Saturday, May 31, 2014



What goes better with
relaxing in the surf,
sand and sun than a
cool drink and a hot
read? And I've got a
bunch of groovy new
books stashed in the
ol' iBag this season!

Poison Town (2.1.14)
Sky Zone (6.1.14)

Atlanta-based author Creston Mapes
delivers the finest "beach blanket" thrillers
around! Last summer, I was reeled in and
quarantined by Fear Has a Name — the
first installment of his "Crittendon Files"
 trilogy. This summer, I'm kicking off
the season by finishing up Pt. II, Poison
Town. And in short order, I expect to be
devouring the series conclusion, Sky
Zone, when it's released next week.


I consider Joseph Prince to be one of my
best friends — although we've never met.
Simply put, his 2010 book, Destined to
Reign was a life-changing read. I was
delighted when I received a copy of his
latest, The Power of Right Believing, a
few days ago from my writing partner,
Bryan Dumas.I finally got a chance to
dive into it this morning. And it is, in
a word, magnificent!
"When you believe right,
you will live right."
-Joseph Prince


This book came recommended to me
recently by a friend on GoodReads.
I was intrigued immediately by the
promising story of 17-year-old Rory,
a young man coming to grips with his
loss of innocence, the discovery of
truths and — punk rock music. I'll
certainly keep ya posted on this one!


Stealing Margo was sent my way just a
few days ago by my friend Crystal —
a super-cool chick who "gets" my taste
in books. She's never steered me wrong
in the past, hence, I'm eager to tear
into it sometime before Labor Day!


The latest from author Anna
Weaver appears to be the story
of her real-life experiences as a
 member of a Christian version
of The Partridge Family.

I'm SO on board!

Okay, enough writing — I've got some serious reading to do!

Hey, can somebody give me a hand with this darn sunscreen please?

-Christopher Long
(May 2014)

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

GUEST POST: "XII" by Tatiana Martin

by Tatiana Martin 

At age 18, my BFF Tatiana
Martin is the greatest and
most inspiring person I have
ever known. A truly gifted
young writer, I've been trying
to persuade her to contribute
a blog feature for nearly two
years. Today, she finally
delivered — and it's a gem.
The number 12 evokes several connotations, and is a very well-known universal number throughout the world. In the ancient Greek religion, there were 12 Olympian gods who ruled over the Pantheon. In the Christian religion, there are 12 days of Christmas and 12 apostles of Jesus. King Arthur had 12 knights sitting at his round table with him. There are 12 pairs of ribs in the human body, 12 inches in a foot, and 12 face cards in a deck.

Aside from being a rather recurring number in the society around us, the number 12 is one that applies to me on a very personal level. For 12 long and miserable years, I watched helplessly as my mom suffered the corollaries of cancer and its heavy, radioactive treatment. Regardless of her ailing state, however, she never failed to give her life to others. Barely even able to walk each day, my mother did everything in her power to make sure everyone around her was not only content, but in a better place than herself.

Just like the Aztecs predicted the earth to come to an end, the date 12/12/12 was the day my world collapsed, the day my best friend, my mother passed away. For an extended period of time, I wallowed in self-pity, asking the same question over and over again: why would this happen to me? While I sat with my mom, holding her hand until her very last breath, I felt my callow, adolescent life slowly transform into womanhood. As I felt my whole world cave in, I somehow knew that it was the end of one life, yet the beginning of a new one.

It wasn't until a few months later when I took on the role of being a caregiver to my 12-year-old sister that I truly felt the call to nurture others. My life started to revolve around her — from dawn until dusk I would cook breakfast, take her to school, clean her laundry, tidy the house, do the dishes and take her to doctor appointments. But most importantly, I made sure that there was always a smile on her face and love in her heart. Shockingly, however, I noticed that it wasn't so much me making the difference in her life; she was completely altering mine. Her great optimism and heart made me want to strive to give to others the happiness that she offered me.

Needless to say, the day of my mom’s passing was the day that I started to realize how short and outrageously beautiful life is. It opened my eyes to the world around me and made me truly realize how blessed I am to have what I have: a family, supportive friends, a home, and most importantly — faith. My mom's 12 favorite words: “there’s always going to be someone bearing a heavier cross than you” started to thrive in my brain, and I tried the best I could to live with this quote engraved in my heart.

In the summer of 2013, I was invited to attend a Catholic youth conference called Steubenville by the youth ministers at my local parish. There, I learned about opportunities to help the poverty-stricken, especially a tiny African nation called Burkina Faso, the third poorest country in the world. I participated in a food-packaging event and helped  assemble 100,000 meals for this landlocked nation. Knowing that thousands of people were willing to come together for such a cause, I was inspired to organize a similar event to help feed the people  who desperately need it the most.

I contacted the main food supplier in Orlando, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), and they provided me with the price of each bag of food: $.50 for a four-serving bag of soy, rice, dehydrated vegetables, and a vitamin packet. After hosting several meetings with many officials at my church, we all agreed that raising $10,000 to package 20,000 meals for Africa would be the most reasonable amount, financially and physically. Throughout the course of two weeks, I spent roughly 210 hours publicizing this event on social media sites, speaking to large masses of people, and hosting a pep rally for the church’s school, asking for about 300 packaging volunteers and large amounts of monetary support. Our goal slowly increased and by the completion of our two-week funding period, we more than doubled our goal and raised $25,000 — enough to package 50,000 bags of food, and had about 1,200 volunteers sign up to package meals. This was CRS’s largest single-parish meal packaging movement ever to be conducted in America.

Organizing my meal-packaging event not only satisfied the cravings of 200,000 starving citizens in Africa, but it helped nourish my passion toward helping people in this world who have less than I do. Being offered an internship at Orlando’s CRS headquarters to host more of these humanitarian events, and even being personally invited to lead a full-paid mission trip to Burkina Faso by the executive secretary of the United Nations, the most important aspect that my leadership position granted me was the ability to find myself, and pinpoint exactly what I want to do in my future: care for others, and put into action the unconditional love that my mother supplied to the world.

After being diagnosed with cancer in the year 2000, the doctors gave my mother about six years to live, however, she refused to give up and lived six more than that. In church, they say that God made man in his own image, and my mom’s short life has proved this to be 112% true. I thank God every day that I had the strongest woman in the world to pass down the purest love, strength, and God’s grace for me to continue to leave an impact on the world.
-Tatiana Martin
(May 2014)

Do you have something to say, something to get off your chest or an amazing story to share? From pop culture views and reviews to political commentary to messages of faith, my blog is a great platform for writers to showcase their work. There are very limited criteria for submitting a post. Your views don't even have to be in line with mine — just create and contribute a compelling, well-written story. Interested? Send me and email.


Monday, May 26, 2014


(Pt. III)

In Pt. I and Pt. II of
this series I covered
the "biggest" and the
"best" live albums of
all time. Today, I'll be
taking a look at the
"sleepers" and the
"stinkers." Dig it!

These amazing live sets should have
catapulted the mid-level acts into the
big time, yet they failed to deliver
Frampton-like results.


A modest hit on the band's home
turf in the UK, this double-live
album should have cemented
UFO's international superstar
status, however, it only reached
#42 on the U.S. charts. The last
record with guitarist Michael
 Schenker, it offers the cream of
the "A-list" crop, including
"Rock Bottom," "Lights Out,"
"Doctor Doctor,"  "Too Hot to
Handle" and "Shoot Shoot."


Great band. Great songs.
Great live show. But after
five underachieving studio
releases, time was running
out. So it's perplexing why
the most beautiful, exciting
and promising band of the
day would have opted for
such an underwhelming
cover — a tremendous
album nonetheless. Within
a year, Angel was no more.


A major Midwest live concert
attraction throughout the '70s
and early '80s, Stage Pass
should have made the band a
household name. It didn't.


Four modest-selling studio
albums and two oft played FM
singles had this Illinois-based
combo positioned for the big
time. It's been rumored that
the 1979 trucker strike kept
A&M from getting product
into stores in a timely
fashion. Despite a strong
start, by the time trucks
were once again rolling, the
record had lost momentum.


The pride of Springfield, MO
already had achieved gold and
platinum status with its first
two albums. By 1978, the
band's popularity was waning.
It's Alive was the perfect vehicle
for showcasing its impeccable
songwriting and downhome
chicken-fried style. Sadly,
it tanked — stalling at a
dismal #178 on the charts. 


Hold your noses, kids. Here they come!


If the intent was to produce
a sloppy, amateur-sounding
album that looked as if it had
been designed by a drunken
six-year-old, then the mission
was accomplished perfectly.
But compared to Just Push
Play, it's an epic masterpiece!


Not even a third installment of the 
iconic Alive! series could save KISS'
sinking ship in '93. This likely was
due to the record being dreadful
and the band's half-scab line-up.

Quick — get Space Ace and the Catman 
on the phone! We've got an offer that 
they can't possibly refuse!


Seemingly "phoned in," this
hour-long Vegas show was
packed with hits, yet fell
(far) short of recreating the
live magic of the original
Alice Cooper Band.


Combining "live" versions of
hits with a handful of new
studio tracks, Live and Sleazy
brought an abrupt end to the
group's three-record platinum
streak — effectively ushering
in the beginning of a (temporary)
 end for the once top-selling act.


A more fitting title might have been
"Smell What the Cat Dragged In."
Sounding the "death rattle" for the
hair band era, the edited 2004
single-disc version was much
easier to swallow.

This concludes my three-part series. I hope that you had as much fun revisiting these treasures as I did. Feel free to offer your personal suggestions and comments below. Now, where did I stash that live Abba bootleg?

-Christopher Long
(May 2014)

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is available NOW on Amazon.

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Friday, May 23, 2014


(Pt. II)

In Part One of this
series, I revealed
and examined rock's
greatest double live
albums. Today I'll
be revisiting the best
single live records.


Taped in late 1993, this 14-song
set was released only six months
following the April 1994 death of
founding frontman Kurt Cobain.
Combining many well-known band
staples with several compelling
cover tunes, it has sold over six
million copies worldwide and
remains arguably the best of
 the MTV UNPLUGGED series.


The brainchild of SNL's Dan
Aykroyd and John Belushi, the
 record featured such legendary
musicians as Steve Cropper,
Donald "Duck" Dunn, and
Matt "Guitar" Murphy. This
chart-topping album introduced
authentic blues and R&B
to a new generation of fans.


Hot, up-and-coming
'70s rock band? Check.

Live album? Check.

Recorded in Japan? Check.

Simply put — this is
Judas Priest's finest moment.


From the opening track,
"Doctor Rock," to "Dogs,"
"Traitor," "Deaf Forever"
and "Killed by Death," this
record is packed with heartfelt,
timeless treasures, including
the chart-busting "Ace of
Spades" and "Eat the Rich."
Features the golden era line-
up of Lemmy, Phil Campbell,
Würzel and "Philthy" Phil.


Often imitated, never duplicated, 
The Runaways was the first all-
girl band that truly competed with
the boys — delivering no-holds-barred
rock and roll. Years ahead of their
time, Cherie, Joan, Lita, Sandy and
Jackie never achieved the collective
recognition that they deserved.
However, this down and dirty record
has stood up nicely since its 1977
release and remains a magnificent
snapshot of a superb band live on
stage, while in its prime. Highlights
include "Queens of Noise," "Neon
Angels on the Road to Ruin,"
"C'mon" and Lou Reed's classic,
"Rock and Roll."


Re-channeling the spirit of
Jimi Hendrix, this Canadian
power trio unleashed a monster
with its fifth album. Oozing
electrified blues-based anthems,
it's a bona fide gem.

I'm a king bee, baby.
Dig it!


Clocking in at a mere 35 minutes, 
"Leeds" has long been regarded
by critics as rock's all-time greatest
live record. 40+ years later, it still
shines in all of its unbridled,
blistering beauty. Highlights
include "Young Man Blues"
 and "Summertime Blues."


Foghat was, as they say, the
"whole enchilada." They had
fabulous mustaches, cool riffs
and — great songs. Upon its
release, three of the record's
six tunes ("Slow Ride," "I Just
Wanna Make Love to You,"
"Fool for the City") already had
become FM staples. However,
the true magic here can best be
summed up in just two words:
"Honey Hush!"


The album that wasn't even
intended to be released in
America made this Illinois-
based power-pop group an
overnight international
sensation. Boasting the Top 40
hits, "Surrender," "Ain't That
a Shame" and the iconic "I
Want You to Want Me," the
album remains as fresh as
ever and will never lose
its charm and luster.


Ello music lovers. Now,
here's to kick your ass —
The Pat Travers Band!

Fueled by a lethal mixture
of vintage blues and modern
hard rock, this eight-song set
is simply the most exciting,
turbo-charged live album
ever! Boom Boom, indeed.


Black Oak Arkansas - Raunch 'N' Roll
Sammy Hagar - All Night Long
Rick Derringer - Derringer Live
Johnny Winter - Captured Live

I received a personal email yesterday from a well-known rock critic who voiced his lack of enthusiasm for this series — and I couldn't have been more pleased by his disapproval. Feel free to offer your personal comments below. In Part III, I will be revisiting some of the biggest "stinkers" and "sleepers" of the live album genre — stand by!

-Christopher Long
(May 2014)

The latest from author Christopher Long
is available NOW on Amazon.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014


(Pt. I)

By the mid '70s, every
rock act was seemingly 
jumping onto the live 
album bandwagon. In 
fact, it practically had 
become an industry
requirement. Some 
artists met with better
results than others.

Live albums — you can't even count 'em all! Any major classic rock act worth its weight in Viagra or Geritol has released at least one. While efforts by such superstars as Rod Stewart, The Eagles, Styx, The Doobie Brothers, Simon and Garfunkel, Journey, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Supertramp have offered adequate representations of their concert performances, live recordings from such biggies as Led Zeppelin, The Beatles and The Who have been epic disasters.

However, in this first installment of my new three-part series, I will revisit and celebrate the cream of the crop — the Top Ten definitive double-live rock albums of all time. So break out those Bics, 'cuz here we go!


After years of non-stop touring
with The Amboy Dukes, Nugent
finally struck out on his own, and
in the process, he struck gold with
his self-titled 1975 solo debut. By
1978, the "Motor City Madman"
was as hot as his pistol. "Gonzo"
marked the last of his four-
record platinum-selling streak.
Oh, so that's how you refer to
girls from West Tennessee.
YIKES — duly noted!


This Scottish powerhouse hit
pay dirt briefly in 1975 with
the iconic Hair of the Dog LP. 
Recorded during the band's
headlining glory days, It's
Snaz was the perfect show-
case in which finally to "close
the deal." It didn't. However,
it remains one of the best
live rock albums ever.
Now you're messin' with a...


Possessing brilliant harmonies
and tasty, triple-layered chicken
pickin', Tampa's own "Florida
Guitar Army" had much more
 to offer than most of its southern-
fried contemporaries. This two-
record set achieved "Gold" status
and boasts blistering versions of
"Hurry Sundown," "There Goes
Another Love Song" and a 20+
minute rendition of "Green
Grass and High Tides."


During the early and mid '70s,
REO built its audience the
old fashioned way — on tour. 
However, the band had yet to 
capture its live energy and
magic on record — that is
until 1977, when this turbo-
charged live set brought the
Illinois-based act platinum
results. In sum, two words:


In 1976, Wings was arguably the
hottest act on the planet. This
colossal three-record set show-
cases the best from the band's
four consecutive #1 albums as
well as an array of Beatles
treasures. Features the Top
Ten hit, "Maybe I'm Amazed."


After a decade-long break,
the classic "Mighty Mac"
line-up reunited and reclaimed
its chart-busting crown in short
order. Recorded live, in front
of an adoring So-Cal audience,
the band was in top form and
the songs sparkle like never
before. Offering more than a 
mere nostalgia trip, even new
material including "Temporary
One" and "Bleed to Love Her,"
shine brightly.


Despite the dopey jokes and
mind-numbing monotony of
its over-played staples, the
fact is, Lynyrd Skynyrd was a
savage rock band — especially
on stage. This record proves it.
Forget the standards. Just soak
in the raw power of "Saturday
Night Special" and "Whiskey
Rock-a-Roller." 'Nuff said!


Although KISS has been given
(too) much of the credit for
igniting the live album craze, be
sure that the Allman Brothers
lit that fuse long before the
"masked messiahs." Four
sides and seven songs worth
of unbridled passion. "Oh
Lord, I feel like I'm dying!"


If there was ever a musician
who was an honorary member
of San Francisco's society —
Mr. Peter Frampton! 
From that iconic Jerry Pompili
intro to the final wah-wah of
"Do You Feel Like We Do," this
landmark multi-million seller
made Frampton an instant
household name and remains
as fresh-sounding as the day it
arrived in stores in early 1976.


Recorded live in Dee-troit —
before he became an "over- 
night" sensation. Although
"Turn the Page" has become
the acknowledged "darling"
of FM radio programmers,
"Nutbush City Limits,"
"Ramblin' Gamblin' Man,"
"Katmandu," "Get Out of
Denver" and "Let it Rock" are
the true gems. This is THE 
ultimate live rock and roll
album ever — bar none!

KISS - Alive! (Great record, but it wasn't live.)
The Kinks - One for the Road
Crosby, Stills, Nash &Young - 4 Way Street
Little Feat - Waiting for Columbus
Blue Öyster Cult - Extraterrestrial Live
Jethro Tull - Bursting Out
The Band - The Last Waltz
Neil Young - Live Rust
The J. Geils Band - Blow Your Face Out

There ya go, kids. You're now permitted to walk about the cabin freely. You're also welcome to discuss this among yourselves, and by all means, you're certainly welcome to post your comments below. Get ready — Part Two of this three-part series is on the way — stand by! (Pt. II / Pt. III)

-Christopher Long
(May 2014)

The latest from author Christopher Long
is available NOW on Amazon.
Also from Christopher Long...
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