Wednesday, April 22, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Larry Ollison "The Paradise of God"

BOOK REVIEW
The Paradise of God
- Larry Ollison -
__________________________

I've woken up and had
morning coffee with
Larry Ollison more
times in the last six
months than I did with
my ex-wife during our
entire 13-year marriage.
Simply put, I am a fan!
__________________________

As an avid reader, I gravitate towards the non-fiction genre. I've always connected best with personal stories based on the author's unique, real-life experiences and perspectives. But in recent years, I've become attracted less to the "Sex, Drugs & Rock and Roll" sagas that I once consumed during my pig-like past, (e.g., KISS, Alice Cooper, Led Zeppelin) and drawn more to riveting, faith-based "tell-alls" (e.g., Andrew Wommack, Kenneth Hagin, Dr. Larry Ollison).

I first discovered author / pastor / teacher (and pilot) Larry Ollison last fall when his book, Life Is In The Blood (LOM / 2011), was part of my Bible College class curriculum. I was hooked immediately by Ollison's engaging, no-nonsense, conversational style. Well-written and Biblically on-point, I found his message to be a beautiful blessing, and a snap to grasp. And his work now has become the second-most essential part of my daily Starbucks devotions. Morning, Larry! How ya doin'?

"We need to know the Word, but we also
need to understand that it takes the blood
of the Lamb and the Word to overcome."
-Larry Ollison (2011)

Through the pages of Life Is In The Blood, Ollison breaks down that wall-o-religious "stuff," and reveals honest and simple Gospel truths. He nails down his key points — the power in the name of Jesus, the power of His blood and the power of the Word in a way that even an admitted Nugent-nut like me can relate to easily.

In The Power of Grace (Harrison House / 2013), Ollison encourages believers effectively to pursue holiness and to remain rooted deeply in the Word. He describes Grace as "the ultimate power," and he further describes Grace, combined with Faith, as "Power Partners."

"God teaches through his Word,
not through pain and suffering."
-Larry Ollison (2013)


"You CAN'T change your past,
but you CAN overcome your past."
-Larry Ollison (2013)

Ollison's latest, The Paradise of God (Harrison House Inc / 2014), carves out some of his most compelling content to date. Hence, readers may want to first purchase a comfy pair of spiritual "big boy" pants before diving in. But be sure, Ollison still connects — and without pretense.

"You are never more righteous than the
day of your salvation. Righteous is what
you are. Holy is what you become."
-Larry Ollison (2014)

Are we, in fact, living in the last days? Is there really a Heaven and Hell? When will we see Heaven? What will it look like and what will we look like when we get there? And what's the 411 on this whole Rapture dealio? These all are very legitimate questions asked often by believers and non-believers alike — all of which Ollison addresses through his trustworthy breakdown of relevant scriptures and personal anecdotes.

Other topics Ollison tackles include; Christ's crucifixion and resurrection, free will and accepting responsibility for the choices we make, the false religious myth of purgatory and an in-depth discussion of angels.

"Angels are messengers in most cases.
They bring a message from God to
the born-again saints and usually
these messengers are spiritual
angelic beings of great power."
-Larry Ollison (2014)

Simply put, I am a huge Larry Ollison fan. His books actually serve as mighty, individual beach bag-sized Bible College crash-courses. And his voice offers me consistent insight, encouragement and inspiration regarding THE most important aspect of my life enhancing my personal relationship and walk with Jesus Christ. Thanks dude — tomorrow, the coffee is on me!

-Christopher Long
(April 2015)



The latest from author Christopher Long
SHOUT IT OUT LOUD -
is available NOW on Amazon.

Also from Christopher Long...
Get it on Amazon.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

GLENN EVANS: Nuclear Assault's "Pot Head" Drums-Up New Solo Album

GLENN EVANS:
 Nuclear Assault's "Pot Head"
Drums-Up New Solo Album
_________________________

Simply put, Glenn Evans
is a bona fide workaholic,
and a (likely) raving lunatic.
_________________________

Longtime Nuclear Assault drummer Glenn Evans currently is not only in the midst of gearing up for his band's upcoming 2015 summer "Final Assault" world tour, he's also released an impressive, two solo EPs — in just the last eight months.

Produced and performed entirely by Evans last February at Sonic Ranch Studios in El Paso, Texas, Beatitude is set to arrive on May 1st via Sidipus Records. "I played and produced everything in less than 20 hours," Evans revealed, during our recent interview.
_________________________

FEBRUARY 3, 2015:
"I woke up at 3am with a bit of
anxiety about the upcoming tour
with Nuclear Assault, and I smoked
a bowl of marijuana to relax. The
melody for "Pot Head" just came to
me. The next day, I booked a flight
to El Paso and I wrote the song on
the spot at Sonic Ranch Studios."
-Glenn Evans
_________________________

Glenn Evans at Sonic Ranch Studios.
(February 2015)
_________________________

"I went into the studio with just an
idea. I locked myself in there for
two days — all alone, except for my
engineer Jerry Ordonez. And I
came out with a finished product."
-Glenn Evans
_________________________

Evans' follow-up to his 2014 Overload record comes straight out of left field, stylistically — placing the veteran musician far outside his perceived comfort zone — resulting in perhaps his freshest-sounding and most engaging work to date.

Beatitude's controversial single, "Pot Head (I Smoke Marijuana)," already is generating a global Internet buzz. Lacquered with Evans' "Everyman" vocal style and from-the-heart narrative, the song hits hard with a wall-o-brash guitars and pounding drums. A straight-up rock track with a straight-up street message, it'll hook ya, in short order. Would I recommend a download of this ditty, or even share the YouTube link with any of the kids in my church youth group? Not a chance! However, it is a pretty darn catchy tune and it makes for a compelling, wallet-size aural snapshot of the thrash metal kingpin. In fact, in the last 30 years, I can't personally recall a time ever encountering Evans when he hasn't seemed pleasantly "glazed" — so I gotta give him major points for projecting such bold transparency.

The oddest thing about "Pot Head" is that it's actually the record's stylistic "square peg," as the balance of the songs on Beatitude all are super-charged covers of rockabilly classics. Evans' remake of the 1957 Buddy Holly chart-buster, "Maybe Baby," oozes Dave Edmunds-like authenticity, while the suped-up version of Ritchie Valens' 1959 hit, "Ooh My Head," likely will cure whatever ails ya. But it's the Sonny Curtis-penned, 1956 Buddy Holly gem, "Rock Around with Ollie Vee," that shines brightest among the four-song set.
_________________________

"I filled the rest of the EP with
a few songs in honor of Buddy
Holly (from Lubbock, TX) and
Ritchie Valens — being that their
chartered plane went down on that
exact same day and time in 1959."
-Glenn Evans
_________________________

Glenn Evans cutting drum
tracks for Beatitude.
_________________________

"For some reason, I enjoy putting
myself under pressure when it
comes to making a record."
-Glenn Evans
_________________________

Through Overload, Evans offered a revealing glimpse of his musical DNA that many of his most ardent fans might have found surprising. On Beatitude, that microscope-type view is further magnified. And following the June 1st release of the new Nuclear Assault record, Pounder, and the subsequent six-week world tour, he'll quite likely be headed back to the studio, in short order. But one thing's for sure, when it comes to Glenn Evans' solo work  expect the unexpected.

-Christopher Long
(April 2015)

_________________________

Glenn Evans 
Beatitude
(Get it NOW)


"Pot Head" single
available on iTunes

Mail Orders:
$12.00
(U.S. S&H included worldwide)
Sidipus Records Worldwide
P.O. Box 97
West Union, SC 29696 USA
_________________________


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

Also from Christopher Long...
Get it on Amazon.

Currently in development...

Sunday, April 19, 2015

GOLDEN ROCK BOMBS (Pt. V) - Nazareth "2XS"

GOLDEN ROCK BOMBS
(Pt. V)
Nazareth
2XS
(A&M)
_________________________

Even the biggest, most
iconic names in rock
can detonate a "bomb."
However, some of these
sleepers and sinkers are
actually the gemstones
of the artist's otherwise
platinum-selling catalog.
_________________________

Safer than Sabbath, yet punchier than PurpleNazareth rocked every bit as hard as Zeppelin — but without the pretentious aftertaste. The band unleashed an impressive string of nut-busting slabs throughout the '70, and in the process, also established a large and loyal worldwide concert audience. However, this gang of wild-eyed, whisky-drinking Scotsmen somehow missed being issued VIP credentials to rock's "Champagne Room." As a result, by the early '80s, the band had to fight for survival  yet rolled famously with the changing times. And it was during this super-corporate, "Don't Stop Believin'" / "Keep on Loving You" / "Mr. Roboto" era that Nazareth created, arguably, some of their finest work.

But even during its loudest and proudest, "Messin' with a Son of a Bitch" '70s glory days, Nazareth possessed a proclivity for producing guitar-driven power pop (e.g., "Broken Down Angel," "Carry Out Feelings," "My White Bicycle," "Place in Your Heart"). In fact, the band's global Top Ten mega hit, "Love Hurts," was a bona fide power ballad. And by the decade's end, Nazareth was clearly making a seemingly calculated move towards pursuing an overall more "polished" sound. Following the radio-friendly, Malice in Wonderland in 1980 and the melodic, The Fool Circle in 1981, the band released 2XS (To Excess), in early 1982. Produced by John Punter (Roxy Music, Slade, Japan), the album boasted an array of fabulously well-written rock / pop treasures — all performed with precision, and produced to perfection. It tanked. Stalling at a disappointing #122 on the Billboard 200.

2XS was innovative and fresh-sounding more so than even it's two predecessors. Laced with reggae-inspired riffs, Phil Collins-style electronic drum programs and hooky, sing-along choruses, 2XS was light-years beyond what many at the time perceived as the band's previous "dinosaur-like" recordings. Much of the credit for this exciting new musical direction (aside from the likely label pressure) can be attributed to the arrival of former Spirit keyboardist, John Locke, who had come on board during the Fool Circle sessions, plus the recent addition of then 22-year-old guitarist, Billy Rankin, who brought a much-needed youthful vitality to the veteran collective.

Me and my "ex," backstage with Nazareth
at Florida's Fort Pierce Civic Center
during the 2XS tour in September 1982.
Among the record's 11 tracks were highlights galore. The infectious, mid-tempo debut single, "Love Leads to Madness," combined maximum era-appropriate poppiness with a healthy dose of lead guitarist, Manny Charlton's signature rock edge — making for what should have been a snappy, slam-dunk winner. Yet, despite becoming a modest hit in a few smaller countries, the song missed making the U.S. charts.

The follow-up single, "Dream On," was every bit as compelling as that other "Dream On" from the '70s and should have become THE power ballad of the '80s. It didn't. But in the spirit of full disclosure, I will confess that Dan McCafferty's iconic, sweet yet raspy vocal was so on-point, so heartfelt, so honest and pure, that even today, I can't listen to this song without balling up in a corner and sobbing like a silly schoolgirl left out of a Bobby Sherman meet-and-greet. Above any other from Nazareth's entire catalog, "Dream On" proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that along with Cheap Trick's Robin Zander, McCafferty's was one of the two all-time greatest voices in rock.

New millennium 2XS re-issue
back cover with bonus tracks.
Additional highlights included "You Love Another," "Games" and "Preservation" — all of which oozed glorious, early '80s synth-pop charm — quality material that sadly, many fans will likely never know.

But, be sure that even during the golden Members Only era, Nazareth was not about to surrender all of its well-earned street cred. Hence, propelled by the ace rhythm section of bassist Pete Agnew and drummer Darrell Sweet, the energized "Boys in the Band," the boogie-based "Gatecrash" and the blistering "Take the Rap" all were Expect No Mercy-caliber, high-octane rockers — the likes of which simply couldn't be matched (or even touched) by any of the day's reigning "Roboto"-type poster boys.

In sum, despite lackluster sales, 2XS remains an epic piece of work, and an essential title for any dedicated rock fan's Nazareth library.

This concludes my five-part Golden Rock Bombs series. And if you enjoyed discovering, or re-discovering these gems half as much as I did, then the objective was accomplished successfully.

As always, thanks for stopping by!

-Christopher Long
(April 2015)

____________________

Check out the entire
Golden Rock Bombs series:

PART ONE
Peter Criss
Out of Control

PART TWO
Cheap Trick 
The Doctor

PART THREE
REO Speedwagon
Building the Bridge

PART FOUR
Fleetwood Mac
Time

PART FIVE
Nazareth
2XS
____________________


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

Also from Christopher Long...
Get it on Amazon.

Currently in development...

Saturday, April 18, 2015

BREAKING NEWS: Iconic Rock Band, Poison Performs Miami Concert — Without Bret Michaels!

BREAKING NEWS: 
Iconic Rock Band, Poison
Performs Miami Concert
— Without Bret Michaels!

For some reason, Poison-related stories and rumors continue coming my way. Late Friday, I received an anonymous message, accompanied by an anonymous photo (below) indicating that the platinum-selling arena rock poster boys had performed a concert in Miami, Florida earlier in the evening — without their infamous, co-founding frontman, Bret Michaels. Leading the charge last night, go-to vocalist, Brandon Gibbs — as confirmed on his personal Facebook page.

Nothin' but a good time - without Bret Michaels!
(Poison, live in Miami - 4.17.15)
What it all means, I can't say  as I no longer maintain much contact with the band — but the possibilities are certainly intriguing. I just thought I'd pass this along to those who have interest. However, I am personally fascinated by the "?" on Rikki Rockett's kick drum.

-Christopher Long
(April 2015)

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

Also from Christopher Long...
Get it on Amazon.

Currently in development...

Thursday, April 16, 2015

GOLDEN ROCK BOMBS (Pt. IV) - Fleetwood Mac "Time"

GOLDEN ROCK BOMBS
(Pt. IV)
Fleetwood Mac
Time
(Warner Bros)
_________________________

Even the biggest, most
iconic names in rock
can detonate a "bomb."
However, some of these
sleepers and sinkers are
actually the gemstones
of the artist's otherwise
platinum-selling catalog.
_________________________

I bumped into a guy early one morning last week while standing in line at the creamer counter of my neighborhood Starbucks. I recognized the fella immediately as a local blues aficionado and musician (i.e., "muso" / myo͞oz-ō— which, I guess, makes him a "bluso" (blo͞oz-ō). Anyway, since attending the recent Orlando Fleetwood Mac concert, I've had the band "on the brain" — keeping my 10-hour FM iTunes library in almost constant "re-play" mode. Hence, at that moment, I felt compelled to offer "Mr. Bluso" an early bird ice-breaker.

"So, what are your feelings on Fleetwood Mac?" I inquired — as if I couldn't possibly have guessed his certain response. Instantly, "Mr. B" rocked back on his heals, and with an undeniable display of utter indignation, he fired back  "I have ZERO use for Fleetwood Mac in any form, other than the original Peter Green version — I don't care how many records they've sold!" Hmm, noted.

Conversely, on the night of the recent concert, I couldn't help but notice (and overhear) the bevy of nubile babes bouncing about the Amway Center, all absolutely giddy over their golden opportunity to finally see Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham — and their "back-up band." 

Yes, the iconic Fleetwood Mac brand seemingly means all things to all people. And while I have tremendous personal appreciation for all of its various incarnations over the last (nearly) 50 years, I'm particularly fond of the band's early 70s, Bob Welch era, as their 1973 Mystery to Me album remains one of my all-time favorites. But despite the overwhelming majority world opinion, as a result of this infamous revolving door policy, Fleetwood Mac IS founding drummer, Mick Fleetwood and bassist, John McVie. In fact, if the band was a fancy confection, displayed prominently in a bakery case, Fleetwood and McVie would be a delicious red velvet cupcake, and perennial keyboardist, Christine McVie would be the irresistibly sweet icing. Tasty and TOTALLY satisfying. Any additions to that core line-up are (welcomed) colorful sprinkles.

Me and Mick - Orlando, FL
(3.23.15)
The "Alice & the Tool-Fish" era of the '90s was a difficult period for many chart-busters of the '70s and '80s — but it was a particularly tough time for the once "Mighty Mac." After much well-publicized intra-band turmoil, Fleetwood and McVie faced forging ahead on the road during the early and mid '90s without three of the band's longtime, marquee power-players (Buckingham, Nicks and Ms. McVie). And the drastically unfamiliar-looking new version of Fleetwood Mac was relegated to the nostalgia circuit, sandwiched between REO Speedwagon and Pat Benatar. However, the short-lived line-up featuring vocalist Bekka Bramlett, legendary singer / songwriter / guitarist Dave Mason and FM guitar vet Billy Burnette, made for a splendid rock band. And it was this configuration, plus the studio participation of Ms. McVie, that created one gem of an authentic, roots-style record.

Produced by Richard DashutJohn Jones and the late Ray Kennedy, Fleetwood Mac's 16th studio album, Time, arrived in October 1995. It tanked — immediately and completely. In fact, it didn't even chart. And with worldwide sales of less than 100,000 copies, it ranks as the band's all-time worst-selling effort.

The sad thing is, Time is actually a good record — a really good record. Heck, the "cupcake" was in full effect. Mick Fleetwood — check. John McVie — check. Christine McVie — check. Even the "colorful sprinkles" were incredible. Billy Burnette wasn't new  he'd already been in the band for seven years. Bekka Bramlett is a powerhouse and Dave Mason, well, he's DAVE FREAKING MASON! So, c'mon man, what gives?

Fleetwood, Mason, Burnette, Bramlett and McVie - circa '95
The songs (for the most part) were superb. The opening track, Burnette's "Talkin' to My Heart," delivered an organic warmth that the band hadn't captured in a very long time. Christine McVie's delightful and infectious "Hollywood (Some Other Kind of Town)" and "I Do" both possessed Mirage / Tango in the Night-caliber charm. Fueled by Mason's blues-inspired guitar work, "Blow By Blow" was snappy little nut-buster. And the beautiful vocal marriage between Burnette and Bramlett on the high-energy "I Got It In for You" made for a fantastic highlight. There were a couple of missteps, however — the most glaring of which was Mick Fleetwood's seven-minute, spoken word-meets-new age oddity, "These Strange Times." But overall, Time was as solid as any other title in the impressive Fleetwood Mac catalog.

Okay, so how could a record with this much "mo" fail so famously? Well, like everything else related to arts and culture, it's all about timing. And in the topsy-turvy world of rock and roll, 1995 just wasn't the time for the release of a quality, song-based record created by an establish group of skilled musicians who wore clean, form-fitting jeans. Furthermore, too often, the public listens to music with their hearts. Time could have included Christine McVie's secret unlisted phone number, handwritten on each inner sleeve, and it wouldn't have much mattered. Unfortunately, unless a Fleetwood Mac album features the "Fab Five," its commercial fate is sealed.

In sum, Time is an engaging record, filled with well-crafted, heartfelt songs — and I endorse it personally, 100%. It ain't Rumours — but (thank goodness) it ain't Say You Will either.

-Christopher Long
(April 2015)

____________________

Check out the entire
Golden Rock Bombs series:

PART ONE
Peter Criss
Out of Control
Cheap Trick 
The Doctor

PART THREE
REO Speedwagon
Building a Bridge

PART FOUR
Fleetwood Mac
Time

Nazareth
2XS
____________________


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

Also from Christopher Long...
Get it on Amazon.

Currently in development...

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

GOLDEN ROCK BOMBS (Pt. III) - REO Speedwagon "Building the Bridge"

GOLDEN ROCK BOMBS
(Pt. III)
REO Speedwagon
Building the Bridge
(Castle Records)
_________________________

Even the biggest, most
iconic names in rock
can detonate a "bomb."
However, some of these
sleepers and sinkers are
actually the gemstones
of the artist's otherwise
platinum-selling catalog.
_________________________

The '90s was a dark and desperate decade for many of the 70s' and 80s' mightiest chart-busters. Powerhouse acts such as Fleetwood Mac, Styx and Peter Frampton all delivered promising new records during the "Pearl Garden Pilots" era — only to be crushed by "the machine." REO Speedwagon's Building the Bridge was one that got crushed.

Produced by the late Greg Ladanyi and REO frontman / singer / songwriter, Kevin Cronin, Building the Bridge arrived in stores during the summer of '96. Although it's regarded by (too) many as one of the weakest links in the band's impressive musical chain  it is not. In fact Building the Bridge succeeds gloriously in combining the organic, classic rock flavor of REO (1976) with the commercial charm of Wheels are Turnin' (1984).

Packing all the punch of a Red Bull 20-ouncer, the guitar-driven "Can't Stop Rockin'" kicks off the record with a bang. This high-octane lyrical tribute to The Beatles also offers a cool tip of the hat to Willie Dixon's "Spoonful" as well as to the Fab Four's "Day Tripper." Another engaging, upbeat rocker is Cronin's "When I Get Home." Lacquered to perfection by Neal Doughty's signature Hammond B-3 stylings, it's beautifully reminiscent of the Wheels are Turnin' era. Additionally, guitarist Dave Amato splits the uprights on the stadium-worthy "Look the Other Way" and "She's Gonna Love Me."


A powerful and heartfelt songwriting collaboration between Cronin and Stephen Stills, "I Still Love You" possesses a Poco / Eagles-like splendor — making for one of the record's brightest highlights. In a similar vein, the Cronin-penned title track succeeds in recapturing the band's classic, "cow" vibe.

More than a master pop songsmith, Kevin Cronin also is a gifted storyteller  conveying his personal life experiences vividly over the years in the lyrics of such much-loved staples as "Music Man" and "Time for Me to Fly." In that regard, "Ballad of the Illinois Opry" comes incredibly close to his personal best. The poignant story of musical and self-discovery would have complemented the band's Ridin' the Storm Out era and could easily have been featured prominently in the soundtrack to a Cameron CroweElizabethtown-type film. Doughty's Floyd Cramer-flavored piano work makes this one sing, while Amato's blistering country-meets-rock riffs make it zing. Undoubtedly the record's "Cracker Jack prize," it remains one of REO's all-time best-kept secrets.

"Ballad of the Illinois Opry"
(Hear it for yourself.)

So how did a record this good, tank so badly? Well, for starters, the face of REO had changed in recent years and its previous (ill-titled) studio record in 1990 was, to say the least, a disappointment. Once known for producing such party hardy, arena rock anthems as "Roll with the Changes" and "Don't Let Him Go," REO now was best known as adult contemporary poster boys, peddling such pablum as "In My Dreams" and "Here with Me." And by 1996, true blue, good-time rock and roll had been put on temporary life support, as radio and MTV airwaves now were saturated by such media-anointed darlings as Hole, Candlebox and Alanis Morissette. Plus, Castle Records was an indie label — a relatively small fish, treading the waters of a shark-infested ocean. To add insult to injury, Building the Bridge boasted a downright dopey-looking album cover and exuded just enough provolone factor (e.g., "After Tonight" and "Then I Met You") as to compromise its well-deserved street cred.

In sum, I encourage enthusiasts to earnestly seek out Building the Bridge — it's well worth the effort. And if you happen to locate a copy at that last remaining used record shop, don't forget to tell the new clerk, Alanis, that the "Show Biz Guru" says, "hello."

-Christopher Long
(April 2015)

____________________

Check out the entire
Golden Rock Bombs series:

PART ONE
Peter Criss
Out of Control

PART TWO
Cheap Trick 
The Doctor

PART THREE
REO Speedwagon
Building the Bridge

Fleetwood Mac
Time

Nazareth
2XS
____________________


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

Also from Christopher Long...
Get it on Amazon.

Currently in development...