think it gave me a much greater appreciation of the music. Although many don’t bother to do it, I find that Googling the lyrics while listening to TSORR podcasts, or music in general, lets me focus better on the song. Try it and you will find that the songs mean so much more. Lyrics are such a wonderful part of Rock music, here are a few off tracks featured this month.
Remember the cutest couple in the world?
He was a punk and she was daddy’s little girl
Graduation came, and she wanted him to stay
But he had bigger, better dreams waiting out in L.A.
She cried and he cried as the plane flew away
She never ever wanted it to end this way
Two years later, she reads in the news
He’d gone on to be a big star, but nobody knew
‘Cause he changed up his name, but his heart stayed the same
‘Cause every song he wrote was about her, he claimed
But he never got to tell her, ’cause he died that year
From all of the coke and pills and the beer
And the whole world cried, but just for one day
‘Cause sooner or later the pain goes away
Butch Walker – 2002 (S6E28)
4th of July Ashbury, Park (Sandy)
She was always the girl you saw boppin’ down the beach with the radio
The kids say last night she was dressed like a star
In one of them cheap little seaside bars
And I saw her parked with lover boy out on the Kokomo
Did you hear the cops finally busted Madame Marie
For tellin’ fortunes better than they do
For me this boardwalk life is through, babe
You ought to quit this scene too
Sandy, the aurora is rising behind us
This pier lights our carnival life forever
Oh, love me tonight and I promise I’ll love you forever
Bruce Springsteen – 1973 (S6E27)
SOUTH AFRICAN SCENE
After a quiet June we came back with a vengeance in July. I had a fantastic interview with Mark Haze. Mark and I go back to the late ‘90s when he was just starting his first band after High School. He was very kind about those days and then we got on to the new track that he has worked on with his brother Gareth Haze. We got to hear the track slightly before release and you can hear it on S6E28
On the Philistine front, far from being a publicity stunt as some people suspected there is a serious problem facing musicians around the world. What has happened to Philistine is probably happening to other musicians and it is not good. Check out this interview with Johan De Jager who chatted to Marq on his Into the Pit podcast. Johan was in legendary SA metal band V.O.D. in the late ‘90s with the Blom brothers and now lives in Germany.
also interviewed Daniel Berger aka Dr. D of Chaos Doctrine fame. We had a really good chat which I enjoyed very much and then we heard ‘One of My Bad Days’ which is a full-on metal monster. I was chuffed to see the next day that the track was sitting second from the top with 34% of the vote on Metal Hammers new track of the week readers poll. You can check it out in all its brutality here or catch it together with the interview on S6E29
The July shows discussed in this month’s newsletter can be heard on S6E27 – S6E30. Feel free to drop me a message on The Story of Rock and Roll Facebook page or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to be added to TSORR Central WhatsApp Group send me your number on this email address and I will add you.
For those of you who are new to TSORR here are the quick references to find The Story of Rock and Roll Radio Show:
THURSDAY’s Live on Rebel Rock Radio from 19h00 – 22h00 South African time. www.rrr.cat
PODCAST: The three-hour show is available as a podcast on most popular podcast sites, including Apple, Overcast, Castbox, and Google, or get it here at the host site https://www.buzzsprout.com/273305.
TSORR PLAYLIST: For Spotify junkies, you can get TSORR Best of the Month playlists at https://open.spotify.com/playlist/6dfJz2DNDh6z5UswxTpmSZ
Take care and keep rockin’.
Cheers for now