March 2017 Archives

DeepSoul, Sampled Edition: Chicago - "Street Player"

Although primarily known as a rock band, Chicago have also proved themselves as superb R&B players.
  |   Comments
By the late 1970s, the successful rock/pop/contemporary jazz fusion band Chicago was at a crossroads. Original guitarist, lead vocalist, and leader Terry Kath died tragically in 1978, forcing the group to rethink their sound and image. They hired guitarist/vocalist Donnie Dacus and recruited hit making producer Phil Ramone to helm the 1978 album Hot Streets, which spawned two top 40 hits: "No Tell Lover" and "Alive Again." For their followup, Chicago 13, the band and Ramone reteamed to create an album fitting the then-dominant disco sound. Critics despised the material, and longtime Chicago fans expressed horror at the group straying
For the next three columns, DeepSoul is spotlighting songs that have been frequently sampled by artists from various genres. "Take that funk inside of you / And make your body move," funk group Breakwater commands listeners. With a room-shaking beat, funky synthesizers, and blasting electric guitar, they encourage us to "Release the Beast." Originally released in 1980, the song found renewed attention when Daft Punk sampled it for their 2005 track "Robot Rock." Clearly the French DJs/producers glommed on to this lesser-known groove, as they actually altered it little for their own remake. In any case, the EDM stars shined

Blu-ray Review: Def Leppard - And There Will Be a Next Time...

This classic 80s band delivers hits and new material in a strong new Blu-ray.
  |   Comments
Nearly 40 years after the release of their first album, Def Leppard are as popular as ever as a live act. It's not all nostalgia either. In late 2015, the band released their underrated self-titled album and embarked on a 55-city summer tour in support of it. The band's stop at the DTE Energy Music Theatre just outside Detroit, MI, was filmed and makes up the excellent new Blu-ray Def Leppard - And There Will Be A Next Time... Filmed before a packed house, the show opens with the new song "Let's Go," a track immediately recognizable as Def Leppard

Book Review: Close to the Edge: How Yes's Masterpiece Defined Prog Rock by Will Romano

Author Will Romano goes deep into the making, meaning, and impact of Close to the Edge, still a beloved album after 45 years.
  |   Comments
"Just Say No to Yes" may not have been an actual bumpersticker in '77, but it should have been. At the time Yes were kings of the Prog mountain, and after such pomposities as Tales From Topographic Oceans they had much to answer for. Or so it seemed at least, considering the beat-downs they were taking in the hip rock papers. Of course those very same magazines had swooned over Close to the Edge five years earlier. From Richard Cromelin's original review in Rolling Stone: "It shines with a freshness and crispness that doesn't seem likely to tarnish quickly". Standing