Tag: Music

Tunes for Tuesday: Easy Livin’

Uriah Heep is an English rock band formed in London in 1969. The group’s origins go back to 1967 when 19-year-old guitarist Mick Box formed a band in Brentwood called Hogwash and began playing in local clubs and pubs. A few lineup changes and the band changed its name to Spice. From the very beginning, Mick Box avoided playing covers, preferring to do something original.

A second name change came shortly after that. The group chose the name, Uriah Heep, after the well-known Charles Dickens character from David Copperfield. At this time, Dickens was everywhere because people were observing the 100th anniversary of his death, and to the members of the band, it seemed a fitting tribute.

Easy Livin’ (1972)

Uriah Heep’s 1970 debut album, …Very ‘Eavy …Very ‘Umble, was released in the United States as Uriah Heep.

The band suffered through some difficult times and more line-up changes, but by 1973 had fleshed out a fairly stable and productive line-up producing a fairly unique sound. This line-up consisted of Mick Box, Ken Hensley, Gary Thain, David Byron, and Lee Kerslake.

Uriah Heep now show-cased Hensley’s driving organ background overlaid with a heavy guitar sound, complemented by David Byron’s theatrical, dynamic vocals that soared above the band’s thunderous backdrop.

July Morning (1972)

The last four minutes or so of July Morning feature of a virtuosic organ solo. And as a historical note, the odd sounding calliope riffs are played by Manfred Mann who, according to the album credits, is appearing for the first time with his Moog synthesizer.

Sunrise (1973, Live at the Budokan in Tokyo)

The line-up with David Bryon on vocals in perhaps the most memorable and loved by loyal Uriah Heep’s fans.

And yes, some acoustic and jazz elements also found their way into the Uriah Heep mix.

The Wizard (remastered 2017)

One of my favorites, Lady in Black, is a song from their 1971 album, Salisbury, and is credited to Ken Hensley. It tells the tale of a man wandering through war-torn darkness and encountering a goddess-like entity who consoles him. It is often praised, by fans and critics alike, as Hensley’s most poetic work.

Lady in Black (1971)

I could not find a live video of Sweet Lorraine with good audio quality, but it is another in my “Heep” of favorites by this 1970s band.

Sweet Lorraine (remastered 2017)

Uriah Heep, a unique band with a unique sound that paved the way for many musical talents of the future. Definitely still one of my favorites.

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Tunes for Tuesday: Have Some Heart!

Ah, those Wilson sisters! They sure could rock!

Heart is an American rock band formed in 1970 in Seattle, Washington by Steve Fossen (bass guitar), Roger Fisher (guitar), David Belzer (keyboards), and Jeff Johnson (drums). Heart is actually an evolution from an existing band called White Heart. The Wilson sisters, Ann and Nancy, joined the band in 1973 as vocalists. Also, Nancy became an essential part of the band’s guitar-driven sound.

Magic Man (1976)

The band sold over 35 million records worldwide. They produced 20 top forty singles and seven top-10 albums. They also collected four Grammy nominations. Heart hit the Billboard Charts with singles and top ten albums in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2010s: a four-decade run of top ten albums that set a record for a female-fronted band.

Barracuda (1977)

I saw Heart in concert shortly after getting out of the Army in 1983. I am not sure exactly which year; that was some time ago. I am guessing 84 or 85. I do remember it being one hell of a show! I remember getting my daughter a Heart cassette tape for a birthday present one year, and being somewhat shattered when her reaction was … “meh!” LOL!

Little Queen (1977)

I have to admit, in my teen years, I had quite a crush on Nancy Wilson. Both sisters were quite beautiful, and Anne sure could sing. Possibly one of the greatest female rock vocalists ever! But there was something about Nancy that stole my heart. I guess it was the guitar!

Listen to this …

Crazy On You

Heart also had a real knack for great Zeppelin covers! Here is one shining example!

Black Dog (Led Zeppelin Cover, 2013)

Okay, can’t end it there. Here’s a couple more!

Heart has graced us with an interesting variety of songs and sounds. Everything from hard rock to heavy metal, and pop rock to folk songs.

Never (Official Music Video)

Heart was a multi-dimensional rock band with great talent … great musicians, great vocals, and great music. In 2006, Ann Wilson was listed as one of the “Top Heavy Metal Vocalists of All Time” by Hit Parader magazine and Heart was ranked number 57 on VH1’s “100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock.”

These Dreams (Filmed 2002, Life in Seattle)

Decades later, and Nancy Wilson still has it!

At the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony on April 18, 2013, the original members of Heart (the Wilson Sisters, Howard Leese, Michael Derosier, Steve Fossen, and Roger Fisher) reunited for the first time in 34 years to play “Crazy on You.”

If you enjoyed this Tunes for Tuesday post, please take a few minutes and check out some of my other blog posts by clicking here!

And, if you love reading a great action-adventure story, check out my award-winning novel, Montagnard.

A Little More “Silence” Please!

Remember Simon and Garfunkel?

Simon & Garfunkel were an American folk-rock duo founded by singer-songwriter Paul Simon and singer Art Garfunkel, and they were one of the best-selling music groups of the 1960s. Some of their biggest hits include “The Sound of Silence” (1965), “Mrs. Robinson” (1968), “The Boxer” (1969), and “Bridge over Troubled Water” (1970), which all reached number one on singles charts worldwide.

Enter Edward Van Halen!

This little jewel just popped up on my YouTube feed! Simon and Garfunkel performing “Sound of Silence” on stage in Mountain View, California, in November of 1993, with a guest appearance by none other than Eddie Van Halen himself.

What the heck?

I know … right? While I always liked Simon and Garfunkel a lot and think Eddie Van Halen is a fantastic guitarist (Paul Simon is no slouch on guitar either.), I thought they would mix like oil and vinegar. However, I was amazed by the combination. It was different, but at the same time, I thought it worked exceptionally well!

What do you think?

Tunes for Tuesday: Skynyrd!

Lynyrd Skynrd is an American rock band that formed in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1964. They performed under different names and with varying line-ups for several years, finally settling on the name Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1969.

Growing up in Massachusetts, I was aware of Lynyrd Skynyrd, but I did not fully appreciate the southern rock genre until I later moved to Tennessee. However, once I began to listen more, I was hooked. These good ole boys set the standard for southern rock with genius-level musical talent combined with the ability to write songs that spoke to the hearts of American listeners across this nation.

So much of their music was just good foot-stomping fun. This was always one of my favorites. I still sing along with it today when nobody is in earshot!

Gimme Three Steps (Knebworth Fair, 1976)

I sometimes think life would be so much better for us all if people would take to heart the simple advice in this next song, another of my favorites.

Simple Man (Oakland Coliseum Stadium, 1977)

Following a concert at the Greenville Memorial Auditorium in Greenville, South Carolina, on October 20, 1977, the band boarded a chartered Convair CV-240 bound for Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where they were scheduled to appear at LSU the following night. Running out of fuel, the plan crashed in a heavily forested area five miles northeast of Gillsburg, Mississippi.

Ronnie Van Zant. Steve Gaines, backup singer Cassie Gaines, the assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary, and co-pilot William Gray were all killed on impact. Other band members, including Collins, Rossington, Wilkeson, Powell, Pyle, and Hawkins, as well as the tour manager Ron Eckerman and several road crew members, suffered severe injuries.

The band later reformed with Ronnie Van Zant’s younger brother, Johnny (formally of .38 Special), taking over as lead vocalist. In the video below, Johnny Van Zant and the boys are performing a rare live version of The Ballad of Curtis Lowe. The original Skynyrd line-up only played the song once on stage. It was not played again until the tribute tour with Johnny.

The Ballad of Curtis Lowe (Virginia, 1998)

How’s about a little boogie … Lynyrd Skynyrd style!

I Know A Little (Coca Cola Star Lake Amphitheater, 1997)

While in their early years, the band had a reputation for partying hard and brawling on occasion, one thing they always got right was the music!

You Got That Right (1977, Convention Hall, Asbury Park, NJ)

Of course, in today’s “oh so perpetually offended” society, I am sure Lynyrd Skynyrd would catch hell because of the rebel flags and “southern whiteness” of their music. It’s really too bad. These good ole boys put out some great music that appealed to rockers of all races, religions, and creeds.

I think the narrow-mindedness of so many people today deprives them of some really great opportunities to expand their cultural awareness. Oh well!

I hope you will take a few minutes and check out some of my other Tunes for Tuesday blog posts by clicking here!

And also, if you enjoy reading a good action-adventure story, check out my new novel, Montagnard, on Amazon.com! It’s getting really rave reviews.

Thoughtful Solitude … A Source Of Strength!

Thoughts in Solitude

Some of my readers may have noticed I took a small break in posting to my blog. Sometimes life can take the wind out of our sales and we simply need some time to get our feet planted firmly back under ourselves. I recently found myself in such a state. That is because my mother recently passed away. This came as an unexpected, sudden shock to us all. Diagnosed with lung cancer just before Easter, she went to be with her God on Sunday, June 10th. Needless to say, my mind has just been elsewhere for the past few weeks. Solitude can sometimes be a helpful, healing thing.

While Mom will most certainly be deeply missed, the purpose of this post is not to engender sympathy or condolences. My mother was a strong woman and led an amazing life. Growing up in the small town of Ilion, NY with blue collar parents, she became a registered nurse at Albany Medical Center and then later, an excellent mathematics teacher. Quite the artist, she specialized in pastels and watercolors and was a member of the Fine Line Art Gallery for 10 years. A lover of music, she sang in choirs, and served as a choir director at several churches. Mom also sang with several choral groups and performed on concert tours in Central Europe, Turkey, at Carnegie Hall, and the White House. She traveled most of the world and much of the continental United States and Canada. She embraced life firmly standing on her own two feet and she lived her life to the fullest.

Quiet Faith

Mom was a woman quietly strong in her faith. She accepted her situation with grace, strength, and courage, and when the outcome became clear, her faith and courage made things easier for the rest of her family. How many of us wonder how well we will handle things if we find ourselves in such a situation. How do we hope to find the strength to deal with situations like this? It is seeking an answer to this question that is my motivation for writing this post. I do believe that, like my mother, I am a person of quiet but strong faith. I certainly do not attempt to push my beliefs on anyone; nor will I argue with people about their beliefs. That is what “Freedom of Religion” is truly all about … not the political manipulations we see all over the news today. I can only hope that when my time comes, I can meet it with the same grace, strength, and courage exhibited by my mother. So where does that grace, strength, and courage stem from?

Solitude and Reflection

Shortly after my mother died, my father discovered a quote my mother had saved to a folder on their computer. He shared it with my brother, my mother’s sister, and me. With the grief over my mother’s death still very new and raw, I must admit reading it brought real tears to my eyes. While it was difficult to read, at the same time, it had a very different affect on me. I suddenly understood so much more about my mother and the source of her strength and courage.

I seem to remember that my mother spent a week at some kind of retreat which I believe was held at a Trappist Monastery. It was a week spent in silence, prayer and personal reflection. Maybe this was where she found this quote … or maybe it came later from reading inspired by her experience. I am not sure. However, when I read the quote, I was struck by the simple, open honesty of the words, and the trust in a pure relationship with a loving God. I cannot help but feel that such a faith could only be beneficial to whoever kept it.

The quote is from Thomas Merton, a Trappist Monk of the Abbey of Gethsemane, KY.  Merton was a prolific poet and writer on spiritual social themes. He lived from 1915 until 1968.

From “Thoughts in Solitude”

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going, I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead my by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

Is that not a powerful statement of faith? I do not normally share such personal things on my blog, but in this case, and especially if it helps someone else find the hope, courage, or strength they need, I think my mother would approve.