Monday, September 28, 2015

RECORD REVIEW: Devil City Angels

RECORD REVIEW
Devil City Angels
Devil City Angels
Century Media Records
(U.S. Release 9.18.15)
_________________________

Whoa, hang on just a
second. Rikki Rockett's
got a new band? Dude,
I'm on board, already!
I just hope that their
record doesn't suck.
_________________________

Despite possessing bona fide supergroup status, Devil City Angels' impressive pedigree actually becomes quickly and completely irrelevant. The fact is, a band can tout the biggest names in the biz and boast cock rock swagger for days  but if it ain't got songs, then it ain't got jack. And that's why the self-titled debut record from this all-star collective delivers such an undeniable (and perhaps surprise) punch to the privates — the songs are simply superb!

Most of the self-produced, ten-song set stands easily nose-to-nose with the best material produced previously from any of the members' prior platinum-selling projects — high praise indeed, given that the DCA lineup is comprised of founding L.A, Guns guitarist Tracii Guns, Cinderella bassist Eric Brittingham (replaced recently by Rudy Sarzo), Poison poster boy drummer Rikki Rockett and modern-day go-to guy, frontman Brandon Gibbs.

Opening tracks, including the currently popular YouTube clips, "Boneyard" and "All My People," are certainly solid, albeit standard-sounding nugs. However, somewhere around the halfway mark, the record shifts gears and becomes less about crunchy riffs, and ALL about catchy hooks.

DEVIL CITY ANGELS
(Sarzo, Gibbs, Guns and Rockett)
"No Angels" represents a successful, delicate balancing act — boldly embracing the band members' good-time glory days heritage, while somehow still feeling springtime fresh. Another noteworthy highlight, "Back to the Drive" smacks ya with a gloriously rib-cracking riff that's oddly reminiscent of Black Oak Arkansas, circa '74.

An engaging heartbreak ballad, "Goodbye Forever," is almost as good as it gets here — that distinction, however, belongs solely to "All I Need." The super-snappy, super-happy earworm is so doggone infectious that it's sure to make Chip Z'nuff turn green with envy.

In sum, if it's possible (or even conceivable) that a record created by seasoned white rock dudes could break through today's cultural ceiling, connect with an audience and actually produce hits  this is the one. BRAVO!

-Christopher Long
(September 2015)

DEVIL CITY ANGELS
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Saturday, September 26, 2015

"THE HEALING PROCESS" by Bryce Willey (Guest Post)

THE HEALING PROCESS
by Bryce Willey
(Guest Post)
_________________________

Superstar "guest,"
Bryce Willey, returns
this month with another 
compelling contribution.
_________________________


THE HEALING PROCESS

When I hit the floor — I hit hard.
It's painful — it never feels good.
I usually don't get up for awhile 
not until I realize no one is
there to pick me up.

Drugs maybe. A joint? A shot?
I'm trying — I'm failing
I'm dying from the inside out
like termites eating
eating me like a 2x4 on the ground.

Then I made a friend.
I'm not smoking nor drinking.
I'm healing.
The puss is gone — the blood has dried.
I made another friend. — a good friend.
The blood has been washed away.
I'm seven months sober.

The wound has healed 
the gauze is gone 
skin returned to it's natural state.
There are still problems, but when I fall again,
at least I know I have someone to pick me up

-Bryce Willey
(September 2015)

______________________________________ 

BE MY "GUEST"
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.

-Chris
AuthorChristopherLong@yahoo.com 
______________________________________

Friday, September 25, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW: "Black Mass" (2015)

MOVIE REVIEW
Black Mass 
(2015)
Cross Creek Pictures 
RatPac-Dune Entertainment
_________________________

I'd been riveted by online
trailers and in-theater
previews all summer.
And earlier this week,
the day finally arrived.
"One senior's ticket for
Black Mass, please."
_________________________

The real life story of Irish mobster James "Whitey" Bulger has been well-documented over the years hence, spoilers already abound. Still, experiencing Black Mass (director Scott Cooper's film adaptation of the 2001 John Lehr and Gerard O'Neill book) playing out across the silver screen remained suspense-filled, indeed.

Starring Johnny Depp in the riveting lead role as Bulger, the story takes place primarily in South Boston (Southie) during the early 70s through the mid 80s. Joel Edgerton (The Gift) delivers his second praise-worthy performance of the summer as John Connolly, Bulger's childhood friend and now FBI agent. Following a rather unlikely and dubious "alliance" between Bulger and Connolly, the "fortunes" of both men flourish for nearly a decade — yet by 1985, their scandalous schemes and criminal activities are revealed and justice (sorta) prevails.

Depp is sensational as Whitey Bulger.
Benedict Cumberbatch offers a compelling performance as Whitey Bulger's brother, Massachusetts senator William M. "Billy" Bulger, while Kevin Bacon is quite convincing as Connolly's boss, Charles McGuire.

There are really no likable male characters anywhere in the story, as nearly all of them have a certain amount of "dirt" on their hands — even the few "good guys" seem rather slimey. Conversely, it's the female characters; Julianne Nicholson as Marianne Connolly, Dakota Johnson as Lindsey Cry and Juno Temple as Deborah Hussey that are the most the endearing.

Nicholson and Edgerton deliver superb
performances in Black Mass.
Despite the suspense, despite the tension, despite the array of excellent performances from a stellar cast, Black Mass does have one substantial shortcoming — it's a horrible story. For more than two hours, the audience is subjected to pure evil — murder after brutal murder and endless other acts of despicable behavior. What's so wrong with that? It's just a movie, right? Well, for one thing, as the central character, I believe that some might actually find themselves rooting for the bad guy. OH NO — run Whitey, run — before those aweful cops catch ya! Now, if you honestly possess the ability to disconnect — to filter out the darkness and merely harness the sketchy entertainment factor, Black Mass is well worth the price of admission. However, as a show biz-type guy with a high tolerance for "culture," even I felt compelled to rush home for a good old fashioned soul shower, immediately following the closing credits. 

-Christopher Long
(September 2015)


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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

GARY RICHRATH: A Personal Tribute to a Rock Legend

GARY RICHRATH
A Personal Tribute
to a Rock Legend
_________________________

As a teenage rock dude
from the Midwest, coming
of age during the late '70s
and early '80s, I had ONE
ultimate guitar hero...
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Throughout the 1970s, little was quite as gloriously exhilarating for a die hard rock and roller than experiencing the mighty REO Speedwagon  commanding a concert stage in front of a packed arena. Led by the dynamic duo of frontman, Kevin Cronin and guitar-slinging "golden boy," Gary Richrath, the turbo-charged Illinois-based collective fired off a nightly arsenal of such hard-driving staples as "Golden Country," "Ridin' the Storm Out," "Keep Pushin'," "Roll with the Changes" and "Back on the Road Again." And to this day, REO's double platinum-selling 1977 breakout album, You Get What You Play For, remains one of rock's all-time finest live records.

Gary Richrath (center) with REO Speedwagon - cira 1977.
My parents weren't particularly big rock and roll fans. As a result, I was allowed to see only a handful of concerts prior to my turning 18. Hence, I relished the vivid first-hand accounts of the "cool" kids at school, describing their to-die-for experiences of seeing REO Speedwagon in concert — while I remained relegated to my 8-Track tape collection and merely imagining what it would be like to actually see Gary Richrath, live onstage.

The inner gatefold of REO's
1979 tour de force - Nine Lives.
After a ten-year grind, REO finally hit the mother lode in late 1980 with the multi platinum-selling, super-radio-friendly Hi Infidelity record. Seemingly overnight, my band suddenly had become the biggest combo on the planet, and at age 18, there was now NO WAY I was going to miss seeing them when they came to Florida in early 1981.

Although I didn't swallow my tongue in a much-expected seizure-like fashion when REO hit the stage in Lakeland on February 6, it was certainly a close call. In fact, I hadn't been that worked-up since witnessing Gene Simmons fly to the rafters of the same arena during the 1979 KISS tour. Simply put, my first REO Speedwagon concert experience delivered everything I'd hoped for — the monstrous production, a perfect set list, a flawless, high-energy performance — even the undeniable fragrance of top-shelf dope permeating the venue seemed magical.

But what I remember most vividly and fondly about that night was Gary Richrath. Dressed in black form-fitting stage pants with a fabulous poofy pink shirt, he punished the crap out of his trademark 1959 Les Paul for a solid 90 minutes. From the opening feedback of "Don't Let Him Go" through the final crashing chord of "157 Riverside Avenue," Richrath owned the stage — oozing his signature swagger. And it was beautiful to behold, man.

FINALLY!
I was fortunate to see Gary Richrath perform with REO many times throughout the '80s  never leaving the arena disappointed. And due to my ever-constant zeal, I just knew there would always be a "next year." YIKES, don't look now, but here come the '90s!

For a variety of well-documented reasons, Richrath and his longtime colleagues parted company in 1989. But by 1990, the guitar veteran already had embarked on a U.S. club tour in support of the debut record from his new band, Richrath. At the time, my own band, Dead Serios, was a rather hot commodity on the Florida music scene, and I was delighted when an area promoter tapped us to open for Richrath in Melbourne, during the spring of '90.

The Richrath / Dead Serios show was a solid success — attracting approximately 500 fans to the Power Station nightclub. And it was completely surreal, to say the least, when Richrath himself approached me and my then-wife and offered us a little backstage love.

I may or may not have been enthusiastic about
opening for my hero, Gary Richrath, in 1990.
Later that night, after the crowd cleared out, the crew packed up and the club shut down, I sat at the bar with Richrath and my longtime compadre, Bryan Dumas, who happened to be the club's manager as well as a fellow REO die hard. There we were, just the three of us, privately slamming cocktails, swapping stories and cracking jokes. I remember Richrath confessing that he too shared my personal passion for the much-maligned 1982 REO album, Good Trouble. I also recall clearly his kindhearted sentiments for co-founding REO drummer, Alan Gratzer, while his comments regarding former songwriting partner, Kevin Cronin, were considerably less warm and fuzzy. But what I took away from that meeting, and have held on to for all these years, is that Richrath was a man who seemed genuinely hurt and saddened to now be estranged from his "family." This observation was further amplified when Richrath and I connected at another show later in the tour and I witnessed his unfiltered reaction to the video for REO's then-current single, "Live it Up," as it played on the dressing room TV.

As a fan who has been touched, moved and inspired by the music of Gary Richrath and REO Speedwagon for nearly four decades, I felt comforted to see so much of the "stuff" between him and the band seem to finally melt away as Richrath made numerous guest appearances at REO shows in recent years. And although I never was privileged to witness any of those new millennium reunions, Gary Richrath's musical legacy will remain fresh and live on forever in my heart as well as the hearts of millions of fans worldwide through the incredible body of work that he has left us — Cuz nobody talks with their gi-tar the way Gary does!

-Christopher Long
September 2015

_________________________

IN MEMORY OF
GARY RICHRATH
October 18, 1949 -
September 13, 2015
_________________________

Additional REO features
from Christopher Long:

(2013)



_________________________


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is available NOW on Amazon.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

GEEZER: Super-Tunes for Super-Teens!

Geezër
Super-Tunes for Super-Teens!
_________________________

If it's true that rock and
roll is strictly a young
man's sport, the memo
never made it to Geezër.
_________________________

"We play super tunes, for super teens," proclaimed Calvin Sizemore, regarding his Miami-based super-crunk, pop-punk combo, Geezër, during a recent interview. The 83-year-old bassist further recalled that the formation of his group in July 2015 happened completely by chance.

"We were headed from the seniors' center in Miami, to Disney World in Orlando, when the bus driver took a wrong turn. Instead of arriving at the Magic Kingdom and being entertained by Mickey and Minnie, we arrived at the Vans Warped Tour and being entertained by some young people called Black Veil Brides and Icon for Hire. Even though our singer's wheelchair got stuck in the mud when we tried crossing through the kids' dance circle, we still got caught up completely in the energy — we started our own music band the next day."

Calvin Sizemore onstage with Geezër
For Sizemore and his other rather unlikely bandmates; 84-year-old vocalist Harvey Geezer, younger twin brother / guitarist Leonard Geezer and 87-year-old drummer Victor Farnsworth, their mission was clear. In short order, the four retirees began writing an arsenal of catchy and concise streetwise tunes and rehearsing every morning in the rec room, back at the seniors' center. Within a few weeks, Geezër was performing to teenage audiences everywhere, while recording songs for their self-titled 2015 debut album release.

"At our age, we've got nothing to lose," Sizemore added. "Old geezers can still dream, ya know. Heck, maybe WE'LL even be on the Warped Tour next summer! Anything is possible, I guess."

-Christopher Long
(September 2015)

____________________________

Find Geezër online

- YouTube -
- Twitter -
- email -
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The latest from author Christopher Long
is available NOW on Amazon.

Also from Christopher Long...
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