"Earth Departure" is one of the most adventurous tunes on the new Animals As Leaders album, Weightless. The song features some very intense, complex figures that require extremely tight band interplay.
"You know,” Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen says, “we weren’t doing what we were doing to be different. We were a bit different.” What they did was create one of the more forward-thinking, over-the-top and ultimately successful albums in rock history: Hysteria. Released 25 years ago this summer, the record spawned an astonishing seven hit singles, including “Animal,” “Love Bites” and the monster smash “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” It also hit Number One on the U.S. album chart—three times, no less—and went on to sell more than 20 million copies worldwide.
Since they became a hot live ticket in the late Seventies, Rush have had little trouble filling the arenas and EnormoDomes of the world. But in the past few years, Alex Lifeson has noticed a change in their audience, and it’s not a subtle one. “We’re reaching a lot more young kids and teens,” he says. “You look out and see all these new faces, kids with their parents. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to see your music going from generation to generation.”
Initially, I had no clue that the Lonnie Johnsons and even the Robert Johnsons of the blues world existed. I just wanted to play like [Free’s] Paul Kossoff, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton when he was in Cream.
Once upon a time, video games were considered the nerdy domain of geeks, freaks and social misfits. Over the past couple of decades, however, the $65-billion gaming industry has become as ubiquitous and all-American as baseball and apple pie. The long-term cultural and psychological impact of gaming and the relentless pursuit of “the next level” will undoubtedly fuel countless sociology books and psychiatric papers, but for now one only has to listen to the ambitious, cutting-edge prog-rock of Periphery for a glimpse of how gaming is shaping art and music in the 21st century.
Nearly half a century has passed since the Allman Brothers Band released their ground-breaking eponymous debut album on Capricorn Records, in 1969. Combining elements of blues, rock, jazz and country, the Brothers forged a unique sound that emphasized virtuoso guitar playing, powerfully emotive vocals, and deft, inspired group interplay and improvisation.
Artist Jeff Ritzmann always dreamed of owning an extravagant custom guitar like George Lynch’s Skull and Bones or Eddie Van Halen’s Dragon. That desire stayed with Ritzmann until 2006, when the cover of Iron Maiden’s A Matter of Life and Death album inspired him to build a guitar that looks like a tank. He did it, he says, by modifying an off-the-shelf guitar “beyond all reasonable comprehension.”
In last month’s column, I discussed some techniques one can apply when soloing, specifically using both a single-note and a chordal approach in combination to create a kind of “harmonic” improvisation that helps us discover new chords and sounds.