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Live at the Paramount Theatre, Denver, Colorado
This particular song is a long-time favorite of mine, from their debut album.
I clearly remember when it was released in 1974. After hearing a few tunes on the radio, my life-long brother Art and I wanted a copy of it so badly, but neither of us were old enough to drive yet.
So, we took the 5 mile hike up Wood Ave. in Jersey off to the right there, to the nearest record store. That’s a ten mile round-trip, to buy a fucking record. Insanity, but obviously this is an all-time classic, so the trek was well worth it. It remains a great Rock and Roll memory of mine.
It’s an absolutely excellent performance, but unfortunately only features two of the four original members, Simon Kirke on drums and of course the legendary Paul Rodgers. However, stand-ins David Collwell on guitar and Jaz Lochrie on bass handle their jobs seamlessly, if not better than Mick Ralphs and Boz Burrell. Sorry, you two.
I edited the original video quite a bit using Pinnacle Studio… Sharpened the picture, made some audio enhancements, and then converted it to a 16:9 aspect ratio.
So, crank it up, and enjoy what I consider to be the best song on the album. Anchored by such a down and dirty bad-assed guitar riff, what’s not to love?
“La Villa Strangiato” (partial performance)
Live at the Pinkpop Festival, Netherlands
The worldwide tour in support of the “Hemispheres” album (aptly named “Tour of the Hemispheres”) took place in 1979, which also happens to be the first year I had ever attended a Rush concert. I was offered a ticket for free from a friend who was attending, and a funny thing for people who know what a total Rush fanatic I am, I wasn’t really into going. As some people still feel, at that point I was still in “the singer’s voice gives me a headache” club when it came to the band.
No worries about that here, as it’s an instrumental, and one which is widely considered to be Rush’s best. Its subtitle of “An Exercise in Self-Indulgence” is certainly fitting, as the musicianship here is totally off the scale.
I think Mike Portnoy put it best regarding “La Villa”…
“If I had to pick the quintessential Rush song, for me it would have to be La Villa Strangiato. When I was a teenager in the early 80s and in the heat of my deepest Rush influence, that was THE benchmark for instrumental prowess. Not only for us drummers, but also for fellow bass players (that quick bass and drum breakdown) and guitarists (perhaps still Alex Lifeson’s greatest recorded solo)…
A small (or maybe not so small) coincidence:
Here’s a photo of the street that’s on the corner of the house I purchased in Florida, following my retirement. Of course, I didn’t wind up buying it just because of this, but it definitely flipped me out!
Life is so fucking weird sometimes.
Just a couple of technical notes regarding this production:
- I left the original video completely untouched, as it’s quite good considering the year it was filmed. However, I did do a bit of tweaking of the audio track, but only to boost the volume as it was a little low for my liking. The sound seems to drift in and out of sync in some spots, but I wasn’t going to get into the arduous task of attempting to fix that.
- It remains in its original 4:3 aspect ratio, since this was long before widescreen was commonplace.
In the end, I didn’t want to go messing around much with what’s obviously a fantastic piece of Progressive Rock history, one that certainly stands all on its own.
“All The World’s A Stage” Tour
Capitol Theatre, Passaic, New Jersey
Full Concert, with introduction by Gene Simmons.
The video of the main concert section isn’t too good, but what can you expect from a B&W video tape which was recorded 41 years ago? At least the entire thing is pro-shot, and amazingly the sound is quite good. At any rate, it’s a classic piece of Rock and Roll history.
My first Rush concert experience was accommodated by a friend who had a spare ticket ($7.00), at the same venue two years later during their support tour for “Hemispheres”. That experience changed my musical life forever, and I went out the very next day and bought every single one of their albums. Since that first concert, I’ve seen them live an additional 23 times, sitting in the 1st and 2nd row for their last two tours. However, the tickets for those seats were a tad more than $7.00. ;^)
No doubt about it, I’ve been a total Rush fanatic for about 40 years now. From here, they’ve developed into the best Progressive Rock band ever, and no one will ever match their musicianship.
“The Ocean” (with on-screen lyrics)
Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
Yep, if I hear “Stairway To Heaven” one more time, I’m burning my Led Zeppelin IV CD, and every other one I can get my hands on. So, if you know me personally, you best lock that damned thing up when I’m around.
Following IV, their very next album, “Houses of the Holy” was born. It’s definitely my #1 from Zep, and “The Ocean” is what got me listening to it in the first place.
As it turns out, it’s one of those rare studio albums that doesn’t contain even one stinker in the bunch. Just check out the track listing:
– “The Song Remains the Same”
– “The Rain Song”
– “Over the Hills and Far Away”
– “The Crunge”
– “Dancing Days”
– “D’yer Mak’er”
– “No Quarter”
– “The Ocean” (they really knew how to go out with a bang)
Released on 03/28/1973, “The Ocean” seemed to get the most radio play initially. I remember having an El-Cheapo cassette recorder when I was 16, waiting for the song to come on the radio, then recording it in mono through an even cheaper microphone. But, I didn’t care, I had a copy, and listened to it incessantly.
It wasn’t too long before I was finally able to made a trip to the record store, courtesy of my Mom, and quickly snatched up a copy of the album. Even that took quite a bit of effort, as it seemed to be sold out almost everywhere. Since then, I’ve owned it on every type of media known to mankind.
Knowing how much of a Rush fanatic I am, it’ll probably surprise a lot of folks to learn that my favorite drummer has always been Bonzo, and Neil Peart has often cited him as a huge influence. The groove he lays down on this tune is totally unique and kick-ass, as usual. I loved it so much that I spent quite some time learning to play it, as closely as I could manage anyway. Sounds deceptively easy, but it’s surely not.
But, I digress… I’ve been wanting to produce a live Zeppelin video for a while and, given what I’ve just written, the song obviously wasn’t a very difficult choice. It’s an outstanding live version of this awesome, swinging tune, performed by the band during what I consider the very peak of their respective careers.
For an additional video about what makes Bonham so legendary, I invite you to check out the following as well. It’s a very interesting, detailed overview which may surprise even the most seasoned drummers, yet very easy to understand even if you’re just an everyday music lover:
“Encore: Locomotive Breath” (with on-screen lyrics)
Montreux Jazz Festival, Switzerland
Performed in the land Deep Purple made famous with “Smoke On The Water”, this is the finest live performance of this song that I’ve ever had the pleasure of viewing. Here are some words straight from Ian Anderson regarding the show:
“This particular humble offering is certainly not the best, or worst of the bunch but is surely a fitting reminder of my and Tull’s long relationship with that little town, the rest of Switzerland and especially dear Claude Nobs, founding father of the Montreux Jazz Festival. It is a truly live performance, unadulterated, warts and all… Rather like your humble flute player.”
Without a doubt one of the greatest bands in Progressive Rock history, Jethro Tull was founded by Ian Anderson, Jeffrey Hammond and John Evans, way back in 1967. Although there have been many personnel changes over the years (see chart below), the band marked its 50th anniversary in 2017. Tull had a huge influence on uncountable other musicians, including Tony Iommi, Iron Maiden’s Steve Harris and Bruce Dickinson, Dream Theater’s John Myung, Joe Bonamassa, Ritchie Blackmore, Ronnie James Dio, and Geddy Lee, just to name a few.
Geddy had this to say about Tull:
“I was a massive Tull fan from very young… and, I hope, that too reflects in Rush. I was mesmerized by Ian Anderson. His presentation was simply magical and he delivered it with such a sense of humor and great style… We [of Rush] saw it as a huge challenge to try and create something that can seem so dynamic onstage.”
Personnel for this tour:
Ian Anderson – Vocals, flute, harmonica, acoustic guitar, mandolin
Martin Barre – Electric and acoustic guitars
Andrew Giddings – Keyboard, accordion
Doane Perry – Drums, percussion
Jonathan Noyce – Bass guitar
I was especially pleased to see guitarist Martin Barre here, a long-time member who in my opinion had always been such a huge part of Tull’s iconic sound. One only need listen to the “Aqualung” album in its entirety, and that becomes immediately obvious. After some 47 years, he sadly decided to leave the band to pursue other musical directions.
On a personal note, this video is dedicated to my recently departed Brother Art Horning, who was my very best friend for over 50 years.
He was the biggest Tull fan I’ve ever known. A great example of this was when “Songs From The Wood” was first released. He didn’t take that 8-track out of the player in his ’67 Camaro for months, that is, until he wore the thing down to the nub and had to buy a replacement copy.
Much love to you, Artie…
I for one miss you every single day and you’ll remain in my heart forever, my dearest old friend.
“To Hell with the Devil” (with on-screen lyrics)
Java Rockin’ Land Festival, Indonesia
When it comes to Stryper, after some people see their genre as “Christian Metal”, they immediately turn up their noses. Bad move.
Believe me, you don’t need to hold religious beliefs to appreciate this band.
It’s always sad for me to see people limit their musical horizons on a whim like that, without so much as a listen. If you’re into Metal, these guys are an awesome multi-platinum group, who have sold over 10 million records worldwide.
In fact, even if you are a believer, Stryper has never been well received by many Christian music critics anyway, since they don’t approve of the group’s association with the Heavy Metal subculture which of course is often tagged with Satanic themes.
Seems they can’t win for losing, eh? Stryper, Satanic?
For a band whose logo is labeled with a Bible passage, nothing could possibly be further from the truth. In fact, the name “Stryper” originates directly from that very verse.
Michael Sweet is the leader and heart of this band. Not only is he an extraordinary songwriter, guitarist and keyboard player, but also has soaring pipes that put the majority of other Metal vocalists to shame. Another thing that really grabbed me the first time I heard them was their use of “dueling” lead guitar harmonies, in the style of Thin Lizzy, and others.
In addition to his work with Stryper, he’s also released three solo albums, all of which show a much mellower side to Sweet and are excellent.
His other side projects include “Only to Rise”, where he joined forces with George Lynch, known for his work with both Dokken and Lynch Mob, and ranked #10 on the “Top 10 Metal Guitarists Of All Time” list by Gibson. That’s some pretty good company.
Following Brad Delp’s, untimely passing, Sweet was invited by Tom Scholz to join Boston for what was supposed to be their final show back in 2007.
From Wikipedia (edited):
Tom Scholz was moved by what Sweet had written about the late Brad Delp and then heard Sweet sing and play guitar. Scholz was so impressed with Sweet’s talents that he invited him to join the band as a permanent member.
Boston began booking a tour for 2008 with Styx as the opening act. Sweet performed lead vocals on roughly half of the set list and played both rhythm and lead guitar during its entirety. In August 2011, it was announced that Sweet had left Boston to focus on his priorities and contributions to Stryper.
Remember those pipes I mentioned earlier? I could count on one hand the number of singers who could even begin to think they have the balls to step into the shoes of the legendary Brad Delp. However, he in no way tried to duplicate Delp’s vocals exactly, yet his own fit in perfectly.
Back on topic, this particular performance is the title track of what’s easily my favorite Stryper album, filmed at the “Java Rockin’ Land” Festival in Indonesia back in 2010. At that point in time, they were together for nearly 30 years, with the occasional break for side-projects. Best of all, it features their original line-up, including Tim Gaines on bass guitar.
They continue to produce new music, their latest being “God Damn Evil” which was released just last year, to add to the collection of 17 other albums previously recorded by the band.
Instead of duplicating details about other Stryper members and more of their history here, I invite you to read all about the band (and even watch some of their music videos) at Stryper’s official web site.
Dio, Iommi, Butler, Appice
“Heaven and Hell” (with on-screen lyrics)
Radio City Music Hall, New York City, New York
Legendary vocalist Ronnie James Dio joins forces with two of the Godfathers of Heavy Metal, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler of Black Sabbath, along with journeyman drummer Vinny Appice for an epic, 15 minute version of the title track. All are in awesome form here. If you’re into classic Metal, this will blow you away.
I was fortunate enough to attend one of the shows during this tour, a few years prior to Dio’s passing in 2010. It’s incredible that a 5’4″-tall man who probably weighed 125 pounds soaking wet had such soaring pipes. He was simply one of the best Metal front-men ever, and through his music still lives on as such.
Of note, his opening dialog to the crowd is a bit chilling, as if he knew his demise was only three years down the road (or, perhaps indeed he did):
“Thank you so much, for all the years that we’ve spent together… And, didn’t spend together.”
Dio is well-known for popularizing the “sign of the horns” in Rock.
For those who tag him as some sort of devil worshipper, here’s where he actually got the idea: His Italian grandmother used it to ward off the “evil eye” and bad luck. In Southern Italy, it’s known as “Malocchio”.
He began using it shortly after joining Black Sabbath in 1979 after Ozzy was first given the boot, to make himself stand out from the ex-vocalist who was known for flashing the peace sign.
The same is true of Iommi and Butler. Satanists don’t typically wear the Christian cross around their neck, have the fret boards of their guitars inlaid with the same, or wear t-shirts and guitar straps bearing the image. Hey, not to mention stage backdrops.
A humorous side note: KISS bassist Gene Simmons credits himself for first using the “horns”. How ironic, since I’ve heard that he also credits himself as being a great bass player. Well, at least it’s true he’s got some pretty cool dragon boots, if nothing else.
David Gilmour (featuring Richard Wright)
“Time” (with on-screen lyrics)
Royal Albert Hall, London, England
An amazing performance of perhaps the most excellent song on Pink Floyd‘s album, “The Dark Side of the Moon”. Gilmour really shines here, faithfully performing one of the most soulful lead guitar solos I’ve ever heard in my life.
It also features Richard Wright on keys and vocals, who was sadly claimed by cancer the following year, in 2008.
Widely considered one of the greatest albums of all time, it spent a total of 942 weeks in the Billboard album chart as of January 2019… That’s over 18 years! And, it still pops in and out of that chart to this very day.
It’s estimated that this ultra-classic album has sold over 45 million copies worldwide, and that one in every fourteen people in the USA under the age of 50 is estimated to own, or to have owned, a copy.
“Under A Glass Moon” (with on-screen lyrics)
Radio City Music Hall, New York City, New York
A wonderful example of Progressive Rock at its finest, which took place during their 20th anniversary tour.
It’s a jaw-dropping performance of what is easily my favorite Dream Theater song. In my opinion, it contains John Petrucci‘s finest lead guitar solo. In addition, LaBrie’s vocals, Myung’s bass, Rudess’ keyboard work, and especially Portnoy’s drumming are completely off the scale of whatever means you wish to measure them by.