TOP 10 Rock Albums of 2016

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2016 was the year of the comebacks – some of them great, some of them not so great, but if we look at the big picture, this year definitely rocked pretty hard. Right from the very beginning, David Bowie’s “Blackstar” signaled the arrival of a strong rock&roll year. We lost David just a couple of days later, but we are beyond grateful for his last gift to us. January awarded us with Megadeth’s “Dystopia” and Dream Theater’s “The Astonishing”. After that, all hell broke loose – Elton John released “Wonderful Crazy Night”, Last In Line debuted with “Heavy Crown” and Iggy Pop came back with a new studio album – “Post Pop Depression”. The spring brought a lot of color and joy with the much anticipated releases of Cheap Trick with “Bang, Zoom, Crazy… Hello”, Sixx:A.M.‘s “Prayers for the Damned: Vol. 1”, Cyndi Lauper’s “Detour”, Eric Clapton’s “I Still Do” and many more. The summer of 2016 was hotter than ever thanks to Paul Simon, Roxette, Neil Young, Jeff Beck, Steve Vai, Heart and Steven Tyler. The last four months of 2016 were, in my opinion, the strongest in terms of rock releases. After 16 years, Kansas came back on the horizon with “The Prelude Implicit”. Along with them, Bruce Springsteen, Van Morrison, Barry Gibb, Leonard Cohen, Glenn Hughes, Bon Jovi, Sting, Simple Minds and of course, Metallica with “Hardwired…To Self-Destruct”, left quite the impression with their new albums. December gave us The Rolling Stone’s “Blue & Lonesome” –they surely know how to wrap things up with style.

Coming up with a “Top 10 Rock Albums of 2016” can be quite the formidable task. So many interesting things happened on the music scene this year and I think all of the above mentioned artists deserve a round of applause and our deep appreciation. Of course, the beauty of music is that it has something for everyone and this year there were plenty of releases with which I managed to establish a deep connection. The following 10 albums stood out to me for one reason or another and I truly believe they are among the greatest rock jewels 2016 spawned. I would like to say that this is a personal selection, driven by my taste in music. In case you haven’t listened to those albums yet, I strongly recommend you to do so! Here we go!


1. Kansas – The Prelude Implicit

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The album that tops my list of favorite 2016 releases is Kansas’ long awaited comeback – “The Prelude Implicit”. Even before the album was officially out in September, I somehow sensed that I will fall in love with it. The elevating, colorful mixture of progressive and hard rock, along with the refreshing vocals of new singer Ronnie Platt created the perfect rock experience for me. David Ragsdale’s heated violin playing was the final element that sealed the deal. “The Prelude Implicit” is absolutely stunning – from the charming opening rocker “With this Heart” to the spectacular instrumental “Section 60”, the whole album just keeps on throwing one strong punch after another. “Camouflage” became my absolute favorite song from “The Prelude Implicit” and I am still waiting for a music video, actually. “Camouflage”, along with “Crowded Isolation” and the exciting hard rocker “Rhythm in the Spirit” are some of the highlights of the album. I can’t recommend this enough.

Read My Full Review Here : Kansas – “The Prelude Implicit” Album Review

My Copy of “The Prelude Implicit”

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2. Glenn Hughes – Resonate

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Number 2 on my list is Glenn Hughes’ powerful hard rock dynamite, titled “Resonate”. No words can describe the dangerous, electrifying and absolutely mind-blowing aura of the record. Glenn is one of a kind legend and this jaw-dropping album only solidifies his position as one of the best rockers out there. “Resonate” is no joke, it’s the ultimate galvanizing rock experience of 2016! Glenn hits hard right from the beginning with the aggressive “Heavy” and moves on to “My Town”, “Let It Shine” and “God of Money” – all explosive, guitar-driven tornadoes. “When I Fall” demonstrates the gentle side of the rock monster. Overall, if you want to get drunk on pure hard rock, this is the album for you. Glenn is still here, still relevant and still releasing incredible material. The youngsters need to take notes – “Resonate” is a great example of how real hard rock should sound like.

Read My Full Review Here : Glenn Hughes – “Resonate” Album Review


3. Eric Clapton – I Still Do

Eric Clapton - I Still Do (2016)

Legendary guitar hero Eric Clapton released his twenty-third solo album in May 2016 and as a long-time fan of him I just couldn’t be happier! For “I Still Do”, the king of blues recorded original songs, as well as cover versions of classics by artists such as Robert Johnson and Bob Dylan. Positively laidback, the album definitely grabs your attention with its bluesy easy-going and breezy aura that creates the perfect mood. The songs are rather homogeneous and once again perfectly aligned with Eric Clapton’s standards and practices of reviving and exploring old ways and meanings of music. The original composition “Spiral” is one of the highlights of the record, on which Clapton demonstrates how well he can improvise with a guitar and how effortlessly he can create something so fanciful and memorable. Robert Johnson’s “Stones in My Passway” and JJ Cale’s Somebody’s Knocking” showcase Clapton’s confidence when it comes to the blues. The genuine “I Still Do” reflects Eric’s current self-assured spirit – he wants to do music his own way and he couldn’t care less what everyone things about it. The album just goes beyond class – it’s everything I dreamed of.

Read My Full Review Here : Eric Clapton – “I Still Do” Album Review

Me With My Copy of “I Still Do”

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4. Last In Line – Heavy Crown

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Former members of DIO – drummer Vinny Appice, bassist Jimmy Bain, guitarist Vivian Campbell, and keyboardist Claude Schnell, along with vocalist Andrew Freeman formed Last In Line in 2012, with their name, of course, coming from DIO’s 1984 album. Kicking off things as a mere tribute band, reminding fans of the glory days of DIO and explicitly focusing on the classic albums “Holy Diver”, “The Last in Line”, and “Sacred Heart”, the guys quickly stirred things up the excitement among the fans. It wasn’t long before they decided that it’s time they pave their own way with original compositions. “Heavy Crown” was released in February 2016 and it instantly captivated the audience, including myself. I am a huge fan of Vivian (because of Def Leppard, of course), so I was impatiently waiting to see how he will lead Last In Line into triumph, which he absolutely did with this unbelievably good old-school hard rock blast, titled “Heavy Crown”. “Starmaker” and “Devil In Me” are the instant attention-grabbers with their fiery tempos and of course, the soaring chants of Andrew, who is absolutely killing it on this record. “Burn This House Down”, “I Am Revolution” and “Blame It On Me” are a couple of others energizing metal explosions, completely overpowering every one of our senses. “Heavy Crown” follows the strong spirit of DIO but at the same time, goes beyond that, quite successfully if I may say. Moreover, this album gives us one more chance to experience the talents of Jimmy Bain, which in itself is a reason enough to put the record in my top 5.


5. The Rolling Stones – Blue & Lonesome

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Since I love the blues so much, including The Rolling Stones’ “Blue & Lonesome” on my list would come as no surprise. The rock&roll Gods came back with a phenomenal collection of spirited covers, bringing us back to the golden days of blues. “Blue & Lonesome” is Rolling Stones’ first album to feature exclusively cover songs. Among the twelve blues jewels, we get to listen to interpretations of forgotten but classic tracks by Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon, Buddy Johnson, Memphis Slim and other legendary bluesmen. Recorded within just a few days, with no preparation whatsoever, “Blue & Lonesome” is the perfect example of how The Rolling Stones can effortlessly craft some serious magic out of nowhere and still sound as confident as ever. Mick Jagger is absolutely killing it on songs like “Just Your Fool” (Buddy Johnson), “Little Rain” (Ewart G. Abner Jr. and Jimmy Reed), “All of Your Love” (Magic Sam) and the atmospheric title track “Blue & Lonesome” (Memphis Slim) – raw, brave and soulful, his vocal delivery is obviously reflecting his high level of satisfaction with this album. I am mind blown by the terrific guitar work of Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood and the drum beats of Charlie Watts. Also, my idol – Eric Clapton also appears on “Everybody Knows About My Good Thing” and “I Can’t Quit You Baby”. “Blue & Lonesome” offers a galvanizing blues experience and I definitely recommend it.

Read My Full Review Here: The Rolling Stones – “Blue & Lonesome” Album Review


6. Cheap Trick – Bang, Zoom, Crazy… Hello

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In 2016, Cheap Trick were inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, but that definitely didn’t mean they were done with rocking and rolling – on the contrary, their golden days are far from over. Their “Bang, Zoom, Crazy… Hello” simply proved that those guys have a lot more energy, talent and joy to spread to the world. Uplifting, spirited, charming and highly entertaining – the record was the perfect spring rock sonata. Cheap Trick are still rocking pretty hard and we can clearly see it in songs like “Heart on the Line”, “When I Wake Up Tomorrow”, “Blood Red Lips” and “Do You Believe Me?”. The band’s first release for the country giants Big Machine Records is also the first album without the presence of long-time drummer Bun E. Carlos. Nevertheless, this modern-day rock extravaganza is everything but boring. Guitarist Rick Nielsen is doing a superb job; I am absolutely in love with the catchy riffs on “Bang, Zoom, Crazy… Hello”. A well-deserving comeback by Cheap Trick, I recommend you guys to take a listen or two!


7. David Bowie – Blackstar

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David Bowie’s last album – “Blackstar” was released just a few days before we lost him. I still can’t believe this beautiful human being is not with us anymore, it was such a tragic loss for everyone. I am beyond grateful for “Blackstar” – the last chance to say goodbye and experience his magical voice and one of a kind musicianship. The value of the album lies in its aggressive experimentalism which for many people may be a bit difficult to absorb, but as a long-time fan of progressive/art rock, the anxiety of “Blackstar” perfectly matched my tastes. The twenty-fifth album of Bowie, produced by long-time collaborator and a friend, Tony Visconti, presents seven intriguing, devilish even compositions, each reminiscent of Bowie’s ‘70s glory days but still compiling tons of new and exciting elements. Songs like “Girl Loves Me”, “Lazarus” and “I Can’t Give Everything Away” are fuelled with pure drum’n’bas wickedness. David’s moody groans are the foundation of “Blackstar”. It’s so inspiring to hear him perform so bewitching given what his condition was at that time. Saxophonist Donny McCaslin is also bringing so much to the table. You will never ever hear anything like “Blackstar” again and for that it deserves to be listened and appreciated.


8. Heart – Beautiful Broken

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“I Jump” was my absolute favorite song of summer 2016! I couldn’t have my day going without listening to this glorious tune by the Wilson sisters. As a matter of fact, this song itself is one big part of the reason why this album is even in my top 10.
On “Beautiful Broken”, sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson are simply offering an intriguing selection of seven re-imagined and re-recorded cherry picks from their early career, along with a few new exciting additions to their catalogue. Ann Wilson will always be one of my favorite female vocalists of all time and this record definitely proves that she still got it! Some highly appealing things are happening on this record, including the guest appearance of Metallica’s James Hetfield, whose roaring vocals work quite well with Ann’s soulful and clear singing. The heavy orchestral “I Jump” possesses that Led Zeppelin vibe, which is not surprising at all – the girls are often crediting Led Zeppelin as their biggest musical influence. “Two” and “Heaven” are a couple of other high points from “Beautiful Broken”. Many of the fans out there, including myself, are quite sentimental and prefer the original classics, however “Beautiful Broken” definitely deserves a chance – if not for the old-new songs, than for the three gorgeous new additions to their music library. Also, Ann’s voice is a reason enough to have this record!

Read My Full Review Here: Heart – “Beautiful Broken” Album Review


9. Metallica – Hardwired To Self-Destruct

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The mighty metal Gods survived through the long gap, after which the majority of rock acts would’ve been totally obliterated by the constantly changing music scene, and rose from the ashes with a smashing new heavy metal storm, titled “Hardwired…to Self-Destruct”. The expectations were high but they did deliver something quite satisfying so let’s give a round of applause to singer-guitarist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich who co-wrote almost the entire set of throat-grabbing tunes.
“Hardwired…to Self-Destruct” is an epic double monster album, spitting 12 fiery tracks which run for almost 80 minutes! At first I thought that the record could be easy to inhale but once I heard the entire set, I realized that probably they should’ve just stopped after CD1 (which by the way is the reason why this album is in my top 10). “Dream No More” quickly became a personal favorite; I am enjoying this dark and highly-intense tune every time I play it. Some other memorable moments from “Hardwired…to Self-Destruct” include the opening track “Hardwired” and of course the surprisingly splendid tribute to Lemmy Kilmister, “Murder One”Metallica build up quite the excitement among fans, including me, so it’s natural to completely lose your mind over this album.

Read My Full Review Here: Metallica – “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct” Album Review


10. Jeff Beck – Loud Hailer

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This summer, Jeff Beck surprised us with a brilliant 11th album, which completely blew me away. I must say, I was sceptical at first, but the album just grew on me with every listen. “Loud Hailer” is not your typical Jeff Beck record – it’s a completely different kind of monster. Then again, it would be foolish to expect him to do the same thing over and over again, so I am applauding him for this revolutionary work on “Loud Hailer”. Two immensely talented female musicians – vocalist Rosie Bones and guitarist Carmen Vandenberg are the reason why there’s so much color and intrigue on this record. Bones sings about apathy, greed, politics, media and a number of other issues, destroying our society. That’s one of the reason why it appealed to me that much. “Live in The Dark” is the highlight of “Loud Hailer”, at least to me. I am falling in love with the thrilling vocals and time-stopping rhythms over and over again every time I play it. The haunting instrumental “Pull It” is feeding my soul with so much power. “Shrine” wraps things up with a similar folk-blues vibe, which sends you to another dimension. “Loud Hailer” melts me with ever listen. I can’t recommend it enough.


The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.

P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
Cheers~

Congratulations to Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 2017 Inductees

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It’s official! Pearl Jam, Tupac Shakur, Journey, YES, Electric Light Orchestra and Joan Baez are joining Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017. Nile Rodgers from Chic will receive the Award for Musical Excellence.

The full list of nominees included Bad Brains, Chaka Khan, Chic, Depeche Mode, ELO, the J. Geils Band, Jane’s Addiction, Janet Jackson, Joan Baez, Joe Tex, Journey, Kraftwerk, MC5, Pearl Jam, Steppenwolf, the Cars, Zombies, Tupac Shakur and Yes.

Fans were once again involved in the decision by voting on Rock Hall’s official website. Their votes, along with the opinions of hundreds of notable critics, journalists, musicians, industry insiders and every living Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, finalized the class of 2017.
The induction ceremony will be held at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on April 7th, 2017. The event will also be aired on HBO in later months.
Last year, the inductees included Cheap Trick, Deep Purple, Steve Miller, Chicago and N.W.A.

My thoughts:

I am immensely satisfied with this year’s list of Rock Hall inductees. Journey’s induction was long overdue and the thought of seeing Steve Perry back on that stage with Neal Schon and the rest of the guys will definitely keep me warm for the upcoming winter. I was sure that either ELO or YES will be inducted, however to my surprise the Rock Hall decided to induct both of those progressive rock giants. If this is not a cause for celebration, I don’t know what is! I am very happy that one of the most important voices of folk music – Joan Baez, will also be given the recognition she deserves. Pearl Jam became eligible this year and immediately got in. I was expecting it, to be honest. The “controversial” inductee this year would be the deceased d Tupac Shakur. I have been following comments on social media since the release of the results and I have to say, fans are not satisfied. I can understand why Rock Hall decided to induct him, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right direction. With respect to him and his unquestionable legacy, I have to say that I am not entirely agreeing with this decision, nor am I mad about it. He deserves a special place in history of modern music, but Rock Hall is probably not where he belongs.

Meet the inductees:

JOURNEY

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One of the most beloved American bands – Journey are going to be inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame in 2017. With more than 90 million records sold worldwide, 14 studio albums and 59 timeless hit singles, their induction is more than justified. Originally a progressive rock band, Journey rose to stardom in the late 70s and enjoyed commercial success throughout the ‘80s. With a change in musical direction and “the voice” himself – Steve Perry, fronting the band, Journey spawned some of the most groundbreaking staples of arena rock in the ‘80s, including “Don’t Stop Believin’”, “Separate Ways”, “Open Arms”, “Send Her My Love”, ”Faithfully” and many more.
Fans are waiting with anticipation to find out whether Steve Perry will join the band for the induction ceremony. If he does, that would be the highlight of the evening, I am sure.


YES

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The progressive rock monsters, YES, are also among the members of “class of 2017 Rock Hall inductees”. Founded by Jon Anderson in the late 60s, this outstanding band, composed of classically trained musicians, created structured rock music that challenged the concept of progressive rock. From their debut album, released in 1969, fueled with brilliant harmonies and symphonic elements, to their pop-oriented musical style in the ‘80s with the album “90125”, YES sold more than 13 million copies in the USA alone, making them one of the best-selling progressive rock acts of all time. “Fragile” is often considered to be YES’ finest record. Released in 1971, the album became synonymous with YES and quickly turned into a commercial and critical success.

I am excited to see “Roundabout” materialize on the stage of Rock Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Fingers crossed that they will play it!


ELO

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One of my favorite bands of all time – Electric Light Orchestra, led by the musical genius Jeff Lynne himself, will also be joining the Rock Hall in 2017. Immensely uplifting, spirited, incorporating elements of modern rock, classical music, friendlier pop-sounds, piano, string instruments and keyboards, the music of ELO influenced generations of music lovers. Selling over 50 million records worldwide and releasing 50 hit singles, ELO truly deserved the recognition they are getting from the Rock Hall. “Eldorado” (1974) and “Time” (1981) are among the band’s most signature and influential concept releases. Timeless classics like “Evil Woman”, “Don’t Bring Me Down”, “Mr Blue Sky”, “Ticket to the Moon” and “Rock n’ Roll is King” will forever remain a staple of art/progressive rock.

They say that if The Beatles hadn’t broken up in the late 60s, this is what they would’ve sound in the 70s.


PEARL JAM

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Pearl Jam has to be one of the most representative grunge bands of all time, following Nirvana, of course. Armed with radio appeal and possessing that pure rock spirit, their commercial success was inevitable in the 90s. Their infamous 1991 album “Ten” sold over 13 million copies in the USA alone, making it a key player of the grunge movement. No wonder critics refer to them as one of the most popular American bands of the 1990s. Pearl Jam brought alternative music into the mainstream with commitment and a much desired freshness. Their stripped down, heavy approach to music laid the foundations of modern rock music.


JOAN BAEZ

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A songwriter, musician and most importantly, a social activist, Joan Baez is known for being one of the most essential key players of the counterculture in the ‘60s. Despite her folk roots, she has also been notable for playing country, pop and gospel music. Throughout her career, she has participated in many Civil Rights Movement demonstrations, performed and wrote songs about war, human rights, LGBT rights and many other social issues. Joan and her music have been an inspiration for many people all over the world who have been treated unjustly.

Her first three albums, Joan Baez, Joan Baez, Vol. 2, and Joan Baez in Concert are all critically acclaimed releases and widely beloved.


NILE RODGERS

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Chic’s Nile Rodgers is 2017 Rock Hall Musical Excellence award Inductee. One quick scan through his long and prolific career will give you an idea of why is he given this award. Challenging the boundaries of music by leading an original disco band whose members didn’t rely on synthesizers and machines, but rather on their own skills, Nile Rodgers quickly gained recognition for his artistic vision and creative approach to music.

He has worked as a producer, songwriter, composer, musician and guitarist with almost every artist in the industry – Madonna, Daft Punk, Duran Duran, David Bowie, INXS and countless more. His innovative musicianship and fearless production skills are finally getting the recognition they deserve.


TUPAC SHAKUR

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Tupac Shakur is famous for his hip hop music, fuelled with themes, dealing with racism, social injustice, violence and the hardships of life on the streets. His brave approach to lyricism got recognized by fans and critics all over the world, making him one of the best-selling artists of all time. 2Pac’s double disc albums All Eyez on Me and his Greatest Hits are among the best-selling albums in the United States alone. On his first year of eligibility, he will be inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame in April, 2017.


References:
Photos, taken from Rock Hall of Fame official website: http://rockhall.com/ and Google images.
Information, facts and sales numbers retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org
P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~

Remembering Greg Lake (1947-2016)

greg-lake-65I am writing this publication with tears in my eyes but I really felt like saying a little something to the person whose voice and music brought me so much comfort and joy when I really needed them. Greg Lake passed away on the 8th of December 2016 (age 69) after he lost a long battle with cancer. He was the frontman of King Crimson and Emerson, Lake & Palmer – two bands that defined progressive rock and completely changed the course of music history with their extraordinary musicianship, experimentation with hard rock and symphonic elements, profound lyrics and never-seen before technicality. Two unbelievably talented bands, both led by Greg Lake – one of the most emotionally-fueled voices of rock music; a voice that always found a way to touch people’s souls and make them fly. I cannot believe we lost him…

My progressive rock journey started with ELP and in particular the song “Still…You Turn Me On”. I will always remember how immensely captivated I was by the bizarre, but gorgeous instrumentation, stunning lyrics and of course, Greg’s vocals that just sent me to another dimension. I felt so attracted to this song; my body, my mind instantly reacted and by the time I knew it, I was already listening to their entire discography. ELP opened a new chapter of my life and for that I will always love them. “Brain Salad Surgery”, “Trilogy”, “Pictures at an Exhibition” – all albums that showed me the true depth of music. One reason why I connected so much with the band was of course Greg Lake. His tender, calming voice was there to help me fall asleep while I was going through some tough times and couldn’t even close my eyes; his music guided me through the dark roads of despair and stress. They say that music helps the pain fade; for me, it was the music of ELP, fronted by Greg that helped me fight my demons and made me feel alive again.

After ELP, I moved on to the debut album of King Crimson “In the Court of the Crimson King” which many people refer to as “the birth of progressive rock”. In songs such as “Epitaph”, Greg perfectly demonstrates how immensely talented he is. I could listen to that song for ages and never get tired of hearing his mind-altering delicate voice. Just listen to his isolated vocals – that’s the kind of experience you will never get from music, being released nowadays. Greg Lake delivered sadness, comfort, happiness, sorrow…the whole rainbow of emotions trough his singing and believe me, for that he will always be appraised and loved.

Keith Emerson died earlier in 2016 and now we lost Greg Lake in the last month of 2016. Carl Palmer remains the third and final member of ELP to be alive. I am still in shock and refuse to believe that one of my favorite bands is down to its final piece. 2016 took so many lives and in my book it’s simply going to be remembered as “the year music died”.

No one is ever prepared and the loss is huge but I am glad that the world was able to witness his musical creativity, passion and vision. Greg Lake will be remembered as a first-class producer with a heavenly voice and an unforgettable approach to music. I will remember him as the artist who lovingly brought harmony and peace in my life. Thank you so much for your music! Rest in peace, my love….


P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~

Song of the Week: PRIDE OF LIONS – THE TELL

As a huge fan of Jim Peterik – as a matter of fact, he is in my top 5 favorite songwriters of all time, I was immensely excited to find out that Pride of Lions are releasing a new record next month. “Fearless” will be out on the 27th of January 2017, under Frontiers Records and it will be their seventh album, following “Immortal” (2012).

Just for a second there I thought that there was nothing exciting coming out next year! Not only that but, 2017 will start with a blast (at least for me). “The Tell” was released last week (29.11.2016) on YouTube and I haven’t stopped listening to this gorgeous tune ever since. It’s my choice for “song of the week” because I think it truly deserves it! I hope the rest of the album is going to be as intriguing as this tune. Haunting lyrics about a woman who is giving off signals she’s not really aware of, (I already know it by heart), A-level vocals and very pleasing instrumentation – this track was everything I’ve wished for!

Have a listen!



P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.

The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~

The Rolling Stones – “Blue & Lonesome” Album Review

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Blue & Lonesome

Released: December 2, 2016
Genre: Blues, Rhythm and Blues, Blues Rock
Producer(s): Don Was, The Glimmer Twins (Mick Jagger & Keith Richards)
Label: Polydor
Length: 42:36

buy-from-amazon

“Blue & Lonesome” In the Studio


OVERVIEW

Rolling Stones are surely wrapping 2016 up with a style! The rock&roll Gods are back with a phenomenal collection of spirited covers, bringing us back to the golden days of blues. “Blue & Lonesome” is Rolling Stones’ first album to feature exclusively cover songs. Among the twelve blues jewels, we get to listen to interpretations of forgotten but classic tracks by Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon, Buddy Johnson, Memphis Slim and other legendary bluesmen. Long-time friend and a fellow blues musician Eric Clapton is another intriguing highlight of “Blue & Lonesome”. Clapton’s God-like guitar skills can be heard on “Everybody Knows About My Good Thing” and “I Can’t Quit You Baby”.

Recorded within just a few days, with no preparation whatsoever, “Blue & Lonesome” is the perfect example of how The Rolling Stones can effortlessly craft some serious magic out of nowhere and still sound as confident as ever. It took them a decade (their previous album -“A Bigger Bang” was released in 2005) but the Stones are back! Don’t get fooled – the all-covers track selection is certainly not a cheesy sentimental yearning for the past. It’s goes way beyond that! “Blue & Lonesome” is Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and Charlie Watts having fun, sounding unbelievably fresh, and skilfully introducing blues to the younger generations. A fearless journey back to the roots, resulting in a rediscovery of self, this new album might be their best work since the classic years of the Stones.

The Glimmer Twins, along with producer Don Was are intentionally preserving the rawness and authenticity of the recording sessions, in perfect alignment with the spirit of the 50s and the 60s. Similarly to the attitude of Eric Clapton on his 2016 album “I Still Do”, the Rolling Stones are doing music their own way without a single care in the world. Not that the Stones were ever much bothered with things like keeping up the with trends or working days and nights on perfect multi-platinum singles BUT if their ultimate freedom had a name, it would be “Blue & Lonesome”.  (I am mentioning Eric Clapton because those two albums are the highlights of 2016 blues releases.)

“Just Your Fool” (Buddy Johnson) opens the door to the world of “Blue & Lonesome”. Mick Jagger is absolutely killing it on this tune – raw, brave and soulful, his vocal delivery is obviously reflecting his high level of satisfaction with this album. The slow-paced blues symphonies – “Little Rain” (Ewart G. Abner Jr. and Jimmy Reed), “All of Your Love” (Magic Sam) and the atmospheric title track “Blue & Lonesome” (Memphis Slim) are among the most memorable tunes of the album. Jagger’s harmonica is making a statement throughout the entire album, bringing us back to the early days of the Stones. Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood’s guitars are excitably racing on the blues highway, each showcasing easeful determination and laid-back energy. The terrific drum beats of Charlie Watts are breathing new life into the old blues. “Hate to See You Go” (Little Walter) – the first song to get a MV makeover is one charming and immensely uplifting trip to the 50s. “Everybody Knows About My Good Thing” is a personal favorite, mostly due to Mick Jagger’s rough, genuine vocals.

“Blue & Lonesome” offers a galvanizing experience to the roots of the Stones, yet capturing their personalities and strengths in a modern, refreshing way. It’s been a while since we’ve seen the rock&roll legends’ confidence shine so brightly on a record. They came back home!

Tracklist:

“Just Your Fool”
“Commit a Crime”
“Blue and Lonesome”
“All of Your Love”
“I Gotta Go”
“Everybody Knows About My Good Thing”
“Ride ‘Em On Down”
“Hate To See You Go”
“Hoo Doo Blues”
“Little Rain”
“Just Like I Treat You”
“I Can’t Quit You Baby”

 Hate To See You Go

Ride ‘Em On Down

Just Your Fool

Ride ‘Em On Down – Blue & Lonesome (60” clip)


References:
“Blue and Lonesome” Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_%26_Lonesome_(The_Rolling_Stones_album)
P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~

Metallica – “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct” Album Review

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Hardwired… to Self-Destruct

Released: November 18, 2016
Genre: Heavy Metal, Thrash Metal
Producer(s): Greg Fidelman, James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich
Label: Blackened Recordings
Length: 77:26

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OVERVIEW

 

Metallica put an end to the long 8 years of waiting with their smashing new heavy metal storm, titled “Hardwired…to Self-Destruct”. The mighty metal Gods survived through the long gap, after which the majority of rock acts would’ve been totally obliterated by the constantly changing music scene, and rose from the ashes with a comeback album worthy of being called a moment of unification of all metalheads around the world. The expectations were high – Metallica had to preserve their relevance with something that goes beyond any ordinary record; they had to dig deeper. The results are finally here and believe me, they are more than satisfying.

“Hardwired…to Self-Destruct” is an epic double monster album, spitting 12 fiery tracks which run for almost 80 minutes! Let’s give a round of applause (or a scream of excitement) to singer-guitarist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich who co-wrote almost the entire set of throat-grabbing, killer shocks on the record. With such explosive musicianship and furious songwriting dedication, Metallica can absolutely afford to go for an average song length of six-to-seven minutes. They are making their own rules without a single care in the world.

Disc one is more striking, up to the point, offering one heavy rocker after another. The finest moments of “Hardwired…to Self-Destruct” could be found among those first six tracks – from the merciless riffs of the opening track “Hardwired”, to the rigorous pulse of “Now That We are Dead”, every track carries that trademark Metallica kick-ass sound formula, mixed with a couple of surprisingly good new tricks. “Halo on Fire” wraps things up in a similar dark, intensity-fueled manner, leaving us with high hopes for what’s coming on the next CD. Disc two is a less damaging, somewhat unfocused mixture of lengthy rockers. The momentum is slowly declining as we progress from one song to another but that’s not necessarily such a bad thing for the listeners who need to take a breath. “Murder One” is a surprisingly splendid tribute to Lemmy Kilmister, that definitely deserves a listen (or two).

“Hardwired…to Self-Destruct” is a strong comeback album, despite its length and unnecessary fillers (especially on Disc Two). One thing that truly makes a quite obvious stand is James Hetfield’s explicit, much improved vocal delivery, which is the final touch to the electrifying concept of the album. Metallica build up quite the excitement among fans so it’s natural to completely lose your mind over this album. “Hardwired…to Self-Destruct”, however, is far from being their best effort. It’s somewhat familiar but still innovative, proving that Metallica are still standing on the heavy metal pedestal! For that it deserves to be praised!

 

Tracklist:

Disc One:

“Hardwired”
“Atlas, Rise!”
“Now That We’re Dead”
“Moth Into Flame”
“Dream No More”
“Halo on Fire”

Disc Two:

“Confusion”
“ManUNkind”
“Here Comes Revenge”
“Am I Savage”
“Murder One”
“Spit Out the Bone”

Hardwired

Moth Into Flame

Atlas, Rise!

Murder One

Lords of Summer (from the Deluxe Edition of “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct”)

Spit Out the Bone

Dream No More


References:
“Hardwired… to Self-Destruct” Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hardwired…_to_Self-Destruct
P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
Cheers~
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.

Bon Jovi – “This House Is Not For Sale” Album Review

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This House Is Not For Sale

Released: November 4, 2016
Genre: Hard Rock
Producer(s): Jon Bon Jovi & John Shanks
Label: Island
Length: 49:08

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OVERVIEW

Bon Jovi are back with their thirteenth studio album titled “This House is Not For Sale”. With guitarist Richie Sambora no longer in the current line-up of the band and a new house label, fans and critics held their breaths in deep anticipation of what will their new music sound like. Many thought that the day Richie left would also mark the end of the band itself. The long and quite exceptional songwriting partnership between Jon and Richie was what held the band together and the main reason behind their rose to stardom. But what’s in the past is in the past. There’s just simply no time to waste when music is so desperately trying to break out of your mind and soul. Jon buckled up and the results are in. He is the type of person who never gives up and is truly dedicated to his music and fans. For that, he deserves all the respect he can get.

Let me start by saying that musicians change, love to experiment and will never stop exploring the endless realms of music. Styles, methods and sounds are evolving and there’s no need to be overdramatic about it. “This House is Not for Sale” is a modern-day rock album that doesn’t really run 100% after the old-school formula. So to make things perfectly clear, if you want to hear some vintage pounding Bon Jovi sound, this might not be the album for you. Previous generations who grew up with blockbuster records like “Slippery When Wet” and “New Jersey”, might get a little bit lost into this new much softer, sweeter and rather mainstream material. The younger fans, however, are more likely to accept and appreciate this record. All in all, “This House is Not for Sale”, is making a clear statement – Bon Jovi still have it in them and are going nowhere!

The opening title track is probably the finest moment of the album. Bon Jovi’s signature formula, combined with some fresh elements, create a perfect new single. It’s safe, well-controlled and unobtrusive but quite appealing and peculiar at the same time. The charming idea behind the lyrics also adds up to the exciting atmosphere of the track. After that, however, things start becoming confusing. The record flows wonderfully and quite consistently, however there’s just so little substance under that chummy, radio-ready facade. Very few songs from “This House is Not for Sale” manage to leave behind a durable spark. Rockers like “Living with the Ghost”, “Knockout” and “Labor of Love” are well-produced and satisfying to a certain extent; however, way too restrained and familiar to generate the “wow” effect. “Roller Coaster” might be a song with a potential, despite the strong “Maroon 5” vibe coming out of it. The tracks that follow lack individuality and don’t leave an impression that lasts longer than their duration. The hidden surprise was found among the bonus tracks of the deluxe version of the record. Just when I lost all hope, the gentle “I Will Drive You Home” became the slap that woke me up. Tender electronic rhythms and Jon’s mellow vocals made the album experience a bit more bearable.

“This House is Not for Sale” is a good pop/rock album with country elements that is definitely well suited and safe enough to be played on the airways during all parts of the day. Unfortunately, innovation and distinctiveness are not among the qualities of this record. The absence of the tougher, hard rock touch of Richie’s guitar is plainly noticeable. Bon Jovi might be back but their new sound is just too unfulfilling. Nevertheless, I will give the record a second chance!

Cheers~

 

Tracklist

“This House is Not For Sale”
“Living With the Ghost”
“Knockout”
“Labor of Love”
“Born Again Tomorrow”
“Roller Coaster”
“New Year’s Day”
“The Devil’s In The Temple”
“Scars on This Guitar”
“God Bless This Mess”
“Reunion”
“Come On Up to Our House”

+ Bonus Tracks (Deluxe Version)

“Real Love”
“All Hail The King”
“We Don’t Run”
“I Will Drive You Home”
“Goodnight New York”

 

This House Is Not For Sale

Knockout

Labor of Love


 

References:
“This House is Not for Sale” Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/This_House_Is_Not_for_Sale
P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
Cheers~
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.

Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band in one Unforgettable Night in Seoul, South Korea

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2016 was a busy year for Ringo Starr and His All Starr Band. Starting with a North American tour and moving on to Asia, these legendary musicians took on a long but quite important journey to remind people that no one can do it better than the originals. On the 4th of November, it was time for South Korea to experience for the very first time the magic of Ringo’s cheery, one-of-a-kind persona on the stage of Jamsil Indoor Stadium in Seoul. He was not the only highly anticipated star, though. Six other, A-CLASS musicians joined him for a perfect night, full of pleasant surprises, festivities and of course, breath-taking music.

I was so excited and was literally counting the days till the day of the concert ever since I found out about the event and bought my ticket. I was a little bit surprised that they included S.Korea in their tour because not many legendary rockstars are often coming here. So I naturally wasn’t gonna miss it for the world.

Experiencing the music, the aura, the talent and the legacy of such outstanding artists who worked so hard and achieved so much can be a life-changing moment. Let’s talk about the Beatles – the game-changers, the greatest of the greatest, the biggest rock band in the world! Those fabulous four guys made history not only with their music, but with the cultural and social impact they inflicted upon the world. Unfortunately, we don’t have Lennon or Harrison with us any longer. Starr and McCartney are the only two Beatles that are still alive and still rocking pretty good for their age! The amount of respect I have for the Beatles – all four of them, is limitless. So for me, to finally be able to see one of the guys I admire with all my heart and soul, was a moment of a lifetime. I hope I will get to see Paul anytime soon as well. Ringo Starr aside, let’s talk about the other members of his band – all great rockers who previously worked with some of the finest names in the industry. Steve Lukather, guitarist of the great (and one of my ultimate favorite bands) Toto; Richard Page from the 80s band Mr. Mister; Todd Rundgren who produced and worked with so many musicians, in addition to being in the band Utopia; Gregg Bissonette, a drummer coming from The David Lee Roth Band; Warren Ham, a saxophonist who toured with Olivia Newton John; and Gregg Rolie from Santana and Journey who is one of the greatest masters of the organ and keyboards. What else do I have to say? Astonishing assembly of monstrous talents; an exceptional evening was absolutely guaranteed.

Let me tell you a few things about the concert itself. I will try to be as brief as possible because when all you have to say is positive and full of love, there’s no need for extra talking. The only thing I wish I could change was the size of the audience. Unfortunately not as many people as I thought came to the concert but I can understand it up to some extend because it’s South Korea. Over here people are not head-over-heels for old-school bands and rock&roll, especially younger generations who are more involved with newly-emerged genres like K-pop. There were so many foreigners, like myself, which was no surprise at all since Seoul is an international capital.

The show lasted for about two hours, throughout which I couldn’t stop smiling, clapping and screaming. Ringo started the show with a couple of uplifting songs, performed by him. Among them was “Matchbox” (Carl Perkins/The Beatles), “What Goes On” (The Beatles) and his first solo single after the break-up of The Beatles, “It Don’t Come Easy”. Each of the band members took turns in leading a song which provided us with the ultimate experience – it was like a box full of unique chocolates and you get to enjoy each one of their specific tastes and attributes. The moment that will be forever immortalized in my head was when I heard my favorite Toto songs performed live, by Steve Lukather. “Hold the Line”, “Rosanna” and “Africa” were the absolute highlight of my evening and I wanted them to never end. The feeling of witnessing how a song you love so much takes a physical live form is one of the greatest and warmest sensations in the world. Richard Page’s performance of “Broken Wings” was another breathtaking moment for me because it’s one of my most beloved songs. Gregg Rolie delivered superior acts as well that totally stole the show. There was a foreign guy sitting behind me who couldn’t stop screaming “Gregg f***ing Rolie” every few seconds! We heard some Santana songs but unfortunately no Journey which was kind of a disappointment because I’m a huge fan of Journey. They carried out “Evil Ways”, a song they did during Woodstock Festival in 1969 and absolutely stole my heart with it. The song that electrified the audience the most had to be “Yellow Submarine” – that’s the kind of tune it is, I guess. We were singing along and clapping like crazy. Just like that after a series of empowering rockers, the concert was coming to its end. Ringo wrapped things up quite obviously, with of course a Beatles’ song, “Act Naturally” and Sgt. Pepper’s “With a Little Help from My Friends” which is his absolute staple. He couldn’t have finished the night with a better song.

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Setlist

Ringo is such a character. During the show, he took time to make jokes and engage with the audience which naturally everyone loved. He read the signs of the people out loud and made some hilarious comments about them. There was a sign reading “Ringo 4 President” which I think he enjoyed the most! Also, at one point he said something like “You know, when I was in the Beatles, I wrote a lot of songs, none of which got recorded, of course…” and everyone started laughing because we all know who were the main songwriters of the band.

The guys had so much chemistry and such a beautiful aura. I couldn’t get enough of that refreshing air circling the venue, filled up with so much passion and great music. I had an awesome time and am so happy that I got the opportunity to see them live for the first time ever! Here are some photos from the event!


 

Me with my Beatles T-shirt, all ready for the concert;

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Getting closer to the arena…

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And we are here, right on time to grab our tickets and take photos!

Peace & Love

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Me & my lovely Malaysian friend/roommate posing in front of the huge poster!

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Tickets and cool fluorescent bracelets we got ^^

These guys were hilarious! Loved how devoted they were…just look at the masks!

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The venue from the inside:

 

And let the show begin…

Obviously we weren’t up front in the best (and most expensive) seats but the view from above was pretty good as well~

Thank you Ringo & Steve & Todd & Richard & Gregg B. & Warren & Gregg R. for the memories! You guys are the real deal!

We all live in a yellow submarine
Yellow submarine, yellow submarine
We all live in a yellow submarine la la la…

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P.S. All the photos are mine. Please be kind and make sure that you don’t just save and use them without my permission! Rock on!

Glenn Hughes – “Resonate” Album Review

glenn-hughes-resonate-album-art

RESONATE

Released: November 4, 2016
Genre: Hard Rock
Producer(s): Glenn Hughes & Soren Andersen

Label: Frontiers Music s.r.l
Length: 56:16

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OVERVIEW

2016 brought to the table a couple of pretty intriguing records by our favorite classic rockers. Heart’s “Beautiful Broken”, Kansas’ “The Prelude Implicit”, Steven Tyler’s “We’re All Somebody from Somewhere”, David Bowie’s “Blackstar” (RIP), Paul Simon’s “Stranger to Stranger” and Eric Clapton’s “I Still Do” are among the year’s finest works, clearly stating that devotion to music and epic talent are ageless. That’s not all, though! We will wrap 2016 up with a few more, highly anticipated hard rockers, including rock legend Glenn Hughes’ grandiose comeback album, titled “Resonate”. It has been almost a decade since his last studio effort, First Underground Nuclear Kitchen (2008), but his powerful hard rock testimony, “Resonate”, turned out to be a record worth waiting for.

“It’s my first solo album in 8 years. Everybody needs to know that this is absolutely a return to rock music as a solo artist for me. My work is very varied. Groovy, funky, soulful, although the genre has always been rock. But this album is probably THE heaviest record I’ve done in at least 25 years. It’s dense. It’s dark. There’s some aggression on this record. Every bloody track is begging to be played live.”

On his official website, Glenn stated that “Resonate” is the first kind of a complete Glenn album… it is a ROCK album for ROCK fans & it’s… HEAVY.” His words can’t even begin to describe the electrifying, breath-taking, dangerous and even quite aggressive aura of the record. “Resonate” is a rock euphoria that only solidifies Glenn’s reputation as a one-of-a-kind rock legend who still knows how to craft jaw-dropping music.

Eleven (plus one bonus) tracks provide you with the ultimate galvanizing rock experience.  Glenn makes a clear solid statement right from the very first song. “Heavy” is no joke; it’s the song with the strongest force of attraction among all the tracks. Glenn’s trademark vocals, furious guitars and dynamic sound effects are all stirred up to an ultimate hard rock extravaganza. “My Town” and “Let It Shine” are the two other seductive rockers that are immediately making a statement with their stimulating rhythms and first-class production qualities. “God of Money” quickly throws you back into the deep hard rock river with its explosive guitar-driven sound, haunting bass and conceptual lyrics. Unexpectedly, after a series of spellbinding tornadoes, we are faced with a much gentler song, titled “When I Fall”.  Well-written both lyrically and melodically, the tune somehow manages to calm things down for a second and remind you that Glenn can conquer pretty much any style. “Resonate” ends up with the mid-tempo rocker “Long Time Gone” which cannot really compete with the value and impact of the rest of the songs from the album.

“Resonate” is an album for people who want to get drunk on hard rock in its purest, most aggressive and mighty form. Glenn delivered what he promised and though it came as a huge surprise, right at the very end of 2016, the album’s loud and vigorous voice quickly reached us. Another vintage rocker showing the youngsters how to make great rock music! Cheers to Glenn!

 

Tracklist:

HEAVY
MY TOWN
FlOW
LET IT SHINE
STEADY
GOD OF MONEY
HOW LONG
WHEN I FALL
LANDMINES
STUMBLE & GO
LONG TIME GONE
NOTHING’S THE SAME (BONUS TRACK)

 

Heavy

Let It Shine

My Town

 

 


References:
Glenn Hughes Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glenn_Hughes
Glenn Hughes Official Website: http://www.glennhughes.com/ctc/bulletins/glenn-hughes-new-album-resonate-set-for-release-november-2016/

P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
Cheers~
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.

Eric Clapton Melting Our Hearts With This Gorgeous Performance of “Wonderful Tonight” from His New LIVE Album

This beautiful live performance of “Wonderful Tonight” was just uploaded on Eric Clapton’s official YouTube account to promote his most recent live album – “Live in San Diego With Special Guest J.J. Cale”. The video shows Eric, along with his band, delivering a soulful performance of the gorgeous 1977 ballad, written for his then-wife Pattie Boyd.

The live album documents Eric Clapton‘s performance in San Diego’s iPayOne Center on the 15th of March, 2007. Many faces appear on that stage, including his idol J.J. Cale, with whom he performs the timeless classics “Cocaine” and “After Midnight”.

Watch the performance below:


 

‘P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~